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6 Reasons Why James Lipton is the Coolest

As host of Inside the Actor's Studio, James Lipton has garnered a reputation as a stuffy academic, throwing around words like "existential" and sounding out every syllable in "extraordinary." But, based on my research, he actually seems pretty cool.

1) He and Conan can bring the silly (frat boy style)

On his many appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Lipton really lets his hair down to the point where he might as well just join a frat. To kick off spring break one year, he shotgunned a beer on the show (after delivering a short lecture on Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing, of course). Another time, he appeared dressed as a belly dancer. But his best appearance featured a two-fer: first, he eloquently recites a verse from Kevin Federline's new rap album, then follows it up by doing a beer bong on the stage (Caution: possibly NSFW). Nothing can quite compare to Lipton, hat appropriately cocked sideways, saying with a sly smile "This is for the haters."

2) People think he was a pimp (but he wasn't)

Living in France in his youth, Lipton found himself unemployed so, according to his biography, Inside Inside, he ended up working as a maquereau. A common misconception is that a maquereau is a pimp- it's actually quite the opposite. A maquereau works for a prostitute, setting up her encounters. According to Lipton, he had a successful run in that line, especially among tourists.

3) He's not afraid to laugh at himself

Lots of people have tried to imitate Lipton, but none have come as close as Will Ferrell, who masters Lipton's speech and often pompous line of questions. But rather than eschewing the parody or watching it with the sound off (a la Sarah Palin), Lipton embraced it. He has consistently praised Ferrell's as the best imitation of him out there. And in 2001, he even took it a step further when, at the Concert for New York, he imitated Ferrell imitating him.

Even beyond praising Ferrell, though, Lipton's not afraid of a little self-parody. On Arrested Development, he played an acting theory-obsessed jail warden, training Tobias to use real-life experience to enhance the character of Frightened Inmate 2. And on Da Ali G Show, he wrote and performed a short rap.

4) He can do commercials and still make them good

I'm not a fan of the GEICO gecko and I'm done with the cavemen. But there is one set of ads for the insurance company I like "“ the tongue-in-cheek celebrity pitchmen. And none is better than Litpon's, where he tells a customer's story in his traditional flowery language.

Of course, there's also the series of ads Lipton did this summer for Hellboy 2, where he interviewed Ron Perlman in character, talking about his inner demons and preferred method of fighting.

And as another parody of his interviewing prowess, in 2005, Lipton did a set of ads with DC Shoes where he sat down with a number of Xtreme athletes.


Watch Danny Way and James Lipton Commercial in Sports Online  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

5) He makes movie stars swear

In the last act of any of his shows, Lipton presents his illustrious guests with ten questions, based on Bernard Pivot's version of the Proust Questionnaire. Those questions usually let the guests goof off while they share their favorite sounds, their least favorite words and what they want God to say to them at the Pearly Gates. But undoubtedly the most entertaining question is the seventh "“ What is your favorite curse word? It's fun to see legends like Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman blush and then get bleeped. In this clip, see Natalie Portman spout off her favorite curse.

6) He can dance

Watch him in action here.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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