Photographer Amanda Hu

Even though she takes great golf action shots, photographer Amanda Hu told me her favorite subjects to photograph are landscapes. She does have some fantastic examples of those in her portfolio, as well as some outdoor shots that are worthy to be made into jigsaw puzzles. I know that may not sound like it, but that's a sincere compliment. Just take a look at the high quality of the photos that are used for jigsaw puzzles.

Impressed with her work, I recently chatted with Amanda about a feature here. Since she doesn't step in front of the camera very often (and is a little shy), I suggested I feature her as a photographer with photos she's taken, rather than posed for. Landscapes weren't really what I had in mind but Amanda, being an amateur golfer herself, has also taken great action shots of some of the top talent in the LPGA who've played in tournaments she's covered. Of course, I still wanted to include some background info on Amanda herself, without it sounding like a formal interview. So, the following are excerpts from my conversation with Amanda while we were discussing her possible inclusion here. Above is Amanda outside the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Melanie Robel

Born at Fort Riley, Kansas, actress Melanie Robel spent her childhood moving from place to place, always having to deal with new surroundings. Such is the life of an Army brat. In her late teens, she settled in Florida and (after some ugly incidents regarding punching a redhead and making a band director cry) set her sights on a dance career. After an injury sidelined that, she decided to go to an open casting call and ended up being signed by a management agency, which led her to to Los Angeles. When that didn't lead anywhere after a few months, she moved back to Florida and decided to try a "normal" life as a college student. She graduated from Paul Mitchell School (of cosmetology) but realized that acting was still in her blood. So, after doing a couple of short films, Melanie enrolled in acting classes and decided to once again pursue her passion. She's since been in such works as the horror film Post Mortem, America 2021, three episodes of Stories of the Paranormal and the TV series La Fleur De Mai. One of her latest projects is the upcoming movie Disciples, in which she will be among a very impressive cast of horror alumnae.

Among Melanie's list of people who inspire her are, Tom Waits, Clint Eastwood, and Jessica Lange, whom she bears a striking resemblance to. It was no surprised to learn I wasn't the first to notice that. It was a surprised to learn she prefers Hello Kitty to Moonie. Well ....maybe more of a disappointment than a surprise. (Above photo by ES Remy Da 'neil)

Friday the 13th Victim, Claudette

For this entry into the Friday the 13th special features, we go all the way back in the storyline to the summer of 1958, when the vengeful Pamela Voorhees, claimed her first two victims.

Mrs. Voorhees blamed the inattentive and concupiscent Camp Crystal Lake counselors for her son Jason's drowning, a year earlier, believing if they had been watching him, instead of groping each other, they would have seen Jason needed help. Above we see the nubile Claudette, played by Debra S. Hayes, being targeted by Mrs Voorhees, after she made quick work of the male half of the couple.

Roberta Gonzales

If you live in a metro area where there are several local news stations to choose watching, you might gravitate toward a particular one, for one reason or another. In my case, it's KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco, whose chief meteorologist is Roberta Gonzales. Besides having never been wrong about the weather, Roberta's bio reads like that of the main female character in an action movie.

To say Roberta has a busy schedule is an understatement. Besides being in the studio Monday through Friday to deliver the weather report four times a night on live TV, she also delivers it every half hour from 3:00PM to 9:00PM on KCBS radio. Her days "off" are usually spent training for whatever the next marathon or triathlon she'll be competing in and attending events for charities she actively supports. At one such event, she rappelled down a 38-story building. Oh, and if the San Jose Sharks are playing at home, the avid hockey fan can often be found in "The Tank," cheering them on.

Just last evening, Roberta found time in between news broadcasts at KPIX studios, to personally answer my e-mail questions and send me the online hello you see above. Even though our correspondence was through e-mail, Roberta, obviously not one to put things off until later, replied to me so quickly, it was practically a real-time interview.

The ADAs of Law & Order

(Note: The information given on the ladies in this article is on the characters, not the actresses portraying them. Also and obviously; I'm only including the ADAs of the original Law & Order series here, not the ones from the subsequent Law & Order: SVU or Law & Order: Criminal Intent.)

Law & Order was a popular crime drama based in New York City, that ran from 1990-2010. For the first three seasons, the assistant district attorney was a man, but by the end of the third season, the producers decided the show didn't have enough female characters (and I don't know why the hell it took them three full seasons to realize that), so at the beginning of the fourth season, the male ADA was replaced with a female and from that point on, all the ADAs were female. Furthermore, all were very easy on the eyes. The first being ADA Claire Kincaid, played by Jill Hennessey (pictured at right), who served as the lead prosecutor's second chair lady from 1993-1996.

Claire was a Harvard Law grad who was described as an "idealistic, outspoken feminist and agnostic who became increasingly disillusioned with her job." Although she was well-respected by her bosses, Clair's liberal views often clashed with the duties of her job and they didn't always sit well with her initial, more conservative superiors. She was killed when a drunk driver rammed into her car while she was driving Detective Lenny Briscoe home, who had one too many himself that evening. She was considering leaving the Manhattan DA's office at the time of her death. A few hints were dropped that she had a more-than professional relationship going on with lead prosecutor Jack McCoy, while she was working alongside him. That wasn't finally confirmed to viewers until three years after her death.

Rena Riffel

I remember seeing the movie Showgirls on the big screen in 1996 shortly before I went in the Army. As my friend and I left the theater after the the film let out, I said that I wished Rena Riffel would have had more screen time. He said if she did, she would have stolen the show. I couldn't have agreed more. So, a few weeks ago when my good friend Carlo Rodriguez over at mentioned that he was personal friends with Rena and asked if I'd be interested in interviewing her, I immediately said "hell yes!" and asked him to put in a good word for me. He did, and here she is to start out this site's 2012 with a bang.

Even though she's been appearing in movies since 1988, Rena will probably always be best known for her role as the sweet and slightly naive stripper Penny/Hope in the now camp classic film Showgirls. What many don't know is that she was originally up for the part of the seasoned diva Cristal Conners (played by Gina Gershon) but the producers felt she was better suited for the role of the younger and seemingly-innocent small-town girl working in a Las Vegas strip club for the first time. If you're a fan of the film, you know the brief but unforgettable Cheetah Club dance scene with Rena and Elizabeth Berkeley. It was one scene where I'm sure, Rena would have stolen the show if it would have been longer.

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