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"Tails," Mickey Rourke, Palin 2012 & Other Things You Can Bet On

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It's easy to find a place online where you can place a bet on the Steelers, who are favored by 7 points in Sunday's big game. The final outcome is only one of the things you can bet on, though. Almost every other event that takes place during the game will have some effect on the outcome of one of the many ridiculous Super Bowl prop bets; any time the ball moves or the whistle blows, someone probably wins or loses money. Let's take a look at some of the wagers you can make if you're desperate for action this Sunday, as well as a few non-football bets.

1. The Coin Flip

Betting on the Super Bowl is great and all, but you have to wait several hours for the game to finish. Sometimes you need action a bit faster than that. To help quench the public's insatiable thirst for gambling, many sportsbook sites take wagers on the game's opening coin flip. For a mere $105 bet, you can win $100 if you pick the right side of the coin. And as a possible side effect, your high school stats teacher's head will probably explode the moment you make the bet!

2. The Team to Get the First Penalty

That little yellow flag could mean big green for you if you bet on which team is penalized first. It's tough to pick a winner here since the two teams were actually pretty close in number of penalties this season. The Cardinals were 8th in the NFL with 98 penalties, while the Steelers came in 12th with 91. In the playoffs the Cards have had 19 while the Steelers have had 14, but it's such a small sample size that you probably don't want to bet your house on either squad. If this wager isn't specific enough for you, though, you can make bets on which team has the first pass interference or holding called against it.

3. Team to Use a Challenge First

Whether or not you support the use of instant replay, you can make a bit of cash the first time the red flag flies out. This wager would be far more exciting if the Eagles had actually made the Super Bowl, as some industrious sportsbook would offer a line on "Coach to Make the First Successful Challenge," and offer 5,000-to-1 odds on Andy Reid.

4. Receiving Yards

The truly prop-crazy can bet on his favorite player's receiving yards in the game. Bettors can pick how many yards they think a player will rack up during the game, bet over/unders on how long the player's first catch will be, and lay cash on whether or not the player will score a touchdown in the game.

If that's not enough for you, though, and you really enjoy numbers, you can also bet on whether or not a player's receiving yardage total will be an odd or even number. BetUS and other sportsbooks will allow the truly degenerate among us to pick odds or evens, then back their position with cash. You may roll your eyes now, but the joke will be on you when I've spent four days poring over spreadsheets to discern whether or not Early Doucet is really a threat to go odd this game.

Maybe you didn't get the Early Doucet reference, and football isn't your thing. But that doesn't mean you can't have your friends awkwardly stage a gambling intervention for you. There are a number of other betting opportunities available to you even if you've never watched a sporting event in your life.

5. The Grammys

coldplay.jpg is currently booking bets on who will win Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" is the early favorite for Record of the Year; its money line is currently +110, meaning that a $100 bet would win the bettor $110. Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III and Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends are both +165 in the Album of the Year race, and the title track of Coldplay's record is the favorite in the running for Song of the Year.

6. The Oscars

If you're not up with the Grammy races, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences threw out its Oscar nominations last week, and the lines are already up at In the early going, Slumdog Millionaire is a -300 favorite, meaning that to win $100, a bettor would have to put up a $300 bet. Mickey Rourke's lauded performance in The Wrestler is a -150 favorite to win Best Actor honors, while Kate Winslet's turn in The Reader is a -125 favorite in the Best Actress betting.

7. American Idol

You may not know exactly who's going to win this season's singing reality show, but do you at least have a hunch what gender they'll be? If so, pull out your credit card, because it's not too tough to book a bet on whether the winner will be male or female.

8. The Tour de France

The Tour de France doesn't start until summer, but you can already bet on the outcome. BetUS has 2007 champ Alberto Contador going off at +120, but fresh-out-of-retirement Lance Armstrong is no long shot himself at +250.

9. The 2012 Presidential Election

sarah_palin_2012_shirt-p235021617867641780qz2z_210.jpgPresident Obama may only have been in office for a week, but speculation is already running rampant about who will run against him in the 2012 race. is offering wagers on who will win the White House in just under four years, and of course Obama's the heavy favorite at -125. The candidate with the next-best odds? Sarah Palin at +1000.

A Palin presidency may seem a bit far-fetched to some, but if you're willing to entrust an online sportsbook with your money for almost four years, you're probably willing to take some leaps of faith. [Image courtesy of Zazzle.]

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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