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Saturday, February 04, 2012

6 Wedding Traditions No One Will Miss

A wedding wouldn't be a wedding without a kiss at the end of the ceremony, some food, and some fun. But I'm willing to bet guests wouldn't be too upset if more brides skipped these wedding traditions at nuptials.

Separating the Bride's Side From the Groom's at the Wedding Ceremony

The bride's family and friends sit on the left, the groom's on the right...unless you're Jewish, and then it's the opposite. And at my and Paul's interfaith wedding ceremony, there was mass confusion (OK, not really, but there were some perplexed guests). Ushers would've helped, but you know what would've been even better: if we had a big sign that said, "Sit where you like!" In fact, I wish every bride and groom allowed guests to sit wherever they like (save the first row for the couple's VIPs).

Making a Grand Entrance into the Wedding Reception

We had our MC introduce all 19 members of our wedding party -- six bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a flower girl, a junior bridesmaid, two sets of parents, and me and Paul. As much fun as I had choosing songs for everyone to walk out to, I highly doubt our guests actually cared to watch the whole six-minute ordeal. I've been to weddings where the bride and groom themselves weren't even formally introduced on the mic, and I didn't pick up on that fact for quite some time.

Having a First Dance as Bride and Groom

I just went to a wedding where the newlyweds passed on this tradition. I didn't even notice until a few days later when I was trying to remember what song they had chosen for their first dance. So while some guests like to watch this, no one would be devastated if you forgo doing one. Parent dances, on the other hand, might be missed (especially by the parents).

Tossing the Garter

At the weddings I've been to, guys seem to like catching the garter. But I'd say that's more of a result of guys enjoying competition rather than wedding traditions. I've been to weddings where the garter wasn't thrown (my own included), and I've never heard a dude say, "Damn, I was hoping to catch the garter!"

Tossing the Bouquet

I confess: When I wasn't yet engaged, I was looking forward to attempting to catch the bouquet at my friend's wedding...except the bride never threw hers. I was probably the sole person in attendance who gave a hoot, and I cared only because I had caught the bouquet as a flower girl at my cousin's wedding, just to have it ripped away by the maid of honor (it's on videotape!). I tossed the bouquet at my wedding, but I don't think anyone would've minded if I hadn't.

Giving Out Wedding Favors

Paul and I bought 150 boxes of truffles...and there were probably about 20 left on tables at the end of the wedding reception. Brides and grooms often treat their guests to multi-course meals and good music, so those boxes of chocolates, picture frames, or personalized coasters (Engagement Chick spent HOURS making 300 of those!) are utterly unnecessary.

Adapted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:51 AM

1940s Starlet's Death is a Mystery

It was one of those cases that seemed straight out of pulp fiction, a noir mystery written by one of those hard-boiled scribes who liked to surround damsels in distress with mobsters and movie stars. 
Yet it was real life. And it defied solution.

Jean Elizabeth Spangler, a television actress, went missing in 1949.
Not because there were no clues. Perhaps because there were too many--all pointing in different directions.

The damsel was aspiring actress Jean Spangler, 26, whose mysterious 1949 disappearance is still considered an "open case" by LAPD's cold case unit.

"It's absolutely a classic noir mystery," said Denise Hamilton, a  former LA Times reporter turned novelist. She reveals that her mystery, "The Last Embrace," was inspired by the Spangler case.

"You have a beautiful, young starlet. Brunette. She's sultry. She's tall. She's leggy. And she's trying to make it in Hollywood," Hamilton said.

Black and white images from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection reinforce Hamilton's description of Spangler, who appeared in half a dozen movies, just bit parts.

The late 1940s was a time when the studios still reigned over Hollywood, the mob ruled the Sunset Strip, and crooked politicians and police brass ran Los Angeles.

'She's a party girl'

A divorced mother of a five-year-old, Spangler was still looking for her big break, and making time for an active social life.

"She's a party girl. She goes out with a lot of people: gangsters, movie stars, Hollywood executives. They found her little black book after she disappeared, and there were a lot of prominent names in it," said Hamilton.

She was last seen near her Park LaBrea area apartment on the Friday evening of Oct. 7, 1949.
Over that weekend, a Griffith Park Ranger found a purse near the entrance to Ferndell. Inside was Spangler's ID, and also a cryptic note addressed to someone named Kirk.
"Kirk: Can't wait any longer," it began. "Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away."

Perhaps it was written in a hurry. It was not signed.
"Well, the supposition was that she was pregnant by this Kirk and that she was going to have an abortion," said Hamilton.  One acquaintance said Spangler was coming to the end of the first trimester.
The most famous Kirk then in Hollywood was the actor Kirk Douglas, who had just finished filming, "Young Man with a Horn," in which Spangler had a small role.

Douglas spoke twice with LAPD investigators, insisting there was no personal relationship.  Detectives believed him, and Douglas was cleared. Since abortion was then illegal, it was assumed that Dr. Scott was a phony name, and who he might have been was never pinned down.

Hamilton speculates there may have been a medical complication, perhaps it was fatal, and perhaps Dr. Scott--whoever he was--decided to hide the remains.
This was less than three years after the infamous Black Dahlia murder. The remains of victim Elizabeth Short had been surgically severed.

The Black Dahlia case has never been solved officially. And the possibility Spangler died during an illegal abortion remains a possibility never proven.

The discovery of the purse did prompt a massive search of Griffith Park. But no other clues were found. How the purse got there remains just one of the mysteries.

Detectives at the time pursued other leads. Shortly before her disappearance, Spangler had been seen partying in Las Vegas with two hoods named Frank Niccoli and Davey Ogul, henchman for LA mob boss Mickey Cohen.

They also disappeared about the same time. Like Spangler, they were never found. Perhaps Spangler got caught in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time.
Possible, but never proven.

Spangler had spoken of expecting to come into some money, prompting speculation that perhaps she was planning to blackmail someone.  Perhaps that someone responded by killing her. Again, possible, never ruled out, but never proven.
Finally, there were ongoing tensions with her ex-husband, Dexter Benner. After their divorce, the child custody dispute over their daughter had been fierce. Benner accused Spangler of being an "unfit mother," and the sensational headlines in the local papers gave her more name recognition than she had gotten for her budding movie career.

Spangler's sister-in-law recalls that on that fateful final Friday evening, Spangler said she was going to meet with Benner to discuss overdue child support. Detectives contacted Benner and his new wife.
They said they had been together all evening, and they never saw Spangler. Detectives believed them. Not long after, Benner moved his family out of Los Angeles to the other side of the country, re-settling in Florida. Benner lived to the age of 87. He died five years ago.
In the years that followed Spangler's disappearance, reported sightings popped up in the media--as would happen later with Elvis. But none proved out.

"We never get to the bottom of it," observed author Hamilton, while re-visiting Ferndell, where Spangler's purse was found. "At every step along the way in this case there are more questions." 
Hamilton suspects we may never learn what happened to Spangler. That of course, is part of the enduring fascination.

"The Jean Spangler case is a cautionary tale for all of us," Hamilton said. And we're drawn to the darkness like moths to a flame."

Adapted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:45 AM

New Planet Found

A Super-Earth plus Triple Stars Equal Life

An artist depiction of the planet GJ667Cc and the three stars it orbits

The search for exoplanets, or worlds orbiting other stars, is evolving so fast that discoveries that seemed exotic just a few months ago have become commonplace. Multiple-planet solar systems? Astronomers expected to find just a handful; now we know of more than 200. Planets orbiting double or even triple stars? It was big news when just one was announced back in September; we've already got several more examples in hand. In short, the unexpected is something planet hunters have learned to expect — and in most cases, these surprises have tended to expand the possibilities for finding worlds where life might thrive.

It's just happened again: astronomers from the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz, writing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, have announced the discovery of yet another new world that defies everyone's expectations. Not only does the new planet orbit one of the suns in a triple-star system — rare enough in itself — but the stars in this system have surprisingly low levels of the heavy elements planets are made from. Theory suggests that such stars shouldn't form planets in the first place, so if this isn't a fluke, there may be many more planets in the Milky Way than anyone thought.

That's not all: the new planet, called GJ667Cc, is just 4.5 times Earth's mass. That's big enough to qualify it for the astronomical label "super-Earth" but still quite small by exoplanet standards. Indeed, it's so small that GJ667Cc is thought to be made of earthlike rock rather than gas — even if those rocks had to coalesce from a smaller supply of raw material circling the parent sun. Beyond that, it orbits in its star's habitable zone: if there's water there, that water could be in life-friendly liquid form. GJ667Cc whips around its star once every 28 days or so; in our solar system, that would put it so scorchingly close to the sun that water would boil off. But the star in this case is an M-dwarf, much dimmer and redder than our own. Given its mass and its temperature, says co-discoverer Steve Vogt, of UC Santa Cruz, "I think it's going to be pretty historic. We've been gnawing at the bone of an earthlike planet in the habitable zone for years now, and I think we're just about there."

Actually, this isn't the first time he's said something like that. A bit over a year ago, Vogt and Paul Butler, of Carnegie, announced a similarly earthlike planet they called Gliese 581g, but other astronomers were (and remain) dubious about the legitimacy of the find. "We haven't backed off," says Vogt, "but that one will always be controversial, because it's a difficult measurement."

This one, he says, is a much more clear-cut case. Along with Butler, lead author Guillem Anglada-EscudĂ© (now at the University of Göttingen, in Germany) and several others, Vogt combined data from three different ground-based telescopes, dating back 10 years, to come up with the solid signal of a planet. "We were basically able to say, stick a fork in this one and put it in a referred journal — it's done."

What's most exciting of all about GJ667Cc, though, is not just that it's a super-Earth in its star's habitable zone, nor that it was found in a solar system where planets have no right to be. It's that this new world is impressively close to our own Earth. The great majority of exoplanets known to date have been found by the Kepler space probe, but most of these are hundreds of light-years away. That's much too far away to search for even indirect signs of alien life — and that will continue to be true after the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble's successor, launches in 2018.

But GJ667Cc is a mere 22 light-years away — practically next door — and while the planet can't be seen directly yet, it's not impossible that the next generation of ground or space telescopes could take readings of its atmosphere to look for telltale signs of life. And we have the technology today, says Vogt, "to send a Droid cell phone out there to take closeup images. It would take about 200 years, plus another 20 to send the pictures back."

Nobody's actually planning to do that, but the fact that it's even possible speaks volumes about how close astronomers are to finding and studying places in the universe where life might be thriving at this very moment. In the world of exoplanet science, the improbable things don't seem to stay improbable for very long.

Adapted from TimeMagazine

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:31 AM