Preteen diva Alysha Antonino downloads a career. Britney, watch your back!
When Alysha Antonino had bronchitis as an infant, a nurse heard her singsong burbling and nicknamed her Baby Diva. But it took a Web contest for the Scotts Valley, Calif., 12-year-old to become a real mini-Mariah. In February Antonino, already a hit at local weddings, sent a CD to a contest for vocalists on Tonos.com, a site for unsigned musicians started by top songwriter Carole Bayer Sager and producers David Foster and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. "We were stunned," says Sager. "We said, 'She's how old?' "
When Sager phoned to tell her she had won, Antonino says, "I think I turned white." After she cut a demo with Babyface and Foster, Atlantic Records hired her to record "Dreams" for the soundtrack of Pokémon: The Movie 2000 and offered her a seven-record deal. With mom Christina, 35, overseeing her career (dad Robert, 36, is an office manager), Antonino now dreams of MTV: "I want to meet Carson Daly!"
My Favorite Site
When the model-turned-X-Men siren isn't too busy making guest appearances in her male fans' dreams, she likes to investigate her own with dating-and-relationship site Swoon.com's dream dictionary (www.swoon.com/dream/index.html). A list of interpretations for images from acrobats to zebras helps the Jung at heart figure out the meaning of those fractured fairy tales and creepy capers that populate the unconscious mind. "I like to check out my dreams in the morning," says Romijn-Stamos, 27. Are the site's translations eye-opening? "It's okay, it's off and on," she confesses. "Sometimes it seems right and sometimes it doesn't."
Is it appropriate to forward an e-mail message to someone without the original sender's permission to do so?
Use a lot of caution when forwarding e-mail. If the message is personal or contains business information, always get the sender's consent—there could be lots of reasons, including some you can't guess, why he or she might not want others to see it. If it's impersonal and clearly meant to be passed along—a news item, a joke—just make sure the recipient really wants it. Plenty of people prefer their in boxes clutter-free.
If a friend sends me e-mail and later we instant-message with each other, do I still have to reply to her e-mail?
If your instant message tête-à-tête covered whatever topic she e-mailed you about, then no. But to avoid any mix-up over whose turn it is to write, send the ball back to her court with a "nice chatting with you" note—or some great dish you forgot to share.
Buy. Return. Repeat. Hey, It's a Living
Think returning something you bought on the Net is a bore? Try doing it almost every day for three years. Kelly Mooney of Columbus, Ohio's Resource Marketing and 22 staffers have sprung for 1,000-plus items from scores of online stores—then returned every last one. Her mission: to rank the e-shops' customer service. "Every site has bright spots and blind spots," says Mooney, 36, who issues twice-yearly rankings of 50 leading online merchants. Those that tout out-of-stock products or lack toll-free help numbers might get rated "e-bomb." Privacy counts—"Don't ask me for my birthday when I'm only buying a bouquet of flowers," Mooney says—as does promptness: One now-defunct golf site took four months to deliver a club. Kmart's BlueLight.com, along with www.walmart.com, Nike.com, Williams-Sonoma.com and footlocker.com rank lowest in the latest list, out Aug. 7 at ecommercewatch.resource.com. Taking top honors: eToys.com, lands end.com, beautyjungle.com and electronics store 800.com. Web companies are too often "all about innovation," says Mooney, a parent of two with husband Scott Henningsen, a contractor. "My focus is real people."
Click and Get It
Among top bids at auctions.excite.com:
•$18,000 for a walk-on role on Frasier and $3,301 for outfits worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones
in The Mask of Zorro.
•"Achy-Breaky Heart" singer Billy Ray Cyrus's sheared-off ponytail: going, going, gone for $900 at www.planetgiving.com.
•Tickets to Kathie Lee Gifford's final Live with Regis and Kathie Lee appearance: sold for $2,000 at UltimateBid.com.