Filed under: gossip

Fallen Idols, My Awesome Wife, Trolls and Other Stuff

Radar has published a “Fresh Intelligence” post I wrote about the ultimate fallen American Idol, Jessica Ann Sierra:

Idol‘s Hands the Devil’s Playthings.”

Yes, it has to do with crime. Check it out — I even included some of Sierra’s singing with another Idol felon from season 5. (If you like the post, you can click “recommend it” at the bottom of the piece. Please only click once, and be sure check out other posts by other authors in “Fresh Intelligence” and recommend them — if you like them — as well.)

I don’t have a lot of blog entries up on “Fresh Intelligence” — there are several other contributors — but so far, some of the most fun I’ve had as a blogger has come from writing for Radar. The subject matter here at The True Crime Weblog is usually quite serious, and while my Radar blog posts (as opposed to articles I’ve written for them, which are more straightforward reporting) still frequently touch on crime, there’s more room for snark there, and it feels good to loosen up a little. Having editors who are savvy, funny, and good communicators helps a helluva lot, too.

(NOTE: For some added wrinkles in Ms. Sierra’s story, you just have to go here. Wow.)

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I’m a “crime blogger,” and my wife Dana is an “edu-blogger” (incidentally, the image you’ll see in the header of Dana’s education weblog is a non-photoshopped pic taken by yours truly at an actual intersection near downtown Atlanta).

In fact, Dana is becoming a popular and well-regarded edu-blogger. Dana is a quiet, modest (though occasionally persnickety, occasionally spunky) woman, so seeing her begin to get recognition for her own blogging and develop a strong readership really means a lot to me. Unlike her husband, Dana Huff doesn’t really have a self-promoting bone in her body. She earns every good thing that comes to her from her blogging honestly. I’m very proud of her. Dana was the person who inspired me to try my hand at blogging in the first place.

I’ll say more about what’s going on with her as we hear more. In the meantime, you can also check out Dana’s Harry Potter blog here.

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My personal weblog receives about 10% of the traffic that this blog gets, and I’m fine with that. Kind of prefer it, actually. However I happened onto a captivating website this weekend, and I recommend it here, at Random Lunatic News.

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If blogging is light here today and tomorrow, it’s because I’m working on another writing project that is rather complicated and time-consuming. Anything big breaks, though, I’ll do my best to write about it.

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These notes strike me as being a little like Norm McDonald’s Larry King impression from SNL a few years back. Random. Terse. Tangentially related at best. Whaddya want? It’s Monday.

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Some final notes on blog comments vs. message boards, trolls, etc…

Some of my longtime readers — and you’ll know who you are — have fallen into trolltraps on various discussions taking place on this weblog. Screen names (and e-mail addresses matching them) of folks who have been leaving intelligent, thoughtful comments on my crime blogs since 2005 are engaging with new commentators who are — to me — obvious and dedicated trolls. As a result of this troll fighting, a few of you have, God love ya, started to become a bit troll-like yourselves.

Stop it. Don’t engage them. Don’t respond to insults, to nasty plays on your screen names, any of it. Quit leaving comments on those posts if you can’t ignore the assholes. Remove your hands from the keyboard. If you have respect for me — and from your track records of visiting my blogs, I suspect you do — give me a break and do as I ask.

Several posts on this blog have more than a thousand comments; one has more than 2000. Any blogger will tell you (as long as most of the comments are on-topic and reasonably smart) that this is awesome, and a source of pride — people are responding to your work.

But this also means that as the sole active administrator of this weblog, there’s no way in hell I can respond to every single complaint, no way I can police every troll all the time. Especially now that my freelancing has kicked up several notches (a very good thing), the last thing I want to do is police comments. I’m sorry, but that’s how it is. Some bloggers would just change to full moderation 24/7 or even (as I believe Michelle Malkin did for a time) have no comments at all.

So I need the long-time readers whom I tend to trust to help me out by not feeding the trolls. The one thing a troll can’t abide is being ignored. So — ignore them. Additionally, the moment others cease responding to troll-like commentators, some of the white noise is reduced for me, and I find it easier to pinpoint the troll and ban them and delete their offending comments.

And lastly — I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll repeat it: BLOG COMMENTS DO NOT A MESSAGE BOARD MAKE.

I see comments on posts here constantly calling this a “forum,” or a “board.”

No. This weblog is neither. I once ran a forum, or board. It was sheer hell. It was like trying to deal with a few thousand tattle-happy toddlers on crack, half the time. With a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old here at home, I have all I can handle, thank you very much.

OK — the discussions taking place on blog entries here are identical to discussions folks might have on message boards. People do the same things — update the stories blogged with new links, with (often fascinating and well-written) speculation.

But you need to understand what you’re doing when you leave comments on a blog post. It isn’t the same as a message board. You can’t create your own profile with private messaging, you can’t upload avatars. Message boards have mods and admins, but generally, they can be pretty egalitarian (not always, I know). Blogs are not. This is my weblog. I have some guidelines I expect to be followed when people post comments here or any other blog I run. If I wanted to run an “open forum” where anyone could say anything about whatever, I would. But I don’t.

What you write is even more temporary on a blog post than it would be posted on a message board. It could be gone in 5 minutes — all I’d need to do is change this blog’s template.

And this is important — your words are your responsibility, not mine. If you libeled someone in my blog’s comments and a lawyer [EDIT: subpoenaed] your IP and e-mail info, I’d be hard-pressed to stop that action. This brings up a catch-22 you should think about: while your words are your responsibility, under American laws, that is, I still have administrative control over your post once it is up. Many message boards allow users to go back and delete or edit their posts whenever they want. Once you’ve made a comment on a blog — you’re done, son.

So temper your posting activities with these things in mind. Leaving comments on a blog and posting on a forum just ain’t the same.

Finally — if I began a MySpace group for this weblog, would you all consider using that for extended discussions of various cases? Caveat lector — you’d have to make a MySpace profile to join and leave posts in such a group. Add to that — if I made such a group, could I get someone to volunteer to moderate or lead the thing?

I have another, final idea related to the above. Some popular forums have paid memberships. I’d consider running a message board again, but this would be the catch — you’d only have access if you paid a nominal fee. There are aspects of this with which I’m not too comfortable though, so I only float it as an idea, one I may end up rejecting.

These notes went on longer than I intended, but I guess I had something to say….

David Copperfield and the Nasty Accusations

Agents from the Seattle, WA FBI field office raided illusionist David Copperfield’s (born David Seth Kotkin) warehouse in Las Vegas on Wednesday. They took away $2 million in cash, a computer hard drive and an additional memory storage device, and a digital camera.

Brian Haynes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote about the raid:

FBI agents raided the Las Vegas warehouse of magician David Copperfield on Wednesday in an investigation of possible sexual misconduct by the illusionist, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

Copperfield’s accuser said the misconduct occurred outside the country, but the case came under the FBI’s jurisdiction because the accuser was a U.S. citizen, the source said…

Another FBI investigation was conducted this week at MGM-Grand in Vegas, where Copperfield has a standing bi-monthly gig.

Fox News published an article online that clarified the allegations against Copperfield. A woman in Seattle has accused Copperfield of rape:

The woman told Seattle police the magician raped her while she was in the Bahamas, sources said. Because the alleged incident happened abroad and the woman did not report it until she returned to the United States, Seattle authorities turned over the case to the FBI…

The warehouse raided Wednesday is owned by one of Copperfield’s companies, Boy Magician Inc., and space there has been used for rehearsals and prop storage. It is also a kind of personal museum for Copperfield, who has in the public eye since the early 70s, when he entered the world of entertainment as a kind of magical wunderkind.

Copperfield began working on illusions in his early teens, and he was teaching a college course in magic by the time he turned 18. By age 21, he was a TV star. Anyone who watched a lot of network television in the 70s or 80s in particular probably saw a David Copperfield special on either ABC or CBS.

Some of his most famous illusions included walking through the Great Wall of China and causing the Statue of Liberty to ‘disappear.’

Copperfield has avoided major controversy in the past. He dated supermodel Claudia Schiffer in the mid-90s and had to deal with allegations that he was gay and Schiffer was his paid “beard.” Copperfield sued a gossip rag based in Paris (Fr) for defamation over these rumors and won.

Most recently Copperfield was in the news for stating that he’d found a real “Fountain of Youth.” And that discovery was made in the Bahamas. In August of 2007, Inside Edition reported the following:

…Copperfield says he might have found the fountain of youth.

“I found certain waters there that actually have rejuvenating qualities not in humans yet but in simple organisms have amazing reactions leaves that turn from brown to green,” Copperfield told INSIDE EDITION.

Copperfield says the fountain of youth is located somewhere on a chain of four islands in the Bahamas that he bought last year for $50 million…

The blogger at Katerfelto’s Cat is fascinated with Copperfield’s mysterious warehouse. “Dragonslayer” happened to write an entry about attempting to get inside the facility on May 10, 2007. Here was the blogger’s conclusion about the museum/archive:

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a distraction. It doesn’t exist. It makes us believe one thing is going on, when something else entirely is happening (like taking over the world, perhaps). I think when we read “International Library and Museum of the Conjuring Arts,” we should really be reading “Secret Lair of Fancy Magician: Nogrls alowed.” If he’s going to advertise it for chrissakes, then frickin’ make allowances for people to actually use it. Sheesh.

A friend or friendly reader left a comment encouraging “Dragonslayer” to complete the quest, saying in part, “… you could pay off some little kid to accuse Copperfield of being a pedophile and then demand the museum in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. 😉

It was obviously a joke, but it probably seems less funny now. The comment is instructive, however. Though the person who left it was just being silly in this instance, celebrities like Copperfield (unmarried, intensely private males) are prime targets for false or embellished accusations designed to net the accuser recognition, money, or both.

However, what they said at CrimeRant.com about this case is true: “When the Feds are involved in a rape case it’s pretty darn serious.”

“Dragonslayer” wrote yesterday about the raid on Copperfield’s warehouse. Quote: “And I thought I couldn’t get access because…? Remind me again.”

This entry will be revised or updated as needed.

Sources not otherwise linked above:

Goodbye, Vicky Lynn…

The news is breaking right now on most cable news channels and online: Anna Nicole Smith collapsed at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida around 1:30 p.m. ET.

In fact, on MSNBC Rita Cosby is reporting that Anna Nicole Smith, born Vicky Lynn Hogan in November, 1967 in Houston, Texas, is dead. The confirmation came from Anna Nicole’s attorney in a phone interview with Rita.

With her at the time was her former attorney and husband, Howard K. Stern, and a bodyguard.

Just after Anna Nicole gave birth to a baby girl in the Bahamas last September, her son Daniel, age 20, passed away under strange circumstances. Circumstances that are still unclear. Howard K. Stern was there when Daniel died, too.

Howard K. Stern is a very unlucky man.

The truth is, Anna Nicole may have been her own worst enemy. Yo-yo dieting, drug use, extreme pressure from negative publicity coming at her from a hundred different directions… maybe her heart gave out.

If she’d been plain old Vicky Lynn still in Houston and she’d lost her son and then died like this months later, just a housewife or workaday woman, that new husband would be subject to much open suspicion. I wonder if that will be the case now.

“Anna Nicole Smith’s romantic partner, longtime lawyer and alleged father of her infant daughter provided her son with one of the drugs that killed him — then tried to cover it up by flushing the remaining pills down the toilet, a report says.

“The charges surfaced Monday as Bahamian officials agreed to conduct a formal inquest into the death of 20-year-old Daniel Smith in his mother’s hospital room there in September, sources told the celebrity Web site TMZ.com…”

A version of this blog entry was first published at my personal weblog.

The Seminole County (Fla) police are investigating Anna Nicole Smith’s death, and the medical examiner will make a determination as to cause. Initial reports are that it was a “cardiac event.” It appears to be a death investigation, though, and not a criminal investigation.