Archive for Rule 5

Madame President

Roberta Anastase, born on this date in 1976, served as the first female President of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, from 2008 to 2012. She was a member of the Democratic Liberal Party, which held 115 of the 334 seats in the Chamber. In 2009, the Social Democratic Party, which held 114 seats, withdrew from the governing coalition; the government subsequently fell in a vote of no confidence, though Anastase held on to her seat until 2012.

Roberta Anastase at work

Roberta Anastase waits

Before all this political stuff, Anastase represented Romania in the 1996 Miss Universe competition, though this took some time on the pageant circuit:

Roberta Anastase in the swimsuit competition

Peripheral note: Before you ask: 1996 was the first year that Donald Trump (remember him?) owned the Miss Universe operation; he is no longer connected to Miss Universe.

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Leeza, Leeza

Leeza Gibbons has been on television almost as long as there’s been television to be on, or so it seems sometimes: in her 60 years (as of tomorrow) she’s hosted several hit shows, including one bearing her name. She even had a nice, long run on the radio, and she’s done dozens of informercials. Her latest gig: co-hosting the Rose Parade on New Year’s.

Leeza Gibbons, one shoe off, one shoe on

Leeza Gibbons, easily suede

Leeza Gibbons on a red carpet

And in 2015, she won Celebrity Apprentice:

The best part of that, perhaps, is that she defeated Geraldo Rivera.

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Bai now, enjoy the rush

The thing about Bai Ling, I think, is that she’s cheerfully exhibitionistic without being prurient about it: she may be trying to turn your head, but she doesn’t seem to be trying to turn you on. (At the ripe old age of 50, this is a perfectly reasonable stance to be taking.)

She’s also not much of a singer, but this hasn’t discouraged her in the slightest. From 2012, her single “Tuesday Night 8 PM”:

These photos are from the last 10 days or so of her Twitter feed.

Bai Ling as something of a Transformer

Bai Ling on the floor

This one is below the jump, in case your sensibilities are subject to outrage by such things:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Not the usual J-pop

Kana Nishino gets a mention here because:

  • It’s her 28th birthday;
  • Unlike many J-pop artists, she writes most of her own lyrics.

Neither of these necessarily explains why she had a hit record titled “Esperanza”:

Still, why shouldn’t the Japanese be treated to an occasional Latinesque beat?

Of course, Kana ranks high on the Disturbingly Cute scale, as is seemingly mandatory in J-pop:

Photo from session for Kana Nishino's album To Love

Kana Nishino in cover art

Portrait of Kana Nishino

Okay, one more single. This is “Aitakute Aitakute” (“I miss you, I miss you”), which is perhaps more typical J-pop:

For some reason, I never get tired of this stuff.

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It should have been

We should have spent the weekend celebrating Christina Grimmie’s 23rd birthday. One of a very few YouTubers who made the jump to the Big Time, she appeared in season four of The Voice and finished third; Usher, one of the many who were impressed, dubbed her a “baby Céline Dion.” She wound up with a recording contract and a devoted fan base.

Christine Grimmie stretches out a bit

Christine Grimmie stands up for herself

Christine Grimmie takes notes

Then came that horrible night in June 2016 in Orlando:

Florida authorities answered one of the major questions in the shooting death of Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who made her name on NBC’s “The Voice.”

The man who killed her was Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to Orlando police. But they didn’t give any background on Loibl or offer a possible motive.

Loibl, tackled by Christine’s brother Marcus, turned the gun on himself. It was subsequently concluded that Loibl was obsessed with her and at one time had hoped to win her affections, although one has to wonder how he was going to do that with a Glock 9mm.

And two nights later, another madman opened fire on The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing forty-nine.

This was Christine’s very first YouTube video, a cover of “Don’t Wanna Be Torn” by Hannah Montana:

There will be one last release, an EP titled Side B (there already has been a Side A), due later this month. This is the first single:

Happy birthday, Christina, wherever you may be.

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A modest spectacle

Singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, forty-nine today, is probably best known for her trademark eyeglasses, which she eventually developed into a full line of designer specs. She’s also recorded 13 albums.

Lisa Loeb attends a BMI function

Lisa Loeb sits up

Lisa Loeb goes casual

Her 1994 single “Stay (I Missed You)” was played over the credits of Ben Stiller’s film Reality Bites, and eventually climbed to the very top of the Billboard Hot 100, despite the fact that Loeb didn’t have a recording contract at the time.

Ethan Hawke, who lived across the street from Loeb in those days, was the one who talked Stiller into buying her song for the film soundtrack; he also directed Loeb’s music video.

I frankly find it hard to believe she’s 49 years old. Must be the glasses.

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Not suddenly slinky

Singer Işın Karaca was born in London on this date in 1973 to a Cypriot mother and a Turkish father. (Perhaps understandably, she shortened her surname from Büyükkaraca.) Despite a degree in theatre, she didn’t start singing in earnest until her middle twenties, when she recorded songs for the Turkish version of Disney’s Hercules.

Işın Karaca in blue

Işın Karaca in red and blue

Işın Karaca with singing partner Sefa Chesmeberah

By the middle of last decade she’d put on something like 30 kg, and in 2005 she wrote a book titled Büyümek İçin Küçümek Lazĭm (“Need to get smaller to grow”), which, she said, would not be published until she got down to a size 36. The book came out in 2007.

The chap with her in the third picture is singer Sefa Chesmeberah, who duets with her on the single “Sevmekten Anladığım” (“What I understand about love”), from her so-far-unreleased album Eyvallah (“Okay,” more or less):

The single, the second from the album, was released this past January.

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ABCD

Which stands for “Australian-born confused desi,” an epithet sometimes used on Vimala Raman, the most successful Australian actor — she was born in Sydney — in Indian cinema history. She doesn’t seem so confused to me; India produces motion pictures in five different languages, and after some forty-odd films, Vimala speaks them all. What’s more, she studied the Bharatanatyam dance, and has a degree in, um, Information Systems from the University of New South Wales.

Vimala Raman on a plastic chair

Vimala Raman in Desi Dukes

Vimala Raman in a hammock

Don’t even think about dubbing that denim in the middle picture “Desi Dukes.”

Love life? “I don’t have one yet,” she says:

See? Not confused at all.

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Exactly the right size

Cush Jumbo will brook no mockery of her name, which was bestowed on her by parents Angela and Marx Jumbo. (She’s British; he’s Nigerian.) She’s thirty-one and has quite a CV, including her own play Josephine and I, about jazz singer Josephine Baker:

Cush Jumbo in Josephine and I

She’s also done film and television, including the last season of CBS’ The Good Wife, which led to a role in CBS’ current streaming series The Good Fight, from the same producers.

Cush Jumbo at the BAFTAs

Cush Jumbo at the Legend of Tarzan premiere

Unsurprisingly, she’s promoted herself and her series on CBS talkers, including this weird encounter with the Late Show’s Stephen Colbert that descends into Synchronized Shakespeare:

Clearly someone worth watching for the next three or four decades.

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Beyond blonde

Joan Blondell first appeared on stage in the winter of 1906-07, aged four months. (She was an infant in a cradle; she had no actual lines to learn.) Fortunately, no one remembered her, so when she decided to strike three years off her age, changing her birth date to 30 August 1909, there was no outcry.

In 1930, she starred on Broadway with James Cagney (!) in the short-lived Penny Arcade, which lasted long enough to be her ticket to Hollywood, where it became the feature film Sinners’ Holiday. This was before the Production Code, so Blondell found herself playing some occasionally salacious roles.

Joan Blondell rejected!

Joan Blondell in 1933

Joan Blondell places a call

Did I say “salacious”? Here’s Joan with Barbara Stanwyck in Night Nurse (1931), in which there’s an awful lot of lingerie on display:

Blondell died on Christmas Day 1979; her last appearance was in the 1981 The Woman Inside, playing the perplexed aunt of a Vietnam vet who’s contemplating sexual-reassignment surgery. Not at all salacious, of course.

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Flying like a stream of thunder

Tahliah Debrett Barnett was tagged with the nickname “Twigs,” supposedly for her creaky joints, something you don’t expect in a slight-ish woman of twenty-four. When pop duo The Twigs complained, she adopted the tag “FKA twigs,” though she denies the prefix stands for “Formerly Known As.”

It’s not that you couldn’t tell them apart, either. FKA twigs sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before, and is quite unapologetic about it:

“When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: ‘I’ve never heard anything like this before, it’s not in a genre.’ And then my picture came out six months later, now she’s an R&B singer. I share certain sonic threads with classical music; my song ‘Preface’ is like a hymn. So let’s talk about that. If I was white and blonde and said I went to church all the time, you’d be talking about the ‘choral aspect’. But you’re not talking about that because I’m a mixed-race girl from south London.”

See what you think of “Preface.”

FKA twigs for Calvin Klein

FKA twigs puts her hands up

FKA twigs on the red carpet

Twigs and heartthrob Robert Pattinson have been an item for more than two years now.

My own favorite twigs tune, perhaps because it’s fearfully intense while still keeping its distance, is “Two Weeks,” which, like “Preface,” comes from her first LP, LP1. “Two Weeks” made it to #42 on the Billboard dance chart.

You might not want to play “Two Weeks” at work.

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J_ST T_RN_D S_XT_

Yes, boys and girls, it’s true: Vanna White, she who has turned the letters on Wheel of Fortune for the last 35 years, has just turned sixty. It took me a few moments to remember that Vanna was the second letter-turner for Wheel; Susan Stafford did it first, from 1975 to 1982, and for one week in 1986 while Vanna was mourning her fiancé, who was killed in a plane crash.

From time to time, she’s done non-Wheel stuff, but her main gig has kept her in yogurt and yarn for all these years, and there’s no sign it’s going to get away from her.

Vanna takes a break to knit

Vanna raids the fridge

Vanna on the red carpet, though not all that red

Oh, and there’s this little artifact from 1987. I still have the 12-inch single:

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Waiting for 222

It’s Valentine’s Day. Why don’t we hear anything about Karen Valentine anymore?

Well, she’s not working as hard as she used to. Her most recent credit was opposite John Larroquette in a 2004 Hallmark Channel movie, Wedding Daze, directed by Georg Stanford Brown, who appeared in an episode of (yes!) Room 222, the series that made her famous. A long way from Walt Whitman High, perhaps, but aren’t we all?

Karen Valentine with John Larroquette in 2004

I did learn that at five foot four, she’s about two inches taller than I thought.

Karen Valentine in some insubstantial shoes

Karen Valentine at practice

Can you ignore this face?  I didn't think so

A lot of the vintage pictures of Karen have turned up in this five-minute video thing:

The first half of that was a B-side by the Surfaris (“Wipe Out”) that later was recorded by the Beach Boys for a TV series called Karen, which was not Karen Valentine’s 1975 series Karen.

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This big-eyed girl

If you, like me, tend to think of Christina Ricci in terms of Wednesday Addams, you will flinch, as I did, when you hear that she’ll be thirty-eight tomorrow. What she won’t be, however, is any taller:

Christina Ricci says she doesn’t think she’ll ever be a major star because she’s too short. “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen for me,” the Black Snake Moan star tells Premiere. “I’m five-one first thing in the morning, and I tend to look really small on camera. I can probably go as far as Holly Hunter went, then I think that’s going to be it. I have a feeling I am way too small.”

Perhaps being small enough to fit into the fridge is indeed too small. However, she’s hard to overlook:

Christina Ricci at the British Academy Awards

Christina Ricci stretches out, sort of

Christina Ricci goes blonde

Of late, she seems to have opted for blondness. She still does a good disembodied voice, though: you’ll be able to hear her as Terra in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, due later this year, and if you don’t want to wait that long, you can hear her in bite-size (sorry) segments in Beck’s 2005 record “Hell Yes.”

(Title, if you were curious, comes from Siouxsie and the Banshees.)

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Poor Marie

Marie Prevost made 121 pictures in her abbreviated career, some of them bordering on great: she got excellent reviews in the 1922 The Beautiful and Damned, though F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t like her; Ernst Lubitsch thought enough of her to cast her three times, most notably in Three Women; she had the lead in Howard Hughes’ The Racket. What all these had in common was a lack of a soundtrack; she proved capable in talkies, but she had other problems. One of those problems was Howard Hughes; Marie was already depressed and drinking a bit, and a brief affair with Hughes made things worse for her. In the 1930s, she was both drinking and overeating.

Marie Provost in publicity still for The Beautiful and Damned

Marie Provost in proper Twenties costume

Marie Provost in publicity still

In the 1970s, British rocker Nick Lowe turned out a song about Marie, which proved to be something of a stretch, particularly the chorus: “She was a winner / Who became a doggie’s dinner / She never meant that much to me / Poor Marie.” This untimely demise was described by Kenneth Anger in Hollywood Babylon; it is true that after she died in January 1937 — it was two days before her body was found — that her dachshund had bitten her on the legs in an attempt to rouse her, but the little hound wasn’t that hungry.

Prevost’s plight did have one positive outcome: Hollywood stars and executives would forthwith create the Motion Picture (later, “& Television”) Country House and Hospital, a place to care for ill stars and nonstars. The facility was operational through 2008; after some dollar-related crises, it has since reopened on a firmer financial footing.

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Tangled up in whom

Your assignment today, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out Gabrielle Anwar’s character in the Showtime series The Tudors, which despite its title was all about Henry VIII.

Give up? Here’s the scoop:

The character of Henry’s sister, called “Princess Margaret” in the series, is actually a composite of his two sisters: the life events of his younger sister, Princess Mary Tudor, coupled with the name of his elder sister, Margaret Tudor. This was reportedly done to avoid confusion with Henry’s daughter, Mary I of England.

Then again, it’s not like they were going for Absolute Historical Accuracy in the series.

Gabrielle Anwar’s most recent major role was as Fiona in Burn Notice.

Gabrielle Anwar at rest

Gabrielle Anwar in a swimsuit

Gabrielle Anwar in a scene from Burn Notice

And you may remember her tango-ing with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman:

She’s forty-seven today.

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Suzanne, the plans they made

Suzanne Pleshette was twenty in 1957 when she made her theatrical debut, in Meyer Levin’s Compulsion. (Her film debut, the following year, in Jerry Lewis’s The Geisha Boy, might have been a tad less prestigious.) It was generally accepted that she could do Just About Anything, up to and including a couple of voices for the English dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Suzanne Pleshette wearing not a whole lot

Suzanne Pleshette looking demure

Suzanne Pleshette still wearing not a whole lot

Suzanne Pleshette being carried by Steve McQueen

This last is a still from Nevada Smith, from 1966, in which Suzanne is a Cajun girl working in the Louisiana rice fields and is here carried off by Steve McQueen. (Just About Anything, remember?)

A lot of us, though, remember her as Emily Hartley in The Bob Newhart Show, and, unexpectedly, in the last scene of another Newhart show entirely. She explains how this came to be:

And “this,” of course, might have been the greatest last scene from a situation comedy in the history of the universe:

Suzanne Pleshette, alas, is no longer with us; she died of respiratory failure in 2008. She would have been 80 today.

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Street where she lived

Start here:

Secretary, twenty-seven, quiet, fast as hell on her feet, had been places. Worked in a carnival or side show, knows all the lines, hard-boiled exterior, quietly efficient, puzzled over the lawyer, chestnut hair, trim figure, some lines on her face, a hint of weariness at the corners of her eyes.

This was Erle Stanley Gardner’s description of one Della Street, a character in his then-unpublished novel Reasonable Doubt. An editor at William Morrow liked the character but wasn’t prepared to accept the novel; Gardner rewrote the story, retitled it The Case of the Velvet Claws, and gave Della Street a new day job: secretary to criminal-defense lawyer Perry Mason.

That was 1933. Barbara Hale was eleven years old and had no idea that she’d become Della Street in 1957 for what would be 271 episodes of the Perry Mason TV series plus dozens of TV-movies thereafter. When she arrived in Hollywood, she got mostly uncredited bit parts along the lines of “stocking salesgirl” (from Gildersleeve on Broadway, 1943); it took her a few years to become a household word, and a little bit longer to realize that Della Street would take over her life.

Barbara Hale in black and white

Barbara Hale with summer grooming tips

Barbara Hale looking pretty

Portrait of Barbara Hale, in landscape

Okay, maybe not her entire life:

I had a Radarange. (It said “Amana,” it did. And it probably said “hernia” to the burglar who stole it.)

Barbara Hale died yesterday at her home in Sherman Oaks, California, of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was ninety-four years old.

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When you’re wasting time

Diane Birch, born 34 years ago today in Michigan, isn’t one to waste time. In 2006, she was playing piano at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel when she was noticed by Prince, who asked her to sit in with his band; she apparently took that as a sign, put her name on a publishing contract (outside the Purple Machine), and began writing songs for what would become the Bible Belt album.

Diane Birch in 2013

Diane Birch in 2010

Diane Birch in 2014

In 2013, her second album, Speak a Little Louder, appeared. It was the title song of that album that I first noticed. There is no official video, but she’s sung the song all over the place: we have here a clip from CBS This Morning.

“Without depression,” she once said, “I’d have no songs.” Let’s try not to cheer her up too much.

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Zooeypalooza 25!

Let us celebrate the birthday girl on her, um, thirty-seventh.

Zooeypalooza 25!

Embiggenment doth follow clickage.

Paloozas of the past: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18, ZP 19, ZP 20, ZP 21, ZP 22, ZP 23, ZP 24.

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First-degree Bern

For the moment, Simonetta Sommaruga is head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, a position she has held since 2010. In 2014, she served as Vice President of the Swiss Confederation; the following year, she ascended to the Presidency — which, under Swiss law, is something like being Mayor rather than a head of state — and resumed her previous duties a year later. Born in Zug in 1960, she’s a Social Democrat and a gardener.

Simonetta Sommaruga on the sofa

Simonetta Sommaruga in the garden

Simonetta Sommaruga in black

Switzerland has four official languages, and we know she speaks at least two of them. Here, on her first day as President, she gives basically the same interview in French and in German:

The French version, for some reason, runs twenty-two seconds longer.

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Somehow the eighth

I was mildly dismayed to learn that Octavia Spencer is just one of seven children; I was so hoping that there would be one more sibling, to make the name fit. Not that she’s concerned about such silly things: she’s very busy these days, what with the recent opening of Hidden Figures, now in theaters, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Octavia Spencer at the HFAs

Octavia Spencer head shot

Octavia Spencer has just arrived

In the upcoming The Shack, she plays God, which bothers some people:

The Shack, a film based on a New York Times bestseller of the same name, is stirring controversy among evangelicals because a black woman — Octavia Spencer — is playing God.

Is this a major overreaction?

The fictional book written by William P. Young about a father who finds his way back to faith and healing after the brutal murder of his daughter, has drawn the ire of many Christians who have labeled it heresy.

I think the operative word here is “fictional.” Here’s the trailer:

It seems to me that if George Burns or Alanis Morissette can play God, so can Octavia Spencer.

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Ritual comedy

Ritu Barmecha’s Twitter bio: “Actor-traveller-lover of life-Authentic-cafe person-movie lover-die-hard romantic-and a very happy girl.”

Not a bad way to be, really.

Ritu Barmecha looking demure

Ritu Barmecha in costume

Ritu Barmecha at work

She’s currently starring in the soap opera Agar Tum Saath Ho (Hindi: “If you are with…”) on Zindagi TV, describable thusly:

It is the story of love transcending class differences; the story of Neema and Ravi who belong to two completely different worlds. Neema, the daughter of an affluent and caring father falls in love with a simple middle class boy Ravi and marries him against her father’s wishes. However, her over-protective father showers luxuries on his daughter on his own accord. His constant interference brings in misunderstandings and differences between the couple to the extent that they consider parting ways. Will class difference and an opposing father destroy the relationship? Or will love prove stronger against all odds?

Now there’s a classic plot.

Also from the realm of the familiar, this scene from her first film, the Telugu-language Aha Naa Pellanta:

How did this happen? Yeah, you’ve probably seen this scene a few times too.

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Principal with interest

I always assumed that “Victoria Principal” was a screen name, nothing more. Which shows you how little I know: “Principal” is for real her surname, but her original given name was, um, Vicki.

Victoria Principal standing sort of tall

The Wiki guys describe how she got her first role:

In 1970, Principal moved to Hollywood. She had no money, no car, no agent, and no prior television or movie-making experiences beside the commercials she had made in her teenage years. She reportedly supported herself by teaching backgammon. Nine months later she had a car, an agent, a little money but auditioned and won her first film role as Marie Elena, a Mexican mistress, in Paul Newman’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), for which she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Most Promising Newcomer.

Victoria Principal cranks the tunes

In 1973, Playboy beckoned; Principal would do a pictorial and would take the female lead in The Naked Ape, an R-rated flesh-fest that Desmond Morris had nothing to do with.

Victoria Principal without a stitch

But she’s probably best known for her nine years as Pamela Barnes Ewing on the prime-time soap Dallas.

Principal opted out of the 2012 Dallas revival. She had Good Deeds to Do, one of which was funding the American Humane Association’s Red Star Rescue Team, which worked here in central Oklahoma to reunite lost pets with their families after the 2013 tornado on the city’s southern edge, through Moore.

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Worth all the tea

In the spring of 2006, actress Gong Li was voted Most Beautiful Person in China by The Beijing News. She was then 40 years old, and had been acting for 18 years; she’d made her English-language debut the previous fall in Memoirs of a Geisha (!) as Hatsumomo, a woman of considerable wickedness.

Gong Li looking not at all like a Geisha

Gong Li on the red carpet

Gong Li still looking not at all like a Geisha

And just incidentally, she can sing:

Today she’s 51.

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Visit historic Savannah

Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s Today Show since 2012, turns forty-five, um, today. What you might figure: she has the requisite eye-candy quality for broadcast TV. What you might not have figured: she has her J.D. degree — magna cum laude, at that — from Georgetown University Law Center.

As a TV person, though, she is expected to be on camera a lot. This first picture is from 2014, a couple months before the birth of her first child — she’s married to Democratic political consultant Michael Feldman — in which she gets to show off her “baby bump.”

Savannah Guthrie shows off her baby bump

Savannah Guthrie takes a seat

Savannah Guthrie gets her kicks a seat

I have no idea what the heck is going on here, but Natalie Morales (I assume) seems awfully amused, and for Matt Lauer, I have to assume this is in character.

And then there’s this, with Idina Menzel and Ryann Redmond:

I wonder what Gretchen Wilson thinks.

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Sarah writes

In 2015, I read a novel called The Look of Love by Sarah Jio. How it unwinds:

Love, they say (for certain values of “they”), is where you find it. Jane Williams finds it in unexpected places, in an unexpected manner: something mysterious takes place in her limbic system, and she can actually somehow see it. The day she turns twenty-nine, she receives a greeting, an instruction and a warning, all rolled into a single communication: she has this gift, she is told, to enable her to identify six different types of love, which she must complete before the first full moon after her thirtieth birthday — or the consequences will be dire. Her neurologist, meanwhile, predicts a different set of dire consequences if she doesn’t have an operation on her temporal lobe, which may kill her “seeing” ability.

It was a dandy book, with an almost-satisfactory resolution — I don’t think having everything neatly tied up would have improved it any — and I looked up more Jio. I found several books, and several amazing photographs:

Sarah Jio portrait

Sarah Jio seated

Perhaps unexpectedly, she sells a heck of a lot of books in Turkey:

Sarah Jio in a Turkish paper

She does enough business there, in fact, to justify a Turkish Twitter account and this video:

This is the Turkish trailer for her third novel, Blackberry Winter:

There are eight Sarah Jio novels in print somewhere.

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Waiting for Yaya

How does one become a professional cosplayer, anyway? Yaya Han describes how she got there:

The short answer is that I went to a con, saw cosplay in action, and got hooked. But to elaborate — I have been an anime/manga fan since childhood after watching “Saint Seiya”. By my teen years, I had read and watched tons of Japanimation and was an avid artist in Arizona. Through the local anime club I learned about Anime Expo and decided to attend the con to sell my artwork. I found the former website “A Fan’s View” and photos of the previous AX years, including pictures of people dressed up as these cool anime characters. Before knowing what this phenomenon was, I instantly became attracted to it — what better way to show my childhood love for the anime/manga fandom than to “become” my favorite characters?

Unfortunately I didn’t know how to sew back then, so I asked a kind friend to show me the basic use of a sewing machine and patterns. With her help I made my first (Asian inspired) garment and wore it to Anime Expo. Throughout the weekend I kept seeing more people dressed up and learned that this was called COSPLAY! It was all over from that point on.

A few samples:




It was this last appearance that drew my attention. (What, doesn’t everyone have a Google alert for Jessica Rabbit?) In the top photo, she’s Psylocke of the X-Men, or I guess “X-Persons” these days, and in the middle she’s done up in high Yakuza style.

Needless to say, a lot goes into these transformations:

Yaya Han is thirty-six and has been doing this for half her life. I think we can safely assume she’s awfully good at it.

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Sia later

Actually, this is Sia earlier: the singer/songwriter born Sia Kate Isobelle Furler this week in 1975 in Australia, got into the habit, circa 2014, of hiding behind a blonde bob and/or young dancer Maddie Ziegler. She explained why:

“I’m trying to have some control over my image. And I’m allowed to maintain some modicum of privacy. But also I would like not to be picked apart or for people to observe when I put on ten pounds or take off ten pounds or I have a hair extension out of place or my fake tan is botched. Most people don’t have to be under that pressure, and I’d like to be one of them.”

It didn’t keep her off the charts or anything; “Chandelier,” the lead single from her 1000 Forms of Fear album, had two official videos, one in which Sia does not appear but Maddie Ziegler dances up a storm, and a lyric video in which Sia is invisible except for that blonde bob and a pair of sneakers. So she was serious about not being seen; in fact, she sang “Chandelier” on the Ellen show with her back to the audience and Maddie jumping about.

That said:

Sia and a friend

Sia live in 2006

Sia looking pensive

I have no idea who’s dancing up a storm in this video, made for the 2015 film San Andreas. The song, of course, dates back half a century.

Sia was nominated for three 2017 Grammy Awards. Maybe she’ll win one.

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Her Swiftness

On Taylor Swift’s 27th birthday — in case you’d forgotten, she was born in 1989 — it seems logical to present a few of my favorite pix.

Taylor Swift birthday pix

As always with these things, you may click to embiggen.

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