Sunday Readings: John Updike — WOMAN AT CENTER OF TIGER WOODS CHEATING SCANDAL EXPOSED!! — Princess prizes herself free of wedlock — Twilight 2 Trailer Video — Robert Pattinson: Confesses To Having Long Teeth — A cut too far: the rise in cosmetic surgery on female genitalia — ‘Bright Star’ Trailer Video — Bright Star: at last a good film about poetry — Placido Domingo as baritone sings “Il Trovatore” Video — Placido Domingo greets his fans in a post-performance marathon — Blog Post Photos from UK Telegraph’s editor’s choice shortlist for 2009 Digital Camera Photographer of the Year (Black and White)


Chance Meeting – Simon Parfrement, UK


Sunday Readings: John Updike

“The Persistence of Desire”

Author and poet John Updike reads excerpts from his short story “The Persistence of Desire.” Updike’s characters tend to be superficially ordinary suburbanites with complex interior lives. By providing minutely detailed descriptions of common objects and actions in a style rich with metaphors, Updike adds significance to their actions and personalities.

In this story, a man visits an eye doctor and meets an old flame. This recording was made in 1969. The story is in two parts, and has been edited for length.  Copyrighted however you can listen by clicking below.

Part 1 .au format (5 Mb), .gsm format (0.6 Mb), .ra format (0.4 Mb).

Part 2 .au format (5 Mb), .gsm format (0.6 Mb), .ra format (0.4 Mb).

“Couples”

Author John Updike reads from his book “Couples.” In these sections, Piet attempts to manage two relationships — one with his wife and the other with his pregnant mistress. Both excerpts demonstrate Updike’s ability to focus on sensual details. Updike started his career as a cartoonist for the Harvard Lampoon. He studied drawing in England and was on the staff of the New Yorker until 1957. “Couples” was published in 1968, the year before this recording was made.

.au format (4 Mb), .gsm format (0.9 Mb), .ra format (0.5 Mb).


WORLD EXCLUSIVE: WOMAN AT CENTER OF TIGER WOODS CHEATING SCANDAL EXPOSED!!

National Enquirer – Tiger Woods‘ shocking car crash has put the world’s spotlight on Rachel Uchitel — the New York City party girl who has been caught up in a cheating scandal with the multimillionaire golf superstar, in a story reported exclusively by the NATIONAL ENQUIRER in its new issue.

The ENQUIRER’s blockbuster cover story was verified with polygraphs, multiple sources and an on-the-record exclusive interview with one of Rachel’s friends.

And now The ENQUIRER has caught Rachel in a slew of contradictions during the past 24 hours as she’s been questioned by other media about her relationship with Tiger.

The ENQUIRER is reporting exclusively in its print edition that  the 34-year-old brunette, who has a reputation for dating married celebrities, has been telling friends about a jet-set liaison with 33-year-old Tiger  that began in June.

Multiple sources, who passed polygraph tests, say Rachel told them that she and Tiger also stay in touch during his frequent travels through phone calls and “sexting,” sending each other racy text messages on their cell phones.

One close friend of Rachel’s — Ashley Samson — told The ENQUIRER: “Rachel told me, ‘I’m having an affair with Tiger Woods. We’re in love!'”

And while Rachel emphatically says she’s no home wrecker, she recently had a disastrous affair with David Boreanaz, the star of Bones. The affair even continued while his wife was pregnant and was reported exclusively by Star magazine.

So despite Rachel’s protestations, the ENQUIRER amassed plenty of evidence for its story and is now releasing part of it.

Rachel, an events planner and former director of VIP operations at the NYC nightclub Grffin, has attempted to distance herself from the growing scandal in several comments made to media in the last 24 hours, including to the Associated Press, New York Post and New York Daily News.

But The ENQUIRER can show how Rachel’s denials are full of contradictions!

Rachel, who denies an affair with Tiger, told one media outlet that she hardly knows Ashley, who is quoted on-the-record in our story. Rachel said she wasn’t even sure of the woman’s last name.

However, we can reveal that Rachel is such a close friend of Ashley’s that she recently invited Ashley to join her and some other pals on a trip to Spain.

AND in an ENQUIRER web exclusive, we’re publishing a photo showing Rachel partying with her friend Ashley on that recent trip to Spain. (SEE ABOVE: Ashley is the blonde, Rachel is the brunette)

Rachel, who confesses that she does know Tiger, also outrageously says she’s never even texted Tiger.

But Ashley told The ENQUIRER: “Rachel said she first met Tiger in May at a New York club where she was working, and gave him her number. In June she told me, ‘Tiger Woods is blowing up my cell phone with messages!’

And another source — who passed a polygraph test — told The ENQUIRER: “They were constantly ‘sexting.’ Tiger was asking things like, ‘What are you wearing? What do you want to do to me? What do you want me to do to you?’

“I said, ‘Rachel, he’s married,’ and she said, ‘Big (bleeping) deal! It’s Tiger Woods! I don’t care about his wife! We’re in love.’

“Her nickname for Tiger is ‘Bear.’ She lists his cell phone number under ‘Bear’ in her contacts.'”

Rachel has even been caught in outright lies in specific comment responses to The ENQUIRER.

Rachel traveled to Australia to meet with Tiger while he played earlier this month in the Australian Masters, both sources said.   BUT Rachel initially told us she traveled there with a boyfriend…]

Related Tigergate Links:

WFTV: EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Tiger Woods Accident Scene

NY Daily News: Tiger Woods said Elin Nordegren, not car crash, scratched face & chased him with golf club: report

Fox News: Tiger Woods Cancels Meeting With Florida Police; 911 Calls Released

Radar Online: EXCLUSIVE: Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal Grows, Other Woman Coming Forward With Voicemails

NY Post: Florida police to file charges against Tiger Woods: report

Sun (UK): Waitress claims Woods affair

Yahoo (AP): Police: Woods at fault in crash, will get citation

Sun (UK): Tiger: I let down my family

Mail Online:  Tiger Woods, the $8-an-hour diner waitress and the deal that kept their affair out of the news


Here I Stand Alone – Aditya Pudjo, Indonesia


Princess prizes herself free of wedlock

El Pais – MÁBEL GALAZ / J. B.

On Wednesday, the two-year drama that has been Princess Elena’s separation from her husband of 14 years, Jaime de Marichalar, came to an end when the couple announced their immediate divorce “by mutual and common accord.” The eldest daughter of King Carlos and Queen Sofía and the Navarran aristocrat have been living separately since 2007, in what the royal house had called “a temporary pause in cohabitation.”

When the duke and duchess of Lugo — the honorary titles bestowed on the couple by the king after their 1995 wedding — officially part ways, it will be the first divorce to take place within the Spanish royal family, although Princess Letizia had already been married before her 2004 wedding to Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne. Under Spanish law, even though Elena is the oldest child of the king and queen, the oldest son is first in line to inherit the crown — a law that was being reconsidered after Felipe and Letizia had a first-born daughter although their second child also being a girl seems to have dampened such talk.

When Princess Elena told her parents she wanted a divorce in 2007, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía advised her to take time to consider any such decision. Her mother took a firm position on the matter, reminding Elena of her responsibilities as a member of the royal family. Queen Sofía did not hide her affection for De Marichalar, and her wish for the couple to be reconciled.

But even before their separation, there had been signs of marital strife, notably after successive strokes in 2001 and 2002 nearly killed De Marichalar, and led the reportedly hard-living duke to need prolonged medical attention in New York. Princess Elena traveled with her husband, who suffered temporary paralysis on his left side, but friends of the aristocrat said that she became noticeably saddened by her long separation from her two children, Felipe and Vitoria, following her husband’s illness.

In the two years following their separation, the couple has been seen together just once at Victoria’s first communion last spring. The tension between the two was evident. Now, sources say that the princess is happy and living with their two children and working on projects for Mapfre’s social works foundation between official functions.

The couple has not released the terms of their divorce, “in order to protect their children,” and sources close to De Marichalar have denied that in the months leading up to the announcement, he has fought to retain his honorary title.

Sources close to the royal house say that the princess may have already begun the process to have her marriage annulled by the Church, which is her wish “as a Catholic and member of the royal family.” As the daughter of the king of Spain, this would have to be done by the Vatican directly. When Caroline of Monaco asked the pope to annul her marriage to the playboy Philippe Junot, the pontiff took 14 years to grant her request.


Quiet Mind, Clear Thoughts – Joe Rainbow, UK



My Own Private Hollywood – Tony Wilkinson, UK


Robert Pattinson: Confesses To Having Long Teeth

British actor Robert Pattinson poses as he promotes his film "The Twilight Saga: New Moon", in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Le Figaro Interview by Emmanuele Frois (English Translation)

In life, the English actor of 23 years Robert Pattinson is Edward Cullen so pale, the vampire hero, romantic he embodies for the second time on screen in “Twilight, Chapter 2: New Moon” by Chris Weitz . Interview 15 minutes flat at the Hotel Crillon, with a very shy boy.

LE FIGARO . – How do you view the incredible phenomenon of Twilight?

ROBERT PATTINSON : – (nervous laugh) I’m not really aware because I’m in the eye of the storm! I saw the other day a video on all the paparazzi following us when we were at the airport. When I am in front of them, I can only see their flashes. From another angle, as in that revealed by the video, I saw forty photographers jostling to take our picture. I feel a little far from the “phenomenon”. Also I have worked all year. And I thought that job!

A film worth he so mad?

When I first started Twilight, I thought it would be a small independent film. Kristen Stewart had already to his credit and the director, Catherine Hardwicke also. I assumed it would be a strange and interesting story of vampire love. I did not know at the time, which in turn one after, then another …

Does the idea of impossible love that is the key to the success of the Trilogy by Stephenie Meyer?

Edward loves Bella with absolute devotion and the fact that he is a vampire there is always a danger in their relationship. And people want a relationship exciting and dangerous.

You wanted to become an actor early on. What attracted you?

I was not so young as that! I registered at the Barnes Theater Company, a theater group at age 15. I found it funny but I had not the vocation.

In fact it was like the actors often say to dredge the girls?

Yes (laughs) all the pretty girls are drama and play acting. Before being on stage, I was busy lighting. Once on stage, everything happened very quickly. One day, an officer who was in the audience asked me if I wanted to be an actor. My first audition for Tess of the D’Urbervilles on TV worked.

Now it’s a passion?

Yes. I am a proud and arrogant. I want people appreciate me for my work. I really do not want to be famous for no reason.

You think with Twilight you’re famous for no reason?

No! First there is the books that girls love. And then the film adaptations that do not resemble the typical teen-movies. The film Twilight is more complicated, darker than the usual romance.

There are hundreds of little girls waiting for you in the street at the foot of the Crillon. What do you care?

This gives me a very strange feeling. We always imagine a crowd of hysterical fans. But these teens are not raging mad. They are intelligent and cultivated. They just want to see us. I feel like I get a lot from them and give nothing in return. This is a position for me, unacceptable.

You are also a musician, you had written two songs, “Never Think” and “Let Me Sign” for Twilight Chapter 1. Why was nothing written for Chapter 2?

It takes me much time to write songs. They are all very personal. I think I would not have written these songs if I had known that the film would have such success and such would be folly! I do not reoffend. However, I want to compose film music for orchestra next year.

Have not you afraid of getting stuck in the image of the vampire Edward?

No. I think very differently from Edward. I always felt at the end of the catch, once after removing my makeup and my lenses, I let the character very far behind me

You see how in ten years?

I do not know. I still hope to do interesting work, having a production house that will allow artists to live from their art.

Want to go on stage?

I’d love to. I had great emotions, younger, playing Shakespeare. But for now, the scene seems a little scary because I’m lying in wait. And then it would be foolish not to use my fame in film. While waiting for the theater!

Related Twilight Links:

The Twilight Saga: New Moon – why resistance is futile


Don’t Give Up! – Shui Kee Janet Yim, Hong Kong


A cut too far: the rise in cosmetic surgery on female genitalia

Labiaplasties can be risky, yet the number carried out on the NHS rose by 70% last year

More and more women are opting for cosmetic surgery on external genetalia (collectively called the vulva). Photograph: David Joel/Getty Images

Guardian – Viv Groskop

Before she had even turned 10, Anna had started worrying that there was something physically wrong with her. “I would look at other girls in the shower, and think, ‘They don’t have what I have,'” she says, and wearing a pair of jeans became uncomfortable. The issue was her inner labia. Anna felt that they were too large, and as an adult she grew increasingly self- conscious. “During intercourse they would get caught up and go back into my body,” she says. “I had one sexual partner who mentioned it [negatively]. He was an idiot, but I knew that it was not the norm. I just wanted to be able to have intimacy without worrying about it.”

Now in her mid-30s, Anna [not her real name], from London, recently had a procedure known as labiaplasty, which involves cutting back the inner labia. It costs around £3,000. She says that she is pleased with the results. “It’s a weight off my mind. I’m so glad I had it done.”

Anna’s operation was performed privately and, although there are no industry-wide figures, there are clear signs that labiaplasties in the private sector are increasing. Last year, a representative for the medical group Surgicare said that the company had seen a threefold increase in the procedure in 2007/2008, and that enquiries had risen sevenfold in three years. Perhaps more surprisingly, rates are also rising in the public sector. A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology last week revealed that, over the last year, there has been an increase of almost 70% in the number of women having labiaplasty on the NHS. There were 1,118 in 2008, compared with 669 in 2007 and 404 in 2006.

One of the authors of the study, Dr Sarah Creighton, works as a consultant gynaecologist at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health in London. She says that “on the NHS we are noticing more and more women coming to have their labia removed. It’s the tip of the iceberg because there will be more women seeing cosmetic surgeons privately.”

When I began looking into the reasons for this enormous rise in surgery, my initial assumption was that women must be having it because they had suffered some sort of unusual physical damage, possibly in childbirth. It turns out that this was naive; in the vast majority of cases, labiaplasty is simply a response to the physical appearance of the labia, a desire for more “attractive” external genitalia (known collectively as the vulva).

There can be medical reasons for this surgery, Creighton says, but only in extremely rare cases. “There are unusual hormonal conditions that make the clitoris or the labia abnormal. Occasionally, women can be born with labia that have not developed properly. Some people can be excessively large. But almost all of the women seeking surgery do not have a medical under-lying condition. When you examine them, they are completely normal.”

Despite this, she suggests that it is very difficult for doctors to refuse requests for labiaplasty if the patient argues that her insecurities are psychologically damaging. “They just need to get a referral from their GP to a gynaecologist.” As to how the surgeon decides whether an operation is necessary, she says: “There are no clear guidelines.” She believes, however, that counselling would be a better alternative for many of these women and that there is a danger that medically unnecessary surgery is taking place.

Those asking for this surgery on the NHS, Creighton says, “can be very young – sometimes as young as 10 or 11. Mostly they’re in their late teens or early 20s. There are two pairs of labia: the fat pads on each side and the thinner, slightly more frilly skin on the inside. The ideal these women want is not to be able to see their labia minora at all. That is the image from porno-graphy and magazines. Because of shaving and fashions in underwear, this part of the body is more visible now. And everyone is more exposed to these images of a ‘perfect’ body, so people feel pressured to look a certain way.” She argues that women are aiming for “a certain genital appearance that used to be an obligation only for some glamour models”. The report warns of a culture where a “homogenised, pre-pubescent genital appearance” is therefore being perceived as the norm.

Angelica Kavouni is a leader in the field of labiaplasty – in her private practice, she performs between two and four of these operations a week, for women aged between 18 and 60. She says that her patients are not willing to accept that the physical appearance of their vulva is perfectly ordinary and healthy. “It’s not pathological for the inner labia to be elongated,” she says, “but it does pose an issue for a number of women. They want them to be level or inside the outer labia so that when they are standing up there is no tissue protruding or hanging down. The desirable width of the inner labia [for these patients] is about half a centimetre. With some women, it can naturally be as much as three centimetres.”

As with any surgery, labiaplasty is potentially risky. Creighton says that there have been no studies into the after-effects or possible complications of labiaplasty, nor has there been any research into the impact on childbirth: she suggests that women who opt for this procedure might experience the same problems while giving birth as women who have undergone ritualistic female genital mutilations. Allison Henry, a US woman who had her labia reduced after a vaginal prolapse, recently wrote that the operation “was brutal. All [the] patients who say it doesn’t hurt are lying. I’d rather get my teeth pulled out than do that again.” In Anna’s case, she was unable to walk for two days after the operation, and was in recovery for six weeks.

Many cosmetic surgeons are nonetheless relaxed about the procedure. Douglas McGeorge, a past president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, said last week that, “This is just about removing a bit of loose flesh, leaving behind an elegant-looking labia with minimum scarring.” And Kavouni says that, while there are risks of infection or bleeding and “the sutures can rupture and have to be redone . . . if the procedure is done properly, it will heal very well.”

One of Kavouni’s patients, a 47-year-old interior designer from London, says that having the operation was “exhilarating”. “I first went to see a doctor when I was 15, without my mum knowing, because I thought I was growing a willy. They just said, ‘You’re completely normal, go away.’ No one explained to me that women can look different. That’s why I didn’t experiment with many partners. I thought, ‘He’s seen it. I’d better stick with him.'”…]


Face Off – Anna Bodnar, Poland



Perpetual Change II – Alper Cukur, Turkey


Bright Star: at last a good film about poetry

The great poets’ lives are infinitely colourful, so why are films about them so dull? Jane Campion’s film about Keats is poetic justice

Guardian – John Patterson

Jane Campion’s sublime Bright Star, about the love life of John Keats, is the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is this: movies about poets are boring! Even movies about poets who themselves were not in any way boring tend to be boring – deeply, harrowingly boring. You’d think, for example, that no one could possibly make a DOA biopic of Arthur Rimbaud, who packed more debauchery, drug addiction, omnisexual sport-shagging and absinthe abuse into his intensely lived 37 years than any real hookers and drug-addicts could manage if they lived to be 100. Oh, and he revolutionised modern poetry while he was about it. And yet Agnieszka Holland’s Total Eclipse, detailing Rimbaud’s tempestuous relationship with Paul Verlaine, is a snooze. Total Eclipse Of His Art is a better title.

Same goes for The Libertine, in which the lascivious life of John Wilmot, the bawdy Restoration poet who pioneered the strategic deployment of the C-word in poesy, is laid before us like the corpse on an anatomist’s table. He shags for England, he cheats, he conspires, he boffs the bosomy women of Charles II’s court, and treats them like dirt. Can’t fail to entertain, right? Wrong! The movie is so lifeless, I actually fell asleep while interviewing John Malkovich about it (although, in my defence, he should never have given me that third Scotch).

Elsewhere, there’s Sylvia, in which Gwyneth Paltrow, the Norma Shearer of our time (that’s NOT a compliment), essays the suicidal first Mrs Ted Hughes. But since his subsequent partner also did herself in, perhaps the one they should be making movies about is Hughes himself – especially since they had a future James Bond (Daniel Craig) on hand to play him.

Given the high failure rate in these biopics, perhaps film-makers should cast their nets a little wider, since there’s no shortage of nutters and perverts at large in the poetic realm. Good lord, any week in the life of Robert Lowell would have to include several alcoholic blackouts, pendulous bipolar mood-swings and several bracing doses of electro-convulsive therapy. An enterprising writer-director might even take it upon themself to film the Yeats-fixated John Berryman’s confession letter to Alcoholics Anonymous, in which he itemised all his drunken depravity (shat himself in public, made passes at men or women, vomited on countless objects and individuals … ). I also like the idea of a Coleridge biopic, especially one covering his years of opium addiction (“Oi, De Quincey! Quit bogarting my laudanum!”).

But until this happens, the greatest moment of poetry on screen in recent years will always be Kal Penn’s sublime and heartbreaking recitation at the end of Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, a scene capable of raising more tears in just 90 seconds than any of the movies I’ve mentioned above can manage in 90 minutes.


While I Was Asleep – Anna Erlingsdottir, Iceland



Claro de Luna – Fernando Javier, Argentina


Placido Domingo greets his fans in a post-performance marathon

Domingo with fan Gizem Evcin at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Credit: Steve Cohn

Los Angles Times – David Ng

Plácido Domingo has seen all kinds of fan adoration in his 40-plus years in the opera business. But he apparently had not seen anything quite like the crowd waiting to greet him late Wednesday night in downtown Los Angeles.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed the 68-year-old Spanish tenor as he emerged from a stage door and took a glance at the queue that had formed in the lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The line of fans stretched the equivalent distance from the lobby on Grand Avenue to the Music Center fountain.

The famously tireless Domingo had just finished a 3 1/2-hour performance of Handel’s “Tamerlano” and showed no signs of fatigue as he began signing copies of the new DVD release “My Greatest Roles,” which features his performances in Puccini’s “Tosca,” “Manon Lescaut” and “La Fanciulla del West.” (The first volume of the multi-disc set is on sale now, as is a DVD documentary featuring new interviews with the tenor.)

When asked whether he’s watched the DVDs, Domingo admitted, “No, I haven’t yet.”

Domingo began autographing at 11:40 p.m. and did not finish until about 1:30 a.m. Some fans came bearing gifts. One person gave him a small chocolate turkey. Alison Kaufman, a music student from Palos Verdes who is studying in Boston, gave him a CD of her vocal performances.

A Los Angeles Opera official said all packages that Domingo received will be checked for security purposes.

Gizem Evcin, an opera fan and film student from Istanbul, asked Domingo to sign an LP cover dating from 1968. When handed the album, Domingo smiled and said, “This was my first recording. I recorded it in 1967 and it came out in 1968.” The album features Domingo performing selections from various operas.

(Evcin later said that she purchased the LP two weeks ago at a Goodwill store in West L.A. for $1.25.)

Domingo worship was palpable throughout the crowd. “He’s adorable!” said Annalisa Gerl, a teacher of German at Santa Monica College. She had asked Domingo to sign a backstage photograph taken of her and the tenor 20 years ago.

To make the line move faster, L.A. Opera handed out Post-it notes to fans so that they could write down to whom they wanted Domingo to dedicate his inscriptions.

A little after 1 a.m., Domingo’s wife, Marta, emerged from a stage door, took a look at the line of fans and humorously asked, “OK, how many more?” She embraced her husband and then worked the crowd. At one point, she was heard shouting “Next!”

When the last autograph had been signed, Domingo — still looking energetic — posed for a few photographs with fans. A Diet Coke provided to him earlier in the evening remained unopen on a table. He shook hands and said good night to L.A. Opera staff before disappearing backstage.


Sherdley Park – Krzysztof Nowakowski, UK


Updated Related Tigergate Links & Accident Video – end

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