It's good to see some companies relaxing...

It's good to see some companies relaxing their loan requirements: When Transamerica Financial Services wrote to Brian Cagle of Westchester, offering to make him a $3,000 loan "in just two working days," family members were frankly surprised.

After all, Brian's a freeloader who still lives at home with his parents. And he's not working, though the job market is admittedly limited for 1-year-olds. But his father, Dave, points out that Transamerica was correct in assuming Brian possessed collateral. "He has a bunch of stuffed animals," his father said.


We are being watched: That was the feeling of several readers, including Malibu's Bigfoot Museum curator Jon Erik Beckjord, after they saw the spooky weather satellite photo in The Times the other day. Who is that giving L.A. such a threatening look? God? The Grim Reaper? Nostradamus? Beckjord hasn't seen anything so unsettling since he came upon a NASA photo that showed a Martian rock formation resembling the face of Teddy Kennedy.


A little "Twilight Zone" music, please: No sooner had the 5.3 aftershock struck Sunday than Brian Gledhill of Monrovia heard someone say, "Suddenly, I shivered violently."

The speaker, eerily enough, was the narrator of the movie "Sophie's Choice," which Gledhill happened to be watching at the time on Channel 11.


A letter of quality: Karen Owens of Sierra Madre received an invitation to a gathering of government and business types called the 48th Annual Quality Congress. The invite said the event was "being held close to you, allowing you cost-cutting opportunities that most other attendees don't have. . . . You can save on air fare and hotel rates by commuting each day."

The event is being held a bit northeast of Sierra Madre--in Las Vegas.


Cheeseburger--hold the controversy: You may recall we quoted two historical journals as saying that the appropriately named Lionel Sternberger invented the cheeseburger in the early 1920s in Pasadena. We thus deflated, in short order, the claims of cooks in Denver and Louisville.

But since then, two different readers have made the sizzling assertion that Sternberger actually scored his culinary breakthrough in Highland Park, in his eatery, the Rite Spot.

Now, however, Gordon Gulack of El Monte offers eyewitness evidence in favor of Pasadena.

"When I was going to Pasadena High in the '20s, we used to go to a very small hamburger place run by Lionel Sternberger," Gulack writes. "This was before he opened the Rite Spot. It was a few miles east of there on Colorado (Boulevard) in Pasadena. I can remember getting a cheeseburger. . . ."

Pasadena--the honor's yours. Let's move on to something more significant. Such as who invented the double-decker burger.


James Miller, the Nevada para-glider who landed at an L.A. Raiders game last year, is due in L.A. Municipal Court on April Fool's Day for arraignment on a misdemeanor charge. Miller, who also para-glided into the boxing ring during a heavyweight fight in Las Vegas, was recently arrested upon landing in that city in connection with that incident. Ironically, Miller had returned on a commercial flight.

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