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Baby Your Bentley, Only $29,500

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If you really love your car - we mean really, really, REALLY love your car - shouldn't you buy it its own condo? Seriously. Two guys in Sisters are building a 36-unit condo complex exclusively for pampered vintage, classic or otherwise special automobiles.
Each car condo measures 12 by 20 feet and is climate-controlled and secure. There's even going to be a heated wash rack for winter use - no real car enthusiast would dream of taking his baby to a (shudder!) car wash - and a clubhouse (for the owners, not the cars).

Project Manager Guy Lauziere said 11 of the 36 units already have been spoken for, even though the condos aren't going to be ready until Sept. 1 at the earliest. The tentative price per unit is $29,500, he said.

Who would buy a condo for a car?

"A lot of these guys get really into it, and they've got more cars than they can store on their property," Lauziere said.

He added that Carerra Motors in Bend has built a facility where people can store their coddled cars, but it's more like a parking garage - the cars just sit in marked parking spaces.

At the Sisters car condos, he explained, "We have separate distinctive units so your car cannot be seen or touched by anyone else."

Which seems only reasonable. After all, for more than $29,000 a car should be entitled to a little privacy.

The Premier's Got a New Bag

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Roll over in your grave, Karl Marx - Mikhail Gorbachev is doing ads for Louis Vuitton.

The last premier of the late, unlamented Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics has signed on to appear in print advertisements for the French luxury handbag-and-luggage maker.

Louis Vuitton said it's making contributions - amounts undisclosed - to former Vice President Al Gore's The Climate Project to fight global warming and Green Cross International, founded by Gorbachev to promote sustainable development.

In the ads, Gorbachev is shown sitting in the back of a car with a Vuitton duffel bag by his side and the Berlin Wall in the background. Other ads in the campaign, which is scheduled to run in September, feature former tennis stars Steffi Graf and her husband, Andre Agassi, and glamorous French actress Catherine Deneuve.

"Of the group, Mr. Gorbachev appears the least comfortable," the New York Times wrote. "He is holding on to a door handle, as if the bag contained polonium 210."

Gorbachev raised eyebrows a few years ago by appearing in a Pizza Hut commercial, so we can't rule out more advertising gigs for him. But, as the Times observed, "It seems unlikely he will be approached by L'Oreal."

Brainy Babies or Dumb Parents?

Parents, do you think you're going to turn your babies into geniuses by making them watch "Brainy Baby" or "Baby Einstein" or one of the other popular "educational" videos for little tykes?

Well, fuhgeddabodit. In fact, you'll probably just make them dumber. Anyway, that's the word from Dimitri Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Christakis and his research team surveyed 1,000 households with babies 8 to 16 months old in Washington and Minnesota to find out how many of the babies watched the videos and how many "baby words" they knew.

The researchers found that 32% of the babies watched the videos, with over half of them watching more than an hour a day. The conclusion: For every hour that babies watched the videos, they knew six to eight words less than babies who didn't watch.

The videos are heavy on images and include almost no dialogue. Christakis said babies develop better vocabularies if their parents talk and read to them. "I would rather babies watch American Idol than these videos," Christakis said.

Of course, in that case there's the risk your baby will end up sounding like Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson or Paula Abdul.

WWN TO FOLD - BAT BOY MOURNS!

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Upfront is pig-biting mad over the announcement last week that the Weekly World News will cease publication after Aug. 27.

The venerable (founded in 1979) if not exactly respectable publication was once the undisputed king of the supermarket tabloids, thanks to scoops like "12 US SENATORS ARE SPACE ALIENS!" "FLORIDA MAN SCREAMS FROM THE GRAVE, MY BRAIN IS MISSING!" "HILLARY CLINTON ADOPTS ALIEN BABY!" - and, of course, the immortal "BAT CHILD FOUND IN CAVE!"

The Weekly World News also was home to Ed Anger, a right-wing columnist who made Ann Coulter and Michael Savage seem bland. Ed would start off every column by describing how mad he was - "I'm madder than Batman with a run in his tights" or "I'm madder than a gay football hero on a date with the homecoming queen" or his perennial favorite: "I'm pig-biting mad."

WWN had a glorious run for 20 years, with a circulation approaching a million in the 1980s. But in 1999 a new publisher named David Pecker (that's his real name, honest to god) took over and made a bunch of changes, getting rid of most of the newsroom old guard and replacing them with young comedy writers whose writing was lamentably unfunny. With newsstand circulation plunging below 90,000, management decided to pull the plug on the print edition, although the website will continue - for now.

What will America do without any publication to chronicle the adventures of Bat Boy and report on conferences between our president and space aliens? Even more tragically, what will Upfront do now that our cherished dream of someday writing for the Weekly World News has been dashed?

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