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Kristina Vragovic

Kristina Vragovic graduated from Indiana University in May 2012 with a B.A. in English. A Hoosier at heart, she cries when she thinks about the 2011-12 season and will rail on Purdue even when nobody from said school is in the immediate vicinity.

Aside from writing, Kristina enjoys correcting people’s grammar (for money, or by calling them out on Twitter) as well as collecting classic rock LPs, watching superhero movies and online shopping.

Prince Harry displays family jewels in Vegas

Naked photos of Prince Harry circulate online, with little reaction from Britain

 

Prince Harry hasn’t exactly steered clear of negative press in the past. But this weekend was exceptionally eventful for the young royal.

In addition to the reports that Prince Harry challenged Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte to a swimming contest at the Wynn Hotel XS Nightclub (thank The Daily News for that video), pictures are now surfacing of Prince Harry playing strip billiards with at least one other woman. Everybody appeared to be losing.

TMZ, the source of the photos, reports that the pictures were taken at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on Friday, after Prince Harry and friends invited several women to their VIP suite. One photo depicts the prince bent over a woman near a pool table, and in another, he covers, er, himself while a woman hugs him from behind.

According to the L.A. Times, Buckingham Palace isn’t disputing that the photos are really of Prince Harry. The only hiccup might be that the prince was on holiday from his military duties, and certain “social misbehavior” might violate military rules. Writes the Telegraph, “Military codes of conduct warn officers that they must maintain high standards of professionalism ‘both on and off operations.'”

Otherwise, the Associated Press reports public responses in Britain ranging from “I’d be proud of him if he were my son” to “He’s a lad, for God’s sake.”

Jenny McCartney, a columnist for the Telegraph, pointed out that Prince Harry’s cavorting might not be tolerated for long. After all, the prince will eventually have to grow up.

“To everything there is a season, and the season for widespread indulgence of Harry’s youthful antics might be gradually drawing to a close,” Jenny McCartney wrote. “I hope he is smart enough to recognise it, and — in the meantime — to ensure that fellow players in any spontaneous game of ‘strip billiards’ leave their mobile phones at the hotel room door.”

Hunger Games filmmakers cast Finnick Odair

Sam Claflin will portray the tribute from District 4 in the sequel, Catching Fire

 

Hunger Games fans, beware of spoilers: filmmakers have cast the role of Finnick Odair in the series sequel, Catching Fire. British actor Sam Claflin, 24, will portray the good-looking District 4 darling whose preferred weapon is a trident. Claflin has reportedly been the frontrunner for the role since earlier this summer, and today Lionsgate confirmed the decision.

Suzanne Collins’ second Hunger Games novel centers on the Quarter Quell, the 75th annual Games, for which previous champions return to battle each other to the death. Finnick, the champion from District 4 who won the Hunger Games when he was 14, joins Peeta and Katniss (played by Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence) in the arena and becomes an important ally, despite Katniss’ initial suspicions. Finnick is the most significant addition to the Hunger Games sequel, though he is joined by his mentor, Mags (played by Lynn Cohen).

Sam Claflin, though not quite a household name, has been working on his star power of late. He appeared as the romantic lead in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and played Prince William in Snow White and the Huntsman, with Kristen Stewart. His role in the Hunger Games franchise might just raise his Hollywood clout considerably.

Catching Fire is set to release on Nov. 22, 2013.

Kirk Cameron sticks his neck out for Rep. Todd Akin

The former child star might not agree with the congressman’s political strategy, but he defends his right to execute it

Kirk Cameron, conservative activist and former Growing Pains child star, has defended Missouri Rep. Todd Akin after his highly publicized — and criticized — comments regarding “legitimate rape.”

“I’m the kind of person that believes that I would like to be evaluated by my entire career and my entire life, not two words that I would misspeak and then later apologize for,” Kirk Cameron told CNN yesterday. This morning, he told Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb that Akin is now in “a very difficult spot.”

“He apologized for it, and I like to evaluate people based on their entire life, their entire career, all they stand for,” he said. “I believe he is a good man.”

Kirk Cameron spent some time with Rep. Todd Akin while he was filming his documentary, Monumental, which explores religion and government in the United States. His press tour is what landed him on the Today show.

“I’m not [Akin’s] political strategist, thank God,” Cameron said on Today. “But I do know, as I’ve sat to actually watch the video — I’ve learned to actually go watch it and not just read the transcripts and the quotes. And clearly, this is a man who is advocating the sanctity of life, through and through.”

The video Kirk Cameron refers to is the clip on KTVI, a St. Louis TV station, of Rep. Todd Akin responding to the question of whether he would support abortion as an option for rape victims. “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” he said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Kirk Cameron is known for his conservative activism, which includes a pro-life stance. When he was criticized a few months ago for his remarks that homosexuality was “unnatural,” he told ABC News that he “should be able to express moral views on social issues.” 

Republican National Convention might weather quite a storm

Tropical Storm Isaac heads for Tampa, might be a hurricane by next week’s convention

 

Next week’s Republican National Convention might be held in the middle of a hurricane. Tropical Storm Isaac is heading for the Florida coast, though weather experts say it’s too early to accurately predict the storm’s path.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to occur in Tampa from Monday to Thursday of next week. The U.S. National Hurricane Center has said that Tropical Storm Isaac could become a hurricane by Thursday, but that it could hit Florida by as early as Sunday night. Earlier today, the storm swirling about 280 miles east of Guadeloupe had wind speeds of 45 mph and was moving west at about 18 mph, according to FoxNews.com. Winds of at least 74 mph would elevate Tropical Storm Isaac to hurricane status.

“It’s too early to say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s going to be a disaster,'” Dan Kottlowski, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Forecast, told the L.A. Times. “But certainly, it is a concern.” He added that he expects the storm to dissipate after reaching hurricane level over the Caribbean, leaving the Republican National Convention intact. But there’s just no telling yet.

“You could come up with dozens of scenarios as to where this thing could go in terms of strength,” Kottlowski said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

James Davis, a spokesman for the Republican National Convention, told USA Today that coordination efforts are underway in case of a severe weather emergency.

“From a contingency standpoint, convention organizers in both cities will be well prepared for just about every scenario,” said Matt Burns, who was communications director for the 2008 Republican National Convention. “But when the folks in Tampa ask ‘how’s the weather,’ it isn’t quite the idle question it was a week ago.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn remains unconcerned. He told CNN that the city has 400 buses available to evacuate the delegates if disaster strikes the Republican National Convention, which about 70,000 people are expected to attend.

“I’m not really nervous at all. I feel like an athlete,” Buckhorn said on CNN’s Early Start Wednesday. “You know, we’ve trained hard. We’ve been training for a year and a half.” In May, a mock hurricane drill was held, with pretend severe weather conditions under which the convention would be canceled.

The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and it’s been 90 years since Tampa has been a target.

The Office to end its run after season 9

The upcoming season of The Office will conclude the show’s tenure as NBC’s most-watched comedy

 

The Office will officially end after next season, executive producer Greg Daniels announced yesterday. The Office remains the highest-rated scripted show on NBC among viewers aged 18 to 49, and Daniels said the decision was made for entirely creative reasons.

“You have a choice — only tell the beginning of story and the middle, or allow a story to end,” Daniels said. “If we didn’t let [The Office] end this year, I don’t think we would have been able to tell the ending stories of so many characters … we couldn’t count on getting everybody back for season 10.”

Daniels served as showrunner for seasons one through five, at which point Paul Leiberstein took over The Office. With Leiberstein and Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) leaving heading up Dwight’s spinoff series, the reins now pass back to Daniels.

And he’s right to be concerned about the availability of the show’s major stars. Besides Wilson, Mindy Kaling (Kelly) will also be producing and starring in her own show, The Mindy Project. John Krasinski (Jim) and Jenna Fischer (Pam) have their own movie careers outside of The Office. The stars are moving on — and so have half its fans. The audience for The Office has shrunk from 8 million in 2008 to 4 million this year, and Daniels acknowledged that change.

“This year feels like the last chance to really go out together and make an artistic ending for the show that pays off a lot of the stuff that has mattered most to fans with the core characters,” Daniels said. “You could see a world where new people keep coming on the show. But I think [we want to] do justice to the existing characters in the most creative and explosive way, and that means the show will be changed to such a degree that if anything was to continue it wouldn’t be the same show.”

As for that “explosive” ending, Daniels said fans can expect major drama in the Jim and Pam storyline, David Wallace at the head of Dunder Mifflin, and some “crazy Dwight” shenanigans. Plus, the identity of the documentary makers will be revealed. (Cue the jokes about how they finally have enough footage.)

“There are a lot of things that I’ve personally been wanting to do since season two,” Daniels said. “All questions will be answered this year. … Now that we know we have an end date, we can blow things up and take some chances and it will be very freeing, creatively.”

Daniels also mentioned some familiar faces coming back. So, what does that mean for the former masthead of The Office, Steve Carell, who left the show in season seven? Daniels said it would be great if Carell came back, but he wouldn’t want to put that kind of pressure on the star.

“[Carell] really loves how he was exited,” Daniels said. “He’s probably anxious about not messing up such a stylish exit. It’s a perfectly legitimate point. We’ll see.”

Penelope Cruz wears Mario mustache in Nintendo ad

The Oscar-winning actress battles her sister in a game of Super Mario 2… and loses

 

Penelope Cruz and her sister, Monica, star in a new Nintendo ad – which ends with a mustachioed Penelope posing as Mario to promote the Nintendo 3DS XL and Super Mario 2.

In the ad, Monica and Penelope Cruz lounge by their pool, their Nintendo 3DSs in hand, playing Super Mario 2. (The setting itself is idyllic.) When things get competitive, Penelope loses a bet against her sister and has to dress up as the iconic coin-loving plumber. Needless to say, the screenshots of the game get slightly overshadowed by the sight of Penelope Cruz in a mustache and overalls.

“Teaming up with the Cruz sisters is a perfect fit for us,” Nintendo marketing exec Laurent Fisher said. “Not only because ‘New Super Mario Bros 2’ lets two players enjoy the entire adventure playing as brothers Mario and Luigi simultaneously, but because these sisters have been genuine fans of the series for many years.”

Oh, and probably because the sisters are both gorgeous, even with facial hair. A charming touch is Monica busting a gut in the background as Penelope Cruz buys mushrooms in an Italian accent.

“The co-op mode really brought out their competitive side, and they had a lot of fun trying to collect as many coins as possible while racing to finish each level first,” Fisher said.

What do you think? Does the ad make you long for some good old-fashioned sibling rivalry (with a 90% bigger screen)?

Hantavirus claims life of Yosemite camper

Rare virus usually contracted from rodents in wilderness areas

 

Hantavirus, a flu-like disease spread by rodents, was the cause of death for a California man camping in Yosemite National Park, officials from the California Department of Public Health confirmed.

The man, whose identity has not yet been revealed, died in late July after camping at the Curry Lodge area in June at the same time as another camper who is still recovering from the virus. Scott Gediman, a Yosemite spokesperson, said that such incidents are rare and ultimately unavoidable. “It’s a wilderness area, and rodents live in the wilderness,” he told the L.A. Times. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can be contracted from rodent feces or bodily fluids that are ingested through the nose or mouth. It cannot be transferred from person to person.

Campers have a higher risk of contracting hantavirus because they sleep on the ground or in cabins in the wilderness. “If you see mouse droppings in your cabin, that’s probably not a good place to stay,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. Officials at Yosemite are working on cleaning out cabins and testing trapped mice for the virus, according to the L.A. Times.

Hantavirus is so rare that fewer than 600 cases have been reported in the United States since the virus was identified in 1993, according to ABC News. The California man would be the first to die of the virus from contracting it in the park.

The virus causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which begins with average flu symptoms that escalate dramatically to “shortness of breath and coughing as the lungs fill up with fluid” in four to 10 days, Besser said. He added that the syndrome is fatal in about 40% of cases.

According to the CDC, “There is no specific treatment, cure or vaccine for hantavirus infection,” but intensive care can help the patient if the syndrome is recognized early.

Little Mermaid surgery ad gives Ariel breast implants

Venezuelan plastic surgery center adopts tagline, ‘we make fairy tales come true’

 

Little Mermaid surgery – that’s what you call it when Ursula magically gives Ariel her legs, right? Wrong.

A Venezuelan plastic surgery center has launched an ad campaign that features several fairy tale characters, including the Frog Prince, the Little Mermaid, and a witch à la The Wizard of Oz, going under the knife. It’s not just the legs, either. In the Little Mermaid surgery ad, Ariel appears to have augmented breasts and sports a sexy smile above the tagline, “We make fairy tales come true.”

The full ad depicts Ariel escaping Ursula’s clutches only to find herself on a gurney, fish tail drooping over the side as plastic surgeons bend over her partially obscured upper body. The International Business Times reports that the ad “sparked controversy” – no kidding – after it started to appear on Buzzfeed’s Copyranter. Disney princesses have been criticized before for portraying unrealistic feminine ideals, setting up young girls to have a warped sense of body image. Commenters across the Web shared their concerns that the last thing girls need to see is an ad giving the Little Mermaid surgery.

“This is pretty disgusting,” one commenter posted on the Huffington Post. “Little girls actually look up to these cartoon characters. So, what they are saying is: ‘Hey, little girl, you are not good enough for this world with small normal boobs, so get big plastic ones and people will love you.’”

Twitter users also shared their remorse. “This Little Mermaid Surgery ad has ruined my childhood and my favorite princess!!! :'( #Why,” posted one user.

The website SheKnows points out that the ad is “a lawuit waiting to happen.” It remains to be seen what actions Disney will take regarding the Little Mermaid surgery image.

Limp Bizkit is over – no, really

A decade after the band’s peak popularity, Fred Durst calls it like it is

 

Limp Bizkit is over, Fred Durst announced today. Just in case you were wondering.

The band’s album released last year, Gold Cobra, didn’t sell well. But hope remained. Limp Bizkit recently signed with Lil Wayne’s Cash Money label and began work on two new, promising projects. “This is some crazy Limp Bizkit shit,” Durst told Kerrang! in May. “It’s like the leash has been taken off us and we’ve been given full rein to do as we please.”

Durst sang a markedly different tune today, however. Limp Bizkit’s exciting new projects aren’t enough to get them touring in the United States.

“We’ve boycotted America for many years now,” said Durst, according to Metal Injection. “The reason? We just don’t know what’s going on in America. It’s all about the new catchy thing and that’s always changing. America is driven by record sales. It’s the home of corporations. We’re just Limp Bizkit, so we don’t know how to do anything but Limp Bizkit.”

Though the band is reportedly not splitting up, according to NME, it seems they’ve realized the limits of their popularity.

“Say in 2000, there were 35 million people who connected to this band,” Durst continued. “Twelve years later, lots of those people have moved on. We were a moment in time and it’s over.”

Lunch lady fined for serving needy kids

Angela Prattis originally faced fine of $600 per day, now faces $1,000 variance fee

 

Lunch lady Angela Prattis found herself between a rock and a $1,000 hard place after Chester Township officials told her she was not allowed to feed hungry kids in her neighborhood.

Not in her R3 residential zone, anyway. Over the summer, the lunch lady has been stationed on her property in Toby Farms, handing out lunches to as many as 60 neighborhood kids who benefit from their schools’ free lunch programs during the academic year. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia provides the lunch lady with meals of sandwiches, fruit and milk, which are funded by the state. According to the Christian Science Monitor, about 450 people participate in the program by handing out food to hungry kids in the Philadelphia area.

Chester Township Council Chairman Stanley Kester, who was notified about Prattis’ actions by a resident, said that zoning laws would mean a $600-per-day fine each day Prattis handed out lunches. The alternative? The lunch lady would have to pay a $1,000 fee for an ordinance variance.

“I’m not stopping. These kids are hungry. I’m not tearing down the community,” Prattis told the Daily Times of Delaware County, Penn. “Last Friday, I had 20 children walk to my house in the pouring rain for lunch, and at 2 p.m. they came back for a snack. Tell me this program is not needed.”

Fines have not yet been levied against the lunch lady, according to Examiner.com. She will be allowed to give out lunches until Aug. 24, when state funding ends for the year. However, the lunch lady would not be allowed to continue next summer without getting the $1,000 zoning hearing necessary for a variance.

“I don’t think the zoning laws apply here,” Prattis said. “If I was selling food or cooking food, I could see how it would apply. But we shouldn’t have to pay anything, and if the ordinance does exist, it should be waived for someone who is feeding children.”

Kester maintains that the law is necessary to prevent the township being held liable for any “negative outcomes” of the lunch lady’s program. This would include kids getting food poisoning from one of the meals distributed in the residential zone, for instance, according to the Daily Times.

“It’s a township law,” Kester told the Daily Times. “We are not picking on her because she’s feeding kids. It’s an honorable thing to do. But she can’t do it there.”

Prattis adopted her lunch lady role several years ago, distributing meals at the Church of the Overcomer in Trainer, Penn. She moved the operation to her home this year.