By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  Dec. 24, 2002 at 3:22 PM
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Photogenic, patriotic country star Alan Jackson has been named Tennessean of the year. The announcement was made by the major newspaper in Nashville, the Tennessean. . The Arista recording superstar had an award-filled year with both commercial and other unforgettable songs. One major release was his pro-American ballad "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" on CD, an ode to the terror events of Sept. 11 and the heroes of the day. In making the announcement, the publication noted that not only is Jackson a superstar, but a great guy, a true American and one of the country music industry's shining lights.


One of the great living entertainers, Sir Paul McCartney, how has his own official coat of arms. The Times of London is reporting that McCartney's new emblem features a rare British bird with a guitar in its talons. There are also representations of the four Beatles in the crest of the arms. The singer-songwriter chose as his motto, "Ecce Cor Meum." That translates from Latin as, "Behold my Heart," which is, incidentally, the name of a major work that McCartney composed several years ago. Shortly after being knighted, McCartney became eligible to apply for his personal crest. A British registry, formed in the 1400s, oversees the authorization of coats of arms.


One of the favorites in the world of jazz, Stella Brooks, has died. The golden-throated singer was a friend of many in the jazz world. According to published reports, her death came some days ago, but the announcement was just made by surviving family members to the media. Along the way she performed in the best jazz clubs in the country. Her impeccable timing style and precise sense of theater presentation set her apart in an industry filled with "saloon singers." She often told interviewers that she was a little sad that so many others copied her style ... and her songs. Many modern-day jazz lovers have no idea that what they are hearing from young performers was "invented" by Brooks during her heyday, the 1940s' and '50s. Stella Brooks was 92. She died of cancer in California.


With the departure of Al Gore from the race and a cloud over Trent Lott, will Florida Sen. Bob Graham make a bid? Florida's senior member of the U.S. Senate may do just that. While appearing on a Haitian-American radio talk show in Miami Monday, Graham noted that he is "seriously" considering such a run for the Oval Office. He said that straightening up the economy and continuing to wage a strong war on terrorism are his main concerns. Graham, a Democrat, told listeners that he will talk about the issue with family and friends over the holidays. He is a former governor of Florida and, in recent months, has been a strong critic of President Bush's announced plans to invade Iraq.


Recently re-elected Calif. Gov. Gray Davis has come up with a way to help pay for his upcoming inauguration. His office tells the San Francisco Chronicle that Davis will be giving big perks to big contributors, if they help defray some of the expenses for what is being described as a "scaled-down" event. The publication is reporting that Davis is offering special friends the chance to become a part of the soiree, rewarding their contributions with labels such as "Platinum Sponsors." For the less wealthy there are gold-level memberships. A contribution of $50,000 will earn you platinum status, plus 40 tickets to the inaugural (if he wins re-election) and your name in the program for the swearing-in ceremonies and parties. At the gold level, sponsors get fewer perks, but will be part of the party. But the head of the California Senate, Ross Johnson, says the concept is "an affront." He says the open asking for big bucks can cause conflict of interest problems in the future. Gray's people say that less than $1 million will be raised from perks-seeking contributors and that's just a pittance compared the total re-election budget.


Judge Ellen Morphonios, famous for her tough sentences, has died. She first gained international attention for her attempts to throttle rock star Jim Morrison for his alleged indecent exposures on the stage. Later in her career she sentenced some rapists to thousand-year terms during her years on the bench. And, according to the Miami Herald, she was full of idiosyncrasies. They became, in the words of the publication, "courthouse legends." She was an avid animal lover and sometimes brought a pet monkey, clad in diapers, to work with her. She even moonlighted on a local radio station in a talk show on which she called herself Lady Ellen. Before her death she wrote of her years on the bench and her strict sentencing procedures in a self-titled memoir called "Maximum Morphonios." Her death came as the result of stomach cancer. Ellen Morphonios was 73.


Again today we are asking you to take time to collect your New Year's resolutions. So, when you have time, send us a list of the things you resolve to do or fix in the coming year. Send to via the Internet, with PROMISE in the subject line.


Last week, inspired by the release from the hospital of Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot, we asked who was your favorite, ballad-style singer. By percentages, from a quick dip into the e-mail inbox, here are your preferences:

Bob Dylan ... 35 percent

Tony Bennett ... 30 percent

Gordon Lightfoot ... 5 percent

Jim Croce ... 10 percent

Nat Cole ... 10 percent

Diane Krall ... 8 percent

Others, including Don Ho, Billy Joel and Liza Minnelli, make up the rest of your favorites.

TOMORROW: The greatest gifts and your honoree. GBA

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