Monday, February 20, 2017

Woman Sinks Half-Court Shot, Wins $500 and Gets a Surprise Marriage Proposal From Dunkin' Donuts Mascot

Upstate New York resident Erin Tobin just had her best day ever. She achieved instant fame when she banked in a half-court shot at a Siena College men's basketball game on Thursday night, not only earning a $500 Dunkin' Donuts gift card, but also a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend disguised as a larger-than-life coffee cup named "Cuppy."

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Actually, the half-court shot promo was staged by Tobin's boyfriend, Steve Duckett. A Siena College season ticket holder, the 31-year-old romantic schemed with the college's PR department to surprise Tobin with an on-court marriage proposal.

Duckett would pose as the Dunkin' Donut mascot while Tobin, a 2008 Siena graduate, would get an opportunity to hit a half-court shot. After the shot, Duckett would strip off the mascot costume and propose to her in front of 5,500 fans. All this would have to happen quickly, because the events were set to take place during a timeout, not during halftime.

On Thursday, Duckett and the PR staff put their plan in motion. The only thing they didn't expect was that Tobin — a former high school basketball player — would make the shot.

The Albany Times Union reported that in the days leading up to the halt-court attempt, Tobin was allowed to visit the Times Union Center to take a few practice shots. Apparently, one barely reached the end line and another was wide by a mile. Tobin's brother joked that he pay her $50 if she could even hit the rim during the game.

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In a 32-second YouTube video that has been viewed more than 250,000 times — including high-profile appearances on Good Morning America and ESPN's SportsCenter — Tobin is wearing a golden Siena Saints T-shirt as she stands at center court, takes one stride and launches a right-handed fling. The ball takes a high arc, banks off the backboard and then right through the net. The school's announcer can be heard exclaiming, "It is up. It is good, good."

Duckett told the Times Union that the visibility within the mascot outfit was very limited. When Tobin, 30, hit the shot, she the threw up her arms and danced out of his view.

"I couldn't see her!" Duckett said. "She makes the shot, and then for me, she disappears. I can't see out the sides of Cuppie. I didn't know where she went."

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The Siena College PR staff was able to guide the excited girlfriend back to center court, where Duckett — still disguised as Cuppie — was already down on one knee. A moment later, the costume was lifted to reveal Duckett with a ring box in his hand.

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He quickly popped the question (this is all taking place during a timeout of a live game) and Tobin said "Yes."

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"I was jumping up and down after hitting the shot since my brother said he'd give me $50 if I even hit the rim," Tobin told the Albany Times Union. "And then I turn around expecting a gift card from Dunkin’ Donuts and there he was on his knees and I didn't have any words."

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The announcer summed it up for the fans: "The cup of coffee was so excited, he wants to marry that girl that just knocked down a half-court shot."

It was a great night overall for the couple and their favorite team, as Siena College defeated Manhattan 94-71.

Check out the awesome video, below.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com

Friday, February 17, 2017

Music Friday: 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' Shows Off His Diamond Rings in Jim Croce's 1973 Chart Topper

Welcome to Music Friday when we celebrate classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today the late, great Jim Croce sings about a giant man with an affection for diamond jewelry in his 1973 chart topper, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."

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In this song inspired by a friend he met while working as a lineman for the U.S. National Guard, Croce tells the fateful story of one of the toughest guys from the South Side of Chicago. Leroy Brown stood 6'4" and had a reputation of being "meaner than a junkyard dog." He was also a flashy dresser, loved his jewelry and was quite the ladies' man.

Croce sings, "Now Leroy, he a gambler / And he like his fancy clothes / And he like to wave his diamond rings / In front of everybody's nose."

At the end of the song, Leroy approaches Doris at a local bar and learns a tough "lesson about messin' with the wife of a jealous man."

Written by Croce, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" spent two weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in July of 1973. The song also netted Croce two Grammy Award nominations in the categories of Best Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year.

Born in South Philadelphia in 1943, Croce expressed a love for music at a young age. He played his first song, "Lady of Spain," on the accordion at the age of 5. While attending Villanova University, he performed with two singing groups, the Villanova Singers and the Villanova Spires. Croce graduated with a degree in psychology in 1965.

He joined the U.S. National Guard in 1966, and while stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C., he befriended the larger-than-life Chicagoan who would inspire his 1973 hit.

Croce struggled early in his music career, appearing at large coffee houses, on college campuses and at folk festivals. In 1972, he scored a three-record deal with ABC Records.

Later that year, he made his national debut on American Bandstand, which sparked appearances on The Tonight Show, The Dick Cavett Show, The Helen Reddy Show and The Midnight Special.

Sadly, at the peak of his fame, in September 1973, Croce perished in a plane crash near Natchitoches, La. He was 30 years old.

In a letter to his wife, Ingrid, that arrived after his death, Croce told her that he was homesick and couldn't bear the pain of being away from her and their infant son. He was planning to stop touring and to concentrate, instead, on writing short stories. It was never to be.

Please check out the video of Croce's live performance of "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
Written and performed by Jim Croce.

Well the South side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy, more than trouble
You see he stand 'bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
All the men just call him "Sir"

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Leroy, he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybody's nose
He got a custom Continental
He got an Eldorado too
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Friday 'bout a week ago
Leroy shootin' dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named Doris
And oo that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
'Cause Leroy Brown learned a lesson
'Bout messin' with the wife of a jealous man

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Domino's in the UK Just Gave Away a 22K Pizza-Slice Engagement Ring Topped with Diamond Pepperoni

Domino's in the UK just celebrated Valentine's Day by giving away a one-of-kind, 22-karat pizza-slice engagement ring topped with diamond pepperoni.

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The fast-food chain delivered nearly a half-million pizzas throughout the UK yesterday, and the company was certain that a significant portion of those dining in would be proposing to their significant others on the most romantic day of the year. Domino's own study revealed that 72% of Brits were planning to eat in on Valentine's Day, with 6% of men planning to pop the question during the meal.

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The unusual ring was introduced on Domino's Facebook page under the title "DOUGH-MANTIC ANNOUNCEMENT."

The company posted a series of pizza-ring photos along with this teaser: "Fancy popping the BIG question to your pizza lover while you #ValenDineIn this year? Comment below for your chance to win our one-off, unique pizza engagement ring. Probably the most taste-ful way to seal the deal, ever!"

Contestants were required to comment on the post between noon and 10 p.m. on February 13. The company promised to pick a winner and deliver the engagement ring on Valentine's Day.

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The yellow gold ring is designed to look like a lifelike slice of pizza topped with four round diamonds that are made to appear as if they are pepperoni slices.

Domino's did not reveal the individual diamond sizes nor their quality characteristics. Still, this item was a must-have for the 500-plus participants who left clever comments on the Domino's Facebook post. Here's a sampling of what they wrote...

Penned Kate Smith, "My fella has just proposed to me, but this would be a true symbol of our love. Our first Valentine's Day was actually spent with a Domino's pizza and watching football on TV nearly five years ago now. This would be the topping on the pizza if I had this ring."

Added Shannon Wilmot, "I just showed my husband this ring and his response was "WHY ARE WE MARRIED ALREADY!?" When I then explained [the contest is] open to everyone, he told me I had to enter. I think he'd probably end up wearing it more than me or we could share if it fit both of us."

Founded in 1960, Domino's Pizza has 11,000 stores in 75 countries. The company employs 260,000 and generates annual sales of $2.2 billion. That's a lot of pizza.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Domino's.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Showing Your Love by Literally 'Giving Her the Moon' May Be a Reality Sooner Than You Think

Moon Express, a private company charged with unlocking the immense potential of the moon's valuable resources, has gotten approval from the U.S. government to begin lunar exploration before the end of this year. The company will be looking to mine gold, platinum, moon rocks and other materials with an estimated potential value of $16 quadrillion. (One thousand trillion is a quadrillion.)

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Before long, it's conceivable that the center stone of your engagement ring could be a moon rock instead of a diamond and that the precious metal used for that ring may have originated on the lunar surface.

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Moon Express co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain sees it this way: "Today, people look at diamonds as this rare thing on Earth," he said. "Imagine telling someone you love her by giving her the moon."

Jain expressed two major goals of moon exploration. On one hand, he recognizes the huge commercial upside, and on the other, he sees the settlement of the Moon as a way to ensure the continuation of the human race in the event of a cataclysmic disaster on Earth.

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"In the immediate future, we envision bringing precious resources, metals and Moon rocks back to Earth," the billionaire entrepreneur noted. "The sky is not the limit for Moon Express — it is the launchpad. This breakthrough ruling is another giant leap for humanity. Space travel is our only path forward to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children."

Far from being made from green cheese, the moon is rich in gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten and Helium-3, a gas that could be used in fusion reactors, providing nuclear power without radioactive waste.

"We shouldn't only be mining the Earth," he said. "We should be thinking of the moon as our eighth continent."

Getting the green light to explore the moon was no easy task for the Moon Express team. It required in-depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies. The group also had to demonstrate to NASA experts at Kennedy Space Center in Florida how its robotic spacecraft would operate on the moon's surface. Moon Express is the only private firm to have been granted permission to leave the Earth and land on the moon.

Moon Express, which is based in Cape Canaveral, Fla., is competing for Google's Lunar XPRIZE, a $20 million award for the first team to put a robotic spacecraft on the moon and deliver data, images and video from the landing site and from 500 meters away. The Moon Express lander is named MX-1 and is about the size of a washing machine.

Within 10 years, Moon Express expects to offer a whole new category of tourism — holidays to the moon. Jain also noted that the moon could act as a fueling station, enabling easier travel for exploration to and from other planets.

"We went to the moon 50 years ago, yet today we have more computing power with our iPhones than the computers that sent men into space," Jain told CNBC.com. "That type of exponential technological growth is allowing things to happen that [were] never possible before."

Credits: Renderings courtesy of Moon Express; Screen capture via cnbc.com.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Music Friday: Glen Hansard Wonders If a Little Band of Gold Can Keep Her Love From Going Cold

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Oscar-winning Irish singer-songwriter-actor-musician Glen Hansard wonders if a simple wedding band has the power to save his marriage in the 2015 folk song "Wedding Ring."

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Written by Hansard, "Wedding Ring" is about a man who loves his wife but has doubts about her fidelity. He describes her as a "wildcat on the prowl" and fears he may be losing her.

In the catchy refrain, Hansard asks, "Wedding ring, wedding ring / Little band of gold / Will you be strong enough to keep her / Keep her love from going cold?"

"Wedding Ring" appears as the second track of his second studio album Didn't He Ramble. The 2015 LP scored a nomination for Best Folk Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. It also performed well on the charts, rising to #5 on the U.S. Billboard Folk Albums chart and #16 on the U.S. Billboard Top Alternative Albums chart.

Born in Dublin in 1970, Hansard dropped out of school as a 13-year-old and eked out a living as a street performer. At the age of 20, he formed a band called The Frames and later became one half of the folk rock duo The Swell Season.

He showed off is acting chops in The Commitments (1991) and starred in the musical Once (2007). In that role, he performed the lead ballad "Falling Slowly" with co-star Markéta Irglová. The tune netted him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

According to Allmusic.com, Hansard is an artist who is not afraid to lay bare his soul for his audience to see. Hansard claims his music inspiration comes from three world-class artists.

Says Hansard, "In my house, when I was a kid, there was the holy trinity, which was Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan — with Bob sitting center."

Please check out the video of Hansard's live performance of "Wedding Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Wedding Ring"
Written and performed by Glen Hansard.

Where you running to now, baby
Running all the time
Where you running to now, darlin'
Running to all the time
Well, I sure hope it's to your sister
And not that mean brother of mine

I've been trying to reach you, darlin'
I try, I try in vain
I've been trying to reach you, darlin'
Though I try, I try in vain
I always end up losing you
And walking home in the rain

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
Keep her love from going cold?

There's a wildcat in you, woman
A wildcat on the prowl
There's a wildcat in you, woman
A wildcat on the prowl
Every time I put my arms around you
I can hear that wildcat growl

I remember when I met you
There was something about the moon
I remember the night I met you
There was something about the moon
I don't know if it was waxing or waning
But I knew that you'd be leaving soon

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from getting old?

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from going cold?

Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from getting old
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from going cold?

Credit: Image capture via YouTube.com.