Top 10 Proven Ways to Drive Targeted Traffic Your Affiliate Marketing Site

When you're involved in affiliate marketing, easily one of the most major concerns you'll have to face is driving traffic to your site. And not just any traffic you'll need targeted traffic. Here are the top 10 proven ways you can drive quality traffic to your affiliate marketing site and increase your income-generating potential:

E-mail campaigns

Used carefully, e-mail campaigns can easily drive targeted traffic to your affiliate marketing site. This can be done by providing highly relevant and valuable information on the body of the message and then offering a link that will bring the recipients into your site.

You can do this two ways: one is by providing the full content in the e-mail message and then offering a link inviting the recipient to view more similar write-ups on your site. Another is by giving only a portion of the content and offering the rest on the affiliate site. A linked e-mail signature should also be included.


Informative and how-to articles, especially well-written ones, are proven traffic baits for affiliate marketing sites. Include links to similar or additional information within the content body that can only be read from your site and provide additional links on your signature.

Newsletters and e-zines

People love information, particularly those about subjects they are curious about or are involved in which explains why targeted methods to drive traffic to affiliate marketing sites work best.

Offer e-newsletter and e-zine subscriptions, making sure that links bring recipients to your site. Use a separate landing page to handle the subscription process for your visitors' convenience.


Other than your affiliate marketing site, use a blog to get in touch with prospective customers and members. Blogs are considerably more personal and lighter in tone than most affiliate business sites and they can be a great source of information, news, advice and tips from you to your prospects. Include a link from your blog to your affiliate marketing site.

Social bookmarking sites

These sites are a rich source of targeted traffic that you can drive to your affiliate marketing site. Your market demographics are also easier to define so sending out invitations to potential leads and members is a lot easier.

Discussion forums and boards

By leaving useful and thought-provoking comments on discussion boards and forums, you encourage other members to react and send you a reply. You'll be able to build a networking relationship from here. Make sure to sign with a link back to your affiliate marketing site.

Guest blogging

You could drive another blog's captured traffic to your affiliate site by becoming a guest blogger. If you can write well and can offer unique and useful content, the site's readership will find you interesting enough to follow you to your own site.

Allow bookmarks on your web pages

If you have content, you can drive traffic to your affiliate marketing site by allowing your readers to bookmark certain pages. This will help promote those pages and your website to other people who might be interested in the same subjects.

Host a contest

Locate your target market and then promote a contest through ads or e-mails. All details must be found on your affiliate marketing website so you can drive traffic there. Registration must also be performed on one of your landing pages. Just make sure to offer prizes that visitors who will be coming in will find useful.


There's nothing like a nice gift to drive targeted traffic to your affiliate marketing site. It's easy to implement and can be relatively cheap. Furthermore, you offer these visitors an incentive to sign up for whatever campaign it is you're promoting.


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Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz and wowed the crowds with explosive performances, with also picking up Favourite Pop-Rock Female Artist.?We're used to seeing lovely perform under the international spotlight. But now new footage of the star has surfaced, revealing the moment she stepped on stage for the very first time. The British beauty was performing at the Hackney Empire at the tender age of 13, when the video was originally filmed. The baby-faced star took to the stage for a shaky rendition of Celine Dion's classic, My Heart Will Go On, at the Lady D under 18s talent show. And performed so well on the night, she even went on to take home the winner's title in the contest.After making her mark on the X Factor, chose to hold her very first concert at the Empire theatre in her home borough. And now we know why! WATCH Leona's stage debut here... What are your thoughts on premiere performance? Let us know in the comments box below. ?Notice to our readers…We'd like to let you know that this site uses cookies. Without them you may find this site does not work properly and many features may be unavailable. More information on what cookies are and the types of cookies we use can be found ?Yes, that’s Shirley Jones bearing gifts… Or she’s a Partridge in a pear tree, perhaps? At the risk of sending you into a panic by saying this… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! I know, I know… its not even Thanksgiving quite yet, but it is Thanksgiving Week, so in addition to shopping around for a big roasty bird, fresh cranberries and tons of wine and hooch for the big feasting day, its time you also started thinking about your holiday gift-buying plans. (Oh, like you havent already…)Starting today and running all this week, well be offering up some good gift ideas here at NewNowNext, with it all culminating this Friday when the entire days worth of posts will be a slew of cool things to buy. Thisll correspond to a big promo stunt on Logo thatll have me on-air (yikes!) with experts telling you cool things to buy in all kinds of categories, like foodie items, cool travel gear, green gifts, gadgets for you techie friends, hot design gifts, and so on!Right now, Im gonna start off by giving you a quick list of hot music picks to give this holiday season. You can get all (or most of these) at the Logo store, or just find them where you can… Theres bound to be something here for just about everybody!Yes, our very own gay messiah has his blissfully barmy concert tribute to Judy Garland hitting record-sellers on December 4th. Its a two-disc extravaganza full of this fabulously orchestrated renditions of all the standards Judy herself served up at her legendary gig way back when. The CD is full of Wainwrights cool and daffy gay onstage banter, too. A mega-must for fans.And you might also wanna snatch up the of Rufus Judy concert, out on December 4th, too. Its got the subtle title of Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy! Live at the London Palladium. And its just that…Many more musical gift goodies after the jump…The soundtrack from the new film about Bob Dylan by gay director Todd Haynes is pretty awesome. The movie has a gaggle of different actors (Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett for starters) playing Dylan, and similarly the soundtrack has a massive assortment of todays best and most eclectic musicians covering his tunes. Cat Power, The Hold Steady, Eddie Vedder, Los Lobos, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Antony & The Johnsons, Willie Nelson, Sufjan Stevens… The amazing list goes on. Any music-phile will die for this one.Luther Vandross was a modern soul legend. And sure, we may never get the official skinny on was-he-or-wasnt-he gay, but I think we all can make our own decisions on that one. But nonetheless, the man was a master at delivering uplifting, heartfelt and sometimes downright slamming R&B gems that still get you swooning today. Love, Luther is this falls hot box set compiling the best of the best, and it comes in a handsome case and with a 58-page book, too! Simply, its never too much, okay?The loopy skinny French-Canadian diva with the voice that can sink (or raise, Im not sure) the Titanic is back with a just-released full-on studio pop album. Its Ms. D at her full-throated best, with tunes that including paint-peeling ballads and driving pop/rock (she even covers Hearts Alone). You know theres somebody on your list who liiives for her. Give em a treat and get them the CD/DVD full of bonus stuff. Brava! & Jonsi and his Icelandic pals are back with still more of their blissfully inventive, orchestral rock that they do so well. This time out, theyre giving a two-disc serving of musicHvarf is a five-song EP of long, sprawling tracks and the second disc Heim is a collection of acoustic tunes from their back catalogue. As a companion, pick up the DVD, Heima, which is a documentary film following the boys as they tour around Iceland playing the music on their new double-discs. Clever, eh?Shes just Mary, and shes just fabulous, too. The queen of hip-hop/soul has a solid single out now with Just Fine and you can bet the entire Growing Pains album is gonna be more thumping fierceness, full of major Mary ballads, jams and emotional, aural outpourings. Its out on December 18th, just in time for some hella good ho ho ho.He vas… He vas… my boyfriend!!!!! Frau Blucher (this time around played by Andrea Martin, who does a pretty fab job, fyi) and the entire gang of Mel Brooks misfit have reassembled onstage for the just-opened new Broadway musical. Is it the next Producers? Hard to say for sure… But with big, new and improved takes on the Puttin on the Ritz number and a killer cast featuring the likes of Roger Bart, Sutton Foster and the beyond amazing Megan Mullally, this is a total must for the theater queen on your list. Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I foooouuunnd yoooouuuuu!!! You get the idea…Attend the tale of Sweeney all of you Broadway babes, Sondheim junkies, Tim Burton fans, Johnny Depp groupies, and all-around movie freaks. Alas, the movie wont feature Patti Lupone sporting a hot goth bob and toting around a tuba, but you can bet its gonna be a trippy, dark and deliciously twisted ride. And Johnny Depp in a musical. Yes, please! You have to wait until December 18th (the film premieres on Dec. 21st), but by that time, youll be ready for some operatically drama-filled musical darkness to counter those cloying visions of sugar plums that have been dancing round your egg-nog filled noggin.The English-born,Wales-raised singers new greatest hits disc may be the perfect gift for your best bud who just loves those sensitive, hard-scrabble singer/songwriter types. And theres nobody better at than David Gray. This collections delivers tunes from Grays great White Ladder album (including Babylon, Please Forgive Me and the brilliant This Years Love), as well as less-heard earlier gems. And there are two new songs, too! Maybe its time for a Gray Christmas?Speaking of musical Davids, the biggest of all has gotta be David Bowie. And devout fans are gonna be giddy of the release of the David Bowie Box (on December 4th) which is a commemorative assemblage of Bowies five most recent studio albums, including 60+ bonus tracks and all coming in a cool limited edition slipcase. Yep, its a lot of Bowie… And speaking of Bowie and the holidays, I cant resist posting this video, which is one of the bets holiday-themed TV moments ever… Hot Swedes: Kristoffer Ragnstam, Jens Lekman, JohnossiIf you wanna look very cool and indie/Euro this holiday season, give your more astute friends music they may not have heard of. Right now Sweden is an insanely fertile ground for hot rock/pop talent, and while most of know about The Hives, Peter Bjorn and John and even pop tartlet Robyn by this time, here are three you should get to know. C Hes totally cute, and his music treads a pop/rock line, somewhere between Supergrass, Beck and Bloc Party. C Blissfully melodic and oddball tunes, full of delicate longing and kooky wit. A much less gloomy, more bubbly Magnetic Fields. C Two cute young Swedes who rock out with a big sound, White Stripes-style.And finally…Lets wrap this up with a bona fide diva! Yes, Kylies latest, the much-awaited, X, is out soon as an import. Splurge and buy this one for yourself.?So, I made it to last night for the concert. Which was great, and most of all It was just fun. Rufus seemed to be having a blast onstage, the crowd (which seemed a pretty balanced mix of older Judy-philes and Rufus fans of all ages: Gay men from ages 25-65; straight couples; showbiz/music notables; downtown hipsters who could afford it; theater-loving women; and savvy NYC culture vultures) was there to adore the entire enterprise from the get-go, and they did. Standing ovations abounded, starting when Rufus first walked out on stage (loved the white Viktor & Rolf suit) and following every one of the big Judy songs (a la The Man That Got Away).At times (and noticeably about the time that Rufus got to song #8Puttin on the Ritz) you felt like you were watching someone run a triathlona very gay, musical triathlonbut Rufus held his own, with fun stories and his obvious affection for the material, and given the effusive, supportive spirit of the audience there was no way he wouldnt succeed. (as noted by ) sort of nailed one aspect of the show. writes: What unfolded onstage was a tour de force of politically empowering performance art in which a proudly gay male performer paid homage to the original and longest-running gay icon in the crowded pantheon of pop divas. And further: For those who came to worship, Mr. Wainwright could do no wrong. His courage to stand as a surrogate for every audience member who ever gazed into the mirror and fantasized slipping into Dorothy’s ruby slippers spoke for itself.Exactly. That was the fun, shared enthusiasm which was tangible in the hall. But Rufus also just wowed us with the power of his own pipes, which when he just cuts loose and sings, achieved a crystalline gorgeousness. So, now Im just gonna hit upon my basic, random notes from the night.The Songs (my faves, anyway)Do It Again C This was the third song and totally let you know you were in for some real musicianship. Arranged as a sultry cool burn, Rufus owned it. It was sexy and swanky.How Long Has This Been Going On C Another foxy, slow-burner. I guess I loved Rufus most when things slowed down and you could enjoy the richness of the orchestra, and when Rufus could breathe and really infuse a song with his own intensity. This was one of those.The Man That Got Away C A total home run! Of course, the audience was ready to jump up applauding as soon as this one began, but Rufus got well into the whole, needy, chugging drama of it (no shocker there). And its such an amazing song A win-win situation for all involved.San Francisco C My favorite perhaps? (Yep, Im that gay.) Rufus totally enjoyed this one, majorly. He even explained for the crowd (who Im sure didnt need much of a tutorial) about the Jeanette MacDonald references in the songs intro. The he sang, and pranced grandly around the stage and owned it. The line about a real gone bridge may be one of my favorites turns of phrase in music. Rufuss performance of this number was a total tribute to (and renovation of) traditional gay culture. Yee-haw!A Foggy Day in London C This was just simple, moving and sweet. Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart C Big and fun! Typical of all the big, bouncy Judy favorites, this one rattled through the house happily.The Trolley Song C Rufus was having a ball with this one. Such a fun tune about meeting a cute boy And impossible to hear and not imagine young Judy in the film Meet Me in St. Louis. And Rufus drove that jolly trolley all the way home. This was some totally gay fun.Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody C Ive never cared for this song, but Rufus and the orchestra seemed to bring out the brassy, gutsy fun of it. Indeed, this was one of the tunes where Rufus seemed unconcerned about tip-toeing in the shadow of Judy. He grabbed this one by the balls and aggressively sang it and turned it out. Bravo!Over the Rainbow C Rufus mom, Kate McGarrigle (folk legend) came out and played piano on this one. And evidently, Rufus and Mom have performed this song since he was a toddler. In fact, Rufus explained that back when his parents would have all-night parties, his mother would come and get him out of bed at 3am, and make him come downstairs and sing the song for party guests, as a way of getting them to go home. As he told this anecdote, his mother, seated at the piano seemed wryly bemused. She cracked: And look where it got you. Well put, Mom. This was a lovely, heartfelt rendition, delived with Rufus sitting on the edge of the stage. Beautiful.Encores: Put On a Happy Face and Every Time We Say Goodbye C Both were lovely and fun. When he started into Forget your troubles, come on get happy I was hoping that maybe Barbra Streisand would stroll out and duet with him (a la the famous duet medley between Streisand and Garland from the 1960s). No such luck. But these were charming, and the simple, sparse rendition of Every Time We Say Goodbye (performed with ma Kate back on piano) was a delicate and touching finale.Other NotesA big bonus of the night was being reminded how strong all of these standards (which were all familiar with perhaps too much) are as musical pieces. Hearing them cranked out in a big, acoustically flawless hall by a full orchestra was a total treat. Theres some seriously good music in there.Costumes C I loved all the fun, dramatic garb that Viktor & Rolf schemed up. Rufus sleek black tux and top hat were perfect for Thats Entertainment, which opened up the second act. And then having him doff the hat, jacket and tie and belt out the rest of the show in his black vest and shirtsleeves just worked. Mom Kate McGarrigle C When she hit the stage in her swinging, shiny gold pantsuit with a sheen-y white blouse, fully made-up with her hair glamorously slicked back, it was fierce. I feel like Celine Dion, she cracked, which Rufus and the crowd loved. And I always enjoy the onstage dynamic between Kate and Rufus. Shes always a bit stern, and almost slightly disapproving of him, but in a charmingly, curmudgeonly, comical way. But by the end, after they played the final encore, she was visibly teary and beaming at Rufus. So sweet.Martha Wainwright C Rufus had his sister come out and sing the tune Stormy Weather. Whoa! She tore the roof off, and the crowd freakin loved it. First, where did she get all that big, long blonde hair? And that champagne-colored, shiny dress? I loved it. The whole look was very Claudia at La Mirage on Dynasty. But Marthas wildly loopy and unabashedly histrionic and dramatic delivery of Stormy Weather was a fun, guttural contrast to Rufus more conscious, effete delivery of much of the material. She was a blast of primal and hormonally fueled fresh air.Lorna Luft C Fun to see her pop out and duet with Rufus. She certainly seemed happy to be there. But is it shady for me to have wished it had been Liza?Celeb-spotting: Tons of fancy and fun New York gays, of course. Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman (of Kiki & Herb); cabaret crooner Jack Donahue; NY State Attorney General hopeful Sean Patrick Maloney; Sarah Jessica Parker; Talking Head David Byrne; Laurie Anderson; playwrights Jeff Whitty and Tony Kushner: John Waters; B-52 Fred Schneider; Kristin Johnston; Joel Grey; Patricia Field; Antony; Norah Jones (I think); actor John Benjamin Hickey. Stories and Chatter: Rufus, as always, was totally engaging in his story-telling on stage. From the beginning with his Were not in Kansas anymore quip, he related tales of his own Judy devotion and the ordeal of preparing for this concert. The audience learned that as a kid, Rufus used to love to play Wizard of Oz. On good days, hed put on moms apron and be Dorothy, with his little stuffed lamb toy as Toto. On bad days, hed be the Wicked Witch of the West, and line up his mothers high heels, slip into her dresses and practice melting repeatedly. He also told tales of Judy fanatics (including a former drummer from her 1961 Carnegie Hall gig) whove approached him, and he gave frequent props to the orchestra and musical director Stephen Oremus, who supported him.Again, my final analysis was that the night was a big, musical love-in. But it wasnt a cornball evening of kitsch or self-congratulatory camp at all. More than anything, it was a celebration of two artists. Judy Garland was recognized as a performer with a huge heart, amazing precision, stamina and exuberanceand also of an indestructible cultural relevance and worthiness. Her rather encouraging presence loomed large and benignly over the entire evening. And for Rufus Wainwright, the concert was a triumph whereby he moves up a notch in the cultural radar, buoyed by his own talents and ambition and courage for undertaking such a task. Heres a gay man whos up for renovating our perceived notions of corny, traditional queer culture. By an artist of Rufus caliber tackling the Garland songbook, the idea of this being done for kitschs sake evaporates in a second, and the enterprise soars due to the raw talents of all of its elements. And in so doing, Rufus demonstrates how we can celebrate the strengths and merits and loopy theatrics of our past, while simultaneously taking it all a step forward. Sure, the cult of Judy and showtunes are a gay cultural touchstone, but the music and its power and the unadulterated wealth of talent backing it up is indisputable and much bigger than any rainbow-tinted clich.Gorgeous!?Will there be any surprises at this year’s ? Not so sure – I feel like it would be hard to top this year’s VMAs in pure-entertainment value. But, of course I’ll be watching – look who’s going to be there: The show already confirmed that Daughtry, Celine Dion, Fergie and Rihanna as performers for the night. Amazing!The committee announced its yesterday as well; Beyonce, J.T., Daughtry and Linkin Park all earned the most (three nominations each).Jimmy Kimmel will host the ceremony, which will air November 18…and I actually didn’t know this: The AMAs get their nominees based on record sales, and then they narrow thise down based on national sampling. Hmm…Check the for the full-list of nominees…after the jump!Pop/Rock: Male artist:Akon, Timbaland, Justin TimberlakeFemale artist: Beyonce, Fergie, Avril LavigneBand, duo or group:Linkin Park, Maroon 5, NicklebackAlbum: Daughtry (Daughtry), Minutes To Midnight (Linkin Park), FutureSex/LoveSounds (Justin Timberlake)Country:Male artist:Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Brad PaisleyFemale artist:Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, Carrie UnderwoodBand, duo or group:Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal FlattsAlbum:Let It Go (Tim McGraw), Me And My Gang (Rascal Flatts), Some Hearts (Carrie Underwood) Soul/Rhythm & Blues:Male artist:Akon, Ne-Yo, T-PainFemale artist:Beyonce, Fantasia, RihannaAlbum:BDay (Beyonce), Double Up (R. Kelly), FutureSex/Love Sounds (Justin Timberlake)Rap/Hip Hop:Male artist:Fabolous, T.I., Young JeezyBand, duo or group:Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Pretty Ricky, Shop BoyzAlbum:Strength & Loyalty (Bones Thugs-N-Harmony), T.I. vs. T.I.P. (T.I.), The Inspiration (Young Jeezy)Adult Contemporary:Artist:Daughtry, Norah Jones, John MayerAlternative:Artist:Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, the White StripesLatin:Artist:Daddy Yankee, Juan Luis Guerra y 440, Jennifer LopezContemporary Inspirational:Artist:Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, tobyMacSoundtracks:Album: Dreamgirls, Hairspray, High School Musical 2Breakthrough: New artist:Daughtry, Plain White Ts, Robin Thicke?Annie Lennox’s album won’t be out until October 2, but you can listen to the new single right here: "."Songs of Mass Destruction will mark Annie’s fourth solo album; one of the 12 tracks, a feminist anthem called "Sing," will feature contributions from 23 different female musicians, including Celine Dion, Melissa Etheridge, Madonna, Fergie, Shakira, Beth Gibbons, Faith Hill, Angelique Kidjo, Beverley Knight, Gladys Knight, KD lang, Sarah McLachlan, Pink, Joss Stone and KT Tunstall…just to name a few.That’s so nuts! I am more than impressed, Annie.?The black suit Rachel has on in this scene, is a perfect example of “Broadcast Journalism Lady Fierceness”?Whether theyre trying to balance love and career, reporting and sensationalism, or a stack of papers and a venti coffee (extra black), broadcast journalism movie ladies have brought us fast-paced entertainment for years. These women know whats important. Theyre willing to risk it all for a big story. When that camera is rolling and America is watching, they know its go big or pack up those shoulder pads, and go home.With the DVD release of today, it only seemed appropriate to take a look back at the memorable movie characters who have SERVED us the news honey over the last 30 years or so. So finish up that chapter in , resolve that lingering tension with your co-anchor, and give your cab driver directions to get home extra fast, because weve got a show to do. [CUE THEME MUSIC]This James L. Brooks film may be the standard bearer by which all broadcast journalism lady films can be measured. Holly Hunter plays Jane Craig, a network news producer based in Washington who LOVES the news. Im talking, power-walking-every-morning-to-buy-seven-newspapers loves the news. She eventually becomes caught in a love triangle between William Hurt and Albert Brooks, two male reporters on her newscast. The best things about this movie is Joan Cusacks hair while she’s running, a cameo by Jack Nicholson, and Holly Hunter constantly bursting into tears. Oh, and its one of the best romantic comedies ever. I BURIED THE LEDE.QUESTION: What would you do if you were an upstart news reporter and your first boss was Robert Redford? ANSWER: You would use him to further your serious news career while simultaneously falling in love with him. Thats basically what Michelle Pfeiffers character, Tally Atwater, does in Up Close and Personal. This movie is basically A Star Is Born in a news room. Way too much of the movie is set in a prison during an inmate riot, but other than that its pretty good. Up Close and Personal also has the added plus of including that Celine Dion song Because You Loved Me. Broadcast Journalism ladies + easy listening soft rock = a match made in pantsuit heaven. Now whenever you hear this song you can think of Robert Redford singing it to you while youre sporting an early 90s bob.Wow. Is this Nicole Kidmans best film or is it? In broadcast journalism lady movies, if you desperately want to break into the industry it either means you are inspirational or a ruthless, conniving slut. Nicole Kidmans Suzanne Stone in this film, is definitely the latter. Suzanne DESPERATELY wants to be a world famous news anchor. When her husband asks her to take some time off from a local weather girl job to focus on their family, she does what any career-minded girl would do, she gets rid of him. Suzanne eventually gets whats coming to her in the end, but not before that chasing her broadcast television dreams until the very last frame. THAT’S dedication.The on-the-scene reporting continues after the break. How’s my hair holding up?Bridget Jones is undeniably one of the best movie characters of all time. From her self-deprecating humor to her constant uphill battles with life, she constantly inspires. Who hasnt had one of those nights where all you can do is smoke a couple fags, drink an entire bottle of wine, and listen to a Celine Dion album. (Fact: Broadcast journalism ladies love Celine Dion almost as much as they love shoulder length haircuts.) When Bridget quits her job after a messy break-up with her boss, she finds redemption (well, kind of) as a television journalist. With the help of Colin Firth, she scores a big interview and climbs her way to the top. I think I need to start keeping a diary.Sarah Jessica Parker plays unlucky talk show host Natalie Lake in this darkly comedic parody of science fiction B movies directed by Tim Burton. After Martians arrive on Earth promising they come in peace, they start pretty much murdering everything in sight. This is much more entertaining than the prison riot scene in Up Close and Personal. Unfortunately, poor Natalie gets stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time while reporting at one of the alien landings. She gets abducted, and her head is switched with her pet Chihuahua. Hey, no one said broadcast journalism was easy, did they? [See Above: No. They Didnt.]Uploaded by . – Is Courteney Coxs Gale Weathers the best character in the entire Scream franchise? If not, she definitely ranks pretty high. Gale is a tabloid reporter who has a long history with the protagonist of the films, Sidney Prescott, after accusing her of lying about her mothers death. Throughout the horror series, she manages to both report on the murders while also saving others and avoiding being killed herself. Multitasking is very important for a career in broadcast journalism. Also, who could forget Parker Posey playing an actress playing Gale in Scream 3. What are you doing?? BEING GALE WEATHERS and My agent liked that are lines that anyone can easily, and should, work into every day conversation. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what happens to Gale in .Uploaded by . – The 1976 film Network is a biting satire of network news, and its never-ending quest for higher ratings. When news anchor Howard Beale has a breakdown on air, the television channels executives decide to keep him in front of the camera and the stations ratings soar. One of the executives who make this decision is Diana Christensen played by Faye Dunaway. The only thing more cutthroat then Faye Dunaway in this movie, are Faye Dunaways blouses in this movie. This is a Programming Executive who knows how to fit some 1970s tailoring into her busy decision-making news days, ok? Dunaway won an Academy Award for her performance in this film, and you definitely dont want to miss it. Is That Clear?One of the funniest movies of the last 20 years, Drop Dead Gorgeous is about a beauty pageant in the small town of Mount Rose, Minnesota, and the lengths that one of the contestants mother (played by Kirstie Alley) and her daughter will go to win. The innocent counterpoint to their ruthlessness is Amber Atkins, a beautician at the local funeral home who just wants to follow the example of her role model, Diane Sawyer. Through a series of events, Amber is able finally land a job on a local Minneapolis-St. Paul television station, and the loveable Kirsten Dunst gets the happy ending she deserves. You betcha.Uploaded by . – This film that launched a thousand catch phrases stars Will Ferrell as a news anchor in the 1970s threatened by a new female colleague. That colleague is Christina Applegate, who knows how to WORK some bell-bottoms. In addition, she has one of the best broadcast journalism lady names ever: Veronica Corningstone. Per usual, Veronica gets a bit carried away by her unquenchable thirst to read a teleprompter while being filmed, but luckily it all works out in the end.Uploaded by . – Which bring us to Morning Glory. This adorable film was released last year, and features Rachel McAdams as Becky Fuller, a television news producer who just really loves producing. Like, it gives her as much?fulfillment?as her crackberry addiction and running in heels. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton play a pair of anchors who struggle to get along on the air and off. In fact, this movie incorporates themes from many past Broadcast Journalism Lady Movies. Becky has Holly Hunters love of news in Broadcast News, goes through a career rebound similar to Bridget Jones, and oversees a newscast makeover like in Network. However, Morning Glory has something none of these movies have. That thing is Patrick Wilson.?Remember them? Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda might actually make it to the multiplex. Word has it that substantial negotiations have begun between to finally get their sh*t together and ! Of course, Im still waiting for the big-screen smash, The Golden Girls Movie: Shady Pines or Bust!A poster at the opening of Prince’s new 3121 club in Vegas last night. Wear your diamonds and pearls, yo! isnt just a nebulously named, hard-to-pin-down musical genius. Hes also a clubowner and restaurateur. Turns out the purple powerhouse has at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Vegas. And, Prince himself will at the club on Friday and Saturday nights. And… Theres a restaurant, too. Take that Celine! Shakira and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters: Strange hotel bedfellows?Perhaps not to be outdone, (how those two got together, Ill never know) have formed a joint business venture, in the Bahamas for $16 million, and are and selling off prime seaside property. Okaaayyy…Sing out, Kate! Pete Dohertyhell take a pass on.The late Johnny Cash: Still crankin’ out videos!Speaking of Kate Moss, she and just about (mostly music biz stars, like Kanye, Justin Timberlake, Iggy Pop, Sharon Stone, Bono, Dixie Chicks, Johnny Depp and on and on) , Gods Gonna Cut You Down.Young Love: You’re gonna hear from him!And thanks to an early nod from (from a week or so back, actually), heres a heads up about , whose tune Discotech is ripping up the NYC club kingdom. YL is basically the musical moniker for Dan Keyes, who serves up zingy, rocking dancey music that (to quote Arjan, who put it pretty aptly) suggests Franz Ferdinand meets Justin Timberlake. Youll also hear echoes of The Killers, which is no big surprise as the same record honchos at Island are guiding YLs release, due in January 2007. (In fact, check the pic of Dan and Brandon below. Theyre like, BFFs!) Listen to YLs tune and dig up more dish and . And watch Logos and catch the Discotech video. Flowers & Love: They go so nicely together…?Yes, this did happen – and yes, Canadian kooky makes it everything you could possibly imagine; she even tries to beat box! On her CBS special, "That’s Just The Woman in Me," Celine brought on stage to perform his remixed version of her track "Eyes On Me."The remix is actually really good; I kind of wish Celine would stop lip-synching, though. And I can’t decide which moment is more wondrously awkward: Celine shaking her skeleton hips while telling to keep "his eyes on her" or Celine escorting off stage because he has a broken foot!Watch the video after the jump…?Beyonce as Aida? It’s as "Easy as Life." Hillary gets some female fan action. And Mariah’s next movie is, like, totally good. Hurrah! might star in ! Are theater folks fussy that Heather Headley might get dissed? Whattya think?Yay! A Why wasnt this voted as Hills official song? Celine who?Evidently, s next flick Tennessee is, like, totally . Which would be amaaaaazing. I thought she should have won for that catfight with herself in the ladies room in the Heartbreaker video. Bitch was robbed!AND…Ummm, theres a lot going on with . MTV will help you sort it out.Poor just keeps getting . Its enough to drive a gal to drink. Er, wait a minute…Remember that from a few weeks back? So does queer porn company Dark Alley Media. Theyre planning . Har! oft-nipped-and-tucked lead singer today in Britain. Awwww… How can that not be nice news? Congrats!. No, not the movie, sillies. ?Time to play "Wheres Wintour?" courtesy of Radars Fashion Week Anna Wintour stalkers.- After three years of retirement, Cher is snatching up Celine Dions Las Vegas throne.- Amy Winehouse wont be performing C or attempting to perform – at the Grammies cause we Americans rejected her app for a visa.- Charlize Theron sat between two Harvard students in drag for their Hasty Pudding Parade. They just gave her some dumb, brass pot!C The sultry Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley is hard at work on her second solo album.- Gawker posted a very gay (and booty-baring) ad; they also want your modern gay lover stories!-?The new Get Smart trailer is online! Lovin 99s hair! – A 16-year-old boy planned to crash a plane into a Hannah Montana concert. – Lo Bosworth C a.k.a. the best thing about Laguna Beach – will move in with L.C. and Audrina for The Hills new season! Lets hope she flashes "her Britney" again! – Queen Latifah, Jake Gyllenhaal and Celine Dion are among a few celebrities to wish Ellen a Happy 50 with I Will Survive karaoke. C Peter Pan-ified Tina Fey, Gisele Bundchen and Mikhail Baryshnikov are the latest subjects in Annie Leibowitzs weird Disney photo shoots.- ?Courtney Love, all cleaned up and arriving at the Oscars in 1997.Todays highlighted diva in the running for is… Just mentioning her name can send people into gushy odes of rock goddess worship, or vitriolic diatribes about what a malevolent, destructive force shes been. Shes been called the second-most famous rock widow of all-time (after Yoko Ono)that nugget appears in an awesome cover story in just out nowand along the way, the former Mrs. Kurt Cobain has been a movie star, a red-carpet tornado, an alleged drug-addled mess, and a constant media fascination. Not to mention a mom. And even today we have in the press that the girl with the most cake has just for the latest issue of the British magazine, . Hey… Once a diva, always a diva.The “Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll?”Frankly, I think Loves a rock survivor. And Id say that s album stands up as one of the best rock records of the 1990s (and thats given some formidable company). Say what you will about Ms. Love, shes nothing if not direct, candid, fearless (even if sometimes a bit of hesitancy might serve her well) and outspoken. The current story in reveals that shes also funny, smart and back in the game with some big new projects coming your way. Courtney on the cover of the current issue of V Magazine.And inside the current issue of V.Shes just released a scrapbook/diary tome, , which the U.K.Guardian newspaper called a hugely pictorial collection of personal artefacts – school reports, scribbled notes, bits of actual diary, letters, photographs (many of them featuring Courtney in various stages of casual disrobement), song lyrics and tons of other ephemera – that she has, apparently, stuffed into what must be a particularly roomy handbag.Love, with Woody Harrelson, as Althea and Larry Flynt in 1996′s The People Vs. Larry Flynt. Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain, earlier this year. And with Josh Groban and Celine Dion (say what?) backstage at the World Music Awards in 2004. They’re watching Whitney Houston perform. Whoa!Loves next record is due on the spring, and it comes with songwriting and producing work courtesy of Billy Corgan and Linda Perry. Perry herself recently hailed the virtues and talents of Love when she pronounced publicly: Perry told . “Damn it all to hell. She is the last one.”Love, as her Hole iconic self in the “Doll Parts” video.Feeling Courtney? Go her classic Hole track, and see if shes worth your . If you dont, I may just send Courtney over herself, and youll have to deal with her.To check out other to watch and upon, go ?I chose as todays diva (whom you can vote for in ), because its Thanksgiving, and Im thankful that shes splitting up with her husband Bobby Brown. Not that I even know truly what the dynamic might be between those two, but I welcome anything that might help put Whitney back on course to reclaiming (if thats even possible) her place as one of the worlds best voices and most sparkling pop divas.I mean, it was a long time ago, but I remember Whitney back during her and days. She was so elegant and squeaky clean, she made Celine Dion look street. I dont know where along the way she got derailed, with all the rumors about her drug abuse, and her bizarre behavior, and jittery interviews where she crows Crack is whack! Its rather hard to reconcile that early, seemingly innocent Whitney with the older, broken figure that weve seen in recent years.Whitney serves up “The Greatest Love of All.” Shiny!Whitney wants to dance with somebody. Hopefully, somebody who likes BIG hair.But like I said, Im thankful that she seems to be taking her life in a new direction. Because she does have (if its still there) one of the best singing instruments around. And when shes on it, Whitney nails “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl in 1991.The video showing as part of the is her And its nuts! That crazy jewelry, that intense choker necklace thing, the jagged hair, and that crowd of sisters who are over dealing with their no-count menits brilliant. (As is the infamous Thunderpuss remix of that song, which will forever be a gay dance floor anthem.)So forget about the awful, base spectacle of Being Bobby Brown. Think clean and shiny from The Preachers Wife. Think Think of the Whitney who scored 7 consecutive #1 hits (matching records by The Beatles and the Bee Gees). If you must, think of the Whitney how had a record-breaking stint in the #1 spot with her cover of Dolly Partons That song is a pop cliche now, but she nailed it. Whitney, with Bobby visiting Israel. (Okaayyyyy…) And last month with Clive Davis, looking good again. Things can only get better.Vote for , and if youre feeling it. And Happy Thanksgiving! See you Monday!?And I am telling you, I am soooo going to see the minute it gets released this December. In the meantime, the lucky suckers in Cannes got a chance to peek at the film today. There was a special preview of the movie, with the stars in attendance, including , , director , and our fave American Idol veteran (pictured above), who gets to play big, beautiful, bodacious Effieand who gets to sing the musicals mega-song And I Am Telling You (Im Not Going) made famous by the .Sure, Beyonce showed up looking all skinny and cute, but were f-ing lovin Effie!Meanwhile, in Vegas, met the press to announce plans for her . Watch out Celine! Scooch over Elton! Tonis gonna get And gay super-director s latest, which stars two of his regulars, and today, too. Its a comedy/ghost story/serious dramaof sorts. And its all about powerful women. Hurrah! And it was met with at films end. Bravo and stuff!Um, and somewhere in Berlin, Famke Janssen, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry posed in front of a wall covered with logos in German. And yep, that’s kind of the entire news story there… Can anyone tell me which X-Men the little dog on the left is? Is there an X-Man called Poochy, perhaps?Speaking of drama queens, former New Jersey Governor and Gay American is going . Ya think shes gonna read him to filth??Rejoice! It’s time for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, one of the strangest, most amusing and campiest European traditions around. Begun in 1956, Eurovision was meant to broker peace, unity and uh, joy among members of the European Broadcasting Union. Over the years, the contest has helped discover some major musical talent — like Abba! and Celine Dion! — but it’s also just an amazing over-the-top show, filled with spectacle and showmanship and amazingly bad pop songs. And absolutely no irony.How It Works: Each country submits one musical act to represent it. Fans then vote for their favorites over a series of rounds. Right now, we’re in the semifinals. The Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Russia. Russia’s entry is Buranoskiye Babushki, a team of six grandmas who sang “Party for Everybody.”Yes, there is no rhyme or reason to who or what gets submitted to Eurovision — or who wins. A few years ago, Finnish rock band Lordi took home top honors. This is what they look like:Some of it is earnest. A lot of it is not. Making a return trip to Eurovision this year, representing Ireland, are creepy, plucky twins Jedward. Here they are in their semi-final alien silver suits. These guys are the living, breathing embodiment of annoying.Then there’s these spunky kids from Moldova, Pasha Parfeny. I always associated Moldova with crushing poverty and human trafficking but that’s all changing now!Sadly, one contestant who’s already out of the semifinals is Austria’s terribly named Trackshittaz, whose track Woki Mit Deim Pop was apparently about shaking your ass. Here they are. Auf Wiedersehn!All photos courtesy Getty Images. ?Lindsey isn’t a very good singer. Nor is she a particularly bad singer. That, and a typical weakness for attention from strangers, is what makes her at her happiest while performing karaoke. Ever since she discovered that belting Tammy Wynette and 4 Non Blondes in front of crowds substituted perfectly for therapy, she’s been pressuring her friends to listen to her sing weekly at a plethora of karaoke bars across NYC. Meanwhile, while not singing, she’s developed very strong opinions about what constitutes the proper etiquette of karaoke–everything from song choice to mic-handling technique. Her opinions (while regarded trustworthy by some of the greatest karaoke’ers in town) are her own, so feel free to disregard. After all, if you’re just dying to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” you’ll probably just go ahead and sing it. Send your karaoke questions for Lindsey to karaokeconfessional AT’s the modest and appropriate response when someone compliments you on your ABSOLUTELY PERFECT PERFORMANCE of a song you have been performing at karaoke for 10 years? –AmyYour grinning thank you will suffice, and so will the suggestion that the complimenter buy you a drink (or another song). Congrats on your perfection, Amy.Speaking of…I love karaoke, but I feel dumb doing it because… I have a pretty good singing voice? And I feel dumb suggesting it as a group activity because I feel like people are thinking “oh, of COURSE she wants to do karaoke because she is good at singing.” You may be wondering, how good actually is this letter writer’s singing voice? Does she just think she’s really good but really no one else does or gives a hoot? So, for the purposes of this letter, I will tell you that one time I won amateur night at the Apollo. –AlisonYou guys are really good singers, apparently, because I got three (3) versions of this exact question. Well Alison, (also: Amy (above) and Sadia, who both asked similar questions) first of all: congratulations on your beautiful singing voice. No sarcasm intended, as I am truly jealous of your naturally graceful vocal cords. Secondly, when I karaoke and a good singer steps up to the plate, for me it is truly a magical experience. Not only can they redeem the night, but they also can redeem karaoke ITSELF for those dragged to the bar by friends. Who knows, your performance might turn a karaoke-hater into a karaoke-lover (or even a karaoke-doer!) Trust me, its your own egotistical (sorry!) self-consciousness thats making you worried about others’ perceptions. All youll receive are compliments.Again, a good karaoke singer is likely to get cheers, which makes them feel great and feeling great doing karaoke is the bottom line. Stage presence makes up for a less-than-perfect singers, and youve already got the voice. You wont even have to work as hard as the rest of us.One thing I will request of you gifted singers: please choose songs that are challenging to you and stay away from the ones I sing to properly disguise my less-than-gifted voice. Hey man, I need them! Belt yourself some and step awayyyyy from my Fleetwood Mac. And on that thought, good singers: ABSOLUTELY NO MUSICALS. I dont care how good of a singer you are. Ace the vocal runs in Halo like I know you can. Again: No musicals.I need to work up a new song in honor of my friend’s bachelor party. Thinking No Mercys “Where Do You Go? Literally my only other karaoke is Roy Orbison’s I Drove All Night, which often leads to me trying to guess how far to transpose the Celine version so I don’t have to scream (Spoiler: I have a 20% success rate in this matter). If you have any good ideas for fail-proof songs that I can awkwardly sing to my friend, I would appreciate it! P.S. I am male, and can sing medium-well. –TimAh, karaoke bachelor(ette) parties. The only kind, in my opinion. Unless you can get strippers to sing karaoke OR karaoke singers to strip while they sing. (Please call me if you can provide either of those services.) Since youve opened this door wide open for me, can I suggest a strategy that works (almost) every time? If youre a dude, sing a song originally sung by a woman. Its that simple. When a dude sings a song originally sung by a woman, in my past experiences, it brings the house down. My friend Steven does a version of s I Kissed A Girl that brings tears to my eyes.And now that you have double the options (and a medium-well singing voice!), I have some suggestions for you. Songs of adoration that will go over so well with your flawless gender switcheroo, I promise: Tammy Wynettes Stand By Your Man (listen to Lyle!), Whitney Houstons How Will I Know, Spice Girls Say Youll Be There, Madonnas Like A Virgin, Sinead O’Connors Nothing Compares 2 U, Shania Twains From This Moment On. All beautiful love songs for your BFF groom-to-be.And if all else fails, go with Billy Idols White Wedding.”Last Week: is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her karaoke bar of choice is Montero’s Bar & Grill and she limits herself to singing “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes only once a month. You can . Send your karaoke questions for Lindsey to karaokeconfessional AT NY Times called , a.k.a. music project Final Fantasy, "The World’s Most Popular Gay Postmodern Harpsichord Nerd." Mmm – dreamy. Well, Owen certainly up-ed the gay factor when he ‘s "The Power of Love" at a release party for an anti-Celine book called, Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. Ouch. No comment on the Celine-hatred; I know he loved it, and the video’s totally adorable. Before singing, Owen even admits he considered performing an a capella "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" in a dress. Aw!More on Final Fantasy after the jump – and a fellow gay, indie musician!Owen posing with fellow gay music-y, Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear. Who knew they hung out?I can’t embed the clip of Owen doing his violin , but follow that link to watch the video. And check out his video for the single "He Poos Clouds" below, if he’s caught your interest.He is intriguing; I’ll have to revisit him soon. But how about a little background on the gay singer from Ontario? Well, first off, he got the name for his act from the Japanese video game series, comparing his musical stylings to the whole concept. He’s said… "I like the idea of it, this big gay thing. … The games are ridiculously overwrought and convoluted emotionally."Very true, Owen. I love that he’s a gay-mer. As far as music, Owen has toured with and arranged for Arcade Fire and later, along with his friend, Leon Taheny, released his debut album, Has A Good Home. He followed up with an EP called Young Canadian Mothers. Owen has said Canadian, German and French music journalists – not surprisingly – love his music, but added the "impatient ears" of the U.S. and U.K. aren’t as enthusiastic. Fair enough; but I’m really feeling "." I guess he does know his Final Fantasy. Having gone solo, Owen released the LP in 2006. Check out the video for the album’s title track below; there are some cool animated, fantasy sequences – along with the cute, violin-playing Owen himself. These sequences actually remind me more of Shadow of the Colossus than of Final Fantasy – but OK, nobody played that…?Mariah Carey rubs it on thick this week.Insiders commonly remark that pop superstar is among the most down to earth of that perpetually otherworldly creature, the celebrity. True to her reputation, Mimi will continue to exude a pleasant aroma tomorrow, when she debuts her sweet new fragrance, , with a daylong spritz of prime media opportunities. On Tuesday, October 23, Carey is scheduled to flaunt her scent of a woman with morning appearances on NBCs The Today Show and ABCs The View, and in the afternoon at in New York City, where she will officially launch M by Mariah Carey. There, despite her benevolent reputation, only customers who signed on early to purchase the fragrance sets at varying levels of VIP (make that very important perfume) status will be treated to meetings, autographs and photos with the diva. Based on its own description, Careys eau de parfum, designed by Carlos Benaim and Loc Dong, sounds like a better than average first date:“M by Mariah Carey opens with an indulgent, creamy accord and blooms into an opulent floral heart as a rich base reveals darker, sensual facets.”Fans also spray generally positive comments in this . Carey joins the seemingly who have released fragrances, including musical heavyweights like Kylie Minogue, Celine Dion. Christine Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani. However, if it seems like her mild perfume is taking a concentrated step on Madonnas turf by using the initial, M, just wait until February. has it that both Mimi and Madge could be releasing competitive new albums around that time. Smells like trouble.?Looooove the yellow Bardot hair, and the retro light fixture accessory. Madness and joy! Gaga! were the usual bonkers parade of uninspired awardees and kooky/WTF onstage moments, like any good award show should be. opened the show (see below), Taylor Swift duetted with Stevie Nicks (and Ms. Swift’s vocals were very train wrecky; Stevie should have given her a booty bump pre-show), , mashed up with “If I Were a Boy” and proved to be a flawless machine (as always), and Celine Dion’s knobby knees came at you in 3D. Sort of like Roberta Flack’s face.Taylor Swift won a buttload of trophies, and Beyonce and Gaga scored some too. Just read the to get schooled. I’m just gonna post a lot of pics and offer comments. But nothing’s better than . That’s really all you need to see. also served up . Bless!After the jump see freaky pics, and watch a bit of Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks and Beyonce performing.Here’s a snippet of Beyonkers raging with “You Oughtta Know”:And now some pics…Yikes! Adam Lambert is serving us red-carpet Oompah-Loompah skin tones with Liberace realness. Tone it down, gurl!Oh, HELL no! Who is this bossy backstage power-bottom PR handler-woman all up in Beyonce’s bizness? That pointy finger is shrieking “To the left, TO THE LEFT” at Sasha Fierce. Maybe she thinks she’s talking to Solange???Aaahhhhh, look at Brit-Brit sitting all demurely in the audience. It’s kinda sweet. And sad. She looks nice and sane, but I miss crazy Britney.I practically exploded when I realized that Taylor Swift (who I sort of really like) and Stevie Nicks (who I utterly worship) were going to do a duet. Then Miss Taylor sort of barfed her way through “Rhiannon” totally off-key. Tragic. The gals sounded better (and Stevie rocked her tambourine) on “You Belong With Me” but I fear it was too late for redemption. Oy.Watch a teensy bit of this mess below.My best friend Leslie says she’s just being Gaga…Gaga, clearly NOT “Speechless” cuz I can hear her crotch from here!I’m guessing this isn’t the first time Elton John has had big, black, gloved hands jutting upwards in his general vicinity. Gaga is clearly amused.P!nk is leaking all over the stage. Er… ewwwwww.I don’t care who knows it: Joe Jonas, boring as he may be, is totally doing it for me in those glasses. Grrrrroooowwwwlllllll!!!!!Even overrated Ke$ha is all like, “WTF??? Who is this little elfin girl-child onstage next to me?” This is some kind of weird baby-sitting gig gone very wrong.Glee’s Lea Michele is looking so hot even Ricky Martin is turned on. Except that he’s not. Because… Well, you know why. Ahem.Okay, I know Roberta Flack is a total legend. But I’m sorry… She’s looking like Mrs. Garrett meets that big orange stone-man creature from the Fantastic Four. She is killing me, and she is NOT doing it softly.Say what you want about batty, bonkers, skinny Celine Dion, but bless her heart, she always commits to whatever she’s doing. She is truly FEELING this lame 3D Michael Jackson tribute number. Attagirl, CeCe.And then there’s Beyonce, who’s gorgeous even when you can’t see her.Annnnnndd… We’re out.?– Grace Chu from American Idol is getting a fourth judge the smart, capable and sexy songwriter, artist and business owner Kara DioGuardi."Kara who?" you ask. Her name may not ring a bell, but unless you have been living in a cave or are one of those people who proclaim themselves to be too "enlightened" for Top 40 music, you have definitely heard her work on the radio. Her work includes Kelly Clarkston‘s "Walk Away," Christina Aguilera‘s "Ain’t No Other Man," Gwen Stefani‘s "Rich Girl," The Pussycat Dolls‘ "Beep," Ashlee Simpson‘s "Pieces of Me," Nick Lachey‘s "What’s Left of Me" and many others.In fact, it looks like an artist cannot be considered part of pop music royalty unless he or she has collaborated with Kara DioGuardi. From her :Kara’s songs have been recorded by Grammy award-winning artists such as … Santana, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Marc Anthony and Pink. Scores of major recording artists including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Jewel, Jonas Brothers… Hannah Montana, Natasha Bedingfield, Puddle of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman, Daddy Yankee, Ashley Tisdale, Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Clay Aiken, Jesse McCartney, Backstreet Boys… Hilary Duff, Cheetah Girls 3, Camp Rock, Jessica Simpson… have recorded and released Kara’s songs. DioGuardi has achieved equal success internationally with hit singles for artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Anastacia, Ricky Martin, Kylie Minogue, Diego, Belinda, RBD, Eros Ramazzotti, Delta Goodrem, Darius, Thalia and Martine McCutcheon.DioGuardi also co-owns the music publishing powerhouse Arthouse Entertainment."We are turning the heat up on Idol this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges’ table," said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. "She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America’s most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."Turning up the heat indeed. In addition to being creative and business-savvy, she is a looker.Meanwhile, Paula Abdul, a mere few hours after the announcement, gave an uncharacteristically lukewarm about the new judge: "I am concerned about the audience and acceptance," said Abdul. Usually, Paula is forthcoming with mostly incoherent compliments, but compliments nonetheless. Don’t worry, Paula. You still have a niche carved out for yourself. For example, I doubt DioGuardi will ever come up with crazy gems like this:Paula, you will always be special. And don’t you forget it!The new season of Idol begins in January.?You like them, Canadians! You really like them! The Canadian Academy announced their music picks yesterday, and took the lead with six nominations – two of which were for her albums D’Elles and Taking Chances.Avril Lavigne and Michael Buble came in second with five nominations each; and of course, Feist is in there somewhere. Not sure what Fergie Ferg’s doing, though! The show will air in April.Check out the full list of nominees after the jump…JUNO FAN CHOICE AWARDAvril LavigneCeline DionClaude DuboisMichael BubleNelly FurtadoSINGLE OF THE YEAR"Girlfriend," Avril Lavigne"1234," Feist"Paralyzer," Finger Eleven"Seven Day Fool," Jully Black"Everything," Michael BubleINTERNATIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEARLost Highway, Bon JoviThe Dutchess, FergieNoel, Josh GrobanGood Girl Gone Bad, RihannaTimbaland Presents Shock Value, TimbalandALBUM OF THE YEARThe Best Damn Thing, Avril LavigneD’Elles, Celine DionTaking Chances, Celine DionThe Reminder, FeistCall Me Irresponsible, Michael BubleARTIST OF THE YEARAvril LavigneCeline DionFeistMichael BublePascale PicardGROUP OF THE YEARArcade FireBlue RodeoFinger ElevenHedleyKainNEW ARTIST OF THE YEARBellyJeremy FisherJustin NozukaSerena RyderSuzie McNeilNEW GROUP OF THE YEARDragonetteFaber DriveillScarletState of ShockWintersleepALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEARNeon Bible, Arcade FireLP, Holy FuckClose to Paradise, Patrick WatsonThe Con, Tegan and SaraWelcome to the Night Sky, Wintersleep?For the moment, I can tentatively—tentatively— forgive Ke$ha’s new single.It’s called “Die Yong,” and it was just released today. If you haven’t heard it, it sounds like this…And… um… it’s okay. It sounds exactly like a Ke$ha song (except for the opening few seconds, which sound exactly like the opening of? “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida. .)And that’s fine. Ke$ha songs are good. They mix club beats and a shitty attitude with rap-singing and a whole mess of AutoTune. They’re a little rebellious, a little robotic, and catchy as hell.I can’t be mad at “Die Young” for being all of those things.But here’s the thing: For months and months, we’ve been promised that Ke$ha’s new album is going to sound different than her previous material. Apparently, , which suggests a transition to straight-up rock music. That could be interesting, and more importantly, it could suggest that Ke$ha has a real artistic personality and isn’t just a slave to the sound that made her famous.She needs to break away from that sound pretty quickly, since it’s already getting stale. When One Direction’s new song—the similarly titled ““—sounds like a Ke$ha track, with its thumping party chorus and snotty posturing, and when Jessie J and Cher Lloyd are both making careers as Ke$ha 2, then it’s time to change or become irrelevant. If Ke$ha stays in her current lane, she’ll get trapped in her moment, and when pop music inevitably takes a new path, she’ll get left behind. Everyone will just associate her with 2011 and assume she has no future. (Celine Dion and Boyz II Men couldn’t stop making power ballads, and look what happened to them when the 90s went away.)That’s why it’s a bummer that “Die Young” sounds like a typical Ke$ha song. Why does anyone need to listen to it, if they’ve already got “Tik Tok” or “We R Who We R” on their iPods? Why buy the third version of a song you’ve already bought twice?However,? maybe Ke$ha’s label thinks her fans want a gentle intro to the new sound. Maybe “Die Young” is just the comforting appetizer before the surprising main course. If it is, then I can forgive it. But if it’s just the first wave in an ocean of “same old Ke$ha,” then I’ll know it was the song that started the end of her career.—Previously:Mark Blankenship didn’t realize how much he was looking forward to this song until he was disappointed by it. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship?Not only did the NRJs (the French Grammies, kind of) award gay icon their "NRJ Award of Honor" – presented it to her! I’m not implying anything, but I’m almost overloaded. … and guess which CD won "Best International Album of the Year." … Britney’s Blackout. Seriously! I love it!The award show – in Cannes, France – had some standout performances as well: Kylie rocked "In My Arms;" Mika performed "Relax;" Rihanna did "Don’t Stop the Music;" and Celine sang "Taking Chances." Gay, gay and more gay!You know I’ve got them all for you … including Mika presenting to Kylie … after the jump!So you’ve got to watch Kylie perform "In My Arms" in her futuristic, collared mini-dress; but almost more importantly, watch Mika give her the award at the end of the clip. It’s in French … "Kee-lee Minooogue!"I don’t speak French very well anymore, but if you’re curious, I’m pretty sure Mika just asks Kylie if she can understand him, to which she replies, ‘almost everything;’ he then lists her achievements in music for the past 20 years, praising her record sales and her ability to reinvent herself. But how funny is Kylie? She’s more excited to meet Mika than he is to meet her; she totally wants him to be her BF!And this one is Mika performing "Relax;" his booty-shaking is pretty damn awkward, but I still like him. That song must not be easy to sing, either; he’s so talented!And here’s Rihanna performing "Don’t Stop the Music" – my favorite track. Rihanna’s new hair looks totally hot, but no comment on her outfit. OK, a little one: It manages to be both heinous and boring. What happened?And finally: the wonders of Celine. … But, is she lip-synching? It can’t be…? Kylie, after landing in Tokyo yesterday; and onstage in London for her last Aphrodite UK gig.After two months of nonstop shows, just wrapped the UK & European legs of her glamapaloozaAphrodite/Les Folies tour last week. But there’s no rest for the lovely diva, as she just yesterday to prep for her Japan dates this weekend. (Nope, no fearful Japan cancellations for Kylie. This showgirl must go on!) And while in Tokyo, Ms. Minogue added her celebrity oomph to fundraising efforts for.Then, after shows in Japan Sat-Mon, she heads to North America for her (sponsored by Logo), with a gig in Montreal on Thurs (4/28) and then she’ll roll in to Boston next Friday (4/29) for the first of 13 U.S. shows.Get a teaser of the Kylie glamour heading our way…If , maybe Kylie could have more U.S. dates in her future. Celine was gabbing to the press this week, encouraging younger pop divas like Kylie and to follow the examples of Celine, Cher and Bette Midler and sign on for long-term . Could be cute, right?But first, Minogue is all about spreading her love. Starting next week. Stateside!!!?It’s ‘s world; we just live in it. In the last weeks, she’s claimed to be a hermaphrodite, and and delighted audiences in (talking fondly of Israeli men’s endowments — and hummus!), and — move over Kanye — she’s making headlines thanks to yet another high-profile collaboration.Turns out, Yep, the gravelly-voice power ballad champ from the 90s is the latest artist to get some help from the Lady Gaga school of musical madness. Evidently with some music on his forthcoming album, One World One Love, collaborating on the tune Word has it that Gaga helped pen the song, and may be heard singing backup on the track. The new Bolton album is due Sept 21st.Hotness. Now I all need to hear is some genius-ness about a Gaga/Celine Dion duet. Please. Pretty please!????This has been a good week for Celine! She took home a peeps, and her new album (her 35th in total!) Taking Chances comes out November 13! AOL is right now, though, so Whaddya saaaay to giving New Celine a listen?At the very least, check out the first two tracks, the second of which is Celine’s cover of the fantastic Heart song, "Alone." She definitely does it justice, as Celine has the voice to tackle that kind of number. But I don’t know…Im kind of sick of Celines trademark youuu, and she’s a little harsh. I also just kept thinking she did a better job covering Cyndi Lauper’s "."Not to distract you or anything…although we could just talk about Celine’s crazy drag queen hair…?Whoa! Celine’s hair looks like it weighs more than her body.We all know Celine just does something to the gays…and lookin’ kinda drag-tastic for her cover doesn’t hurt (makes me think Dr. Boogie from Shear Genius did it). Taking Chances is due out November 9.Check here to listen to her recording, well, "recording," the lead single, "." There’s also plenty of awkward interactions with her band and dancing around the studio and Renee looking on. But at least you’ll hear the single, right?The lyrics are a little cheesy, but I’m glad to see Celine is still doing something other than her Vegas show. Apparently it’s a cover of Platinum Weird. I’m actually more excited for her cover of Heart’s "Alone!"?Manila Luzon is an all-time RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favorite, a style icon for those not afraid of color, and a well-known queen about town in New York. Here she gives Trip Out Travel her favorite destinations around town you’ll want to check out – whether it’s romance, lust or drunkenness you’re after — as well as her dream vacations.What’s your very favorite restaurant in New York? in Hells Kitchen! They have any food you’d ever need to eat: from meatloaf to sweet & sour chicken! It’s just so damned cute in there! The record album cover menus are a trip. Maybe you’ll be seated below a shadow box displaying the New Kids on the Block Barbie dolls. Oh, and you must use the bathrooms! I like the Dolly Parton bathroom, but you may prefer the Cher bathroom.And when you’d rather drink than eat?! It’s got a piano bar upstairs to belt out show tunes, and a little club downstairs to dance. And every once in a while I’ll show up to do a number or two. And they make the strongest drinks in the city. Two drinks and you’re drunk for three days!Best place to score killer fashions? in SoHo! They have affordable fashion and a sickening shoe section!Your best secret store (that youd only share with friends)?The … it’s not a secret by any means, but it’s one of the most inspirational places to shop.Best daytime sight to enjoy in your city?The ! You can pretend you’re one of the voguing Pier Kids in the documentary “Paris Is Burning.” You can also look across the river and point and laugh at Carmen Carrera’s home!!! just kidding … I’m sure New Jersey is a lovely place … although I’ve never been.Best place to be at 2am?Right between tipsy and WASTED at any party in the city!Best romantic date spot?The because it’s so giant and filled with beautiful art.And when you’re getting straight to the making out?Anywhere in this city. It’s so romantic to stop in the middle of all the hustle and bustle for an intimate make out session … and Charlie, the homeless crackhead, will really enjoy watching.Your favorite vacation destination?Barcelona, Spain (or as they say, ESPA?A) The architecture is wacky! The beach there is amazing! And the Spanish boys are super sexy!Sexiest place youve ever been?Brazil. Brazilians are the sexiest people on Earth. Even the old ladies exude sex! It’s crazy!!!Dream destination youre dying to visit?Tokyo, Japan: I wanna be the tallest thing there. The 6 foot Drag Queen vs. Mothra!!!Best place youve ever performed & why?Las Vegas. I was sitting at my vanity putting on my make up when I realized that I was technically headlining in Vegas! How Celine of me!Finally, where would you want your dream wedding to be?I am so proud that gay New Yorkers are finally allowed to marry, so I’ll gladly get married at home here in NYC!Keep up with Manila here:?“Rock With You” – Michael Jackson remembrances are all over the media today (his autopsy is due today, too) and the tributes have surely only just begun. The man, who died yesterday, was an iconic pop superstar who influenced just about every musician working in the pop and R&B milieu today. His , especially from the Thriller, Bad and Dangerous eras were cultural touchstones. Nobody else had his moves, his style, his way of singing — he was a singular performer. As years passed, we all watched Michael evolve into a strange, mysterious figure that become hard to comprehend and relate to. His face and body changed dramatically, he faced charges of molestation (being acquitted in on instance, settling out of court on another), and he seemed to devolve into a caricature of a reclusive pop star and an oddity, and we’ll probably never quite know all that went on behind the gates of his Neverland ranch.For the next week, we can expect to endure all manner of and freaked-out media-circus moments; I’m already morbidly intrigued to see what kind of funeral shenanigans will unfold. Bring on Latoya and Debbie Rowe! Will Macaulay Culkin offer a statement? Has Madonna stopped crying? It’s all gonna be bizarre, no doubt.But regardless of all the craziness and speculation that came to surround his persona, Michael Jackson did create some fiercely memorable, legendary music, revolutionary videos and his influence on style, dance, MTV, the 80s, and even how African-Americans impact culture is undeniable. So, in tribute, here’s a random mix of his videos to enjoy.“Billie Jean” – Michael JacksonHere’s a CNN clip of Celine Dion talking to Larry King about Michael Jackson’s influence upon her.Embedded video from Celine Dion remembers Michael Jackson, on CNN.And more videos…“Beat It” – Michael Jackson“Scream” – Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson“The Way You Make Me Feel” – Michael Jackson“Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson“Black or White” – Michael Jackson“Thriller: The Long Version” – Michael JacksonAnd finally, Michael’s video tribute to AIDS activist Ryan White, “Gone Too Soon.”“Gone Too Soon” – Michael Jackson?Who counts as a Diva nowadays? While there have been who is the very best, there’s no denying that VH1 made themselves the authority on anointing the title with the Divas Live series.? This year Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Florence and the Machine and Jessie J all take the title when the long running concert series returns December 19th at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, where the ladies will pay tribute to the birthplaces of soul music with a mix of original tracks and classic ones. Plus the boys of the Roots are joining the celebration as house band.The lineup this year is a mix of longstanding Divas, with Mary J holding the title for the longest (since 2001) and the most number of appearances (four including this year), plus newer veteran divas like Kelly Clarkson, Jill Scott and Jennifer Hudson (all appearing for a second time), and finally the addition of the new class of Florence and Jessie J.? This year VH1 is skipping tween Divas altogether, a welcome change because Divahood takes time to earn.? Even Celine and Whitney weren’t true Divas from day one. The only startlingly absent Diva from the list is Adele, who last appeared in 2009 but is having a banner year.? We hope it was just a scheduling conflict and not an oversight.?‘s been performing "Cirque de Celine" (as Kathy Griffin calls it) in Las Vegas for four years now, so I’m guessing she’s pretty happy to have some new material. This video, "," the lead single and title track for the new album, seems to involve Celine as a Kill Bill-esque spy, oddly enough. (The new CD is due November 13.) I’ll always have a soft spot for Celine, though, and her voice sounds great toward the end of the track. I am giving a big "no" to the air-guitar, however.?Kelly Sweet: 18, sings nicely, and not trashy. We like!There are no shortage of eager, earnest young vocalists out there. But its rare that one kind of busts out in front of the crowd to make an impression. Or, at least an impression thats not snared by screechy American Idol antics, or just skeezy behavior on reality TV. So arriving to add a bit of class to the music world is newcomer . Yes, shes 18 years old, but shes got a worldly wise vibe to her. And while the Cape Cod native is poised to become the next adult-contemporary darling (her debut disc, , due in March 2007, is produced by folks whove cranked out hits for Josh Groban and Celine Dion), shes got a sense of oomph to her work that lends it a bit more impact. Shes already gotten props in pubs like USA Today and Teen People; and shes had her tunes played on the soaps Passions and One Life to Liveso yes, shes starting to make the media rounds. Right now, shes got a version Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas out which you can , too.Sweet writes much of her own music, although she also turns out a pretty too. Basically, her stuff is smart and sensitive singer/songwriter pop music. Think of it as very Gilmore Girls-y.Whoa. It looks windy out there in sensitive, wispy pop-music land!The first single from Sweet is called which will hit radio stations in early January. And the titular ballad We Are One is going to have dance remixes, too.Sweets even got nice, inspirational quotes posted on her blog section of . Heres a part of one that she likes; its a quote from Martha Graham, writing to Agnes DeMille (wurk!):You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.”Yep, ya gotta love that queer, divine dissatisfaction.?Avril Lavigne is a , an occasional actress, a and a horrible applier of eyeliner and mascara — but did you know she loves to bake?Watch above as Avril turn some plain sugar cookies into beautiful holiday delights with some frosting and imagination. Not so complicated after all…Watch Avril Lavigne Make Christmas Cookies While Being Certifiably Adorable
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Houston is currently charting this week on Billboard's tallies as a featured player on the soundtrack to her final film, Sparkle. The album debuts at No. 26 on the Billboard 200, selling 12,000 copies in its first week. It includes two cuts by Houston: "Celebrate" (a duet with her co-star Jordin Sparks) and a cover of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow."?If you are not a baker, finding a gift for one can be a bit of a challenge. How can you know which rolling pin is the most practical, or which spices are the most sought after? Well, have no fear, we took all the questioning out of the gift giving for you this year and put together a collection of gifts perfect for anyone who enjoys baking, sweet or savory. We have gifts for both the professional or amateur baker; from master tip piping sets for serious cake decorations to retro kitchen timers to help ensure that burning delectable treats never happens again. Any baker will be pleased with these. So, rest assured and look no further, your holiday gift giving has just gotten that much simpler. Just click through the slideshow and you will see. ?So it looks like "Call Me Maybe" is the song of the summer, which means it's also the parody, spoof, cover, lip dub du jour. It doesn't matter where you go these days, it seems like there's someone singing it right at your ear holes.While some of these homages to the Carly Rae Jepsen hit are pretty great, plenty more are downright scary. And there's most certainly more to come.With that in mind, we've attempted to do a public service by coming up with a list of 25 people who absolutely should not, under any circumstances cover "Call Me Maybe." Take heed, you 25... the future of planet earth may just depend on you.Related on HuffPost:?These are my poutine recommendations next time you guys are in Montreal. La Banquise (Rue Rachel, a block east of Parc Lafontaine) 24H, really busy after 3 a.m.Chien-chaud Victoria (Rue de la Gauchetire and C?te Beaver-Hall) Business dristrictLe resto du Village (Rue Wolf and Ste Catherine East in the gay village) 24HPatati Patata (Rachel and St Laurent) Small portions and FRESH ingredientsRapido (St Dennis and Mont-Royal) Frites Alors (Several locations)Over the topFoie gras Poutine at Au pied du cochon (Duluth and St Hubert)?The on Canadian soil was long overdue. It is the right thing to do and justice has finally been served. This saga has put our values and principles to the test. Many people have cried out loud to ban him from the country altogether. They were willing to abandon our judicial system and throw our values in the garbage bin. Their personal views and prejudice has blinded them from treating the case with a sense of balance, objectivity, fairness and justice. His faith and the ethnic community he belongs to did not help him either to win sympathy in the wider society or even from his own government. To be a Muslim these days is double jeopardy. It is a crime itself in the public arena where you are convicted beyond reasonable doubt and you are guilty until proven otherwise. If the exact scenario surrounding this young man was applicable to another child who belonged to a different culture, the perception might have been quite different. If he for instance was the son of the Prime Minister or the cousin of the Governor General, we would have witnessed a different movie altogether. The same people who are advocating for closing the doors on him would have changed the tone altogether. They would have protested day and night to make sure justice is served. They would have portrayed him as a young child who deserves sympathy from everyone. A child is a child, they would have argued. These people who are upset to see the government's move to bring him back to Canada should learn to accept the reality of our system. The system should be applied the same to everyone whether the person in question is someone we like or not. If they still find it difficult to accept the reality of having the government fulfilling its obligation towards one of its citizens, then they can try to get help from therapists to overcome the difficulty they are going through. They can train their minds into believing that the young man is not Omar Khadr. He is rather Joseph Smith and is their relative who is caught in difficulty abroad. Once they train their minds to have a different perception of him, their psychological trauma will settle down. They will be able to reconcile the difficulty they are having and they will treat him like everyone else. What this young man has gone through leads me to question whether I am still considered a real Canadian. If I, or someone like myself, go through an ordeal overseas, would I be looked at differently by my fellow Canadians and treated like someone who doesn't really belong here? Learning from the Omar Khadr saga, I am fearful and uneasy. In spite of been granted citizenship, I feel that I am somehow judged as someone else -- perhaps a second class citizen. The only reason why this young man got the treatment he got from the government and also the general public is due to being different. In spite of his citizenship and being born here did not help him get a fair share of the system. I wish we wouldn't lie to each other anymore. We should not keep each other in the dark. We should develop a more transparent system to reflect the reality of who we are and where we stand when it comes to our sense of belonging. Perhaps there should be first class, second class and even third class Canadian citizenship. At least we would know who we really are and each person would know what to expect. I am neither a supporter of this young man nor a fan of the extreme ideology of al-Qaeda. As a matter of fact, al-Qaeda has murdered more Muslims than anyone else. They don't even consider me as a true Muslim. I am pro justice and fairness. That is why I crossed miles and oceans to come to Canada because of its system that is based on justice and freedom. But I am greatly disappointed the way this lad has been treated all along. I feel that there is a lot that need to be done to overcome prejudice and to be able to live up to our own principles which have built this country and made it envy to the entire world. People come here not because of what Tim Horton's has to offer; not to watch hockey or listen to Celine Dion. They have made Canada their own home due to the judicial system that we have. This Khadr saga has shown our hypocrisy which we should all be ashamed of. While we sing the slogans of equality, such words did not show any significant meaning towards this man who deserved fairness irrespective of who he is or the faith he belongs to.?The estranged father of singing superstar Adele has begged forgiveness from his pregnant daughter.Adele recently announced she and charity...?For many of us, the British Chancellor's annual budget announcement is a familiar ritual. We watch out for the extra couple of pence on a pint of beer or a glass of wine. We wince at the inevitable hike at the petrol pumps and wait hopefully for a few pounds back in tax credit or personal allowance. But the UK budget doesn't just matter to 60 million Brits. Admittedly, not many of the world's poorest people will be gathered around the television watching George Osborne at the despatch box on Wednesday - but for some of them, his words are a matter of life and death. ONE decided to get to the bottom of the figures and find out just how important they are.Our report, , reveals, for the first time, the true impact of UK aid around the world. This new audit of British aid spending plans shows that UK aid will put 15.9 million children in school, protect 5.8 million mothers during childbirth, provide safe drinking water to 17 million people and help over 9 million people overcome malnutrition in the next four years. But all this will only be achieved if the Chancellor confirms in this week's budget that the UK government will reach its target of investing 0.7% of national income in international aid next year. This new research makes it clear: now would be the worst possible time for Britain to walk away from its promise to the world's poorest. Not just because lives and futures depend on it, but also because in tough times, smart aid is not just good for the poorest countries. It's good for Britain too. Aid helps countries grow, and as they grow they become potential markets and trading partners for UK plc. This isn't about creating a never ending cycle of aid. demonstrates how UK aid will help bring forward the day when aid is no longer needed. In the next four years UK aid will help 77.6 million people access formal financial services, such as bank accounts or credit - the basics needed to start a business. And it will help create employment opportunities for 19.3 million people by investing in infrastructure, supporting entrepreneurs, developing markets to sell goods, encouraging trade and investment, and increasing agricultural productivity. During David Cameron's recent visit to the United States he and Barack Obama said that "As two of the world's wealthiest nations, we embrace our responsibility as leaders in the development that enables people to live in dignity, health and prosperity." Cameron is right to recognise our responsibilities as a wealthy nation - and he also knows Britain's aid promise is affordable. Even at 0.7% of national income, UK aid will account for just 1.6 pence in every pound of government spending. In tough economic times, keeping our aid promise is more important than ever. No other budget achieves so much for so little. The government's bilateral and multilateral aid reviews demonstrated its commitment to fund the most cost-effective projects available and just last week the Department for International Development (DfID) to ensure that any allegations of misuse of funds are properly investigated. Nobody claims aid is perfect, but British aid is good and getting better.Each of these statistics on their own is remarkable but together they add up to one of the wisest and most far-sighted investments our government can make. No one wants aid to continue forever but if done properly this is an investment that will save and transform lives, boost economic prospects and help to bring forward the day when extreme poverty - and aid itself - is a thing of the past. Follow Adrian Lovett on Twitter:?I'm exhausted from Wal-Mart's 50th birthday bash held in Fayetteville, Arkansas last Friday for shareholders like me. described it as an "upbeat event," but aside from the Nashville/Hollywood glitz on the stage -- the event was more of a corporate mea culpa. I didn't even go -- but I'm exhausted from reading the reports about how Wal-Mart has found a new determination to "act the right way," to quote Sam Walton's son, Chairman of the Board, Robson Walton. In light of the Mexi-gate bribery scandal, it's reassuring to know that after half a century, Wal-Mart has discovered "there is no grey area between right and wrong," according to CEO Mike Duke. ""It's either the right thing to do or we shouldn't do it."For community activists like me, it wasn't Justin Timberlake or Celine Dion who livened up the Wal-Mart party. Instead, it was Wal-Mart's slow-growth pattern from its financial statements that heartened us. Say what you will about Wal-Mart's stock peformance -- the good news is that Wal-Mart is building far fewer superstores than in the past. And what they are building is getting smaller. Twenty years ago, Wal-Mart was adding a new store every 2.3 days. The company added 158 stores in 1993. From 1992 to 1995, Wal-Mart boosted its U.S. store count by an average of 127 stores per year. But since 2009, the retailer has increased domestic stores by an average of 70 stores per year, a 45% slow-down in growth. In 2011 the rose by only 49 units, and in 2012 by only 64 stores. This translates into fewer stores to fight, fewer neighborhoods on the defensive, and fewer headlines about Wal-Mart confrontations. It also means Wal-Mart Realty has had a chance to focus on filling the "dead stores" the company has accumulated during its major growth years. In 2005, I reported on that Wal-Mart was carrying 356 dead stores, with nearly 27 million square feet of empty space on the market. Today, has 143 buildings either for sale or lease. More than 60% of these buildings are larger than 100,000 square feet, so it takes a lot of real estate agents to fill up buildings that large. Typical of what happens to these cast-off buildings is that they sit idle for several years, and then some less productive resuse is made of them. For example, there is a store for lease in that was 115,348 square feet when Wal-Mart abandoned it. Today a church is leasing 27,843 square feet, and the other 87,508 square feet are empty. In , Wal-Mart shut down its discount store, and is building a supersize me directly across the road. Their 120,000 square foot discount store sits empty on 15 acres of land, waiting for someone to lay out $4.65 million to buy it. On the same day that the Walton family was parading across the stage in Bud Walton Arena, the company they grew unspeakably rich from was quietly settling a federal religious discrimination against it by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suit charged that Wal-Mart had threatened to fire a Morman employee who refused to work on the Sabbath---a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As part of its settlement, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $70,000 and train its HR people on how to accommodate the religious practices of its workers. So perhaps Rob Walton was on the level when he "Acting with integrity is not negotiable. You have my word. We will act the right way."I wonder if the company will translate that into Spanish?Finally, as I read the long list of celebrities who performed on stage, I kept wondering how many Wal-Mart workers in the audience could have been decently paid from the retainers charged by Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, Justin Timberlake, and Celine Dion. Wal-Mart continues to exploit its workers, and instead of doing the right thing, the company spends its money to buy workers an afternoon with Justin Timberlake in grass hula skirt. Al Norman is the founder of . His book was released this month. ?It's embarrassing to admit, as a 42 year old man, that I have enjoyed watching idol with my wife for 3 or 4 years now...if Urban and Minaj (makes me shutter to even type those two names) become judges, I will be forced to stop watching altogether. While Keith is a nice enough guy, he is part of the ONLY musical genre I just simply can't find a singe ounce of respect for...Pop Country. There isn't a musical genre that is more product over art than that. Plus, it seeks to reinforce over-romatic, low info conservative "gut feel" ideolgies. I just saw Rascal Flats on TV, getting a new promo car getting built by West Coast Customs...they wanted a Red Camaro for their song "Red Camaro"...they couldn't even identify the Camaro as a Camaro on the guy's lot...lots of inner experience going into those lyrics...And Minaj? She must be one of the most corporate-produced market research bots of all time.?LOS ANGELES -- Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige are among the heady names being tossed around as potential judges for "American Idol" after Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez skipped out on next season.Star power, after all, is what judges add to TV talent shows that otherwise feature unknowns whose performances can range from surprisingly good to stunningly awful.But Fox's "American Idol," trying to right itself after shedding viewers in its 11th season, may also need to play a numbers game – as in the age of the judges brought in to revitalize a show whose audience is getting smaller and older, neither a plus for advertisers."They need judges who will resonate with young people," said media analyst Brad Adgate.Carey, Dion and Blige, undeniably winning stars, all are in their early 40s.The median age for the "American Idol" audience rose above 50 last season, the first time ever, and Adgate suggests it take a page from "The X Factor" playbook, as devised by its creator and producer, Simon Cowell."Cowell beat them to the punch" by hiring Britney Spears and Demi Lovato after "X Factor," the Fox version of Cowell's British hit, stumbled in its debut last season. Spears, 30, and Lovato, 19, replaced Paula Abdul, 50, and Nicole Scherzinger, 34.(Worth noting: The male judges, Cowell, 52, and producer Antonio "L.A." Reid, 56, are staying put for season two.)Lopez announced her departure on Friday, a day after Tyler (an unlikely senior statesman at 64) said he was leaving "American Idol" to concentrate on his role as Aerosmith's frontman. Both appeared for two seasons."I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do that I've put kind of on hold because I love `Idol' so much," the 42-year-old actress-singer-dancer told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show.Fox may be scouting for an entirely new panel, with some reports suggesting that original "Idol" judge Randy Jackson, 56, could shift to another role while Carey, whom he manages, becomes a judge. Jackson's and Carey's publicists did not respond to requests for comment.The makeover comes at a critical time. In May, "American Idol" posted its lowest-rated finale ever after a season that marked its poorest showing yet among young adult viewers age 18 to 49. A pattern of overall declining viewership continued for the show, which fell from the No. 1 spot for the first time since the 2005-06 season, placing second to NBC's "Sunday Night Football.""Idol" needs to stem its audience losses and level out, Adgate said, which would be enough to keep it a Top 10 program and a "force to be reckoned with."Among the younger possibilities who might help, 19-year-old Miley Cyrus fits the Lovato mold. Speculation also has focused on former "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, 29, and finalists Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert, both 30.Lambert addressed the possibility this week in an interview in London, where he appeared in concert with Queen."Well, nothing's been confirmed yet. If I were to be asked, I'd love the job. I think that would be great. That's `if,' because nothing's been asked yet," he said, adding that he'd enjoy being a panelist who could "help other artists reach their dreams."Nigel Lythgoe, an "Idol" executive producer who recently joked about hiring Jerry Lewis and Charlie Sheen as judges, was circumspect about Lambert."The minute `American Idol' is discussed and judges are discussed there's gonna be a lot of names flying around, and this is an interesting one," he said. "I happen to like Adam Lambert a great deal but I'm not sure where this has come from probably from Adam Lambert's fan club. We'll wait and see."Youth isn't all, of course. Other factors at play involve the fan base that judges bring or develop, their skill on live TV and their chemistry with fellow panelists.Casting a talent show judge, while less daunting than making a Supreme Court pick, can be tricky. The right person has enough celebrity cachet and success to be desirable, but not so much to be unattainable. It's unlikely that Rihanna, at least for now, sees a judgeship as a career ambition.Predicting who will flourish in a reality TV setting is another hurdle. Who would have guessed, for instance, that the hard-living Tyler would display such impish charm?Conversely, popular daytime host Ellen DeGeneres was a short-lived "Idol" judge, appearing ill-at-ease and timid in her contestant critiques. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi had serious music credentials but wasn't ready for prime-time.Whether panelists will mesh, or for how long, also is hard to predict. The love-hate banter between Cowell and Abdul delighted viewers on "Idol" but had worn thin when they reunited on "X Factor." On NBC's "The Voice," country star Blake Shelton and rocker Adam Levine have proved a fun and feisty duo."Idol" producers have so far been circumspect while fans toss around names like Carey, Dion and Blige. While millions of dollars are at stake for networks, celebrities weighing a career move to "Idol" know a hefty paycheck may be just the start of their windfall.When Lopez signed a reported $12 million, two-year deal with "Idol," she hadn't triggered real excitement in the record world for years and her box-office value had taken a hit with flops including "The Back-Up Plan."But on "Idol," the glamorous, warmly appealing Lopez restored her popularity and converted it into new opportunities, including a TV show about global Latin talent. Tyler's image adjustment did the same for him."Who would have thought Tyler would be doing Burger King commercials and Lopez would be hosting `Saturday Night Live?'" analyst Adgate said. "They got back into the mindset of pop culture followers."___Associated Press Writer Alicia Rancilio in New York contributed to this report.___Related on HuffPost:?It's been quite a week in "" news, and a few other big changes may be headed to the Fox singing competition show. , Mariah Carey is in talks to join the judges panel, while Randy Jackson may be stepping down. "They are in serious talks with Mariah and it's very close to being a done deal," a source told Us. "And they will move Randy into a more mentoring role."On Thursday,After some long ... hard ... thoughts I've decided it's time for me to let go of my mistress 'American Idol' before she boils my rabbit," the Aerosmith singer said in a statement. "I strayed from my first love, Aerosmith, and I'm back -- but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I've got two fists in the air and I'm kicking the door open with my band.". "I've enjoyed it so much, but I am thinking it's maybe time for me to go and do other things I really love to do like films ... and performing," Lopez said on "Today." "I know everybody wants that definite yes or no, and ... all I can let you in on is my own thought process with it, because thats where I truly am." Do you think Mariah Carey would make a good "American Idol" judge? Sound off in the comments. Related on HuffPost:?If the magazine industry was a pyramid, would be on top -- all by itself. After 120 years of production, Vogue has made itself into a fashion bible and it helps define what we will be buying and seeing for seasons to come. For this year's September issue -- which weighs roughly the same as a newborn baby -- Vogue has found 120 of the most influential musicians, models, designers and actresses all under 45 who are shaping fashion as we know it. And we predict they will still be influencing us in five, 10 or 20 years time. Here are 10 of the beautiful photographs -- shot by -- that you'll find on .?Designer digs for a fraction of the price. Yes please. Check out these outlets that offer heavily discounted luxury items from just a seasons or two past. Bicester Village - EnglandFoxTown Outlets, Mendrisio - SwitzerlandGotemba Premium Outlets - JapanJeremy's - San FranciscoJoyce Outlet - Hong KongLa Vallee Village - FranceThe Mall Outlet - ItalyThe "Space" Prada Outlet - ItalyYeoju Premium Outlet - KoreaWoodbury Commons - New YorkAmy Chan is the Director of Marketing for , the world's largest luxury hotel reviewer. To read more of her articles, visit Follow Amy Chan on Twitter:?Two years ago, Amy Voelker was enjoying a getaway with her extended family at a rental house in Redington Beach, Florida -- and a second meeting with her four-month-old grandson. "I had only seen the baby once," Voelker said, "and was looking forward to spending more time with him -- with everyone, all together." The party included her husband of 20 years, Elroy "Roy" McConnell II; their son Kelly, 19, and his girlfriend; Amy's stepsons, Roy III, 28, and Nathan, 24, and their wives; Nate's two-year-old; and Roy III's new baby. Photos of the weekend capture a happy afternoon on the beach, the younger men in swim trunks playing football on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. And then the nightmare began. Voelker's husband and three sons had gone to see a late-night movie while the women watched a DVD and went to bed. At around 4 a.m., one of Voelker's daughters-in-law awoke to discover the men hadn't returned. Over the next two-and-a-half hours, the frantic women called the men's cell phones, the police, hospital emergency rooms, anything they could think of. They found an online news report about a bad accident but couldn't determine the make of the cars involved from the photo.Voelker was on the phone for the fourth time with local police when the officer on the line asked her to open the front door for the victim support team, which confirmed the worst: All four men were dead, killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light and crashed into their Ford Fusion."We knew it; we just knew it," Voelker said.What followed was a blur. Charges were filed against the 20-year-old driver of the other car. Those days in court were among the hardest, Voelker said. She and her husband's former wife -- the biological mother of the two older boys -- sat shoulder-to-shoulder, supporting one another. The driver eventually changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to 44 years in jail. The ensuing days ran together, the only common thread her constant grief, said Voelker. It was hard to get out of bed some days, and at times even the love and support she was getting felt overwhelming. Voelker said her church family and her employer -- the University of Central Florida -- were "just terrific," understanding both her need to take time off and to get back into the groove of normalcy. On some days she would go to work, but just not be able to get through the day. One daughter-in-law and her youngest son's girlfriend stayed around for a month or so. The three women "medicated with food," Voelker said, and eventually joined Weight Watchers together.Voelker knew that exercise helps heal both body and mind -- her husband had participated in races and triathlons, and was a regular gym rat. In fact, he had persuaded her to join him there in the months before he died, and she began getting into shape. But after the accident, she couldn't bring herself to go back. "It was just too hard," she said.Then one day, Voelker was mindlessly thumbing through the AARP magazine -- she had just turned 50 and received her first issue -- when she noticed an ad for a "Take Charge of Your Future" contest the organization was running. It seemed to "speak" to her, she said, and on something of a lark, she penned a 300-word essay and sent it in. The prize: a personal trainer to help her meet her fitness and life goals. Voelker won. "I never won anything," she said, and her shock was enough of a jolt to motivate her. She decided to begin training for the Roy McConnell Mango Sprint Triathlon -- a race that was renamed for her husband, who had completed it several times. In her contest entry, Voelker wrote that she not only wanted a fitness makeover, she wanted to use that newfound fitness to pursue her goal of helping others understand the consequences of drunk driving. She joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and expects to do more public appearances once she is in better physical shape. With just six weeks of training under her belt, Voelker said she already feeling stronger, lost some weight and feels better emotionally.Through exercise and training and the support of friends and family, Voelker has found a new vision of herself, she said. "I'm able to look forward." As for the man responsible for killing her family, she feels it's important for her to forgive him."I'm not 100 percent there yet, but I know it's important for me to forgive him," she said. "If I didn't, I would be allowing someone to have control over me."?Photo: WireImageSee more looks from the show below and see more New York Fashion Week coverage here. var src_url=""Shooting babies isn't all sh*ts and giggles... It's mostly sh*t. All over the floor."Much like how we discovered that Lisa Frank was actually , a new comedy sketch from shows us that the world's most famous baby photographer actually f#@&ing hates babies.Sure, Anne Geddes used to be a famous fashion photographer in the 80s, but that was before she found the perfect subject, one that's always under 90 lbs and never has a cocaine problem. Spending time with these drooling, crying half-people was her only choice.Plus, if it weren't for photographing babies in cabbage, old boots or garbage cans, she would have never became best friends with Celine Dion. Sacrifices, people. Sacrifices.Also on HuffPost:?She has his name tattooed in a heart on her right arm but Antonio Banderas's wife, Melanie Griffith, may want to consider getting it removed after hearing the latest rumors.The couple has been together for 15 years, but after at a Cancun nightclub on top of several other incidents, the Spanish hunk has struggled to woo his wife back, reports RadarOnline.While Banderas partied in Cancun, his wife was at home in LA caring for their daughter, Stella, .As photos of Banderas and the unknown woman began to spread, Melanie's initial response to the alleged infidelity, , was a quote posted online: "BoyfriEND, girlfriEND, friEND, everything has an end, except for family."It seems she began considering an "end" to Banderas last week when photographers discovered her out on the town -- without her wedding ring. "Melanies a mess. Not only is she in jeopardy of losing the love of her life, but her career is in the toilet while Antonios star is continuing to rise," . "I think Melanies self esteem hit an all time low and she believed Antonio was torturing her. For years, it's as if shes been consumed with jealousy over his flirting and outspoken love for beautiful women."Banderas has been attempting to quell the rumors and is "desperately trying to win Melanie's trust back," . He's also been quick to point out the wedding ring is still on his finger.While all the drama shakes out, Melanie has headed to the family house in Aspen. The last thing Banderas wants is a nasty high-profile divorce, . Despite their problems he still loves her and will do anything to keep her from leaving him.Indeed, the Hollywood jet-setters have endured many prior strains to their relationship, most notably . During that time, Banderas said of their relationship, "We love each other, and above all we love our family. We've figured out how to get past obstacles and if you get past those, you only get stronger."Banderas and Griffith recently made our list of "Odd Celebrity Couples." See the whole list below:? and are joining forces.No, it's not a masterplan to destroy hipster minds everywhere. Rather, the pair will be part of a good cause -- a benefit concert to support the family of Denis Blanchette, a lighting technician who was at a victory party earlier this month when the separatist Parti Qubcois won the .Blanchette was shot when Richard Henry Bain opened fire during Quebec's premier-designate Pauline Marois' speech. Bain has been charged with murder.Where the artists come in is the Denis Blanchette Benefit Concert, being held October 1 at Metropolis in Montreal, Quebec. The funds raised will go towards providing for Blanchette's young daughter as well as co-worker Dave Courage, who was also shot, but survived.Arcade Fire and Celine Dion have already committed to performing, but a number of other high profile Quebec musicians are also playing as well, including Patrick Watson, Coeur De Pirate, Ian Kelly and Vincent Vallires. Organizers are also suggesting there may be other surprise guests.Tickets will go for between $80 and $175 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.?The Three Weissmanns of Westportby Cathleen ShineFarrar Straus and Giroux 292 pp $25.00NormanceBy Louis-Ferdinand Clinetranslation and introductionby Marlon JonesDalkey Archives371 pp $14.95 Bagatelles pour un massacreBy Louis-Ferdinand ClineParis: Deno?l 379 pp 1938There are days, Helen Mirren's lady detective efforts notwithstanding, that we seem stuck in a self perpetuating gender warp; the gents, still influenced by Humphrey Bogart and "The Big Sleep" go through one door, while Mma Ramotswe (played by Jill Scott) and her hilarious detective agency in Botswana, another. My question for Cathleen Schine's marvelous The Three Weissmanns of Westport is - does the publicity for it, insisting on its "homage to Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility " create unnecessary static ? Is there too much signaling of 'chick lit?' Of Channel 13's Jane reruns? (I will get to Cline further along.) I bring this up because potential readers may be inadvertently robbed of the amazing originality of Schine's current novel, and its homage to the new rather than the old. Yes, of course, the inimitable Jane is inimitable, and many male novelists, including Harold Brodkey have drawn inspiration from her, but novels should give us new news of the external and internal world. Has the author put us on to a fresh foot path? I remember as a student coming home from Paris, bringing with me a Dyna Panhard, a tiny sea blue French car, buying a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and sitting in my parked Dyna (in the 1950s Madison Avenue was relatively empty) - I've often written about that day - and not getting out of the car until I'd finished Catcher. The literary skies suddenly opened up. I didn't need to be burdened with Simone de Beauvoir's chic smarts, war novels, southern eccentrics, Faulkner's Temple Drake, Tolstoy's Anna dead beneath the Russian railroad tracks, Blanche DuBois or even Mary McCarthy. Salinger gave my generation a permission to write about our lives, our very ordinary adolescent times. He gave us our voice, our right to be serious in our own postwar, perhaps over-privileged, tones. The Three Weissmanns of Westport has gotten superlative reviews. Still a contemporary artist wouldn't want his/her work too tightly nailed to say, Matisse or Picasso, and this over insistence on Jane ignores the book's originality. Schine has a wide range -- her New York Times' book review last year of Alexsandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project is a complex account of the way Eastern Europe is now. And her Westport isn't the place of 20 years ago, and certainly not the Westport with memories of F.Scott Fitzgerald and theatre folk, nor the arty crowd, nor the later advertising bunch, and it certainly isn't the anti-Semitic Connecticut of Gentleman's Agreement. Her Westport has become a provincial town, prosperous and dreary, somewhat like Emma Bovary's Tostes, near Rouen. Betty Weissmann, in her mid '70s, isn't dreaming of lovers: her romantic "love" is Manhattan from where she has been temporarily banished. She and her two grown daughters, Miranda and Annie, have joined economic forces in order to combat her husband's divorce lawyers, who are attempting to filch the family assets, namely her beloved Central Park West apartment. The Holocaust is a distant drum beat, it might as well be taps played in the last century, its only relevance is that rich Uncle Lou spreads his generosity to all the inhabitants of the novel - Jews and Christians alike - as a result of having been welcomed into America as a child escaping the Holocaust. Lou provides the three women with his beachfront extra cottage, so that they have the means to wait out the divorce lawyers.Betty wanders disconsolate through Westport: "There was nothing to do, no one to do it with, and she wouldn't drive at night, so on top of everything else there was no way to get there. She daydreamed about the buses in New York with their interesting bits of poetry or quotes from George Eliot, their ads for Con Ed or the Bronx Zoo. How civilized and communal New York seemed from the vantage point of this lonely land of cars and crows and Lanes and Drives and Crescents....'Very cosmopolitan little town,' Betty had answered her friend in her most chipper voice. But Westport struck her as neither cosmopolitan nor little. In fact, it did not even strike her as a town. It was large and spread out and bustling and provincial." Its geographic advantage has disintegrated into its nearness to COSTCO gallon vodka bargains; even its weather seems a bleak knockoff of Manhattan skies.Jews and WASPS co-mingle, references to Hanukkah and Christmas have become mere after thoughts. In fact, the only WASP to make an issue -or celebration - of his WASP heritage turns out to be a phony: a third rate actor from the West Coast into movieland pretend who has invented his WASP background. Miranda falls in love with Leanne, a Westport doctor into good works in Africa - again, their lesbian marriage causes no melodrama. Betty, still dreaming of her return to her great Central Park West apartment with its grand faux fireplace, barely takes note of this change of mores. Alas, her legal win has a wistful tragic note. She dies of a staph infection before she can repossess her home, but, due to her foresight, the inheritance will pass on to her daughters. In her astonishing novel, Schine grounds her witty dialogue and sharp new way of seeing the familiar with bursts of authentic feeling between the unmoored mother and her protective daughters. Meanwhile, in a totally different take on the effect of influences, Wyatt Mason's much needed reappraisal in The New York Review of Books of Louis-Ferdinand Destouches (Cline), on the occasion of Dalkey Archives' publication of Normance is excellent. He correctly points to a lack of balance and a lack of knowledge of the author's total works (the murderously anti-Semitic Bagatelle pour un massacre still is banned in France) in the admiration of his American writer fans. Voyage au bout de la nuit with its furious, hot, first person voice had particular appeal to the Beats, who saw in Cline's anti-bourgeois stance one of their own, but we shouldn't ignore that Cline's true buddies, the Nazis, were also anti-bourgeois democracies. Mason quotes from the English translation of Philip Roth's remarks (Roth is also a fan) on Cline originally published in 1984 in La Quinzaine Littraire: "To tell you the truth, in France, my Proust is Cline! There's a very great writer. Even if his anti-Semitism made him an abject, intolerable person. To read him, I have to suspend my Jewish conscience, but I do it, because anti-Semitism isn't at the heart of his books, even Castle to Castle. Cline is a great liberator. I feel called by his voice." Well, "liberator" - though we know Roth means to admire Cline's voice, is hardly le mot juste for a writer who called for the death of all Jews. And what does Roth think Castle to Castle is about, if not Cline's successful attempt to escape from a French trial for his war crimes? Can we so neatly chop into separate compartments voice, morality, stylish style, and intent? This sort of muffled debate - a debate that never seems to quite see the light of day -- was further mangled by John Updike, who imagined Cline as being mainly a "sweet country doctor." In my 1991 interview (reprinted after his death in The Daily Beast), Updike said: "I think what I was trying to say [in one of his essays] is that there aren't any anti-Semitic portraits in Cline as deadly as Bloch in Proust. I may be wrong. But Cline's views didn't seem to carry over into his art. He didn't bother to give us caricatures of Jewish people." Really? Proust, in his insistence on the fluid nature of his characters, was one of the first novelists to liberate Jews from fictional stereotypes, while Cline turned them into dangerous anti-Semitic caricatures. In a letter to his mother, Proust describes the anti-Semitic ravings of a friend's father, besotted by the anti-Semitic radical right rag Libre Parole, later so useful to the Nazis, whom in La Recherche he transforms into Baron de Charlus's ravings against Bloch. In a letter to Violet Schiff (usually ignored is that many of Proust's most profound friendships were with people who were Jewish or part Jewish) he points out that Swann who starts out effete, in another volume becomes okay: "He becomes a Dreyfusard." While granting Cline's talent, particularly in Journey to the End of the Night, isn't his American fan club a bit too nonchalant? Or, one wonders - might it be that Proust, the chronicler of the Dreyfus Affair, simply accomplished too much for Roth and Updike? Or were they simply playing Peck's bad boy? Saul Bellow had no use for Cline, and managed a hot, intime voice quite on his own. Now, about Norman Mailer. Both his biographer Michael Lennon and I feel that the back jacket of Frdric Vitoux's biography Cline needs a tad correcting. George Steiner claims that (among others) Norman Mailer's novels would never have been written without Cline's precedent. In my interviews with Norman I never heard him mention Cline, and Cline was certainly not on his mind when I first met him in Paris. According to Lennon, Mailer told him that the French writers in order of importance to him were: "Stendahl, Proust, Malraux, then Flaubert, Zola, Gide, Huysmans, Baudelaire's journals, Sartre, Simenon, and Jean Malaquais - the largest single influence on my intellectual life." Lennon says he never heard Mailer mention Cline, and he believes that Cline's works were not in Mailer's extensive library. So why are American writers so casually inclined to give Cline, including his ideas and actions, a pass? I think it is hard for us to grasp (we see World War II in terms of military battles) that words -- the Nazi propaganda machine - were a potent instrument of war. We cannot imagine a society in which every bit of media, and every publishing house, is controlled and manipulated by the enemy. French writer collaborationists helped destabilize the French government in advance of the "phony war", thus facilitating the German control of the French government and population, and the sending of Jews to the death camps. Cline, who called for all Jews to be killed and the French and British governments destroyed, went on an "intellectual" junket to Germany, and, more significantly, was on Dannecker's and Ambassador Otto Abetz's list of candidates to head the Vichy established "central Jewish office", which put in motion the final solution. Dannecker, a chief architect of the final solution, committed suicide in 1945. Abetz, whom Cline, along with Petain and Laval, joined in Sigmaringen Castle in their attempted flight from France (Cline's flight is the subject of Castle to Castle), was convicted by the French of war crimes and the deportation and murder of Jews. A long way off from the experiences of the Beat Generation, Philip Roth and John Updike.?The past few days have proven debilitating for disco fans, as two of the genre's biggest legends have lost their respective battles with cancer. Donna Summer , and Bee Gee . The Bee Gees were one of disco's greatest groups, changing pop music forever with hits like "Stayin' Alive" while also releasing deeply emotive tracks like "To Love Somebody" and "How Deep Is Your Love." Of Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb, the brothers who formed the band, only Barry remains alive. Here at HuffPost Entertainment, we've collected a number of their songs for your enjoyment in the gallery below. Give the songs a listen and share your memories of the iconic band in the comments below. For more on Gibb's passing, .Also on HuffPost:?Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change that approach.?The fall 2011 men's shows have just finished in Milan. The fashion road show is moving to Paris next where Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and Dior Homme show their collections. But while there have been exciting trends to come out of the Milan shows (such as the snappy colors at Jil Sander and the 70s tailoring at Prada) and more to come surely from the City of Lights, I still feel that men are sometimes left out of the fashion game.I say this because I really want to wear something from Phoebe Philo. But sadly, the designer of Celine who changed the way women dressed in a single season does not make men's clothes. True, there are menswear designers who create clean minimalist clothes like Raf Simons, Simon Spurr and Italo Zucchelli at Calvin Klein, but fashion is all about the Philo mania right now and I would like to join in on the craze as do the many guys who have snapped up the Celine totes just so they can say that they own a piece of the designer's genius. The very stylish Ines de la Fressange has been quoted saying that "it's better to spend your money on Celine than on Botox." I would like to be able to say something to that effect too.I think that some of Philo's designs for Celine will translate well to menswear like the color blocked leather t-shirts and the sleeveless coats with no lapels. I personally would wear the white trousers with green and blue stripes on the sides from her spring collection if she cut them for men. If she does create menswear, I can see her filling the void left by Helmut Lang. Modern urban warriors in very streamlined clothing. I doubt she will cross over though. But a man who loves fashion can dream.I'd also like to see Tory Burch create a men's line. No, I am not looking to wear tunics or her famous Reva ballerinas. I'd like to see how she'll apply her love for vibrant colors and patterns to men's clothes. I like to think that Tory Burch Man -- should there ever be one -- will be filled with luxe boho pieces inspired by J.P. Getty and Paul Bowles. Robes in paisley prints, shorts with geometric patterns, shirts in degrade colors and maybe an embroidered trouser or two for glamorous Moroccan themed parties. I can also see her making a trench coat in crushed linen with a wild exuberant lining. And think about the accessories -- an orange canvas beach tote perhaps or Kelly green moccasins or braided leather bracelets or Panama hats in shades inspired by a gelato stand. Oh, St. Barth's here I come.If Victoria Beckham extended herself to men's fashion what would her clothes be like? Would she pilfer from her husband's Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani filled closet or would she surprised us in much the same way she baffled her naysayers when she launched her eponymous collection? That a former Spice Girls with an affinity to gold lame and chain mail can produce such strong, sophisticated and polished women's wear is nothing short of amazing. Her men's collection I imagine would have architectural blazers that are nipped in at the waist by unexpected darts, sharp and skinny trousers paired with draped multi-layered belted cardigans and tuxedos in rich jewel tone colors.And while on the topic of women's wear designers doing men's clothes, it would be great if Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler and Thakoon lent their creative vision to men's fashion as well. Their contemporaries Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang and Richard Chai are already doing it. Men's fashion would be a lot more fun if they were in the mix. Follow Blue Carreon on Twitter:? is officially the hardest working comedienne in the business. Her weekly primetime Bravo talk show, "Kathy," has been renewed for a second season. This comes just a week after she picked up another Emmy nomination (she has two wins for "") for her stand-up special "" -- her third nomination in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special category -- and the same day her new one-hour comedy special, "Kathy Griffin: Seaman 1st Class," premieres (Thurs., July 26, 10 p.m. ET)."I'm coming back in January! The Bravo folks have been really great about letting me figure out what the hell the show is," Griffin said when we reached out to congratulate her. "We started with 12 episodes, and it's my favorite job I've ever had. I'm having the time of my life. I love it ... As far as I know, we're going to stay on Thursdays at 10, and I've been told we're going to start the first week in January."Bravo's relationship with Kathy Griffin has outlasted Katie and Tom's, Ashton and Demi's, and while we won't be couch jumping, we continue to be in awe of her quick wit, rude humor and spot-on analysis of pop culture and celebrity happenings, Frances Berwick, President of Bravo Media, said in a statement.As for her schedule until January, Griffin is still touring regularly, and she's got a packed schedule of comedy specials for her home network. "I would like to ask you overtly to make the point that no comedian has ever done four specials in one year, much less a female comedian. We are still fighting the good fight of females in comedy, and I am not gonna have it from these gals that are saying that sexism in comedy doesn't still exist because it does," Griffin said. "So I was like, 'Fine. I won't do one special a year. I won't do two. I will be doing four in one year. Chris Rock was like, 'You're doing a special a year for four years?' And I said, 'No, no, no -- I'm doing four in one year.' Then Jon Stewart was like, 'Why do you wanna do a special a year?' And I was like, 'No ... I'm doing four.' Watch a sneak peek of "Seaman 1st Class" here, then keep reading for more on finally allowing celebrity guests on "Kathy," wanting guests to sit on her face and getting into Tumblr with her pal Cher.The first season of "Kathy" had several "did that just happen?" moments, but I'm entertained any time you whore your assistant Tiffany out to random firemen ... There are so many moments that stick out from the first few episodes, but people are fascinated by Tiffany. They fell in love with her on "The D-List" and now she's lost all this weight. I get all these tweets about her -- she's our Carrie Bradshaw. She represents that single girl in the city, and I love that she totally wears clothing from the Kardashian Kollection at Sears. She is now juggling some bitches -- I think she was texting with one of the firemen, then that didn't work out, so she was texting with the guy she met on our fake dating game, and they really went out on a date, and tomorrow night she's having girls night at something called Tequila Tuesdays. She's living the dream. I love it. You know, when , you were pretty adamant about not having celebrity guests, but that quickly changed. Is there a certain kind of celebrity you want to have on now?I kept saying, "No celebrities, no celebrities -- or, if they come, they have to come to play and they have to know what they're getting into." It's not going to be a typical talk show, and it certainly hasn't been, if you saw the Jane Fonda episode. It certainly wasn't Jane promoting "The Newsroom" and talking about her latest book. What's great is that every single celebrity came to me, including Jane. Jane said, "I heard you have a show, and I'd love to come on." We were emailing back and forth, and you'd think I was trying to talk her out of it because I was like, "I don't think you know how loose this show is -- it's a very loosey-goosey, kind of a European-style show, where all three people are on the couch at once, and you can't just promote stuff." She's like, "I won't promote anything. Sounds great." And then, of course, when she came on, clearly she had never seen the show, but she was great. She just immediately took to my mother, which I knew she would, and wanted to get my mom's anti-aging secrets. Little does she know it's wine and cheese from a bottle. But that show is one I'm so proud of -- that's really what I hoped would happen, with civilians or celebrities, that kind of conversation. Lisa Ling was so perfect because she's so smart, and she's able to make fun of herself. And that's what I loved about Anderson Cooper. It all started with Chelsea Handler -- Whitney Cummings said, "Oh Kathy's going to do a show!" and Chelsea said, "I want to come on." And I said, "Oh no, no, no ... people have to really let it rip, and I just don't trust celebrities." She said, "Do you have a first guest?" And I said, "Yeah, it's my dog walker and a couple of friends." And she was like, "You're insane." Having her and Whitney on with my dog walker was really perfect. He's a very real person, and he is someone that I classify as my favorite guest, just unintentionally funny. I'm still going to continue to mix it up with whatever celebrities come to me, come to play and kind of know what they're getting into. Well you have all these famous friends who want to support you ... Yesterday, Cher called me and she was on speaker and Ryan the dog walker came to pick up the dogs, and he's like, "Oh my god -- Cher can yell at me anytime." And I said, "Well, who knows, Ryan? It could be in your future."I love your life.It's crazy! It's just taken years of brow-beating Hollywood down until they finally realized it was a joke. I went to see the Celine Dion show a few weeks ago in Vegas, and I've met her a few times, but I don't know her well, and I certainly don't know her to be somebody who's necessarily thrilled with the way I've portrayed her in my act. But then I get a call from her assistant, and she wants to see me afterward and hang out, and I'm like, "Really?" And she was lovely, and we took a couple funny pictures. She gave me the highest compliment -- she said [in her Celine Dion accent], "And remember: Keep me in your act. I want to still feel like I am hot!" It's really been fun. Celebrities are finally getting, after all these years, that it's a joke. I'm having less celebrity rage. Fewer celebrities leave the room when I enter -- though there's still a few. And now they come on the show to have fun. I'm going to f--- with them, but I'm not in the business of ruining careers. I'm going to make a joke at your expense, and I'm certainly going to make 10 more at my expense, but nobody's going to leave in tears. Ironically, Anderson was on my show a week before he came out. And yet, I certainly in a million years wasn't going to out him for ratings. Never! But you probably had a moment of like, "Couldn't you have just done it a week earlier maybe? I didn't want to do it, but couldn't you have done it on my show?"[Laughs.] Well, I think when he was saying things like, "Bitch, what are you doing?" And, "Girl, it's not gonna happen" ... that's the kind of conversation that I live for on the "Kathy" show. I guess if I want to refer to the couch as "my face" and ask the guests to "sit on my face," that may not work with Anderson, but I think it would be unique to have a talk show where I can invite guests to sit on my face. But you know what? I don't win every battle with Bravo. That may not be my new logo ... I may not be able to convince Bravo to go from "Watch What Happens" to "Sit On My Face."You do always pick great names. I loved "Tired Hooker," so congrats on the Emmy nomination.I was very, very excited that "Tired Hooker" got nominated. I truly wasn't counting on it; it was a genuine surprise. Once again, I'm out to crush the Kennedy Center Honors because they win that category every single year. But I'm just happy to, once again, give the Academy a title that they should at least consider would be funny to hear: "And the Emmy goes to 'Tired Hooker.'" America just wants to hear it! Even if it's a mistake or there's a tie, or oh my gosh I made a mistake -- I just want somebody who has been in a lot of episodes of "Law & Order" or someone from "The Newsroom" to have to stand there and say, "And the Emmy goes to 'Tired Hooker.'" I have dreams. And this new special has "Seaman" in the title. It does, though it's spelled in the nautical fashion. Once again, Bravo didn't want to name it that, but I was doing it in Long Beach ... and I wasn't on the Queen Mary, but there were plenty of queens onstage and in the audience, and I stood in front of a gigantic poster of the Queen Mary. [Laughs.] So I thought "Seaman: 1st Class" was completely appropriate.Who are your biggest targets in this one?The Baptist church, I have a new and improved prison fan letter and I talk about Grammys -- there's a lot of backstage dirt from the Grammys. And there's a new and updated Cher story. Everybody loves Cher. I did a Tumblr with her, and you should check it out because it just went live: . The gays are abuzz with excitement because I went to Cher's last week and I made her do my make-up and then we did an impromptu iPhone photoshoot. They're not exactly the level of photography status that she's used to ... but it's a lot of glitter."Seaman: 1st Class" premieres Thurs., July 26, 10 p.m. ET; "Kathy" returns to Bravo Thursday nights in January.Tell us: Are you excited for more Kathy and more "Kathy" on TV?Also on HuffPost:?TORONTO - Only a small percentage of Canadian women appear to opt for breast reconstruction following mastectomy, despite the safety of the procedure and its positive effects on a patient's self-esteem, researchers say.In a review article in this week's Canadian Medical Association Journal, Toronto researchers say there is a dearth of data on how many women in the country are currently having reconstructive surgery after mastectomy for breast cancer.But rates in Canada have been historically low, said principal author Dr. Toni Zhong, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Princess Margaret Hospital.An Ontario study in 1994-95 found a breast reconstruction rate of 7.7 per cent, while a 1991 analysis for Nova Scotia showed 3.8 per cent of women in that province had the procedure.In contrast, rates were higher in Australia (almost 10 per cent in 1982), Denmark (14 per cent, 1999) and England (16.5 per cent, 2006). In the United States, breast reconstruction rates rose from as low as 3.4 per cent in 1985 to a high of 42 per cent in 1997 at specialized cancer centres.Use of immediate reconstruction at the same time as mastectomy has also increased in the U.S., in part due to a recommendation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons in 2001 to incorporate the practice in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer."All I can say from this review is that this isn't a topic that has been visited," said Zhong. "At least in Ontario, this topic hasn't been visited since the mid-1990s."National statistics on breast reconstruction aren't kept, but Zhong and her colleagues are now trying to gather that information province by province."A lot of us have a hunch that maybe Canada is lagging behind what ... (other) high-income countries are doing. But we don't know."Research has shown that breast reconstruction performed at the same time as mastectomy for women with early-stage cancer is a "completely safe practice to do from a cancer perspective and it's actually a good thing to do for patients because they get benefit from it," she said.Zhong said women tell her that having a breast surgically restored enhances their feeling of being whole and feminine."And I think when you look down and you don't have the mastectomy scar and instead you have a fairly normal-looking breast mound, it's less of a reminder that you went through this cancer treatment."It's a sense that you've put this battle behind you."At cancer centres like Princess Margaret Hospital, Zhong said there is a concerted effort to identify mastectomy patients who are good candidates for immediate breast reconstruction and offer them the surgery."But that's on an institution basis and we want to see that this uptake is going to be uniform across the country, whether you live in Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan or Ontario, whether you live in a rural place versus an urban place, that shouldn't matter," she said.Zhong said there is a misconception that for older women, it's not safe to do breast restoration. But she said that's not true."It has to do with their physiological age or how healthy they are. One really healthy, fit 60-year-old is not the same as a 40-year-old who's diabetic, a smoker, obese. So there are other factors that play into this and make someone a good candidate or not a good candidate."Factors that would preclude immediate reconstruction include whether a women will need followup radiation and the stage of cancer at diagnosis. If called for, radiation should be started within three months of mastectomy, but that critical treatment could be delayed if reconstruction healing isn't complete.And for women with later-stage breast cancer prescribed radiation and chemotherapy because of concerns about recurrence reconstruction will usually be postponed for at least two years, she said.Zhong said once researchers have a better sense of current breast reconstruction rates across the country, the next step would be for medical experts to develop national guidelines outlining which patients are good candidates for the surgery and would benefit most."Once we decide that, then all women, whether you live in Thunder Bay or live in downtown Toronto should know about these guidelines. And I think that's the best way to make this uniform across the board."WATCH: ?TORONTO Women who lose a breast to cancer report improvements in their state of mind and well-being three weeks after breast reconstruction surgery, a new survey indicates.However, 20 per cent of the women experienced minor or major complications related to the reconstruction surgery, and many of the women were grappling with significant deterioration in the strength of their abdomen -- the donor site for tissue to reconstruct the breast.But study co-author Dr. Toni Zhong said that even when complications, lack of strength at the donor site, scarring and time off work were factored in, the positives outweighed the negatives."The overwhelming answer was these patients did not regret it and were highly satisfied," said Zhong of the University Health Network Breast Restoration Program at the University of Toronto.The women were questioned three weeks after their surgery, when they were still recovering and probably still in pain, and again three months after the surgery."As early as three weeks, these patients were reporting really quite significant improvement in all sorts of quality-of-life issues, like psychosocial well-being, sexual well-being, body image and things like that," said Zhong.She and her colleagues collaborated on the research with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.The study is published Monday in the early online edition of Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.The 51 women who were surveyed didn't have implants, but rather surgeries utilizing tissue from the abdomen: free muscle-sparing transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap reconstruction or a deep inferior epigastric artery (DIEP) flap reconstruction.Zhong said muscle-sparing surgery was first described in the literature about a decade ago, and has become more popular in the last five years.She said only four surgeons in Toronto, and a total of about 10 plastic surgeons in Canada, do these breast reconstructions which require specialized fellowship training, equipment and nursing staff, and competence using a microscope during surgery to hook up blood vessels.Many of the complications reported in the study were minor, Zhong said, such as a stitch coming through the skin or scabbing that required dressing changes.Major complications were defined as having to return to the operating room for unexpected reasons, and this was the case for about 10 per cent of the patients surveyed, she said. Eventually these patients healed fine too."Despite having even a major complication, though, these patients reported that they felt overall the reconstruction achieved the purpose that they wanted," she said.Zhong was surprised by the findings on abdominal outcomes, as patients are normally counselled that the donor site should be back to normal at eight weeks.Complaints about abdominal weakness could include difficulty lifting groceries, for example, or getting out of bed -- instead of just sitting up, the woman might have to roll onto her side first."Maybe there are things we can do before surgery to optimize these patients' conditions. For example, maybe it's a good idea for us to have a devoted physiotherapist who can focus on doing abdominal strength training before surgery," she said.The research will help doctors counsel patients about the pros and cons of surgery so they know what to expect, she indicated.Dr. Melinda Musgrave, a plastic surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital who was not involved in the research, said the study looks at what she calls the "Cadillac of breast reconstruction" that uses abdominal tissue and tries to save muscle."She's shown a pretty consistent outcome, that patients in the long run are pretty happy about reconstructive surgery, and that as early as three weeks after having it, they're pretty happy with their breast," Musgrave noted."But what she's found that I think is really interesting is that they're not so happy with their tummies."Maybe these operations aren't as good as originally thought for women who need to pick up laundry baskets, for instance, or a two-year-old child, she said.She noted that some women choose implants rather than abdominal tissue for their breast reconstruction because they don't want a long period off work to heal, even though 30 per cent of implant patients will need to come back for an adjustment of some kind within five years."It's a matter of the patient choosing the reconstruction that fits into her life," Musgrave said.She said the rate of women having breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy ranges from seven to 20 per cent worldwide."I think it's important that we all promote reconstructive (surgery) for the patient ... we love how the patients feel about themselves afterwards, and we get a lot of positive feedback."Plastic surgeons would ideally like to see breast cancer patients soon after diagnosis to help them make decisions that impact them throughout their cancer journey, said Musgrave."I just want people to come and have a consult ... I don't want them to lose the opportunity. I've had lots of women come to me delayed five years after, 10 years after, saying 'I wish I had known 10 years ago about this, I would've had it done.'"I think knowledge is power."WATCH: ?What do you do after you've composed an anthem for Celine Dion, scored a mythical 3D world for James Cameron, gone where no man has gone before, worked with Ron Howard and won two Oscars? If you're , you combine your talents for writing emotional music with your love of flying, and you team up with , the world's only P-51 Mustang aerobatic team.The mission of The Horsemen is to, "Bring greater interest to the world of historic aviation and to remind future generations of how these powerful machines helped the Allies change the outcome of WWII." This is clearly on display in this , which is uplifting even if you are sick of "My Heart Will Go On."Check it out: Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter:?It seems like only yesterday that Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Now, nine weeks later, the infectious summer hit is still at No. 1, meaning Carly Rae has held the top position for longer than even Gotye. The Belgian-Australian singer who spent eight weeks at the top with "Somebody That I Used To Know." As a result, than any other song in 2012, reports Billboard. Congratulations on a job well done, America! All jokes aside, the is pretty impressive. The phenomenon began in February, when Justin Bieber and his girlfriend Selena Gomez (along with a few of their famous friends), to Jepsen's song. Thanks to Bieber -- and his -- "Call Me Maybe" became an overnight internet sensation. Unfortunately for Bieber, Jepsen's single is currently No. 1, while his is holding steady at No. 15. In other Jepsen news, the 26-year-old (yes, she's 26 years old) recently announced that she will . The record is pop, Jepsen said in a statement, adding: Its inspired by Robyn, the Cars, Madonna, and believe it or not, James Taylor. Let's not forget about that , Carly. How did Jepsen get to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 summit? Take at look through our timeline below to see how Jepsen went from a Canadian folk artist to a worldwide pop phenomenon in less than a year.Related on HuffPost:?From "Uncovering Cline"Wyatt MasonThe New York Review of BooksBagatelles pour un massacre [Trifles for a Massacre]by Louis-Ferdinand ClineParis: Deno?l, 379 pp. (1937)L'cole des cadavres [The School of Corpses]by Louis-Ferdinand ClineParis: Deno?l, 272 pp. (1938)Les Beaux Draps [A Fine Mess]by Louis-Ferdinand ClineParis: Les Nouvelles ditions Fran?aises, 158 pp. (1941)Normanceby Louis-Ferdinand Cline, translated from the French and with an introduction by Marlon JonesDalkey Archive, 371 pp., $14.95 (paper)1.Louis-Ferdinand Destouches met Cillie Pam in Paris, at the Caf de la Paix, in September 1932. Destouches was a physician who worked at a public clinic in Clichy treating poor and working-class patients; Pam was a twenty-seven-year-old Viennese gymnastics instructor eleven years his junior on a visit to the city. Destouches suggested a stroll in the Bois de Boulogne, took Pam to dinner later that night, and afterward took her home. Two weeks together began, after which Pam returned to her work and life in Vienna. Over the next seven years, they saw each other infrequently but corresponded regularly. Pam, who was Jewish, married and had a son. Destouches, who wrote in his free time, became famous shortly after their brief affair, his first novel, Voyage au bout de la nuit, published at the end of 1932 under the pseudonym "Cline" (his maternal grandmother's first name), proving an enormous success. In February 1939, Destouches received word that Pam had lost her husband: he had been seized, sent to Dachau, and killed. On February 21, Destouches wrote to Pam, who had fled abroad:Dear Cillie,What awful news! At least you're far away, on the other side of the world. Were you able to take a little money with you? Obviously, you're going to start a new life over there. How will you work? Where will Europe be by the time you receive this letter? We're living over a volcano.On my side, my little dramas are nothing compared to yours (for the moment), but tragedy looms nonetheless....Because of my anti-Semitic stance I've lost all my jobs (Clichy, etc.) and I'm going to court on March 8. You see, Jews can persecute too.How a reader responds to this letter is, I suspect, a fair predictor of how capable he or she might be of tolerating the extreme disjunctions that predominate in the life and art of its author. One of Cline's biographers, for example, describes the letter as possessing "a curious blend of concern and sheer tactless selfishness," a response that itself seems to exhibit its own curious blend of sheer shortsightedness and apologism. Another biographer calls it, reasonably if inadequately, "astonishing," but does offer the useful detail that Pam, upon receipt of the letter, "never saw [Destouches] again and stopped writing."My own sense is that such a letter would astonish most readers--words of condolence over anti-Semitic violence do not often contain anti-Semitic sympathies--except those who have read not only Cline's novels but also what have been inaccurately termed, for generations, his "anti-Semitic pamphlets." Alas, no English-speaking reader who does not know French could make so comprehensive a survey. Though all eight of Cline's novels are now available in dependable English translations, the so-called anti-Semitic pamphlets have never been officially published in English. Having recently read them in French in bootleg editions readily available online,[1] I should report that the letter above, taken in that larger, less available context, isn't astonishing in the least. Rather, it's exactly the sort of letter one would expect from an anti-Semite of Cline's tireless and impenitent ardor, a writer who, from 1937 to 1944, spent all his flagrant literary energy and aptitude calling--shouting--for the death of every Jew in France (for a start).Read the rest of this article at the website.Get HuffPost Books On and ?A Canada earthquake shook Toronto and Ottawa at approximately 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time today, June 23, 2010. The USGS the quake had a magnitude of 5.0.Numerous reports flooded Twitter, including from the National Post in Toronto, which about heavy shaking to its building about 30 seconds after similar reports from Ottawa.We're mapping reader reports of where the quake was felt as we receive them. Check out our map . And let us know if you felt it in your area at ! Thanks to all the readers that have already written in. Scroll down for video of the quake. The Globe and Mail is reporting on that there are numerous reports of "unusual ground shaking in various parts of Ontario," as well as Buffalo, N.Y.The quake was also as far away as Boston, Cleveland and .A reader Andrew Whitaker emailed in from Michigan, "I'm working at university of michigan hospital currently in ann arbor michigan and we experienced two 10 second intervals of light shaking that is being reported as part of the earthquake in canada."Another reader Sharon Shaw said she felt the quake from Huntington, West Virginia, near the Ohio and Kentucky border, while reader Crystal Buckley said she felt tremors at approximately 2:05 p.m. in Bath, N.Y.Reader Jamie Malone wrote in to say "felt it in pittsburgh! 4th floor office building."And here's a reader report from Canada, courtesy of Kahlya Ohlhoff: "I am in Hamilton ON and felt the quake. It lasted almost a minute, being on the third floor, we evacuated the building. It was pretty intense, the flowers and computer monitors were shaking enough to make our hands mimic the movement."We've also received reports from readers that the quake was felt in Cincinnati; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Milwaukee; East Hartford, CT; Staten Island; Mt. Laurel, NJ; and Pittsburgh. Here's some great video, courtesy of Fox 40 Sacramento via CBC, of a TV studio shaking as the quake hits. More news about how the earthquake affected the New York area .Did you experience the quake? Let us know at ! ?LONDON - John Herdman hasn't had to bolster his players with any special messages of motivation, or implement any team-building strategies since they touched down in England.Ten months after he took on the task of mending the battered psyche of Canada's women's soccer team, and a day before his squad opens its London Olympic campaign, the coach said his players are all-business, and more than ready to play on sport's biggest stage."That's the brilliance of this group, there's a maturity there," Herdman said following his team's final practice in Coventry before its opener. "They're managing internally everything they need to to be ready for the games. So my message has been really simple: keep doing what you're doing."I think the key is connectivity through this tournament, starting with the game (Wednesday), and that connectivity is doing everything we need to do to get on the podium, on and off the field."The Canadians open the Olympics versus World Cup champion Japan in Coventry on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremonies in London. Canada is seeking redemption after a horrible showing at the World Cup last summer in Germany a last-place finish that left the team's confidence in tatters, and led to the departure of head coach Carolina Morace and the hiring of Herdman."I would like another three years with them (to prepare for London), that would have been nice to be in the same position as the Japanese coach," Herdman said, laughing. "But the benefit is things are still fresh at the minute, the girls are enjoying working with us and we're savouring every moment with this tournament."The Canadians face what should be the toughest test of the tournament right out of the gate, playing a Japanese squad that knocked off the perennial power United States in a penalty shootout to win the World Cup in Germany.Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt calls Japan a "Barcelona-type team.""Japan is a special team, just in the way they pass the ball," Schmidt said. "We've had discussions. We know we won't have the ball for most of the game, so we just have to take advantage when we do, make most of our chances when we do get them."The seventh-ranked Canadians and No. 3 Japan have played each other to three wins, three losses and three draws. But the Japanese have been on the rise since their fourth-place finish in Beijing."They're a pleasure to watch and have taken the women's game to another level in terms of technical ability," Herdman said. "Tactically they are very well organized and over the years they've been able to mask their weakness, which is their physical presence on the pitch, with real tactical discipline."It will be a tough game for us, a very tough game. But a great opportunity as well, playing the world champion."Since arriving in England last week, the Canadians made a brief stop in London to tour the athletes village and receive their Canadian gear before travelling the 150 kilometres northwest to Coventry where they're being housed in a hotel with the three other teams in their group and men's teams from Belarus and New Zealand.They were able to walk the pitch of Coventry Stadium, normally home to Coventry City, on Monday. The team held a light training session Tuesday at its practice facility."Mainly just chilled out," Herdman said. "Getting in the right frame of mind for the game."Frame of mind was perhaps the biggest challenge Herdman faced when he took over the team last fall. He hired Ceri Evans as the team's "mental trainer," a New Zealander who worked with the All Blacks leading into their victorious rugby World Cup campaign.Herdman said the team hasn't felt the need for team-building sessions in between their practices and physiotherapy sessions in Coventry."They're such a cool group, they get on really well, they entertain themselves well, and to be honest, football is their job, and they work a pretty solid shift in the daytime between practices, et cetera. They're just enjoying being footballers."On entertaining themselves, the coach wasn't lying. The players and staff recently shot a video in the locker-room of themselves singing Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" that was posted on Dion's website along with a good luck message:"We hope to hear them sing their victory anthem, Celine's "The Power of Love," many more times. Good luck ladies!"Canada was eighth four years ago in Beijing, its only other Olympic appearance.Since earning its Olympic berth at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Vancouver in January, the Canadians have won seven games and lost four, including a 3-1 loss to fourth-ranked Sweden in March.In a tune-up tournament in Switzerland last week, the Canadians downed Colombia 1-0 and New Zealand 2-0 before losing 2-1 to Brazil, the team they beat in a shootout to win the Pan American Games last fall.Canada meets 61st-ranked South Africa on Saturday, and then battles Sweden in Newcastle Herdman's hometown next Tuesday, a crucial game that could well determine their Olympic fate.Japan recently suffered a 4-1 thrashing by the Americans, but Herdman isn't putting much stock in that result, saying coach Norio Sasaki was likely using the game to tinker with his lineup or formation.Homare Sawa, Japan's 33-year-old team captain, will be the player Canada will be most concerned with Japan's version of Canadian captain and star striker Christine Sinclair.Sawa made her international debut when she was 15, scoring four goals in her first match. She scored a hat trick against Mexico at last summer's World Cup and went on to earn the Golden Boot as top scorer (five goals) and Golden Ball as tournament MVP.She was also named FIFA's women's player of the year.?, 09/27/12 Keyboardist, The Dears Pondering the genesis of hipsterdom, I often trace it back to Vice, and the importance they laid on the concept of "cool." I mean, Vice didn't invent it, they just presented a pre-existing sub-culture in a consumable format. And yeah: back then, I understood what Vice was because I was living it. But it's not 1997. After having a kid, I was admittedly nervous about having a full-colour, glossy magazine showing stylized images of syringes, used condoms and blood-soaked models lying around the house.?In the New York - Metropolitan Art Mosh Pit, its hard being green and also a vegetarian, animal-rights activist, buyer-planner, conservationist, artist. Vicky Allen Hanks even has to work for a living since she was not a trust-fund baby. (A Titanium white oil stick averages $25 a stick, Belgian linen is $180 a roll). We visit with her in her new home-based studio in Montclair, one which is a third the size of her former loft space in Newark. Her art often depicts, in a cartoonish mannerism, struggles with the accoutrements of femininity in a male-dominant universe. But her current series of new paintings are infused with animal imagery.The WALLENDA series of plano-convex sculptural paintings are comprised of compact, multi-dimensional, colorful commentaries on the encroachment upon the natural habitat of all living species. These works extend and elaborate upon past work that reflects concern for relationships between line and pictorial space. Structurally, these works effect a sense of drawing with space, giving emphasis to the humorous and buoyant treatment of line. The serio-comic imagery, thickening and thinning of shapes, elastic demeanor, feel spontaneous, alive. Designed to be wall-mounted, ceiling-suspended, or anchored in free open environments, WALLENDAS possess the compositional integrity of collage while maintaining the painterly quality of abstraction. Like some ancient wall paintings, WALLENDAS echo a unique type of cautionary iconography while remaining fluidly decorative and insightfully explorative?I don't know where I've been, but I only just recently watched 1995's "Before Sunrise" and thanks to Netflix's speedy delivery, eagerly saw the 2004 sequel "Before Sunset" for the first time. My mind has been in a reverie ever since. There are so few nice surprises in life, that it's thrilling to discover a new movie or song, even if it's old to others and these movies delivered on both. I didn't want the movies to end, and hoped it would be like Michael Apted's "Up" series (which is every seven years), or Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn in "Same Time Next Year" (wished they made a sequel), that follow people and relationships over a span of time. News broke this month that director Richard Linklater confirmed they wrapped shooting a third movie in Greece "Before Midnight" (expected to be out 2013) and released a photo from that shoot. While nine years between these "Before" movies is a long time, I'm sure many of us are happy just to see more of these characters.I'd seen "Before Sunrise" once in the '90s, and could only remember the premise. Two characters, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, meeting and spending the day in Vienna. You feel like you're on the journey with them, a journey you don't want to end."Before Sunrise" was a magical surprise this time around, yet it felt realistic and in "Before Sunset," I just wanted Hawke's character Jesse to go to her apartment and make dinner together and hang out. All of us can relate to these rare magical moments, where you don't want the conversation, or the night, to end. We can also relate to being in our optimistic 20s when you feel there's a whole world and life ahead to explore, when chances and opportunities seem abundant.I got bummed thinking "Before Sunrise" might not work now because the characters would Skype, iChat, text and instead of taking a mental picture of each other, they'd snap cell phone photos. But the heart of it is really the profound connection between two people that seems to happen so randomly, that it's destiny. No photo or video could ever capture the feeling and presence of that moment of two intersecting souls, a moment witnessed only by those two.That intense, inexplicable connection is so absorbing, you feel like the only two people in the world and your time together, sometimes in a different place like these characters were, feels like you're in a dream you don't want to wake up from. It feels "other worldly," as referenced in the movie before Delpy's character Celine says, "But then morning comes and we turn into pumpkins, right?"In "Before Sunrise" Jesse says, "Everything is so finite. But don't you think that's what makes our time at specific moments so important?" Nine years later in "Before Sunset" he says, "I remember that night better than I do entire years." When he asked her why didn't they exchange phone numbers nine years earlier, Celine replies with a truism, "When you're young, you just believe there'll be many people with whom you'll connect with. Later in life you realize it only happens a few times."These movies make the viewer reflect on their own magical, soulful encounters with a special someone. What immediately came to mind was a night exploring Milan on motorcycle with a new friend who lived there, both in our 20s, with this seemingly empty city at that time of night, like our own movie set. Unlike "Before Sunrise" it wasn't romantic, but a nice memorable night of openly sharing thoughts about life, problems and issues we faced in our countries, and realizing we all shared similar hopes and dreams.But the memories that are the truly blissful, intense connections are rare and etched into memory. And the magical places where those few times occurred a la "Before Sunrise," all happened for me right here in our own beautiful country, proving it didn't need an exotic locale for it to happen. While it wasn't the place that made our souls connect so profoundly, they were vivid backdrops where the magic happened.While two of these occurred in my 20s, two other indelible moments happened later, affirming that inexplicable magic with another soul can occur at any moment in life.There was the day exploring on cable cars, sharing a sundae at Ghirardelli's by , laughing about how unbelievably sweet it was, a visit to to pick up supplies to make homemade mackerel sushi and green tea and eating dinner on the floor picnic-style in an old apartment.There was the time hanging out on a bench along the Charles River right outside MIT taking in the breathtaking skyline at night, having ice cream at an old-fashioned New England ice creamery and then lingering at a nearby pond. The night ended on a blanket on the grass, talking about lyrics from one of the sexiest songs ever written -- Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet," both thinking Mark Knopfler sang the word "Orion" as we ourselves gazed up at the constellations and asked one another if we believed in soul mates.One night was supposed to be a simple dinner, meeting for the first time after speaking on the phone, at the old restaurant in . But it didn't matter where we were, and despite the crowd, it felt like we were the only people there, sitting in front of the fireplace, absorbed in the banter. The conversation flowed, we put out every flaw, insecurity and thought on that table, there was never pause. We closed the place down. We were in such a daze by this unexpected discovery of the other person, one of us forgot to take the leftovers and the other forgot to tip the valet. I didn't want that conversation to end and as Jesse in the movie says, I've compared whole years to that night. We had our own sequel -- another too short night, but life took separate paths and I'm left with the cherished memory of a great connection of two minds."Before Sunrise" also made me contemplate another unexpected connection, a spiritual experience, at the at the base of Camelback Mountain in , Arizona. Also called The Casa, this serene piece of heaven welcomes all and it'll always hold a sacred place for me because of that memory. We explored the grounds despite the 100-plus degree heat, taking simple pleasure in seeing an empty bird's nest, the beautiful mountain views beyond and a family of quail. We enjoyed the Healing Garden with its many fruit trees, an oasis in the desert, made a donation, lit a candle and prayerfully walked the labyrinth.The labyrinth was a first for me, and it was the centerpiece of that cherished memory, slowly walking around the labyrinth. Anyone who visiting who is looking for an inner spiritual experience, must not miss the simple stone labyrinth, a sacred ancient meditational tool for reflection. Not wanting the magical time in this place to end, the goodbye hug ranked one of the best in memory, just before turning into pumpkins. Perhaps it was because this beautiful spiritual desert backdrop enhanced the connection between us, but the magic was unexpected and otherworldly and it was hard to sleep, back in "in real time" (as Jesse says in "Before Sunrise," before they parted) still one foot in the dream world."Before Sunrise" had the most touching scene in a movie where not a word was spoken. It made me at once get verklempt as well as laugh, as the two stood in an old school record store listening booth, listening to New England singer-songwriter 's "Come Here." The two stole furtive glances and at times locked eyes as they shyly looked away, emoting so much without uttering a word.Kath is our and she calls "Come Here" travel song, referring to the title. She shares a little bit about her own journey and this song featured in "Before Sunrise," which was recorded in a studio in Woodstock, New York. You can hear it on her and purchase it on iTunes. Follow CarsTravelFood on Twitter:?LAS VEGAS — The singer-songwriter behind the Grammy-winning 2010 single "Forget You" and the 2006 hit "Crazy" is settling down – at least for a few months – in a Las Vegas residency.Cee Lo Green says his semi-permanent show, "Loberace," will launch Aug. 29 at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, and run at least through the end of the year."The production will combine Cee Lo's flamboyant sense of style and over-the-top creativity," producers said in a statement, adding that the show "will be as inspired and visually alive as Cee Lo Green."Organizers say the show will include a musical journey through time, with tributes to Price and the Rolling Stones. "Mind-twisting magic and sexified showgirls" are also on tap.The 37-year-old Green, known for his soulful voice and extravagant costumes, is a coach on the NBC show "The Voice." His break came in the mid-1990s in the southern rap scene, but has evolved to include Gnarls Barkley, a collaboration between him and DJ-producer Danger Mouse, and his 2010 solo album "The Lady Killer."The 28 shows through the end of December are scheduled for late nights, and some follow Planet Hollywood's "Peepshow" production in the 1,400-seat theater.Green told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he sees himself continuing Sin City entertainment tradition."I love the city. I can't wait to be a part of it. I can't wait to be officially there," Green said in an interview. "From this generation I would just like to be able to carry on, and pick up the torch and continue to make Vegas a place to be." ? has found a home for his Las Vegas residency - he will launch his own concert show at Planet Hollywood this summer.The Forget You hitmaker's production, which is billed to contain "mind-twisting magic and sexified showgirls", will be decked out in the singer's unique flamboyant style and feature a slew of pyrotechnics.Cee Lo Green Presents Loberace will kick off on 29 August and run until the end of December.The star has made no secret of his dream to join Celine Dion as a regular on the Sin City stage, recently revealing he'd love to cut down on travelling.He also showed his love for Vegas by filming a new 'What happens here, stays here' commercial for tourism bosses. ?NEW YORK, N.Y. - To witness the odd power of celebrities at the fragrance counter, look no further than two of today's top women's perfume stars: One is a teenage boy. The other, deceased.Justin Bieber's women's perfume Someday is one of the top sellers in department and specialty stores, and White Diamonds, the scent launched 20 years ago by the late Elizabeth Taylor, tops in big box stores.But for every Bieber, there seems like there's an A-lister who fails to garner buzz when it comes to fragrance. Jennifer Aniston, anyone?The most successful celebrities to splash their name across a fragrance bottle speak typically to a niche audience, often one that's an older or younger consumer."The ones that do well have a strong following with a strong core audience," explains Karen Grant, beauty industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group. "Liz Taylor has almost a cult following, and Bieber is the same thing. He's all about tweens and the moms getting it for the tweens."Celebrity fragrances also are particularly "giftable" items, Grant notes, because if the receiver is a fan, you're going to get the "ooh," at least when he or she opens the box.Bieber was a bona fide hit and briefly bumped perennial favourite fragrances Chanel No. 5 and Coco Mademoiselle out of the top sales spots last year. Later this month he'll be honoured with the Elizabeth Taylor Fragrance Celebrity award from the Fragrance Foundation. With Taylor Swift and her perfume Wonderstruck, the two young stars revitalized the celebrity fragrance business, up 57 per cent in sales in 2011.From looney to lucrative, here are some top Hollywood-created scents.One of the big new launches this spring is Madonna's Truth or Dare, and Rihanna's Reb'l Fleur has been a strong performer, too.The successes, say experts, combine celebrity involvement, personal appeal, lively fans and a good "juice," industry lingo for the actual smell.Madonna, at an event to celebrate Truth or Dare at Macy's last month, said she thought long and hard about what her signature scent would be, ending with a floral formula that includes a note of tuberose, which is also prominent in the perfume Fracas by Robert Piguet a favourite of the pop star's. "I wear Fracas myself and I've been wearing it for years and years and years, and I try other perfumes all the time, and I always come back to it. And I know the reason I always comes back to it is because it reminds me of my mom."She wears perfume all the time, Madonna added. "I spray perfume on me, myself like a crazy person. Nonstop. Never want to smell bad."Rafael Villoldo, Vice-President of Perfumania, which has deals with Rihanna, 50 Cent and Kim Kardashian, says the celebrity has to buy into the product wholeheartedly. "You have to look at what they stand for. I won't do a fragrance with someone who has said they hate fragrance or doesn't look like someone who'd wear fragrance."Next, he thinks about potential customers and distribution, and he'll check out how active the celebrity is on social media because, he explains, no one can get shoppers excited about a product like its namesake."Look at the Kardashians. They don't sing, dance or act, other that the reality show, but you look at Kim, and she has 15 million Twitter followers," Villoldo says. "If I put on a hat that we think looks funny, it's a funny looking hat, but she'll have 15 million people considering wearing that hat that's power."Still, he says, that only gets you so far with a fragrance. There has to be quality to get consumers to buy into a brand for repeat purchases. The Paris Hilton line has had unexpected longevity, says Villoldo, who typically hopes for a five-year run with a celebrity, but Hilton has proven a tireless promoter.NPD's Grant is curious how Madonna will fare. "She's a mature woman so the younger generation might feel like she's a little over the hill, but Madonna is Madonna and she has A LOT of fans. When you talk about the most loyal fragrance consumer, she's over 50, and you'll have to rip out of her hands whatever her favourite one is, so once you've got her, you have a better chance of keeping her. "Buzz doesn't necessarily drive an older woman, Grant adds, noting that Celine Dion has had many years of consistent, strong sales without too much splash.A star with a story to tell through fragrance has a better shot, says Betsy Olum, general manager of beauty and merchandising strategy at HSN. Does the bottle design reflect the celebrity's look? Is there a scent note that has a special meaning? Consumers want to know, and they'll be able to pick out or sniff out the bottles that just slapped a boldfaced name on the front, she says.On TV, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria all connected with home shoppers on TV in a way that a glitzy ad can't convey, Olum says."When Jennifer Lopez's mom came on with her, and then her sister texted in, even I wanted to buy the fragrance and I did," Olum says.She was equally impressed with Eva Longoria. "At the time we were talking about her second fragrance, and it already seemed near the end of 'Desperate Housewives,' and we had a discussion here, 'Would people still be engaged?'" Olum says. "But she came on, and she's one of the most beautiful women on the planet, and she said, 'Don't worry, I'm going to get on and be great.' ... And I was really impressed by how she came on and really told her life story. People really connected to her."Men take a slightly different approach in their celebrity fragrances than women, however, says Grant, since they buy more into image, using Sean "Diddy" Combs' Unforgivable and Usher's namesake cologne as examples of scents with the "sexy, bad-boy vibe." Men are more aware of choosing a fragrance that will appeal to their romantic partners.Current celebrity bestsellers, according to NPD:Mass market (big box and drugstores), first quarter 2012:Women's: White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, Reveal by Halle Berry, Fantasy by Britney SpearsMen's: Unforgivable by Sean "Diddy" Combs, He by Usher, Soul 2 Soul by Tim McGrawPrestige market (department and specialty stores), year-end 2011, most recent available:Women's: Justin Bieber Someday; Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift, Reb'l Fleur by RihannaMen's: Unforgivable, I Am King by Comb's Sean John brand, Usher VIP ?Whether they be sexy or scary, you can never go wrong with channeling your inner celebrity at least one night out of the year. From a transgender Lady Gaga and a pantless, hot mess Christina Aguilera to a Geisha-esque Katy Perry and a hoedown happy Rihanna, the bold and beautiful few certainly provide quite a bit of inspiration when the ghoulish holiday rolls around. So who will you be this year? Will you channel a sexy or scary (intentionally or not) celeb? Check out our pics for the best celebrity costume ideas this year. ?These are not our mother's and father's age differences. Today with hormonal therapies for women and mens Viagra for men, with cosmetic enhancements and surgeries for both have eliminated a lot of the age differences. Naturally, money and fame allows men to have greater appeal for much younger women and lets not forget the cougars out there in this sphere. I am 73 and live in a part of CA that is quite affluent. A lot of career men don't come here because it is not a major city area with a lot of major jobs that pay well. Yes, there are a lot of men that do well with their own smaller businesses and services like wealth managers, etc. I am often startled myself as a man who lived and played (married at 42 and divorced at 47) in the major boy meets girl "play" areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Manhattan for 20 years, am surprised at the come on's I still receive by 45 to 50 year old women. I am well educated, business career, well traveled, and am only 10# over my college weight, and have my own hair which is now salt & pepper. I keep active and trim and active with my tennis group. At my age I prefer however attractive women in the late fifties to mid to late sixties as they, for me, fit my relationships better are more free to enjoy than those women still in the work force.?My pictures wont load but that doesnt matter. Whoever that headline picture was.. shes naturally beautiful anyway.. as are many others. WHY dont these people realise.. showbiz seems to demand everyone wears make do`s .. yes, when in front of cameras and lights.. but normally.. I know of many women who seem to think they NEED makeup when really, they dont? Its the pressure of media.. making them think that way.?Independent UK:Early this year, armed with a high dose of inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit, the design graduate opened a boutique in Lyon offering a full range of doggie outfits - sailor-sweaters, leather jackets, denim and lace dresses.The move won her a special fashion award, handed her by high-end lingerie queen Chantal Thomass, which will be enough to cover the rent for the boutique for a year. ?It must be eco-school day. This morning, we wrote about a contest for , and now we come across Celine Cousteau -- that's Jacques Cousteau's granddaughter -- saying kids ought to be taught environmentalism at a young age.It's part of a longer interview in which she discusses what she's up to. , or check out the salient parts below:What would you advise parents who want to educate their children about environmental issues during their travels?First of all, I don't understand why environmentalism isn't part of every curriculum in schools. You teach biology, so why not make that connection for the kids? In terms of travel planning, I would really pay attention to where you choose to go and teach the kids why you decided to bring them to a particular place: because they compost, because they have solar panels, because they have educational eco programs, etc. The consumer demand has to be the driving force for places to go green.What are some eco-focused kid's programs you would recommend?Not just to plug my father's non-profit, but I really do think the Jean-Michel Cousteau "Ambassadors of the Environment" ( programs are really great for kids. And they've been really successful in promoting awareness and educating. At the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, for instance, they launched the kid's program but soon the parents started coming along, so they had to expand the program. Another place I have heard about is a program called Green Chimneys (, based in Brewster, NY, where city-kids learn about nature and the environment. Clean up the World ( is another program I am involved in as ambassador; they have tangible programs with partners around the world and anyone can get involved. ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?Click here to leave a comment.HuffPost High School welcomes a lively, thoughtful debate in the comment section. Keep in mind that the articles here are penned by young authors, so please keep criticism respectful, and help us to keep this a safe and supportive place for writers of all ages to contribute.?I'm so drained, I can't get up off the floor -- and her voice is killing me. She has got to stop acting as if everything she does, including fa h r t in our faces on a daily basis with news of this "pregnancy, " (personally, I just think it's old age bloat :) should make the world stop and listen up.Earth to Celine: disappear! Great voice, but wayyyyyyy too immersed in her universe.?AP -- Singer Celine Dion has cancelled several upcoming concerts in Las Vegas because of a virus.Caesars Palace officials say her doctor advised her to rest for a week to recover from the virus, which caused an inflammation of her vocal cords. Shows scheduled for Friday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled at the resort's Colosseum.Her next scheduled concert there is March 3.Dion, in a statement, said she doesn't "like to let people down," and she feels terrible about not being able to perform at the shows. Refunds will be given to people who bought tickets.Caesars spent $95 million to build the Colosseum for Dion in 2003, complete with a humidifier to protect her voice ?Celine Dion is just like us. When times get tough, she turns to for comfort too.Over the weekend, the covered Adele during her concert in Las Vegas. "I love Adele so much. She's amazing," Dion said, before launching into the British singer's No. 1 hit, Of course it's hard not to love Adele, but after , she probably has a newfound kinship with the 24-year-old. late last year to repair a hemorrhaged vocal chord.The show marked Dion's first stage appearance since recovering from her vocal cord virus. The 36-performance run continuing through August 19.Check out photos of Adele:Related on HuffPost:?Her husband just mentioned the names of their twins during a Quebec TV special. Nelson, in honor of Nelson Mandela who they met a few years ago and Eddy, for Eddy Marnay, a French songwriter born in Alger with who Celine made 5 albums at the start of her career in the 80s, and who died a few years ago.?I knew about the 12 & 18 thingy. She has explained it all in interiews, right down to the details. I really think it really started @ 16.She even talked about how her mom was against this ill-pairing, in the beginning.So, memory does serve me - - HE WAS MARRIED when he started chopping down an 18 yr. old impressionable kid; from the sticks, no less. Tommy Matolla was also married when he pick up the fair maiden, Mariah.And the maiden Mariah was also a child-bride.Unlike Celine, Mariah had that NY moxy & flew the coup.These older dudes love their teen girls. These girls are always looking for love from DADDY.Well, I like Celine, she's funny 'cause she has that ego. I love her Larry King interviews. The ego thingy works for her, simply because she is NOT the "10" in the room - so, it's OK.So..... "My heart will go on."Health & happiness to your little bundles, Ce-ce.?Celine Dion showed up at Sunday night's Oscars looking totally stylish on the red carpet. The songstress donned a long-sleeved Armani Prive gown paired with a chunky necklace.Check out her look and tell us if you agree.**Check out our and lists.** ?THE CANADIAN PRESS -- TORONTO - A website developer says he's shutting down a blog he runs called Ridiculous Pictures of Celine Dion after getting a cease-and-desist notice from the Montreal chanteuse's lawyers.Nick Angiolillo, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., says he immediately took down the content from his blog after receiving the notice July 14.The only post that remains on the site is a notice to readers that he had to shut it down."The cease-and-desist notice I received from Celine's lawyers was likely not initiated by Celine herself," Angiolillo, 26, wrote in an email to The Canadian Press."I don't really blame Celine -- I doubt she even knows any of this is happening."The blog had images and videos of Dion that Angiolillo found online through Google searching. The images spanned several decades of her career and highlighted everything from her fashion choices to her costumes and funny facial expressions.Angiolillo also provided commentary or edited the images for comedic effect.He said he started the blog several months ago because he loves Dion."I am a legitimate fan of her music and her persona and I think she's honestly a very good and caring person," he said. "The blog was embraced by the Celine Dion fan community early on, and they even contributed to it."There were some sour people who thought it was made to mock her, but I and most of the fans never saw it that way. If you've seen Celine's documentary 'Celine: Through the Eyes of the World' you would know she has a great sense of humor and is always the first one to laugh at herself."The blog never once slandered or implied anything negative about Celine."Angiolillo said he complied with the cease-and-desist notice because he simply doesn't have the time or energy to get in a back-and-forth legal discussion.A representative for Dion did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.___Online: ?LAS VEGAS -- Singer Celine Dion has canceled more shows at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace, citing a virus causing an inflammation of her vocal cords.Christi Nelson, an official with show producer AEG Live, said Tuesday that the French-Canadian pop superstar has been ordered to rest her voice for six to eight weeks and will resume performances June 9."I tried to sing at my sound check last week, and I had no control of my voice whatsoever," Dion said in a statement. "We thought that after a few days' rest I would improve, but it wasn't getting any better."Officials announced last weekend that Dion was canceling shows through March 3. On Monday, she was diagnosed with a viral illness and weakness in her right vocal cord by Dr. Gerald Burke, an authority in laryngeal physiology at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.The singer of romantic odes including "My Heart Will Go On" and "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" returned to Caesars Palace a year ago for a three-year engagement.The Las Vegas Strip casino spent $95 million building the Colosseum for Dion in 2003, complete with a humidifier to protect her voice. After a five-year run at the casino, she embarked on a world tour and took time off for her family, giving birth to twin boys in 2010.Tickets to the new show in Las Vegas sell for up to $250 apiece.Dion said the doctor assured her she'll be "back to 100 percent" after resting her voice, but she said she's disappointed by the cancellations."Obviously this is the worst thing for a singer ... not being able to do your shows," she said. "I feel worse knowing that I'm disappointing my fans. I'm so sorry ... I hope they forgive me."Also on HuffPost: ?LAS VEGAS — Singer Celine Dion has canceled several upcoming concerts in Las Vegas because of a virus.Caesars Palace officials say her doctor advised her to rest for a week to recover from the virus, which caused an inflammation of her vocal cords. Shows scheduled for Friday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday were canceled at the resort's Colosseum.Her next scheduled concert there is March 3.Dion, in a statement, said she doesn't "like to let people down," and she feels terrible about not being able to perform at the shows. Refunds will be given to people who bought tickets.Caesars spent $95 million to build the Colosseum for Dion in 2003, complete with a humidifier to protect her voice?Celine Dion has made her mark on the pop world, to be sure - with some of the world's best-selling hits to her name. But is she really wise to pit herself against the all-conquering Adele, offering up her own version of Rolling in the Deep for inevitable comparison with the London star? Well, for whatever reason - whether it's to remind her fans that she can still cut it for crowds beyond Las Vegas, or just to keep herself interested after nearly two decades at the top - Ms Dion has put it out there. See what you think - Celine's version is up top, while the original is here below, in case you needed reminding... is there a better version, or 'just different'? Let us have your thoughts... ?NEW YORK — Celine Dion has given birth to twin boys, finally realizing her dream of being a mother again after a long struggle to become pregnant.A statement released by St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., said that the 42-year-old superstar singer delivered the boys Saturday afternoon. One boy weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces, while the other weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces. No names have been announced.Dion and her husband-manager, Rene Angelil, are already the parents of one son, 9-year-old Rene Charles. But Dion had long wanted to have more children, and, like with her first child, she had difficulty becoming pregnant. She has spoken openly about her struggles, undergoing several rounds of in-vitro fertilization.Last year, after information leaked that she was pregnant, she confirmed the news, only to learn that the in vitro procedure was not successful. She had to issue a reversal weeks later.In an interview earlier this year, Dion said she hoped that by publicly sharing her struggle, she could help others."If I help people through my voice, through my interviews, through what I go through, I do not want to change that at all," she said. "I think it's making a difference."The boys came a month early. Dion was due to deliver next month, but earlier this week, it was announced that she was hospitalized as a precaution to make sure she was near her doctors as she prepared to give birth.Dion, a five-time Grammy winner who has sold tens of millions of albums, announced earlier this year that she would be returning to Las Vegas for a three-year run at Caesar's Palace. She had a hugely successful five-year run in Las Vegas that ended in 2007.___Online: ?Click here to leave a comment.HuffPost High School welcomes a lively, thoughtful debate in the comment section. Keep in mind that the articles here are penned by young authors, so please keep criticism respectful, and help us to keep this a safe and supportive place for writers of all ages to contribute.?I'm glad the pregnancy is going well for Celine. She is having the children of the man she loves and regardless of her husband's age, she is happy and I hope everything works out for this family and the new additions to their family bring so much joy that it become contagious to all their friends and family.?**UPDATE**Celine will keep trying to get pregnant, husband Rene Angelil told the Canadian paper Journal de Montreal (via ). Their fertility doctor believed that the IVF procedure in August had been successful, but they found out a few days later it was not. Another attempt in October also failed to take. But they're trying again this weekend, Rene said: "I admire all the women who go through such a tough process. Since April, she has undergone numerous examinations, multiple hormone injections and blood tests," Angelil told the paper, revealing the couple will go to New York this weekend for a third try. "Celine and I didn't get discouraged ... we put our faith in life and in the stars."__Sad news for Celine Dion, who in August to be pregnant with . Dion, 41, had embryos frozen for in-vitro fertilization while trying to conceive her first child, Rene-Charles, now 8.Celine is no longer expecting, reports: In unfortunate news for Celine Dion and her husband Rene Angelil, the singer is no longer pregnant, a source close to the family tells In Touch. "While she and Rene are actively trying for a baby, she is not currently expecting," the friend says. In August, a rep for the "My Heart Will Go On" star confirmed her pregnancy, while reports surfaced that she used fertility treatments to expand her family. Celine and Rene have an 8-year-old son, Rene-Charles.Get HuffPost Entertainment On and ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?I think Celine is absolutely right and very relevant in what she's saying. This issue certainly needs to be addressed. The problem is when you have so much to give and people can make money on you, then some don't give a damn about the person behind the artist, they'll do almost anything to keep the "machine" going. Some just wants and wants and wants... and then they want a little more. Just take a look at what some of the socalled fans said after having been to one of Whitney's concerts on the "Nothing but love" tour. Some said that she couldn't entertain a dead rat, others wanted their money back. Whatever happened to actually give credit to Whitney that she emerged from her troubles though scared. But what people did the most was nothing but complain about her weakened voice and even much worse things. Let's just be thankful for what Whitney actually gave all of us and give credit to the woman for actually going on the stage to perform. What a huge amount of courage that showed. Celine Dion did not disrespect Whitney in any way. On the contrary. She just pinpointed some really serious costs showbiz has for you if you're aren't strong enough.?This is Celine Dion like you've never seen her before. In all posing topless and bottomless, in leather and in feathers, in bunny ears and knee-high boots. This is surely a sexier side than the normally-demure singer typically shows. SCROLL FOR PHOTOS"Im like this in my real life," . "I was scared a little bit because this was so different for me, but Im glad I did it. Usually theres always a reason when I do a photo shoot, theres not the opportunity to go crazy. With this it was two in the morning and I was still jumping on the trampoline. In the house, in my normal life, we are always playing. It doesnt seem this way on stage, but Im playing a lot.This pictorial marks in six years. She opened the doors to her Florida home and shed some clothes, revealing her true self to the world for what may be the very first time. Despite all the fame and success, Dion's most beloved role is being a mom. but now has three children. Her first son with husband Rene Angelil, Ren-Charles, was born in January 2001. In October 2010, she gave birth to fraternal twins, Eddy and Nelson. I thought I had a life before, but until I was a mom, I had no idea," she told the magazine. "Why would I want a hit? Why would I want to win awards? There is nothing I can hope and wish for my career: I can just hope to be blessed as a mother for the rest of my life the way I am now. Thats the only nomination I want.V Magazine's September issue features another hot mom on its cover: Nicole Kidman. Kidman, opposite Zach Efron raised eyebrows, and shows off her bare bum.The 45-year-old actress also said that people don't get to see the "outlandish" side to her."I dont really make decisions, I go with the flow," she told V Magazine. "If I were a strategically minded person, I think I would have a far different career. But I would be more outlandish if I could. A lot of times you just dont get the chance."Also on HuffPost:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?First of all, I am entitled to my OPINION.Second of all; she didn't conceive 'naturally'... used fertility clinic and frozen embryos. Husband is probably WAY too old to have many decent viable sperm left anyhow- he's pushing 70, for godssakes. Third of all, why did she wait until she was 41 yrs old? There will be 8 years or more between her children. Why didn't she do this when she was 35? Didn't want to interfere with her astounding career? Please..... Adoption would have been more sensible and more helpful for the children already here without families and love they deserve. Again, IMO.?I think it was good planning on her part. Smart gal. There are lots of women who are delaying motherhood, and frankly doing a great job of it, being financially stable, emotionally mature, more life experience, to bring to the role. Of course, the drawback is that unlike males, who make "new" sperm all the time, women are born with their eggs, and they age. Go for it if you can, and want to. I bet lots more women will chose this route in the coming years.?LOS ANGELES Celine Dion's struggle to have one more baby has more than paid off. She's pregnant with two.Publicist Kim Jakwerth told The Associated Press in an e-mail Sunday that the 42-year-old Canadian songstress is 14 weeks pregnant with twins, and she plans to find out the sex of the babies next month.Dion and her husband and manager Rene Angelil have one son, 9-year-old Rene Charles.She had undergone several rounds of in-vitro fertilization in an attempt to get pregnant again.The pregnancy was first reported by People Magazine.Dion is working on new albums in English and French, and returns next year to Las Vegas for a three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.LOS ANGELES (AP) – Celine Dion's struggle to have one more baby has more than paid off. She's pregnant with two.Publicist Kim Jakwerth told the Associated Press in an e-mail Sunday that the 42-year-old Canadian songstress is 14 weeks pregnant with twins, and she plans to find out the sex of the babies next month.Dion and her husband and manager Rene Angelil have one son, 9-year-old Rene Charles.She had undergone several rounds of in-vitro fertilization in an attempt to get pregnant again.The pregnancy was first reported by People Magazine.Dion is working on new albums in English and French, and returns next year to Las Vegas for a three-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. ?If Kate Winslet is sick of hearing "," then how does Celine Dion feel? If there's one person who has the right to be tired of the epic love ballad, then it's the "" songstress herself. "'My Heart Will Go On' gave me the opportunity to be associated with a classic that will live forever. If I just count how many times I've sung it, maybe it'll get me sick," said , sympathizing with the "Titanic" actress. "If she feels tired just hearing it, and, like, throwing up, I'm glad she was not the one singing it."Don't expect Winslet to make "My Heart Will Go On" her go-to karaoke song anytime soon. In March, the "Titanic" starlet told MTV that the "I do feel like throwing up. I wish I could say 'Oh listen, everybody! It's the Celine Dion song!' But I don't. I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight-faced with a massive internal eye roll."Winslet continued: "Every time I go into a bar in a hotel where there's a live pianist, or into a restaurant where they're changing their music according to who walks into the door, it's thrilling for people to 'surprise me' with that song.""" is one of the best-selling singles of all time, winning the Academy Award for Best Song in 1998 and selling more than 15 million copies worldwide. At the time of its release in 1998, .PHOTOS: More celebrity feudsRelated on HuffPost:?Just my personal opinion as a woman over 40 who had difficult pregnancies..I would not do this to my body again at this age. I understand wanting a baby but I had to accept that I would not have any more children after my second pregnancy which I was very lucky to get through. I hate to see her putting her body and spirit through this because if she doesn't get pregnant or should get pregnant and lose it shes' going to have the hardest time recovering. I personally thought I would have three children, that's what I always wanted but I came to see how lucky I was to have the two I had. Losing a child in between those two really made me see I was lucky and maybe I shouldn't push it considering the difficult pregnancy (high risk) I had and delivery where my baby stopped breathing. I'd hate to see her go through that.?Wow, this is what moved you to take the time to post? Their first child, Rene Charles, looked like a boy with long hair -- long hair indicative of his father's Syrian heritage. He loved it as he grew up, and chose to keep it long and down by choice. It's since been cut, and he's still the same cute little guy. Please try to climb out of your cultural and gender biases. Or maybe just tone down the nasty a bit. I don't make a habit of applauding anyone for having lots of kids (with the planet already stressed for resources and all), but putting that aside, Celine and Rene' do seem like nice people who actually have a wonderful relationship with the community that is their extended family. I've spoken to some folks who've worked for them, and they speak very highly of their kindness and caring nature.?MONTREAL - Celine Dion saluted the victims of Quebec's election-night shooting by opening a benefit concert Monday night in their honour.Dion, Arcade Fire and Ben Harper headlined a show at the Metropolis in Montreal the same venue where Denis Blanchette was fatally shot on Sept. 4."I want to offer my sincere condolences to Denis' whole family," an emotional Dion told the crowd before singing the first song of the show.Funds raised from the concert supported a trust fund for Blanchette's young daughter.The 48-year-old lighting technician was killed when he was struck by a single bullet at the Parti Quebecois victory rally.Donations were also collected for Dave Courage, the other man hit by the same bullet.After her song, Dion touched her heart and waved to loved ones of the shooting victims, who watched from balconies above the stage.About half a dozen other Quebec musical acts performed after Dion.Premier Pauline Marois also attended the concert.Marois was giving her victory speech on the Metropolis stage when Blanchette and Courage were shot outside the venue just metres away from her.A man arrested in connection with the shooting is to reappear in court on Oct. 11.Richard Henry Bain faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and arson.?MONTREAL - So, it seems Celine Dion is a bit of a deli diva.Maybe that would surprise some considering one of her biggest hits is "My Heart Will Go On," but the pop megastar has a history with smoked meat that extends way beyond her new investment in Schwartz's, Montreal's most famous purveyor of the fatty delicacy.In the old days her hankerings for smoked meat would occasionally take her to the spot across the street from Schwartz's The Main deli which is now, ironically, her competition.That hop-scotching from one smoked-meat joint to the next places Dion in a rich culinary tradition, as Montreal residents have spent countless hours comparing and debating the merits of their city's old-style delis.Which is the most famous? Schwartz's, surely. Which has the longest lineups? Again, Schwartz's. But which serves the best smoked meat? Well, that's a question that has made mouths salivate and had fists pounding a few vinyl tabletops in animated diner conversations."Montreal is one of the greatest deli cities in the world," says David Sax, author of 2009's "Save the Deli," which looked at the phenomenon of delicatessens around the world."There's nowhere that has an abiding sort of passion for Jewish delicatessen in a way that Montreal does. It's certainly on a par with New York, if not in some respects bigger and more deeply ingrained into the culture."Like New York, Montreal was a focal point for early 20th century Jewish immigration and various histories indicate the creators of smoked meat came from Eastern Europe, particularly Romania.The details are vague but some credit Ben Kravitz, who founded Ben's De Luxe Delicatessen in 1910, as the inventor, curing the briskets with methods he remembered from Lithuanian farmers. Others include butcher Aaron Sanft, who made the meat Romanian-style.Until Dion came around, the closest that the dingy Schwartz's got to the glitz of showbiz was a musical based on it, a couple of movies, and the stream of heavyweight entertainers who have sidled up to its timeless counter.Frank Silva, the the eatery's manager since 1999, thinks Dion and Schwartz's go together like, well, smoked meat and rye."Why not?" says Silva with a smile. "She's a Quebec icon and we're a landmark. I think we make a good team."Debates on who serves the best smoked meat can be as passionate as any ever heard in the House of Commons at least to smoked meat lovers.It's Schwartz's, it's Dunn's, it's Lester's, it's The Main, they argue.Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney when he was prime minister, weighed in after he questioned on Twitter whether Schwartz's was the best. Schwartz's was good, he agreed, and the now-defunct Ben's was a favourite of students."But the secret known to only a few mavens is that the Snowdon Deli on Decarie has the best smoked meat sandwich in town (one must ask for the old-fashioned and by no means lean) and the lineups are a lot shorter," he wrote in an email.Francis Morin, an Ottawa resident who has been coming to Schwartz's for the last 30 years, is a fan not only of the thickly stacked sandwiches but also the timeless atmosphere.It's a place that seems untouched by the passing decades, where customers are practically jammed cheek to jowl in tables along the wall, amid furnishings accumulated over generations."The atmosphere, it's unique," said Morin, who always orders the medium-fat sandwich. "It's a fantastic place. I've always said if I have time in Montreal to do just one thing, this is what I do."One man, who declined to be interviewed but said he'd been a judge at numerous local competitions to declare the best smoked meat, gave his nod to Smoke Meat Pete: "You can't beat Pete's meat," he said, invoking the restaurant slogan.Word of Dion's new venture hasn't hurt the competition across the street at her old stomping grounds, says Pete Varvaro, owner of The Main.That's partly because Schwartz's international renown it's currently listed at No. 9 on the Lonely Planet website's list of 660 things to do in Montreal often tends to cause world-class lineups.That can have spillover benefits for the less-famous spot across the street. The last few months, which are usually quiet periods, have been busier than usual, Varvaro said."When they wait in line, they don't want to wait," he said. "So they come and try ours and they like it and they come back."It's been happening for a long time, he adds.Just ask Dion and her husband.Varvaro, whose son owns the Smoke Meat Pete deli, remembers well how a 16-year-old Dion and Rene Angelil would slide into a booth at his place."They used to come in to eat the smoked meat, they liked the baby back ribs," said Varvaro."There was a place that the two of them sat, it was right in the corner," he said. "Very nice person."He noted that Dion drifted off as her fame grew and she got involved in yet another smoked meat-serving venture, the Nickels chain. He said that even though Dion wasn't a regular anymore, she often sent regards through manager Ben Kaye, who has since died.The mystical meat platters of St-Laurent Boulevard have had other prominent admirers.The late author Mordecai Richler humourously described Schwartz's cut in his novel "Barney's Version" as a "maddening aphrodisiac" that should be sold as the "Nectar of Judea."Artistic jack-of-all-trades Leonard Cohen is one of the celebrities who stops by The Main when he's in Montreal and Silva rattles off a list of names that sounds like a Hollywood phone book when he cites some of Schwartz's customers, including Halle Berry "one of my favourites" Angelina Jolie and funnyman Tim Allen.And that's not counting the list of Canadian politicians that have chowed down on smoked meat there and other delis.Paul Martin, when he was prime minister, was a paricularly avid consumer, choosing to mainstreet in Ben's delicatessan during one campaign and bringing bags of Schwartz's sandwiches to passengers on the Liberal plane during another.Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the deli when he was Opposition leader. It was also a campaign stop for the NDP's Jack Layton. Pierre Trudeau was a more regular deli customer, known to wander down from his law office to the now-defunct Ben's.So, about that nagging question: Which one's the best?A sampling of some of Montreal's fabled smoked meat doesn't yield dramatic differences in taste. Spices give some a slightly sweeter flavour, marinating and smoking may give others a peppery tang."It's the brisket," says Silva, of Schwartz's. "We marinate it with home spices a secret blend, of course for 10 days. And we smoke in-house for approximately eight hours. Then we steam it three hours and we hand slice it. Against the grain, very thin and very fast, of course."Diane Bass, co-owner of The Main, says the cutting is key and notes the brisket comes in three parts lean, medium and fat."The grain of the brisket goes different ways. If you have a good smoked meat cutter that knows how to turn his brisket every time he's cutting, it won't get stringy."But Ian Morantz, owner of the Snowdon Deli, has a theory on why Montreal smoked meat is so unique and has never been completely replicated anywhere else: Montreal's water."Water is a big factor in most recipes," he says, explaining that water composes the major part of the pickling brine before the meat is smoked. "Every region has different minerals in its water. It's still clear, pure water but it's not the same water."Baguettes made in Paris taste different than those made in Montreal using the same recipe, he said citing one example. So do Montreal-style bagels made in Toronto."Everything else is the same except that the water they're using is local water and it creates a little different texture, a little different taste." ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?A healthy Celine Dion showed off her growing baby bump on the new cover of Canada's 7 Jours magazine. She is expecting twin boys in November after a long struggle to get pregnant again.Dion, husband Rene Angelil, their son, Rene-Charles, 9, and the family dog grin in the cover photo, released days after the singer rumors that she has had complications. She said she is 'healthy and she feels fantastic.' ?The only thing worse than a wardrobe malfunction is a wardrobe malfunction... down there. Celine Dion surprised audience members at a concert on Friday when she took to the stage in at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in a teeny gold Balmain minidress. The long-sleeve bodice of the dress stayed on, but the short hemline gave show goers sitting below a bit more than they bargained for, . Dion told that "normally when people are level the length [of the dress] is fine. But people were like this (looks up)... So it was like I didn't think of the people downstairs and me there." Whoops. Luckily Celine's confidence wasn't shaken, as the 43-year-old mother of twins is used to braving the stage in barely-there dresses (). She did, however, spend the rest of the Jamaican festival in longer frocks. See Also on HuffPost: ?AP: Celine Dion called it a wrap at Caesars Palace, acknowledging in her final show that pregnancy and poor early reviews almost sank her titanic five-year engagement.As adoring fans cheered, stood and clapped through Saturday night's performance, Dion interspersed her usual numbers with emotion-filled monologues."At one point, it was like feeling like the Titanic was about to sink again," she said. "But we believed and we went on with it. Even though the vibe was not that positive for us."While the show was still in development in 2000, Dion, 39, became pregnant and told husband-manager Rene Angelil she did not want to continue. ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?Celine Dion has unveiled her new fraternal twin boys, Eddy and Nelson, in a .The twins, , had Dion gushing. "They're so cute, it's incredible," she said. "When we look at them we can't believe it, and to have them here at home - it's all we could wish for." "They're feeding every two hours now," she continued. "It's going well. I don't get a lot of sleep, yes, for sure I'm tired, but that's what I want."Dion, who with husband Rene Angelil has a nine-year old son named named Rene-Charles, spent years trying to get pregnant again, going through IVF treatments and suffering a miscarriage. So the couple wanted to give the twins meaningful names."We met with Nelson Mandela and spent some time with him at his house when we started Celine's world tour," Rene said. "Eddy is an homage to Eddy Marnay," he added, referring to the songwriter that wrote Dion's first five albums and died a few years ago.For more from this interview, including Dion's comments on what was supposed to be triplets, .PHOTO: ?Get ready to see Celine Dion as you've never seen her before -- topless, in a bunny mask and wearing a pair of over-sized trousers entirely covered in stuffed animals. No, not all at once, that's just crazy! But Celine did strike various, um, interesting poses for a series of photos in the forthcoming fall issue of V Magazine, on stands Aug. 30?LAS VEGAS -- Singer Celine Dion says she is recovering from a virus that caused an inflammation of her vocal cords and is planning to return to the stage in Las Vegas soon.Dion said in a statement Monday that she received good news last week during a follow-up examination with her doctor in Los Angeles.She says she should be fully recovered by mid-April. That's when she hopes to start recording songs for her new English and French albums.Dion announced last month that she was cancelling her shows at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace until June 9 because of her illness.The singer of romantic odes including "My Heart Will Go On" and "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" returned to Caesars Palace a year ago for a three-year engagement. ?Your theory is not true in all in vitro daughter went through the process at age 32 and only one fertilized egg was implanted. Miss Dion already had one child so her dr prob knew her uterus could hold 3 babies, but not so with 1st timers. Also many times, the decision to 'reduce' the amount of babies has to be made and many women choose to have only one egg implanted so they don't have to make that decision. The dr who implanted 6 eggs into octomom should be charged with a crime. The uterus can rupture resulting in the babies' and/or mother's death. Sadly, my daughter's little embryo didn't make it and the pregnancy ended at 6 weeks; the odds of success are 50/50 and I believe I read Celine underwent the procedure 4 or 5 times to have these babies, at a cost of approx $100,000. Most couple simply can not afford it. My daughter and son-in-law can try it one more time. I've learned a couple has to be strong emotionally to go through the process because it's an emotional roller coaster like nothing I've experienced before. Congratulations to Celine and her husband. I'm so happy it worked for them.?MONTREAL - Celine Dion and Arcade Fire will headline a benefit concert in support of the young daughter of a man killed during Quebec's election-night shooting.The show will take place this coming Monday at the Metropolis the club where Denis Blanchette was fatally shot on Sept. 4.The 48-year-old lighting technician was killed instantly when he was struck by a single bullet at the Parti Quebecois' election-night rally. Another worker was wounded by the same bullet.A man arrested in connection with the incident is to reappear in court on Oct. 11.Richard Henry Bain faces 16 charges, including first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and arson.Tickets for the concert range from $80 to $175, with the money going to a trust fund for Blanchette's daughter.Organizers say funds will also be collected for Dave Courage, the other man hit by the bullet.?MONTREAL - Singer Celine Dion is part of a consortium that has purchased a landmark Montreal restaurant, famous partly for its food and partly for its generations-old decor.The Quebec diva and her husband, Rene Angelil, have teamed up with other investors to buy Schwartz's, a downtown deli.The establishment is famous amongst Montrealers, and tourists, to a certain extent because of its smoked-meat sandwiches but also because of its appeal as a larger-than-average time capsule.Founded in 1928, the St. Lawrence Boulevard shop regularly draws long lineups of tourists eager to grab a seat in a place that looks untouched by the passing decades.In a news release Monday announcing the transaction, Angelil shared his memory of first going to Schwartz's as a young musician in 1961 with his friend and manager, Ben Kaye."I have so many great memories of being there with the guys, and with Celine and our families throughout the years. It's the most unique restaurant in the world and we're thrilled to be a part of it," Angelil said.This won't be the first smoked-meat venture for Dion and Angelil. They have also been partners in Nickels, a chain of retro 1950s diners that sells mostly fast foods including the famous Montreal sandwiches.Without referring to his previous chain venture, Angelil sought to assuage the concerns of any purists that he'll create a similar business model out of Schwartz's, a place immortalized in the literature of Mordecai Richler.Angelil promised not to allow franchises, and to keep the authenticity of the establishment."Of course, we'll make a few improvements as necessary, but we're not interested in diluting the brand by franchising, or making the deli something that it isn't," he said."It's truly one-of-a-kind, and we intend to keep it this way."The group of partners includes Angelil's nephews and the Nakis family, longtime Montreal restauranteursThe sale price was not disclosed. ?NEW YORK — Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson and Usher will pay tribute to the late Whitney Houston in a one-hour TV special."We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston" will tape Oct. 11 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live and will feature performances by Dion, Hudson and Usher. It will air Nov. 16 on CBS.The Recording Academy announced Thursday that the special will also include Houston's "most memorable performances" and interviews with various artists. More performers will be announced.Tickets for the event go on sale Thursday.Houston died at age 48 in February. Authorities called her death an accidental drowning, complicated by heart disease and cocaine use.The compilation album, "I Will Always Love You - The Best of Whitney Houston," will be released on Nov. 13.?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?Yes, there is that too...and I'm sure it plays a huge part--with those savvy enough to use it, particularly those whose careers depend on their looks to a certain degree (because she does have THOSE vocal chords) . But, never forget, there are those with all that, who are tempted to cut corners too. Celine's never been one to take anything in her life for granted. She gives 110%, and that's laudable. Anyway, the point I was going to make originally, (as much as I agree with yours) is that breast-feeding does a lot to help regain your figure--and even make the breasts fuller if you take care of yourself. I breastfed my daughter for two years. Took the advice of an elderly woman on how to care for them, and now they're better than they were before I had her! The miracle of womanhood...?If you want to know how it feels to live like Celine Dion, it'll cost you a bit of money $29,655,500 to be exact.The Canadian songstress is that she and her husband Rene Angelil had custom-built in 2001. The price is steep, but the 24,000 square-foot home is situated on a private island and comes with a bounty of antique furniture.The abode has six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a stone wine cellar with tasting area, an elevator, an in-ground pool (with a pool house, naturally), a grand staircase and games room. And if that's not enough to feast your eyes on, there's also water views and 830,000 square feet of gated, secure private island for the kids to play on.Dion is , Ross McCredie, president and CEO of Sothebys International Canada, told the National Post.It took them a long time to make this decision, he told the National Post. It was a passionate thing for them to make. And in the end, they just havent been using it enough They plan to purchase another home in Montreal thats much smaller.According to a press release, representatives for Dion and Angelil said, ", and as such, she will maintain a residence here."For now, the family have shacked up in their that's decked out with a backyard waterpark.Odds are you don't have $30 million sitting around, but you can check photos of the "once-in-a-lifetime offering" here: ?Her heart may still go on, but her face must cease and desist.The very popular blog, , was forced to shut itself down this week, after the blog's administrators posted the following message:hey yallcline dion found our blog, and she didnt like it. we just got a letter from clines lawyers that the blog has to be shut down.though this blog is well within the realm of fair use, i dont have the money or time to get a lawyer to respond. the dream is over. thanks for following and being a cline superfan? ill always remember u?ill never let go Turns out, Ms. Dion is not a fan of her own face, which is something we never would have guessed.But have no fear, internet! You can still find ridiculous pictures of Celine Dion online, and a few of them are even animated. Check out this from Tabloid Prodigy, or simply Google the phrase, "" or check out featuring she and her husband and their children in a giant bed together. ?people have highlighted this! Huzzah! This text has been highlighted. Highlights is a new way to discover the most interesting text on Huffington Post!?PARIS - True style doesn't try too hard.In spring-summer 2013, designer Phoebe Philo continued the spirit of her alarmingly simple trademark statement.Three years after the lauded Briton's Celine debut, she delivered a collection of subtle, bourgeois elegance evoked in softly architectural silhouettes.Spring is about gentle contradictions, not colour, she seemed to say: Shown through a muted palette of black, white, navy and grey.The real point of the show was the gentle play on contrasting lines, then textures, then form.Loosely hanging silhouettes often with attention to neck details in high necks, bands and twists came in column or boxy shapes, with a couple of black A-line tuxedo-dresses for good measure.The gloss of sheeny silks whispered a contrast against matte fabric.Philo has often been noted for her chic "utilitarian tailoring," which she delivers with uncanny ease.Here we saw it used artistically in hemline frays which turned into tassels, and twisted fabric that wrapped round the back sewn crudely together in a lump.It's a style that wouldn't look out of place on Juliette Binoche, for example, who accepted a best-actress award at Cannes in 2010 in custom Celine.The house is right in fancying themselves as Paris calendar's arty side.When fashion insiders asked to see the mandatory program notes, there were wry smiles as they were handed a text-free book of collage pictures.___Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ / the past month, the Senate National Finance Committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce poured over the Conservative government's 425 page omnibus budget Bill C-38. These committees interviewed dozens of witnesses ranging from government ministers, NGO's, consumer rights groups, think tanks, professors, etc.After hours of committee hearings we were both left with more questions than answers. Above all we saw how the Conservative government was abusing its majority by shoving more than 70 different laws down the throats of Canadians.The Conservatives decided to reserve the same treatment for the provinces. They chose not to consult them and to encroach on their jurisdiction. For example, Bill C-38 adds an enacting clause that will give the federal government more powers in the banking sector and eliminate provincial laws relating to consumer protection.C-38 will also wreak havoc on provincial budgets through measures that will shift costs onto provincial social programs, such as changes the to employment insurance and old age security benefits, and measures that will reduce provincial tax revenues, such as the increase in cross border duty-free shopping limits.The conservatives' abusive majority has made it clear to Canadians that their reformist agenda has no place for social justice. For example, they decided to remove the obligation for federal contractors to respect the Employment Equity Act. By removing employment equity from the Federal Contractors Program's requirements, the Harper government is abandoning women, Aboriginals, disabled persons and visible minorities and destroying decades of social progress.As most Canadians have come to realize, the Conservative government has a problem with opinions that are different from their own. Case in point, Bill C-38 will allow the minister of national revenue to withhold emitting tax receipts of charities deemed to be spending too much on political advocacy and suspend their charitable status if they make errors on their reports to the Canada Revenue Agency. More importantly, the passing of Bill C-38 will allow the Conservatives to use legislation to bully their opponents, reduce their numbers and weaken the quality of democratic debate.Canadians have long stood up against abuses of power around the world; let us not let Stephen Harper do it here. Canadians need to speak out against this government's regressive and archaic laws, and their anti-democratic actions.?I am concerned about sustainable economic development. In Canada, the seal hunt is tightly regulated and sustainable: the Harp seal's population roughly increased from 2 million animals to 10 million in the space of 40 years. As of today, the natural balance of the Atlantic Coast's ecosystem is at risk because of the reduction in hunting, the threat of abolition and the recent overpopulation of the Harp seal. In 2009, experts have come together to propose a that guarantees sustainable seal hunt. As such, I invite you to consult the Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals. A document that is endorsed by the Governments of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories. Regarding the control of animal species, the United States is currently considering repealing the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act to establish a new law called the Controlled Seal Population Plan (CSPP). This law would allow hunters to partake in a seal hunt to control the West Coast's booming sea lion population. In Canada, seal hunters value utilizing this resource to its full potential demonstrating their communities' full commitment to respecting nature. Regarding the market for seal products, demand still exists for such products. Such is the case of chefs who serve seal meat in their restaurants in Quebec. Furthermore, the French Press Agency on February 28th 2012 that Russia was considering allowing the sale ofin an attempt to control the seal population while providing food to its citizens. Finally, I urge you to speak out against the looming extinction of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (total population 150-200 animals). This species has never been publicly defended by animal rights organization opposed to the sustainable Canadian seal hunt. Just like the European Union, the United States, Mexico and Russia.?We remember when a Canadian prime minister spoke of building "a just society." There is no such talk from the federal government today. Instead, we have a government obsessed with punishment, retribution, and prison time. But we will not reduce crime in the long run by putting more people in jail and giving them even longer sentences.The crime rate in Canada is at its lowest level since 1973. Our justice system has been working. Our sentencing system has found a balance between punishment, deterrence, and the rehabilitation of offenders -- and the evidence is clear: it has worked to reduce crime. But evidence such as statistics, expert opinions, and hard facts about what has been working and what hasn't in the past decades have been pushed aside by the Conservatives. Driven by ideology over facts, they are pressing forward with Bill C-10, "," which will increase the number of mandatory minimum sentences and make the Youth Criminal Justice Act even more repressive. Let us be clear: Bill C-10 won't prevent crime, and in fact may lead to more crime and less public safety.The overwhelming majority of studies show that prison does not lower recidivism rates among criminals -- in fact, the longer one spends in prison, the higher the likelihood of re-offending. We know that prison can serve as a school of crime -- where young people find protection in gangs when they never were a gang member before, and where first-time offenders can turn into hardened criminals. Studies conclude we should reserve incarceration for the sole purpose of punishing and selectively incapacitating those who pose the greatest risk to society. Indeed, rehabilitation programs are more effective in reducing repeat offenders.Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change our approach.The government's obsessive desire to impose adult sentences on young offenders goes against the expert opinion of Canada's legal and medical communities. They are clear that it is crucial to consider a young offender's personal situation when they are facing criminal charges. Moreover, this will be costly for taxpayers. The Harper government has refused to provide a full costing of its so-called "tough on crime" agenda. The estimates we have seen from other sources put the cost in the billions of dollars -- the Institut de Recherche et d'Informations Socio-conomiques (IRIS) recently estimated the cost at some $19 billion. Conservatives are hypocritically asking Canadians to tighten their belts while at the same time they are going on a spending spree with taxpayer's money. Liberal Senators will be proposing amendments to this Bill, but given the Conservatives' majority in the Senate, there is little chance that they will be adopted.This is regrettable because as Justice Minister Fournier has said, Bill C-10 is not tough on crime, but rather tough on democracy. With this legislation, the Harper government is showing once again that its attachment to democratic principles is not very strong.This post was co-authored by the following senators: Hon. Romo Dallaire, Hon. Dennis Dawson, Hon. Pierre De Ban, P.C., Hon. Cline Hervieux-Payette, P.C., Hon. Serge Joyal, P.C., Hon. Paul Massicotte? and Hon. Charlie Watt.?For this year's World Press Freedom Day, I spoke in the chamber to assure the Canadian public that the fundamental principles of journalism are being respected.Allow me to refer to the code of conduct of the Fdration professionnelle des journalistes du Qubec to outline the fundamental values of journalism in Canada.We know that journalists' work must be based on the critical thinking that pushes them to question everything, the impartiality that pushes them to do their research, and report on the various aspects of a situation, the independence that keeps them at arm's length from power and lobby groups, the honesty that makes them stick to the facts, and a number of other principles.In the collective agreement between CBC/Radio-Canada and the Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada, which expires on September 30, 2012, it is agreed that in order to fulfill the mandate given to the corporation by Parliament through the Broadcasting Act, CBC/Radio-Canada staff members will report factually, and without intent to deceive the public. The parties recognize that the primary professional obligations of the corporation, and of its employees are toward the public, which is entitled to news, and information that is impartial, complete, factual, and balanced -- that is from section 47.2 of the agreement.On December 21, 2011, the Conservative government imposed a type of "pledge of allegiance" on all federal institutions through a so-called values and ethics code. The code describes the values and behaviours expected of public officials in all activities related to the performance of their professional duties. This so-called code was established by the Treasury Board, in accordance with section 5 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.In this regard, it must be stated that under the Broadcasting Act, CBC/Radio-Canada staff are not subject to the so-called values and ethics code. Although the corporation is a federal institution, section 44(3) of the Broadcasting Act states that staff members are not officers, or servants of Her Majesty.In fact, under section 46(5), the corporation shall, in pursuit of its objects, enjoy freedom of expression, and journalistic, creative, and programming independence. Therefore, CBC staff enjoy an exception and are not subject to the values and ethics code.Finally, CBC/Radio-Canada adopted a new code of ethics on April 2, 2012, to introduce guidelines for standards of integrity, and professional conduct for its staff. This new code is a serious threat to the independence of the public broadcaster and its workers. Section 1.2 of the code states that CBC/Radio-Canada staff must loyally carry out the decisions of their leaders, and support ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians. And there is obviously no exception for the opposition.The Conservative government, and the new CBC/Radio-Canada code of ethics violate the principles of independence, and impartiality that are so closely associated with the profession of journalism, and are a serious threat to the preservation of Canadian democracy, where freedom of the press is a fundamental value enshrined in our Constitution.?Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change that approach.?COUTANCES, France A 38-year-old woman acknowledged Monday killing six of her newborns, whose corpses were found in plastic bags in her basement, at the opening of a chilling trial in northwest France.Celine Lesage faces life in prison if convicted by the jury in the courthouse in Valognes, near the Atlantic coast, on charges of aggravated homicide.Lesage bowed her head and avoided the gaze of those present in the courtroom while the charges were read. Afterward, she said in a soft voice, "I acknowledge the facts."Chief Judge Herve Locu pressed her to find out whether the babies had been stillborn or born alive.After repeated questioning, Lesage responded: "They were alive."She was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time discovered the corpses in plastic garbage bags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes.Her lawyer Veronique Carre said Lesage "does not contest the facts ... but isn't explaining them either." Several medical and psychological experts are expected to testify in the four-day trial."We are here to try to understand you before judging you," the judge told Lesage at the trial Monday.During questioning by investigators, Lesage acknowledged strangling two of the newborns and suffocating four others, according to judicial documents. The babies were born between 2000 and 2007.She told investigators that the father of five of the newborns was ex-boyfriend Pascal Catherine, who was detained for questioning after Lesage was arrested in 2007. She said the father of the sixth newborn was the partner who discovered the corpses, Luc Margueritte, a plaintiff in this week's trial.At the time of her arrest, prosecutor Michel Garrandaux said she described giving birth to the first five alone in the apartment she shared with Catherine, her boyfriend at the time. Garrandaux said the boyfriend "was far from unaware" of her pregnancies. However, the investigation against him was dropped. He will testify as a witness Tuesday.The prosecutor contends that when Lesage and boyfriend Catherine split up in 2006, Lesage moved in with her new boyfriend, and brought the plastic bags from her old basement to her new one.Lesage has a 14-year-old son.Her trial comes after a more highly-publicized case involving a Frenchwoman convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children. Veronique Courjault's husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer while the two were living in South Korea. During the trial psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a psychological condition known as "pregnancy denial."Germany also has seen a string of similar cases. In one, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border. ?Yon__Ye: ray ban ã?µã?³ã?°ã?©ã?¹ã?®æ?°ä½?ã?¯æ¯?æ??ã?«ã??ç?ºè¡¨ã??ã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ç?¹ã?«ã?«ã??ã?³ã??ã??ã?¬ã?¤ã??ã?³ RB2132ã?¯ä»?大人æ°?ã?ã??ã??ã?§ã??ã??ã??ã?¬ã?¼ã?ã?¯æ?°ã??ã?ªã??ã?¶ã?¤ã?³ã?«ä»?ä¸?ã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã??ã?¬ã?¼ã?ã?®ã?©ã?¤ã?³ã?¯ç´°ã??ã?ªã?£ã?¦ã??ã?ªã?·ã?£ã?¬ã?«è¦?ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã?»ã??ã?®ã?¬ã?¤ã??ã?³ ã?¢ã??ã?«ã??ã??ã?£ã?¨ç´æ?µã?§ã??ã??ã??ã???Ever since became the creative director at in 2008, the French fashion house has become one of the most highly-regarded brands. Known for minimalist clothing and accessories, Celine's leather bags and shoes have appeared on everyone from to . But the has us scratching our heads, especially when it came . Unlike the wood platforms and nude-colored loafers of previous seasons, Celine's latest collection featured blue, red, lilac and yellow furry stilettos, shoes with trompe-l'oeil toes and sandals that remind us of those Adidas slip-ons that are a mainstay by pools everywhere. Check out the craziest shoes from in the slideshow below, and keep clicking through for more outrageous footwear from fashion week so far:Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .?Scroll down for pictures.Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez reprised their roles as designing-community's darlings at Monday night's Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards, receiving the prize for Womenswear Designer of the Year. The duo adds this season's statue to their 2003 CFDA Swarovski Award for new talent, their 2007 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award and their 2009 CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year Award. Still, McCollough told The Huffington Post that their newest accolade came as "a surprise. It was so nerve-wracking, the whole build-up to it. It just gets more and more terrifying as each year passes. You think you'd kind of get a little more comfortable with it, but it's quite the opposite." McCollough added: "It's just nice to be recognized by your peers and your industry. It's such a small little world and to get the admiration from the people you work with every day and see and the people you admire, there's nothing better than that, really."Muses Chloe Sevigny and Liv Tyler were on hand to sing the pair's praises. When asked what set the two designers apart from the other nominees, Sevigny pinpointed "their attitude towards the whole thing, their youth and vitality, their love of women and their sophisticated style and taste." Tyler, who hitched a ride with McCollough and Hernandez to the evening's festivities, remarked, "When we see each other, we always bond and have a lot of fun together. And I think they're very talented and very nice people." Take a look at pictures from the 2011 CFDA Awards and scroll down to keep reading.McCollough and Hernandez's simultaneous enthusiasm and loss for words was perhaps overshadowed by a turquoise wig- and spike thong-clad Lady Gaga, who swung by to demonstrate her own fashion-icon status. She told the crowd that when Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour texted her with the good news that she'd won the CFDA Fashion Icon Award, Gaga mistook her for another Anna in her phone book, "so my reply was, 'Yes, b*tch, we did it!'""I got a reply that said, 'How lovely,'" Gaga quipped.The songstress' speech also strayed toward the sentimental. "I just wanted to tell you how much this award means to young American people," she said. "My fans, some of them don't know who they are and they have so much trouble. They come to the Monster Ball to find who they are and they wake up in the morning and it's that leather jacket that makes them feel like they can be anyone. Or it's that YSL blazer that they saw in the window that makes them feel like they could be president one day. Fashion means so much to them. It's really hard to talk about ... I always felt like I had made it before I had made it because of all of you, because it was all of you that made me feel like I was a star."Also swapping beats for talk of handbags was one Kanye West, who presented Celine Creative Director Phoebe Philo with the International Award. West confessed, "I happen to be the biggest fan of everyone in this room. Those times I go to and I click, and those times I don't get into the shows, there's no show that I would like to click more than the Celine show." Philo, for her part, kept things short, simply thanking the crowd, cooing, "It's a real honor to be receiving this here tonight. It means a huge amount to me."And Marc Jacobs accepted the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, re-dubbed the "Half-Lifetime Achievement Award," from Sofia Coppola. The designer thanked his entire team, saying, "While it is wonderful to be recognized and receive this acknowledgment of our past triumphs, I believe we all know and feel that the greatest reward is the process itself, the doing, the giving, the growing and the sharing it all with others. This statue may serve as a great reminder of where we've been, but it is here in my heart that I look forward to where we have still to go and what we will get to achieve together."Michael Kors told HuffPost Style, "I'm thrilled for Marc. We've known each other our whole lives and no one has more talent, has worked harder, seen it all and, you know, last year it was me, this year it's him. I feel like we're all coming of age. I think it's amazing. It's only the beginning." Alexander Wang, who bagged Accessory Designer of the Year, said, "It's such an honor ... to even just have my name alongside names such as Marc's is enough of an acknowledgment for me. He was my first internship, one of the main reasons I even wanted to work in fashion, so I pinched myself when [I realized I'd] even come here and be a part of this."Rounding out the major honors was the Media Award in honor of journalist Eugenia Sheppard, received by the fashion director of the Telegraph, Hilary Alexander, who is set to retire this year. "Firstly, I'm hugely honored," she gushed. "Secondly, I feel that I'm getting it not just for myself but for the entire British fashion industry and British fashion journalism. And I hope that it reflects the huge passion that I have for fashion and I know that is something that we all share."Paper magazine Editorial Director Mickey Boardman told HuffPost, "Hilary has such personality, she has such personal style and when someone has been involved in fashion as long as she has and they have such a point of view, it's hard to lose somebody like that. It takes a lifetime to build up that kind of knowledge and that kind of point of view. Plus, she's just fun, although I wish she would quit smoking because it's just bad for her ... You know, she's a real writer, she's not someone who's like, 'Oh, I love fashion, oh, I want to get into the Alexander Wang sample sale.' She goes to all of the shows. She writes about designers who aren't necessarily 'the hot designer,' but she writes about what she thinks should be written about. So she's a real journalist. She's not just a fashion journalist, she's a journalist."Other award recipients included: Michael Bastian, Menswear Designer of the Year; Prabal Gurung, Swarovski Award for Womenswear; Robert Geller, Swarovski Award for Menswear; Eddie Borgo, Swarovski Award for Accessory Design; Hal Rubenstein, The Founders Award; Arthur Elgort, Board of Directors' Special Tribute. Nadja Swarovski also received a statue to fete the tenth anniversary of Swarovski's support of the event. ?Chaka Khan's got her groove back. The sultry singer and is in the studio working on some new hits to add to her already large repertoire. And even before she revealed her newly slim figure, she says, .Now fans can aspire to be half as sexy as Chaka with the singer's new fragrance line, Khana Sutra. We know what you're thinking; the last thing we need is another celebrity touting a perfume. But this is Chaka we're talking about, and there "ain't nobody" like this soulful crooner. If her fragrance line is anything like the steamy Indian lovemaking tome its named after, we are definitely on board. The line includes perfume, candles and "Chakalates" for her sweet toothed fans. Will Chaka's fragrance make every woman smell like a diva, even through the fire? We certainly hope so. Here's a look at other celebs with signature scents:?Now that Celine Dion has ended her wildly successful run of nearly five years in Las Vegas, put out a new album and laid plans for a new world tour, it seems an appropriate time to pose the following question. What should an objective observer say about this megastar, who is as loathed by music critics as she is adored by her fans? First, a personal disclosure: besides being a professional writer and former Time magazine senior editor, I am a fan of Celine. I was the first major American journalist to write about her, back in 1994. In 1996, I put her on the cover of Time International, and in a sign that I was getting too close to the rising star, she sent me a Christmas card that year. If a music writer denies ever becoming a fan of some artists, then he or she is lying. Anyway, my professional dalliance with Celine ended abruptly in 1998, when I wrote an article in Time Canada that criticized her album, "Let's Talk About Love." Her collaborations with such older performers as Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees were, I wrote, strange "duets with dinosaurs." That was the last time I was invited to interview Celine. Of course, I was not the only one to turn on Celine. Critics dismissed her as soon as they noticed her. When a performer becomes extremely popular -- and particularly popular with "low brows" (middle-class schlubs) - the intelligentsia really sharpen their knives. Celine became the definition of unhip and a running joke on Saturday Night Live. My friend and former Time music critic, Christopher John Farley, was especially insulting and oblivious of Celine's popular appeal. If you read Chris's writing and nothing else, you would have to conclude that Hootie and the Blowfish became bigger stars than Celine. I never made it to Celine's Vegas show. Now I'm sorry I didn't because I just saw a video of the show, which was screened in movie theaters around the U.S. this week. Even as a long-time Celine watcher, I was amazed by what I saw. I now see why the Vegas extravaganza was such a huge success. Which leads me to two sure-to-be-scoffed-at assertions:1. Celine Dion is the hardest working performer in show business history. (I'm sorry, Mr. Brown, in rock 'n' roll heaven above.)2. No other star has ever put on as big a show for her fans as Celine.Notice that I didn't say the "best" show. That's a matter of taste. Over-the-top spectacle is not for everyone. For a Springsteen fan, listening to Bruce and the E Street Band just sing and play for a couple of hours must be the closest thing to heaven on earth. But some people want more for their hundreds of dollars per seat. They are delighted to have a show as well as a concert.For her show, Celine hired the Cirque du Soleil folks to create a hybrid between a pop concert and circus phantasm. Her nerve and ambition -- some would say ego and self-importance -- boggled the mind. She mastered 90 minutes of intricate choreography with dozens of dancers and musicians while the costumes and sets were constantly changing. How good it was is a matter of opinion, but the crowd always roared and no one left Caesar's Palace feeling gypped. Celine tried harder than anyone ever has to please her fans. It was Madonna times five. I get exhausted just thinking about what Celine has done for the last five years. Sinatra never sold out the same theater for years running. Maybe Bruce could, but he would never try. To do it, you have to consider putting on a show to be the most important thing in your life.I wonder if the critics will ever properly acknowledge Celine's place in show business history. This week's New York Times article, while not written by a critic, is a start. But there is much more to be said.I'm not arguing that Celine is the greatest singer. She's not even my personal favorite. And she's not necessarily the greatest recording artist just because she has sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide, more than almost anyone else.What is undeniable, though, is that she is the Barnum and Bailey of pop music. And she will retain that title at least until someone dares to try to stop her. In the realm of putting on shows, she became bigger than Sinatra. Bigger than Streisand. Bigger than the Stones. Bigger than Springsteen. That's not fan talk. That's simply a fact.?A Kent man who made his neighbours' lives a misery by repeatedly blasting out power ballads - by the likes of Celine Dion (pictured), Chris de Burgh a...?Ooooh goodness. Christina Aguilera had us on the edge of our seats during waving her arm and turning side to side in a dress so low cut we thought we were in for an on-air nip slip, . Although honestly, this near-slip was more reminiscent of . Like Lopez that night, Aguilera wore a plunging gown whose deep V-neckline cut right across her chest. When Lopez presented her award at the Oscars, . with Chris Mann on last night, viewers also came close to seeing something they shouldn't have. While on-screen presence of before, we were unsure why the initial conversation began -- girl's got boobs, people. Get over it. But last night she came close to giving people . Watch the video above, making sure to hold your breath every time Christina raises her arm up (at least that's what we did). PHOTOS:See more celebrity wardrobe malfunctions: ?It's been a tough last year for Christina Aguilera. But then, it's not like she hasn't dealt with worse.The 30-year old singer takes , opening up about a series of unfortunate events she's suffered over the last year, the childhood pain she still carries, and how she keeps her head up through it all. Not surprisingly, the coping starts with a song.I felt caged by my childhood. And unsafe: Bad things happened in my home; there was violence," she confessed to the magazine. "'The Sound of Music' looked like a form of release. I would open my bedroom window to sing out like Maria. In my own way, Id be in those hills.It was her Grammy-winning voice that brought her trouble on the biggest stage of the world last February, when she at the Super Bowl.Everything on the field at the Super Bowl was vividly bright, and I was having a moment, Aguilera said about that embarrassing mistake. I got lost in the emotion of being there and I messed up the lyrics to the song.She took it well, though; while she knew that it'd get major play in the media, she tried to laugh it off.I went to dinner after the Super Bowl with Matt and I laughed about how Id made myself into a Trivial -Pursuit question: In 2011 what female singer flubbed the lyrics to the national anthem?" she remembered.The Matt, of course, is Matthew Rutler, her new boyfriend. She met him on the set of and soon after, announced , Jordan Brattman. To hear her tell the story, the split was mutual -- and mutually sinful.At one time or another, -Aguilera she said, alluding to affairs, "we were both not angels. It got to a point where our life at home was reminding me of my own childhood. I will not have my son grow up in a tension--filled home. I knew there would be a negative reaction in the press to my divorce, but I am not -going to live my life because of something someone might say. That goes against everything I sing on my records. I have to be myself.And speaking of "Burlesque," in which she, for the first time, wasn't playing herself, she doesn't regret making the movie, even if it failed. Because she didn't.I was sad, but Im still glad that I did the movie, she said about the film. During production, I was going through a lot of self-discovery. As a quote-unquote pop star, you have your entourage with you at all times. When you enter and leave a place, backstage, even at homeyou always have your team. On the movie set, I didnt have anyone around me. And it felt good. When I first met my husband, I needed that -helping hand to take the reins and look after me. After the movie, I grew out of being that little girl: I became more of an adult.Now one of four judges on "The Voice," Aguilera is experiencing success once again. Good thing she spent all that time singing to "The Sound of Music" -- it not only trained that award winning voice, but helped her learn to fight through the tough times.In fact, she just That being said, the real life nasty times may be over. At least for now.Additionally, Aguilera launched a new perfume on Wednesday, the .For more, . ?It was the height of irony as the Costa Concordia started going down.A passenger has revealed that the Celine Dion song "My Heart Will Go On," made famous by the 1997 film "Titanic," was playing in one of the ill-fated cruise ship's restaurants at the very moment the ship's hull was ripped open.Swissman Yannick Sgaga that he and his brother were dining when the Concordia , starting an evacuation that Sgaga called "a demonstration of incompetence, recklessness and irresponsibility.""The images from the film 'Titanic' are more realistic than you'd think," Sgaga told the Tribune. "I couldn't get them out of my head."It's unclear in which of the Concordia's restaurants Sgaga and his brother were dining or if any other passengers heard the sickeningly ironic soundtrack. But many other passengers have said the evacuation was bungled at best, with and .Related on HuffPost: ?Soooo ... on Mother's Day I'm supposed to wake up to lumpy pancakes, handmade cards, and a general, overall worshipful sense in the household that without me everyone would be river orphans. If this doesn't happen, I pretend not be offended, and stoically -- indeed dismissively, in the most good-humoured way -- say that Mother's Day is of no consequence, and it is entirely made up by the Hallmark people to sell cards and other guilt-induced impulse merchandise.Then, people die.Father's Day is different, right? As my husband each year asserts, not only is it a holiday entirely made up by the Hallmark people to sell cards and other guilt-induced impulse merchandise -- it's gender-equality gone wild.Fathers, he will say (and this is his argument, not mine), could care less about Father's Day. And in its own way, he will insist, it's an insult to Mother's Day: For all the cheesy Hallmark-ism of both holidays, mothers are genuinely deserving of shout-out recognition from their children, whereas fathers are merely looking for a way to score a guiltless golf-day or bar-round with their buddies.This is, I will counter, an old-fashioned, sexist view. Modern fathers change diapers. (Some) modern fathers stay home with their children. There are many, many single fathers keeping it all together. And what about gay couples who can't celebrate Mother's Day? Fine -- if you want to celebrate it, celebrate it, my husband will concede. He's not going to turn down a free brunch. But the general idea of Mother's Day is for the family to give mothers a rest from their ceaseless domestic duties: However modernized the parenting roles have become, mothers remain the creatures who ensure that their children don't wander into a snowstorm without their mittens; it is still the female sex who -- even while they hold down jobs -- keep the domestic wheels turning smoothly. So what then should we do to celebrate this day? How can we show our appreciation for our father's contributions to the family? How do we bust through the contrived nature -- the Hallmark-iness -- of the day to recognize our particular father's uniqueness?This year, our youngest daughter, aged 10, will craft a card -- as she always does. Her older sister, now 20, might decide it's gift enough that she is no longer whitening her father's hair -- and simply say thank you to him for enduring her adolescence. Our middle child, an 18-year-old son -- who turns out to have a talent for cooking -- will plan, shop for and make a special family dinner. I know my husband will go along with it because, secretly, he doesn't mind the fuss.And then, as tends to happen on these forced holidays, a kind of sentimental alchemy will take place: The very fact that everyone must takes a moment to appreciate what dad -- this dad -- means to him or her will result in real appreciation. And those few seconds of real appreciation will suffice. Here is our father before us: He may be a super modern dad who underscores at every turn how special and loved we are; or maybe he is less demonstrative, but his silent constancy is what keeps us aloft like an air current. He may have just come back from a tour of duty; he may have just come back from the office. He may have taught us, profoundly, how to show respect for women in the way he treats our mother, or less profoundly, how to ride a two-wheel bike. Maybe he is not the father we would have wished for, or we were not the son or daughter he would have wished for. Maybe he just showed up for us. Didn't, in the end, embarrass us. But he is dad. Our dad. And without him, we would not have the gift of existence. Happy Father's Day.***Last week was a big political week, kicking off with the announcement by Papa Rae that he would not in fact seek the leadership of the Liberal party. Before Justin Trudeau could even tweet the news, our HuffPost contributors were offering reaction -- notably Daniel Veniez, a former Liberal candidate, who just days before the announcement. Veniez was disappointed in Rae's decision:We were alone, and he was in a very reflective mood. I left with the sense that he had made up his mind not to seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. His family were united in urging him not to. But the health and well being of the party was dominating his reflection and our conversation. While I have great respect for his decision, I am disappointed that Bob won't run. With Bob Rae as an active participant in a conversation about the future of Canada and the Liberal Party's place in it, you won't get mindless platitudes or speeches written by someone else. You won't get canned talking points written by someone else. What you get is the sum total of the cumulative wisdom and insight -- with scars and all -- of one of the most substantial political figures of his generation.More insight and reaction came quickly from Keith Beardsley --"(" -- and young Zach Paikin -- "" -- the latter whom we all expect to see running for the leadership himself one day. Our Politics team swarmed the story as well, with Michael Bolen's quick news story , Twitter reaction and Althia Raj's exclusive 1-on-1 interview with Rae . And towards the end of the week, while the Tories drove their massive Omnibus Bill C-38 through Parliament, two dissenting MPs -- the NDP's and Independent -- blogged for us about what they were doing to throw it off-course. Here at HuffPost central, Community Editor Ron Nurwisah has launched our #LoveCanada project, with . Watch for more #LoveCanada leading up to Canada Day on July 1.Also watch our own rocking Ottawa Bureau Chief, Althia Raj, on CBC's season-ending "At Issue Panel," which . On the release of the Canadian labour force survey, award-winning Huffpost reporter Rachel Mendleson took -- exploring youth unemployment, which is still as bad as it was at the depths of the recession. And thanks to Lauren Strapagiel, HuffPost was the first to report on the sky-high cost of food in Canada's north and a fledgling protest there. Her story, with an amazing gallery that showcased outrageous prices for basic food stuffs, can be found . But back to Father's Day. If you haven't had enough of Dad yet, check out our Living and Style teams ramped-up Father's Day coverage with lots of clickable goodies, including fatherhood , , and .Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go give my own father some #LoveDad. Follow Danielle Crittenden on Twitter:?The Department of Homeland Security said it is expanding its "If You See Something, Say Something" public awareness campaign to Charlotte, N.C., just as that city prepares for the global spotlight that the Democratic National Convention will bring in September.The program, announced by Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and other local officials Monday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, will post billboards in the transit system, in public buildings and on the city's website urging citizens to report suspicious activity to police. DHS will also run 30-second public service announcements on local government access TV.The roll-out comes as in Chicago announced they would head to Charlotte to make their voices heard. They will join hordes of protesters who plan to camp out during the convention and air their grievances to gathering Democrats.The public safety campaign originated in New York, where in 2010 tipped off police to a suspicious vehicle and helped foil a plot to bomb Times Square.Monday's announcement made no mention of the Democratic National Convention, which starts Sept. 3, but it wouldn't be the first high-profile event to feature the publicity campaign. Safety messages were televised and included in game programs and fan guides for this year's in Indianapolis.?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?A 22-year-old Manhattan man was sentenced on Tuesday to 17 years to life in prison after his high-speed drive through Harlem caused a horrific wreck that resulted in the killing of an 84-year-old nun and the injury of four people.In June 2010, Dyson Williams was in a blue Chrysler Pacifica in Harlem that was pulled over by police who were investigating a robbery. Williams took the wheel and led police on a 20-block chase, culminating with the Pacifica's striking of another car. That car in turn plowed into and killed Sister Mary Celine Graham, 84, of the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary, a Harlem religious order. Last month Williams pleaded guilty to robbery, murder and assault.Assistant District Attorney Peter Casolaro said Graham had become a nun at an early age and worked with young people as a teacher for many years. "All that good work has come to an end because she is gone, Casolaro said, adding that Williams had brushed off the incident. He certainly doesnt express the empathy that a normal person would in causing so much anguish, Casolaro said.Williams' defense attorney disputed that, saying his client told him that the crash was "horrible" and a "mistake."The crash injured four others, none of whom chose to speak at the sentencing. In court the prosecution highlighted their ongoing troubles.Former nurse's aide Patricia Cruz, who was hit during the crash, is still recovering from her injuries and in constant pain, Casolaro said. Another person, whose legs were severely injured as a result of the accident, can no longer walk, Casolaro said. The woman whose car was struck by Williams still has difficulty getting behind the wheel and has psychological scars, he added.Williams' chase began after police pulled over the Chrysler Pacifica with him and William Robbins, 20, in connection with a string of armed robberies. After Robbins exited the drivers seat, Williams took the wheel and the car sped off. Last month Robbins pleaded guilty to robbery and agreed to 15 years in prison in exchange for prosecutors' dropping murder and other charges.Before the sentencing, members of Williams family gathered in the audience. Holding her head in her hands, one woman burst into tears and had to leave the courtroom.Shackled and wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, Williams shouted to family members as he exited the courtroom. Dont worry about it, he said.? took several days, but Celine Dion and her husband Rene Angelil have finally named their twin sons.The name "Eddy" comes from Eddy Marnay, who produced the singer's first five records. "He was like a father to her," says Dion's rep. "Eddy is a major influence in both Celine and Rene's lives." ?~The Cricket Bat and the Porcupine~A Story in Three Parts...which began life as a short blog on my book tour to South Africa in Spring 2012 and became a kind of blogelogue of a homecoming... Part One.Day 1. Sunday Morning. Land in Johannesburg. And I see the light. The density of it, luscious, I bask a moment. My light. And the dry air, waiting, as it did all the winters of my childhood to crack my lips and knees and elbows. High world air. My air. A choking nostalgia reminds me that my natural habitat is 6000 feet higher than the stately roll of the Thames beside which I now live. My straight-talking, seriously good publicist who I will call J drives me from the airport along Jan Smuts Avenue unaware of my already somewhat skinless state and before I can stop myself I call out, 'Sarah! ' And it is indeed my teenage friend Sarah's house that we pass - the place we learnt to be almost-sexual, completely-political beings, and where we gathered to mourn her premature death. I count the number of my contemporaries who died in the span of those late teenage years - 5 including Lulu. Surely that is a high number? J settles me in my hotel with a view of the "biggest man made forest in the world" the canopy covering the suburbs of Jo'burg. She takes me to the shopping mall attached to my hotel where I buy a pair of running shoes, (my battered favourites forgotten in the chaos of my leave taking). I know the place well from my youth but since I last saw it, the supermarkets and fish shops and chemists have been replaced by Burberry and Celine, by shops dedicated to fine watches and horse riding attire, it is finer by far than Bond Street and I don't yet understand who sustains it. I suspect, though, that the spoils that provide this sleek comfort for the rich must surely come, at least in part, from government coffers meant to create a public safety net for all. That net is certainly not there for the stick-thin young woman who walks across the street in front of our car asking for nothing. Her dress raised up in her hands like a ship's sail, revealing her entirely naked body underneath. She is thin as a stick, beyond the sexual. I wonder if she is in the final stages of HIV/AIDS and its ravages? There is grace in her fine neck, antelope legs and her face, when she turns to look at us, has already emptied out. I weep, no surprises there. The soft, skinless person I have become in the cold north prepares me badly for my old city. As I weep, I wonder if I should apologise to J - she saves me the task by discretely averting her eyes.My first interview is with radio SAFM (the journalist runs a culture and book program from 1-4 on Sundays). She's a beautiful woman with a mission to celebrate books and encourage a culture of reading. She gives her listeners, off the cuff, the best synopsis of my book I've ever heard. The questions that follow are half-blood-half-brain, intellectually challenging but full of feeling. It strikes me then, that RHUMBA, although set in the Congo and London, feels owned by her, a South African. By the end of the interview, she is finishing my sentences and I hers. I am home and she's my companero.There is a question one always dreads if one is white and well-heeled (though clearly not with Burberry and Celine and certainly not atop a horse) which basically goes something along the lines what gives you the right, white person, to take on the telling of a story about a place and people who are not your people? I look to Willie Loman, fresh in my mind after seeing Phillip Seymour Hoffman's transcendent performance in Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'. Willie is a fantasist, alternately vicious and sentimental. When his two sons threaten to reject him their mother upbraids them thus...I don't say he's a great man. Willie Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person. I realize as I say it, that although Willie Loman may have been closer to Miller than my Flambeau is to me, telling this story about a Congolese immigrant boy in London is not a presumption on my part, but an obligation.We finish the interview and the eye-grit from a sleepless night beside the largest man to ever fold himself into a British Airways seat fills my nose and eyes and mouth. Must sleep. From my hotel room window I look down on the swifts and the hadedah ibis's flying above the canopy. They shriek as if to say if there is anything you haven't done yet that matters to you, you'd better get on to it before the curtain closes on the day and the nocturnal hunters, human and animal, come out to play. Day 2/3.I wake up to that same screech. I swear if those birds had been around in Shakespeare's day he would not have needed the ravens to herald the dark arrival of Duncan under Macbeth's murderous battlements. After the polite twitter of the robins and jays outside my English window, this raucous sound rips me from my sheets, as yet unready for the day. For the first time in years, I spend the day meeting my contemporary countrymen in a professional context. The journalist from Sarie magazine (with its childhood associations of old tannies (aunties) baking rusks and giving cleaning tips) is astute. The Sunday Times journalist is too - good conversations all. The photographer who comes with her is a hunter. You know the ones, who look and look and find a way of saying what's going on inside something. They were a good team. The young black TV presenter has, unusually for a busy TV guy, read the book carefully. His producer, still just a girl, cracks the most irreverent of whips to keep him to the six minutes the piece allows. There is one among the many women journalists I speak to who is authorial in the way a president would be. I have a brief and demented thought that she should go into politics to sort out the corruption that abounds. She is electrifyingly intelligent. But it is clearly more important for her to be the protector of South Africa's writers (make that the writer's of the world) particularly as the Protection of Information Act refuses to go way. More about that later.By the evening of day 3 as I sit again above the circling hadedah's at my window it seems clear that - although the nation is still ravaged by the rasping shadow of brutalized criminals who spoil what they can - in the peaceful corners of the land, the once half-formed evolutionary fish of our new country, has flapped its way on the bank and is crawling towards a new self. An efficient, equitable, self-actualized, disciplined, self. And then, just to complicate my certainties, as life is want to do, we arrive for the official Jo'burg launch of RHUMBA at Exclusive books in Hyde Park. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. A great African academic is going to interview me about my small book and I know I am going to emerge enriched in my understanding. Sorbonne trained, Oxford University educated, a spell of teaching at the university of Pennsylvania. He is simply brilliant and I am amazed he has agreed to this small collaboration. As J and I wait for him to arrive I greet old friends and relatives and we sip our water or wine and I sign books, all very pleasant - but where is our academic?I see J-the-unflappable begin to panic. Maybe he fell asleep? Maybe he was visited by an old friend and forgot the time? Maybe one of his children has a cold? Maybe he simply didn't care? Or it could be that a wild force of nature, quite beyond his control, swept him away? Even then, surely he would call, just to relieve us of our imaginings? Surely he himself had a first book once and knows the terrors that attend its emergence. Surely?I feel my small lifeboat begin to fill with water and the longing for my children becomes an ache, as it does whenever hardship strikes. A kind young woman from exclusive books steps in to read out the questions I dig out of my bag from a prior Q&A with an audience in London. And, as we converse, question by question, we scoop the water out of the leaking boat. Finally, we are floating as a boat should, on the surface of the water, even without our brilliant academic to show us the way. Elaine ProctorSpring 2012Part 2 to follow next week...?I prefer the idea of 'style' to 'fashion'. My wardrobe contains mainly black and navy, rather more tonal than rainbow. Yesterday someone described my outfit as 'ombre'; thank goodness my hair isn't dip dyed.I favour a simple kind of dressing, the trench coat and heels kind. The kind where style rules over trends, the kind that isn't deemed outrageous enough to be a target for Somerset House street style photographers. That's okay though, I don't dress to impress at fashion week, I know my style and I'm comfortable with it. After all, aren't we all too busy thinking about ourselves to care about anyone else?Seated at a menswear show last week, I couldn't help but consider the fashion vs style dilemma. In the midst of candy coloured mops of hair, enormous stacked brothel creepers, bright blingy jackets and some otherwise chronic get ups, I felt a little undressed by comparison in my Chloe-esque navy peter pan collar coat and tonal skirt and blouse ensemble. I was comfy, and politely, pardon the phrase, 'on trend'. I'll be the first to admit that Meadham Kirchhoff is an incredible work of art, but I'll never own any of their pieces. I prefer Stella McCartney, Chloe, Celine and Burberry; even Vivienne Westwood is too exciting for me. I'm a fashion minimalist.At the aforementioned show, I noticed something similar happening on the catwalk; my favourite looks were those ultra wearable pieces that I could imagine my male friends actually wearing. Admittedly many of them work in media; perhaps the rugby types are exempt from this. Agi and Sam presented gorgeous paneled shirts that any self-respecting young man would be proud to wear both to work, and for post-office drinks. Agi and Sam kept it simple, simple enough for their collection to be more than 'show pieces'. Keep it simple stupid.As for costume fashion, may it live on. Somerset House wouldn't be the same without hoards of journos, stylists and associated media types swarming around its grounds hoping to be snapped and obscurely posted online. I just know I won't be joining them anytime soon. Save me a seat at Chloe, for that is where my heart lies. Follow Eleanor Doughty on Twitter:?There are moments in fashion when you recognise something that will change the landscape of our fair industry. It happened at Jil Sander in September 2010 when Raf Simons transformed neon colours into a palatable concept with that skirt. But now, the new 'it' item has arrived, storming catwalks and constructed by the real who's who in fashion. If you are looking for the defining autumn addition then this is it. Seriously. Introducing, the trouser suit.It sidelined for years before being exalted once more, hidden in a midday shadow by asymmetric skirts and outdated preconceptions of what a trouser suit should look like. Upon the entrance of Vanessa Axente, walking in Prada's AW12 show, the revolution re-began. A black trouser suit adorned with jewels at the ankle and lapel broke us in gently to the print extravaganza that followed. Muiccia Prada's collection read like the spoof school uniform rulebook, a guide of how not to dress. Breaking all the rules your mother ever taught you about getting dressed (unless your name's Allegra Versace), it defiantly stepped out in the midst of our braver, pattern clad bodies. Described by some as genius, others as so-bad-it's-good, there is no doubt that, as standard, Prada delivered a show stopping collection. Thank goodness the show didn't stop, the two-tone wedges weren't slowing down. This autumn, the trouser suit isn't just about coordinating prints. It's a lesson from Italy about how and why to wear trousers; the collections are instructive and precise. In a distinctly less 1999 Ally McBeal mode, trousers are now eye-catching, powerful yet feminine. And really, what more could you want from your new sartorial best friend?Like many fashionable themes, this trend would not have emerged without a great pinnacle of style. All hail Yves Saint Laurent. Changing womenswear from the moment his 1966 summer show opened, the tragic genius revolved the perspective of women in trousers. Yves' changed the world; the masculine black tie uniform was transformed into a palatable piece of high fashion. Yves produced the sexiest form of masculin/fminin; it will never be seen again. Original hipster Francoise Hardy had a set ordered specifically, a testament to the chicness of 'Le Smoking'. Only Saint Laurent himself might have known just how much impact that suit would have. Blame the recession, if you will, for 'useful' fashion's renaissance. Queen Phoebe [Philo, of Celine] designs for real women in mind, making clothes that present solutions, not make us wonder 'where can I actually wear that?' The trouser suit ticks that box, the ultimate sexy-in-your-boyfriend's-clothes glamour combined with an oh-so practical edge, practically tipping the cap to high fashion. And it was everywhere. Celine pulled out jumbo oversized coats that juxtaposed tapered trousers, all characteristically architectural, ranging across the colour spectrum. In contrast, standing proud amongst an array of well-established houses is a K-Mid favourite in Emilia Wickstead. Not edgy like Acne, or the cool, streamlined Celine solution, the New Zealander's endlessly chic display was effortlessly all there, light and breezy but sensible. Sensible is truly the word. Her simple yet effective, soon-to-be classic additions to the every day woman's closet don't pull the power card out of the pack, but just subtly lie there. An understated collection, like the designer herself perhaps, but the one and only pair of trousers in there showed what pastels for autumn are all about.Stella McCartney intertwined a casual rock baroque mode with everyday clothes of the working woman. Introducing the pantsuit as an accessible addition, Stella's are much less 90s grey pinstripe and so, so much more elegant yet undeniably cool. But do we expect any less from the Queen of British luxury? I think not. Trousers have regained dignity as something to be desired and cherished. Merci, Mrs Prada. Some trends do not lend themselves to maximum appeal, but like almost no other, you can rely on the trouser suit to work for you. Yes, you. From wide legs that do flatter, to uber-chic ankle-grazers, there's plenty happening. If you're in any doubt, ask yourself what would Yves want. He'd want you to go for it. So do. It suits you.Images courtesy of Jil Sander, Prada, Miu Miu, Celine, Emilia Wickstead, Stella McCartney. Follow Eleanor Doughty on Twitter:?I am not interviewing Phoebe Philo today. Let's pretend I am. The college friend and one-time creative twin of Stella McCartney, now mother of two and celebrated curator of responsible fashion design, Phoebe Philo has earned her place in the history books. She famously justified time with her children over her peaking career, sweeping out of Chloe and into a world of nanny bags and tracksuit bottoms. Hard to imagine perhaps, but such is the elusive magic and humanity of the British designer who has recaptured Cline in all its glory.Like Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci and Somerset sweetheart Alice Temperley, Philo attended London's renowned Central St Martin's, graduating in 1996. During her time there, fashion ventured through a periodical rebellion of garish prints, conspicuous status logos (a la Lacoste), and more neon than is ever acceptable outside the bounds of a silent disco. One glance at this season's Cline collection will tell you what kind of impact this had. Inspired by mid-1990s minimalists Jil Sander and Helmut Lang, Philo's twenty-first century work could not be further from the brash fashion of her university years. We'll never know whether her graduate collection reflected this as it is now lost, in the depths of history. Unsurprising perhaps, given Philo's quiet disposition.Phoebe Philo is a fashion pioneer. Reigning for five years at Chloe, the French fashion house where Karl Lagerfeld cut his teeth, she established it as the go-to label for girlish cool, a fundamental stylish guideline. Introducing chunky heels to replace skeletal spikes, light flares and high waists instead of the 'trendy' hipster, new shapes were created that we needed, before we realised we did. The well cut, easy to wear clothes that came out of Chloe in those landscape sculpting years transferred, along with Philo's talent for creating timeless garments, to Cline. The renovated fashion house is pared-back, and composed. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, the French parent company holding Cline's purse strings, moved its studio at Philo's request from Paris to London in respect of her maternal duties. Aww. Shortly after the first new collection, Cline became the divine yet financially stressful sartorial understatement that is oh-so-coveted around the world. It is inclusive, with a real woman appeal. The Cline woman is looking for clothes that provide solutions to every day problems, clothes without fuss or as Phoebe might describe as being 'unnecessary'. That is so Cline. And you can spot it a mile off.It is the modern woman's fashionable Holy Grail, the perfection that many aspire towards. The purist, humble aesthetic is reflected beyond the garments and their maker, reaching all corners of the business. The brand's collaborations with photographer Juergen Teller are home to product-centric, stark, honest campaigns. There is no pretension, no outer face. The clothes Philo creates are not found on the cover of HELLO! or on the red carpet, they're on the streets of London and Paris on the bodies of real women.Philo is responsible for turning the trend tide, stripping back the limbs of the embellished sartorial landscape, and leaving a purer, refined quality behind. Cline is the calm eye of the fashion storm, a serene place where stylish boats can float and fish with no fear of maximalist predators.The garments show an intricate design process, founded on a core structure where nothing is wasted or taken for granted. Any Cline piece outperforms closet companions; they are the quiet ones, rarely raising their voices yet scoring full marks in every spelling test. They're the ones you love to hate because there is never a hair out of place. But you can't hate Phoebe, and you can't hate Celine. It's impossible.In a world preoccupied with rapid results and the immediacy of the Internet, one cannot help but applaud Philo for her chosen anonymity. With live show streaming online, a myriad of bloggers gasping to get first snaps of the new collections, Cline is a breath of fresh air. Philo bans any kind of backstage photography and would prefer independent judgements are made, void of questioning the creator. In light of the commercial circus that the industry has become, Philo's stance is refreshing. Like her clothes, she leaves a lot to the imagination.All hail Queen Phoebe, although I'm sure she would be embarrassed to hear it. Follow Eleanor Doughty on Twitter:?Dressing 'casually' can be a problem. Like many things, the more thought you put into it, the room there is for error. Highlights of my recent fashion discoveries include the sad realisation that my Rive Gauche blazer is the only thing to pull off big shoulders, complex layering assumes the look of one going hiking, and the effortless colour blocking tactics are only possible with precision training, and an unlimited tonal wardrobe. To the latter sentiment, one (and by this I mean me) may resemble one's seven-year-old self's paint palette. And that's not something I'd like to remember.Thinking about what to wear in the morning is often just a little too complicated. Stick to what you know usually works best, often sufficing as the solution to my frequent ensemble dilemmas. This season, I sense a real solution. Introducing minimal maximisation... or rather, the rise of the oversize. I realise that excessively large sized clothes may not be immediately appealing. Like layering they are fraught with difficulties largely associated with 'does my bum look (too) big in this?' Despite this, that very exclusive nod to fashion is all there in the act of the oversized. Be not fooled, this is no excuse to gorge on Godiva's delectable chocolate-covered strawberries, or to stop that excellent running habit you've adopted. Whether I'm referring to the one in Louboutins to the bus stop, or the 5k I'll leave to you.Husbands beware, the 'Bridget, that's not your coat' trend can be actually be put into practice, making extensive appearances on the catwalk and reducing models to their even more skeletal selves. Roksanda Ilincic literally pulled out all the stops with almost inflatable looking coats, going Olympic-style sumo against the oversized trend. Championing more of a bedtime than Olympic Park vibe, Chloe matched the covetable Parisian sensibilities with a British sporting edge in creating a very comfy collection of coats, while Celine fell back on elegant yet minimalist functionality, as is their timeless mission. Pair an oversized boyfriend blazer with a slick pair of trousers for the perfect complement to the new season a la the queen of casual chic and those wedged trainers, Isabel Marant. The Parisian worked an almost impossibly chic boyfriend blazer with simple skinny trousers and stilettos for her take on oversized. Now who said fashion was tricky?Not everyone chose macho man for their autumn theme song; Raf Simons' last collection for Jil Sander generated a well-deserved standing ovation from the Milan crowd, exhibiting perfect large scale minimalism. The absolutely divine pastel coat, seemingly more at home in your grandmother's dressing up box than the catwalk, sealed Raf's place in fashion history. Coats were not alone in this trend's domination. Prada showed the ultimate high fashion geek chic brogue, super high, and super clumpy yet ultimately powerful. Almost so bad they're fabulous, Prada's shoes literally lift you into the fashion limelight. A broad selection of large than life tote bags more suited to a weekend in the Cotswolds than a trip to Waitrose with the kids emerged. We've all done it, bought a huge handbag and proceeded to fill it with as much as possible. This is regrettable yet inevitable position to be in, and made all that easier by Valentino's Mary Poppins effect hold all. In a strange sartorial hybrid, the rise of the oversize signals minimalism within a much larger idea. While shapes might be overbearing, concepts are minimal, forming the perfect combination of micro macro. Minimalism, the chic Parisian's favourite, favours a simple way of living and dressing that can be easily incorporated into AW12's biggest and boldest trend. In a season that celebrates the waist, we are treated to a splendid array of cuddle-me coats. Thomas Tait's wide collar pea green number was almost as inviting as MaxMara's maximum lengths in coordinating colours while Commes des Garcons struck a floral chord with a cape-like piece, enough fabric to wrap up half the finale girls. During all of this, the clean architectural lines we have come to expect have not been forgotten in construction. Big, bold and beautiful does not signal the end of tailoring, it has simply streamlined to perfect the utterly sensationally casual in oversized looks. So if Michelin men don't take your fancy and Chloe's dressing gown look is just a tiny bit too appealing, invite Raf Simons into your life and champion oversized simplicity. With that coat, you barely need a dress. Cough, did I really suggest that? Financially viable though, let's be honest.Images courtesy of Roksanda Ilincic at Starworks, Chloe, Celine, Isabel Marant, Jil Sander, Prada, Valentino at Karla Otto, Comme des Garcons, Thomas Tait. Follow Eleanor Doughty on Twitter:?Comedian Carrot Top will be joining the likes of Barry Manilow and Celine Dion with his own show on the Vegas Strip, but no one is more excited about it than Elton John "It's huge because growing up and wanting to be a comic, you never think that you will get to Vegas. But it's not like the old days where you are Wayne Newton and you just go there to die. But I hope I die there because I don't want to go back on the road," explained Scott Thompson, who goes by the stage name "Carrot Top." "I invited Elton John and he said, 'Oh, yeah, we would love to come to your show.' He hasn't. And he gave me a big, wet kiss. Haven't washed my face since. And then he shook my girlfriend's hand. And she said, 'What was that about?' and I said, 'It's Elton John!' It was a little weird, though. But I went in for it. There was tongue, a little bit. It was like 'Rocket Man.'"Although his comedy may be blunt, Carrot Top refuses to dish about which comics he thinks deserve crickets -- he knows all too well what it's like having others say mean things about him. "I've been trashed so much so I don't want to do that to people. Like Pauly Shore calling me bad, come on. He ripped me one time. I was like, 'You are Pauly Shore! You can't rip me! You are Pauly Shore,'" Carrot Top laughed. To see my entire interview with Carrot Top tune into HDNet's "Naughty But Nice With Rob" Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. ?NEW YORK — Elvis is back in the building – the hologram version, that is.Like the much-hyped Tupac Shakur hologram that debuted at the Coachella music festival, Elvis Presley will get the virtual treatment by the same company that made the late rapper's lifelike hologram.Digital Domain Media Group announced Wednesday it is creating a Presley hologram for shows, film, TV and other projects worldwide, including appearances. They've gotten the OK from Elvis Presley Enterprises.The King of Rock 'n' Roll remains one of the most popular figures in music despite his death in 1977.No word on when hologram Elvis will make its official debut. Digital Domain is linking with Core Media Group, which handles various brands, personalities and properties.Related on HuffPost:?Spring may just be blooming, but celebs are already slipping into Fall 2012 runway clothes. Take Emily Blunt, for example, who caught our eye at . Held in London, the event saw Emily and her co-star Ewan McGregor posing for pictures and signing autographs to scores of fans.It also saw Emily wear a rather strange outfit from Carolina Herrera's Fall 2012 collection: a dress with a matching jacket that closed in the back, rather than the front. Unlike Amanda Seyfried, who got creative on the red carpet and , Emily's Carolina Herrera creation was meant to be worn that way (see the original model on the runway below). But does work?Check out the glowing star below and tell us: are you a fan of the reverse jacket?PHOTOS: See celebs trying the backwards look: ?According to a new report on modern motherhood, women who have difficulty conceiving a child are not the only ones to suffer the effects of infertility.A report on modern motherhood suggests 'emotional infertility' can be just as damaging.Over half of women polled agreed the pain of not having children due to not finding the right partner equalled that of dealing with medical infertility problemsThe study conducted by Red magazine, which gathered data from over 3,000 British women aged 28-45, also revealed that nearly three quarters (71%) of women think those who have medical infertility get more sympathy than those with 'emotional infertility. Did you know these famous ladies used IVF?Brigid Moss, health director of Red said: "We have identified what we call emotional infertility, that is being childless not by choice, due to not having a partner or a partner not wanting to have children."It's interesting that most women think that medical infertility gets most sympathy, and that more than half of women think that emotional infertility is as painful as medical infertility."The same reported noted that just 17% of women worry about being too old to conceive, and one in five women would consider having a baby on their own.Sam Baker, editor-in-chief, said: "It seems that women now feel more confident to make their own decisions to prioritise what they want in life, including how and when they want to start family."?By While your friends are excited youre engaged, the thought of being forced to use the right fork while watching a photomontage set to a Celine Dion track is enough to make them homicidal. Celebrity Event Planner (and Staggered Event Expert, Peter Otero) shows you how to throw an engagement party that wont bore them to tears.Engagement parties are regarded as the traditional formal announcement of a wedding more frequently celebrated at a fancy restaurant or dinner party at home. While tradition can be a safe and predictable foundation for a party, we all know the most outstanding ones are remembered because of the unexpected fun had by all. For guys, the minute we hear about an engagement party, we either curl our lips or ...yawn!Get Involved.So with all due respect to Cyndi Laupers girl anthem, girls just wanna have fun, they arent the only ones. Guys want to have a blast too! There are a wide variety of themes and styles to decide on that can ensure a fantastic time. Get involved in the planning process and voice your opinion. The male perspective can usually offer a unique twist to a "lovey dovey" feminine approach. Your buddies will appreciate you for thinking of them. I am not a big fan of themed parties, though I am constantly asked to design them. But when I do, I like to pay very close attention to every detail. That is what makes a party unique and personal. So be as creative as you want and dont be afraid to think outside the box.Remember, It Doesnt Have to Be Stuffy.If youre going for a more casual approach, think of fun and unexpected venues as opposed to the more traditional ballroom, banquet hall or restaurant. A local pub, bar or favorite watering hole can be a fun alternative. Prior arrangements can be made so that you have a sectioned off, semi-private area for your guests that may include your own bartender. If the place does not serve food you can arrange to have food delivered or have it catered. This allows everyone to have a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere. You may also want to be proactive and think of designating drivers or offer a car or taxi service for those guests who really make it a point to toast all night long celebrating the union of love. Theres always at least one or two in the group...maybe more!Theres also a big trend now in upscale bowling alleys that are equipped for private parties. This makes for a fun filled night of laughter, luck AND some losers...with possible back aches too. Some places have great food, drinks and music with a clubby feeling. If not, a regular old school alley can be just as fun. Anything can be arranged to fit your tastes and budget. Everyone has a fun time; participants and spectators alike.Theres nothing better than pairing good pizza with cold beer (or good wine). Whether at a local pizza parlor, restaurant or private home, it can be a delicious way of saying were tying the knot. Look into buying out the local pizza spot or hiring a chef to make pies on demand. Make it instructional and interactive. Guests participate if its entertaining and well thought out. Create new recipes or follow traditional ones. Offer a variety of beer to go with different pizzas. Make sure to keep it casual and family style. If its anything like my house, the best times are shared in the kitchenCaround food!Make It an Event and Allow Everyone To Participate.If your style is classier, try a wine tasting party. And if you dont have the option of going to a local winery, there are plenty of books on the subject. This is another great way to engage your guests and enhance their understanding of wine. Make it fun and educational by conducting blind tastings or form wine tasting groups. The more palates there are, the more perspectives on a particular wine youll have, and the better you increase your awareness of a wines complexities. To maximize your wine tasting experience, hire a live cigar roller to roll a stogie just for you and your guests. If thats not doable, then consider buying an assortment of good cigars from your local tobacco shop. Not only will some women think its sexy and try it themselves, but your mates will give you major brownie points for thinking of them.Not Into Creative Theme Parties? Keep it Simple.You can never go wrong with a simple, sexy, cocktail party. Have a wide variety of great food, cocktails and different music to suit all tastes. Make it comfortable for everyone. Create an environment that allows for mingling. Its a great way for families and friends to meet, and get to know each other. Hire a bartender to prepare and serve cocktails. Come up with personalized drinks menu. Go to your local florists and get beautiful flowers that will enhance the space. Consider hiring a baby sitter to care for and entertain the youngsters while the grown-ups focus on just having a good time. For an alternative twist at the end, offer a post-dessert coffee tasting paired with gourmet chocolates. And if you really want to make it spectacular, turn it into a black tie event; a fun and clever way to set the tone for the wedding.The most important thing to remember when planning an engagement party is that it is a happy, joyous occasion. With that in mind, the possibilities are endless. Make it truly memorable and unforgettable. Put your stamp on it and have fun with it!I am Staggered USA () is a top Mens Wedding Site and the brother site to I Am Staggered UK (), the #1 Mens Wedding Website in the United Kingdom. ?IVF has come a long way since the first test tube baby (Louise Joy Brown) was born on July 25, 1978.According to , over five million babies have been born by In-Vitro Fertilisation since it was first used 36 years ago.And its not just everyday couples who undergo fertility treatment after struggling to conceive - high-profile celebrities chose to use IVF to become parents too.Take a look at these famous faces who have spoken out about their fertility problems and IVF journeys...?It's been said that there are six degrees of separation between every two individuals on the planet. This statement no longer holds true. With today's technology, the entire world is at our fingertips. And thank goodness for me as a manicurist, that's a lot of hands to be done.?USFH73HAKY3K6HSFfVP6MFkUQLVDr%2FA3r%2B0RvfFlbH56FRKV1D%2FHmgfmKnaPOuWLl2owYU5bgolCJOtI%2Fgjp0jzXxygmol5%2FcK7GB9%2FuqS6a7dA8k6dTnGrbzYEpUicTvS2O6Ic5%2BDtsH%2FqW60HGRS97KiR%2FA%2Bf1JnHZr97wprFLG2dtShA%2BcWnxH0cQjZtUS3lxzjSY9P%2FRFrb6fi9AWKBAhHZ0tOeULajo2n%2F96eAG5BcqdDlwkScFPCR8cy0%2F%2F2FhiAQRYDA8Lc5tjaedi5eD%2Fga26gWRdIllcq0cILyFgtuGITpY6dXc0oCmkOAEO5Pgxsqe0byzn6hIr42I8%2FXVZ1zCiL%2Bo8O60EQYmfCdjX0VxFNkd0NF1dzKNbgcLydCAS1clqoSneVp6ST6NXdoaGaimgOI%2F1u7QEP%2B%2BZ%2FXbEQLRlUctAZlxdMP14rzeJo65z9bXTM6X4r9ewyStL2RTopnLffbE7jYKcNNCqvo7CjzUA%2FbfRCG7M2zXIWOsngwbUNBigZP83WKuskdNYeHNRloCoFEa4ka2uSGYKk1U8RVJuIL38iWA1cRNYv8IjsCKSmGEwGX70uSQjPPts%2Bw5RC7P9DbIESCCdOqytbZvYeLjo7pYy8mpJy46UsoSVy7GPxrTyMEqZ6wku9MDeEh8zhhk0lJZVWofDGSWpiWc3f4cBgMbayLtgkfwvFu8%2F81YK5kGyuCyh84cGI8RbXQnomCmwR29wEDU0yyzAoStsTfC1eHN5nnmY6aJJphi%2BbBJk9Ym9ceAEPShokExSss%2F8Dw%2Bd9%2BlUFnd33FnurwZk3qX%2BJCRAQWU7%2F5qQOeKTtUbd79rETq5wmOMaoleVEEqTqwiSSjdvm2pA2DwBtynlrmcrjvjBUxdpPBhIf%2Br5SUKubBkD23CRsGQoT8RublU1XH4isi5pDxHvSmZzum2Td7Pae2IUQEJnIsqm7rgXV587sEl2HM0dsyDG%2B%2F78wmVq3GbJ9%2BJ3f0toQmHFYqlTPtvlyZ57v0swinoRVWM4nrp6x1syxWuzMmst03wZofCaAno8PbFa0ASImNIKzA%3D?Warning: Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby before watching Bride Andrea's father died before he could walk her down the aisle. Her brother knew that their father would be missed, by Andrea especially, on her wedding day, so he prepared a surprise for his sister to take the place of the father-daughter dance.Her brother recorded the song "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle in advance of the Big Day, and played the song for Andrea as she danced with friends and family in lieu of her late father. Watch the video above to see the tear-jerking performance and reaction from the bride.Click through the slideshow to see the best father-daughter dance songs.Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on , and .?Don't know why anyone is concerned about what she's singing, she's 8, she's not thinking about the mature social or sexual aspects of what she is singing, she's enjoying the music. I've been singing my mum's Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, George Michael etc since I was far younger than this. Whitney Houston's 'A Few Stolen Moments' is about having an affair! And it didn't make a blind bit of difference to the fact that I was still a child who, having been brought up in a village, was out on a daily basis playing with my friends and having a normal childhood. As far as the vocal chords go, I'm no expert, but I was a good singer at primary school, didn't become a very good singer until age 11 when my vibrato came in and my vocal chords were notably stronger (after puberty was in full swing). So I have no idea how this could affect this little girl, but Christina Aguilera and many other famous singers were belting songs out at Fitri's age and still have the voice now, so I would have thought with the right care she will still have that voice in years to come. She's incredibly talented, it would be nice if people could just congratulate her and wish her well rather than always displaying concerns. Look how much she loves music, that's all that matters, for someone like her music soothes the soul from the inside out, trust me.?Five million IVF babies have been born since the era of assisted reproduction dawned in 1978, it has been calculated.Experts based the estimate on worldwide figures for (IVF) treatment cycles up to 2008.The emerging pattern was extended to gauge how many more treatments took place over the next three years.The cumulative number of IVF births in total stood at 4.6m last year and is now believed to have reached five million.Passing the five million milestone represented a "moment of pride" for fertility scientists, according to a British member of the team that brought the first IVF baby into the world.SEE ALSO:When Louise Brown was born at on July 25, 1978, it caused a sensation.The birth of a "test tube baby", as Louise was described in the media at the time, was hugely controversial and sparked an intense ethical debate.But British experts today pointed out that IVF had now become routine in many parts of the world.Dr Allan Pacey, chair of the and senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "Everyone expected the proportion of IVF treatment cycles to plateau, but it hasn't. Year-on-year we have seen what is effectively a linear rise."I think it's more than just older women relying on IVF; I think it's more about accessibility, social acceptability, funding issues, and to an extent that IVF is part of the mainstream now."Colleague Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist and director of IVF at in London, said: "IVF is something couples are no longer ashamed of. The profile is becoming more acceptable and it's also becoming more successful."OTHER IVF NEWS:The five million figure was announced today at the annual meeting of the (Eshre) taking place in Istanbul, Turkey.Dr David Adamson, chair of the (ICMART), which made the calculation, said: "Millions of families with children have been created, thereby reducing the burden of infertility."The technology has improved greatly over the years to increase pregnancy rates. The babies are as healthy as those from other infertile patients who conceive spontaneously. The technology is available globally in many different countries. IVF is firmly established now in the mainstream of medicine."Dr Simon Fishel, managing director of clinic chain and a member of the Cambridge team responsible for the birth of Louise Brown, said: "I remember well the time of Louise's birth, and also transferring the embryo that became her sister, both of whom are now mums in their own right."The five million milestone not only justifies all the legal and moral battles, the ethical debates and hard-fought social approval, it is also a testament to the great scientists and doctors who have worked so hard to improve the treatment of patients, and to the patients themselves who have put their faith in us. "It is a moment of pride for our unique branch of medical science, and a point to reflect on how we must continue to fight for our patients where there still remain barriers to treatment."Take a look at these famous faces who have spoken out about their fertility problems and IVF journeys...Other ICMART data show that each year, around 1.5m assisted reproduction treatment cycles are performed globally, delivering some 350,000 babies.Europe is the most active IVF region in the world, with the US and Japan topping the list of individual countries.In 2009 the UK had an IVF rate of 879 treatment cycles per million members of the population per year.IVF take-up is much greater in Denmark and Belgium, with rates of 2,726 cycles per million and 2,562 cycles per million respectively.Success rates from a single "fresh" IVF treatment cycle appear to have stabilised at around 32% per embryo transfer, the Eshre meeting was told.Mr Lavery stressed that despite the success of IVF it should never be regarded as an "insurance policy" for women who want to delay pregnancy as long as possible.IVF is not very effective for women some way past their reproductive prime, he said."We need to get the message across that people cannot necessarily rely on it as the answer to issues later in life," said Mr Lavery. "Although there are things we can do to greatly improve success rates, the increments are small."SEE ALSO:A continuing trend towards fewer embryos being transferred to a woman's womb after IVF has greatly reduced the risk of multiple births, the meeting was told.In 2009 the proportion of IVF triplets in Europe had fallen to less than 1%, and for the first time the twin birth rate was below 20%.Traditional IVF involves mixing sperm and eggs in a laboratory Petri dish. But a more recent technique, (ICSI), now accounts for the majority of treatment cycles worldwide.ICSI involves injecting a sperm directly into an egg. It has as good a success rate as traditional IVF, but carries a small increased risk of birth defects.Some countries have high rates of ICSI, and in Turkey it accounts for more than 70% of all IVF treatments.In the UK, where roughly equal numbers of ICSI and traditional IVF treatments are performed, the procedure is only supposed to be used in specific circumstances. It is most often employed in cases of male infertility.Dr Pacey said: "I really worry about the inappropriate use of ICSI, given what we know about the risks. Personally, I think it's a worry that ICSI has overtaken (traditional) IVF."?Wagner wrote great music and an anti Semite and womanizer. Miles Davis outstanding musician not particularly nice (to put it extremely mildly) to women. Michael Vick an absolutely vile person yet still playing football. Jackson Pollock another man who loved women. Lord Byron, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Thomas Hardy, TS Eliot, James Brown, Eminem (Marshal Mathers), Tracy Lawrence, Ike Turner, Phil Specter, Roman Polanski+, Friedrich Nietzsche, Woody Allen Kobe Bryant Gary Glitter Michael Jackson R. Kelly Jerry Lee Lewis Mike Tyson.. Sean Connery says it ok to hit (slap) a woman if you need to. Religion promotes hate and has caused more death than WWI & WWII combined.The catholic church condones child abuse (dont believe me then why arent they doing anything about all the child abuse).All of these people and MANY MORE including entities are just as involved in wrong doing as Louis-Ferdinand Celine yet no one has much of an issue with them being celebrated and some are gainfully employed and earning MILLIONS as you read this. Seems rather Hypocritical to denounce one while you enjoy others. I produced this quickly & from memory and dont have the thousands of others I could have included.?An Italian woman has given birth after being transplanted with ovarian tissue that had been frozen for seven years.Italian scientists told the annual meeting of ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) this week that the significant length of time the tissue spent in 'freeze-storage' could have wider implications for women hoping to conceive. Scroll down to see celebrities who have struggled to concieve"We are not aware, so far, of any time limit for cryopreserved ovarian tissue," said Dr Gennarelli from Clinica Universitaria Sant'Anna in Turin, in a statement."We and other groups now believe that ovarian tissue freezing for fertility preservation should not be considered experimental but be recognised as a routine clinical practice to be offered in appropriate cases," he added. "Age, for example, is one important consideration."The news that pieces of a woman's ovary could be removed, stored and then replaced during surgery could signal new hope for older women wishing to become pregnant. Recent research suggests that failed IVF attempts leads to a . According to The Telegraph, advancements in this field could effectively could effectively . The Italian case described by Dr Gennarelli was remarkable because - with a gap of seven years - it represents one of the longest time intervals yet between the date of tissue freezing and the date of successful transplantation."It demonstrates that pregnancy can be obtained by this technique even after several years of cryostorage," said Dr Gennarelli.SEE ALSO: The birth is believed to be the 22nd in the world via this technique and has, says Gennarelli, become a key component of the management of fertility in cancer patients facing treatment with a high risk of ovarian failure. In March 2010, following the patient's request and investigation for fertility restoration, 32 cortical tissue fragments were thawed and sutured to prepared sites.Two months after the tissue grafting, some ovarian function returned and spontaneous follicular development was observed. Over the following months spontaneous menstrual cycles were repeatedly evident and ovulation was confirmed in at least six cycles.In July 2011, 15 months after the ovarian tissue transplantation, the patient became spontaneously pregnant, and a healthy baby was delivered in March 2012.?British surgeons are appealing for funds so they can complete research which will lead to the first womb transplants in the UK.A team of doctors based in London have launched a charity to raise cash to finish the preparatory research and to perform the first five operations.Scientists are said to be at a "critical stage" in the research and have launched the charity to raise 500,000 to complete the final phase of groundwork before performing the surgery.Womb transplants offer an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women whose own wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer.Every year 14,000 British women discover they are infertile because either they were born without a viable womb or they have undergone a hysterectomy following a serious illness.SEE ALSO:Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon, and his team have been researching the possibility of transplanting a donor womb into a woman so she can have a child - or even two - before the donated womb is then removed.This means the recipient would only have to take drugs which make their bodies accept the transplant for a limited period - reducing long term health risks.Scroll down to see which celebs turned to IVF (PICTURES)Once the research is complete the scientists can apply for ethics permission.Mr Smith said: "We are confident, especially with a transplant abroad being carried out with the same methodology that we have recommended that within two years or so, given enough funding, we can begin helping women in the UK."Infertility in its various forms is increasing and while IVF can and does help many women, for those who do not want to go the route of surrogacy or adoption, nothing but a transplant can help a woman without a viable womb."Quite rightly the UK has the highest level of regulation and safety is paramount and so we have to prove the whole process in several animal models before drawing up the protocols for a human transplant."So far we have spent almost half a million pounds - mostly funded by members of the team - on the research up to this point."In the US and elsewhere grant aid is much more accessible but in this economic climate with NHS and other budgets being squeezed for understandable reasons, it is much more difficult to raise grants for research in the UK, hence the need for the appeal."?After , the golden girl of the games is allegedly discussing her father, Timothy Douglas, who has been noticeably absent from the events, in a less than positive light.According to the , Douglas slammed her Air Force father as a deadbeat yesterday, blaming him for her .It was really hard for us growing up my dad had left us, so he wasnt really in the picture anymore, Douglas reportedly said. "So my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didnt really pay the child support. He was short [on money]. It was definitely hard on her part, and she had to take care of me and the rest of my siblings."In an interview with NBC News last week, however, . "I just had to pray to God just to keep him safe and tell the angels to keep my dad safe and come home," she said of her dad, an Air Force Staff Sgt. stationed in Afghanistan as part of the Air National Guard, 203rd Red Horse Squadron.Prior to the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, . "There's an exuberance. There's a feeling that you can't describe," Timothy Douglas told the paper of seeing his 16-year-old daughter in person for the first time in nearly two years. "Sometimes, when she had a rough time, I'd tell her to hang in there. 'You know what it takes to be a winner, you know what your goals are. You just keep on your goals.' Some things that I tell her I have to remind myself. Those are all things we can all abide by," he said.Though Douglas and Hawkins are still in the process of divorcing, Douglas was deployed to the Middle East when his daughter was just 9.Despite the separation, both of Douglas' parents have been supportive of her Olympic dreams. According to the New York Daily News, , encouraging his daughter to never give up on her dreams of a gold medal.In regards to her less-than-peak performance on the uneven bars, Douglas told the New York Post: Toward the end of the Olympics, you get physically tired and drained. And no matter how much rest you have, your body is tired, she said. I made a little mistake, but Im human . . . I dont know, you just get to mentally, youre just so tired."CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, the headline incorrectly stated that Timothy Douglas was being blamed for his daughter's losing performance. We regret this error. Earlier on HuffPost:?As the controversy surrounding Gabby Douglas' hair drags on, we're left wondering: how did it get to this point?It's still shocking that while Douglas was busy , a string of negative Twitter comments about her "unkempt" hair stole the spotlight. Some are for that shift in focus to Douglas' hair, while others see the story as a segue into a much broader subject: black women's hair. Black women's hair has always been a hot (and often, touchy) topic--inspiring documentaries, books, , and . So it's no surprise that after Douglas' meteoric rise to the public eye, opinions of her hair would be shared via social media outlets and beyond. However, the problem lies in the fact that those comments have somehow out-shined the Olympian's gold medals.So, was everyone really talking about Gabby's hair or did a few bad apples on Twitter manage to turn a historic Olympic moment into a referendum on black hair?HuffPost Live's Alicia Menendez rounded up a group of ladies--including a former gymnast and running coach--to tackle the topic and shed some light on the hairy situation. WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE, AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION IN THE COMMENTS BELOWFor more provocative conversations, visit . HuffPost Live launches August 13th!Related on HuffPost:?LONDON -- Women's gymnastics all-around champion Gabby Douglas likes her hairstyle just fine, thanks.The 16-year-old said Sunday she was a little confused when she logged onto her computer after winning her second gold medal in three days and discovered people were debating her pulled-back look."I don't know where this is coming from. What's wrong with my hair?" said Douglas, the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in team and all-around competition. "I'm like, `I just made history and people are focused on my hair?' It can be bald or short, it doesn't matter about (my) hair."Douglas uses gel, clips and a ponytail holder to keep things in place while she competes, a style she's worn for years."Nothing is going to change," she said. "I'm going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it."The bubbly teenager is the first African-American gymnast to win her sport's biggest prize. She had no idea she was lighting up social media until she Googled herself hours after winning her gold medal."I don't think people should be worried about that," she said. "We're all champions and we're all winners. I just say that it's kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair."?NORFOLK, Va. — Court records show that the mother of Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas filed for bankruptcy earlier this year in Virginia.The filing was first reported by TMZ, a day after it was revealed that the parents of fellow U.S. Olympian Ryan Lochte were facing foreclosure in Florida.Documents filed in January in the Eastern District of Virginia show Douglas' mother, Natalie Hawkins, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows people to reorganize their finances and pay down debt over several years.Douglas has been one of the most popular athletes at the Olympics in London, becoming the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics. The 4-foot-11 16-year-old taken home two gold medals so far and has become an international superstar, winning over fans with her smile and the nickname "Flying Squirrel."The gymnast's agent has fielded hundreds of emails from businesses, talk shows and magazines interested in Douglas, and she's already slated to appear on the cover of a Corn Flakes box. She stands to earn millions of dollars from endorsement deals and other ventures. Douglas has been training for two years in Iowa and hasn't been home to Virginia Beach since then.The bankruptcy filings list Hawkins as having assets totaling $163,706, with a townhouse in Virginia Beach and a 2007 Nissan Maxima accounting for the bulk of it.Hawkins said the bankruptcy filing allowed her "to still be able to live and reorganize my debt in such a way that I could still pay what I owed.""It's my story, it's part of me. I'm not even embarrassed about it," Hawkins said Sunday in London. "It shows that even though I didn't like to have to do it, I'm glad there was something there for me to be able to protect my home."Hawkins also lists roughly $80,000 in debts. The bulk of that is from her mortgage. Hawkins is separated from her husband and lists about $2,500 in income a month, which comes from Social Security disability benefits and child support, according to the documents.Natalie Hawkins went on long-term medical disability in 2009, and there were six months when the single mother of four had little to no income. In addition to mortgage payments for her home, there were expenses for Douglas' training and her other three children.An order issued in March says Hawkins is to pay $400 a month toward her debts over a nearly five-year period.?Gabby Douglas now to go with she won with her U.S. teammates. Dubbed the "Flying Squirrel" for her impressive array of aerial skills, Douglas edged Russian gymnast Victoria Komova, who took silver. of Russia by after American Aly Raisman finished with an . The 16-year-old Douglas scored 62.232 while Komova scored 61.973. The Russian star took the last turn on the floor and couldn't reach the score needed to overtake Douglas. Beaming after finishing a sterling turn on the floor, Douglas could only wait and watch. Komova or higher to pass Douglas for gold but for a solid routine. Douglas , despite coming perilously close to stepping off the track on her landing. In first place after the first rotation, Douglas scored 15.733 on the uneven bars, 15.500 on the beam and closed with a 15.033 on the floor. Douglas' all-around gold medal that an American woman has won the event, including the two previous golds won by Nastia Luikin (2008) and Carly Patterson (2004). Mary Lou Retton was the the all-around title in 1984. A lot was going through my mind, I was like, Yes all the hard work has paid off, , via Bloomberg, after being award her second gold medal of the London Games. I was speechless. Tears of joy and just waving to the crowd.Having during the U in the team competition and captured individual all-around gold, at the U.S. Olympic Trials no longer seems like such an upset.Entering the London Olympics, Douglas' teammate Jordyn Wieber was the favorite to win individual all-around gold. In a surprising turn of events, Wieber , finishing behind Douglas and Aly Raisman during qualification and missing out due to the two-per country rule. Not long after Douglas won gold, Wieber congratulated her teammate on Twitter.?Ahhhh.... thanks so much for the information, and insight. See my comment above. I'm so conflicted over this guy because of his great maturity and integrity in his politics and deep humanism. Look at some of his work.... the CBC channel, Canada, showed Good Night and Good Luck last night, and I watched it for first time since saw it in theatre in 2005 or 2006. I've seen the side of him in media where he's a prankster always liking to get people off guard, to point of silliness. I even admired his honesty re. the having children aspect of marriage.... that he "had no desire to reproduce himself." Meaning not that fear of eternal death w/o leaving offspring behind to feel like you'll be around forever. But his attitude toward women.... that use the Kleenex and throw it away thing.... Celine Belitran, how do you know it was really "serious."?PARIS - True style doesn't try too hard.That was the statement at Paris Fashion Week, alarmingly simple, but proved in a number of ready-to-wear presentations Sunday which heralded a move towards clean, simplified elegance.Celine designer Phoebe Philo at the top of her game produced a chic display, effortlessly.Three years after the lauded Briton's Celine debut, she delivered a strong show, which evoked her boho-bourgeois style in soft silhouettes with subtle architecture.Another of Paris' influential designers, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, presented a new vision of style Sunday.Again, Tisci channeled a clean look, simplifying the house silhouette in a less elaborate yet sophisticated collection.Hermes the house of the jet-setting fashion buyer served up the elegance in its usual cocktail of travel, silk, leather and exotic cultural references.Summing up his show, the house's designer Christophe Lemaire said it represented "a clean, sharp, modernist traveller."Monday's highly anticipated shows include Stella McCartney, Chloe and the hottest ticket of the week Hedi Slimane's debut outing as designer for the rebranded Saint Laurent.___CELINESpring is about gentle contradictions, not colour, Phoebe Philo seemed to say: Shown through a muted palette of black, white, navy and grey.The real point of the show was the gentle play on contrasting lines, then textures, then form.Loosely hanging silhouettes often with attention to neck details in high necks, bands and twists came in column or boxy shapes, with a couple of black A-line tuxedo-dresses for good measure.The gloss of sheeny silks whispered a contrast against matte fabric.Philo has often been noted for her chic "utilitarian tailoring," which she delivers with uncanny ease.Here we saw it used artistically in hemline frays which turned into tassels, and twisted fabric that wrapped round the back sewn crudely together in a lump.It's a style that wouldn't look out of place on Juliette Binoche, for example, who accepted a best-actress award at Cannes in 2010 in custom Celine.The house is right in fancying themselves as Paris calendar's arty side.When fashion insiders asked to see the mandatory program notes, there were wry smiles as they were handed a text-free book of collage pictures.___GIVENCHYTrend-setting designer Riccardo Tisci changed the direction of Givenchy's ready-to-wear Sunday.He simplified the silhouette to a more flattened and spread out front-and-shoulder emphasis in 37 black, white and grey looks.A strong voice in the fashion conversation, Tisci's tailoring influences designers far and wide.Last spring, for instance, he brought back the peplum.Now, hardly a collection goes by without one cropping up.The wilder bondage-gear touches that added spice to last season's equestrian-inspired trip, were gone here, in a less elaborate display but which had its moments of clean elegance.A great feature was the clean, descending ripples in many of the looks which are sure to spread into other collections like wildfire.But for a designer who likes to live dangerously, this more saleable collection though a departure from last season felt at times like he was playing-it-safe.___HERMESThe fashion crowd got their summer holidays early flown first class across a vibrant mix of Polynesian prints and colour-rich baroque foulard motifs.Several of the models carried hang luggage. The mascot of the house, after all, is an airborne messenger.The looks stopped off at every fabric under the sun: in full grain leather woven in silk, washed silk twill, plunged lambskin, satin piping and lovely indigo denim linen.Colours too, were diverse in cappuccino, terracotta, sulphur, emerald, cobalt and the palette's most beautiful celadon.The flight this season stopped off at the Netherlands and Germany with tinges of the geometry and graphics of 1930s."I'm a modernist at heart," Lemaire said following the show, hosted next to Paris' Tuileries gardens.This idea was worked into the collection's best looks with a feel of famed Dutch painter Piet Mondrian who used geometric shapes and blocks of colours that could be seen in several of the final looks.Printed geometric floaty silk blouses and slightly jarring assorted pants made bold statements.They also featured the slight play on masculine styles that Lemaire likes to toy with periodically: A cotton wool cravate appeared on most of the looks as a man's tie, tucked into a hoop.The result was pure luxury, air delivered as only Hermes can.___KENZOKenzo headed back to the Southeast Asian jungle Sunday in a vibrant, fun collection that picked up their last menswear theme: A rainforest trek.After just one year at the helm, the hard work of designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim has paid off: They've managed to re-stamp the brand with a cool, populist edge.But they're serious about their work in other ways too: Fashion insiders had to live the catwalk theme literally by trekking to the far-flung venue, the Maison de Judo, on the Paris city limits.In bold sometimes purposefully garish orange vermilions and greens, the collection threw up some great wide pants and boxy-shaped jackets as well as a lot of safari-style street wear.Though some of the jungle printed ensembles looked overly busy a beautiful camouflage print made up for it with images of flowers that looked like leopard.But there was art in the detail too, with the designers showing a flair for tailoring in great utilitarian features._____Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ / — True style doesn't try too hard.That was the statement at Paris Fashion Week, alarmingly simple, but proved in a number of ready-to-wear presentations Sunday which heralded a move towards clean, simplified elegance.Celine designer Phoebe Philo – at the top of her game – produced a chic display, effortlessly.Three years after the lauded Briton's Celine debut, she delivered a strong show, which evoked her boho-bourgeois style in soft silhouettes with subtle architecture.Another of Paris' influential designers, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, presented a new vision of style Sunday.Again, Tisci channeled a clean look, simplifying the house silhouette in a less elaborate yet sophisticated collection.Hermes – the house of the jet-setting fashion buyer – served up the elegance in its usual cocktail of travel, silk, leather and exotic cultural references.Summing up his show, the house's designer Christophe Lemaire said it represented "a clean, sharp, modernist traveler."Monday's highly anticipated shows include Stella McCartney, Chloe – and the hottest ticket of the week – Hedi Slimane's debut outing as designer for the rebranded Saint Laurent.___CELINESpring is about gentle contradictions, not color, Phoebe Philo seemed to say: Shown through a muted palette of black, white, navy and gray.The real point of the show was the gentle play on contrasting lines, then textures, then form.Loosely hanging silhouettes – often with attention to neck details in high necks, bands and twists – came in column or boxy shapes, with a couple of black A-line tuxedo-dresses for good measure.The gloss of sheeny silks whispered a contrast against matte fabric.Philo has often been noted for her chic "utilitarian tailoring," which she delivers with uncanny ease.Here we saw it used artistically in hemline frays which turned into tassels, and twisted fabric that wrapped round the back sewn crudely together in a lump.It's a style that wouldn't look out of place on Juliette Binoche, for example, who accepted a best-actress award at Cannes in 2010 in custom Celine.The house is right in fancying themselves as Paris calendar's arty side.When fashion insiders asked to see the mandatory program notes, there were wry smiles as they were handed a text-free book of collage pictures.___GIVENCHYTrend-setting designer Riccardo Tisci changed the direction of Givenchy's ready-to-wear Sunday.He simplified the silhouette to a more flattened and spread out front-and-shoulder emphasis in 37 black, white and gray looks.A strong voice in the fashion conversation, Tisci's tailoring influences designers far and wide.Last spring, for instance, he brought back the peplum.Now, hardly a collection goes by without one cropping up.The wilder bondage-gear touches that added spice to last season's equestrian-inspired trip, were gone here, in a less elaborate display – but which had its moments of clean elegance.A great feature was the clean, descending ripples in many of the looks which are sure to spread into other collections like wildfire.But for a designer who likes to live dangerously, this more saleable collection_ though a departure from last season – felt at times like he was playing-it-safe.___HERMESThe fashion crowd got their summer holidays early – flown first class across a vibrant mix of Polynesian prints and color-rich baroque foulard motifs.Several of the models carried hang luggage. The mascot of the house, after all, is an airborne messenger.The looks stopped off at every fabric under the sun: in full grain leather woven in silk, washed silk twill, plunged lambskin, satin piping and lovely indigo denim linen.Colors too, were diverse in cappuccino, terracotta, sulphur, emerald, cobalt and _the palette's most beautiful – celadon.The flight this season stopped off at the Netherlands and Germany_ with tinges of the geometry and graphics of 1930s."I'm a modernist at heart," Lemaire said following the show, hosted next to Paris' Tuileries gardens.This idea was worked into the collection's best looks with a feel of famed Dutch painter Piet Mondrian – who used geometric shapes and blocks of colors that could be seen in several of the final looks.Printed geometric floaty silk blouses and slightly jarring assorted pants made bold statements.They also featured the slight play on masculine styles that Lemaire likes to toy with periodically: A cotton wool cravate appeared on most of the looks as a man's tie, tucked into a hoop.The result was pure luxury, air delivered as only Hermes can.___KENZOKenzo headed back to the Southeast Asian jungle Sunday in a vibrant, fun collection that picked up their last menswear theme: A rainforest trek.After just one year at the helm, the hard work of designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim has paid off: They've managed to re-stamp the brand with a cool, populist edge.But they're serious about their work in other ways too: Fashion insiders had to live the catwalk theme – literally – by trekking to the far-flung venue, the Maison de Judo, on the Paris city limits.In bold – sometimes purposefully garish – orange vermilions and greens, the collection threw up some great wide pants and boxy-shaped jackets as well as a lot of safari-style street wear.Though some of the jungle printed ensembles looked overly busy – a beautiful camouflage print made up for it with images of flowers that looked like leopard.But there was art in the detail too, with the designers showing a flair for tailoring in great utilitarian features._____Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /'s been a lot of buzz about "Glee" Season 4 since rumors of departing cast members and a crushing season finale. But at Comic-Con on Saturday night, cast members Lea Michele (Rachel), Cory Monteith (Finn), Naya Rivera (Santana), Kevin McHale (Artie), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Darren Criss (Blaine), and executive producers Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan, and Dante DiLoreto cleared up all the rumors and offered the Comic-Con crowd scoop on Season 4 of "Glee."Season 3 ended with the heartbreaking split of Finn and Rachel and much like Finchel fans, Michele wasn't happy about it, at least initially. "I was so mad when I read it in the script," she told the Comic-Con fans. "I cried all day during filming. But after reading it over and over and over again I finally understood that he was doing the right thing for Rachel."When "Glee" Season 4 picks up, it's September and school is starting for Rachel at NYADA and back at McKinley, life goes on in the choir room.As for new , who plays a NYADA dance instructor, Falchuk said, "It's a really fun character. It's the difference between the Will version of teaching and more negative reinforcement."Rachel is exploring the challenges of being in New York and being there alone. Michele added Rachel will be competing with "1800 other Rachel Berrys" at NYADA.Kurt will be back in Lima, but mentally and emotionally, he's in an "interesting place," according to Falchuk. He wouldn't say explicitly if Kurt will still follow Rachel to New York, but he added, "Those two are best friends so it'd be hard to keep them apart." What about Klaine? A full-bearded Criss said, "I think we all want to see them together for as long as possible. The inevitable pitfalls of a long-distance relationship produce a lot of conflict. I don't know, I'm just an actor! The new format of the show is gonna shake everything up." As for Santana, she's a cheerleader at UC Louisville, but not much else of her storyline has been established. And Brittana? "I don't know, I think right now as we left it, they're really good and they definitely love each other so I hope they'll make it," Rivera said.Like Klaine and Brittana in "Glee" Season 4, Mike (Harry Shum) and Tina (Ushkowitz) are also trying to maintain a long distance relationship.Meanwhile, Finn is preparing for bootcamp and Falchuk said, "We're gonna shave his head next week -- let's do it right now!" But Michele said, "First is Darren's beard. That's coming off right now." Criss joked, "I got it from the ."The New Directions are "underdogs again, desperately trying to get 12 kids for sectionals," Brennan told the Comic-Con fans. McHale said Artie hopes to be the big man on McKinley's campus. "It's anybody's game right now. I'll roll over anybody's feet to get that crown," McHale said.Does that mean we'll get to see more of Artie? "I've been pitching a story for Artie's mom since literally the first episode," Brennan explained. "I want her to be a hoarder." McHale said Katey Segal of "Sons of Anarchy" has really been pushing that and he's "all for that." McHale added, "Harry Connick Jr. could also be my dad."Falchuk said that "everyone who was a season regular last season ... will be back next year," although almost no one will be in every episode since the characters are so spread out. Of that challenge, Brennan said, "We've had the characters at different locations before. It's just a matter of making sure those stories talk to each other. They're in this adult world with adult relationships and paying rent ... it's evolution."Falchuk hopes more characters will be part of that evolution: Chord Overstreet and "The Glee Project" alum Sam Larsen (Joe) and Alex Newell (Wade/Unique) are in talks to become series regulars.What music can we expect to hear in Season 4? "It's a great combination," Falchuk said. " There's classic rock in there, there's stuff I've never heard of and more modern." Criss worried about having to sing "Call Me Maybe" and Michele wanted to sing Robyn's "Dancing On My Own." She also said Ryan Murphy gave her the wrong Celine Dion song last season. She wanted "To Love You More," but was too embarrassed to tell him when he gave her "It's All Coming Back To Me."The second episode of Season 4 is "Glee's" second Britney Spears episode, which Falchuk called "hilarious." "It'll be interesting to take the Britney theme in the choir room and move it to New York and [see] how it affects Rachel and her story," he added.What about the word on the street that we'll meet " Falchuk would only say, "I've heard that rumor too."Will there be a wedding for Will and Emma? "They're engaged. They're not gonna get married right away," Falchuk said. "They're living together and love each other and doing things."As for what the cast has going on off the set of "Glee," Rivera said she's working on an album. "We have a single. It's dance-pop and it's called 'My Heart.'" Criss talked about his role in "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." "I never thought I'd be working on TV, much less Broadway," he said. "There's no one who deserves it more than this one," Michele gushed to the Comic-Con crowd.Catch a clip from the "Glee" panel below:"Glee" returns to Fox in the fall on a new day and at a new time: Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.Related on HuffPost:?Before Adele cleaned house at the , we noticed something unique (and pretty funny) about music's biggest night. Perhaps the greatest part of the show is seeing musicians win a BUNCH of awards and then have to walk out in front of the press while trying to hold them all at once.We mean come on: when was the last time you saw someone holding six Oscar awards? In this respect, the Grammys stand alone. So how many Grammys is too many to hold? Let's just say that better watch his back, because he's got some competition here. Vote for your favorite picture! ?I'm a man and I don't think she's gorgeous, although she's sort of appealing. She's had the lithe (but not bombshell) body and hair always, but the face is kind of average charlie-brownish. As an actress she was barely passable, but now she's just a giant attention-seeking monster who isn't good at anything shes does, from acting in the terrible Iron Man 2 to that barely passable singing. She's approaching total FAIL at warp speed, and seems to have no idea, which makes her clueless, conceited and unattractive.?Happy Canada Day! On July 1, it's time to celebrate the -- and what better way celebrate than with your favorite Canadian celebrities?Sharing a massive border with the United States means sharing a ton of talented people, and Hollywood is filled with Canadians who found fame once they headed south. Check out some of the hottest Canadian celebrities: Related on HuffPost:?Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change that approach.?If you like 90-degree angles, this house is not for you.There are very few right corners in this unique mansion on the shores of the Credit River in Mississauga, near Toronto. Built in the mid-70s, the house is designed around octagonal shapes -- an octagonal living room, an octagonal master bedroom, even a near-octagonal indoor pool room.But even more noticeable is the home's unusual exterior, which appears to both blend into the scenery, and stand out from with its with bizarre, protruding shapes. It's as if relentless modernism collided with a hobbit hole.Fans of design will recognize the influence of legendary architect , and maybe Spanish architect as well. Architect Fred Roman, of Toronto's Predrag K. Roman Architects, says it took him 20 months to come up with the concept. Construction was only slightly faster, with the house taking a year to build (two months alone for the master bedroom).Though the house may not appear large, everything in it comes in large quantities: Five bedrooms, five baths, nine access points to the outdoors, six fireplaces, and no fewer than 12 parking places. Not to mention a wine cellar and an indoor pool. In all, some 10,000 square feet of living space on 2.3 acres of land.Over the years the property has gained the attention of some prominent people, most noticeably Keith Richards of Rolling Stones fame, who, according to , has rented the property on several occasions (probably while the Stones were ). According to Good Life Mississauga, the British rocker . But it can be yours, permanently, for $6.8 million.? 2011 seemed like a year of relentless newsmaking, and, as it turns out, Canadians played a large part in it. Here's a look at how this country influenced world events. Adbusters magazine If the anti-corporate protests that have swept the world this fall can be traced to a single trigger, it would be a July 13 blog post by the Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters. The headline was a simple, Twitter-savvy directive: #OccupyWallStreet. Inspired by the pro-democracy demonstrations in the Middle East and anti-austerity actions in Spain, Adbusters directed readers to flock to lower Manhattan on Sept. 17 to protest the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America. The prime target was the so-called 1 per cent, the wealthy minority perceived to be responsible for the global financial crisis. Representing the 99 per cent, the movement that began in New Yorks Zuccotti Park quickly went viral and spread to more than 90 cities worldwide, from Kamloops to Kuala Lumpur. Critics charged that the protesters message was too unfocused to matter, but the resulting media coverage and political hand-wringing made it clear that Occupy became a force to be reckoned with. Mark Carney Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has been a golden boy in banking circles since March 2008, when he made the bold move of drastically lowering interest rates. Why? He saw the financial crisis coming and did what he felt was necessary to shield Canadians from a global recession. Since then, hes been universally lauded for his stewardship of the Canadian economy. In November, Carney was named chairman of the Financial Stability Board, the Swiss-based international regulatory body. The position is only a part-time job, but all the same, it prompted Macleans magazine to call Carney The Canadian Hired to Save the World. Canadas role in Libya When pro-democracy protests emerged in Libya in February, Col. Moammar Gadhafi responded with a campaign of brutal suppression. Under the auspices of NATO, countries such as the U.S., France, Britain and Canada intervened, first to establish an arms embargo and a no-fly zone to deter the Libyan government from bombing its own citizens, and later to execute air strikes on positions held by Gadhafi loyalists. Commanded by Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, Operation Unified Protector is seen as having prevented the slaughter of anti-Gadhafi forces and the partitioning of the country, as well as having been crucial to the overthrow of Gadhafi. While it was not without casualties, the mission has been lauded for meeting its aims in a limited timeframe (March to October). It also reflected Canadas heightened presence in world conflicts not only was a Canadian at the helm, but Canadian planes flew more than 1,000 sorties. The Vancouver riots photo One of the most mortifying moments for Canada as a nation also inspired one of the most poignant. After the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup finals on June 15, discontented fans rioted in the streets. Amid images of burning cars, looting and other assorted mischief was a picture by photographer Rich Lam of a couple lying in the street in a romantic embrace. The backstory is that Scott Jones was trying to calm his girlfriend, Alex Thomas, after she was knocked over by riot police. A glimpse of humanity on an otherwise savage night, Esquire magazine named it the Photo of the Year. Research in Motions annus horribilus Theres no sugarcoating it: Research in Motion, Canadas one-time tech darling, had a spectacularly bad year. Hoping to take a bite out of Apples dominance in the smartphone and tablet markets, the Waterloo, Ont. company faced a seemingly never-ending stream of setbacks. Here are the biggies: 1. The launch of the PlayBook, RIMs first tablet, in April was met with jeers. Citing its disappointing apps store and the fact that the PlayBook lacked email access without a link to a BlackBerry, critics wondered why the tablet hadnt spent more time in R&D. (Due to soft consumer demand, RIM ended up chopping the retail price from $500 to $200.) 2. Disappointing overall sales of its phones and tablets forced the company to cut 2,000 jobs in July. 3. In October, a three-day service outage cut off access to email and texting for millions of "CrackBerry"-addicted users in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 4. In November, two RIM executives on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Beijing got so drunk and rowdy they forced the pilot to make an unscheduled stop in Vancouver. They were subsequently fired. 5. Even an ostensibly good-news story namely, the BlackBerrys success in Indonesia turned into another debacle, when the December launch of the Bold 9790 smartphone in Jakarta caused a stampede that injured dozens of people. Canada dominates the pop charts We all know that Canada's musicians are world-class, and that an increasing number of them are international stars. But it is nonetheless striking that Canadians held four of the top five albums on the Billboard 200 chart for the week of December 17. Crooner Michael Bubl took the No. 1 spot with the holiday album Christmas; teen sensation Justin Bieber nabbed No. 3 with his own yuletide offering, Under the Mistletoe; rapper Drake grabbed the fourth spot with Take Care; and rockers Nickelback rounded out the top five with Here and Now. This eclectic group not only proves the global appeal of Canadian music, but the diversity of our talent. Related on HuffPost: ? about the models at Celine, who eschewed the handles altogether and instead carried their bags from the bottom, like a too-heavy sack of groceries, Glass says, "What I am picking up from this is that in this day and age, women are carrying around a lot more things. It's like a virtual office in their purses, and the handles make things feels heavier, so this new way of holding the purse may be more practical and less cumbersome."?Charles Bukowski was disgusting, his actual real fiction is awful, he's been called a , overly simplistic, the worst narcissist, (and probably all of the above are true to an extent) and whenever there's a collection of "Greatest American Writers" he's never included.And yet... he's probably the greatest American writer ever. Whether you've read him or not, and most have not, there's 6 things worthy of learning from an artist like Bukoswski.I consider Ham on Rye by Bukowski probably the greatest American novel ever written. It's an autobiographical novel (as are all his novels except Pulp, which is so awful it's unreadable) about his childhood, being beaten by his parents, avoiding war, and beginning his life of destitution, hardship, alcoholism, and the beginnings of his education as a writer.I'm almost embarrassed to admit he's an influence. Many people hate him and I'm much more afraid of being judged than he ever was.1) Honesty. His first four novels are extremely autobiographical. He details the suffering he had as a child (putting his parents in a very bad light but he didn't care), he details his experiences with prostitutes, his lack of interest in holding down a job, his horrible experiences and lack of real respect for the women he was in relationships with, and on and on. His fiction and poetry document thoroughly the people he hates, the authors he despises, the establishment he could care less about (and he hated the anti-establishment just as much. One quote about a potential plan the hippie movement was going to do: "Run a pig for president? What the fuck is that? It excited them. It bored me.").Most fiction writers do what fiction writers do: they make stuff up. They tell stories that come from their imagination. Bukowski wasn't really able to do that. Whenever he attempted fiction (his last novel being a great example) it fell flat. Even his poetry is non-fiction.There's one story he wrote (I forget the name) where he's sitting in a bar and he wants to be alone and some random guy starts talking to him: "its horrible about all those girls who were burned" and Bukowski says (I'm getting the words a little off. Doing this from memory), "I don't know." And the guy and everyone else in the bar starts yelling, "This guy doesn't care that all those little girls burned to death". But Bukowski was honest, "It was a newspaper headline. If it happened in front of me I'd probably feel different about it." And he refused to back down and stayed in the bar until closing time.He had very few boundaries as to how far his honesty could go. He never wrote about his daughter after she reached a certain age. That's about the only boundary I can find. Every other writer has so many things they can't write about: family, spouses, exes, children, jobs, bosses, colleagues, friends. That's why they make stuff up. Bukowski didn't let himself get hampered by that so we see real raw honest, a real anthropological survey of being down and out for 60+ years without anything being held back. No other writer before or since has done that. For a particular example, see his novel, Women which detailed every sexual nuance of every woman who dared to sleep with him after he achieved some success. Most of these women were horrified after the book came out.I try as hard as possible to remove all boundaries. 2) Persistence. Bukowski got two stories published when he was young (24 and 26 years old) but almost all of his stories were rejected by publishers. So he quit writing for ten years. Then, in the mid 1950s he started up again. He submitted tons of poems and stories everywhere he could. It took him years to get published. It took him even more years to get really noticed. And it finally took him about 15 years of writing every day and writing thousands of poems and stories before he finally started making a living as a writer. He wrote his first novel at the age of 49 and it was financially successful. After 25 years of plugging away at it he was finally a successful writer.25 years!Most people give up much earlier, much younger. Both my grandfather and father wanted to be musicians, for instance. Both gave up in their 20s and 30s and took what they thought was the safer route. (The safer route being, in my opinion, what ultimately killed both of them).And this persistence was while he was going through three marriages, dozens of jobs, and non-stop alcoholism. Some of this is documented (poorly) in the move Barfly but I think a better movie about Bukowski is the indie that Matt Dillon did about his novel, Factotum which details the 10 years he was going from job to job, woman to woman, just trying to survive as an alcoholic in a world that kept beating him down.He wrote his first novel in 19 days. Michael Hemmingson, whom I write about below, wrote me and said Bukowski had to finish that novel so fast because he was desperately afraid he was going to be a failure at being a successful writer and didn't want to disappoint John Martin, who had essentially given him an advance for the novel.3) Survival. When I think "constant alcoholic," I usually equate that with being a homeless bum. Bukowski, at some deep level, realized that he needed to survive. He couldn't just be a homeless bum and kill himself, no matter how many disappointments he had. He worked countless factory jobs (the basis of the non-fiction novel, Factotun) but even that wasn't stable enough for him. Finally, he took a job working for the US government (you can't get more stable) working in the post office for 11 years. He didn't miss child support payments (although he constantly wrote about how ugly the mother of his child was), and as far as I know he was never homeless or totally down and out from his early 30s 'til the time he started having success as a writer.And despite writing about the overwhelming poverty he had, he did have a small inheritance from his father, a savings account he built up, and a steady paycheck. The post office job is documented, in full, in his first "novel" called, appropriately, Post Office. Many people think that's his best novel but I put it third or fourth behind Ham on Rye and Factotum and possibly Women. He also wrote a novel, Hollywood, about the blow-by-blow experience of doing the movie Barfly. All the names are changed (hence its claim to be fiction) but once you figure out who everyone is, its totally non-fiction. Like all of his other novels (not counting Pulp, which was the worst American novel ever written and published).[See, -- many tips I got from reading his books.]4) Discipline. Imagine working a brutal 10-hour shift at the Post Office, coming home and arguing with your wife or girlfriend, or half-girlfriend, half-prostitute that was living with you, finishing off three or four six-packs of beer and then... writing. He did it every day. Most people want to write that novel, or finish that painting, or start that business, but have zero discipline to actually sit down and do it. If there was any talent that Bukowski had that I can't actually figure out how he got it, its that discipline.When he was younger (early 20s, late teens) he spent almost every day in the library, falling in love with all the great writers. The love must have been so great it superseded almost everything else in his life. He had to write like them or he really felt like he would die. He had to "put down a good line" as he would say. And every day he would try. And good, bad, or ugly, he probably ultimately ended up publishing (many posthumously) everything he ever wrote. I try to match that discipline. Even when I don't post a blog post I write seven days a week, every morning. At least 1000 words and a completed post. I used to do this in my 20s when I was trying to write fiction. My minimum then was 3000 words. I did that for five years.It adds up. The average book is 60,000 words. If you can write 1000 words a day then you'll have 6 books by the end of the year. Because poetry books are much smaller, Bukowski probably had around 80 or so books published by the time he was dead and I bet there are more coming.5) His "literary map". He was inspired by several writers and he inspired many more. Some of my favorite writers come from both categories. He was probably most inspired by three writers: Celine, Knut Hamsun, and John Fante. I highly recommend Celine's Journey to the End of the Night. Celine is almost a more raw version of Bukowski. He was constantly angry and trying to survive and do whatever it took to survive. The thing about Bukowski, as opposed to many other writers, is he didn't concern himself with flowery images or beautiful sunsets. He totally wrote as if he were speaking to you and Celine does that to an extreme but he's so raw and smart that the way he "speaks" is like an insane person trying to spew out as much venom as possible. 600 pages later his first book is a masterpiece and I often use it in my pre-writing hour every morning when I read stuff to inspire myself to write.John Fante wrote the underappreciated Ask the Dust which was completely forgotten until Bukowski's publisher republished it and all of Fante's books. (I also recommend the movie with Colin Farrell and a naked Salma Hayek).Bukowski was almost afraid to admit how much Fante directly influenced him. He wrote in one "short story", "I realized that admitting John Bante had been such a great influence on my writing might detract from my own work, as if part of me was a carbon copy, but I didn't give a damn. It's when you hide things that you choke on them."Note he spelled "Fante" as "Bante". That's the extent of Bukowski's fiction. Another interesting thing is the last line. Nothing flowery, nothing descriptively beautiful, yet a line like that is what made Bukowski unique and one of the best writers ever, getting at the hidden truth of what was really happening in his head, rather than telling yet another boring story filled with flowery descriptions like most books and stories are.Then there's the authors Bukowski influenced. Michael Hemmingson wrote an excellent review of Bukowski in the book The Dirty Realism Duo: Bukowski and Carver, which I highly recommend. Raymond Carver comes from the same genre of down-and-out, oppressive relationships that were beyond his ability to cope with them, and realist, simple writing that was mostly autobiographical (although that's a little less clear in Carver's case). I'd also throw Denis Johnson's book of short stories (Jesus' Son) in that category (Johnson studied with Carver) and more recently, books like the above-mentioned Michael Hemmingson's Crack Hotel, The Comfort of Women, My Date(Rape) with Kathy Acker and other stories. I'm dying to find other writers in this category.I how Denis Johnson needed $10,000 to pay the IRS. So he threw together some vignettes he had forgotten about, called the collection Jesus' Son and sent it off to Jonathan Galassi and said, "here, you can have these if you pay the IRS". So I Facebook-friended Galassi and asked him if he could tell me one author in Denis Johnson's league but I'm still waiting for a response.I wish I could find more writers like these. Perhaps William Vollmann who wrote Butterfly Stories but his bigger fiction is too difficult for me to read (anecdote: he wrote the afterward to the recently re-published Celine's Journey of the Night so all of these writers tend to recognize their common lineage.)6) Poetry. I really hate poetry. When I open up the New Yorker (blecch!) and read the latest poems in there I can't understand them, they all seem like gibberish to me, they all seem too intellectual. And yet, out of all the poets I've read, the only ones I really like are: Bukowski, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson. Poetry allowed them to master making each word in a sentence effective and powerful. It was this training that allowed them to destroy the competition when they sat down to write their longer pieces. It makes me want to try my hand at poetry but even the word "poetry" sounds so pseudo-intellectual I just have no interest in doing it.Bukowski: , postal worker, misogynist (there's a you can easily find on Youtube where he must be almost 60 and he literally kicks his wife in anger while he's being interviewed), anti-war, anti-peace, anti-everything, hated everyone, probably insecure, extremely honest, and he had to write every day or it would kill him.In his own words, words which I hope to live by: "What a joy it must be to be a truly great writer, even if it means a shotgun at the finish".------------------------Suggested Reading:Biographical:- Michael Hemmingson: The Dirty Realism Due: Charles Bukowski and Raymond Carver- Howard Sounes: ""Bukowski's Writings (that I recommend):Other fiction in the "Dirty Realism"category: Poem:by Raymond Carver.Article: Movies:"Factotum"If anyone can think of anybody else in this specific "dirty realism" category, please put it in the comments. I'd also like to read women in this category but I think it's a particularly male category. Jack Kerouac falls somewhere in there but he's more "beat" which I think is different. And Chad Kultgen's recent books ("The Average American Male", for instance) are also somewhat in the realism category but not quite "dirty" enough. Follow James Altucher on Twitter:?She never claimed to be a singer. She was reluctant to do this after being asked (but declining) points for her courage to do it anyways. As some have said here, considering it was impromptu, it was pretty good. Come on, she's an actress that will play a singer. She will likely have voice coaching in prepartion for the movie as most actors do.Context here. A quote from the director Michael Sucsy "These women learned to harmonize and they learned to play instruments," he explains. "They weren't these amazing, accomplished singers who banded together. "It's not just like, 'Hey, you can play the guitar, I can play the piano, I can play the harmonica. Let's put a band together.' It's like, 'We have to get out of jail, and if we have to put a band together to do that, then that's what we're going to do.' "?Click here to leave a comment.HuffPost High School welcomes a lively, thoughtful debate in the comment section. Keep in mind that the articles here are penned by young authors, so please keep criticism respectful, and help us to keep this a safe and supportive place for writers of all ages to contribute.?Oooh we do love a diva demand here at HuffPost Celeb. Heck, even we threw a full-scale diva strop this morning when our tea wasn't the right colour (sorry workie) but that's nothing compared to 's latest request.The singer has reportedly banned staff working on her new home from talking to or making eye contact with her. Ooooh, get 'er etc, etc.Yep, according to the Daily Star, J.Lo doesn't want to be getting into any conflabs about guttering or roofing with the hired help involved in building her huge new mansion in San Fernando, California.A source told the paper: Blimey. J.Lo and Casper Smart in New York last nightMeanwhile, Jen's got away from all that noise and dust back home with a trip to New York. . > IN PICS: CELEB DIVASAlso on HuffPost:?I was six feet away from her backstage. The entourage of security guards were distracted with other business. Now was my only chance to appease my obsession and jump into her arms. So why didn't I take it?A month ago I got the call: "Will you do a gig for free next month?" "Which gig?" "Emceeing Oprah's Lifeclass Tour stop in Toronto." Thud (that's me hitting the floor). "Eeeeey-y-yesssssughhhh" (that's me ugly-crying while I accept the job). "See you on the 16th." I was humbled, amazed, and incredibly grateful. Oprah's on my vision board. I quote Iyanla Vanzant regularly. Tony Robbins' tapes are the motivator that got me pumped to give comedy a try 12 years ago. I have most of Deepak Choprah's books. Hosting this event would mean meeting all of them. Highlight of my professional life, right? Yes. But for reasons I wasn't expecting. If you've seen my website recently, you'll see that I'm making the shift from comedian to motivational speaker and comedian. The change being that I now want to make people laugh AND give them a few helpful take-aways. It stems from the learning I've done since recovering from postpartum depression and creative dry-spells. Over the last seven years, I have soaked up every piece of constructive insight in the fields of positive psychology -- going so far as to become trained as a life and group coach last summer. Every bit of work and training and practicing my skills as an entertainer culminated in the experience of hosting on April 16, 2012. I arrived backstage at 7:30 a.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, bypassing the lines of thousands with my coveted backstage pass. "When will you meet Oprah?!?!" friends and fans texted. I was excited, but the Zen of performance prep distracted me, and I focused on my job. Make the audience laugh between speakers. I do that all the time -- just never for an audience of 9,000. The numbers weren't intimidating though, because Oprah's fans are my kind of crowd: eager, excited, and thrilled to be there. I warmed up the audience with some comedy, then introduced Deepak Chopra. Then Iyanla Vanzant. Then Bishop T.D. Jakes. Then Tony Robbins. All of them are my idea of motivational royalty. I was so grateful. "Iyanla Vanzant is the Beatles of self-help," I tweeted. After each introduction I dashed offstage to sit by the monitors, soaking up their energizing messages: be grateful, forgive, push forward, make better decisions, seize your moment! The greatest minds and speakers of the self-help industry were on one stage, and in my opinion, they were flawless. Watching their craft of filling up the audience with possibility was awe-inspiring. They have "it." I think my mouth was agape for at least half of their talks. Then there she was, red dress, perfect hair, smiling without worries, heading up to the stage to do what she does best. The Toronto crowd went just as crazy as you'd expect: we love ourselves some Oprah! After two hours solving people's problems in her validating way, Miss O graciously thanked the crowd and came backstage, wearing a glorious smile and satisfied aura. Which brings me to MY moment. I was standing six feet away, feeling pressure to get the bragging rights of having met one of the greatest icons of womankind. I stared for about a minute, mulling it over. Should I jump her? Meekly present myself? Ask someone backstage to snap a photo? I had an "aha moment." She had already given me her greatest gift: the impact of her message. And that far outweighs any chance to shake her hand. I turned and walked away, smiling.I'll describe it this way: meeting the Beatles would have been cool, but it wouldn't surpass the experience of hearing their music. I was getting an up close encounter with my idols -- and watching them work and seeing their craft was the greatest element I will take away from the experience. "Thanks Oprah" I thought. "Thank you for all you've taught me. For your inspiration. And for bringing this incredible lineup to Toronto. No introduction necessary. You had me at hello." Oprah's gift to her fans is delivered from stage; not in person. And it goes both ways. As Oprah said on the final broadcast of her show: "My greatest joy has been sharing this journey with you."Follow Jessica Holmes on Twitter:?Jessica Sanchez has and last night's finale was no exception. The fearless 16-year-old singer sang the songs of not one (but two!) music legends: Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, and in typical Jessica fashion, she knocked both performances out of the park.Sanchez and fellow finalist Phillip Phillips were asked to sing three songs each on last night's finale: Round one was Idol creator Simon Fuller's choice, round two was the contestants' choice and round three was their official "winner's song," (the first single they'll release following the competition). In round one, Sanchez sang Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," and her vocals have never been more powerful. The half-Mexican, half-Filipina singer followed up that sensational performance with Celine Dion's "The Prayer" in round two, a song that not only showcased her ability to hit the high notes, but also showed off her impressive range and falsetto. For round three, Jessica was given the original song "Change Nothing," and even though the song was a terrible choice for Sanchez (It might be the worst "winner's song" in Idol history), Jessica did what she could with it. Overall, Jessica seemed to have a better night than Phillip. But what say you? Do you think Jessica will become the first Latina to win "American Idol?" Dish in the comments!JESSICA SANCHEZ ON STAGE:?Banner headlines and breathy stories beamed the news that Celine Dion was pregnant at 41 with another child. Immediately, news outlets paraded a list of other age-defying, fabulous-looking celebrities who had babies post-40, as though this is as easy to do as baking a cherry pie. But the truth is there are many pits buried in the sweetness of this story.The Daily Beast presented a slideshow of celebrities pictured with their dimpled-cheeked children and shared the age at which their bundle of joys were conceived and delivered. Halle Barry did it at 41. Salma Hayek at 40, Brooke Shields at 41, with the help of IVF. Susan Sarandon, who was told she couldn't have kids, had Eva at 39, Jack at 42 and Henry at 45. And Iman, we were told, was able to conceive at 44 after following an African fertility custom of holding someone else's baby for a day -- in her case, Christie Brinkley's, who natch had a baby post-40. Okay, now guess how many women believe that having a baby after 40 is not difficult? "Ninety percent of young women are convinced that they can wait until they're 45 to have a baby," says Sylvia Hewlett, the author of "Creating A Life." "That is a recipe for disaster. And this misinformation seriously distorts the thinking of young women. I think this is a great shame. Women need to know the truth and plan accordingly."Here are some sobering facts. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, almost one in five women seeking infertility treatments are over 40 and two-thirds will not be able to get pregnant on their own. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a 40 year old woman going through IVF has a 23 percent chance of getting pregnant using her own eggs, and if conception happens, only a 16 percent chance of carrying the pregnancy through birth. Sure, high-tech fertility treatments up the odds. Twice as many women have children after 40 than 20 years ago. One success story is my sister-in-law who became pregnant naturally at 42. But those odds are still small. I know plenty of other friends who didn't and still live with emotional scars. By the age of 44, there's less than a one percent chance that a woman's eggs can produce a child. Years ago, I asked Manhattan specialist Dr. Jonathan Scher how come so many celebrities were having babies way past 40 and simultaneously claiming that these kids came from their eggs. "Not everyone is telling the truth," Dr. Scher told me. "Many use donor eggs and want to keep it private." (Donor eggs up the ante to a 51 percent success rate.)By the age of 37, fertility drops as quickly as the Dow circa October 2008. It is an indisputable fact just like it still takes nine/ten months to have a baby. I was in my mid-30's when I started going through my IVF treatments. I even went to Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, the same specialist who worked magic for Celine Dion. At first, he asked why I hadn't started earlier than 34. "Had to find the right husband which is not easy to do," I quipped. After six failed IVF treatments, Dr. Rosenwaks suggested I consider donor eggs or adoption. Despondent -- and seriously depleted of my savings because of the $15,000 IVF price tag that CNN, my employer, did not cover -- I went away with my husband to just chillax. Sure enough, I got pregnant naturally and was blessed enough to have my son.Upon my pregnancy test, I marched into Dr. Zev Rosenwaks office, elated and confused. How could this have happened when you said my odds were virtually impossible? "Sometimes, the sun, the moon and stars line up inexplicably and it works," he replied. "But this is still very rare."Yes, I was one of the lucky ones, but never one of the smug ones. I couldn't have another baby despite my valiant efforts and more IVFs and operations. And it made me more convinced of what a disservice all these stories about successful pregnancies create for the many women who are visiting those fertility clinics day after day, shooting themselves with stiletto-sized needles and subjecting themselves to the painful daily blood tests in order to get pregnant. It is not their fault that the results are not positive despite their heroic efforts. We need some more stories about the women who don't get pregnant and how they open up the chamber of their hearts for adopted children, stepchildren or become devoted aunts and teachers. So what do I tell my stepdaughter, now in her 20s, who is building a career and independence so essential to a woman's well being? Settle with a guy before 34 or wait until the right one comes even if it's at 40? I know I'll tell her not to believe the news reports that seem to convey that having a baby at any age is possible. As with most contracts, you have to read the fine print for the disclaimers.Complicating matters, I have an expertise in divorce and see every day what happens when couples marry for the wrong reasons.The truth is I am a much better parent because I waited and because I married the right guy who shared the same devotion to family as I do. A previous pregnancy was aborted because I knew it was neither the right time nor the right guy. Deep in my soul, I still believe that 20 years later and have never regretted that decision. Even knowing what I know, I still would tell my stepdaughter not to settle. But instead be informed of all her options. And as for Celine Dion, the second child she is now carrying was from a fertilized egg created eight years ago. Once again, some media scrambled the story because technically the egg is not from a 41 year old woman. Follow Jill Brooke on Twitter:?"God is love. This means that eventhe greatest source of negativity is love. Ultimately, you must come face-to-face with that and recognize that whatever negativity presents itself is still of the true nature of God,which is love."-- John MortonAs the previous articles in this Laws of Spirit series attest, this sequence of spiritual wisdom steps can be enormously useful in extricating ourselves from the challenges we face each and every day. It is practical spirituality at its best. In order to get to the loving, we have to first work our way through our "issues." This means doing what is necessary to achieve , , and about whatever person, situation, or circumstance we are grappling with. Then, we are simply left with the loving that joins us together as one. Spiritual love is characterized by deep peace, freedom, and an absence of resistance or "againstness." When we love in this way, we unite and embrace the other. When love is unconditional, there is no withholding of our self in any way, nor is there any judgment of our self or others. There is no hidden agenda of how we want the situation or person to change. We may not like the person or situation involved very much, but we recognize that there is more going on in life than our personal preferences.This love that joins us together as one is different from romantic love. It is not about feeling all warm and fuzzy and affectionate about something or someone. It is not characterized by intense desire and attraction. Rather, it is a sense of connection to an underlying unity of all that exists. It is a choice to be kind and compassionate based on an awareness that on a non-physical level we are so unified that whatever I do will affect you. It is transcendence over a personal agenda to a desire for the highest good of all concerned. Spiritual love says, "I might be distressed by you or your behavior on a personality level, but I know that spiritually, we are all one and I wish us no harm." "You are in this world to learn to use the energy of creation wisely in order to bring about completion. An important key to remember is that the energy of Spirit follows the thoughts you hold. Wherever you direct this spiritual energy in the material world, things are manifested.There's an old saying: "What you fear comes upon you." It means you become a magnet for what you fear, and you create for yourself the very thing you're afraid of. Is there a real source of fear? No. Is there real fear? Yes. It is inside of you, and you are the creator of it. You give birth to your own fear. Under the energy of fear is the energy of pure Spirit, which allows you to create whatever you want. This is the unconditional loving of Spirit, allowing you to do whatever you will with your body, emotions, and mind.-- John-RogerLoving is love in action. It is about what we create, promote, and allow -- our contribution. We don't need to live our lives engaging in big and little battles each day with other people trying to further our personal agenda while they seek to advance their own. Alternatively, we can know ourselves as powerful creators and meet the situations in our lives from an awareness of oneness and caring about the highest good of all concerned. What would this look like? Consider the last time you and your spouse or a friend had a serious disagreement about something. Did you become curious about how and why they arrived at their point of view or were you too busy trying to get them to see things from your perspective? Regardless of what they were doing, the question is what were you doing in the discord? Were you seeking to restore harmony between you through mutual understanding or were you building a case for how wrong and unacceptable they and/or their behavior were? No matter what the other person did or did not do, when practicing spiritual loving we hold ourselves accountable for how we respond to the situation. We hold the intention of not doing any harm to ourselves or others. We do not fuel the fire of discord, but seek to remain connected at a deeper level in spite of our respective flaws. I can't help but wonder what would happen to our divorce rate if spouses were held accountable for their vows to love, honor, and cherish each other in good times and bad. The laws of spirit provide excellent guidance in how to do so. The missing ingredient is practice, practice, practice. The true value of working with the laws of spirit is that you feel better about life and about yourself and you are far more likely to be kind and compassionate to others.Please feel free to leave a comment below or to email me at . Also, if you know anyone who might get value from this article please email or retweet it or share it on Facebook. To learn more about me, visit my website, For information on my future blogs, click "Fan" at the top of this page.For more by Judith Johnson, .For more on spiritual development, .?Kanye West has been a fan of women's clothes for some time, even wearing some women's tops like .But it wasn't until he hit his latest concert tour that he went fully female with (drum roll please)... a skirt.Now we have nothing against men in skirts -- there's nothing like and every now and then. But we were surprised to see Yeezy assume his macho position as World's Biggest Hip Hop Star at Madison Square Garden last night in the unexpected look.Joining Kanye on stage was Jay-Z, the other World's Biggest Hip Hop Star, who was unsurprisingly skirt-less. He did have on a passable pair of cargo pants, however. Check out Kanye's sartorial statement below -- what do you think of the skirt-over-leggings look? ?I'm really hoping it doesn't rain on 15 June. Why? Because it's National Flip Flop Day, and to mark the occasion, iconic summer footwear brand, Havaianas are launching a limited-edition flip flop as part of their 50th Anniversary (see image below). Inspired by the mythical flip over which took place in the 90s when fans of the footwear brand swapped their old styles for the new style single colour version - only 50,000 of the exclusive edition will be available worldwide, and 100% of net sales will be donated to UNICEF in support of a worthy project in Brazil.Havaianas (which stands for "Always Summer"), was born back in 1962 as the original 100% rubber flip flop, created as an homage to the laid-back and pleasure-filled Hawaiian approach to life. In 1963 over one thousand pairs of sandals were sold per day.Fast forward to 2010, and the brand's e-shop was launched with all styles available online for the first time, and later came an expansion to the range with the addition of shoes and rain boots.The brand have also been involved in high-profile collaborations with other well known fashion brands and designers, including Celine, Paul & Joe, Pinel & Pinel and my personal favourite - Missoni.Here are some amazing fashion facts about Havaianas! The main factory in based in Campina Grande, North East Brazil and manufactures over 206 million pairs per year. 190 million pairs of flip-flops were sold in 2011. 520,547 pairs are sold per day! 21,689 pairs are sold per hour! 6 pairs are sold in a second! If a consumer wants to buy all Havaianas flip-flop models available in the market, print and colour combinations, he/she would buy 454 pairs per year. Since its birth, over 4 billion pairs of Havaianas have already been sold. If lined up all together, they would go around the Earth about 40 times. Each Portuguese person owns 4 pairs of Havaianas on average. Each Aussie owns 5 pairs of Havaianas on average. Each Brazilian owns 25 pairs of Havaianas on average.Phew! That's a lot of Havaianas - and with the brand now retailing in 85 countries, with over 454 different styles available, there's no excuse not to get your flip flops on!Images ? Yellow-Door, 2012 Follow Kate Lawson on Twitter:?["entry_id":"1938744","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254727/slide_254727_1600429_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254727/slide_254727_1600429_small.jpg","title":"Celeb Pics Of The Day","slideshow_id":"254727","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1946053","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/228265/slide_228265_1011985_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/228265/slide_228265_1011985_small.jpg","title":"'Breaking Dawn, Part 1' Red-Carpet Photos","slideshow_id":"228265","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1944607","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/199645/slide_199645_515269_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/199645/slide_199645_515269_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity 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tour","slideshow_id":"254690","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1941621","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254408/slide_254408_1594600_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254408/slide_254408_1594600_small.jpg","title":"Rylan Clark","slideshow_id":"254408","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1941782","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/229463/slide_229463_1035415_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/229463/slide_229463_1035415_small.jpg","title":"Kim Kardashian","slideshow_id":"229463","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1946065","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/229920/slide_229920_1044641_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/229920/slide_229920_1044641_small.jpg","title":"Madonna's 'MDNA' Tour","slideshow_id":"229920","vertical":"uk-celebrity","entry_id":"1944655","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/199773/slide_199773_517727_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/199773/slide_199773_517727_small.jpg","title":"Celeb Sex Scandals","slideshow_id":"199773","vertical":"uk-celebrity"]?LONDON -- Kate Winslet has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II for her titanic contribution to the arts.The actress, who won a best actress Academy Award in 2009 for "The Reader" and made her breakthrough as the feisty Rose in 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," has been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in the queen's Birthday Honors List, published Saturday.Winslet said the honor made her "very proud to be a Brit.""I am both surprised and honored to stand alongside so many men and woman who have achieved great things for our country," the 36-year-old star said.Actor and director Kenneth Branagh was made a knight and will be known as Sir Kenneth. A respected Shakespearean actor whose films as a director range from "Henry V" and "Hamlet" to the comic-book fantasy "Thor," Branagh said he felt "humble, elated, and incredibly lucky" to get the honor. It puts him in a pantheon of theatrical knights alongside the late Sir Laurence Olivier, whom Branagh played in "My Life With Marilyn.""When I was a kid, I dreamed of pulling on a shirt for the Northern Ireland football team," said the Belfast-born, 51-year-old actor. "I could only imagine how proud you might feel. Today it feels like they just gave me the shirt, and my heart's fit to burst."The honors are bestowed by twice yearly by the queen – at New Year's and on her official birthday in June – but recipients are selected by civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.Most go to people who are not in the limelight, for services to their community or industry, but they also reward a sprinkling of famous faces.Songwriter and philanthropist Richard Stilgoe, who wrote lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats," `'Starlight Express" and "The Phantom Of The Opera," was awarded a knighthood, while golfer Luke Donald was recognized for spending almost a year at the top of golf's world rankings.The Englishman, who has spent 48 weeks as No. 1 since May last year, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)."I am truly honored to be awarded an MBE by Her Majesty, particularly in her Jubilee year," Donald said Friday from the U.S. Open in San Francisco.Those becoming dames – the female equivalent of a knight – include Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Aquatic Center for the 2012 London Olympics, and Labour Party politician Tessa Jowell, who was Olympics minister until 2010.Musician Gary Barlow, who organized a Diamond Jubilee concert for the queen this month featuring Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Elton John, was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, for his services to entertainment and to charity.Sarah Burton, who designed Kate Middleton's dress for her royal wedding to Prince William last year, received an OBE for services to fashion.In descending order, the honors are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and MBE. Knights are addressed as "sir" or "dame." Recipients of the other honors have no title but can put the letters after their names.Choirmaster Gareth Malone, who inspired thousands to sing with TV shows such as "The Choir" and assembled the best-selling Military Wives singing group, was awarded an OBE, as was actress and 1970s heartthrob Jenny Agutter.Actress and campaigner April Ashley, one of the first Britons to undergo sex-change surgery, was awarded an OBE "for services to transgender equality."Also receiving an OBE was Jimmy Carlson, a former soldier who spent 23 years sleeping on the streets before becoming an advocate for the homeless. The same honor went to Armando Iannucci, the writer and producer behind expletive-laden British political satire "The Thick of It" and White House comedy "Veep.""I just hope it's not an attempt by the government to stop me, because that's not going to happen," he said.Among the hundreds of others honored was Margaret Jackson, who received an MBE "for services to netball" and Kerry Michael and Michelle Michael, awarded the same honor "for services to the restoration of Weston Super Mare's pier."Also on HuffPost:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?["entry_id":"1942196","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/192426/slide_192426_388427_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/192426/slide_192426_388427_small.jpg","title":"Justin Bieber's Many Looks Through The 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Lohan","slideshow_id":"233393","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1942190","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/233961/slide_233961_1488090_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/233961/slide_233961_1488090_small.jpg","title":"We Remember: 2012's Lost Celebs/Entertainers","slideshow_id":"233961","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1943443","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/213372/slide_213372_1212107_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/213372/slide_213372_1212107_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity Splits","slideshow_id":"213372","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1942426","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/240734/slide_240734_1275445_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/240734/slide_240734_1275445_small.jpg","title":"Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson","slideshow_id":"240734","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1946793","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/243709/slide_243709_1351838_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/243709/slide_243709_1351838_small.jpg","title":"Arrested Development Set Photos","slideshow_id":"243709","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1941259","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/201932/slide_201932_1548497_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/201932/slide_201932_1548497_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity Mugshots 2011","slideshow_id":"201932","vertical":"celebrity","entry_id":"1940938","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/195250/slide_195250_1097676_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/195250/slide_195250_1097676_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity Nude Photo/Video Scandals","slideshow_id":"195250","vertical":"celebrity"]?No matter how hard tries, she can't seem to get away from "Titanic." The second-highest grossing movie of all-time arrives on Blu-ray this week, putting Winslet's breakout role back at front and center once again. For the Oscar-winning actress, that might not be the best thing."I'm sure I wasn't really a very good actress," when "Titanic" was released in 3D earlier this year. "Seriously, we are talking about something that happened 15 years ago. It is a very long time ago. I've learned so much, and I've changed as a person so much since then. It is really quite weird. Can you imagine anything stranger? It's going to be like, famous all over again, 'Titanic' all over again!"As part of the Blu-ray release, Paramount has unveiled which pairs her with "Law & Order" actor Jeremy Sisto in the part of Jack Dawson. (Leonardo DiCaprio famously landed the role and became an international superstar.)Winslet was far from the only actress in line for the role. Per the web site , director James Cameron was interested in a number of leading actresses, .Watch Winslet's screen test above and decided for yourself if Cameron made the right call.[via ]Also on HuffPost:?["entry_id":"1942869","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/243709/slide_243709_1351838_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/243709/slide_243709_1351838_small.jpg","title":"Arrested Development Set Photos","slideshow_id":"243709","vertical":"tv","entry_id":"1943945","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/214224/slide_214224_781591_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/214224/slide_214224_781591_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity Feuds","slideshow_id":"214224","vertical":"tv","entry_id":"1942149","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/225704/slide_225704_963100_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/225704/slide_225704_963100_small.jpg","title":""True Blood" Season 5 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But Kim Kardashian seems to be doing her damnedest to work her way into the upper echelons of high fashion, first with her own style and now a trip to Paris' elite Couture Week.Kim walked hand-in-hand with to Stephane Rolland's runway show this week, followed by a jaunt to the Celine store. After a quick costume change, the pair reemerged in the front row at Givenchy, . All the while, she was clad in chic black and white (first a flowery mullet gown and then a elegant trouser-crop top ensemble) with her hair slicked back and relatively little makeup on her face.Every day her new style has become clearer and clearer: and . The change, we imagine, has something to do with Kanye's aspiring fashion cred (this is the man, after all, who raps about Anja Rubik and wears -- oh, and designs his own line). To match Kanye's style savvy, Kim's had to up her game too. One of their first public appearances together, let's remember, was at . "What's Kim doing at a Chanel dinner?" we wondered back then. Little did we know she's be sitting front row at the best couture shows in Paris.So with severe hair, black trousers and a good ticket in the front row, can Kim really be "high fashion"? Will she finally gain acceptance from Wintour and her coterie of fashion elite? Check out the pictures below and tell us what you think.PHOTOS:Check out Kim's style evolution!Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .?When celebrity romances get super serious, sometimes the parties involved will wear matching outfits () or more bravely, .But Kim Kardashian picked a novel fashion technique to show off The reality star landed at LAX on Sunday wearing a Rachel Roy coat, a Celine necklace and leather pants paired with a black Birkin. But Kim's other accessory trumped even that expensive Hermes bag -- she was sporting gold stud earrings with the initials "K" and "W." (Her , however, had vanished.)The rumored couple , grabbing ice cream in Soho and then dining in the Meatpacking district later on.We suspect Kim knew exactly what she was doing in feeding grist to the rumor mill, given her ponytail. Girl isn't stupid.See photos of Kim's "KW" earrings below:Check out Kim's style evolution!Also on HuffPost: ?My concern is that Kim ALWAYS seems to conform to whatever her man wants, likes, does, instead of staying true to who she is as an actual INIVIDUAL..and she can b too much of a "people pleaser" when t comes to her man at the time almost as if she is so eager to please who she is with so that she can finally have a viable, thriving relationship which in my opinion is semi-pathetic cuz he is a gorgeous, successful woman who needs & can find an equally handsome, successful, GOOD man that TRULY loves her for her & treats her right. And yes I do find it mildly controlling that Kanye felt he shld take it upon self to change her wardrobe as if she didn't know how to dress before. She and all of her sisters for that matter always looked fashionable in my opinion ergo they created a FASHION line...btw when does "blanding" dwn your wardrobe to all black, white, & nude/blush make u more fashionable or individual for that matter? And that's comin from someone who always where's black & white & is always criticized for not havn n e color n my closet which btw I'm still working on! Lol?As you can probably tell (or most likely have seen or read for yourself, depending on how closely you involve yourself with the show milieu), the street style thing of late has transcended to a whole new dimension of CRAY. So much so that this season I even witnessed a former Sidewalk Queen declining would-be paps (but then again maybe that was because we'd ALL seen that Christopher Kane embroidered bomber before...). Even Anna Dello Russo seems to have calmed down, changing only three thrice daily instead of five times and even lowering the altitude of her headgear. That being said, in the last season or two, I've noticed a shift in the ubiquity of "trend" from being designer and runway led to street style championed. These days, there seems to be more diversity amongst catwalk creations than there are individuals loose on the sidewalks -something of a fashion industry irony. As show orbiters pin down the rules of street style attraction to a fine science, the result is a gamut of items and trends, from "edgy" and hipster to the power luxury and editor, that have been overexposed. So below I've collated 10 trends which I sincerely hope, come next season, are relegated to the archives in every sense of the word.1) The Neon Cambridge SatchelThey've been around for at least three seasons now, probably reaching their apex in appropriateness in September or even during the menswear shows in the summer. At first they were punchy, then they were personalizeable and now they're pariahs. Not that I don't love a good Cambridge Satchel, but the neons/stars/polkadots--it's all too much. Just give me classic brown, put some books in it and basta. 2) The Glitter Booty-Miu Miu or OtherwiseI'll be the first to admit I was head over glitter heels for these booties when they first shimmered onto the circuit about a year ago. In September, I swear there were more glitter boots on the loose than street style photographers, leaving a trail of sparkling sidewalk like Lucky Charms wherever they went. This season, I have to say (and I HATE this phrase but here goes) they just looked so last season. I am a firm believer in the myth of the trend, that is to say, I believe you should just wear whatever you want when you want, it's all a question of how your style it. But sometimes, pieces with such strong personality negate excessive styling and so what you end up with is an army of similarly simply clad girls all boasting the same statement bootie. Thus the time for all tinkerbell inspired footwear to go back in the box has come.3. Versace for H&MBy the time fashionistas were queuing round the world during all hours of the night to get their hands on the stuff, I was already sick of Versace for H&M, having had more press releases about the incremental implementation of the collaboration than had Kate Middleton stepped out in public hand and hand with the Queen having forgotten her flesh-tone tights. Yes, really. Hence why yours truly was slumbering peacefully in her bed while a good portion of the fash pack battled it out all over the globe, their brave early morning tales clogging up Twitter whence I woke. And where, pray tell, did all this sold out Versace for H&M go? It went straight to fashion week. Be it the printed tops and skirts or, even more prevalent, the studded mosaic biker jacket, Donatella's foray into fast fashion was the uniform of the season. Just remember they call it "fast" for a reason. 4) Bright Dip-DyeI will concede, about this time last spring I was practically in tears when my hair stylist refused to sear bleach into the tips of my hair to then dunk it in auburn to create what I was convinced would be the most ah-mah-zing ambre dip dye ever, refusing to "destroy" my natural color and texture. Fast forward six months later, and I revoke the title I bestowed upon him of London's grinchiest hair stylist who doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. The dip dye thing was so visually exciting when it first trickled like spilled Kool-Aid across the tresses of the so-called "hipster sect" of the fash pack, making for great photos against derelict brick walls, all the more so as cool kids were quick to match their tangerine locks to their tangerine trousers, their green tips to their green tops, and so on and so forth. But since we tipped the new year, it's felt a bit dipped out to me, with only the subtler dip dye jobs--such as varying shades of honey blonde--still registering chic in my book. Time to whack off those ends and start again, ladies. 4) Blue Hair for Him & HerOn the subject of hair, I'd like to say: blue is not the hue. This season, on the crops of both men and shortly shorn ladies, blue hair dye was seen on way too many individuals. Tavi went for the grey/blue granny-meets-cookie-monster look what feels now like years ago and was not lauded for it then. Come on boys, back to the salon you go. 5) Prada CreepersThey're EVERYWHERE, on men and women alike, Prada's raffia woven brogue flatforms are now a scourge on our sidewalks. Personally, I've never really warmed to the flatform, preferring to either wear (call me old fashioned) flats or platforms. Even the miniature of Marc Jacobs at his own exhibition with Louis Vuitton features the designer sporting a pair. I feel a flatform intervention coming on...creep away, creep away (and take your little blue stripe with you please). 6) Side PlaitAs much as it pains me to say it, its time to untwist your side plaits. While I still personally love a good braid, especially when one does not have time to wash one's hair between fashion partying straight into one's 9AM show, we're now coming up on year two of the trend and I find myself drawn to sleeker pony tails than braids these days. 7) Celine Luggage TotesSome of you may try to hack my site for this one, but I do think the Celine luggage tote could benefit from a short bow out. Celine is like crack for street stylers and over the seasons, editors, bloggers, buyers and models off duty have discovered that a Luggage Tote in any size, shape or color will land you on someone "Best of Fashion Week X" list. So what began as a sort of 21st century edition of a Birkin-status bag, that is to say, heirloomable bags so expensive and so exclusive they can only be obtained by long waiting list, now feels over saturated. I'm not saying the loose the Luggage indefinitely, just check them into the baggage hold for a season or two. 8) Valentino's Studded Patent T-bar PumpsSomewhere on the road, I overheard someone say that you can tell who's having a moment by the footwear most spotted during fashion month, a useful line of reasoning which I filed away til now. Following this logic, the designer of this season would have to be Valentino, because his studded t-bar pumps were spotted on some of the most stylish feet from New York to Paris, so much so that I'd say they're on the cusp of overexposure. That is to really say, fine for February, stash away for September. 9) Le Petit 2.55I still kind of want one, but I will hold back as long as I can. These pocket-sized Chanel 2.55's have been cropping up on all sorts of arms this season, and I can totally see why. They're cute, collectable and CHANEL (not to mention their quaint jersey quilt costs the same as a pocket of a regular leather sized 2.55). On some refined editors, the little 2.55 was a new variant on a classic accessory of which you know they have the better part of an army stashed away at home. On others, it screamed: "I Chanel because I can." And that's not a covetable label for anyone. 10) Novelty CamerasThanks to folk like Lomography and retailers like Urban Outfitters, novelty cameras and things to put on your camera have become the kitsch must have of bloggers worldwide. However, having tried very unsuccessfully to wrangle one myself, I can confirm that they are not the handiest of things for having with you at shows, and you wind up posing more with it than you do behind it. My fashion week camera philosophy is thus: if it doesn't improve your image quality, do you really need it? The same goes for "cute" camera cases and things resembling necklaces supplementing for camera straps. Follow Kristin Knox on Twitter:?Warning: 's new fragrance commercial (er, "trailer") may not be safe for young'uns., a black eau de parfum called Fame, , filled with ebony liquid, crazy hats, nearly-naked men, some S&M touches and little people crawling all over Gaga's nude body (. While it's pretty terrifying as far as perfume commercials go, the whole thing is signature Gaga -- there's nothing here we haven't seen before. Except that , which categorized it as "age-restricted based on our Community Guidelines." When clicking to watch the clip, you'll be met by a warning that reads:"This content may contain material flagged by YouTube's user community that may be inappropriate for some users."Only by clicking "I understand and wish to proceed" may you surrender yourself to Gaga's wacky, liquified, latex-coated world for 34 disconcerting seconds. We can't identify what in particular has tipped off YouTube's censors -- see if you can tell from the video, above.In other Lady Gaga news, the singer drew some ire for . To add to the effect, she was also carrying a furry puppy. , firing off a letter deeming Gaga "a target just like the mindless Kim Kardashian" for wearing the animal coat. At least they'll be pleased to see Gaga in her new video, where she wears latex and, well, not much else. Check out the clip -- do you find it super creepy or cool?Check out more celebs with (much less scary) fragrances:Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .?Chicago-area monsters, rejoice: Lady Gaga's first signature fragrance, , a week before its nationwide release Aug. 22, according to Red Eye Chicago.The fragrance, developed by Paris-based Haus Laboratories, is described as a spicy floral, with , according to the Macy's website, a noted improvement to A 3.4 oz bottle will set you back $79.The singer has been touting the fragrance as the "First Ever Black Eau de Parfum," and .Photo by STEVEN KLEIN. The First Ever Black Eau de Parfum. Model: Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) Gaga has been showing a lot of love to Chicago lately, likely due to her beau Taylor Kinney's stint in town filming NBC's "Chicago Fire."Check out more stars with fragrances!Related on HuffPost:?Hillary Clinton is a woman of stupendous intellect. She's a political leviathan. But is she a woman of taste? For her "campaign song," a tune that presumably defines the tone and intent of the campaign, This is the song that's supposed to make me want to rally the troops in support of our first female president? Are you kidding me? I have so many problems with this song I don't even know where to start. But here are a few of my gripes: 1. Hillary has struggled to prove to America that she's authentic and relatable. She decided to choose a campaign song that would help her seem more authentic, more in touch with the populace, more cool. And so she selected a song by Celine Dion, one of the most inauthentic, least cool musicians on the market. Celine is soppy and emotional. She's all about Las Vegas, and crocodile tears, and forced glamour, and cheesiness. She's despised by young (and young-ish) people everywhere. Personally, I cannot listen to even three seconds of any Celine Dion song without wanting to bash my head against the wall. I know that Celine has many ardent fans. But are any of them under the age of 30? To the MTV generation (and let's face it, Hillary needs those votes), Celine is as unacceptable as they come. Hillary's "cool" factor just hit rock bottom. 2. Hillary Clinton is running for president of the United States. Celine is Canadian. A great number of my favorite musicians are Canadian. But I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that a presidential candidate might choose a patriotic song written by an American to represent her campaign. I mean, come on, the song was originally written as a jingle for Air Canada. 3. In his campaign, Bill Clinton used "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, a song about change and optimism. "You and I" is a love song: "Brighter than the sun and darker than the night I can see your love shining like a light." , you might just retch. If I were Hillary, which, clearly, I am not, I would have tried to choose a song that proved I could hang with the boys -- maybe something by Bruce Springsteen, U2, or the Rolling Stones. If Hillary really wanted to use a song by a woman, she could've chosen an edgier artist like Sheryl Crow, KT Tunstall, or the Dixie Chicks. Celine Dion will hardly make Hillary look tough. Or cool. Or in touch with the populace. Or fun. Or authentic. Call me crazy, but I expect my president to be a person of intellect, compassion, strength, AND taste. And when I say "taste," I'm not talking about having fabulous clothes and a slick car. I'm talking about presenting oneself in a manner that shows sophistication. Perhaps in some circles Celine Dion is considered sophisticated; but the under-40 generation does not travel in those circles. ?Le clbre restaurant de viandes fumes, Schwartz's, situ au centre-ville de Montral sur le boulevard Saint-Laurent, aurait t vendu au dbut du mois de janvier pour la coquette somme de 10 millions de dollars. Un des futurs propritaires serait nul autre que Ren Anglil, le grant et mari de la chanteuse Cline Dion. Selon les informations obtenues par Le Huffington Post, la transaction aurait t effectue autour du 7 janvier, date laquelle lancien propritaire, Hy Diamond, aurait achemin une demande de dissolution de son entreprise auprs du Registre des entreprises du Qubec. La vente du restaurant aurait t motive par un dsir de passer le flambeau, selon plusieurs sources. Il semble que plusieurs investisseurs auraient montr de lintrt pour acqurir le populaire restaurant de smoked meat. Or, trs peu de gens se sont montrs prts dbourser une somme aussi importante, mentionne une source fiable. Selon dautres sources, le restaurant serait dsormais proprit dun groupe dinvestisseurs. Dans le groupe, deux noms circulent dont celui de Ren Anglil et de Paul Sara (cousin de Ren Anglil). Le tandem Ren Anglil et Paul Sara a dj tent laventure de la restauration sous la bannire Nickels dans les annes 1990. Des employs fidles Les employs du clbre restaurant se sont montrs muets au sujet du changement dadministration. lls ont dit avoir eu lordre dviter de rpondre aux questions. ? On sait quil y a eu vente, mais on nous a demand de ne pas commenter la question?, a indiqu le grant de jour, visiblement inconfortable. Dautres serveurs se sont montr indiffrents l'gard des nouveaux propritaires de chez Schwartz's. ?Nos clients sont notre seule priorit, bien avant de savoir qui est le propritaire?, a lanc lun deux, sourire en coin. M. Diamond tait absent du restaurant lors de notre passage pour rpondre aux questions entourant la vente de son restaurant.En photos : ?US Weekly fans are familiar with the weekly "What's in My Bag?" style and beauty feature, in which readers gain an insider's peek at celeb's purses. One week we might learn that carries a Miu Miu wallet, an apple, blush and a Blow Pop. has apparently mastered the Walk of Shame with her Hanky Panky Low-Rise Thong, toothbrush and sunglasses in her $3400 Celine Classic Box Bag. Um, you know what's in my purse? An overstuffed wallet that would put George Costanza to shame, Burt's Bees cuticle cream that has never once actually worked, and an assortment of random M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids and shards of gum floating around like the world's least sanitary candy store.I thought it would be interesting to peer inside the bag of someone more relatable than a wealthy actress, but more interesting (and sanitary) than me. Enter Amanda Beard: Olympic medalist, swimming phenom, new mom. What does she lug around in her gym bag? She gave me the scoop: The bag: backpack (in black and blue). "It's stylish with loads of pockets and hidden spaces for my most important things." The flipflops: in pink and blue. The 'poo: Bumble and Bumble shampoo and conditioner (moisturizing crme de coco to help combat the drying chlorine).The snacks: Beard replenishes with a banana, a bag of fresh berries, and Horizon organic chocolate milk.The makeup: "With my sport, I am outside and in the water, which can be really drying and damaging to the skin, so I try to be vigilant about taking good care of it. I protect my skin with sunscreen and am religious about keeping my face moisturized and properly protected all day, so I also use a face lotion with SPF 30." , which she actually helped design; Maybelline waterproof mascara; her favorite fragrance, body spray by Calypso; Mission Sunscreen SPF 70 and SPF 30 face lotion; Bath & Body Works hand lotion with sanitizer. The protection: This surprised me -- Amanda forgoes tampons and uses menstrual cups. "I can wear them longer than tampons (up to 12 hours), and they provide great protection, even while doing rigorous activities such as swimming. Softcups work by collecting rather than absorbing the fluid, so I don't even know I'm wearing it. I want to stay focused on the task at hand." The motivation: A photo of her son, , on her iPhone, which she also uses to listen to her favorite tunes.How does your bag compare to Beard's? Follow Leslie Goldman on Twitter:?Lin Yu Chun, the Taiwanese man , has been voted off of the talent show that made him famous.The 24-year-old had attempted to woo the judges with a song in Mandarin after choosing Western songs such as 'I Will Always Love You' by Whitney Houston. However, his plan backfired."You rarely hit a wrong note. But you did today. What's wrong with you?" oneMr Lin's agent, Stella Teng, said that Lin is keeping a positive outlook, with reports that he is in "He feels that success cannot possibly come without failure." ?Well, she's definitely had enough practice getting dressed for court.After some real style missteps like that and , it seems Lindsay Lohan's finally hit her stride when it comes to courtroom style. The been on an upward tick lately, with that earlier this month and the back in October.But today's hearing might have been the occasion for Lilo's best courtroom look yet. Clad in an ivory Celine cardigan, matching Prada trousers, sunglasses and neutral pumps by Versace, Lindsay sped her way past photographers in Los Angeles this morning and into her hearing. Her punchy accessory? A Dior leopard print handbag, which added just the right zing.And Linds' sartorial smash must have earned her some good karma in the courtroom: the judge praised her for completing her community service (at the morgue!) and for attending her required therapy sessions, Linds is due back in court next month; here's hoping she keeps up the good work (and style).Check out photos below. ?Text By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press PARIS - After redefining the way women dress, Phoebe Philo -- Celine designer and purveyor of the new minimalism that has taken catwalks and Main Street by storm -- is aiming to redefine the values of the luxury industry.Many of the supple silks and cotton fabrics that made up her clean-lined spring-summer 2011 ready-to-wear collection Sunday were sourced from small mills in Japan and elsewhere that craft material by hand the old way. She acknowledged that working with such small providers can prove more complicated than going through the large-scale European mills that luxury labels like Celine would normally use, but said "if you want it, anything is possible.""It's slower because of the distance, but I just thought it was really important we stepped out of the European industrialized universe ... (to get) back to basics," Philo told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.Her third collection for Celine since returning to fashion after a yearslong hiatus continued in the minimalist vein that has become her trademark, but softened it with some ethnic touches.And as if Celine didn't have enough to offer the working women of the world, Akris gave professional ladies even more to choose from with a collection of boardroom-ready looks that were just chic enough.Givenchy delved into the dark side with a dramatic, S&M-soaked collection, while John Galliano continued to churn out the magpie looks that are unmistakably his. Galliano's show was staged in a gilded Paris theater, and being in the audience there was like watching a lush and elaborate pantomime with the world' biggest costume budget.Emerging young French talent Alexis Mabille sent out a collection of pretty tan and gray sundresses with full skirted shapes that seemed to be surfing on the "Mad Men" craze. Mabille's signature touch, pretty bows, lent the dresses and extra dose of polished sixties-era femininity.Still, perhaps because it stuck so close to the white and neutral palette favored by Paris designers this season, the collection blended with dozens of others that fashion insiders have sat through over the past five days. A solid, if perhaps a tad unremarkable, effort from Mabille.After long day's worth of shows, much of the fashion crowd hit Italian label Fendi's party, where legedary eighties band Duran Duran was scheduled to play a set.On Monday, the City of Light's nine-day-long ready-to-wear marathon moves into day seven with one of the week's big question marks, British designer Giles Deacon's debut collection storied-but-floundering house Emanuel Ungaro. Deacon is the latest in a long series of designers to try to reverse Ungaro's fortunes, and his arrival came on the heels of the house's disastrous collaboration with Lindsay Lohan -- all of which has, of couse, piqued the fashion world's interest.CELINECeline designer Philo won a cult following during her time at the label's crosstown rival, Chloe, and her return to fashion touched off the new minimalist movement that's swept catwalks worldwide and spawned countless imitations. With Sunday's collection, the British-born designer continued to refine her pared-down aesthetic, sending out square-shaped blouses in leather and low-slung, wide-legged trousers.A kaftan that appeared to have been made from a starched white menswear shirt and a nubby, pointy-hooded robe-dress had a rugged Berber feel, while a quilted vest seemed to look to the Mongolian highlands for inspiration.Philo said the collection was her way of stepping back from the industrialized, urban fray."There was an idea of travel, nothing specific about a country or a place, but a feeling of getting away from urban and getting back to a kind of artisan's way of working," she told The Associated Press in a backstage interview, adding that many of the fabrics were sourced from small producers in Japan and elsewhere.While white -- the shade of choice across Paris' catwalks -- and other neutrals dominated Philo's palette, there were also touches of bold color, like a sapphire blouse paired with a leather wrap skirt in rich Bordeaux or shirts in fluttering silk that Philo said drew its inspiration from scarves.It was another strong collection from a designer who has established herself as a fashion force to be reckoned with. No doubt we'll be seeing more variations on the theme on other catwalks and on the high street.GIVENCHYRiccardo Tisci is back in touch with his Id.After taking a foray into exoticism -- with collections influenced by the traditional garb of the Arab world -- the king of S&M has reconnected with his darker side, sending out a leather-strap-bound collection for next summer.Backless vests in leopard-embossed jacquard fastened around the neck and across the back with stud-encrusted straps in black leather. The vests, and boxy shaped sleeveless jackets with tails, were paired with abbreviated skirts layered under long, featherlight skirts in translucent silk. Zippers with sharp metal teeth often replaced seems, adorning the hem and sleeve-lines or forming shiny crosses across the backs of the jackets."It was like spiritual desolation with a chance of redemption," said David Mignon, a Paris-based photographer and painter. "Just a sliver of a chance of redemption."That seemed an accurate assessment: Tisci, an Italian whose Catholic roots run deep, has often acknowledged the role religion plays in his work, and there was something about the contrast between the looks' hardcore leather and the gauzy cocoon of silk that suggested a soul in spiritual torment.Tisci's dark but beautiful aesthetic has won him a cult following not only among the legions of hip young women who covet his collections, but also among his peers. Designers Alexander Wang and Pucci's Peter Dundas were on hand for Sunday's show -- as was rocker Courtney Love.Asked whether the collection's S&M vibe appealed to her, Love said "I didn't see it like that at all. To me it was just really beautiful. Maybe I've been in rock 'n' roll too long."JOHN GALLIANOThe inspiration behind the collection might have been a complicated one -- according to the notes, it was something about a real-life con artist from the 1920s who scammed scores of legendary painters -- but the clothes looked more or less the same as usual. Which, when your name is John Galliano, is not a bad thing.The British designer sent out fetching variations on his hallmark baroque, layered silhouette: Cropped trench coats cinched tight at the waist were worn over billowy harem pants in Japanese prints or multitiered chiffon skirts.The models were all styled differently -- in an apparent nod to the chameleonic appearance of the show's inspiration, con artist Maria Lani, who, again according to the collection notes, "convinced over 50 leading artists of the day (including Matisse, Chagall and de Chirico) to paint her portrait" before fleeing Europe with the paintings. Some wore bird's nest wigs in what looked like cotton candy, while others had tight pigtails or slick gold-glitter dusted up 'dos.Held in Paris' gilded Opera Comique, the show had even more theatrical flair than usual, with models striking exaggerated poses as they slowly meandered the mirrored catwalk.Like other Paris shows that have cast novelty models to walk with the with the usual pack of size zero teens, Galliano had one older woman, a blond with a beautiful, finely lined face.AKRISReliable as a fine Swiss watch, the St. Gallen, Switzerland-based house can always be counted on to deliver the kind of workaday staples professional women crave, and Sunday's clean-lined collection was no exception.Between the no-frills shirtdresses in starched white poplin and the sharp pantsuits that were just fashion forward enough, there was plenty for the corporate woman to choose from. The A-line dresses and billowing skirts with jagged, asymmetrical hemlines in a greenhouse of saturated flower prints added a touch of drama to the otherwise serene collection.The only flaw was the shoes, towering wedges with a footbed that curved downward, like a black diamond ski slope. Both bizarre and torturous-looking, they stand little chance of making it into the corporate boardrooms that are the natural habitat of the rest of the collection. ?WASHINGTON -- The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, deftly using humor and Bill Clinton, produced to mark the unveiling of -- "You and I" by Celine Dion.The video starts with Hillary Clinton sitting alone in a booth in a diner. The campaign told me it's a place in Westchester.She's looking at the Seeburg juke selections when Bill Clinton walks in. "I ordered for the table," she said as they make chit chat. Bill Clinton looks dismayed when an order of -- sliced carrots is delivered. The answer to "where's Chelsea?" is a scene of a car being parked -- a teaser of the day when the so-far under wraps daughter plunges into the campaign.As Bill Clinton asks how the campaign is going, a man walks by and gives them a look. That's Vince Curatola, who played New York mob boss Johnny "Sack" Sacramoni in the HBO series. And then the video goes to dark -- just like the show.To continue, go .?The Super Bowl is still a few days away, but speculation among fans over just about every aspect of Madonna's highly-anticipated halftime performance -- from she'll perform to the onstage to the exact shade of lip gloss she'll wear -- is at fever pitch. Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the choice of the Material Girl. Fellow icon Elton John just his long-standing feud with Madge (offering his sniffy advice to "lip-sync good") and a quick search on Twitter will uncover any number of horrifically sexist and ageist remarks. Still, she seems to have found favor among fellow female stars -- Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian and Celine Dion are among those who've voiced their support, on Twitter or elsewhere. Take a look below: ?MONTREAL - A 36-year-old man has been charged after he allegedly broke into Celine Dion's home near Montreal, raided the fridge and even took the time to pour himself a bath.He was nabbed by Laval police on Monday afternoon after the alarm system went off.The international superstar and her husband, Rene Angelil, were not at home at the time. Dion and Angelil usually live in Florida but use the Laval residence when they come home to Quebec.Laval police spokesman Franco Di Genova says the suspect was getting ready to take a nice hot bath when police arrived with the K-9 unit."He opened the water faucets, was pouring a nice warmish bath (and) he even managed to eat some pastry that was in the fridge," Di Genova said.It was first reported that the man helped himself to some cakes.Di Genova says Laval police worked their way through the house, starting with the basement and finally confronted the man on the main floor."The suspect was coming down the big staircase and was asking: Hey, guys what are you doing here?'," Di Genova said."So the officers replied: 'What are you doing here?' and they proceeded to put him under arrest."Di Genova says the man had initially jumped a fence and tried to get into the home by opening a door, but that didn't work."Then he saw one of Rene's vehicles that was there and unfortunately the doors were not locked, the keys were in the ignition and there was also a garage door opener," he said.Di Genova says the intruder then used the garage door opener to gain access to the luxury residence.Daniel Bedard, a Laval resident, was arraigned Tuesday on charges including break and enter, auto theft and causing property damage. He will return Nov. 21.Police say they found various stickers around the house. They had times and the names of people on them but the notes were not threatening.Di Genova says there was a similar break-in at the mansion in 2009.In that incident, a man also jumped the fence and was able to make his way to the front door.But the suspect was stopped by the security firm that was keeping an eye on the property.He was not the same person who was arrested by police on Monday. ?A Kent man who made his neighbours' lives a misery by repeatedly blasting out power ballads - by the likes of (pictured), and - has had his stereo confiscated by council officials.Mark Sigston, 31, appeared in court yesterday, following a string of complaints from neighbours, the .Despite repeated visits from Environmental Protection officers earlier in the year, Sigston had failed to keep the noise down and continued to crank up tunes such as , and .He initially had his stereo equipment confiscated in May, but council officials were obliged to return it by July. However, having continued to ignore the noise abatement order, Sigston has now had his CD players, mixers, amplifier and speakers taken away for good. He also received a conditional discharge for 12 months. Now, as much as the next run-of-the-mill music fan - but there are limits. So will he shut up and stop holding noisy parties now? It's hard to be sure. Sometimes he feels so insecure. And love so distant and obscure remains the cure... Right, let's move on and have a look at some amusing mugshots, shall we??MyDaily:Following initial rumours that Marc Jacobs is set to replace John Galliano as the creative director of Christian Dior, it's now reported that Celine's Phoebe Philo is set to replace Jacobs as creative director of Louis Vuitton. ?Sure, . But it also had contestants as unlikely as Alexander Wang, Christian Lacriox and Keren Craig of Marchesa thrown into the mix, not to mention the much more likely Riccardo Tisci.Now, , it's time to take the Marc Jacobs speculation seriously."According to sources," writes the ever-reliable fashion newspaper, , currently designer for two eponymous lines as well as Louis Vuitton, about filling the top spot at Christian Dior. The Dior creative director position has sat empty since , who was shamed by a series of .The question of who will take the top job at Dior has remained since Galliano's ousting. But WWD writes that from LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that owns the Christian Dior label as well as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and a host of other top brands, and Jacobs' legal representatives are set to take place this week in Paris.Should Jacobs head to Dior, WWD added, with designer Phoebe Philo potentially filling the vacancy. Philo is currently creative director of Celine, also a LVMH-owned name. According to the newspaper, neither Christian Dior nor Marc Jacobs could be reached for comments -- so this is by no means a confirmed report. But news originating from WWD is seen as highly trustworthy within the fashion industry, as opposed to other news sources around the blogosphere.In July, rumors that Arnault and Jacobs were in talks over the Dior job , which quoted an unnamed source as saying, "The two have met often in recent weeks to discuss the matter." The bomb spread slowly but steadily throughout the blogosphere in July and August. On August 6, blogger , "what are all these tweets about marc jacobs for dior? did i miss anything?" On August 11, a site called Catwalk Queen picked up the rumor, causing sources such as and to speculate as well. Now WWD gives the gossip some veracity by writing Monday morning, "One source cautioned that a deal with Jacobs is not assured, but that the American designer and Dior management are so far 'excited' about the prospect."Stay tuned for confirmations from Jacobs or Arnault themselves, without which the rumors will likely remain just that -- rumors. . ?By guest blogger Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH"We cannot be content to see men hungry, to see men victimized with starvation and ill health when we have the means to help them... All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent." --Excerpt from the December 11, 1964, Nobel Prize acceptance speech of then 35-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.A good physician-surgeon friend of mine, Henri P. Lanctin, MD, is the vice president of , and he travels to Haiti every three months to perform surgery on children and adults at no charge, as well as to teach Haitian healthcare professionals the latest lifesaving medical techniques. Project Haiti has been around since 1982 and its administrative costs are less than 1 percent because its workers volunteer their time and pay out of their own pockets to help others. Their selflessness blows me away.Recently, Dr. Lanctin was in Pignon, Haiti, and on his last day there he came upon a small boy, only 12 years old, who had just been brought into the hospital. The boy's name is Celine, and while he was cooking for his siblings using kerosene--as most Haitians do not have any electricity--an accident resulted in third-degree burns covering his entire upper body and his face.There is an effort under way to get Celine to a hospital in the U.S. for care, and it appears that he may end up at the in Boston some time in the next six weeks (it takes that long to get a sick child out of the country for help). Many people have donated money to help get him and his mother to and from Haiti, and give them some financial assistance while they are in Boston. In the meantime, he needs constant medical attention, which he's getting in Haiti. He also needs supplemental protein, vitamins, and minerals to keep up his strength.When Dr. Lanctin told us this story, my wife and I were so inspired by all of the random acts of kindness to help Celine and his family that we wanted to do our part. So I called some acquaintances in the supplements industry, and they did not hesitate when I asked for an unlimited supply of vitamins for Celine. Another amazing act of kindness.I'm telling you this story because through this terrible tale of suffering and kindness, I have come to a realization that I want to share: Being a doctor, I travel around talking about how people can stay healthy, and which health screenings people should and should not receive based their age or their illness; however, there is one area of health screening that often gets missed or completely overlooked, and that is spiritual health. I know, you're thinking, that's what religion and church are for. But sometimes, even the most faithful of us, forget that it is our responsibility to act for others, without wanting recognition or reciprocity for our good deeds.So, I believe we need to establish a Spiritual Health Screening Test. What is a spiritual health screening test? It's simple. You ask yourself: Am I doing things for others on a regular basis to help make the world a better place? This could mean giving blood, signing up for organ donation, volunteering your time, reading to someone, donating clothing or money, anything you can do regularly to help those in need. If you can honestly answer yes, then you are in good shape. Clinical research has now clearly shown that when we volunteer our time to help others, we can profoundly improve our own mental and physical health. In other words, selfless acts of kindness have actually been found to improve the health of the giver as well as the receiver. (OK, so maybe there's a little reciprocity after all.) If, however, when you ask yourself the screening question, the answer is no, then take two minutes to help someone in need, and call me in the morning. But seriously, find a small way to contribute to those in need. Drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket, wrap some presents and drop them off at a children's hospital or orphanage, write a letter to an active military member who is overseas, or simply call someone you know who might be lonely this time of year.Since talking with Dr. Lanctin about his work in Haiti, my wife (who is an amazing social worker) and I have decided to accompany him and his team in 2012 to work at the local hospital and orphanage. And it's amazing to me that every time I am challenged by others (Thank you, Dr. Lanctin!) to think about how often I use my time to help those in need, it helps me become a better version of myself. And the ripple effect of that is that I can help change someone else's life for the better. So, I'd like to challenge you all to give yourself a Spiritual Health Screening, and see how many lives you can change.If you would like to donate to help Celine and his family, or others like them in Haiti, go to or . And to find other top-rated charities go to .Dr. Moyad lives in Ann Arbor, MI, with his wife, Mia, and their dog, Chauncey.For more from Maria Rodale, go to Follow Maria Rodale on Twitter:?Mariah Carey has reportedly called in the help of extra bodyguards after Nicki Minaj apparently made threats to her on American Idol.Things started to get out of control when the pair was arguing over a contestant, with third judge Keith Urban left stuck sitting literally in the middle of the pair as he tried to calm the situation down.It was claimed that Nicki made comments to production staff stating that if she had a gun she would shoot Mariah.The situation got fired up further when Mariah's pal Barbara Walters said on TV that Mariah was trying to protect her twins and felt that the Starships singer's behaviour was "unpredictable".However, Nicki was quick to hit back at Mariah on her Twitter, stating that despite the number of cameras and microphones on the pair at the time, there was no evidence that she made the comment.She added: "I guess it hurts to have the producers tell you to your face that Nicki is the best judge we've had since Simon."Ouch - hopefully the pair can get over their spat and get back to the task at hand of picking finalists for the latest series of the talent show.?Mariah Carey will join American Idol as a judge next season, Fox announced, bringing her star power to the show that remains a ratings leader but has seen its viewership and pop culture status diminish."I am so excited to be joining Idol," said Mariah, addressing the Television Critics Association via Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly's mobile phone, which he put on speaker-phone for the hotel ballroom meeting.She could not be on hand with the group because "this kind of all just happened really quickly", Mariah said in her brief remarks. "I can't wait to get started in the fall (autumn) ... and I will see you in January."The show, which saw judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez exit at the end of last season, will be back on the air for season 12 in January.Mariah with her husband, Nick Cannon, host of his America's Got Talent on NBC.Reilly called Mariah "the biggest recording artist that any of these (talent) shows has ever had", adding that she was the "artist that many of these contestants have tried to emulate, have tried some of the songs, have tried to hit the notes".Playing the drama up, Reilly placed a call to Mariah and put her on speaker. "Hi Mariah. How are you? It's Kevin," he said. "We do have the deal, don't we?" Mariah replied: "Yes!"Reilly said he was "thrilled" to confirm reports that the singer was being courted by Fox and said the deal was freshly signed within the last few hours. The Grammy-winning pop star is receiving just shy of 18 million dollars (11.6 million) a year for a one-year contract with a renewal option, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.The exit of Tyler and J-Lo left original judge Randy Jackson and started a guessing game about potential replacements, with Mariah at the top of the list.As one of music's best-selling singers, she could provide the clout American Idol needs to compete in an increasingly crowded talent show field. Besides Fox sibling The X Factor, which recently added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, there's NBC's The Voice, which boasts Christina Aguilera among its big names.Simon Cowell, the former American Idol judge who adapted his UK hit The X Factor for Fox, was asked about Mariah's new gig at a critics' session. "I'm happy for her, actually. I like Mariah. I think she's going to find it difficult to say no. You've got to say no to people and she's sweet," he said, then quickly backtracked, adding, "No, I think she'll be great." Simon had reason to be diplomatic: Mariah's husband, Nick Cannon, is host of his America's Got Talent on NBC.?There's a massive billboard in the Bank underground of that kid who played Gilbert Grape lovingly looking into the eyes of the naughty nun from The Extras. Which can only mean one thing; Celine Dion is looking good for some royalties.As the Queen drops 20 quid into a card marking the Titanic's 100 years, James Cameron's epic is flooding back into theatres for a whole new generation of enjoy.Ah. But here be a problem. (Why has no one done a pirate parody of Titanic?)Today's youth, with their penchant for sodomising the English language into single syllables, acronyms and initialisms, doesn't want to spend three hours waiting for the boat to sink (even if Kate Winslet's necklace is in 3D).So it got me thinking; what would the story have been like on Twitter?Jack Dawson @Growing_PainsPfft Queens. Full house FTW! #comingtoamericaTommy Ryan @I_heart_SpaghettiMy meatballs are tingling! #comingtoamericaEddie Murphy @deliriousThose were the days #comingtoamericaJack Dawson @Growing_PainsHaha. What happened to you, man? LOL RT: @delirious Those were the days #comingtoamerica Rose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_WittHmmm, I don't think the Titanic has enough lifeboats if it randomly hits something in the ocean and begins to sinkCal Hockley @The?_Phantom@DoubleD_Witt This is why women aren't allowed to learn long division #menwhodrinkbrandyareawesomeBruce Ismay @Heres_to_the_men@The_Phantom Here Here! Moustache! Fiduciary! Testicles! #menwhodrinkbrandyareawesome Thomas Andrews @Just_shippin@DoubleD_Witt Whatevs. I have blueprints. If you were a man, you'd know nothing goes wrong when you have blueprints Rose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Just_shippin But what about a head on collision?Thomas Andrews @Just_shippinLMFAO RT: @Just_shippin But what about a head on collision?Cal Hockley @The?_Phantom@Just_shippin I here ya barking big dog #menwhodrinkbrandyareawesomeBruce Ismay @Heres_to_the_men@Just_shippin @The_Phantom Our chromosomes will protect us! #menwhodrinkbrandyareawesomeRose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt @Just_shippin What about from the side?Thomas Andrews @Just_shippin@ DoubleD_Witt Hahahahahaha Whatevs.Jack Dawson @Growing_PainsI'm the king of the world! #onaboatlikeleoRose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt This boat is shit. Thomas Andrews @Just_shippin@DoubleD_Witt YOU ARE! #LegaliseMarriageToAquaticMachineryJack Dawson @Growing_PainsJust saved a hottie from going over board. Thinking I might take her below deck. If you know what I mean.Tommy Ryan @I_heart_Spaghetti@Growing_Pains Immigrant 'so you think you can dance'? Is that what you mean?Jack Dawson @Growing_Pains@I_heart_Spaghetti LOL yeah, sure #nothingcouldtearusapartRose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Draw me like I'm FrenchJames Cameron @3D3D3D3D3D3D@DoubleD_Witt Jesus CUT! It's 'DRAW ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH GIRLS'Rose getting her lines right #unobtaniumJack Dawson @Growing_Pains@3D3D3D3D3D3D unobtanium? Now your just making stuff up.Rose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Pencil me like FranceJames Cameron @3D3D3D3D3D3D@DoubleD_Witt Are you kidding me? #shoudhavegotsigourneyJack Dawson @Growing_Pains@DoubleD_Witt I'm thinking mixed-media impressionist potato stampingRose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Draw me like one of your French girls #dontfearthebushJames Cameron @3D3D3D3D3D3D @DoubleD_Witt Farking Finally! Jack Dawson @Growing_PainsOh snap. I see London, I see France! Those are niiiiiiiiccce. Hockley @The?_Phantom@DoubleD_Witt WTF? DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@The_Phantom Ummm, I've met someone sozCal Hockley @The?_Phantom@DoubleD_Witt if this has anything to do with the stain in my car, I'm not going to be happyJack Dawson @Growing_Pains @The_Phantom haha sorry bro. Federick Fleet @on_the_lookout@ParisHilton Your video keeps me warm in the crows nestFederick Fleet @on_the_lookout The fuck is that?First Officer William Murdoch @alwaysthebridesmaid@on_the_lookout Cripes Fred, keep it wrapped would you?Federick Fleet @on_the_lookout @alwaysthebridesmaid Left! Turn left!Derek Zoolander @orangemochafrappecino@on_the_lookout If only...Ice Berg @TheBigChillChillin like a villainTitanic @UnsinkableMOFO Ouch! WTF was that?Ice Berg @TheBigChill@UnsinkableMOFO Soz bro. You got heaps of lifeboats though, right?Titanic @UnsinkableMOFO@TheBigChill I knew that was gonna come upCaptain Edward John Smith @Down_with_the_shipScotch scotch scotch scotch scotchTitanic @UnsinkableMOFOI think I just threw my back out #snappedlikeatwigJames Cameron @3D3D3D3D3D3D@UnsinkableMOFO Money shot! #bluealiensJack Dawson @Growing_Pains @DoubleD_Witt Are you cold?Rose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Nah, not realsJack Dawson @Growing_Pains@DoubleD_Witt Reckon I can get a spot on whatever you're floating on? Rose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Don't forget me RoseJack Dawson @Growing_Pains@DoubleD_Witt That's my lineRose DeWitt Bukater @DoubleD_Witt@Growing_Pains Jack, teach me how to swallow like a manJack Dawson @Growing_Pains@DoubleD_Witt (inaudible drowning) #bitchesbecrazyCeline Dion @lalalalalalalaMy heart will gon ananananand oonnnnnnnnnn!Terrence&Philip @ BarkBarkPurrPurr@lalalalalalala STFU! You ruined Canada, uncle f*cker!Pretty sure that's how it went. Could be different in 3D though.Follow Matt Gray on Twitter:?Mia Michaels from "So You Think You Can Dance" has worked with everyone from Celine Dion to Madonna, and now the choreographer is teaching Tom Cruise some moves for the upcoming film "Rock of Ages." "It was crazy working with Catherine Zeta Jones and Tom Cruise on the film," Mia told me on the set of "New York Live." "Working with all of [the cast] -- especially Tom and Catherine Zeta -- changed my life. Tom really did, because he comes and he's not a dancer at all. But what affected me more than anything is the way he approaches his craft. And being in Hollywood, it's a hit or miss about seeing people that are really about the art. With him, he is relentless and you have to be right there with him." Mia says that Tom wasn't just interested in getting the moves right. She says he wants to master everything he chooses to do. "I love him," Mia gushed. "Tom would be with me for about four hours working, and then he would go to his vocal lessons and then guitar lessons. I mean, when he decided to take on Stacee Jaxx [his character in the film], he took him on." So I had to ask, can Tom dance now? "Yes, yes," said Mia. "He transformed himself, his body, his everything. He's a dancer, he's a singer, he's not only an amazing actor, but I will go so far as saying I believe he could be Oscar-winning for this role."Check out other Celebrity Photos of the Week:?As the Miami Dolphins have sunk further and further into mediocrity, the franchise' fans have only gotten more creative (read: desperate). From to to , the collective need of the aqua and orange has never been more palpable, more earnest, Leonardo DiCaprio freezing solid and sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic.Yep. Three Dolphins fans hoping the Fins nab free agent quarterback Peyton Manning have both sincerely and hilariously yearning for Manning's career to go on in Miami. [Watch the 110 percent effort above.]"Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you, hoping that the Dolphins you'll run," sings of Dolphins-flavored humor trio "" before launching into a tremulous reference to Manning's recent neck surgery:Nerves! arm! however you are!I believe that your career must go onMatt Moore, we'll show him the doorAnd you'll heal and your career, your career will go onAudibles at the lineA perfect pass to HarlineA draw to Regie Bush from shotgunLuck was why they left youWhy Irsay he cut youCircumstances so he moved onNerves! arm! however you areWe believe that your career should go onNo snow, your beachfront condoYou'll be here and your career, your career will go on and onFinishing up with a motion to rename the Florida Turnpike to Peyton Way and a creepily whispered, "we love you," the absurd video aims to accomplish what fans don't trust the Miami front office to do: nab one of greatest quarterbacks of all time, papier-mach neck and all. "I don't believe in them at all, and if they do pull it off it'll go horribly wrong," said Mayer, who took lyrics written by fellow fan and recorded them in his closet. Buddy added visuals, and the dreams of three young men took flight across the Internet. "A decade plus of looking for the next Dan Marino more than fueled the lyrics," said Rizzmiggizz. "Peyton is exactly what we need... The Dolphins passed on Drew Brees due to health concerns; we can't take the same risk. In this NFL if you wanna be great, sometimes you must be bold."Other times, of course, you've gotta be Celine Dion. Think , Manning? Doubtful. Just doubtful. ?My camera fell in the river just before this shoot at SXSW (yet still worked!), and someone tried to spit on us from the bridge above, but the folks with badges smiled and did not ticket us, and even the birds were quiet when gypsy-woman Kali Mutsa sang her songs to the stones and the water.A self-invented daughter of sorts to the great Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chvarri del Castillo, aka Imma Sumack, Kali Mutsa is the alter-ego of Chilean soap-opera star Celine Reymond. Orphaned at a young age, Kali wandering the world as a belly-dancer, until she was adopted by royalty. As a woman, she gave birth to several children -- one of whom, born with wings, and kidnapped by the circus, she sings an ode to on-cam. Kali Mutsa is playing in NYC tonight as part of a particularly dynamite line-up, alongside , who are keeping a great music alive. The Grammy Awards' recent category kill-off shows how fully clued-out the NARAS, RIAA, et, al., are. You can get information about tonight's show . I'll see you on the dancefloor, expect to get sweaty. Thanks, as always, to the hard-working publicists, managers and artists (for this shoot, Monica Diaz, Ryan Dawes and Celine) who made my Under The Iron Bridge sessions at Austin so much damn fun. See you next year, if some marketing manager, or tool-of-a-producer for an advertainment monopoly doesn't steal my spot.?A Conversation with Richard MarxMike Ragogna: Richard, last year, you released a Christmas EP, but what else have you been up to recently?Richard Marx: The Christmas EP obviously came out around Christmas time, so I was working on that for a few months prior. All in all it was pretty painless. It was just an EP, so it was only five songs, but we're going to do a whole album for Christmas 2012, which I'm going to be recording in about 10 days time around April. But this one was pretty painless, it was fun. I got to sing live with me in a booth in one room and the band and strings in their booths - very old school. I had a lot of fun.MR: Recording everything live, old school.RM: Right. Or as opposed to all of the vocals being sung by Justin Beiber, I sang these myself.MR: (laughs) Can you tell us what inspires you as an artist?RM: Well, my process has been the same for a long time. Unless I'm collaborating with someone and have set a specific time to write a song with someone, I write alone and there is no set time or organization about it. I write something every day, but I don't usually sit down to write a song. Luckily, something forces itself on me every day. It may be a melody that hits me while I'm in my car or a lyric that hits me in the shower. I just make a point to collect these ideas. Some of them just demand to be worked on or finished immediately, some I just tuck away and I may not get to them for months. I don't use an instrument to write when I'm writing by myself. I've found that that's limiting, you know? No matter how good a player you are - and I'm not a good player - you still have to be able to play an instrument. But if that instrument is your imagination, then I'm not limited to anything, and I find that my songwriting is much more interesting. That's one part of my process. The music almost always comes first and sort of tells me what the lyrics should be. Beyond that, I don't really try to write, I sort of just let it happen. Luckily , for decades now, it just keeps happening. I've found that some of the musicians that I admire so much are so proficient at their instrument or multiple instruments if they're lucky, but they have no freedom. I have had amazing artists tell me that they just know too much about their instrument and the music to use their imagination to its full musical potential. They're limited by their wealth of knowledge if that's possible. There are no limitations in your head to what you can come up with. I wouldn't have come up with a lot of the themes or musical landscapes that accompany my songs if I was sitting with an acoustic guitar or piano. It just wouldn't happen.MR: That's a great insight. I usually wait with this question until the end of the interview, but let me ask you now. Do you have any advice that you might want to share with new artists?RM: You know, I think it's a really bad time to start asking people for advice because it's pretty grim out there right now. The music business has gotten smaller since you and I started talking. (laughs) It's shrinking a little bit more every day. I don't have a crystal ball, nor have I ever been good at forecasting things like that. I only know that I'm super-grateful that I came into the business when I did. I feel really bad for young singer-songwriters now because the opportunities that existed for me in the early '80s before I was singed to learn about the business don't exist anymore. And they have been replaced with anything equally great. If I were starting out now, I would feel robbed - and I'm sure there are a lot of young artists out there who feel a little ripped off. The opportunities to really make it a lucrative career have diminished a lot, not that that should ever be anyone's motivation. Before, there was always that hope of writing a hit song and making tons of money. It's a shame because that opportunity and the fantasy of that have been demolished over the last few years, and I don't see that toothpaste going back into the tube. So, in my long-winded answer, I would say if you want to write songs and play in bands and perform because it feeds something in you and you're following your bliss, do it. If you feel like you need it to sustain yourself or to make a living, you're probably going to have to do something else in addition. And that's too bad.MR: True. Though, I would argue that because of the Internet and social networking and other technologies, I would say that people have more of an opportunity to promote and proliferate their material more freely, more so than I've ever seen in the industry.RM: Yeah, "getting your music out there" doesn't necessarily mean anything - everyone's music is out there. It doesn't mean it's connecting with anybody. If you've got 17 Facebook friends who all really like your music, that's awesome. And if that's enough to keep you writing songs, that's great. That doesn't mean that your music is "out there." It's great that we no longer have to rely on large record labels - they don't do anybody any good. Most major labels won't even sign someone who hasn't already done most of their social networking promotion ahead of time. It's almost a chicken or the egg situation because they may not sign someone who doesn't have 150,000 Facebook friends. But if they have 150,000 Facebook friends, what do they need a record company for, you know? The one glimmer of hope for the industry is that young people don't need a big corporate machine behind them to get their music heard. But in order to get it started enough to be able to sustain a career? Facebook ain't gonna do it. It's much more complicated than people think, and I see super-talented people week after week that just aren't going to get by without having that one major hit unless they get by selling records on the DL, playing gigs, and can keep that train going. But if they want to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills, this is not for them. It's way more complicated than even I can understand. We could sit and have a round table discussion about it for hours and we still probably wouldn't come up with any answers. It's a tricky time for the music business. I think the saddest part is that we're at a time in our society where the competition for public attention is greater than ever, music is losing. People are still buying and downloading music, but I don't think the passion for music is what it was even five years ago. People are really taking music for granted now. Do you know why? Because it's tiny, you can't even see it now. It's all measured in megabites. When something gets that physically small, I think there's a brain correlation that says it's also not that important.MR: Right, and the perceived value has dropped considerably because of pirating and such, wouldn't you say?RM: Right. And frankly, maybe the next thing to be hit in this way will be sports and professional athletes, only because I feel like the general public has seen the rockstar excess and this legion of people that didn't look like they appreciated it. People don't want to support people like that. I feel it'll be the same with pro athletes. If we see them with everything and still bitching and moaning about it, the average man isn't gonna continue to support these people anymore. At the end of the day, for every negative part of the conversation, there's a positive. For instance, The Civil Wars have been carving out a name for themselves the old fashioned way - from the ground up. They're brilliant talents who are just now starting to get recognized for who great they are.MR: Richard, before we get into talking about your records and many hit singles, can you tell us how your career started?RM: Sure. I was about 17 and I'd written about five or six songs, but I had an amazing leg up in the fact that I was born into a musical family. My mom was and still is a great singer, and my dad was a jingle composer and producer. By the time I came along, his business was already growing and thriving, so he built an office in Chicago. Years later, when I had these songs that I'd written, I had this amazing place to go and have them demoed. It wasn't like I was home recording on a tape recorder. I could make really decent demos. I had to save up the money to pay the musicians - my dad didn't front the money. He told me that if I wanted to do this, I'd have to pay for all of it. I put together four or five really good sounding demos and sent them out to every record company, and every record company threw them in the trash. But some friends of mine would play demos like they were records and just listen to them all the time. So, a really good friend of mine was away at college playing the demo in his room and his roommate heard it and really liked it and said he knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who worked with The Commodores. Somehow, my tape with my number on the back wound up in Lionel Richie's hands and he called me up. I was about 3 or 4 months away from graduating from High School. He talked to me for about half an hour on the phone and was so encouraging and gave me some great sage advice. He didn't make me any sort of job offers or anything at the time. But he did tell me that he knew I probably planned on going to college or something but if I decided to come to LA and get my career going, look him up.That completely rebooted my whole thought process. To have arguably one of the most talented guys in the music business at the time tell me I was talented changed things. So, I bailed on college and went out to LA. One day, I went to his studio to meet him - we'd only talked on the phone before and he put me up in the studio to sing background vocals on his song called "You Are." He was working on his first solo record at the time. For the next couple of years, anytime he was in the studio, he would invite me to be there. Sometimes, I would sing background vocals on things, but the rest of the time, he would just let me be in the room and watch and learn. I can't say enough about what a gracious and generous guy he is, even to this day. I owe a tremendous amount of my career to him.MR: It seems as though you were in the protg role, right?RM: Yeah. I mean, I had that with a couple of different people, but he was the first one who was making records that let me sort of be a fly on the wall. It was actually Lionel who recommended me to Kenny Rogers who was also at the top of the charts at the time. That's how I started getting songs placed because the first couple of songs I had placed were with Kenny Rogers. I met Kenny during those recording sessions, and I wouldn't have gotten onto those sessions if it weren't for Lionel.MR: Right. Some of the hits you had with Kenny were "Crazy" and "What About Me?"RM: That's right, and those were both from the same album. There was another song on that album as well, but it wasn't a hit. I had three songs on that album and I was only 19, so it was crazy that I was in that situation. But it was all because of Lionel. MR: Nice. And "What About Me?" was technically your first #1 hit.RM: Yeah. And "Crazy" followed as the #1 country song. The first song I ever placed was a #1 AC song, though I think it hit #15 on the pop charts. But I definitely thought to myself that it was never going to happen again, I wasn't the kind of guy that thought it was just that easy. I really thought that it was great that it happened and that it would never happen again, but I was ready to do the work to get back to that again.MR: You went on from there to work a little with the group Chicago.RM: Well, I sang background vocals on a song on Chicago's 17 record. Robert Lamm, who I was a huge fan of, wrote all of my favorite songs and he and I just hit it off. He was another person that was a huge mentor to me. He asked me to write a song with him but it didn't make the 17 record because it wasn't really good enough. It ended up being on the We Are The World album by Chicago, so I can technically say that I have a Chicago cut. (laughs) It wasn't a spectacular song. I was still such a kid when I wrote that song. But it was so great to work with Robert and we're still friends to this day.MR: Very cool. Then came Bruce Lundvall of EMI Manhattan who then gave you your break with your first album. Can you tell us about that?RM: Bruce and I were introduced by a mutual friend, and he basically just heard the exact same songs that everyone else had rejected. Songs like "Endless Summer Nights," "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Should Have Known Better," and he loved them. I couldn't believe it. Not only did he give me a record deal finally, but he told me I should produce my own record, which was just unheard of. That guy just changed my life and is, again, someone I keep in touch with to this very day. I owe my career as an artist to Bruce Lundvall because he singed me when no one else wanted to and gave me tremendous artistic freedom from the get-go. He didn't micromanage. He's the kind of guy that has such an illustrious career, and his philosophy is that if he likes what you do, there is no reason for him to get in the way of it. He's just such a great cheerleader and a really sweet man. Again, for me to be able to make my first record under him was just a huge blessing because that guy is a prince.MR: Then the Grammy nominations started rolling in, like for Best Rock Vocal Performance for "Don't Mean Nothing."RM: Yeah. But I was only up against a bunch of no names like Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen. (laughs) There was no prayer I was going to win, but I was just really honored to be nominated.MR: Which brings us to your second huge album, Repeat Offender. Can you tell us a little story behind at least one of the songs from that time period?RM: Well, every song has a story but, "Children Of The Night" was unlike any song I had written up to that point because it wasn't personal. It wasn't about me and it wasn't a relationship song. I just happened upon a 60 Minutes profile of a woman by the name of Lois Lee who founded the charity by the same name. It's an organization in Los Angeles that houses runaway youths. Most kids who run away from home and stay away end up in jail or prosecuted for drugs or something else. It's horrendous. So, I reached out to them and talked to some of the kids in the program so that I could really understand their story. I wrote the song and decided to put it on the Repeat Offender album and donated all the royalties to them for that song. It ultimately built a new home for them in the Los Angeles area so they could house more kids. As nice as that is for them, what I got out of it was being able to meet some of the most extraordinary and courageous young people I've ever met. That's a really special song. I actually got a message on Facebook from one of the kids in the video and she's now married with kids and thriving. When I met her, and during the video shoot, she had just broken free of being a teenaged prostitute. There's a success story for you. I just love that song, and it features an amazing horn arrangement done by my late father, Dick Marx.MR: Beautiful. Let's jump forward to your album Rush Street because it featured some pretty popular artists including Luther Vandross and Billy Joel. It also features my favorite recording you've done, "Hazard." Tell us about that song.RM: Well, that song was musically inspired by Danny Lanois who is a brilliant arranger, producer, and musician himself. I was on tour and traveling all over at the time. He's made some of the most beautiful solo albums I've heard - they're very haunting and ethereal. I was sort of in this headspace from listening to a lot of Danny's music, so "Hazard" came out of that. It didn't particularly sound like any of his music, but it sounds like it could have been right at home on one of his records. It was just a piece of music and I didn't want to write lyrics like any other that I'd ever written. I had always wanted to write a story song, but it scared me. It's hard to tell a story in four minutes, you know? But I got an idea and I went after it. I thought it was the dumbest song that I ever tried to write, and my wife heard me playing around with it and kind of flipped out over it. She convinced me to record it and it became one of my biggest hits to this very day. Talk about a shock. I mean, I've never written a song that I thought was a hit but I was sure that nobody would care about that song. I still get people yelling it out at concerts all the time and I don't ever play a concert without doing it. MR: Part of that, I'm sure, had to do with the spooky video that went with that song.RM: That was a really great video. It was directed by a guy named Michael Hausman, who is a really great filmmaker. That was the closest thing to a movie that we've ever done for a video. It was a great cast as well - Jennifer O'Neill and Robert Conrad who plays the Sheriff. It's just a really great video and I can say that because I didn't do anything but appear in it. MR: You've also worked with the late Luther Vandross.RM: Luther and I started working together when he did background vocals on a song of mine called, "Keeping Coming Back." That experience just cemented our friendship. About a year or two later, he asked me to write a song with him for his Christmas album and we wrote a couple of other songs together after that. In fact, the last song he ever wrote called, "Dance With My Father," was a song that we wrote together, but that was much later.MR: But that wasn't the first success you had outside your own recordings.RM: I think the first thing I ever did after I'd had any success as an artist was working with an all-female heavy metal group called Vixen. I was on tour with them and they had finished their album, but everyone felt that they still needed their first hit single. So, I got together with a buddy of mine and we wrote a song called, "Edge Of A Broken Heart." I ended up producing that on the record for them and it was a big hit. I think that that was the first outside project that I ever took once I started touring and performing. MR: So let's go back to "Dance With My Father," which was a huge hit and also won a Grammy, didn't it?RM: It did - Best Song of the Year. It came about just like any other song - Luther called me up one day and said that he had an idea for a song called, "Dance With My Father." I told him that I loved the title, and we talked about the lyrics and the ideas he had for the song. The back story for that song is that my dad died in 1997, and it was very sudden and very painful because my dad and I were very, very close. The loss was so profound and it kind of sent me reeling for quite some time. One of the only people during that time who knew how to provide any sort of comfort was Luther. He would call me every couple of weeks and we would end up talking for hours. I can't even begin to tell you how much he helped me through that horrible period. Luther also came from a similar but very different situation because his father died when he was only 12. He didn't really get to know his father that well. The most vivid memory that he had of his father was seeing him come home and dance around the kitchen with Luther's mom and all the kids. It's such a sweet visual image. Luther said that he wanted to write a piece of music to remember his father, and asked if I would work on the music and we'd go from there. I wrote a piece of music that night or the next day, and he took it and changed some stuff around and made it what he wanted, then added these amazing lyrics to it. The thing that's most beautiful about that song is everything that Luther brought to it because it was his story. I remember him saying that he thought that that song was the most important song of his career - he said that that was his "Piano Man." I was just excited that he was so excited about it. Ten days later, he had a massive stroke. He had just finished and recorded the song and then the stroke happened. It was about another year or so before he passed away, but the legacy of that song and what it means to me is so huge. I tried singing the song and I can't, I tried to sing it because I get asked to sing it a lot. It really has meant a lot to a lot of different people. People have adopted it into their lives like they have with several other songs that I've written, which I think is just incredible. But I can't sing that song because it just makes me too sad. Musical relationship notwithstanding, Luther and I were really close friends. I cherish my memories of him. But when I sing that song, it just bums me out too much, but I can and will say that I am extraordinarily proud to have been his collaborator on that song.MR: You performed that song with Celine Dion on the night of the Grammys the year it won.RM: Yeah, and Celine's father had passed away not too long before that. It was really hard for her to get through that. Luther was still alive at that point, though he was pretty incapacitated in the hospital. Celine is flawless though, so I went to Vegas to run through the song with her before the show. That particular year at the Grammys, there were a lot of big production numbers featuring Outkast, Earth, Wind & Fire, and 40 different people on stage at the same time. (laughs) Then we came out, very simply, I played the piano and Celine sang. It was really powerful. She really felt the song in her own way because, as I said, her dad had just passed. Simply the fact that I got to play the piano for Celine Dion is a big high point for me.MR: You've also sung background vocals for Madonna.RM: Yeah. That was actually one of the many sessions I did before I had a record deal. MR: And you worked with Richard Carpenter as well, right?RM: Yeah, I wrote a song with Richard. That was a great experience. MR: What are some of your favorite Richard Marx hits from over the years.RM: That's a nearly impossible question for any artist to answer. I've never heard any artist answer that question properly because there's no way to answer that question without denigrating some of the other songs. There's also no song that I've written that I've seen as a part of one of my live set lists and thought, "Oh, God, I can't wait until this song is over," you know? I'm sure that there are songs of mine that random people hate, but I don't have any. There are none that I'm embarrassed by or that represent a low point or anything. Believe me, I've written a ton of really crappy songs but you've never heard them. I'm not going to let anyone listen to anything that I don't think is the best I can do at any given time. MR: Well, is there a song that you've written that has a particularly special place in your heart or story behind it?RM: Again, for every song I've written, there are tracks on albums that are just as important or were just as powerful writing processes to me. When I came back from China, a crowd sang every word of "Right Here Waiting" with me; that was really special. Everywhere I go around the world, people know that song. It was very special and personal to me when it was written. Every song has its own story and life, and there isn't one song of mine that I would consider just a song. They all have a point and an origin, you know? They all have their own lives and entities and it's nearly impossible to just pick one out of the bunch. MR: Do you have anything lined up for the near future besides beginning to work on that full length Christmas album?RM: Well, I started touring and playing solo and acoustic last year after decades of playing with a band. I did it mainly because it frightened the hell out of me, but I have since found that it's some of the most exciting and rewarding performing that I've ever done. I'm so in love with it. It's almost like finding a new hobby or activity that you really love. Like all those guys who take up golf and then become obsessed with golf, I'm obsessed with my acoustic show. I'm just really enjoying putting all of my energy into all of those shows. I'm doing a bunch more of those shows this year all around the world. In addition to doing the new Christmas album, I'm also doing a new studio album over the summer, and I'm always writing with different people. I just worked with Keith Urban a few months ago, and I'm hoping to work with him again in the future. Beyond that, I don't make huge plans. I just sort of wait and see what happens. I'm actually working on a project later this year with my friend Fee Waybill who is one of the greatest rock performers ever and a brilliant songwriter on some new solo rock songs for him to be able to put out a record. I can't wait to finish that.MR: Fee Waybill from The Tubes. You'll have to come back and talk with us about that. Well, Richard thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to chat with us. RM: Thanks so much for having me, Mike. Transcribed by Evan Martin Follow Mike Ragogna on Twitter:?First, let me begin by saying how happy and proud I feel for these reunited family's.As a child I experienced many such reunions with my father, a U.S. Army Ranger Captain, each time we hugged and kissed and thanked god for my fathers safe return.The men and women of our country's armed forces are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to insure our freedom, proving once again that freedom isn't free, its one of the most costly things we do. Your all being manipulated, dont you see what the main stream media is doing?My Father was a Viet Nam era soldier, and they spat on him at the air port when he came home.The Veterans administration is trying to cheat our veterans out of the medical benefits due them.The "homeless Vet" situation is just as prevalent now as it was back in the 70s and 80s, our government did nothing about it then and now its even worse.Your being distracted from the real issues.Open your eyes-Wipe away the tears of joy-Ask the uncomfortable questions-Be ready to fight for those who fought for us.Veterans benefit reform NOW!They waste millions and millions of dollars on weapons systems, but feel the need to cheat the very people that are intended to use them.Thank you for reading this.God bless and keep our returning veterans.God bless the America we can be.KatrinaNYC?Nation, what has become of us? Politicians generating facebook messages from magnetic poetry, game shows reducing their prize money to fit Obama's tax plan, town hall protesters protesting heavyset women, Weddings catered by Funyuns...Funyuns!!! Well, that's all according to our friends in late night television, of course. And if you're a birther, a deather, or if you've ever participated in a civil war reenactment, you'll probably believe all of the following. Enjoy.WATCH:Get HuffPost Comedy On and ?Sunday marks Mother's Day, the time when kids and fathers should ban together to show mom how much they care: breakfast in bed, flowers, the whole nine yards. It should be special every year, but it's never more memorable than a new mom's first Mother's Day.It's been a busy year for celebrity babies, and all should get some nice R&R today. But let's hope these new moms get a little something extra special -- even if their little ones can't buy a card yet.PHOTOS: ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?MyDaily:Celine, Hermes, Givenchy... It was a day of big hitters and debuts on Sunday at Paris Fashion Week. Plus Kanye goes groupie on Phoebe Philo's ass, and Gisele hits the runway for the first time in, well, ages. ?It may be over 30 degrees outside, but my mind has already turned to fall fashion. It's one of my favourite fashion seasons -- and because this summer's pastels and neons especially challenged my all-black wardrobe, I'm looking forward to a new selection of luxurious options in shades of, well, black, black... and okay, maybe a little something new, dare I say it, burgundy!Truth be told, I've already started making purchases. The early bird catches the worm after all! I'd love to know what you're most looking forward to! Are there trends you're excited to try out? I recently took a foray into the world of and if you like this look, you'll be happy to know it's sticking around for another season. Here's what else is on my radar (and wish list!!)1. BurgundyI know I said black... but I do SOMETIMES permit colour in my closet too, it's just usually reserved for accessories. This year's summer vacation splurge was a vintage burgundy Birkin bag in Rome. This is a classic and I'll treasure it for years. But burgundy also happens to be completely on-trend for this season. If, like me, you're colour shy... think of a shoe or purse, even a pair of gloves! (Speaking of gloves, I love the studded Valentino ones I spotted at Net-a-Porter!)1. 2. 3. 2. Leather accentsLeather is a mainstay in my closet. One of my favourite designers, Rick Owens, is known for his leather, either used as an accent or the main material. This season, leather accents add edge to ladylike dresses, create dramatic contrast in textured knitwear. I can't get enough of this this look -- it's edgy, but also polished and I'll be stockpiling all winter long! I just recently purchased a leather shirt from Hakaan. I justified this purchase as it will help me transition from Summer to Fall -- I will wear it open with a t-shirt and jeans...or as a shirt jacket into the fall. Dual purpose, what's is not to love!?1. 2. 3. 3. A-LineThe A-line skirt shape is back. For so many women (myself included!) this is the most flattering shape of skirt to wear because it skims over the hips and falls gently outward, without billowing. The whole effect narrows the waist and minimizes the hip and derriere. Most A-line cuts hit at or just above the knee -- again showing the most flattering part of the leg. So, we all have reason to celebrate!! When something I love is on trend, I usually indulge in it. Sure, it's nice to follow the silhouette of the season, but really it's not as important as wearing that shape that's flattering on you! My A-line selections this year will come from one of my favourite designers, Greta Constantine.4. BootiesIn fall you can have real fun with shoes. The bootie is making a strong statement this season and can be paired with skirts or pants. There are options for every heel height, but my preference is always for the sky-high. I pounced on these Chanel ones while in NYC, and let my fingers do the talking...walking...and then buying of these YSL purple booties. 1. 2. 3. 5. Animal printIt's official -- animal print is the new staple. Definitely for accenting rather than wearing head-to-toe, the animal print has undergone an evolution in the past few seasons, becoming a little more abstract and less literal. Perhaps, this indicates increasing market appetite for faux rather than real? Or maybe it's just that we want a glancing reference to these classic prints. A purchase here will last seasons to come! I adore my Celine animal print tote bag, but I've also been eyeing up animal print lace from Australian brand Lover, which brings us to...6. LaceFor evening, lace is always a favourite. But, this season, it offers an opulent option for day or night. Lace is readily associated with all things romantic, but we're seeing a new directive -- black lace taking on more gothic connotations. Think high necks and long sleeves, as well as panels of lace alongside leather. Leather and Lace... my uniform this season!1. 2. 3. Deciding which trends to follow is a personal choice and deciding how to wear those trends is where you can put your own stamp on the season. I'm a big advocate of really investing in a few pieces that are going to last -- the perfect pair of shoes, a great handbag, an excellent winter coat -- these are all sound investments in my mind. Take inspiration and ideas from the runways and then pick and mix your purchases. Don't overlook what you've already got... maybe there's a lace blouse at the back of your closet dying for a second life! But above all, make this season your very own!xo Natasha Follow Natasha Koifman on Twitter:?THAT PISSES ME OFF. THIS MEANS WHEN I MET PETER CETERA AT A CHICAGO CONCERT (BASSIEST) I WAS 15 , FARRAH HAIR, PRETTY. I I MET PETER AT THE CONCERT, WE WERE FLIRTING, PETER WAS AT THE TIME 32 YRS OLD.HE SEEMED INTERESTED, YOU KNOW THOSE MUSICIANS, HERE TODAY GONE TOMORROW, MY DIARY WOULD HAVE TOLD A GREAT STORY! I AM FRIENDS TO THIS DAY WITH TWO OF THE BAND MEMBER WIVES AND HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE OF SEEING THE BEHIND THE SCENE PICS OF THE BAND AND PETER THAT WILL NEVER BE POSTED ANYWHERE. MR. CETERA'S DEPARTURE WAS IN 1985.I MET PETER CETERA 5 YRS AGO RECENTLY. WHEN I WAS WAITING IN LINE TO SEE HIM, ALONG WITH OTHER WOMEN, FIRST WORDS OUT OF HIS MOUTH WERE, "THERE IS SOMETHING FAMILIAR ABOUT YOU", HAVE MET BEFORE? I SAID TO HIM YES , 30 YRS AGO I EXPLAINED AND TOLD HIM.HE QUICKLY SAID I NEVER FORGET A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, IN REPLY EVEN IF I WAS 15 YRS OLD? WE BOTH LAUGHED! WE TALKED ABOUT THAT CONCERT. I SHOWED HIM A PICTURE FROM BACK THEM. WE BOTH ENJOYED A SHORT BUT WITTY CONVERSATION AT THAT MOMENT. AFTER OUR FIRST MEET IN THE 1970S, PETER CAME OUT WITH A SONG ON CHICAGO 10 ALBUM CALLED "LIL MISS LOVIN" "OOHHWEE PRETTY MOMMAA LOOKING GOOD TO ME, YESEREE LIL MISS LOVIN" ETC. A MOMENT TO STAY IN MY HEART FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!?The biggest stars of the red carpet on Sunday night were not the stars themselves, but their dates. See: Matthew McConaughey's girlfriend Camila Alves, Mark Wahlberg's wife Rhea Durham, Mark Ruffalo's wife Sunrise Coigney, and the women flanking Giorgos Lanthimos (the director of ""--we had to Google that).We also applaud the red carpet risk-takers. Helena Bonham Carter can never be accused of being dull, and tonight she did not disappoint. Mainly for the fact that she doesn't seem to give a damn, we have included her in this list. She is truly fearless.Tonight was also a night of firsts: it marks Celine Dion's debut on any best-dressed list we've ever done.Tell us who wins the top honor, and then let us know if you agree with our highly subjective choices in the comments below. We know you're not shy, and that's very Helena Bonham Carter of you.**And be sure to check out our picks for .**Photos by Getty and AP. ?Paris Fashion Week has come to an end. And, as always, its catwalks featured beautiful outfits, beautiful models - and totally bonkers creations that no human being would ever be caught dead wearing.We've rounded up our favourite monstrosities below. As you'll see, 'headwear which renders you unable to see anything' is going to be such a hot look for Spring/Summer 2012. As are: flowers. ?Why form a new country when you could probably just buy one?That's the question that may enter your head after you see the photos of the castle Quebec's separatist premier-designate Pauline Marois used to live in.Known as on ?le Bizard near Montreal was for $6,980,000.The house is so grand that , according to La Presse.That sale, however, wasn't the first time Marois' digs made headlines. Back in 2007, the . The Gazette also reported that ., asking for $2 million in damages. The in March of 2011, according to Cits Nouvelles. first by selling gas stations, then in a series of jobs managing money for Quebec's government and then finally in real estate development, according to the Gazette.The couple built their mansion in 1994. in January of this year. The home had been on the market for more than two years.Marois has presented the PQ under her leadership as a party of the people. In the early days of the she would often wear the red square that is emblematic of the movement sparked by a hike in tuition fees. . On Wednesday, the . The during the recent campaign, arguing the question of sovereignty is less important than worker's rights.While Marois may support working families, from the looks of her former abode money certainly isn't what's driving her own labours.Related on HuffPost:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?JERUSALEM — Acclaimed tenor Placido Domingo has been named a winner of Israel's prestigious Wolf Prize, along with seven other American, British and Israeli recipients.The Wolf Foundation said Tuesday that Domingo is the first vocal artist to ever win its prize. From 1962 to 1965, at the beginning of his career, he sang with the Israeli opera company.Each year the Wolf Foundation awards $100,000 prizes in five fields. About three dozen winners have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.Domingo shared the award with English conductor Sir Simon Rattle. Israeli physicist Jacob D. Bekenstein won the physics prize. The others went to U.S.-based scientists, including chemists A. Paul Alivisatos and Charles M. Lieber, mathematicians Michael Aschbacher and Luis Caffarelli, and in medicine, Ronald M. Evans. ?By Associated PressMONTREAL A 36-year-old man has been charged after he allegedly broke into singer Celine Dion's home near Montreal, raided the fridge and even took the time to pour himself a bath, police said Tuesday.He was nabbed by police in the Montreal suburb of Laval on Monday afternoon after the alarm system went off.The international pop superstar and her husband, Rene Angelil, were not at home at the time. Dion and Angelil usually live in Florida but use the Laval residence when they come home to Quebec.Laval police spokesman Franco Di Genova said the suspect was getting ready to take a nice hot bath when police arrived with a canine unit."He opened the water faucets, was pouring a nice warmish bath (and) he even managed to eat some pastry that was in the fridge," Di Genova said.Di Genova said police worked their way through the house, starting with the basement and finally confronted the man on the main floor."The suspect was coming down the big staircase and was asking: `Hey, guys what are you doing here?'" Di Genova said."So the officers replied: `What are you doing here?' and they proceeded to put him under arrest."Di Genova said the man had jumped a fence to get on the property and used a garage door opener that he found in an unlocked vehicle to gain access to the luxury residence.Daniel Bedard, a Laval resident, was arraigned Tuesday on charges including breaking and entering, auto theft and causing property damage.Di Genova said there was another incident at Dion's mansion in 2009 when another man jumped the fence, but was stopped by the security firm that was keeping an eye on the property before he could enter the home. ?Yeah--truly bad--but Hill said so herself. She was handed the song to cover before she had ever heard Joplin. Interestingly, Hill re-covered the song later, just to make partial amends. Something of an improvement, but still should have been left alone the first time. I couldn't narrow down my nominations to a single Time-Life collection, but just a couple of honorable mentions: Tina Turner putting "Whole Lotta Love" completely to sleep and Van Halen making junior high school talent shows proud by phoning in "Pretty Woman."Each to his own: I remember someone complaining that Jimi Hendrix must turn over in his grave every time he hears Bob Dylan cover "All Along the Watchtower"--but then he thought Elton John drummer Nigel Olsen was "a hot chick."?NEW YORK — Celine Dion has been admitted to a Florida hospital to prevent the early delivery of her twins.The superstar singer is at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The hospital said in a statement the admission was recommended to make sure she's near her doctors leading up to the babies' birth. Her rep said she is due to deliver the twins early next month.Dion announced earlier this year that she's pregnant with two boys. She had tried for years to have more children. She and her husband, Rene Angelil, are the parents of a 9-year-old son, Rene Charles.___Online: ?Hasnt YouTube taught us anything? After a about Popeye's Chicken went crazy viral a couple years ago for all the wrong reasons, reporters (should have) learned an important lesson: selectively interviewing one group of people for a news story can draw unfair conclusions about that group. But thats exactly what one Fox Sports reporter did last week when he interviewed exclusively USC students many of whom werent native English speakers or didnt follow football for a segment about the Pac 12 conference. Real classy, guys.?Candidates are being identified, campaign offices rented and buses prepped as Quebec heads toward an election, expected to be called Wednesday. The life of Jean Charest's nine-year-old government is at stake, but all the parties in the province's crowded political field have big hopes for the coming vote.The latest polls show the incumbent government neck-and-neck with the Parti Qubcois, so Charest's Liberals have the inside track. The premier is already using the opportunity provided by the to pound his chest a little, laying out Quebec's conditions for participation in a national energy strategy and criticizing the federal government for its unilateral changes to health care transfers.The lines of the Liberal campaign are already being laid out, as Charest juxtaposes what he calls his government's respect for democracy, the economy and individual rights with the PQ's lack of respect for those rights and leader Pauline Marois' determination to hold a referendum on independence. Marois worked to remove a set schedule from the PQ's platform, and was heavily criticized from within the party for it, but has never ruled out holding of another referendum if "winning conditions" present themselves.But a spate of announcements of star candidates for the Parti Qubcois indicates many believe the party has winning conditions. The candidacies of Pierre Duchesne, former political bureau chief for Radio-Canada in Quebec City, and Bernard Gnreux, president of Quebec's federation of municipalities, have already been announced, and Jean-Fran?ois Lise, political commentator and former advisor to Premier Jacques Parizeau, is expected to be presented as the party's newest candidate in the coming days. in a Laval riding captured the most attention this week. Bureau-Blouin was one of the more moderate voices in the protests and should help the PQ with the youth vote, but he nevertheless give credence to the Liberals' narrative that the PQ is in bed with the controversial strike. However, the strength suggested by the PQ's ability to recruit a strong field of candidates contrasts sharply with the difficulties the Coalition Avenir Qubec (CAQ) has been having. They have few high-profile names, some of the better known being former ADQ MNAs who were elected for short stints in 2007. Mario Dumont's unexpected breakthrough that year revealed the party was not ready for primetime, and adds to the impression the CAQ is also lacking a team that is ready to govern.On the other side of the political spectrum, Qubec Solidaire (QS) will be focusing on getting co-leader Fran?oise David elected alongside Amir Khadir, their only sitting MNA. They do have a (very) outside shot in a few other Montreal ridings, but the party may play a bigger role in getting Jean-Martin Aussant, leader of the adamantly sovereigntist Option Nationale (ON), returned to the National Assembly. They have concluded an agreement with ON not to run a candidate in Aussant's riding, in return for ON not putting up a name against David. Option Nationale was unlikely to pull more than one or two per cent in David's riding, but the lack of a QS candidate puts anywhere from five to 10 per cent of the vote on the table for Aussant.Add to that the provincial Greens, who have nominated leader Claude Sabourin as their candidate in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, their best riding in 2008, and the nascent Conservatives, who have two former Tory MPs on the ballot in Quebec City, and the upcoming election in Quebec is setting up to be one interesting campaign. On your marks...ric Grenier taps of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of , covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.Also on HuffPost:?There's no escaping the overwhelming association with luxury in Cannes. Star-studded hotels sit next to boutiques from every designer name you can imagine: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Prada. Balenciaga too, Cline coming soon.But head inside the Palais des Festivals in June for the world's most famous advertising festival, Cannes Lions, and there's barely a whisper of the fashion industry at all. In a celebration of the best in campaigns from around the globe, some of the most creative brands existing, are distinctly absent. The obvious answer is budget. Traditionally, fashion not only doesn't do big scale advertising (TV), but doesn't, of course, work with ad agencies. Who needs a creative director from Madison Avenue, when you have one in Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs or Christopher Bailey in-house? Print has always been their home. Seasonal campaigns that tie in with seasonal collections. Bold concepts whittled down to a beautiful aesthetic portrayed through a couple of models and an exotic set. Glossy magazines as premium placement, the odd outdoor billboard and the glittering flagship store. But advertising has changed. Consumers have changed. Cannes Lions rebranded for 2011 from the prosaic International Advertising Festival to the International Festival of Creativity, to reflect that. Advertising, once clear-cut in definition, can now encompass anything from an experience to new technology, from the use of social media to an event. More often than not, it's all those things together. Proof lies in this year's winners. Yes, Nike's epic Write the Future spot took the film grand prix, but it was the likes of Decode Jay-Z with Bing, which had no TV attached to it, that cleaned up. Taking Jay-Z's new autobiography and leaking it page by page - printing it in inventive spaces such as the bottom of a swimming pool and a vintage Cadillac Seville car - it then released a series of clues online for a month as to each page's whereabouts, a ruse which saw fans scrabbling to find them in a Bing-enabled scavenger hunt. It's in this integrated realm fashion could do well. On a smaller scale, early adopters are already proving such; taking their glossy seasonal campaigns and using them to spark conversation around the brand both on and offline. "Content" is the new buzzword, with behind-the-scenes footage, viral teasers and fully fledged online films becoming popular formats. Prada's spring/summer 2011 effort for instance, won the top spot on The Business of Fashion's list of fashion films for the season for its "infectious charm and masterfully executed quick edits". It also worked wonderfully in the interactive banner space, and translated equally well to print. Meanwhile, for autumn/winter 2011/12, Mulberry brought its campaign stills by Tim Walker to life in a film created retrospectively through the use of numerous CGI techniques. And Chanel, one of the masters of the teaser spot, even launched a full 30-minute piece around its cruise collection in May called The Tale of a Fairy. Then there are the more creative integrations - the cunning of a previous Calvin Klein Jeans billboard inviting us to unlock its censored ads through a QR code; or Burberry's experiential videos allowing viewers to rotate, pause and change perspective through the use of motion-responsive technology. But, regardless of such clever executions, the basis for each is still (in the main) that print imagery. Fashion communications remain about print ads selling product over campaigns selling ideas. And that is what needs to change. Sir John Hegarty, worldwide creative director at advertising agency BBH, told a brimming auditorium at Cannes Lions the future is about doing something different. In a telling demonstration he ran a series of beauty industry ads. With their taglines removed, it was almost impossible to tell which was which. The same could be said for fashion. By the time you've seen the collection, heard about the designer's inspirations and remembered which photographer they'll use, you can almost even predict the look of the ads before they're released. Hegarty referred to this homogenisation as "windtunnel marketing", and called for a change in approach. Denim labels, in that case, offers a lot to be learnt from. Ditching the idea of seasonal ads, Diesel launched its Be Stupid campaign in 2010. Based on taking risk, being spontaneous and saying yes, it's a philosophy spawned from president and founder Renzo Rosso's experiences in first launching the brand. It won the outdoor grand prix in Cannes last year.The tagline has remained since, but the ads - often somewhat risqu themselves - are frequently updated: new models, new product, new multimedia executions. The same can be seen with Go Forth, the long-term campaign from Levi's, and the brand's first global creative platform in its 138-year history. Based on a rally cry for positive change in the world, the latest instalment includes a 60-second film called Levi's Legacy that was unveiled last week (though has been postponed in the UK following riots across the country). This kind of big thinking for an apparel brand not only makes a campaign more relevant to different hemispheres when launched internationally, but ties in well with the fact collections are becoming increasingly transseasonal. Accordingly, while the Cannes Lions rebranding might have taken the focus off traditional formats, it doesn't rid us of the fact that overarching ideas are what advertising remains about, especially in the new digital age, where execution can overshadow concept. Fashion therefore - an industry with creativity at its very core - needs to shake off its seasonal collection focus and start thinking instead about campaigns built around big ideas. A good starting point for inspiration, you could say, is Cannes Lions. Follow Rachel Arthur on Twitter:?A few months after showed that black federal prisoners were much less likely to receive presidential pardons, the federal government is launching a study to look into the pardons process.The Justice Department for data collection and reporting for the study. "The purpose of this program is to examine how petitions for pardon are adjudicated by the Justice Departments Office of the Pardon Attorney," according to an outline of the study.A full pardon reverts the convicted person's legal status back to before the crime. The federal office of the pardon attorney looks into pardon applications and makes recommendations to the president. The purpose of the study, the outline said, is to "test the primary hypothesis that all other things being equal African Americans and other minorities are less likely to progress in the pardon adjudication process than applicants of other races." It will look at the pardon applications submitted between October 1, 2001 and April 30, 2012. The study will not focus on those cases in which a convict's sentence was merely reduced. The Washington Post and ProPublica series, called "Shades of Mercy," found that of their crimes than minority applicants. It also found that married applicants and those with backing from members of Congress fared especially well in having their pardons granted.WATCH THE PBS NEWSHOUR SEGMENT ON BIAS IN PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY Watch on PBS. See more from Related on HuffPost:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?LOS ANGELES — A San Fernando Valley woman was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for dousing a bikini dancer with gasoline and setting her on fire at a club called "Babes & Beer."Rianne Theriault-Odom, 28, was sentenced in Van Nuys Superior Court for the Feb. 5, 2009 attack on Roberta Busby. The Simi Valley woman received burns over 40 percent of her body and has had more than two dozen skin grafts.The badly-scarred victim tearfully asked the judge to issue the maximum sentence for an act of "drunken rage.""Now you're going to feel the same heartache that I felt when I couldn't hug, kiss or play with my kids or even talk to my kids," the 28-year-old mother of two told her attacker, reading from a letter in court."I guess I'll never know what was going through your mind that night, but one day you'll have to answer to God, and that's more justice than any prison can do to you," Busby said.Odom, who has four children, requested a psychiatrist and said she was mentally unprepared for the sentence. Superior Court Judge turned down a request to postpone the sentencing.Prosecutors say the two women had been feuding when Theriault-Odom doused Busby with gasoline from a soda bottle and set her ablaze at the Tarzana club.Busby ran inside, and employees and patrons used curtains to douse the flames.Theriault-Odom, who'd been refused a job as a dancer at the club, claimed someone else set the woman on fire.Last month, a jury convicted her of torture and aggravated mayhem but acquitted her of attempted murder. ?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?Sarah Leon is the style blog editor at The Huffington Post. The Vassar alumna, who majored in Media Studies and earned a correlate in Art History, wrote her thesis about the relationship between British cultural theory in the late 20th century and The Face magazine. In addition, Sarah spent several years as a contributing writer to The New York Times Style Magazine and blog. Sarah has also written for The New York Times Sunday Styles Section, Interview Magazine and in Iran, educated in New York, based in London - you can see why travel might influence Negarin Sadr, founder and designer of hot womenswear label .The interesting geometrics of her Spring/Summer 2012 collection first turned my head, but on looking into the collection further, I found Negarin's range gave a host of incredibly wearable, versatile options to the working woman. Even better, they help solve the perennial style conundrum that is summer office attire.Though her aesthetic reflects the Leonardo da Vinci quote heralded on her website, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication", to say that Negarin's designs are simple is, to my mind, incorrect. Like a good play, her creations appear uncomplicated and effortless but there's a lot going on behind the scenes to create this precisely constructed illusion, often informed by Sadr's interests in architecture, sculpture and fine art.Above (clockwise from top left): Simone jacket 499 worn with Zoey top 199 and Marianne shorts 249; Josette dress 399; Sophia top 399 worn with Celine trousers 249; Magdalene dress, 749, all from Negarin's SS12 collection. Everything is beautifully put together, lined and, for the most part, machine washable. Sadr - who started off working in finance before pursuing her dreams of becoming a fashion designer - clearly has an eye for function as well as fashion. Practicality certainly isn't one of the first things you think on seeing her designs but it's a welcome, understated bonus and a key element in her thinking when creating each piece. Sadr states was born out of a desire "to cater to the realities of the lifestyle of a busy, culturally aware, modern woman who wants beautiful, innovative clothes that are practical and affordable". She tells me her vision is to create pieces for "urban and active women who have a strong sense of style and the confidence to offset classic pieces with bold prints and statement tailoring." My favourite pieces from the collection are the crisp, all-white with their unusual ankle split detail and flash of coloured lining and the architechtural , which both bring a modern edge with eastern-inspired elegance. The impeccably crafted cape, with it's flash of violet, brings to mind Gwynneth Paltrow's show stopping Tom Ford at this year's Oscars, albeit a more everyday version.Above (clockwise from top left): Naomi cape 499 worn with Catherine dress 399; Isabelle tunic dress 499; Belle jumpsuit 699; Celine trousers, all from Negarin's SS12 collection. Clothing comes in sizes 6-14 and prices are pretty high, wavering around the same ballpark as those other women's workwear wonders Stella McCartney and J. Crew, but Negarin's styles are less widespread and totally timeless. With the trend for more investment dressing and less throwaway fashion, this is definitely a label for high flying, fashion conscious businesswomen looking for a twist on the usual to add to their roster, not least for the ease with which these outfits translate from day to evening wear. That said, isn't just for the office or after work engagements - celebrities including Jade Parfitt and Tolula Adeyemi have also been spotted working it on the red carpet.With a strong Autumn Winter 2012 collection already in the bag, Sadr - whose ultimate goal is to create a lifestyle brand - is busy plotting Negarin's expansion. "If market conditions are right, I plan to open a boutique in London early next year. Along the way, I will experiment with sustainable, non-crease fabrics, while broadening the product range to include accessories." Although she may no longer work in finance, fashion is still a numbers game and I hope continues to do well as, although they say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, the current price range is only really affordable to those who have already achieved a certain level of success so I would really love to see a fabulous diffusion line from her, providing less pricey options for those ambitious, stylish ladies further down the career ladder. Shop the Spring Summer 2012 collection or catch a preview of the Autumn Winter looks over on Above: A select preview from Negarin's Autumn / Winter 2012-13 collection.Follow Sarah McGiven on Twitter:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpdovcLTcUs93wly%2B34i7kkrPjtQPvHYzsjWYhFzb12pgbYBKVLP34TXLzbpAy2RCoJtFFAngK4QBT43WaolBTcPfpLmNk7nCjRWSB2%2FymekHy%2BlaPW27BvcQEfIX%2F%2BT7jigXKA6%2FuiHk?, the legendary Montreal restaurant famous for its smoked meat, was sold at the beginning of January for around $10 million to a group of investors that may include none other than Ren Anglil, husband and manager of superstar Cline Dion, according to sources close to the deal.Le Huffington Post Quebec has learned that the transaction took place around Jan. 7, after which the now-former owner, businessman Hy Diamond, filed a request for dissolution of his business with the Registre des entreprises du Qubec - the province's business registry. The sale of the uber-popular deli was motivated by a desire simply to move on, sources told HuffPost Quebec. Several investors have shown interest in acquiring Schwartz's, but few were prepared to fork over the hefty sum, according to another source who spoke to HuffPost Quebec. Other sources say the restaurant is now the property of a group of investors, with two prominent names apparently in the mix: Anglil and Paul Sara (Anglil's cousin). The two previously ventured into the restaurant business in the 1990s with the Nickels franchise. Loyal EmployeesMontreal media has been abuzz with rumours of the potential sale, which started earlier this week when English paper The Gazette . early Sunday morning by Le Journal de Montral. But the deli's employees aren't saying much on the record about the business' change-of-hands, and were advised not to speak about the sale. "We know there has been a sale, but have been asked not to comment on the matter," Schwartz's day manager told HuffPost Quebec, visibly uncomfortable with the question. Other servers seemed indifferent about the names of the future owners. "Our customers are our only priority, much more so than knowing who the owner is," one said with a smile. Schwartz's has enjoyed phenomenal success since it was opened in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz. Locals, tourists and celebrities alike -- Anglil is a well-known fan, and his and Dion's picture is on the deli's wall of fame -- flock daily to the Montreal institution on St. Laurent Boulevard for the famous smoked meats, fries, pickles and more. The long lineups are almost as legendary as the sandwiches at the sole location. As such, it wouldn't be surprising if the new owners were interested in expanding the Schwartz's brand beyond the Main according to Journal de Montral's food writer, Thierry Daraize, who said in the report that . "The brand has huge potential for expansion," he said. "As long as they can preserve their famous recipe." Schwartz's popularity has thus far spawned a line of merchandise and spices, a book, documentary film, and even a musical.If an expansion is on the horizon, Anglil could likely foot the bill if he is indeed a co-owner; His wife and sole talent protg Dion had a reported and , according to Forbes.With files from Lisa YeungWHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT? CHECK OUT OUR PHOTOS AND VIDEO ?Yon__Ye: ã?¬ã?¤ã??ã?³ ã?µã?³ã?°ã?©ã?¹ã?«ã??ã??ã??ã??ã?®ã?¢ã??ã?«ã?¯ã?©ã?¡ã??ã??ã?ªã?ªã?¸ã??ã?«ã?®ã??ã?¬ã?¤ã??ã?³ ã?¦ã?§ã?¤ã??ã?¡ã?¼ã?©ã?¼ã??ã??ã??ã?¼ã?¹ã?«ã??80年代ã?®ã??ã??ã??ã?«ã?«ã??ã?£ã?¼ã??ã??ã?¤ã?³ã?¹ã??ã?¤ã?¢ã??ã??ã??ã?«ã?©ã??ã?«ã?»ã??ã?¿ã?¼ã?³ã??æ?½ã??ã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã??ã?®ã?¦ã??ã?¼ã?¯ã?§ã??ã??ã??ã?ªã?©ã?¤ã?³ã?¨ç?¹å¾´ç??ã?ªã?«ã?©ã?¼ã?»ã?³ã?³ã??ã??ã?¼ã?·ã?§ã?³ã?¯ã??ã?¢ã?¤ã?¦ã?§ã?¢-ã??ã?©ã?³ã??ã?®ã??ã?¤ã?ªã??ã?¢ã?¨ã??ã?¦å??è?¨ã??ç¶?ã??ã??ã?¬ã?¤ã??ã?³ RB2140ã?ªã??ã?§ã?¯ã?®ã?©ã?¤ã?³ã??ã??ã??ã?¨è¨?ã??ã??ã?§ã??ã??ã??ã???If you could travel with any celebrity, who would you choose? announced the results of its first ever Travel Companion Survey, revealing that 62 per cent of people polled would prefer to travel with Canadian celebrities over some of Hollywoods biggest names. And the name topping the travel charts is Canadas own Shania Twain.To find out how people voted, click on the gallery below.Related on HuffPost:?It was only a matter of time before the phenomenon thats been taking YouTube by storm got a Canadian version: . Some bon mots from the new edtion:Have you seen my toque? "I got snowed in last week real bad.The video, uploaded on Jan. 24, features a young man living up to all the good Canadian stereotypes (see him scream at a TV during a hockey game; watch him pour maple syrup on virtually everything). , nabbing 3,000 'likes' and tons of comments. Canadians. The only people who get made fun of for being polite and caring, one viewer wrote.As a Canadian, I find this hilarious, another user commented. But some have been quick to point out corrections. One viewer wrote: Not Canadian at all. Canadians would know that Timbits don't come in dozens.Other Canadian videos have become popular with viewers this month, and (poking fun at the Canadian universities). Similarly, was uploaded last week and got a lot of . , which was uploaded on Monday. It's already racked up more than 3.3 million views. Canada isn't the only target of "Sh*t People Say" videos. Just a few days ago, making fun of our neighbours south of the border. Related on HuffPost:HuffPost and AOL Canada editors share what they love about Canada ?"Video Still, "Joie de Vivre" by Ruth Hogben for Gareth Pugh, Courtesy of Ruth Hogben, 2010"At the opening of Paris' Fall fashion week Gareth Pugh opted out of the usual runway display and showcased his designs instead with an eleven minute video done in collaboration with filmmaker Ruth Hogben. Hogben came to my attention through her earlier work for Celine and Pugh with her original use of lighting and texture, which emphasized the sensuality of both the fabric and the wearer.Hogben had worked with Nick Knight on Alexander McQueen's last show, and also on videos for Lady Gaga's recent stage performances. I asked the young filmmaker about her inspirations and aspirations for carving out a new medium for herself.KL: How did you first start assisting Nick Knight?RH: I studied photography first; I wanted to be a photographer since I was twelve. I was very persistent and we went to the same secondary school and it was probably my winning letter that I wrote. I always wanted to learn from him. I had two or three years of assisting others and learning from my mistakes. And then I finally applied and worked for Nick - worked very, very hard for a few years. I was the motorized magazine rack - give me three seconds to reload the film ...When Nick went to digital, I had to take a step back - you didn't need four people to change the lens on a Hasselblad and so I had to reinvent myself. [Later], I was at a Visionaire shoot, and kept looking through the view-finder and Lily (Cole) was playing with motion and light, and I said to Nick that I thought there was some really nice footage there, and could I edit it? I then spent half a day in the studio learning Final Cut. Nick and Charlotte (his partner) were very supportive and let me use the footage and the soundtrack; they gave me a lot of freedom - then, it was two years of editing, of trying and playing, and working hard. from on .KL: Are you inspired by the architectural forms in Gareth Pugh's designs?RH: The third film (Joie de Vivre) was influenced by art deco architecture. That was how I approached the film, making her into a building, making her very tall. But then she moved so well - and gave me so many varying poses, it meant I could go wild when I had an amazing soundtrack. The audio is by Lukid. I talked with him about the film I wanted to make and he went away for a couple of weeks and came back with something that fit so perfectly that we decided to go with it instead of starting from scratch.KL: What's the difference between this work and making a music video?RH: Fashion drives my inspiration. I'd be quite scared to be led by music; it's not how I really work. I work with the beat but as a way of accentuating the work."Video still from Director Ruth Hogben's film for Celine"KL: Do you choreograph the movement?RH: For Celine () I was led by the lines of how the coat moved. But with the leather jacket, when she rolled her shoulders, the leather just moved in this sexual way...The movement is a fine line between the freedom of expression in the way the model feels as a woman inside the clothes, to how I think the movement should be communicated.KL: The movement when it is slowed down is very erotic. You get to really see how the human body moves. RH: I never really thought about how I slow things down. But sometimes I just feel the viewer needs to appreciate what I am showing them, and in real-time you don't get to appreciate a crease or a movement; it gets the audience time to breathe it in. But it does push it away from reality, which is sometimes right for certain films - or sometimes isn't. I also repeat, I accentuate... I am not a trained editor and don't follow conventions of the film genre.KL: Maybe you are creating a new genre - it's more like a performance. RH: Whatever edit rule I use, I just feel it. It's a visual language that pleases me. I just follow my instinct.I am building on something already incredible, and I make it more graphic or sumptuous with backgrounds, makeup, movement and wind. I am communicating through a performance, a film. I adore working with Gareth; his work is so strong. In the initial stages he spends a long time speaking about how he feels about his work, then he lets me react to it...With Gaga it was more fashion oriented...there were art pieces embedded in the concerts - but she also gave me a lot of freedom. from on .KL: Do you think the artist in you takes over - or are you just showing the clothes to the best advantage?RH: That's a bit tricky. I try to improve on my past work. I've been working with a great DOP, Simon Chaudoir and learning a lot, playing with lenses, feeling more confident...But the communication between Gareth and I hasn't changed. I refine the communication, and with film it is a lot more direct than with a still photograph. I fine-tune the communication with the pace of the edit and movement. I don't think as an artist I overtake his work, but knowing the medium more, helps improve what and how I communicate his vision.I spent 4 months working with Gaga, and when I finished I needed to do a film that was purely just for me. It was self-funded. It will go to some festivals, and I love how it is presented and shown at ; I love working with the team there, and I get a lot of control of how the film looks.[In my videos] I try to show what type of a woman she is in a thick heavy wool coat; or a flowy see-through dress. It all means something and I try to understand what that means and communicate it on a whole new level."Martin Margiela's "Wig-Coat," in Make Up Your Mind, directed by Nick Knight and Ruth Hogben"KL: You communicate that without clothes too, through the movement of flesh. Showing women's bodies in a different way is challenging because it's one of the most exploited subjects in art.RH: Those two burlesque dancers were so much fun to work with (See Buttocks above). I love fashion and I love women. I study skin moving - making it look like milk and being inspired by Man Ray's daylight nudes. I am lucky to live in this time with this new medium - this touchable way of using digital formats. [And also] having all these exquisite artists to be pulling on like Man Ray, Helmut Newton and Allen Jones - but putting my own spin on them. It's important that we question ourselves as women, about equality - I think a lot about whether a stripper is an object or is she something to be desired, and whether that's powerful enough. I'd like to do a lot more work in exploring women and their bodies, and whether they are just pieces of meat or whether they are something to enjoy in splendour and celebrate. There is a fine line between exploitation and celebration. I am lucky to be working in this time where fashion film has a platform.Ruth Hogben video for Phillipe Starck KL: Is your work just part of the fashion world - or do you consider yourself an artist.RH: I don't know how to answer. I did a film for Phillipe Starck - a still-life of a chair- shot and lit in different ways with calligraphy writing; it abstracted the shapes...brought out the form of the chair and then faded away...I don't quite know what that is, or what I should call myself - I love it and feel it and put my heart and soul it..For more information on credits view Ruth Hogben/Gareth Pugh's at Showstudio.Text: Follow Spread ArtCulture on Twitter:?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?LOS ANGELES — The Kodak Theatre was rocking as Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Moore, Celine Dion and other musicians ran through the numbers they'll perform on Sunday's Academy Awards.Moore dueted with Zachary Levi on "I See the Light," the nominated song from Disney's "Tangled," as composer and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken backed them on piano. Paltrow continued to show her musical side, singing "Coming Home" from her recent film "Country Strong." Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman and indie rocker Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine performed a haunting rendition of "If I Rise" from "127 Hours." Dion sang "Smile" as the In Memoriam packaged played on a big screen above her.But an energetic group of 10-year-olds stole the show from all those stars.The 64 fifth graders who make up the chorus at New York's Public School 22 in Staten Island arrived at the Kodak Theatre Friday to rehearse their performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." They'd flown in earlier that morning, many of them on their first-ever airplane trip. Wearing green or blue T-shirts that declared them to be an alto or soprano, they filled the theater with elementary-school enthusiasm."Justin Timberlake, oh my God!" one girl said when she saw the star's seat-saving placard. "When I'm up there, my eyes will be right here."Then they tromped onto the Oscar stage and sang with such conviction and heart that they choked up an audience of Hollywood veterans.Guided by stage managers and their teacher, Gregg Breinberg, the students practiced getting on and off stage and memorized their spots for the night. They marveled at the names they recognized in the audience. Sandra Bullock! Nicole Kidman! They looked around the big theater and had to be reminded to pay attention. But when they sang, it was clear they knew exactly what they were doing. They swayed and moved to the beat. They closed their eyes and gestured with their hands. They felt it."You're in this song. You're inside of it," Breinberg told them. "You're going to blow everybody away."Moments later, the kids were the ones blown away when show hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco surprised them on stage. The actors hugged and high-fived them, then posed for a photo."Way to go," Hathaway told the group. "I love your dance moves."Next up for PS 22? They're going to Disneyland Saturday, where they're set to perform in front of the famous Magic Castle."We didn't think we could beat the Oscars, but Disneyland is coming damn close," Oscar producer Bruce Cohen said.Then on Sunday, the fifth-grade singers will walk the red carpet before making their Academy Awards debut. ?A Kent man who made his neighbours' lives a misery by repeatedly blasting out power ballads - by the likes of Celine Dion (pictured), Chris de Burgh a...?Last week, Huffington Post Women's Senior Lifestyle Editor Lori Fradkin appealed to our expertise in their new feature "Help Wanted". Lori wrote in to ask us how we'd style her new bib-style necklace. Here, Fashion Editor Christina Anderson weighs in on how to wear this statement piece in everyday life.?Claudia Schiffer, the German-born, Brigitte Bardot look-a-like, was discovered in a nightclub in 1987. She immediately flew to Paris to pursue modeling, and you know...?Ana Gasteyer spent many years on late-night TV thanks to her stint on "Saturday Night Live," but these days you can find her during primetime on ABC's comedy "Suburgatory" as Sheila Shay, the seemingly perfect neighbor. Gasteyer, who brought her pitch-perfect impersonations of Martha Stewart and Celine Dion to "SNL" for six seasons, has had an interesting post-sketch comedy career. Aside from her various movie and TV roles, she has appeared in many Broadway shows, including a turn as Elphaba in "Wicked."The 44-year-old mother of two talked to The Huffington Post about "Suburgatory," her famous friends and, of course, those legendary "Schweddy Balls."Tell me about Sheila Shay, your character on "Suburgatory."Im the perfect mother by all cultural standards; I make the best sandwiches but Im completely overtly biased between my love -- my passion -- for my son and disdain for my daughter, and our relationship is incredibly complicated and fraught, which is so much fun to play. Its actually super dimensional. When I read the pilot I thought, "Oh its a Martha Stewart knock-off," but it really isnt. Shes incredibly complicated and controlling, and its really fun. I watch it with my big one (daughter Frances), which is slightly inappropriate. Shes 9-and-a-half. Once they hit 8, they suddenly stay up really late. Theyre, like, your age, practically, and its kind of fun because you can do things like watch "Housewives" with them.You must have met those "perfect parents." You live in New York, right?I live in Brooklyn.That's ground zero for alpha parenting. Have you seen it?Its funny, there are so many women who are former executives and have taken all that stress and anxiety and transferred it onto their kids. Half the time Im on my game and half the time were, like, the crazy family with the three meals from Starbucks.Have you felt judged?Yes, definitely. I remember when I first had my daughter I went to some nutritional seminar and I showed up with a giant New York City street pretzel. Im pretty earthy; I nursed forever because I liked it and my kids liked it, but at the same time Im very laissez-faire about stuff like bedtimes and food.Whats the definition of "nursed forever"?I nursed one for two years and two months and the other for two years and 10 months. Because I come and go so much, I think it was a nice way to stay connected with them and I was too lazy to wean them.Do you really watch "Real Housewives" with your daughter?Actually, I dont. I do watch "Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis" and she says things like, "I wish Jeff Lewis could come and fix our house." I do love the "Housewives" but it is an incredibly, sort of, hideous picture of women and I dont really want to get into that with her just yet. Im still pretending women are fantastic to each other.Switching gears to "SNL," did you ever think the "Schweddy Balls" skit would become a classic?No idea. It was a hit character, but its definitely had its own career and afterlife. I havent been on the show in 10 years. The Scheweddy Balls ice cream came out this year.You were in "Mean Girls." Does the whole Lindsay Lohan saga make you sad?You know, Im not really friends with her. I played her mom, but yes, it makes me very sad. I think shes enormously talented. I dont know...child stardom. We always act surprised. I think its always been that way, its just the media covers it more [now]. Its about one in every 10 that seems to be a survivor of it.You must get recognized for "Mean Girls" all the time. Its on TV nearly every week.I do. Actually, in the last couple of weeks Ive been recognized for "Suburgatory." I tweeted a picture of someone watching it on their iPad on the subway.Are you still friends with the girls from "SNL"? Do you get together for fondue?Thats so funny you say fondue because thats exactly what Maya Rudolph and I would go out for. Its definitely like being in some weird sorority. Im friends with a lot of actresses, but my "SNL" friends are my closest. The experience of working there is something of a battleground, a great one, but complicated. I think theres a deep connection for having survived that workplace.Whos your most famous friend?Im not much of a famous-person friend. Ive hung out with Brooke Shields and I dont think Ive ever seen that kind of pure face recognition, but I keep a low profile. I guess Will Ferrell -- you cant go out with him anywhere. You cant meet him in a bar, you have to have him over.So you're not BFFs with Angelina.No, Im not at the Clooney/Pitt level. What people dont realize is to get to that level, they arent really in a place to maintain connections. Theyre always traveling, always on the road. John Leguizamo once said to me, "Were not gypsies; were carnies, traveling around in our creepy containers."Related on HuffPost: ?Tabitha Celine Austin, owner of , opened her first upscale consignment shop in Aurora in early 2005 followed with a Parker location in January of 2011.However, in between the two she dealt with more than the normal trials of a small business owner: In December of 2009 she was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. We caught up with Tabitha to talk about the road to recovery and the impact its had on Celines.How was your cancer discovered?I found the lump myself, which was on the right breast, the size of a grape. I immediately went in for my first mammogram right after the discovery at the age of 42. It was followed by an ultrasound that day and the doctor scheduled a biopsy about a week later it was cancer. I was in utter shock and very scared. Cancer did not run in my family and I had just had a baby a year prior.How did you find balance between work and treatment?I had an amazing staff and husband who contributed to balancing out the work load of both home and business.And maintaining the store?While I was out three months [my employees] took care of everything. I couldn't have been more blessed knowing that they were taking care of my business. My mom, sister, mother-in-law and friends from out-of-state came to assist with caring for me and helping with my family and newborn baby. I was so thankful for the outpour of their generosity.When did you finish treatments?My breast cancer was classified as stage I ductal cancer in the right breast. I took the radical route and decided to have a double mastectomy three months following the diagnosis. Since I had caught the cancer early enough, I was fortunate not to have to endure chemotherapy or radiation treatments following the surgery. I [opted to have] breast reconstructive surgery immediately following the mastectomy.When did you begin plans for your second location?It wasn't until after a clean bill of health (March, 2010) that I was able to get back to work and focus on my business again. I opened the second location [in Parker] eight months later.How has your experience as a cancer survivor affected you as a business owner?It has opened doors to a huge network of other cancer survivors through my business by sharing and supporting those people who have or have had breast cancer. I share my experience with so many people when I am working and by doing so I have developed new friendships -- a sisterhood, if you will -- as a cancer survivor. I'm amazed every day and so grateful to share or support my customers who have or are going through breast cancer.Celines Designer Resale Boutique, 15254 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora; 303-680-5544Celine Repeats, 17914 Cottonwood Drive, Parker; 303-766-7467 ?A recent found that more than half of young teachers plan to make teaching a lifelong career, and many more plan to stay for a long time. Yet half of new teachers leave urban classrooms within three years, just as they are beginning to have the strongest impact on student learning. That is a terrible loss for low-income students, whose classrooms experience the greatest churn. I founded to improve the achievement of urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to excellent, experienced teachers. So what is driving great early-career teachers away? For a large proportion, it is a lack of leadership opportunities. As ambitious teachers master their craft, they discover that all growth paths lead out of the classroom. That is why Teach Plus engages thousands of solutions-oriented teachers in leadership opportunities that help transform the profession for a new generation. We are giving teachers a reason to stay. The time for this transformation is now. After decades in which Baby Boomers made up most of the teaching force, more than half of teachers in the U.S. today have . They are the New Majority. These early-career teachers' views are markedly different than those of the Baby Boomers, who will retire by the millions in the coming years. By and large, the media has ignored this sea change in the teaching profession. In the media's portrayal, teachers hate tests and find accountability to be unfair. Yet among the New Majority, it is much more common to find teachers who want to know their impact on student learning and have their success recognized. They want to see data about the progress their students are making on the curriculum they teach. They want good information that leads to opportunities to improve their practice. In polling Teach Plus has done in three cities, of teachers agree with the statement, "I believe that clear, measurable standards of effectiveness are critical for teaching to be recognized as a true profession." The New Majority is ready to be heard. The teachers associated with Teach Plus are already stepping up to tell policymakers what they think, and succeeding in changing minds and changing policy -- all while doing what they love most: teach. They know from experience what it will take to ensure that all students get the high-quality education that they deserve. This blog will be a place for their stories -- stories that are happening in real classrooms right now. We would all be wise to listen. Young people's futures depend on it.By Celine Coggins, founder and CEO, Teach PlusFollow Teach Plus on Twitter:?"Teacher voice is needed in order for real reform to take place," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the inaugural cohort of last week, when he joined more than 200 teachers and policymakers to celebrate the launch of Teach Plus D.C. It was a message the Fellows took to heart.A diverse group of 25 district and charter teachers, the first D.C. cohort of Policy Fellows includes recent education school graduates, Teach for America and D.C. Teaching Fellowship alumni, and career-changers from fields as wide-ranging as business, mental healthcare and the military. Together, they'll spend the next eighteen months working toward positive change in their profession. Last Tuesday, they got started. Three of those new Fellows reflected on their evening with Secretary Duncan:Alyson Roberts, Reading Intervention, C.W. Harris Elementary School:As I Metro-ed across the city to the event with Secretary Duncan, my mind wandered to what I always seem to think about when I have some reflecting time: my students. My brilliant, hilarious, wonderful students. I thought about their smiling faces as we completed our reading lesson that day, of their excitement over our prediction chart for Groundhog Day. But these positive reflections were followed, as they often are, by a more sobering reality: how long will that excitement -- that hunger to learn -- last? Are my students still smiling now, outside of school? What can I do as an educator to ensure that my students never lose their thirst for knowledge, to ensure that they go on in life to reach the great potential I know they have?With my students in mind, I entered the room to meet Secretary Duncan, and it was with a renewed sense of urgency that I left that room. Secretary Duncan's down to earth, practical, no-nonsense nature truly resonated with me. He was right when he said this work was personal -- indeed, I was called to teaching because it is personal to me. My dedication to my students is all-consuming and unconditional. It is also true, as Secretary Duncan stated, that teachers are often too polite, too nice. The need is urgent for truly passionate and dedicated teachers to speak out and let the country -- even the world -- hear our views on what is best for our students. After all, we are on the front lines, fighting this daily battle. As Secretary Duncan challenged us to, I will be making a seat for myself at the table of education reform. If there isn't one available, I will be demanding a seat, even creating a new table if necessary. My students deserve to have their voices heard, and I am more than willing to be their advocate. That is, until they get around to changing the world themselves. Caryn Davidson, Kindergarten, Truesdell Education Campus:The excitement was palpable in the room where the D.C. Teaching Policy Fellows met for the first time. The same conversations were taking place all over the room, everyone trying to get a sense of who the others were. "Where do you teach?" "And where is that exactly?" "What issues are you interested in?" In that room, everyone's hopes were high for what we can accomplish over the next two school years, given our proximity to top policymakers and the track record of previous Teach Plus cohorts in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Memphis. The launch event with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was an inspiring way to start. Having grown up frequenting his mother's after-school center on Chicago's South Side, Secretary Duncan understands the challenges facing urban schools. I was impressed by his down to earth yet intense nature. When I had the opportunity to ask a question about how to support teachers who do so much for our students above and beyond our classroom roles, I appreciated his answer: first and foremost, provide more community resources to students and families, using the school as a natural organizing feature to take some of the extra burden off teachers. Secondly, better utilize the $2.5 billion of federal funding spent each year on for professional development. "That money keeps me up at night," said Secretary Duncan. He suggested that teachers need to investigate how the Title II funding intended for this purpose is spent in our schools and make recommendations about what trainings we need. Secretary Duncan was very clear: teachers need a voice at the table, and if a seat isn't made for us, we need to invite ourselves. If there is no table, we must create one. If one thing is true about the inaugural group of Teach Plus D.C. Teaching Policy Fellows, it's that we have some very strong voices among us. I'm willing to bet that if we need one, there's a carpenter or two as well. David Gesualdi, 1st Grade & Physical Education, KIPP D.C.: Heights Academy:62 percent of new teachers feel unprepared to do their job. Wow. The federal Department of Education spends over $2.5 billion on professional development to aide our flailing education system. Wow. Hearing these statistics roll off Secretary Arne Duncan's tongue, I was struck not only by the numbers themselves, but also by the fact that he addressed our problems so candidly and responded with ways to proactively seek solutions. From the moment he entered the Angle Room, where the Teaching Policy Fellows were getting to know each other, Secretary Duncan addressed us as his colleagues. Rolling up his sleeves and grinning, he asked, "So, why are you guys doing this?" He showed a deep interest in our purpose, and made clear that he saw us -- real, on-the-ground, current teachers -- as a positive force to improve our profession. Throughout the presentation, from Teach Plus C.E.O. Celine Coggins' inspiring journey towards the creation of Teach Plus, to Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Adam Gray's real-life example of his struggle to master this craft, to the words of the Secretary himself, I got a strong sense of who is leading the movement to revamp public education, and how, as teachers, we must have a voice in that movement. As a new Teaching Policy Fellow, I am excited and honored for the opportunity to be a part of the change.Alyson Roberts, Caryn Davidson, and David Gesualdi are . The Teaching Policy Fellowship is a highly selective program for current teachers interested in having a voice in decisions that affect their profession.Follow Teach Plus on Twitter:?By Celine CogginsLast week, I joined four at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession. These teachers came to the table with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the national heads of the AFT and NEA, and education leaders from around the world to contribute to an urgent conversation about what needs to happen in American public education to make us competitive on an international scale.This meeting took place at a moment when morale in the teaching profession has hit an all-time low. MetLife recently released the results from its annual , and the numbers were stunning:This is the strongest evidence yet that the budget cuts, perpetual layoffs, and media bashing that have defined the past few years are having dire consequences on the teaching force, and by extension, students in American classrooms.To me, this data reinforces my commitment to our mission. There has never been a time when we've needed the voice of teachers in education policy more. There has never been a time when we've needed more innovative ways to give our strongest teachers new reasons to keep working with students.While the MetLife survey got major media attention from coast to coast, an article by Brian Denitzio, a teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston, should have been a required companion piece. It's called "" and it describes how his experience as a teacher leader with the T3 Initiative was a game-changer in helping him to continue working with students while also growing professionally.It is possible to stem the tide of attrition and teacher dissatisfaction. Teachers like Brian inspire us to continue to offer an expanding number of leadership opportunities that encourage teachers to stay in the classroom, rather than moving to administrative roles or out of the field altogether. Teachers like Brian remind us of the urgent need to keep great teachers teaching, so kids continue to benefit from their talents.This spring, we'll be selecting almost 150 teacher leaders for our programs. Both Memphis and Chicago will welcome new cohorts of Teaching Policy Fellows. And in Boston, Fall River, MA and Memphis, we're recruiting exceptional educators into our T3 Initiative. . We invite teachers to apply and education leaders to nominate strong candidates. With more opportunities like these, we hope to keep great teachers in the classrooms that need them most -- and keep them professionally invigorated at the same time.Celine Coggins is the founder and CEO of . Check back later this week for teacher reflections on the International Summit on the Teaching Profession.Follow Teach Plus on Twitter:?Kanye West isn't the only guy with an affinity for Phoebe Philo. We all remember when he showed off his gender bending sartorial style at last year in an SS11 blouse from Celine. Other guys have taken cue from Yeezy and are hitting the streets in Celine ready to wear. But perhaps what's the trend is guys storming in Celine totes and bags. Over the past month, I've been in New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and LA amongst a few other less fashion forward cities, but mainly everywhere I've gone I've seen guys toting Celine. I don't think masculinity comes in to question with the luggage tote. Sure it's meant to be a women's bag but its large, structured, and classic. The oversize bag which retails on an average just over $2,000 was once lusted after due to limited retailers that carry the French line is clearly now more widely available. Guys have gotten there hands on them too. "What's so great about Celine is that it's inspired by menswear and minimalism, so its perfect for guys who want something a bit more luxurious" said Remy DuMont (pictured above). I have to agree with him, what do you think? Follow Terrence Phearse on Twitter:?Terrence Phearse is a freelancer at KCD Worldwide, contributor at and The Blay Report. In the past he has worked at Giorgio Armani US Corp, with celebrity stylist June Ambrose, and is a former intern of InStyle Magazine,, Melissa Rubini Studio, Louis Vuitton North America, Vibe Magazine, Teen Vogue,, Seventeen and Paper Magazine. Terrence holds a B.S. from the Fashion Institute of Technology and lives in New York City.?If you've ever watched a music video and wondered what the hell it had to do with the song, this post is for you. It holds the best literal versions of music videos the Web has to offer. We would've included all the ones Aerosmith did in which Alicia Silverstone acted out every lyric of the song, but those were meant in earnest and were therefore disqualified.1) "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. "Here's where I pretend to be Eva Peron...Look at me I'm lifting my arms/ There's nothing else to zoom camera under this arch." Amazing.WATCH:2) "Separate Ways" by Journey. Journey is deeply under-appreciated in this society, but not in the world of literal videos. Their visual interpretation for "Separate Ways" perfectly lends itself to literal treatment as everything the band is awesomely ridiculous.WATCH:3) "Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. (aka Dustin McLean) is credited as the founding father of this genre, and this is Dusto at his best: Completely inane.WATCH:4) "Take On Me" by Aha. This video was a huge hit on the Internets, introducing many people to a world in which lyrics and images were one and the same. Considering it's a drawing inside a video inside the 80s, everything lines up perfectly.WATCH:5) "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears. "I'm acting really bashful while I'm singing to you/ Oh, I won't go away, no I just won't go away." Any video with a monkey in a library needs to be mocked.WATCH:6) "Just A Friend" by Biz Markie. Our friend 's fabulous take on Biz Markie's one and only hit. WATCH:7) "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed. This one seems too easy in that Creed's music videos are often literal interpretations the first time around. Still, they are completely silly and the "Lion King" approach is an interesting twist.WATCH:Get HuffPost Comedy On and ?You know what might be even better than yesterday's bacon video that instructed people to "?" , set to the tune of Celine Dion's ballad The Power Of Love. In the food world, if any single item was to deserve such a tribute song, it's only fitting that it's bacon.This shot-for-shot spoof, performed by , is quite well-executed. Turn up the volume and belt it out -- you know you want to.WATCH:?By Walter Armstrong"Killed by Prescription Drugs" was the soundbite that headlined much of the instant media coverage of Whitney Houston's sudden death on Saturday. Some reports even named Xanax, a benzodiazepine, as the culprit; others repeated rumors of a Xanax/Ativan/Valium triple-benzo cocktail. If by Monday, after 24 hours of nonstop Whitney news -- or non-news -- the benzos were set to become the new Rx drug we love to hate, today it appears that medical reality has been, to some extent, restored, with the media reporting that a combination of benzos and booze took her life. But a sourced to a law-enforcement officer reported that Houston had what in the context of celebrity culture passes for a genuinely modest set of prescriptions: Xanax, Ibuprofin for pain, Midol for menstrual cramps and the antibiotic amoxicillin for an upper respiratory infection. (A toxicology report will not be available for a month or more.)More from The Fix:The fact is that Xanax taken on its own is . Benzos in general are simply not very toxic, except when taken in huge amounts -- as in a suicide attempt. The problem with the Death-by-Xanax headlines, then, is that not only are they misleading, but that they also confuse the public, simultaneously obscuring the benefits of this class of sedatives and their more serious dangers: their addictiveness. When prescribed to a chronic addict like Whitney Houston, Xanax and the other benzos are likely to become habit forming -- and downright harrowing to kick.In certain morning-after eulogies, Houston, who blazed trails as the first African-American R&B singer to take pop music by storm, was likened, talentwise, to Judy Garland, widely regarded by her peers as the world's greatest-ever entertainer. Oddly, it appears the two women's deaths share several distressing details -- both perished at 48, from heart and lung failure due to a combination of alcohol and sedatives, in a bathroom, alone. The toxicology report on Judy Garland, who died in 1969, revealed that her blood contained the equivalent of 10 capsules of the barbiturate Seconal.Ironically, when the first benzodiazepines hit the market -- Librium in 1960 and Valium ten years later -- they were hailed as a great advance over barbiturates for the very reason that benzos appeared to be far less toxic and therefore harder to OD on. But just as Seconal, Nembutal and other "dolls" bagged some of Hollywood's biggest hides, including Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix and Tennessee Williams, so Xanax can claim a star-studded (and growing) roster of RIPs, including, Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger. These and the vast majority of other fatal overdoses involve Xanax taken, not alone, but with a cocktail of other psychoactive drugs and/or alcohol. Anna Nicole Smith OD'd on nine such drugs, including four different benzos.Xanax, approved in 1980 for the then-brand-new diagnosis of "panic attack," is America's most (over)prescribed psychiatric drug, outpacing even the antidepressants that made us "The Prozac Nation." Every year, doctors write more than 50 million benzo scrips -- more than one per second -- and 11 percent to 15 percent of all adult Americans have a bottle in their medicine cabinet, (APA). While only 1 percent are daily benzo users -- denoting abuse or addiction -- the prevalence of benzos is, somewhat paradoxically, exceptionally high in psychiatric and addiction treatment centers. These very addictive molecules are commonly given to alcoholics and opiate addicts to quell the existential fear and trembling that accompanies withdrawal during detox.The popularity of benzos can be measured by their blockbuster sales: Xanax is ranked number nine on the list of the nation's top-earning drugs; Klonopin, no. 32, Ativan no. 33 and Valium (still, after 40 years!) no. 51. These rankings are even more remarkable when you consider that all four drugs are available as generics, costing pennies per pill. Are we really, as a nation, that panicked?Whitney Houston's benzo abuse appears to have resembled that of millions of other Americans -- 80 percent of such abuse involves combining the drug with another substance, most often alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Similarly, anywhere from 3 percent to 41 percent of alcoholics have reported abusing the sedatives. In fact, benzos have become a mainstay of many styles of drugging -- just what the doctor ordered when coming down off a crystal high, say, or to boost the euphoric effect of smack or Oxy. The addicted mind is ingenious in its rationalizations, and Houston may have thought, as alcoholics do, that a few benzos will get her drunk faster, so she would end up drinking less.Hand-wringing over America's epidemic of prescription drug abuse has become a familiar gesture, and Houston's death offers a most apt occasion to do so: This so-called epidemic is constituted, almost entirely, by two classes of drugs: opioid-based painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, percocet and the like and benzodiazepines. Together, they accounted for about 68 percent of the total emergency room visits for pharmaceutical overdoses (1.08 million) in 2009, with opioids first (39 percent, or 416,500) but benzos not far behind (29 percent, or 313,000). Since 2004 alone, benzo emergencies were up by 118 percent, opiates by 140 percent; by stark (if underappreciated) contrast, ER visits related to heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs remained stable or actually decreased. Hospital and treatment center admissions for benzo addiction garnered headlines when the CDC's Drug Abuse Warning Network () announced the news last fall because it marked a 300 percent jump in just 10 years. If the benzos' main selling point was their comparative safety, little attention was paid, early on, to their addictiveness. Yet this serious drawback quickly earned Valium the ironic encomium "mother's little helper." While only a conspiracy theorist would accuse drugmakers of intentionally designing to promote addictiveness, a business model with higher margins than addiction is hard to imagine.Given how widely benzos are prescribed by doctors and how frequently patients (ab)use them, it is tempting to say that they turn people into addicts. But that charge is off the mark. What benzos do is almost unerringly find their way into the hands of addicts, typically on top of one or some already-established addictions, hastening the disease progression while increasing the risks.Why is it so easy to become addicted to these sedatives? Partly because they work like a charm, melting that deer-in-the-headlights paralysis that accompanies stage fright or social anxiety, settling nerves, smoothing edginess, delivering the same sensation of "unwinding" as that first drink at happy hour. (I speak from experience.) As Valium's addictive properties became a black eye, drugmakers aiming to come up with competitors faced a quandary. Because addictiveness is so poorly understood, they could not engineer an addiction-proof benzodiazepine molecule in the same way that, say, they could reformulate a pill to be abuse-proof by making it impossible to crush. What they managed instead was to "improve" the sedative with the usual pharmacological tweaks, making it stronger, faster acting and/or longer lasting. Ironically, these are the very qualities that make mood-altering chemicals more, rather than less, addictive.The Food and Drug Administration, alert to the drug's habit-forming tendency, approved the sedative only for short-term use. The Drug Enforcement Agency further attempted to put the brakes on runaway abuse by making it a Schedule IV drug. Yet federal regulations can only intrude so far into the pharma-physician-patient triangle. Because the symptoms benzos treat, such as anxiety and insomnia, tend to be sporadic and/or intermittent, most prescriptions are "as needed," which is, for an addict, a minefield of an instruction. "As needed" can morph all too easily into "as wanted." At the same time, the drug's class strength -- its relative safety -- became, in practice, a liability, freeing doctors as it did from the restraints of ethical and especially legal fears.Like all addictive substances, benzos foster tolerance, which in turn requires you to take more drug for the same effect; upping the dose accelerates dependence, and that way addiction lies.Yet, in the final analysis, there is one sense in which Xanax did kill Whitney Houston. The active ingredient -- the benzodiazepine molecule -- works its sedative effect by increasing the release of GABA, the most common "inhibitory" chemical in the central nervous system (CNS): the more GABA, the less brain activity -- a desirable end when in the throes of a panic attack, but a hindrance when, say, taking the SATs. At the neuronal level, benzos dial up the sensitivity of the billions of CNS receptors to which GABA binds, intensifying its inhibitory effect.But when taken with other GABA-inducing drugs (opiates, hypnotics, barbiturates, other benzos and, of course, alcohol), however, the risk of overdose rises exponentially because they all act on the receptor in similar ways and to similar ends. As your CNS is flooded all at once with billions of messages to slow down, the signals necessary to spark activity in the rest of your body fade out. The beating of your heart slows down. Your breathing stops.Whether this scenario played out in the last minutes of Whitney Houston's life remains to be learned. It would be no surprise if her toxicology report, much like Judy Garland's, showed that her blood contained 10 times the prescribed amount of Xanax. She may have been popping these pills in like fashion for months or even years. She may have done so while consuming large amounts of alcohol. She may have believed that Xanax-and-booze were a healthier substitute addiction for her infamous cocaine addiction, which cost her so dearly in reputation and respect. She may have been right.The search for a single bullet might be better served by heeding the sage Celine Dion, who told Good Morning America yesterday that she blamed the "bad people and bad influences" of celebrity culture for Houston's death. "What happens when you have everything?" she asked. Whitney Houston might provide a cautionary answer.Related on HuffPost: ?Right from the off, we were told this was a crucial stage of the competition C presumably, referring to The Voices chances of sucking the oxygen back from Britains Got Talent for Saturday night viewing (they can relax, from next week, theyve got it back to themselves, but until then)But Voice bosses havent been resting on their laurels, coming up with ways to keep The Voice dramatic in a post-spinning-chair era. Their answer: doubling up the eviction rate C two each from teams Tom and Will this week C and getting these two judges to perform with their acts. Which did the job. After all the contestants had done their bit, with Ruth Brown and Jaz Ellington firmly out in front on the leaders board, Silver Bear Sir Tom showed how it was done with an effortless rendition of Hit The Road Jack, before Will hit it out of the park with his band of five singing Black Eyed Peas own song Just Cant Get Enough, with a show-stealing rap from the nations favourite tweeter. More From The Voice:But which FOUR are going out tomorrow? Heres a round-up of everyone in action tonight, before the results show tomorrow Team TomLeanne Mitchell sang I Got A Spell on You. It emerged during emotional rehearsals with Tom, that she used to sing this song with her then boyfriend, before their temporary split. Hes now her husband, which made this song extra special for the performer. It was a spikey, spirited rendition of the classic with some soaring notes that got Tom smiling C it rose to a beat em belter that got the audience, and every judge, on their feet, and Will and others applauding those riffs, those runs.Matt and Sueleen have been enjoying recognition in their hometown for more than being the man who looks like Gandalf in recent weeks. Tom didnt look too chuffed as his folksy duo tried gamely to hit every harmonising note of Miss You (by Everything But The Girl), but it didnt always come off, perhaps because they were seated facing away from each other. The judges applauded them for taking chances C never a good sign Ruth Brown had a dream come true just in rehearsals when one of her singing idols Emeli Sande popped in to see how she was getting on with her rendition of Next to Me. Ruth did her proud with an anthemic, breast-beating performance that hit the back wall. When I hear Ruth sing, I get choked up, said Tom. Adam Isaac, already a favourite with the ladies C a few marriage proposals since the beginning of the series - stuck out once again this week with his rocky version of Radioheads High and Dry. Danny didnt think it was Adams best yet, but Will thought it was dope and he added, thats not a word I use lightly.Team WillFrances Wood C teamed a saucy tutu with dark boots for a disco-tastic You Gotta Show Me Love (originally by Robin S). Will said he was proud, with every note, although Jessie expressed reservations that it was very comfortable, you could have taken more risk.Joelle Moses found herself in the bottom two last week, and threw everything into this weeks efforts to avoid that happening again, even taking her coachs advice not to sing a Celine Dion song. Instead, she went for Stronger, and gave an impressively assured performance. Jessie and Danny thought she finished better than she started, but Will was having none of it.Tyler James admitted to nerves in rehearsal, but managed to keep it together for Terence Trent DArbys Sign My Name, with a particular piercing falsetto as strong as your normal voice. Jessie was so impressed with him, she suggested she and Tyler went out for dinner. Jaz Ellington has had a busy week, discovering the gender of his baby. He also found time to prepare a mash-up of Just The Way You Are, by Billy Joel and Bruno Mars respectively, which he sang to rabble-rousing effect, re-sealing his favourite status, temporarily whipped away from him by Ruth in the last couple of weeks. ?What has always made Robin Williams interesting is that because he's talking quickly and extemporaneously, it seems "improvised". However, having admired Robin from afar for 25 years of my life and having never passed up a chance to see him perform or on a show, RARELY is anything he says actually off the top of his head, but rather recycled material filtered through his rapid response brain. For instance, he used a joke in Aladdin I heard him "riff" way back on an episode of Mork & Mindy ("also makes Julian fries"). Almost every joke he used in the Actor's Studio interview was old hat, I'd heard him do before, just not in that order or context. At one point he seemingly "improvised" a scene using a scarf from the audience using the pun "So Sari", which I've heard him do on at least 5 separate occasions over the years. He also has such a super-absorbent brain, fellow comedians in the late 70's and 80's refused to do new material if he was at the comedy club because "elements" of their bits would "magically" show up in his riffs. At the Comedy Store, they actually used the lights that marked stagetime for comedians to warn those performing that Robin had stepped into the room. Not to take anything away from him- what's made him brilliant is because he has such an amazingly expansive repertoire of humor at the edge of his brain and is able to connect to it so quickly, he's been able to "fool" people into thinking it's all off the top of his head. It's never as fun when you pull back the curtain on the wizard, but even knowing all this, I still love watching him!?Ever get the feeling that a terrible Celine Dion song is stalking you via the radio? Every time you scan the dial there it is taunting your heart to "... forever."You're not being paranoid. Commercial radio stations everywhere have been swallowed up by a handful of giant corporations, playlists have shrunk, and local and independent acts have been drowned out, as Big Radio soaks listeners in a mind-numbing concoction of saccharine and aspartame.The good news is that your rescue is at hand. On Tuesday, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would pry open our radio airwaves for thousands of new stations, bringing independent acts like , and -- or your favorite local band -- to the audiences they deserve. Unleashing Radio's Potential The Local Community Radio Act would unleash the potential of new music for millions of listeners across the country. The bill tasks Washington with licensing thousands of Low Power FM radio stations (known in radio geekdom as LPFM). There are already on the air. They're run out of college campuses, garages, , and local churches, and aimed specifically at listeners in their surrounding neighborhood. And they're not just airing independent music. Some are providing local news and information that in has kept people alive.Hoarding Air Why local radio mattersWe made a run at getting up to 3,000 more LPFM station on the air in the last Congress; more than 100 members supported a similar bill in 2008. But it ran afoul of Big Media's lobbying arm, the National Association of Broadcasters, which makes its living off hoarding the public airwaves for a small corporate clientele - including many of the broadcasters that put Celine Dion on your tail.The prospects for the new bipartisan bill are better. Groups like , and the are ready to fight off the lobbyists and their efforts to quash new radio. Already 1,300 people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to "." And a new Twitter (#lpfm) is now generating updates as the Local Community Radio Act moves through Congress.A Megaphone for the Many That's something, but it may not be enough to give radio listeners real choices and new voices at every turn of the dial. We need to support this bill - yes, unanimous support when it goes to a vote. It could be Congress's first real display of bipartisanship. What better way to ring in a new era of participatory media than by injecting new blood into a radio system that's been a megaphone for the few, for far too long.?["entry_id":"1942549","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/251212/slide_251212_1534672_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/251212/slide_251212_1534672_small.jpg","title":"Cruel Summer Lineup","slideshow_id":"251212","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1946334","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/203941/slide_203941_598900_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/203941/slide_203941_598900_small.jpg","title":"Beyonce and Jay-Z","slideshow_id":"203941","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1945148","entry_url":"","content_type":"video","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254583/slide_254583_1597268_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/254583/slide_254583_1597268_small.jpg","title":"Liam Neeson Movies","slideshow_id":"254583","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1944139","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/251152/slide_251152_1533519_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/251152/slide_251152_1533519_small.jpg","title":"Photos From 'The Perks Of Being a Wallflower'","slideshow_id":"251152","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1942941","entry_url":"","content_type":"tweet","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/249474/slide_249474_1493194_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/249474/slide_249474_1493194_small.jpg","title":"'Sliver Linings Playbook' Twitter Reactions","slideshow_id":"249474","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1944982","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/215716/slide_215716_791307_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/215716/slide_215716_791307_small.jpg","title":"Obama With Celebrities","slideshow_id":"215716","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1943512","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/255143/slide_255143_1609061_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/255143/slide_255143_1609061_small.jpg","title":"Leona Lewis","slideshow_id":"255143","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1944981","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/213492/slide_213492_769678_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/213492/slide_213492_769678_small.jpg","title":"Celebs Who Go On Reality TV As Judges","slideshow_id":"213492","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1945105","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/195790/slide_195790_452463_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/195790/slide_195790_452463_small.jpg","title":"Twilight Stars Hand And Footprint Ceremony","slideshow_id":"195790","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1946190","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/245349/slide_245349_1394288_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/245349/slide_245349_1394288_small.jpg","title":"TV Reunions We Want To See","slideshow_id":"245349","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1943295","entry_url":"","content_type":"video","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/42469/slide_42469_327388_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/42469/slide_42469_327388_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity Commercials Before They Were Famous","slideshow_id":"42469","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1943928","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/221717/slide_221717_1608904_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/221717/slide_221717_1608904_small.jpg","title":"Celebrity News & Photos","slideshow_id":"221717","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1942725","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/253728/slide_253728_1582850_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/253728/slide_253728_1582850_small.jpg","title":"Rare Beatles Photos","slideshow_id":"253728","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1944849","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/36845/slide_36845_316367_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/36845/slide_36845_316367_small.jpg","title":"Celebrities Turned Politicians","slideshow_id":"36845","vertical":"entertainment","entry_id":"1946133","entry_url":"","content_type":"image","image_url":"gadgets/slideshows/231845/slide_231845_1080927_small.jpg","thumbnail_url":"gadgets/slideshows/231845/slide_231845_1080927_small.jpg","title":""E.T." 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(Seriously -- we get it.)To mark the occasion, James Cameron's 1997 Oscar-winning Best Picture "Titanic" got re-released in 3D; there were new forensics investigations conducted on Titanic: The Final Word" on NatGeo, the channel that's also hosting a nine-hour Titanic-themed marathon of specials and documentaries on the anniversary, Sun., Apr. 15; and now we have "Titanic," a four-part miniseries (pictured, airs Sat., Apr. 14, 8 p.m. ET and Sun., Apr. 15, 9 p.m. ET on ABC) from "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg ... pun very much intended.But the anniversary and influx of creative Titanic coverage only made us more obsessed with the ship at the center of it all. So we're raising our sails and saluting our favorite TV boats, cruise ships, submarines and other vessels (plus, their famous passengers, like Ryan Gosling).Just sit right back (and click into our gallery) and you'll hear a tale, a tale of quite a few other famous TV boats. Ahoy!Related on HuffPost: ?Much like it's predecessor, the RMS Titanic who sunk on April 15, 1912 after hitting an iceberg on it's maiden voyage from, the Titanic II is no longer with us. The punchy 16-foot boat suffered a leak and sunk off the coast of Dorset, England. Don't worry, the crew, consisting only of captain Mark Wilkinson, made it safely to land thanks to the quick work of the harbor police. . ?the_north_face: ã??Miumiu 財å¸?ã??ã?¯ç??ã??ã??å?¯æ??ã??å??ç´ã??ã??ã?¨ã?«ã??ã?¦ä½?ã??å?ºã??ã??ã?¤ã?¿ã?ªã?¢ã??ã?©ã?³ã??å??ã?§ã??ã??ã??ã??ã?«ã??女æ?§ã?«ã?¨ã?£ã?¦ã??ç??ã??ã??ã?­ã?¥ã?¼ã??ã?¯ã?¤å®?ç?¨æ?§ã??å??ã??ã??財å¸?ã?¯ã?ªã??ã?¦ã?¯ã??ã??ã?ªã??ã??ã?®ã?§ã??ã??ã??財å¸? Miumiuã??ã?¯ã??ã??ã??ã?®è¦?ç´ã??çµ?ã?³ã?¤ã??ã?¦ä»?ä¸?ç´?大人æ°?ã?ªã??ã?©ã?³ã??å??財å¸?ã?«ã?ªã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã??ã?¶ã?¤ã?³ã?®ä¸?ã?§ã??æ§?ã??å?¯æ??ã??ã??ã??ã??ã??ã??ã??å½¢ã??æ?¡ç?¨ã??ã?¦ã??è¶?人æ°?ã?ªç??ã??財å¸?ã??ä½?ã??å?ºã??ã?¾ã??ã??ä»?ã??å?¯æ??ã??ã?®ã??ã??ã?ªå¥³æ?§ã??å¤?å??ã??Miu miu 財å¸?ã??ã?«ç?®ã??ã??ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ï¼??LONDON — The names change, not the results. Just call the U.S. women's basketball team Olympic champion – again.The Americans won their fifth straight gold medal Saturday, routing France 86-50 and putting more distance between themselves and the rest of the world heading into the 2016 Rio Games."It just shows the depth and talent in our country. Women's basketball, it's our sport – it's our sport," said Diana Taurasi, who has been a part of the last three gold medals. "We grew up playing since we were little and give it every single little bit of energy we have."Candace Parker scored 21 points, including eight straight during the game-changing run in the second quarter as the U.S. won its 41st straight Olympic game.This one was special.Taurasi, who said she doesn't get emotional, cried receiving her gold medal and then paraded around draped in an American flag."A little trip down memory lane," Taurasi said. "The track record was going through my head. My parents, Coach was there. It was just a lot of things hit me at once and that's what happened."The winning streak started in the bronze medal game in 1992. In that stretch, the Americans have won by nearly 30 points a game. Only one team has stayed within single digits of them, and they've lost just once in major international competitions, to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.Coach Geno Auriemma didn't want to get drawn into the debate of where this team ranks among the five that have won the gold."The United States has had great teams since 1996 and we are just another one on the list," he said. "We accomplished the same thing they did and I don't know if that separates us. I think it just makes us equal."Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie got the amazing run started, and Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings have continued it.With young stars Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles a big part of the success in London it doesn't look like the run will end anytime soon."The players give back. You have players coming back for a third Olympics to show the younger players what it takes to win a gold medal," said Parker, a two-time Olympian. "I learned a lot from Tina Thompson, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith and now Dee, Tamika, Sue. It's just the passing down of what it takes to win. That commitment to USA Basketball."Catchings said the Americans "just wanted to keep that legacy going."Edwards, a five-time Olympian, said no worry there."The legacy is real," said Edwards, who had a front-row seat Saturday night. "What these kids have been doing is amazing. Without much time to practice. In the middle of the WNBA season. And they look good. It's like the whole world knows who we are. I'm really proud of them."They're definitely among some of the best" U.S. teams.The U.S. faced its only challenge of the London Games when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had been trailing at the half. There was no panic or worry. They just stepped up their defense and vanquished the Australians, winning by 13 points."It's not easy to just be put together and be expected to win a gold medal," Taurasi said. "It's a special feeling."France, which came into the gold medal game unbeaten, stayed with the U.S. for the first 12 minutes before Parker took over. She scored eight straight points during a 13-2 run that gave the U.S. a 37-23 advantage. Twice the 6-foot-4 Parker grabbed the rebound on the defensive end and dribbled up through the defense scoring on the other.While Parker – who also had 11 rebounds – was providing the offense, the Americans turned up their defense, holding France to just one basket over the final 7:25 of the half."We always felt like as long as we played our best ... we'd be all right," Bird said.The U.S. led by 12 at the half and poured it on in the third quarter. France got within 41-31 but the U.S. scored 13 of the next 14 points any thoughts of a monumental upset were forgotten.On one sequence, Catchings got a steal and passed to Bird, who hit Moore in perfect stride for a finger-roll lay-in down the lane. It only got worse from there for France, which was making its Olympic debut.The Americans bottled up France's flashy point guard Celine Dumerc, who made only field goal in the first half and finished with eight points."I'm just happy to have this medal around my neck," Dumerc said of her silver. "We lost to a very good team and we made history for women's basketball in our country."___Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at ?Two people have been charged with extortion after being arrested by detectives for allegedly trying to sell embarrassing information about singer Stev...?"The Huffington Post UK" is provided by AOL (UK) Limited. ©2012 AOL (UK) Limited its affiliates and licensors.Part of HuffPost News . HPMG News?eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQhYaAu%2FAmgJCGfYy66NCsZ2EUUrkxATVpSzBNJOBqEzcV2f6zvgZ4FLzuHlXFqCtvHEMfu8cnurHGtdTrlO6FQ6fVx4NbTyV%2B7Ql2tAH0vCj4kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesA7EFvdsOSuTBc8OfyGzw3GYqrfjYvGOR8QAEXbdlMhN?This is definitely our favorite YouTube cover of the weekend: Adele's hit single 'Rolling In The Deep' performed by siblings Angie (10, vocals), Abelardo (15, guitar/bass/piano), and Gustavo Vazquez (13, drums) from Mexico -- '.'What do you think: Could the Vazquez kids be the next Jonas Brothers? Do they do Adele's song justice? Any other teen YouTube stars we should know about? Tell us in the comments or tweet us !(Found via )Check out this slideshow of other amazing teens on our radar right now: ?It was a night bustling with big hair and bold clothes as "divas" took over the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York for last night's annual VH1 Divas concert.Stars in attendance included Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Florence + The Machine, Jennifer Hudson, Jessie J., Jill Scott, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius and Travis McCoy. An unexpected guest? Rapper 50 Cent, who went as Chaka Khan's date.Sartorially, the night was packed with sequins and spangles (what, you think "divas" would try to blend into a crowd?). Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson both had two costume changes (the latter opting for a sexy orange minidress and later, a sequined evening gown). Our new favorite style icon, Florence Welch, wore two of her trademark pre-Raphaelite gowns, one silver and low-cut and the other lacy and black.Baffling Look of the Night goes unquestionably to Jessie J, whose pink and orange-fringed bodysuit made her look like she had just skipped in from doing backflips at the circus.The annual event where soul music has thrived, like Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Chicago and London. Welch, Wanda Jackson and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings also paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.The special airs tonight on VH1, but why wait? Check out our slideshow of all the star power and sparkling couture below. ?FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (AP) While Wal-Mart's U.S. business is roaring back, the world's largest retailer will face scrutiny from shareholders at its annual meeting Friday in the wake of allegations that top executives neglected their responsibility in a bribery scandal in Mexico. Shareholder groups, including the nation's two largest public pension funds, and key proxy adviser firms have called for the removal of several board members, including CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott. Investors have filed lawsuits against top executives. The descendants of founder Sam Walton own about 50 percent of Wal-Mart's shares, so activist shareholders have little chance of voting out the board members. But any lack of support for the leaders is a blow to the retailer, which has worked hard to rebuild its reputation. Such criticism could dampen the festivities of the celebrity-laden event, which will celebrate the company's 50th anniversary. The New York Times reported in April that Wal-Mart allegedly failed to notify law enforcement after finding evidence that officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to get speedier building permits and other favors. Mexico is Wal-Mart's largest international operation. Duke was the head of the international division and Scott was CEO when Wal-Mart was conducting the probe in 2005. Federal authorities in the U.S. and Mexico are said to be investigating Wal-Mart for potential violations of the 1977 law that forbids U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials. Wal-Mart has said it is overhauling its compliance program and has launched an internal investigation. It disclosed last month that it is widening the investigation to other countries. Executives are not expected to discuss details of the case during presentations to thousands of people expected at the annual meeting at the basketball arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. In a pep rally with international workers Wednesday, executives including Duke and international CEO Doug McMillon, urged employees to embrace integrity and follow the rules of business established by its founder. During a media conference Thursday, McMillon said Wal-Mart plans to use the accusations to strengthen its protocols not only relating to foreign bribery but also other issues like food safety. "A moment like this causes us to be on our toes," McMillon said. "We're trying to use this as an opportunity to be an even stronger company." Still, Wal-Mart's strong financial performance offers reasons for investors to cheer. The company's shares fell more than 7 percent to $57 per share right after the allegations of bribery were reported. But since reporting a better-than-expected first-quarter profit that showed an improving U.S. namesake business, shares have more than recovered. The stock is now trading at around $65. Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake unit, which accounts for 60 percent of net sales, turned in its best performance in three years in revenue at stores open at least a year. That metric rose 2.6 percent in the division for the first quarter. That marked the third consecutive quarterly gain for the division after nine straight quarters of declines. The figure is considered a key measurement of retail performance because it excludes stores that open or close during the year. Total revenue for the U.S. Wal-Mart division rose 5.9 percent. Customer traffic rose for the second quarter in the row. And its clothing business posted its first sales gain in six years after going back to basics like underwear and jeans. The business had been struggling because its core low-income customers had been hard hit by joblessness and other challenges in the weak economy. The unit also had erred in veering away from its "everyday low prices" strategy and getting rid of popular merchandise. But Wal-Mart last year began adding back 10,000 products and refocused on keeping prices low.?FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- What do Taylor Swift and Bill Clinton have in common? It's not the folksy accents, though, perhaps those helped them score the gig. On Friday at Walmart's annual shareholders meeting, the singer and the politician both gushed with praise for the company. In front of a crowd of 14,000 workers and investors in the University of Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena, Swift performed songs on a glittery silver guitar and talked about shopping for candy at her local Walmart in Nashville, Tenn.In a prerecorded video that played on a screen on the stage, Clinton praised Walmart's sustainability efforts, which he said would have made company founder Sam Walton proud. Lionel Richie, Juanes, the Zac Brown Band and Celine Dion also performed in person.Friday's four-hour meeting -- which began at 7 a.m. -- culminated a week-long party thrown by Walmart for its workers or "associates." Each year, Walmart flies in an associate from each of its stores -- about 5,000 people in total -- to the area surrounding its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. All the Walmart associates who attended are also shareholders owning stock, mostly through the company's 401(k) plan.Since this year is Walmart's 50th anniversary, the . But the annual gathering was also sullied by a scandal that erupted in late April after The New York Times published in order to fuel its rapid growth in that country. A few critics of Walmart also showed up at Friday's meeting, which was the last opportunity for shareholders to vote on a slate of candidates for the company's board of directors as well as three shareholder and two company proposals.Jackie Goebel, 60 of Kenosha, Wis., a Walmart associate for 24 years, who helped draft a shareholder proposal that would have required the company to issue a report on executive incentive compensation plans, criticized Walmart's treatment of workers during her speech. "Our stores are understaffed," said Goebel, who is also a member of labor organization OUR Walmart. "We can't provide the type of service that Sam Walton built the company on." Though Goebel's proposal received applause, hers and two other proposals by shareholders were voted down as Walmart observers had expected. With the Walton family owning almost half of the company's stock, any other outcome would have been highly unlikely. Shareholders elected all 16 board members recommended by Walmart.While Walmart's financial performance has been strong -- as of Friday afternoon, its share price was roughly 5 percent higher than before the scandal hit -- some investors are concerned about ethics. Three of the largest pension funds in the United States voted against reappointing members of Walmart's board, including CEO Mike Duke, former CEO Lee Scott and Chairman Rob Walton. The funds, CalPERS, CalSTRS and the , claim that these board members played a role in suppressing Walmart's internal investigation of the bribery in Mexico."CalSTRS does not have confidence that the current board has the independence and leadership needed to address these difficult issues," according to from the fund. A few days earlier, in a May 19 report, ISS, one of the largest proxy advisory firms in the United States, also criticized Walmart executives Duke and Scott for "a staggering lack of judgment" in their decisions to have Walmart's internal investigation of the alleged bribery run by officials implicated.At the shareholders meeting, Duke and other executives responded to critics. "Walmart is committed to compliance and integrity everywhere we operate," Duke said. "I want to personally assure you that we're doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this matter.""If you work for Walmart, there is no gray area between right and wrong," he said. "It's either the right thing to do or it shouldn't be done at all. This is my standard. It was Sam Walton's standard."Sam Walton was the name mentioned most often during the meeting, by both Walmart insiders and critics. Since his death in 1992, Walmart's founder, "Mr. Sam," has become a kind of deity at the company's annual meetings. At the start of Friday's event, the Walmart chairman, Rob Walton, and his siblings, Alice and Jim, told stories about their father and what it was like to clean floors and dust china in his first store in Bentonville. Black-and-white photos of and newspaper clippings about Walton flanked the stage. Between musical acts, a central screen displayed a collage of Walton's face composed of tiny individual photos of Walmart workers.Justin Timberlake, the host of the event, also referenced Walton: The actor-singer first walked on stage wearing a Hawaiian grass skirt, something Walton once did when visiting Wall Street. "I finally understand the Walmart way," Timberlake said at the meeting's close. "It's not just associates. You are a family." But the feud among members of the "family" is far from over. At a shareholders Q&A following the meeting, members of labor group OUR Walmart presented executives with a petition calling for the resignation of Duke and Walton. Some 17,000 people had signed the petition, the group said. While her proposal didn't pass, Goebel considered the shareholders meeting a success. "After the meeting I went outside and it was amazing. Walmart associates approached me and said, 'You're the person that spoke.' They said, 'You spoke for us.'"When asked about the petition at a Q&A with analysts later Friday afternoon, Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said the associates sympathetic to OUR Walmart and other labor groups represented "a relatively small number of people." Susan Chambers, a Walmart executive vice president, added that Walmart ranks "between high and best in class" for the retail sector in the opinion surveys the company conducts with its associates. Check out the celebrities and executives at the meeting:?Usually a celebrity wardrobe malfunction consists of a generous dose of sideboob, a visible tush or, most classically, the accidental flash...?Traciana Graves, founder of , enjoyed a successful career as a vocal artist, singing back-up vocals for sensations like Celine Dion. Eventually she started to feel like she wasn't doing enough with the 22 hours of her day when she wasn't performing on stage. Her childhood and young adult years had been plagued by bullying, and when the issue of bullying was brought to her attention again she felt that she needed to do something about it. Since January 2011 she has reached over 7,000 people with Project Bully Free Zone's workshops, which cater to schools and corporations who feel a need for bullying education and prevention.Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Have you taken steps towards your business dream? Tell me about it in the comment section below.My Weekly NewsletterSign up to receive my email newsletter each week - It will keep you up-to-date on upcoming articles, Mondays with Marlo guests, videos, and more! ?Stylist got his boyfriend, "" writer/producer , a little worried when the pair agreed to play "Plead the Fifth" on "" (Weeknights, 11 p.m. EST on Bravo).Host asked, "Tell us one unflattering thing about Gary we would be surprised to hear." To which Brad replied, "He loves getting blowouts." A worried-looking Gary obviously thought Brad was going to say something else exhaled in relief when he heard the word "blowout."Then, Cohen asked Brad to name a celebrity he would refuse to style. Diplomatically, Brad replied, "My door's always open."When Gary was in the hot seat, Cohen asked him to choose between "Will or Grace?" The answer: Will, natch. But Gary showed he could be just as diplomatic as Brad when Cohen asked what was the worst project he'd ever written for. He wisely plead the fifth on that.Watch Andy and his guests in the Bravo clubhouse on "Watch What Happens Live," Weeknights at 11 p.m. EST on Bravo. TV Replay scours the vast television landscape to find the most interesting, amusing, and, on a good day, amazing moments, and delivers them right to your browser.Related on HuffPost: ?Palm Beach Post:UPDATE: may have been the result of a broken water main, the Palm Beach Post reports.***Imagine filling a 50-gallon bathtub five times a day for a year.Even then, you wouldn't come close to what some Treasure Coast water customers use in just one month.While most residents use fewer than 10,000 gallons a month, utility records show that some of the Treasure Coast's most water-hungry residents use more than 15 times that amount.The biggest users live along Martin County's coastline, including wealthy Jupiter Island, where homeowners use up to 1.6 million gallons a month - more than 250 times the average amount used by residential customers served by Martin County utilities.For the 12 months that ended in March, the title of top water-guzzler went to Renlec Management, the Montreal-based company of Canadian singer Celine Dion, who owns 5.7 acres in the island town. In a year, the property used about 6.5 million gallons of water, or enough to fill a 50-gallon bathtub about every four minutes. ?You are entitled to your opinion, but I don't share it. I think Celine Dion is a marvelous talent/performer, but her voice has an excessive vibrato and tremlo, some of Celine Dion's songs are magnificent....and other's totally get on my nerves from that vibrato. Whitney Houston's voice in it's excellence" was pure perfecton, any song she sang, "because of that voice", and her musical phrasing was a master piece". I am an opera singer.....I know voices and technique, Whitney Houston''s voice was one of those god given voices of perfection, "she is the original from which all others copied and found their wings" Hers was a "truly glorious instrument", unmatched hands down". Whitney Houston came before Celine she too benefited from Whitney Houston's body of work, I remember Celine when she was introduced via a Disney duet with Peabo Bryson. Whitney exploded when her voice was first heard, I lived it, she is my era and my generation, she was unmatched. She struggled with pushing her middle voice, which caused her a lot of vocal issues, add to that smoking, drug addiction, she opened the door to allow others to access her reigning crown. If Celine Dion shared that title, it was after Whitney went into decline, prior to that in her hey day....she wouldn't have been able to touch her. "True Dat". That clip the Grammy Awards played last night was not her at her best either. "Rest in Peace Whitney...."True fan".?In honor of Whitney Houston, who died Saturday at the very young age of 48, members of the HuffPost Lifestyle staff have started compiling our memories of the incredibly talented singer and actress. Here are some of our thoughts -- we hope you'll add your own memories in the comments. From Lisa Belkin, HuffPost Senior Columnist on Life/Work/Family:"If my life had an anthem, it would be "," which Whitney sang at the opening of the Olympic games in 1988. I know that now, because I just looked it up. But the first time I heard it I was newly wed, in a new job, living in a new place and all I knew was that this song captured the simultaneous dread and exhilaration that comes with everything new. Whitney's best known songs are love songs, but this one is an exclamation point about life, work,creativity and craft. You have to work for it, you have to earn it, she says, but when you do, you deserve it: I want one moment in timeWhen I'm more than I thought I could beWhen all of my dreams are a heartbeat awayAnd the answers are all up to meWhat I've always loved most is the declaration that the best part, the best moment, is the "just before" -- the anticipation and the crescendo. It's subtly sexual in its imagery, and the metaphor is apt. But today it holds new meaning, because clearly Whitney couldn't find this kind of happiness in the "ever after", in a life after the moment had passed.And oh, that voice."From Lori Fradkin, HuffPost Senior Lifestyle Editor:"Until last night, I was certain that the boy Whitney Houston knew and sang about in her hit took her to the carnival. The lyrics to Whitney's song actually state that the boy she dreamed of and was too shy to phone took her "to the clouds above." But until last night, when I heard of the singer's death and looked up the words (and watched the ), I had a different picture of her experience.I suppose when youre a kindergartner making up a dance with your best friend, the idea of a girl wandering around the fairgrounds with a boy, perhaps stopping for cotton candy or a ride on the Ferris wheel, is far more appealing. My friend Kelli and I chose this song for our talent show, playing it in our school auditorium using the Fisher-Price that late-80s toy that also introduced us to Madonna, Belinda Carlisle and Tiffany. Whitney would go through some serious struggles in the years that followed, but when I hear her name, it is this memory C one of my own innocence and what I perceived to be hers C that immediately comes to mind."From Margaret Wheeler Johnson, Women's Editor:"When I heard that Whitney Houston had died Saturday at the age of 48, I was just leaving dinner with a friend in New York City. The streets of lower Manhattan suddenly filled with expressions of disbelief as the news got passed along. I heard more than one (tipsy?) sidewalk rendition of "I Will Always Love You."Here was the amazing thing: There wasn't a trace of irony in all of their eulogies and ululations. And if you've lived in New York, you know that you don't go out on a Saturday night without your irony.This was also amazing for me personally because, I am now emboldenedto confess: I like that song -- at least the way Houston sang it. Even as a child, I think I understood New Orleans' station, which my mother always had on in the car, to be the radio equivalent of Lifetime: Television for Women. But when Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You" hit the airwaves, no matter what you thought of the lyrics, the performance was mesmerizing. I'd never heard anything like that voice. I remember sitting in the bucket seat of the minivan, looking up from the homework I was doing in my lap, and thinking, "Who is this and how does she do that?" Whether she meant to or not, Houston managed to sing the song so that it delivered authentically some of the emotion that the Hallmark-y lyrics (sorry, Dolly) couldn't. Ever since, I've felt a little mad when people mock it and compare it to some of . Why dis Whitney to prove what a critical thinker you are? Why not just enjoy it? And last night, people did."What's your best memory of Whitney Houston and/or her songs and performances? We'd love to hear them in the comments belowRelated on HuffPost: ?"Who Wore It Better" often features celebrities of similar styles and tastes -- and it almost always features celebs of the same gender.But this Celine caftan-style silk top, from Phoebe Philo's Spring/Summer 2011 collection, seems to be quite the popular choice for an unlikely trio of celebs: Kanye West, Jessica Simpson and filmaker Sam Taylor-Wood.West was the first to don the look from the top while performing at Coachella this past summer. We did know the rapper loved high fashion, but we were all a bit suprised to see him grab a womenswear look (at least he wasn't ).Next, Jessica Simpson stepped out in the breezy blouse, perhaps intending to hush .Finally, the filmaker Taylor-Wood was seen wearing the same look while out with her fiance, the quite young Aaron Johnson (23 years her junior). Taylor-Wood, for one, is actually pregnant and covered her bump with Celine at .With a shirt this well-traveled and clearly much beloved, we must ask: who wore it better? ?Last night on "The Late Show" David Letterman welcomed Will Ferrell to talk about his new movie "Megamind." As he does best, Ferrell didn't stick to the topic at hand and surprised everyone with a surprise performance of Celine Dion's "The Power Of Love," after claiming that he is taking over her show in Las Vegas while she takes care of her new twins. Maybe it's just us, but there's just something so right about Ferrell hanging from a stage ladder and screaming "I'm your lady" at the top of his lungs.WATCH: ?PARIS — It was the moment the fashion world has been waiting for, the return of wildly popular designer Phoebe Philo, whose calm and collected debut spring-summer 2010 collection for Celine proved that after her several-year-long hiatus she still has the magic touch.Philo's clean-lined basics, like A-line skirts and sheath dresses, garnered thunderous applause from the show's audience of fashion insiders for whom jaded is the normal etat d'esprit.It was a good day for women looking for fashion-forward workaday chic, between Philo's razor-cut business staples and Stefano Pilati's chic minimalist suits and skits for Yves Saint Laurent. Pilati, another critical darling, continued to prove his prowess as a master tailor with a dark, subversive streak.What Celine and YSL did for business clothes, Stella McCartney did for the summer wardrobe, sending out an easy, wearable collection of vacation basics.Leonard continued to churn out the adorable flower print jersey dresses, skirts and jumpers that have been the Paris-based label's signature since the late 1960s.Italy's Giambattista Valli provided the day's dose of drama – mild, by Paris standards – with a neo-romantic collection of cocktail numbers and swingy coats covered with enough feathers to make even the ugliest of ducklings into a swan.Tuesday – day six of Paris' marathon nine-day-long ready-to-wear displays – includes shows by heavy hitters Chanel and Valentino, as well as French eccentric Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and British bad boy Alexander McQueen.CELINEExpectations couldn't have been higher. Monday's was Philo's first proper runway show since she left the fashion world in 2006 to spend more time with her family. There was a palpable sense of nervousness in the air, a feeling that the audience of hundreds of fashion editors and buyers from top stores around the world were waiting with collectively bated breath.And then came the clothes: clean-lined sheath dresses and A-line skirts in mossy and tan leather, simple poplin shirts, creamy, romantic blouses and perfectly tailored wide-leg trousers in featherweight caramel wool. The clothes had little adornment beyond discreet leather finishings – and indeed they needed no sequins, beading, baubles or gimmicks to shine.Speaking to reporters in a subterranean vault – the show was held in a former bank on the swanky Place Vendome jewelry hub – Philo said she had eased her way into the spring-summer 2010 collection."It's just the beginning. It felt like, just take it easy, just start easy," the affable British designer said."It's nice to have the bubble of expectations burst. That feels good," Philo told reporters as she received congratulatory hugs and kisses. "Sometimes what people get into their head is unachievable."Not so say her fans, from fellow designers to top fashion editors."Everybody is so excited. She has such a unique take on what women really want to wear," gushed Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey in a backstage interview. "When she was at Chloe, it was all very ... soft and very girly. And I have to say that Phoebe and her customer have grown up. It was really womanly dressing, like we like to see."Philo replaced Croatian designer Ivana Omazic, who spent three years at the helm at Celine. Founded after World War II, the brand forged a reputation for excellence in leather goods but has since fallen on hard times, with management struggling to modernize its image.If anything can manage that, it's Philo's trousers."Those pants, she cuts like no other, they're really perfect," said Bazaar's Bailey. Everyone knows there's nothing like a perfect pair of pants to forge an eternally loyal customer base.YVES SAINT LAURENTPilati built on previous collections of clean-lined, mainly black-and-white pieces, delivering a collection dominated by puffed-sleeved poplin blouses, neat A-line skirts, cropped jackets with leather touches.But, as always, Pilati went beyond the sort of workaday basics that can be seen on other runways, embellishing the garments with kicky touches – like a horizontal slit on the hemline of a pair of razor-cut shorts or little bows on the back of a vampy bustier dress – that set his collections apart.The collection notes mentioned the value of work, and there was a vaguely Puritanical feeling to the show. Perhaps it was the apron dresses, the high collars, the full sleeves or all that starched poplin.One look – an oversized Puritan collared shirt paired, oddly, with a pair of leather short shorts – was 17th century Plymouth Colony on top and 1950s-era Vegas showgirl on the bottom. But that and an ankle-length white skirt dotted with oversized strawberry appliques that evoked Strawberry Shortcake were the sole eyebrow-raisers in the very strong show.STELLA MCCARTNEYIt was drizzling outside, but the catwalk radiated sunshine as models strutted their stuff in casual chic silk shantung suits, short denim skirts and off-the shoulder dresses in primary color prints that were begging to mambo."For summer, it's not about aggression or power, it's about being positive and being a real woman," McCartney told reporters in a backstage interview. "For me, those were real women coming down the runway."The real women in the packed audience appeared to agree and gave McCartney a whoop of approval as she took a bow.Her father, former Beatle Paul McCartney – who shared his front row perch with companion Nancy Shevell and actress Gwyneth Paltrow – called the show "parfait," or perfect in French, and gave it a thumbs up."I loved everything she does. She's my baby," he told reporters, shouting over his own voice singing the 1967 hit "She's Leaving Home."LEONARDLeonard gave a shout-out to its Japanese customer base with a collection inspired by Imari, 17th-century ceramics from Kyoto.Ankle-length dresses in featherweight chiffon were printed with koi fish, flowers and artful curlicues in navy, peacock and sky blues – frequent motifs in Imari porcelain – with artful metallic finishings at the neckline.Imari "is the most luxury porcelain in the world, all hand-painted, and usually it's only found in museums ... (though) I eat off of my own collection," said CEO Daniel Tribouillard, who has long played a role in the label's design. "I wanted to take these calm, peaceful designs off of plates and give them to our clients."The rest of the collection was classic Leonard, flowing jersey with oversized flowers in pastels and Art Deco styles. Some of the knee-skimming sundresses were cinched at the waist with red skinny belts, while others had wide Japanese obi belts slung low around the models' hips.The house also served up jumpers, among the hottest looks on Paris runways this season. The generously cut coveralls, in strapless and tank cuts, were the perfect summer getaway wear, easy to slip into and even easier to pack.GIAMBATTISTA VALLIThere were feathers everywhere. The plumage, dainty ostrich feathers in scarlet, emerald, white and black, covered the skirts of cocktail dresses with transparent bodices and quivered daintily across the shoulders of wide-cut day coats.Even many of the featherless looks had tiers of finely shredded chiffon that looked like it dreamed of one day becoming feathers.But Valli – who last season sent out dramatic, peacock feather-covered gowns and coats – also delivered less fluffy looks this time around, sending out bold dresses and 1950s style coats in a graphic black-and-white print. There was also a sizable contingent of oversized ocelot prints, like on a swingy coat hung all around with a row of long black fringe.Italian party girl Margherita Missoni was one of several celebrity guests, including Mary-Kate Olsen, to gush about Monday's collection and give Valli air kisses backstage after the show."I loved it. It was one of my favorite collections by Giambattista in the past years," said Missoni, whose grandfather founded the mythic Missoni knitwear house.Asked what particular pieces she had her eye on, she responded "many, many, many." ?The UK's Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne hailed the deal, finally struck in the early hours after talks had overrun by a day and ahalf, as a "significant step forward" which would deliver a global, overarching legal agreement to cut emissions.And he said it sent a strong signal to businesses and investors about moving to a low carbon economy.But environmental groups said negotiators had failed to show the ambition necessary to cutemissions by levels that would limit global temperature rises to no more than 2C and avoid "dangerous" climate change.The EU had come to the talks in Durban,South Africa, calling for a mandate to negotiate a new legally binding treaty on global warming by 2015, covering all major emitters, in returnfor the bloc signing up to a second period of emissions cuts under the existing Kyoto climate deal.But in a surprise move yesterday evening, options for the new legal deal had been watered down to add a "legal outcome" to the existing possibilities of a "protocol or another legal instrument" - thelanguage which was used in the mandate for negotiating the Kyoto Protocol.European ministers warned they could not accept the weakened deal, but India led the countries pushing for it, claiming they could not sign up to negotiate a legally-binding deal without knowing what would be in it or if it would be fair to poorer countries.The deal was reached after the South African president of the talks urged the EU and India to go "into a huddle" in the middle of the conference hall in the early hours of this morning, in a bid to work outlanguage both sides were happy with.A compromise, suggested by the Brazilian delegation, saw the EU and Indians agree to a road map which commits countries to negotiating aprotocol, another legal instrument or an "agreed outcome with legal force".The treaty will be negotiated by 2015 and coming into force from 2020.The deal also paves the way for action to address the "emissions gap" between the voluntary emissions cuts countries have already pledgedand the reductions experts say are needed to effectively tackle climatechange.Mr Huhne insisted the agreement on the legal language was not "a fudge" and said that while the EU had not secured everything it wanted from thetalks, it was a great diplomatic success for the bloc.He said: "What we have got is a very significant step forward because we've got a road map leading to a global overarching legal agreement, which is exactly what we wanted, we've got a timeline on it."And we've got a very clear process for dealing with the emissions gap in the interim."He added: "We've managed to put this on the map and bring all themajor emitters like the US, India and China into a road map which will secure an overarching global deal."While European leaders have been in turmoil over the Eurozone crisis in Brussels this week, Mr Huhne said that, in Durban, EU countries had all been "singing from the same hymn sheet" and when the bloc was united it was "quite formidable".He paid tribute to countries such as China for the work they were doing to cut emissions on the ground.And he said: "This is coming together in an overall internationalframework that gives business greater assurance about the future and investors greater assurance about the rate of returns they're going to get, and stop us locking in a whole generation of high carbon technologythat might other happen."Michael Jacobs, who was former prime minister Gordon Brown's climate adviser and now visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change and the Environmentat LSE, said business was looking for signals that governments were serious about low carbon policy - and that policies would be sustained."By acknowledging that current emissions targets are inadequate and must be raised, and by re-establishing the goal of a legal treaty, this agreement should help build such confidence," he said.But environmental groups criticised the deal, finally agreed as the sun rose on the third night of all-night talks among negotiators and ministers, for a lack of ambition in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions which drive global warming.Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK, said: "Governments have salvaged a path forward for negotiations, but we must be under no illusion - the outcome of Durban leaves us with the prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming."This would be catastrophic for people and the natural world. Governments have spent crucial days focused on a handful of specific words in the negotiating text, but have paid little heed to repeated warnings from the scientific community that much stronger, urgent actionis needed to cut emissions."He welcomed the EU's role in a "high ambition coalition" of countries including the small island states and some of the poorest nations in the world, but urged Europe to show leadership by increasing its promise to cut emissions by 20% by 2020 to 30%.Greenpeace International's executive director Kumi Naidoo said: "Right now the global climate regime amounts to nothing more than a voluntary deal that's put off for a decade."This could take us over the two degree threshold where we pass from danger to potential catastrophe."Also agreed at the Durban talks was the establishment of a green climate fund to channel billions of pounds to poor countries to help them cope with impacts of global warming such as floods and drought - but no sources of money were found.Rich countries have pledged 100 billion dollars (64 billion) a year by 2020 for developing countries to deal with climate change and developwithout polluting.Campaigners say the funding to help some of the world's most vulnerable people is particularly important if emissions reductions in the next decade and action after 2020 are not sufficient to keep long term temperature rises to no more than 2C.Celine Charveriat, director of campaigns and advocacy for Oxfam said: "We cannot allow the Green Climate Fund to wither on the vine."Governments must identify significant and predictable sources ofmoney for the Fund without delay, such as a tiny tax on financial transactions and a fee on emissions from international shipping."Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid said: "Action against climate change in 2020 will come a decade too late for poor people on the front line - they urgently need it now."Their lives are already ravaged by floods, droughts, failed rains, deadly storms, hunger and disease and we know that these disasters will get worse and more frequent as climate change bites."Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins said: "The UN climate change process is still alive - but this empty shell of a plan leaves the planet hurtling towards catastrophic climate change."If Durban is to be a historic stepping stone towards success the world must urgently agree ambitious targets to slash emissions."Millions of the poorest people around the globe are already facing the impacts of climate change - countries like the US who have done most to create this crisis must now take the lead in tackling it."Decisive action to tackle climate change would slash fuel bills,create much-needed jobs and help people in poorer countries gain accessto clean energy."The World Development Movement said the outcome of the talks was a "spectacular failure".Murray Worthy, the organisation's policy officer, said: "Developed countries have behaved shamefully, blocking meaningful progress on tackling climate change."They have refused to acknowledge their historical responsibilityfor the crisis, either by agreeing to reduce their emissions or by providing finance to help developing countries deal with climate change."These talks have been held hostage by the EU. It seems EU countries came to Durban to impose a deal, not negotiate one."The spectacular failure to achieve an outcome on the most urgentissues puts the world on course for devastating climate change, condemning those least responsible to greater hunger, poverty and ultimately, death."PA?Travel essentialsWhy go now?Paris earns its City of Light epithet not just for the Age of Enlightenment and early implementation of gas lamps: it was here that Auguste and Louis Lumire patented the cinmatographe in 1895, and held the first film screening soon after. Ever since, Paris has been an inspiration to filmmakers; each year more than 650 films are shot around the city, utilising its evocative streetscapes and grand landmarks. Woody Allen's soon-to-be released Midnight in Paris is one of the latest examples C a thinly disguised love letter to the French capital.The Paris Cinema International Film Festival runs until 13 July with 250 screenings around the city ( ).Touch downTake the Eurostar (0870 518 6186; ) from London St Pancras, Ashford and Ebbsfleet to Paris Gare du Nord (1), which has featured in films such as Patrice Leconte's Monsieur Hire and The Bourne Identity. The majority of flights from the UK arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport, 25km north-east of the city, which provided the inspiration for The Terminal. Six RER trains ( per hour provide links to Gare du Nord (1), as well as Chatelet-Les Halles (2) and St-Michel (3) in the centre (9.10).A taxi to central Paris costs about 50.The city's second airport is Orly, from where you can take the Orlybus (6.60) to Denfert-Rochereau station.Get your bearingsCentral Paris is scattered with landmarks immortalised on the silver screen. In the animated film Ratatouille, the protagonist, Remy the rat, knows he has realised his dream of reaching the French capital when he catches his first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower (4).Paris' 20 arrondissements, or districts, curl out like a roll of film clockwise from the centre near the Louvre (5). The River Seine splits the city in two; its Left Bank or Rive Gauche is best appreciated through the lens of Jean-Luc Godard in his 1959 classic A Bout de Souffle (Breathless). To the north is bohemian Montmartre with the gleaming white Sacr-Coeur church (6) presiding over the quarter's atmospheric streets that provided the backdrop for Amlie, starring Audrey Tautou; Jules Dassin's cult classic Du Rififi chez les hommes; the Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose; and the inspiration for Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.The tourist office (7) is at 25 rue des Pyramides ( ). Open daily 10am-7pm, Sunday 11am-7pm. For more information on cinema in Paris, see .Check inWoody Allen chose Le Meurice (8) at 228 rue de Rivoli (00 33 1 44 58 10 10; ) for scenes in Midnight in Paris such as the fabulous Belle Etoile Suite complete with jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the city. Doubles start at 720, room only.The 10-room H?tel Les Rives de Notre Dame (9) at 15 quai St-Michel (00 33 1 43 54 81 16; ) has two claims to fame C it featured in A Bout de Souffle and was also home to John Steinbeck. Doubles start at 179, room only.In Stanley Donen's 1963 film Charade, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn check into the H?tel Saint Jacques (10), 35 rue des Ecoles (00 33 1 44 07 4545; ) in the Latin Quarter. Doubles start at 152, room only.Day oneTake a viewAlmost every film that has been shot in the French capital features the Eiffel Tower (4) ( ). It has been the subject of its own film, the 1949 The Man on the Eiffel Tower, with further appearances in hundreds of movies including Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows and Paris When it Sizzles starring Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. It affords magnificent views of the city from its top floor viewing platform. Until 28 August it opens daily from 9.30am-midnight. Admission 13.40.Take a hike Woody Allen and Goldie Hawn danced along its banks in Everyone Says I Love You and in Ratatouille Remy jumps across several of the Seine's 37 bridges. Start on the Left Bank at the Quai de la Tournelle (11) C below you is where Jason Bourne wakes up to his first day in Paris in The Bourne Identity, and Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) board a Bateau Mouche in Before Sunset. Continue downstream to the oldest and most famous bridge of all, the Pont-Neuf (12), built in 1607 and the setting for Les Amants du Pont-Neuf; one of the most expensive French films ever made tells the story of a love affair between two young vagrants played by Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant.Continue along the Left Bank passing the green booths of the bouquinistes (booksellers), which line the river as far as the Quai Voltaire. The Pont des Arts (13) is where Anne Hathaway's Andy rushes across the bridge on the phone to Meryl Streep's Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada.Scenes from Midnight in Paris were shot on the elaborate Pont Alexandre III (14), which was built in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. It won't unfold spectacularly as it did in Christopher Nolan's Inception, but finish your riverside ramble at the double-decker Pont de Bir-Hakeim (15), which also graced the screens in Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris; Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours: Blue; and Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud.Lunch on the runAmlie's heroine worked as a waitress in the charmingly retro Caf des 2 Moulins (16) at 15 rue Lepic (00 33 1 42 54 90 50). Even 10 years on it's still a must-see for the film's admirers, but it's also an ideal spot for a bite. Nab a pavement table, order a croque monsieur (8.20) and observe the hustle and bustle of Montmartre C just make sure you finish off with the obligatory crme br?le (5.80).Window shoppingOne of the classic cinematic images of Paris is Jean Seberg sauntering past the boutiques of the Avenue des Champs-Elyses, wearing a "Herald Tribune" T-shirt. Later, she can also be seen gazing wistfully through the window of Christian Dior (17) at 30 avenue Montaigne C the go-to street for the city's acclaimed haute couture. More affordable purchases can be found at filmmakers' favourite, bookshop Shakespeare & Company (18) at 37 rue de la B?cherie (00 33 1 43 25 40 93; ), which has had cameos in a number of films including Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris.An aperitifThe bar of the fashionable H?tel du Nord (19), Canal St-Martin, 102 quai de Jemmapes (00 33 1 40 40 78 78; ) is fittingly decorated in an homage to the Paris of the 1930s when the location was immortalised in Marcel Carn's 1938 classic of the same name. Order a Lillet and soak up the scene.Dining with the localsFeatured in the final scenes of Something's Gotta Give, starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Le Grand Colbert (20) (00 33 1 42 86 87 88; ) is a set-worthy archetype of the fantasy Parisian brasserie. Tucked down a narrow street close to the Bourse, on 2 rue Vivienne, it has tiled floors, leather banquettes and a buzzing atmosphere. Keaton's character raves about the roast chicken, which is a house speciality (24).Day twoSunday morning: go to churchParis' leading place of worship is the sprawling Cathdrale Notre Dame de Paris (21) (00 33 1 42 34 56 10; ). Built in the 12th century, this is one of the high points of Gothic architecture and also the location for Victor Hugo's novel about Quasimodo and Esmeralda. The book spawned several film versions starring the likes of Gina Lollobrigida and Anthony Quinn. International mass takes place at 11.30am on Sundays. It opens daily from 8am to 6.45pm, until 7.15pm at weekends.Take a rideSome unforgettable cinematic moments have taken place in the Paris Mtro ( ). There was Luc Besson's 1985 Subway starring Isabelle Adjani and Christophe Lambert; Alain Delon's cool-as-a-cucumber assassin in the 1967 Le Samoura?; and Jean-Paul Belmondo's daring stunt on top of a Mtro carriage in Henri Verneuil's Peur sur la ville. Catch Line 4 in the direction of Port d'Orlans and get off at St-Germain-des-Prs.Out to brunchSitting in the sun at a pavement caf with a coffee and croissant is a tradition. In A Bout de Souffle, Michal and Patricia make a beeline for Le Select (22), 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse (00 33 1 45 48 38 24). Tourists have largely replaced the intelligentsia, such as Henry Miller and Luis Bu?uel, who used to gather here, but it's still a Left Bank classic.Cultural afternoonAs well as its appearance in The Da Vinci Code the halls of the Louvre (5), at rue de Rivoli (00 33 1 40 20 84 58; ), are no stranger to film crews. Part of Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence was filmed here, as was the scene from Funny Face where Audrey Hepburn comes running down the staircase in front of the Winged Victory. Open Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 9am-6pm and Wednesday and Friday until 10pm; closed Tuesdays. Admission 10.In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson's character, Gil, and Inez, played by Rachel McAdams, get a cultural fix among Claude Monet's stunning Nymphas, in the Muse de l'Orangerie (23), Jardins du Tuileries (00 33 1 44 77 80 07; ; open daily except Tuesday, 9am-6pm; admission 7.50 but free on the first Sunday of the month).A walk in the parkThe 2006 Paris, Je T'Aime is a collaboration of the work of 20 filmmakers who were each given five minutes to tell the story of an amorous encounter in the capital of romance. In Alfonso Cuarn's vignette, Nick Nolte and Ludivine Sagnier walk and talk around the Parc Monceau (24), which straddles the smart 8th and 17th arrondissements. Dotted with follies, rare plants and a dazzling display of flowers, this verdant expanse was created by the Duke of Chartres in the late 18th century. In summer it opens 7am-10pm.Icing on the cakeFrom 19 July to 21 August, the Parc de Villette (00 33 1 40 03 76 92; ) plays host to a programme of open-air film screenings from a range of home-grown and international talent (free; Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm).?FOR: Rhiannon HarriesDespite the appealing insouciance of the expression, there are few stylish items of clothing that one can honestly claim to have "thrown on". Not so the cape, however. In fact, the act of slinging a cape around one's shoulders pretty much sums up the appeal of what will, if designers have their way, be the outerwear of the season C relaxed, artless, yet undeniably theatrical and dynamic. You could hardly say the same of struggling with the toggles on last winter's hipster choice C the duffle coat C could you? For all its simplicity, the cape is one of the hardest working garments in fashion this season, popping up in multiple forms across the catwalks C often within the same collection C and lending itself to all manner of contrasting aesthetics.Some of the references are familiar. Hussein Chalayan accessorised a voluminous camel version with binoculars for an old-school explorer vibe, at Missoni the rough-hewn patchwork knit had a nomadic, tribal feel, and it was all hunting and fishing with quilting and houndstooth at Daks. Elsewhere, the cape proved it could rise to more unexpected challenges.Alexander Wang's smart, mannish offering eschewed soft volume for sharp shoulders and straight lines. Erdem and Jaeger used hand embroidery and cut-out details, respectively, to emphasise that its practicality could be matched by prettiness. And at Yves Saint Laurent, Stefano Pilati brought out the cape's subversive side, offsetting the primness of waist-length versions by rendering them in transparent PVC (bravo, Signor Pilati C more designer clothes should be wipe-clean I feel).My favourite cape, however, though was the show-stopper at Celine. Knee-length white sheepskin, it looked like all your Christmases rolled into one gloriously cosy, glamorous garment. And that, in a nutshell, is the beauty of the cape; comfort and style in generous and equal measure. Cape refuseniks will tell you that they are impractical and seriously restrict your arms, but unless you have a day of semaphore practice planned, the inconvenience is slight. I speak from experience, having spent most of last winter in a cape (such is the central heating in my house that I wore mine to bed on a couple of occasions).Make no mistake, I may have been an early convert but I'm by no means an adventurous dresser. Ordinarily, I am too lazy to buy into high fashion looks involving towering heels or complicated necklines and too self-conscious for serious, statement pieces. So I was delighted to find that wrapping myself in what was essentially a nice, warm blanket with a couple of gold buttons (vintage St Michael by Marks & Spencer courtesy of my great aunt) garnered more approval from stylish peers than anything else I've owned. In fact, it was such a roaring success, it meant I could wear even more boring clothes than usual underneath and all was forgiven.While interviewing the American singer Rufus Wainwright, he barely seemed aware of my presence in the room until I stood up to go and put on my cape. "That is soooo cute!" he drawled, suddenly full of a new-found respect. I should never have taken the darn thing off. And if the superficial and fleeting warmth of a pop star isn't enough to convince you, remember that in a British winter you will spend so much time in your coat that you will come to be partly defined by it. So if you are aiming for Grace Kelly on Oscars night then you'll take my advice and invest in Halston Heritage's divine black cashmere cape. If, however, you'd rather be Kenny from South Park, then, by all means, buy a parka.AGAINST: Carola LongWay back last winter, when capes appeared on the catwalk as a major trend, I was quite excited about them. Here was a piece we hadn't seen for a while; a rather novel and dramatic addition to the outerwear themes that tend to come and go on rotation; military detailing, leather jackets or boyfriend coats. As autumn closes in, however, and the time to buy a cape is nigh, guess what? I've lost interest. The cape is one of those items I happily flirted with from a safe distance, but when it comes to making the relationship permanent I've got cold feet (and potentially cold arms and a cold stomach). It's just not a serious coat, a keeper like a peacoat or a cosy blanket wrap style.I don't loathe capes; they don't make me shudder in the way that clip-in hair extensions or the words "unexpected item in bagging area" do. I'll admit they have a certain dramatic, and sometimes sweetly eccentric charm, but perhaps some of that originality is cancelled out when it's a trend with a capital T. And in a season focusing on so-called real clothes C on understated, pure and practical pieces C the cape seems a bit of an attention-seeking anomaly. Like very small bags that denote that the wearer is a streamlined fashion goddess who doesn't need to carry around such pedestrian stuff as tissues and umbrellas, the cape is for people who don't worry about trailing garments getting stuck in Tube doors in a horrible rush-hour version of Isadora Duncan in her Bugatti or other prosaic matters such as getting pneumonia from cold draughts.Capes also limit what you wear, because they work best with trousers, preferably peg, straight or skinny ones. Pair one with a maxi skirt and you could look like the grim reaper. With an A-line skirt? Too triangular. Wide trousers, too, need a slimmer line on top to balance out the proportions. Capes are a classic good-on-the-hanger or catwalk piece; the white furry Celine version looks like quite the most sophisticated cosy piece you could wish to own, but in everyday life isn't there a danger of resembling an overgrown child playing a sheep in the school nativity play?And there's the thing; for every free spirited style icon who makes the cape look achingly cool there's a risk of resembling Dracula, Little Red Riding Hood, Batgirl and numerous other superheroes. Edna Mode the wardrobe mistress character in The Incredibles who evokes Anna Wintour and Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, certainly wouldn't approve of this particular trend. When designing outfits for Mr and Mrs Incredible she recounts the superheroes whose flowing robes have caused their demise before decreeing, "no capes." Even the new Sherlock Holmes has traded in his cape for a much more dashing greatcoat.?They say that reality TV holds up a mirror to the nation. Well, if that's true, then one must conclude that in 2011 the British rather run our collective talent pool dry. But then, of course, we have. When Hughie Green suggested that "opportunity knocks" four decades ago, he meant for a precious few only. These days, it's viewed practically as everybody's birthright.Perhaps, then, this is the reason the latest series of BGT has struggled. Not because of the absence of Piers Morgan, gone, like The Beatles and Right Said Fred before him, to America. But, rather, because we are all so well versed in the script and the players by now: the court jesters; the tremulous who croon in memory of the recently dead; and the funny dancers who, this time around, aren't quite as funny as the funny dancers of the last time around.Nevertheless, a great many of them continued to pluck away at our heartstrings, making open mockery of our vulnerability as they did so. But even heartstrings harden, and there is only so much affection we can muster for quite so many unlikely looking vessels (the portly, the plain, the past-it) out of whom such mellifluous loveliness unceasingly pours.But never underestimate a panto for whipping up a climatic storm of kitsch and glitter, and BGT certainly did that last night. Simon Cowell, back in his seat since the semi-finals, had returned purportedly to rescue the show C and the ratings C by bringing with him not only his teeth and unbuttoned shirt, but a lot of fluff and nonsense over whether or not he actually created one of the finalists himself in a secret laboratory on Dr No's island.Though Cowell protested his innocence C amid scurrilous suggestions from shameful cynics that it was he that planted the story C it is easy to see why little Ronan Parke could be thought a spawn of this particular devil. With Justin Bieber's hair, Bambi's eyes and an Osmond's likeability, he was born for TV talent shows, to say nothing of the fact that he possesses the same Voice of an Angel as previously owned by Charlotte Church, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle.The controversy helped sustain a nice frisson throughout C so much weight on such slender shoulders, and so on C and over two punishing hours of performances, an endlessly excitable studio audience, surely high on E numbers, and Amanda Holden's indefatigable hair, we gathered, in edge-of-seat fashion, in fear of a last-minute upset, the favourite Parke pipped at the post by, perhaps, one or two who might just have deserved it more, the piano prodigy, for one, or those adorable little boys that will grow up to become JLS by this time next week.And then C oh, the drama C he was! Pipped at the post! And not by an obvious frontrunner either, but Jai McDowall, an oddly-bearded Scot with a voice as deep as oceans are wide, and whose fellow countryfolk did what Scots always do in such circumstances: phone in en masse, and upset the applecart, Cowell's applecart.Little Ronan Parke, bless him, was gracious in defeat, with a composure beyond his years. Perhaps he's still young enough to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare.?"This is a song to all these people from fashion who I adore and who helped me to realise my dream," he said. And then this diminutive figure, normally backwards in coming forwards and far from famed for posturing either on the catwalk or off it, sang."When I was just a little boy, I asked my mother, what will I be...? Que sera, sera..." he crooned, and if the sound of it was unlikely ("I'm a terrible singer," Elbaz admitted) it seemed all the more incongruous given his not entirely down-with-the-kids uniform of thick-lensed, black-framed glasses, black trouser suit with studiously just-a-little-too-short trousers and just-a-little-off-centre bow tie.There are not many surprises left in fashion C you name it, someone, somewhere has done it C which perhaps accounts for the ovation that followed being more heartfelt than most. Let's face it, this is a world that boasts its fair share of these too. But then M Elbaz is a highly individual designer and easier to love than many for that. Over the past decade he has not only turned around the fortunes of Lanvin, which was languishing in obscurity when he took the helm in 2002, but has also come to represent a respect for craft, technique and talent over and above the usual obsession with marketing, merchandising and styling. This has earnt him many followers, both within the industry and outside it. Add to this the fact that Elbaz is open almost to the point of foolhardiness, warm to the point of brotherly, and, at the same time, clearly as strong as an ox, and the effect is as refreshing as it is potent. Make no mistake, behind this infinitely approachable exterior lurks a will of iron."There have been a lot of changes in fashion," he says when we meet in a quiet corner of the bar of the Hotel Crillon in Paris C Elbaz appears to feel very much at home amid the understated but unmistakeably grand, old-school ambience there. "And the question is how do you fit into it? Should you fit into it? ["Que Sera, Que Sera"] was a song, I thought, for the whole industry. You know how it is. One day people love you, you're in, the next day, you're out. One day you're fired, and one day you're hired. So it was a song for my colleagues. The future is not ours to see. What will be, will be. We are always trying to think who's going where, what will he do? Who is going to take over? What, when, why?"Elbaz refuses to name names. He doesn't need to. Rumours abound on who will C and won't C be presiding over some of fashion's most prestigious houses. The question of who is "in" or "out", as Elbaz puts it, has never seemed so pertinent. Before John Galliano had even cleared his desk at Dior last spring, every one of his contemporaries worth mentioning had been named as a possible successor. At Yves Saint Laurent, it can't have been easy for Stefano Pilati to complete his last two collections all while speculation regarding his imminent departure and the appointment of Hedi Slimane to that label was rife. Only days before the Lanvin show in question took place, meanwhile, while he too was working on what turned out to be his swansong collection for Jil Sander, Raf Simons was unceremoniously let go. The designer was visibly shaken when he stepped out to take his final bows. It wasn't until last month that his appointment as artistic director of Dior was announced."I've been there," says Elbaz. And indeed he has. "All of a sudden, this divorce is being published everywhere and everybody knows who said what and how difficult it is." It is, by now, the stuff of fashion history that, in 1998, Elbaz was hand-picked by Yves Saint Laurent to design his women's ready-to-wear. Elbaz was designing Guy Laroche at the time. "I was fascinated by the idea of working for a man [Saint Laurent] who was more of a legend, and more the name of a company, than a real person," he told me when we first met not long after. "But then I talked to him, he was so human and so down-to-earth that you kind of forgot that you are sitting with... With Marilyn Monroe!"Despite the fact that the critics applauded Elbaz's two-season tenure at Yves Saint Laurent, in 1999, the Gucci Group bought the name and self-proclaimed control freak and creative director, Tom Ford, was unable to resist the challenge of taking over himself. Elbaz was duly dismissed."It was hard," Elbaz has since said of that split. "Of course it was hard. There were times that I wondered whether I would ever be able to work in this business again. I was embarrassed to go out to fashion places, embarrassed to call people because I thought they would never call back."He promptly disappeared, leaving Paris to travel around the world. Thankfully for fashion, 12 months later, he returned and accepted the position at Lanvin, a French couture house founded, in 1909, by Jeanne Lanvin and bought by the Chinese-born entrepeneur, Shaw-Lan Wang in 2001. His first show for the label C a gentle mix of subtly-deconstructed tweeds shot through with barely-visible threads of gold and all worn with paper-thin ballerina pumps long before they were ubiquitous C immediately identified him as having something new, something lovely and something refreshingly woman-friendly to offer the world.That was then. Ten years later, we are looking at a hefty book published this month C a celebration of the achievement of Elbaz and his team at this still comparatively small but influential house. "I didn't want to do a very, very big book," Elbaz says, over a plate of magret de canard. "The book is small and fat. It's me." Also him, is the contrast between "the rich and the poor"; the plain cloth cover stamped unobtrusively with the Lanvin signature offset against gleaming gilded edges and the copious white space that belies the personal, even intimate, nature of the imagery shot by photographer But-Sou Lai, who has been working behind the scenes for some time.If it is the intention with most fashion books to blind readers with glamour and gloss, here we see instead the workings of the fashion process exposed. There are close-ups of pin cushions and loose threads, of floral-print fabrics and notoriously hard-to-handle gazars. Elbaz's cute drawings, often accompanied by words ("Nice dress," says one coquettish Parisienne to another) are seen alongside flat patterns, Stockman dummies and lasts. Models are photographed on the catwalk but more often in fittings, so too are seamstresses, secretaries and PRs at work. There are pictures of show running orders, seating plans, great dustbins full of Nespresso capsules, half-eaten food. This is about Lanvin as a team, and Elbaz is often present but, significantly, rarely centre stage."I thought that at a time like now, when the whole industry is about the six minutes of the show and a review that is being written in a taxi because then there is the next one, I thought, I'm going to show everyone how much effort goes into making a single dress," he says. "I wanted to show how many threads you have to put together to make one rose; how much thought goes into a button. I wanted to show a shoe in the factory in Italy being held like a baby by an old man and then attached to a machine as if it was going to the dentist. I wanted to show the jewellery. And I wanted to show the people. All the people. We had 3,000 pictures in total and we picked the ones we liked, of course, and then we went back to make sure that every single person involved is in the book, that nobody had been missed out. They are all part of it."The book opens with 100 white pages. "I was worried that people would think that was gimmick-y," Elbaz says. "But it's not about being cool. I hate the word cool. It gives me a rash. If you take something out of the freezer it's cold, but what happens when it melts? It's a cool party, a cool person, a cool collection. What does that mean? I'm more interested in things that are uncool, things that have a certain individuality, a certain soul, a certain longevity, emotion, fragility..."True to his word, each leaf is printed with decidedly uncool one-line Elbaz-isms: "If it's not edible, it's not food. If it's not wearable, it's not fashion." "In the winter we sell bathing suits, in the summer, coats. Go figure". "Day after day, season after season, we start with a dream."Alber Elbaz was born in Casablanca on 12 June, 1961 and grew up in the suburbs of Tel Aviv. His father was a hairdresser who died when he was 15, at which point his mother went to work as a waitress to support her four children: two sons, two daughters. Elbaz studied fashion at Shenkar College in that city. His teacher was Shelly Verthine, who co-edited the new book and remains Elbaz's close friend and creative collaborator. "Shelly was my teacher and is still my teacher," he says of a woman who remains integral to his work and is often seen by his side. "The mythological teacher who brings things out of you." Despite the fact that Elbaz oversees a Lanvin menswear collection too, his team is predominantly female.Following graduation, aged 24, Elbaz moved to New York and designed "mother-of-the-bride dresses for $150 C and that was expensive" before moving to Geoffrey Beene. It wasn't long before he was that elusive and revered designer's right-hand man. He remained there from 1989 to 1996, a lifetime in terms of fashion."It was an amazing place to work, the best school. I stayed there because I was happy working a little bit outside the circuit, because he had his vision about fashion, because he had the best style." The brilliant forefather of today's more minimally-minded designers, Beene was also entirely focused on design as opposed to the brouhaha that, to a greater or lesser extent, appears to spring up around it. He was also, Elbaz has said C and he is one of few who might claim truly to have known him C "a wonderful man". Elbaz then moved to Paris."Stay big in your work and small in your life," Alber Elbaz's mother always told him. "Be modest," is how he explains the words now. "I'm not a religious person in the regular sense but in the Bible you're not allowed to steal, you're not allowed to lie and you're not allowed to feel you're above other people."The designer's quieter way is surely an inspiration for a new generation less likely to rely on the notion of the superstar designer, as spearheaded by Tom Ford, ironically enough, and to concentrate on the clothes themselves. It is a position he continues to uphold without compromise to the point of being evangelical."I never met Sarah Burton in the past, for example," Elbaz says of the Alexander McQueen designer, "but when I saw a picture of her at the [royal] wedding and, while everybody was there with their pretty hats seated, she was the only one who didn't have a hat on and she was on the floor fixing the dress; I thought it was so beautiful I wrote her a note. And to see Phoebe [Philo, of Celine] who is doing such an amazing job and because she's having a baby she decides to do a smaller show and to care for that baby... I mean that is amazing. And, you know what, it will do her business no harm whatsoever. Quite the opposite. These are the moments that are important to me." It goes without saying that such kind words directed towards other designers C those who might be seen as competitors in an over-crowded market to boot C is unprecedented.Of the nature of fame, he says: "You ask people what they want to do and they say, 'I want to be famous' but I always say that fame is something that works perfectly if you want to get a good table at a restaurant in a hurry or you need a doctor and his secretary is into fashion. I want to go back to the real thing though, to actresses who act, painters who paint and designers who design. I was in Russia recently and I went to a department store. You know, you see the fashion, one rack here, one rack there, but then you go to the bag department and it's the size of Monaco, you go to the shoe department and it's like Arizona. It's enormous. And I'm thinking, maybe we should make women wear bags. But I was trained to do textiles, to do fabrics, and to dress women."And dress them he does, in traditional couture silks and satins alongside more technologically advanced materials and always, for the sake of modernity, with a vaguely industrial edge C a visible metal zip here, a neckline edged with brass there. For the forthcoming season, Elbaz thought nothing of designing jewellery so oversized that the only way to make it a practical reality was to use plastic in place of real stones."The sapphires, the emeralds the rubies, they're all plastic," he says happily of the great baubles and beads that will no doubt sell out within hours of arriving in store. He's equally pleased with a sequence of dresses made in the type of foam that is normally the preserve of underwear and, specifically, bras. "There's no fabric that is more intimate. It just holds you," Elbaz muses. It is testimony to the very personal nature of his work that Elbaz has, both for the forthcoming season and in the past, also adorned it with his own sketches: a rounded, bespectacled caricature of his own face has been known to appear. A light-hearted quality in no way detracts from his status as a serious technician, however. Elbaz's understanding of volume, drape and proportion and his respect for workmanship is second to none. In 2005, Elbaz won the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) International Award. In 2007 he was named Chevalier of the French Lgion d'Honneur for his work.At the end of the soon-to-be published book, Elbaz writes: "Love and respect to Madame Wang, who asked me to wake up the Sleeping Beauty and allowed me to fly"."They are very good to me at Lanvin," he explains. "They give me my liberty. If we were part of a group it might be easier for me in some ways. We live on what we sell. We don't have anyone who says: 'Don't worry, we'll inject another 100 million and do a big publicity campaign'. So I always say that we're like a small yacht, not the Titanic, and that means we make our own decisions. Sometimes, when you work for big organisations, there are so many committees that you have to go through..."To say that Elbaz adopts a hands-on approach would be an understatement."That's how I spend my life," he says. "I start with drawings but I don't give the sketches to the atelier and then say, 'OK, I'll see you, I'll be in the Caribbean on the 17th and on the 18th I leave for Santa F'. No, I'm always in fittings, I'm always perfecting things. I'm always there. In the end, I don't think our industry is particularly scary. It's as scary as any mess and it seems to me that every industry is a mess. If you put 10 people together and they have power and they have strength, it's kind of dangerous."But I'm not afraid of the system. I'm part of it. Sometimes the system helps you. Sometimes it chokes you. You know, if you send me on vacation, I'm clueless, I can't even climb from a dinghy to a yacht. Can you imagine me on the beach? Maybe if I was a skinny, handsome man my career would have been different. Maybe then I would have been more, like, 'Hellooo, look at my dresses'." Instead, Alber Elbaz works tirelessly making others more beautiful. "I'm hiding in my studio somehow," he says. "And in my studio I feel loved and I love."'Alber Elbaz C Lanvin' is published by Steidl/Dangin, 250, and is available from Lanvin, 183 Mount Street, London W1, and via ?Accordingly, Andrea Bocelli opens this show with "La Donna Mobile", effectively an affirmation of his assumption of the mantle of the great crossover tenor of his era, and closes it with his own breakthrough signature tune, "Con Te Partir", and that most populist aria, "Nessun Dorma". In between, though, things go slightly awry when he diverts into pop territory in duets with Tony Bennett and Celine Dion, and simpering MOR arrangements of "More" and "Volare".DOWNLOAD THIS Con Te Partir; Nessun Dorma; La Donna Mobile; O Soave Fanciulla?Michelle Williams and Octavia Spencer both turned to monochrome outfits C Spencer in a chiffon embellished black skirt and crisp white shirt and Williams in a custom made H&M strapless gown with a white bodice. White on its own was worn by Tilda Swinton C who looked statuesque in full-length Celine C and Kristen Wiig in a column gown from Alberta Ferretti.Gillian Anderson was just one of the stars who turned to Wiliam Blanks-Blaney of William Vintage for her vintage gown. "He knows dresses, he knows couture and how a woman should look," said Anderson.Metallics were popular. Jessica Chastain shone in a pale gold lam Oscar de la Renta gown, while Christina Ricci wore a gold Givenchy gown split to the thigh. Perhaps hoping to encourage the on set of spring were Viola Davis, who opted for coral Valentino and Naomie Harris who wore a yellow chiffon gown with a bandage detail bodice.?ANTIQUITY: Flat sandals and draped silk toga dresses spirited Lanvin to antique Rome, Issey Miyake also had knitted toga dresses and Alexander McQueen a majestic, simple dress in pleated white with a gold belt under the chest.BIRTHDAYS: Kenzo rang in its 40th birthday with a magical circus show, and VIPs donned masks at a society ball to blow out 90 candles for French Vogue.ECO-MINDED: Dresses were adorned with wheat and pheasant feathers at McQueen, Vivienne Westwood had a "buy less, buy better" mantra and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac quoted the caring-for-the-planet message of the "Little Prince".FISH-NET TIGHTS: Seen at Emanuel Ungaro and Alexis Mabille and out of context at Jean Paul Gaultier - as a bustier over a white blouse or above the designer's trademark powder-pink corset.GLASSES: There were lollipop-coloured, 1950s pin-up shades at Christan Dior, space-age visors at Pierre Cardin, and a whole top pieced together from retro sunglasses at Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.HEMLINES: Right on the knee for skirts, like at Valentino or Celine, sometimes lower at mid-calf or ankle length. Evening gowns swished and swept the floor.IVORY: Designer after designer opened their shows with white.KARLIE KLOSS: Sexy sailor for Dior, big-haired at a 1970s Sonia Rykiel or in 3-D prints at Gaultier, the US model headlined some of the week's most sought-after shows.MINI-SHORTS: Sparkly silver under floaty see-through tops and petticoats, in knitted stripes or paired with sharp tailored jackets, mini-shorts were a big theme - and nowhere more risque than at Chanel.NINETEEN-TWENTIES: Gypsy shawls, feathers, fish-net, fur collars, crystal earrings and slicked back hair: the 1920s were in the air from John Galliano to Ungaro.ORANGE: From Yves Saint Laurent to Kenzo, Lanvin or Dries Van Noten, paired with pink or on its own, orange was the colour of the season.OSTRICH FEATHERS: Adorned a giant red-and-black headdress, puffed out jackets, spiced up hemlines - or clothed a model head to toe at Chanel, in a coral dress that swept caressingly around the legs.PLEATS: Swishing and dramatic at Lanvin, in an ivory dress at Chanel, at Jean Paul Gaultier, or in a clever dress that bounced up and down at the master of pleats Issey Mikaye.ROCK AND ROLL: A punky, rocker's spirit shook up the runways at Balenciaga and Balmain while Yohji Yamamoto paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix and Gaultier invited Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto to open his show.SHIRTS: Dutch duo Viktor and Rolf took a city shirt as the start point for their whole, playful collection, while mannish shirts set the tone at Dries Van Noten.VETERAN MODELS: Chanel, Emanuel Ungaro, Balenciaga, Galliano: designers made space on the runways for veteran models, plus-sizes or street-casted unknowns, alongside waif-like regulars.WINGS: An orange dress was entirely made from butterflies at McQueen, while Giles Deacon at Ungaro had giant flower-covered butterflies propped atop a garden-party decor.XMAS: Economic hard times may soon be behind us, but gifts and freebies - usually a Fashion Week staple - were in short supply, at best a make-up kit at Chanel, or a fancy tea-saucer at Shiatzy Chen.YVES SAINT LAURENT: Fashionistas saw tributes to the master everywhere - from jumpsuits to reworked tuxedos at Felipe Oliveira Baptista or Chloe, where deep blue and emerald stripes also conjured Saint Laurent's Moroccan period.?John Isner and Sam Querrey, Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva (inset, right) head the list of competitors attending this year's warm-up for Wimbledon. The World Tour competition, which began in 1974, featured only women's tennis until last year, when financial constraints forced the Lawn Tennis Association to merge the championships with the men's precursor to Wimbledon, the Nottingham Open.That means more great tennis for fans to enjoy in Eastbourne's Devonshire Park. It also means more stars of the grass court to spot at the seaside resort's premier stopover, The Grand Hotel.But then, this vast white Victorian confection, which takes up a whole block at the west end of King Edward's Parade, is no stranger to famous faces. Claude Debussy (said to have been inspired by the sea views to finish "La Mer" while staying here in 1905) and Winston Churchill, Celine Dion and Eddie Izzard reveal the hotel's enduring popularity over the past 135 years. This may be the kind of place that demands you need to pack a jacket and tie for dinner, but the polished quality of the lodgings and the gracious service manage to be both timeless and with the times.The roomsThe Grand Hotel has resisted the temptation to trash tradition with a modernist makeover. Under the present owner, Elite Hotels, it continues to glory in embellishing its antique furnishings and plush upholstery with swags and ruches, though the style is restrained, never chintzy. There are seven categories of bedroom, from deluxe to the penthouse suite, increasing in size as you ascend the tariff. But you don't have to pay through the nose to secure a sea view, so choose carefully. All rooms have satellite TV (there are DVD players in the master suites), broadband internet access, and Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom.The food and drinkThe hotel has two restaurants. The Garden Room is the main dining room, seating 180 and serving a wide selection of fancy C if traditional C English fare, from breakfast through to dinner daily. Mirabelle, the 50-seat gourmet option, open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, raises the bar, putting similarly fresh produce to more creative use under head chef Gordon R?ser, with recommendations including high praise from The Good Food Guide and two red AA rosettes. Dinners start at 37 per head without wine, at both restaurants, with tasting menus in Mirabelle from 54. Afternoon tea is served daily in the Great Hall. For a historic take on this English tradition, book for afternoon tea with the Palm Court Strings (next performing on 29 August), which takes place on the spot where the BBC Palm Court Orchestra used to broadcast from every Sunday night in the 1930s.The extrasCheck out the Health Club, which includes indoor and outdoor pools, gym, spa and children's playroom. Head east to explore the fleshpots of Eastbourne and its pier; head west for a walk along the white cliffs at Beachy Head and Seven Sisters. For tickets to the tennis tournament, visit Get further information about the area and current events at accessChildren are welcome, paying just 10 if they share their parents' room, including breakfast, with age-appropriate services offered to suit babies, kids and teenagers, from board games and laptop access to milk and biscuits at bedtime. The ground floor is accessible for wheelchair users and there is lift access to the floors above. There is a specially modified room for people with disabilities and facilities for those with impaired hearing.The billDuring June, book a night's B&B at 195 and dine in the hotel to get a second room free.The addressThe Grand Hotel, King Edward's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4EQ (01323 412233; Fab Four notched up 17 number ones during their relatively brief eight year chart domination, but split more than 40 years ago.But performers whose careers have decades longer in some cases - such as Sir Cliff Richard - have failed to outsell them, a new Radio 2 chart reveals.A countdown to be broadcast today of the all-time biggest sellerssince the singles chart began in 1952 - the year the Queen took the throne - shows The Beatles are still unsurpassed.Presley, who continued to have strong sales in the past decade thanks to a reissue campaign with tracks such as A Little Less Conversation, is ranked second.Sir Cliff who has had 124 top 40 hits and 14 number ones finishedin third place in the list compiled by the Official Charts Company.Madonna, who has made the top 40 more than 60 times, is ranked fourth.There are some surprising entries with Rihanna, who charted for the first time in only 2005 is in tenth place, yet The Rolling Stones - who racked up their first hit in 1963 - make it to only number 13. However, although the wrinkly rockers have continued to release singles over the years, they have failed to dent the top ten since 1981.Tony Blackburn will count down the chart from 2pm to 5pm which shows US rapper Eminem (placed 18th) is ahead of enduring chart stars such as Sir Tom Jones and U2.DJ and producer David Guetta (ranked 49) manages to finish ahead of big names such as Coldplay (60) and Duran Duran (51).Sir Paul McCartney is listed twice for his Beatles years and his solo career (number 11), and George Michael is similarly in the chart twice, for his own hits (21) and as a member of Wham! (43).Blackburn, who will play each artist's biggest hit in the Bank Holiday show , said: "This chart offers a fascinating look at the past 60 years in music and shows the impact that modern stars like Rihanna and Katy Perry have had."The list is really varied and will provide something for everyone. There are definitely a few surprises in store - Coldplay beingat 60 for one! It is sure to be an interesting listen and will be a great way to spend the Bank Holiday afternoon."Radio 2's head of music Jeff Smith said: "This list is intriguing, Adele is missing and we've all forgotten just how huge artists such as Shakin' Stevens, Boney M and UB40 were in the UK in the Seventies and Eighties."The Top 60:1. Beatles2. Elvis Presley3. Cliff Richard4. Madonna5. Michael Jackson6. Elton John7. Queen8. Abba9. David Bowie10. Rihanna11. Paul McCartney12. Kylie Minogue13. Rolling Stones14. Rod Stewart15. Take That16. Stevie Wonder17. Oasis18. Eminem19. Whitney Houston20. Spice Girls21. George Michael22. Robbie Williams23. Bee Gees24. U225. Shakin' Stevens26. Britney Spears27. Status Quo28. Lady Gaga29. Boyzone30. Blondie31. Slade32. Black Eyed Peas33. Boney M34. Westlife35. Celine Dion36. Beyonce37. UB4038. Olivia Newton John39. Mariah Carey40. Tom Jones41. Madness42. Police43. Wham!44. Phil Collins45. Diana Ross46. Jam47. Bryan Adams48. Pet Shop Boys49. David Guetta50. Adam Ant51. Duran Duran52. Frank Sinatra53. Frankie Goes To Hollywood54. Prince55. Katy Perry56. Wet Wet Wet57. Everly Brothers58. Shadows59. Pink60. Coldplay?She will share todays headlines with Taylor Swift, the 20-year-old Country-pop singer, who made a total of four appearances on the winners podium, collecting the nights top honour, Album of the Year, for her 2009 record, Fearless.Beyonces record haul included prizes for R&B Song, Female Vocal Performance, Contemporary R&B album, Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, and Female Pop Vocal performance. It far eclipsed that of every other perfomer at this years event, and takes her lifetime tally of Grammys to 16.She came within a whisker of taking to the stage of the Staples Centre in Los Angeles to collect an unprecedented seventh award. However her husband, Jay-Z, ironically beat her to top honours in the crucial category, for Rap/Sung performance.Collecting her final award, Beyonce thanked fans for an amazing night". A more exuberant set of victory speeches came from Swift, who was collecting her first Grammys after shooting to fame on the back of teenage love-songs written on her bedroom floor.Oh wow! Thank you so much! I just hope that you know how much this means to me that we get to take this back to Nashville, she said, breathlessly. Our families are freaking out in their living rooms. My dad and my little brother are losing their minds in the living room right now!Earlier, Swift - whose second album Fearless was the music industrys best selling record of 2009 - had provided one of the nights most memorable musical moments when she duetted with the Fleetwod Mac singer, Stevie Nicks.The other standout performance of the evening, in a show that lasted almost four hours, belonged to Lady Gaga, who performed an extended and highly theatrical duet with Sir Elton John.One of the few major prizes that didnt go the way of a female star was Record of the Year, which was won by Kings of Leon for Use Somebody, their third award of the night. Im not going to lie were all a little drunk. But were happy drunks, said the group's lead singer Caleb Followill.Away from the business of handing out awards, the show also saw a tribute to Michael Jackson. The late singer's daughter Paris and eldest son, Prince, made their first public appearance since his memorial service to speak at the event."First wed like to thank God for watching over us for these past seven months and our Grandma and Grandpa for their love and support, Prince said, in a touchingly-personal speech. Wed also like to thank the fans. Our father loved you so much since you were always there for him.The childrens appearance followed a special 3-D tribute to Jackson featuring a video clip he made of Earth Song. It was introduced by Lionel Ritchie and performed by an eclectic collection of five singers: Usher, Carrie Underwood, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson.Many performers, including The Black Eyed Peas - who were the nights other big winners, with three awards - wore Red Cross buttons in support of Haiti earthquake relief.Among them were Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli, who sang a version of Bridge Over Troubled Water to both celebrate the 40th anniversary of the songs big Grammy wins, and to raise money for the people in Haiti. It will be sold via iTunes.Winners in selected major categories at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards:Record of the Year: Use Somebody, Kings of LeonAlbum of the Year: Fearless, Taylor SwiftSong of the Year: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it), Beyonce KnowlesNew Artist: Zac Brown BandPop Vocal Album: The E.N.D., The Black Eyed PeasFemale Pop Vocal Performance: Halo, Beyonce KnowlesMale Pop Vocal Performance: Make It Mine, Jason MrazRock Album: 21st Century Breakdown, Green DayRock Song: Use Somebody, Kings of LeonR&B Album: Blacksummers' night, MaxwellR&B Song: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), Beyonce KnowlesRap Album: Relapse, EminemRap Song: Run This Town, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye WestBest Rap/Sung Collaboration: Run This Town, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye WestCountry Album: Fearless, Taylor SwiftFemale Country Vocal Performance: White Horse, Taylor SwiftMale Country Vocal Performance: Sweet Thing, Keith UrbanLatin Pop Album: Sin Frenos, La Quinta EstacionContemporary Jazz Album: 75, Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul SyndicateClassical Album: Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10Traditional Gospel Album: Oh Happy Day, various artistsDance Recording: Poker Face, Lady GagaElectronic Dance Album: The Fame, Lady GagaAlternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, PhoenixSpoken Word Album: Always Looking Up, Michael J. FoxComedy Album: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Stephen Colbert?Beyonce - who had topped the nominations with 10 nods - won the prestigious Song of the Year award for her hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)", which also earned her the best female R&B vocal award.The former Destiny's Child singer also snagged Grammys for best R&B song for "Single Ladies" and best contemporary R&B album for her chart-topping "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" as well as best traditional R&B vocal performance for "At Last.""Wow thank you so much. This has been such an amazing night for me," Beyonce said after collecting the best female pop vocal performance, her sixth award of the night at the Staples Center.However Beyonce - who dazzled the audience with an electrifying performance - was forced to share the honors in the other blue riband categories of Record of the Year and Album of the Year.Swift scored a stunning victory in Album of the Year for "Fearless" while the Kings of Leon looked as surprised as anyone else when they were named winners of Record of the Year for "Use Somebody.""Oh my god," Swift said after winning Album of the Year. "I just hope that you know how much this means to me. Oh my god."Our families are freaking out in their living rooms right now. This is the story we're going to be telling over and over again when we're 80-years-old."Swift's "Fearless" also won her best country album."I just keep thinking back to when you're in second grade and you sing at your talent show and people say 'Maybe we'll see you at the Grammys one day' and it feels like an impossible dream," the 20-year-old said. "I just feel like I'm standing here accepting an impossible dream right now."Swift, who had received eight nominations also won for best female country vocal performance for her single "White Horse" and followed it up with victory in the best country song category for the same track.Meanwhile the Kings of Leon were wrong-footed by their Record of the Year success. "I'm not going to lie we're a little drunk but we're happy drunk," said frontman Caleb Followill.Elsewhere Sunday, oddball New York singer Lady Gaga picked up two Grammys with her smash hit single "Poker Face" taking best dance recording of the year and "The Fame" winning best dance album.The 23-year-old singer, famous for her outlandish outfits, had brought the curtain up on the show in a wacky duet with legendary songwriter Elton John where the couple performed a medley of "Speechless" and "Your Song."Pop powerhouses the Black Eyed Peas also enjoyed success, picking up three Grammys for best short form music video, best pop performance by a duo or group and best pop vocal album.Indian composer A.R. Rahman was also another early winner, scooping two Grammys for his music from the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire."Rahman won in the best compilation soundtrack for a motion picture category before his "Jai Ho" won in the best motion picture song category moments later."This is insane, god is great again," Rahman said as he accepted his second award before a VIP audience.The Grammy success comes after Rahman earned two Oscars for his music in "Slumdog Millionaire" at last year's Academy Awards.One of the most popular segments of the show was a tribute to tragic "King of Pop" Michael Jackson which saw Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson and Usher give a rendition of his track "Earth Song."The performance saw the star-studded audience rise to their feet for an ovation before Jackson's two eldest children Prince Michael and Paris appeared to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of their late father.Meanwhile Rihanna enjoyed a triumph of sorts after winning in the best rap/sung collaboration category for "Run This Town" with Jay-Z and Kanye West.Rihanna was assaulted before last year's Grammy ceremony by then-boyfriend Chris Brown, an incident which largely overshadowed the awards.?The big news this year is that Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell are out (the former to focus on his high-profile career of making famous people cry on his chat show; the latter only until the live shows, so he can concentrate on launching X- Factor USA later this year); David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre are in. So, how did this "talent" do?Hasselhoff, whose most impressive judging to date has been picking buxom blondes for Baywatch, was mildly diverting C primarily due to his hideous choice of a Union flag jacket. McIntyre, meanwhile, appeared to be furthering his career as an MC, leading the audience in "Hey Jude" and refusing to buzz off no-hopers.At least he was funny; the only holdover judge, Amanda Holden seemed to be there just to show off her hairdresser's portfolio; styles included American newsreader quiff, little-girl bob, 1980s Selena Scott. Did she say anything of interest? No. And the main reason is there was nothing of interest to say. Cowell is right to have stepped aside for the early shows: it's series five and BGT is a tired format. Presenter Ant, or maybe Dec (hard to tell in a voiceover) said after 55 minutes: "The talent has been a huge disappointment." No kidding.The show's opener played the harmonica while doing a chicken dance. She didn't get through. Neither did support worker Christine Fraser, chancing her arm as a comedian. The jokes were no good C but, ITV, did she really deserve you turning off the sound to make it seem as if there was total silence from the audience?Those who predictably did get through included nine-year-old comedian David Knight, decked out like a mini Peter Kay; handbell-ringing couple Alan and Gay Cooper (presumably for their oddness and Alan's under-beard rather than their version of Celine Dion's "My Heart will Go On"), dog trainer Donelda Gay, and 19-year-old Michael Collings. Now, a lot has been written about Collings, who lives in a caravan park and is clearly being sold as this year's SuBo C who'd expect a man in a hoodie to be able to play a guitar and sing? But his take on Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" was no more than adequate.And what does all this tell us about Britain today? Despite the pervasive YouTube, people are still desperate to grab their 15 minutes live on TV. It's just a shame we've seen it all before. At least in the past we had the pleasure of seeing Simon Cowell rip into the more hapless of the wannabes.?Thousands of teenage fans poured on to the streets of London last week to welcome the Canadian singer, who had arrived in the UK to promote his new film, Never Say Never. He also picked up a Brit award on Tuesday for Best International Breakthrough Act. At the age of 16 he is undoubtedly social networking's first global superstar: he has 21 million friends on Facebook and is the most viewed person on YouTube. But already he faces a challenge from would-be successors.The latest emerged last week in the form of 10-year-old Heather Russell. She sings and plays the piano with a facility way beyond her years. She even writes her own songs. Simon Cowell saw her on YouTube, and the unknown prodigy quickly joined Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis on his Syco label.The most likely heiress apparent is Charice Pempengco, the Philippines' answer to Whitney Houston and a veteran at the age of 18. Her television debut aged seven led to TV appearances in the US by the time she was 16. She made an appearance in two of the gala events surrounding Barack Obama's inauguration and debuted on British TV screens in Glee this year.With record companies facing a global collapse in sales, there is a desperate scramble to find the Next Big Thing, even if it is barely out of nappies.Websites such as YouTube play a big part. Peter Robinson from the pop commentary website Popjustice said: "Record label talent scouts do look at YouTube. If you want a pop icon for your roster, trawling the clubs of Camden isn't the way to do it any more. Five or six years ago there was no direct link between an artist and the fans. There is now a completely direct route."Jaden Smith, 12 and Willow Smith, 10With a combined age of 22, actor Will Smith's offspring are the epitome of precociousness. Between them they boast the titles singer, songwriter, rapper, actor and dancer. Jaden first appeared alongside his father in the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness and rapped alongside Justin Bieber in the song "Never Say Never". His younger sister Willow, meanwhile, launched her music career last year, signing to Jay-Z's label. She released a single, "Whip My Hair", which reached No 11 in the US.Heather Russell, 10Canadian Russell was signed by Simon Cowell after he spotted the youngster on YouTube. She cites Prince and Queen among her influences. Russell started her career auditioning for talent singing shows, aged eight. Posting a clip of herself performing her song "Every Step of the Way" on the internet video site, she initially attracted more than 100,000 viewers, including celebrity fans Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who helped to spread her name by tweeting about her.Jackie Evancho, 10A mezzo-soprano, Evancho sings in the classical crossover style of Sarah Brightman or Susan Boyle, though she is young enough to be their granddaughter. She was inspired to sing by watching a DVD of The Phantom of the Opera at the age of seven. Participating in talent contests she started her own YouTube channel, which caught the public's notice: appearances on Jay Leno's and Oprah Winfrey's TV shows followed.Charice Pempengco, 18The Filipina singer hailed by Oprah as "the most talented girl in the world" is the first Asian solo artist in history to land in the top 10 of Billboard's album chart. Raised by a single mother, she helped to support her family by entering singing contests from the age of seven. But it was a performance aged 15 on a Korean TV talent show C later seen by millions on YouTube C that brought her international notice. Not content with comparisons to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, Pempengco has moved into acting with appearances in Glee.Bianca Ryan, 16After winning the debut season of America's Got Talent five years ago, the 16-year-old singer and guitarist recently toured the world. Her father, a Rolling Stones fan, named his second child after Mick Jagger's ex-wife. In 2006 she signed a five-album deal with Syco Records, becoming the first US artist to sign with Simon Cowell's record label.Jamia, 14Born Jamia Simone Nash, she made her national televised debut at the age of five, performing on the US music show Showtime at the Apollo. Born in 1996, the US child sensation began singing at the age of two and has since shared the stage with Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys. She also counts acting among her talents and appeared in the 2007 film August Rush. In 2008 she sang the film's main song "Raise It Up" at the Oscars C the youngest performer to do so at the ceremony.Makisig Morales, 14At only 10 years old, Filipino Morales competed alongside his sister Mayumi in the TV singing contest Little Big Star. It was his big break and led to him signing with the country's Star Records, becoming lead singer of the boy band Mak and the Dudes. The group is the youngest in the Philippines. They released a debut album, Oldies But Kiddies, in 2007. Morales has accumulated a string of acting roles, in children's films and TV shows.Amy Diamond, 18As the youngest person in Sweden to release a best-of album, Diamond C born Amy Linna Deasismont C has already made her name in Scandinavia as a pop singer, actress and television presenter. Her first single, "What's in It for Me", released in 2005 when she was 12, became the most-played song in Poland that year. An album followed on the back of its success. Now, with six albums to her name, she is a firm fixture on Swedish television.Keke Palmer, 17Born Lauren Keyana Palmer, but known as Keke. Her family saw her star potential at a young age and relocated to California from Chicago so she could pursue her singing and acting ambitions. Palmer signed her first record deal with Atlantic when she was 12; the following year she was performing in packed stadiums. Her debut album So Uncool was released in 2007. Keke also launched a cut-price fashion line through Walmart.Zara Larsson, 13Born Daniel Sunebrink in 1997. Zara's parents noticed her singing talent at a young age and helped to get her singing career off the ground. She first appeared in a stage production of The Sound of Music before going on to compete as a finalist in the Swedish talent show Stjamskott in 2007. A year later, she won the Swedish version of Britain's Got Talent, performing versions of Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time" and "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion.?Frenchwoman Celine Lesage told the court yesterday the children had been born alive. She strangled two and suffocated the others.Lesage, from Valognes in Normandy, bowed her head and avoided looking at anyone in court while the charges were read. Afterwards, she said in a soft voice: "I acknowledge the facts." She is charged with aggravated homicide.She was arrested in 2007 after her new partner discovered the corpses in plastic bine bags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes.Her lawyer. Veronique Carre, said Lesage "does not contest the facts ... but isn't explaining them either". Several medical and psychological experts are expected to testify in the four-day trial."We are here to try to understand you before judging you," the judge told Lesage.Her former partner, Pascal Catherine, the father of five of the children, was detained for questioning after Lesage was arrested in 2007.The court was told the father of the sixth was the partner who discovered the corpses, Luc Margueritte.At the time of her arrest, prosecutor Michel Garrandaux said she described giving birth to the first five alone in the apartment she shared at the time with Catherine.Mr Garrandaux said the boyfriend "was far from unaware" of her pregnancies. However, the investigation against him was dropped. He will give evidence as a witness today.The prosecution says that when Lesage and Catherine split up in 2006, Lesage, who also has a son of 14, moved in with her new boyfriend and brought the plastic bags from her old basement to her new one.?After just a few hours in the capable hands of the personal stylist Eliisa Makin I'm feeling liberated from the bonds of my achingly safe dress sense. It feels good. So good, in fact, that I temporarily think I'm Gisele and pick up a pair of small, silk, black shorts that look like lingerie but are in fact outerwear. Back at Liberty's private shopping area, where Eliisa is advising me on the much more chic pieces she has picked out in advance, it soon becomes clear that the shorts and I were not meant to be, but I' m having fun and experimenting, and that's the point. Eliisa is helping my wardrobe get its mojo back.You might think that working in fashion would give a girl confidence in what she wears; but much of the time it's made me dress in an overly cautious way for fear of making the very fashion mistakes I've castigated celebs for in the past. My default look consists of black dresses, blue skinny jeans, dark blazers, the odd "interesting top" and flat pumps. Fortunately, with acres of experience working as a stylist at The Independent and other publications, Eliisa has come to the rescue. She has developed a real knack for helping people to delve into the deepest recesses of their sartorial psyches and create a signature look.The first stage of the personal styling process was answering Eliisa's questionnaire, which consisted of practical questions about size, favourite colours and lifestyle, and more individual ones such as "which celebrity or person in the public eye's style do you most admire or relate to?" Eliisa says that this is the most revealing question and apparently my hastily brainstormed list C Jane Birkin, the singer Fran?oise Hardy, Lou Doillon, Kate Bosworth and, perhaps predictably, Alexa Chung C showed that I wanted a rocky, sexy, quirky look. I know Celine-style understatement is the mood du jour, but right now I also want something a bit more exciting.After having my hair styled at Trevor Sorbie C where Eliisa can arrange a 20 per cent discount for clients as part of the personal styling package, along with numerous other offers and access to the private shopping areas of key stores C we arrived at Liberty. Eliisa had already prepared a rail of clothes which included a pair of red cropped trousers by Sessun which I loved, paired with a drapey grey vest, platform boots and a silk scarf; a dark-pink leopard print APC cardigan to go with skinny, grey J Brand jeans C makes a change from blue C and killer stilettos, and several dresses. After looking over the rail and trying things on we headed into the store for a joint recce, then back to the luxurious, boudoir-ish room for a monster styling session. My favourite looks were the red trousers pictured and a colourful scribble print Theory minidress with platform ankle boots.Apart from the benefit of Eliisa's considerable experience and taste, which includes genuinely useful advice about how to beat days when nothing looks right, I also found that shopping with her made me less inhibited about making a statement. She would never push anyone into wearing anything they didn't feel comfortable in and she's also an absolute delight to be around. After all, fashion is meant to be fun.Half a day with Eliisa Makin is 300, Harriet Walker: finding that uptown, groomed lookWhen it comes to clothes, I definitely fall into the "current" bracket rather than the "classic" one. I like pieces that are dramatic, challenging, a bit quirky and that come in a palette of grey, black and navy. I own a dress that has geometric holes cut into the armpits and another that is slashed directly across the crotch (to be worn with sturdy pants or cycling shorts). I do not own a suit; ditto anything that doesn't stretch.So imagine my horror at the new season's trend for crisp, sleek tailoring and grown-up classic pieces in subtle camel, blush pinks, khaki and white. Most of the pieces in my wardrobe are drapey and voluminous C in part an aesthetic choice, but also because I don't like ironing. In the field of "grown-up chic" I'm utterly at a loss as to how to pull it off and I need a helping hand.Beth Dadswell has been a stylist for more than 12 years, working across editorial shoots for The Independent, commercial work for high-street brands and, more recently, personal appointments for those who find themselves in the fashion wilderness. She has overhauled wardrobes for clients who have had a change of heart or a change of scene; she has even been bought as a birthday present.Before we meet, I fill in Beth's online form, which includes essential questions about sizing and price, aspirational ones about who I want to look like (Patti Smith in a high-powered job), and sensitive evaluations to gauge how confident I am about my look, my body and my shopping techniques. By the time I have filled it in, I already have a clearer idea of what I want and also of what I want to change.When I meet Beth in Selfridges, we spend a few moments discussing further the ways in which I want to change my look. We scuttle around the shop for quite a while, and I take a step back, allowing Beth to pick up things that would never normally have even caught my eye C a crisp white shirt, some grey-wool cigarette pants, and a chic cream skirt that makes me wonder how long it would take me to spill red wine or chocolate all over it.As we select pieces and Beth holds them up against me, she talks me through the version of classic that she has in mind. It isn't so scary a departure, I realise, as visions of Thatcher's pussy-bow blouses melt away.Beth's great strength is that she is able to process and tailor trends directly to the individual she is working with. The sort of classic chic that I should be aiming for, she tells me, is the clean, modern minimalism that is so prevalent C nothing too fussy or too frilly.My final outfit is a high-waisted, A-line skirt from Miu Miu, which is much more structured than anything I normally wear. I also generally avoid anything on the waist, because I don't really have one. But when Beth tucks in a pale pink vest from Cos, there's a definite whittling effect and I suddenly look like someone I might take seriously. A pair of ladylike court shoes seals the deal: I've achieved the uptown, groomed look that I've hankered after for so long. Whether I have the discipline to maintain it is another matter, but Beth sends me a "styling prescription" reiterating what we discussed and suggesting ways of integrating my new look with my existing wardrobe. I'm not sure where the slashed-crotch dress fits in, though.Half a day with Beth (four hours) is 250, ?A car for the headCeline may have a big budget, but all new drivers are expected to pay generously for their initial insurance premiums. Young drivers are more likely to be involved in an insurance claim, so premiums are higher. It is rare that a new driver will pay less than 1,000. Certainly a higher specification vehicle will mean a higher insurance quote. So Celine should not blow all her budget on the car of her dreams. She has mentioned the word "stylish", several times in her initial question. Well that should be the least of her concerns C just getting mobile is the main thing, and the one problem with small, cheap cars is that you can't always get an automatic gearbox. For me the obvious choice would be a Fiat Panda Dynamic Eco. It's quite an old car now, which may help when getting a discount (around 800), but still looks pretty funky and it costs 8,565. To add an automatic gearbox costs 800, although the specification includes air conditioning. The insurance is in lowly Group 3.A car for the heartThen again if Celine does not like the look of the Fiat Panda there is always the Peugeot 107 (pictured). This has a lovely friendly shape. It is a small, light and nimble car which is perfect for buzzing around town and beyond. Its engine is a three-cylinder and on longer journeys Celine might notice that it is a bit noisy. But that's the price you pay for truly astounding petrol consumption. The stats show that the 1.0 litre engine will return over 60mpg. Even though Celine wants an automatic gearbox, I don't think that will make a huge difference to the figure. The other important figure for Celine is that this is in insurance Group 3, so should be relatively cheap to cover. A three door 1.0 Urban costs 9,345, although there are some 500-700 discounts available if Celine shops around. The automatic gearbox option adds 500 to the price, while air conditioning is 535. Incidentally, the Verve model C which has air conditioning as standard C costs 9,145.Looking to buy?Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.?If that list just opens up a whole new stratosphere of confusion, Gap have handily divided their 'pants' into eight clear styles, providing a bluffer's guide to the trouser universe. Gap hasn't translated the catwalk word for word but that's the beauty of its approach C these are timeless styles rather than slavish rip-offs.Gap's head of design, Patrick Robinson, approached the new collection by translating the brand's 'denim attitude' into tailoring, and when he says the result is 'leg-lengthening shapes that take our customers through seven days a week,' he's right C it's capsule wardrobe heaven. But I do have one reservation, which is that C on me C the 'Perfect Trouser' didn't live up to its name. However, the 'Relaxed Cropped' C a loose tapered style which falls elegantly and doesn't bunch (right) C and the 'Boyfit', which oozes slouchy cool with heels or flats, are instant hits, while the 'Modern Boot' soon dispelled my fears about not-at-all-modern, first-time-around bootcuts la Victoria Beckham circa 1999. This style is lean on the thigh with a sleek kick flare and genuinely creates the appearance of willowy legs and a pert bottom. Not bad for 35. In store 27 July, 0800 427 789.?In Italy, of course, there were recurring themes, but box-ticking dressing came second to creativity and colour and wearing beautiful designer pieces that really are distinctive and arresting enough to transcend trends. However, in terms of channelling some of this sartorial joie de vivre, there was a theme that stood out: red. Whether it was a Celine bag or Isabel Marant's Escarpin suede stilettos, in a season heavy on the camel, grey and navy, these flashes of colour really lifted an outfit. Scarlet shoes, in particular, have a talismanic quality think 'The Red Shoes' or 'The Wizard of Oz' C they draw you in and whisper of magical fashion powers.The "bit of red" that had me C and another fashion journalist C gripped with the kind of urgent monomania that only strikes at the shows, were a pair of red trousers worn by an editor from US 'Vogue' (so chances are they weren't from the high street). On the catwalks for autumn/winter, red leather cropped trousers appeared at Isabel Marant, flares at Pucci and, left, cropped red tailored trousers at Givenchy. Sadly, the only "homages" I could find on the high street were in a cheap shiny fabric that looked like a fast food chain's staff uniform. Another observation from Milan: sometimes there's nothing like the real thing.?Many of the rest of us loyal servants of fashion are no less surgically attached. The "It-bag" tag might have expired, but the appeal of a nice bit of arm candy never will. It's a sort of unswervingly loyal, leathery friend. There's nothing like a new best friend though, which is why at the start of the season, a girl's thoughts turn to a new bag C and unlike the Queen, we want something extraordinary, please.That said, the Maggie-Thatcher-meets-Her-Majesty look is one of spring's multiple bag trends, alongside bold colours, stripes, natural shades, shoppers, briefcases, satchels, Seventies shoulder bags and micro-bags.On the most wanted list are: Proenza Schouler's latest 'PS1' satchel in black leather, brown suede and beige linen, Prada's canvas briefcases in bold stripes, Vuitton's two-tone bags, and Celine's ultra-simple leather shoppers. Then there's Jil Sander's luxe version of a plastic bag and Mulberry's lovely Tillie briefcase, which is what the Alexa would look like if it grew up and got a job.So what to buy? I'm avoiding mini-bags because unlike the Queen, I need to carry more than just lipstick, and oversized shoppers because I'll waste time rummaging. Bright or neon bags such as Miu Miu's shoulder bags will modernise an outfit, and the mid-sized, natural-coloured satchel is a versatile classic.On the high street, look to Asos for great satchels under 70, including a cobalt one, Cos for a sleek tan shopper and Whistles for a grey suede satchel that evokes the Proenza Shouler 'PS1' but not too closely. Slavish copies of designer bags are not so much ordinary as extraordinarily tacky.?Perhaps some people really are too naturally chic to give it any thought. The rest of us, however, attempt to try and dress in a way that, while it might not get us photographed by 'The Sartorialist', will at least escape the kind of judgemental looks that could freeze volcanic lava.So the shows start, you've got a few trophy pieces, a bag that would cost the same as a Caribbean holiday if you hadn't found it at a sample sale, and some passable Zara substitutes for Rick Owens/Celine and you're feeling pretty darn fly. What you haven't bargained for, however C and here is where the experience becomes universal C is 'things that let down your look'. Unplanned bursts of scruffiness that ruin an ensemble faster than you can say 'red-wine stain'.First faux pas: bad umbrellas. When the heavens opened at London Fashion Week in February, many a look was spoilt by a bedraggled umbrella with wonky spokes or a pattern akin to a pub carpet. Smarten up with a Marc by Marc Jacobs pink leopard version (, 40), or visit Next up, leaving the price tag on your shoes. Smug if they were expensive, embarrassing if they weren't. Remove. Then there's a functional wallet. Most fashion folk have this covered, but after I hastily picked up a nylon purse thing from around the house in which to hold my euros at Milan fashion week, my friend Alice drily enquired if I had been camping. Alas, this wasn't helped by using a rucksack as hand luggage. The solution? A stylish wallet such as Lara Bohinc's art deco Tatjana in navy (259, 020-7730 8194, below) or a very ladylike pink purse by Vivienne Westwood (100, and a Barbour leather holdall; a timeless investment at 199 ( Yes, the devil is in the detail.E?Last Milan Fashion Week, faced with the the bi-annual pressure to look au courant while attending the shows alongside the likes of the impossibly cool, Balenciaga-clad staff of French Vogue, we made our regular between-shows dash to Zara to supplement our wardrobes with some cheap chic.Whether it's a floor-grazing maxiskirt or some killer heels, Zara always delivers. Mixed in with designer pieces, Zara can pass for much more expensive than it really is, and that "high-low" mix is popular with all but the loftiest of fashion editors.Much of the chain's skill is in which trends and catwalk looks it chooses to pay homage to. It tends to bypass anything particularly outr in favour of grown-up looking, wearable clothes. Last autumn/winter it hit all the right notes by picking up on the pared-down tailoring seen at Chloe, Celine and Stella McCartney. Also in the mix were lashings of leopard-print, to add sex appeal, and red, the sleeper hit of the season.The prices are reasonable at about 50 for a dress and 100 for a winter coat, but the clothes are not so cheap that they will not survive more than a few wears. The stock within the store also changes fast enough to keep pace with consumers' insatiable appetites for new trends, and the brand has a rapid turnaround from factory to shop floor.Another reason for Zara's popularity is that the chain's designs appeal to women of all ages. It recognises that older age groups are often just as interested in fashion, but usually less inclined to wear overly revealing or novelty-driven clothes, and Zara's designs tend to be flattering. Many of the clothes are also smart enough to be worn to the office.The brand recently launched a transactional website, the design of which reflects the tone of the stores C light, functional and minimal. Inside the shops, there's no superfluous branding or tacky in-store promotions to distract from the main event, which is, of course, the joy of fashion. ?Alexander Wang bagged three nominations, while Marc Jacobs and Lady Gaga are to be bestowed the lifetime achievement and fashion icon awards respectively.CFDA chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg, who announced the nominees in New York March 16, said of Jacobs's reaction: "He's very happy, but he says it's only a half lifetime award because he's only halfway finished." Lady Gaga "started a fashion revolution," according to von Furstenberg.Here is the full list of nominees:Womenswear designer of the yearAlexander WangJack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza SchoulerMarc JacobsMenswear designer of the yearMichael BastianPatrik ErvellSimon SpurrAccessory designer of the yearAlexander WangJack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza SchoulerReed KrakoffSwarovski Award for womenswearJoseph AltuzarraAshley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen for The RowPrabal GurungSwarovski Award for menswearAlexander WangPhillip LimRobert GellerSwarovski Award for accessory designAlejandro IngelmoEddie BorgoJason WuPamela LoveGeoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement AwardMarc JacobsInternational awardPhoebe Philo for CelineMedia awardHilary Alexander of The TelegraphFounders awardHal Rubenstein of InStyleFashion icon awardLady GagaSpecial tribute awardArthur Elgort?The site was created by Chris Baker and William Spencer, two advertising copywriters from the US, their first target comedian Larry David (to whom they have no connection), and their aim is to encourage him to join the social networking site. At the time of writing they had raised more than $7,450 in pledges from those who want to see the curmudgeonly comic tweeting.Chat show host Conan O'Brien looks likely to be the next victim, with a number of users wanting to see him interview a guest while wearing an eye-patch."What's really fun; what gets people excited, is the element of uncertainty," Baker told the LA Times."We're putting celebrities in an awkward situation without them knowing about it. If we went to them ahead of time and set everything up, it would lose a lot of the fun." It would also lose a lot of their persuasive power. The advent of Twitter means that the public are able to interact with an increasing number of actors, models and musicians. At the same time, we the public are choosing an increasing number of the next generation of famous people through weekend-wasting reality shows, which seems to fuel a feeling of "ownership" of those stars. While emotional blackmail of celebrities used to be the preserve of tabloid newspapers, it is now available to anyone with web access. The internet pressure method has been used to great effect recently.Last year YouTube videos of a couple of US Marines asking Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis to be their dates to their annual ball, went viral. The generous stars (promoting a film together at the time) announced that they would be happy to go. But had they exercised their basic right to turn down a date, they could have expected widespread criticism. The technique is reminiscent of that employed by Bob Geldof before Live Aid, where the Irish rocker said some bands had confirmed to play before they had.The effect was that if any of them denied that they were playing, they were the ones who would look bad rather than the concert organisers.Similarly, any celebrity turning down the "bribes" offered by the site will only appear to be hurting the charity. The other side of the coin, is that for those taking part (like for those who perform, for example, on Comic Relief or Sport Relief) doing such activities only helps to raise the participants' profile."We're trying to make sure that the bribes are really positive," says William Spencer. "We don't want to get into anything that's mean-spirited or degrading to celebs."Users of the site will be able to suggest future bribes and then vote. So if you want to see Russell Brand give up sex, the Beckhams choose their outfits from a charity shop or for Dame Vera Lynn to learn to ride a skateboard (our suggestions), then visit the site and let the emotional blackmail begin...?But as well as raising hundreds of thousands of pounds, it looks set to reignite the cross-Atlantic charity single war which began when "We Are The World" written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for famine relief in Ethiopia wiped the floor with Sir Bob's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" a quarter of a century ago.The American offering this time is a re-recording of that same song sung by Snoop Dogg, Celine Dion and Pussycat Dolls among others: not quite in the same league as the 1985 supergroup which included Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Stevie Wonder.Sir Bob's Band Aid spent five weeks at number one and sold 3.5 million copies in the UK alone. The biggest selling single of all time is Elton John's tear-jerking re-write of "Candle In The Wind", which was released as a tribute to Princess Diana.The charity single is an essential stepping stone for anyone seeking celebrity status; you're nobody until you've done at least one. Flailing stars in need of a career boost inevitably try their best to get in on the action too. Frankly, some of the offerings here beg the question who was donating C and who was receiving C charity.Do They Know It's Christmas?Band Aid/November 1984The daddy of all charity singles, it sold a million copies in the first week and brought worldwide attention to the Ethiopian famine. On the downside, it gave Bono and Bob Geldof enduring saint status.We Are The WorldUSA for Africa/April 1985The US rock and pop glitterati turned out a much better song, which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and went on to win three Grammies.Living DollCliff Richard and Young Ones/April 1986It wasn't that great in 1959 and it certainly wasn't good in 1986, but at least it was sort of funny, raised money for Comic Relief, and Rick, from The Young Ones, got to record a song with his all-time hero.Everybody Wants To Run The WorldTears for Fears/May 1986Hounded down by Sir Bob after they failed to turn up for Band Aid, the band offered up this musical gem, a re-jigged version of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", for Sport Aid.Let It BeFerry Aid/March 1987In aid of survivors of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, in which 193 people died. The recording was organised by The Sun which had sold cheap tickets for the ferry, Herald of Free Enterprise, on that day.With A Little Help From My FriendsWet Wet Wet/May 1988Before the addiction, before the really terrible songs, the Scottish pop pin-ups recorded this Beatles cover at the height of their success, for Childline.Running All Over The WorldStatus Quo for Sport Aid/August 1988After "Rockin' All Over The World" became the unofficial anthem for Live Aid, the Quo came back with an uninspired re-jigged version for Sport Aid, to very little critical acclaim.HelpBananarama and Lananeeneenoonoo/February 1989Funny women Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke took the opportunity to do their bit for Comic Relief with the biggest-selling female group of the 1980s.Ferry Cross The MerseyVarious artists/April 1989Recorded by popular Liverpool artists such as Holly Johnson, The Christians and, of course, Paul McCartney to raise money for those affected by the Hillsborough football disaster.Use It Up And Wear It OutPat and Mick/April 1990Surely, the worst charity song of all time. Capital Radio DJs Pat Sharp and Mick Brown took it upon themselves to release eight tortuous singles. At least this one raised some money for Help a London Child.The StonkHale and Pace featuring Brian May/March 1991Teachers turned comedians Hale and Pace released only one charity song (for Comic Relief) which was based on a fictitious dance craze: The Stonk. Brian May should have known better.Absolutely FabulousAbsolutely Fabulous/May 1994Starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous (the clue's in the title) and produced by the Pet Shop Boys, the song for Comic Relief features dialogue from the show. Not really funny.Candle In The Wind 1997Elton John/September 1997Originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe in 1973, the remake was in memory of Princess Diana and started with: "Goodbye England's rose..." It is the biggest selling British single of all time. No more need be said.Perfect DayVarious artists/November 1997This beautiful Lou Reed song seduced a whole new generation after it was used by the BBC in an advertising campaign to promote its music coverage. The single for Children in Need elicited high praise from the man himself.Uptown GirlWestlife/March 2001The only reason why the Billy Joel original wasn't naff was because he had a great voice and sounded like a 1930s American doo-wop singer. The Westlife version for Comic Relief had none of these qualities, and so was naff.Spirit In The SkyGareth Gates and the Kumars/ March 2003There have been some great versions of this song, but this definitely wasn't one of them. Oh well, got to Number One, raised loads of money for Comic Relief, so who cares?I'm Your ManShane Richie/November 2003This is one of George Michael's and Wham's best ever songs, so why would anyone let Shane Richie get his hands on it? For Children In Need, why else?Is This The Way To Amarillo?Tony Christie and Peter Kay/March 2005Now this was absolute genius. The video featured Shakin' Stevens, Mr Blobby, Michael Parkinson and Mahatma Gandhi to name a few, helping it to become the year's best-selling single for Comic Relief.Old Clash Fan Fight SongJohnny Clash, aka Billy Bragg/August 2007Billy Bragg's alias was inspired by his heroes The Clash and Johnny Cash. The song raised money for Bragg's Jail Guitar Doors project which aims to rehabilitate prisoners through music.Everybody HurtsVarious artists/February 2010Today's release for the Haiti earthquake appeal came after Gordon Brown asked Simon Cowell to put his magic to good use. Rod Stewart, Coldplay, Take That and Mariah Carey are among the stars. Buy it, it's for charity.?When her production comes to an end, Cher will have performed approximately 200 shows during the course of her three years at The Colosseum at Ceasars Palace. Her act, titled Cher, features the artists's hits including "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Believe" as well as a look back on her career, including vintage footage of her performances with Sonny Bono.Cher's schedule includes concerts from September 25 through the end of October, followed by a two-month break before the final round of shows get underway. The legendary performer will then perform 16 shows from January 11 through February 5.Cher debuted at The Colosseum in May 2008, after Celine Dion fulfilled her contract at the venue. Dion is set to return there on March 15, with more than 50 shows booked through August.Tickets will be on sale on September 25 beginning at 10:00am PDT. Prices are $95, $140, $175, and $250.For more information, visit .For tickets, go to (keyword "Cher").?She opened the show, only her second for the label, with funnel collared navy wool coats and reefer jackets, some double-breasted with discreet navy buttons, and contrasting black patch pockets set low.There was a smart but sexy secretary look to her formal white blouses with elongated neckties flowing behind, over a navy midi split to the thigh or a sage green tweedy knee-skimming skirt. In some cases, shirt and skirt were conjoined, no longer separates, which looked like a speedy solution for the time-poor getting up in the morning.Glove-fine leather vests, ribbed sleeveless knits with big cowl collars worn over fine white wool T-shirts, creamy lace ensembles and boucle wool coats, were all key to her pared down, practical vision of a 21st century winter wardrobe.The show was packed to the gunnels despite the bitter cold snap in Paris and the out-of-the-way venue, indoor tennis courts practically in the suburbs.For his own label, the presiding genius at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, appeared to have poured his models into their second skin pencil pants in what looked like some glossy synthetic plastic.No way, he assured AFP after the show. The material had been treated to give it a lacquer finish but was natural and could breathe and had absolutely nothing in common with the "disgusting" latex favoured by the porn industry.But there was no denying a certain voyeuristic edge to the collection, particularly in the prevalence of zips, running down sleeves or up legs, giving tantalising glimpses of layers beneath.Models had their hair swept back with a wide shiny band of the new fabric, while their skintight pants in gleaming pewter, silver, black and liquid chocolate were a constant in the collection. For day they were paired with matching skinny mini skirts and kimono-folded matt jackets or coats, while for evening he veiled them with sheer silk chiffon."I love the colour of chocolates, even though I never eat them", confessed Lagerfeld, who has drastically slimmed down in recent years.Singaporean designer Andrew Gn's collection celebrated the opulence of Rococo and the Regency period in France, inspired by a Louis XV commode in his own drawing room decorated with gilt scrolls and acanthus leaves.Even for daytime sweaters were lavishly trimmed with velvet and rows of metal buttons, while sculpted ruffles cascaded down cleavages and ruched silk jersey clung to well-honed derrieres.Forearms were encased by metal bracelets of acanthus leaves, which also wound round the bosoms of grand evening gowns in rich figured velvets. Peplums burst from the strangulated waists of siren dresses with matching trains.More couture than ready-to-wear, there were some beautifully executed individual pieces, but too much to digest at one sitting.?with no need for the trite, cheesy, sequinned and seemingly irrelevant Euro-pudding. Where do Bucks Fizz and Brotherhood of Man, after all, stand within the British pop and rock canon? Footnotes at best.Cynicism because the centre of Eurovision has shifted resolutely eastwards since the UK last won, in 1997, with Katrina and the Waves C the arrival of former communist states leading to block-voting that even drove the relentlessly good-humoured Terry Wogan into quitting his BBC post as Official Amused Onlooker. And kitschy glee because, well, the whole thing is as camp as a row of tents C as well as the last refuge of wind machines, big hair and leather mini-skirts. Just as long as you don't take too seriously the lingering solidarity between old Soviet Union comrades and their erstwhile Eastern Bloc satellites.But in 2011 are there reasons to be cheerful, to quote a cockney pop poet who had no need for Eurovision to sell his wares? Is this year's songfest going to see a drift back to its Western European heartlands? And, more importantly for British viewers, is the UK, with Blue's "I Can", in with a shout after recent debacles C the Royaume Uni, as we're known in Francophone countries, having finished bottom of the continental pile three times in the past eight years (and second bottom once)?Indeed, Britons might be forgiven for feeling paranoid, if those entries had not been so truly awful. Josh Dubovie's "That Sounds Good to Me" didn't sound good to anybody else in 2010, while the X Factor bin-man Andy Abraham's "Even If" was trashed in 2008 C even if Abraham garnered 14 more points that Jemini in 2003. Their "Cry Baby" had the scouse stage-school duo shedding tears of humiliation in Latvia after earning "nul points" for the first time in the UK's involvement in the event. Until 1998, it should be recalled, Britain had only finished outside the top 10 on two occasions.So are resuscitated boy band Blue about to end 14 years of hurt? Could Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Antony Costa and Simon Webbe restore national pride when they belt out their Obama'ish ditty "I Can" in the German city of Dsseldorf tonight? The historical omens are good in the year of a royal wedding C Bucks Fizz having won in the year of Charles and Diana's nuptials. "We have a good as chance as winning as anybody", says Costa, with admirable realism, although the bookies reckon Blue has more of a chance than most C placing them as second favourites to scoop the top prize. The bookmakers' favourite, however, is France, with a mournful operatic power ballad called "Sognu", delivered by long-haired Gallic dreamboat Amaury Vassili, the world's youngest professional tenor. Interestingly enough "Sognu" is being sung in the Corsican language C perhaps a belated recognition by France that Eurovision voters have a soft spot for the underdog.On which subject, Ireland are sixth favourite C surprisingly since they're represented by The X Factor novelty leprechauns Jedward. But then maybe the quiffed twins will seduce the European public and judges in the same way they won over Simon Cowell, and are worth an each-way punt. The Republic have won the song contest more than any other country, after all, virtually owning it in the 1990s when the ruinous cost of repeatedly hosting the event nearly bankrupted the state broadcaster RTE. There's a famous 1996 episode of Father Ted in which the Craggy Island priests' tuneless song is entered in an attempt to sabotage Ireland's Eurovision hopes and save the country a fortune C and perhaps in economically-stricken 2011, Jedward is the Dublin government's secret plan for a similar cost-saving exercise.For 2011 however, it's Germany hosting the contest, with a French favourite and a British second favourite C all very Old Europe, and quite a throwback to the 1950s when Eurovision was first dreamt up by a Swiss executive of the European Broadcasting Union, Marcel Bezen?on, as a way of uniting the various national broadcasters of the western half of the continent around a live event C quite a feat in those days. The initial Eurovision Grand Prix, as it was known back then, was held in the Swiss town of Lugano, being won by, well, Switzerland. The next time the Swiss won was in 1988 with "Ne partez pas sans moi" C sung by a certain French-Canadian wearing a costume seemingly scrambled together out of a charity shop. Come on down, Celine Dion.Ever the laggard in Europe, Britain joined in 1957, winning its first contest in 1967 with a barefoot Sandie Shaw padding around to "Puppet on a String". Lulu followed that win in 1969 with the quintessential Eurovision ballad "Boom Bang-a-Bang", but not before Spain had bribed its way to victory in 1968. General Franco was so eager to stage the event that he bought a whole pile of European programming he had no intention of broadcasting, and otherwise purchasing votes to ensure that Spanish ditty "La, la, la" (the song contained 68 la la las in all) pipped Cliff Richard's "Congratulations!" in front of a visibly surprised audience at London's Albert Hall.Despite this skulduggery C Eurovision's image in its early years was of genteel, middle-of-the-road light entertainment studiously ignoring the youth revolution happening around it. The year of Cliff's "Congratulations!" was, after all, also the year of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" and the Beatles' White album. But while it may have been something of a cultural irrelevance in the West, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Eurovision was having an unsettling effect on the populace. An excellent documentary on More4 last weekend, The Secret History of Eurovision, documented how the communist regimes bordering Western European countries first attempted to jam Eurovision broadcasts, and then produced their own version of the contest C the Sopot International Song Contest held each year in Poland. Interestingly, Beatles lookalikes were permitted, but anyone resembling the Rolling Stones was considered beyond the pale.It's worth remembering the illicit thrill generation in Eastern Bloc countries when you consider their current enthusiasm for the event, as well as savouring the irony of Moscow hosting the most extravagant Eurovision of all time, in 2009, after the long history of the Soviet Union attempting to supress the contest. And before anyone accuses the Baltic states of unfairly voting for each other, they should recall how Estonia (in 2001) and Latvia (2002) triumphed at pivotal moments in their disengagement from the collapsed Soviet Union.The Balkan states also tend to vote for each other C despite a recent history of internecine bloodshed. This fact prompts apologists to argue that this "block voting" is not political but cultural C the public in Bosnia, for example, appreciating the music of Serbia (the 2007 winners), while not necessarily wanting Serbian tanks parked on their front lawn. But when the 2008 contest was held in Belgrade, and Russia came out the winners (a result he had predicted), it all became too much for Sir Terry Wogan, and he quit hosting the annual broadcast that in many ways he had made his own.And let's face it. For the majority of viewers in this country, Wogan and Eurovision were almost synonymous, although some reckoned that Wogan was becoming increasingly xenophobic as he fell out of love with Eurovision C that he was becoming more and more (in so far as it was possible for an Irishman) a Little Englander. Wogan argues that he was just having a harmless laugh at Euro-preposterousness, and most people would agree with him, but either way, his successor on the BBC broadcast, Graham Norton, is arguably more in tune with the new Eurovision sensibility C not least because Norton is openly gay.At least since Dana International dragged the competition out of the closet in 1998 (the transsexual Israeli singer named in camp honour of 1970's squeaky clean and devoutly Catholic Irish winner Dana), Eurovision has had an overtly gay following C nowhere more than in countries such as Poland, Serbia and Russia where homosexuality is still enthusiastically oppressed. During the 2008 Moscow contest, as protesting gay activists were being beaten up by police thugs outside, inside the city's Olimpiysky Arena, the contest was being won by Norwegian gay icon Alexander Rybak with his song "Fairytale" in front of row-upon-row of gay fansBut what of the artistic worth of this annual bardic babel? What is the cultural value of Blue, for example, a boy band well beyond their teeny-bop prime. "I Can" is a pleasant enough but unremarkable ballad whose chorus might be of use to beginner students of the English language ("I can, I will, I know..."), and the "boys" (their average age is 30) are attractive enough, although again rather more unremarkable than the narcissism of the accompanying video perhaps warrants. But are they enough to restore national pride? National pride? Do we perhaps care more than we let on about the UK's diminished standing in Eurovision?We certainly seem to be getting more serious about it. Having seen that leaving it to the Great British Public to vote for their preferred song, in BBC1's annual Song for Europe contest, didn't seem to be working, Andrew Lloyd Webber was drafted in to the national cause, penning the fifth-placed "It's My Time" for future Sugababe Jade Ewen, while last year's entry was written by Pete Waterman of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hit factory.But Eurovision has become so bloated now that it requires two semi-finals and almost the only way to stand out is with some sort of gimmick or to make a loud noise C or both in the case of Finland's 2006 winners, the face-masked Visigoth heavy-rockers Lordi (imagine Lady Gaga crossed with AC-DC playing at a Lord of the Rings convention).Perhaps normal is the new gimmicky. Last year's German winner, Satellite, was a light and catchy electro-pop tune, sung in Teutonic-accented English by the 19-year-old Lena Meyer-Landrut, unaccompanied C especially by anyone in a beard C and wearing a simple black dress. There was a breezy self-confidence to the song that seemed to announce that not only Germany, but Eurovision itself had come of age. Maybe instead of recycling boy bands and The X Factor rejects, we should be actively encouraging the real talent of tomorrow C the next Adele, Duffy or Ellie Goulding. It's a Plan B, you could say. And maybe it's also time to show Eurovision what we're really made of.The Eurovision Song Contest is at 8pm tonight on BBC1?The official was not authorised to be publicly identified because the investigation is under way.No other information was immediately available. The prosecutor for the Nord region is planning a news conference later today.France has seen a string of cases in recent years of mothers killing their newborns and saving and hiding the corpses. In one case, Celine Lesage acknowledged in court in March that she killed six of her babies, whose corpses were found in plastic bags in her basement in north-west France. Another Frenchwoman, Vronique Courjault, was convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children. Her husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer while they lived in South Korea. Psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a condition known as "pregnancy denial".?Nikki Jayne Guest"I only got five episodes in, will catch up on the rest soon but it was a very credible attempt to film a complex and multi-layered novel.Can't wait for the next series as A Game of Thrones is the least interesting of the books."Hagbard Celine"It was amazing... just if they have another season no character is as strong as Ned (Sean Bean)."Jake Rubinsky"It is involving, enthralling and has become a must-see. Even the rude bits."Ruari McCallion"An ample budget to maintain an illusion of a fictitious world with suitable props and set dressing. Stunning Irish landscapes top this off with a lush backdrop for what is promising to be another award winning production from HBO."Mark Harris"It's been over-hyped, I feel. It's very slow, the premise is quite dull and the acting is patchy. Sean Bean, in particular, seems disinterested and tired of it all C but maybe that's the characterisation and he's supposed to come across that way. "Joseph McArthur Field"It's like The Wire meets Lord of the Rings."Richard Taylor"Love it. A breath of fantasy-fresh air. It's been good to see so many British actors showcasing their talents. Roll on series two."Maxine Thinnestofthinice Hayter"The story and the acting are both fantastic."Tracey Baxter"It's original because the unexpected and the taboo actually happen. I've never been so affected by, or engrossed in, a TV show. They're doing something very right with this one."Jenifer Mangione Vogt"A new benchmark for fantasy adaptations. I hope HBO can give science fiction the same treatment someday C Asimov's Foundation series would be a great place to start!"Alex Ross"As a big fan of the books, I was pleased to see that the essence of the novel has been well preserved, with large chunks of dialogue remaining largely unharmed in the adaptation to the script."James Addison"Cheesy."Sarah Lamb"Love the way they just kill off main characters, if the plot requires it."Brian Reichholf" I've not wanted a Monday to come round so quickly for ages!"Nick Garrod"The acting isn't bad, and unusually for this genre, there are some great roles for women. The costumes are brilliant and sometimes defy belief. Rather a lot of sex and nudity which will not be to everybody's taste. Definately not for viewing by younger children."Tasmine Lee"Watched the first three episodes, very slow and badly acted. I promptly removed the series link ."Bryn Thorburn"Not quite as boring as the books but close."Eddie RiffNext week in Culture Club: Bad TeacherNew comedy 'Bad Teacher' stars Cameron Diaz, see interview opposite, as a gold-digging educator on a mission to woo a rich co-worker, played by Justin Timberlake. Email cultureclub@ indepen with your thoughts: the best responses will be published here Thursday.?Photographs: Katya De GrunwaldModel: Smita at IMGMake-up: Angela Davis-Deacon at Sue Allatt using Chanel Hydra Beauty SerumHair: Jan Przemyk at Naked Artists using Kiehl'sRetouching: Samuel Bland?* During the phone-hacking crisis, one major player has been lying extremely low. I write, of course, of George (n Gideon) Osborne, who has avoided the issue by occupying himself with what he no doubt claims are pressing economic matters. A likely story. Still, as she deflected the interrogatory bullets fired at her by the Media Select Committee this week, former News International chief exec Rebekah Brooks pinged at least one stray round in the direction of No 11 Downing Street C suggesting that it was Gideon who had personally recommended the hiring of Andy Coulson as the Conservative Party's comms director in 2007. Given that it was Coulson's News of the World which had, in 2005, published the notorious photograph of the young Gideon posing with a prostitute and a modest heap of unidentified white powder, either the now-Chancellor is an extremely forgiving chap, or Coulson has something really bad on him. I know which I'd prefer.* This column has thus far chosen to ignore the (frankly, rather dull) travails of the eurozone, due to its distinct lack of custard pies or Hugh Grant. However, the phone-hacking saga is undergoing a lull, and needs must. So to Brussels, where the eurozone leaders met yesterday on, coincidentally, "Belgium Day". On 21 July 1831, Leopold I took the constitutional oath as the low country's first king; 180 years later, the date marks its 400th day sans government.However, with Belgian politicians failing to form a viable coalition, the civil service has calmly continued to run the country, despite its inability to approve any new spending. Thus Belgium's debt has been reduced at a pace envied across the EU, and (I'm told, by somebody more conversant with the subject than myself) approved of by the crucial ratings agencies. Sir Humphrey to the rescue...* And Europe C would you believe it? C yields not one item today, but two. For last month in Totnes, 89-year-old grandmother Eileen Noakes emailed her Conservative MEP, Giles Chichester, to ask him to vote for a 30 per cent EU emissions reduction target. Mr Chichester replied to his constituent, politely informing her that while he supported such targets, he would not vote for it without competitor countries doing the same. Mrs Noakes, unimpressed, replied a tad tetchily: "Dear Mr Chichester, is this what you teach your children C don't do the right thing until everybody else does it too?"Mr Chichester, clearly taken aback, consulted his staff, who told him he ought to respond, which he duly did. "Your fatuous and ill-informed comments, clearly intended to insult, merely serve to prove how silly you are," he raged. "How dare you personalise this issue by involving my children? What sort of contemptible person are you? You obviously can't mount a serious case. Yours, Giles Chichester MEP." Another vote lost. Ho-hum.* In Chipping Norton the natives are restless. The townspeople, it's said, are fed up with their name being dragged through the Oxfordshire mud. Those responsible C the so-called "Chipping Norton Set" C don't even live in Chipping Norton, but towards Burford on the A361. "It's a terrible shame that these spivs have brought the town's name into disrepute," former town councillor Gerry Alcock told the Witney Gazette. Fellow resident Keith Ruddle, 61, was more sympathetic, offering the unemployed Brooks a job with the Chipping Norton newsletter.?Her second collection for that label, which was yesterday's first big show, will no doubt be equally well-received. This was a perfect display of looks that most women, whatever their age, would love to wear, provided that their budgets will stretch to it.Navy wool coats and jackets had chic funnel collars, leather pockets and just the odd highly polished fastening C this was still a basically minimal view. Trousers, worn high on the waist, cropped at the ankle and with a dead straight leg, were immaculately cut. Skirt suits came tailored close to the body, but never overly so, in Lurex tweed C for just that touch of sparkle. New this season was ivory lace, again gracing a silhouette that fell cleverly between the demure and the dignified. Footwear C ultra-high suede loafers or soft leather riding boots with a fashionable mid heel in gold C will no doubt fly off the shelves.Since Philo started her career as Stella McCartney's right-hand woman at Chloe in the late 1990s, she has been widely perceived as a woman who can do no wrong. The designer, who took over from McCartney when she left Chloe to start up her own label in partnership with the Gucci Group in 2001, went on to give the world money-spinning accessories, including the Paddington bag. More generally, the sweetly feminine aesthetic with a cool, London-girl edge that Chloe came to represent was coveted C and widely copied C the world over. Now C and following a five-year break to spend time with her family C Philo is once again working her magic at Celine. While this latest offering didn't have quite the youthful freshness of the one that came before it, it reinforced the fact that Celine is establishing itself as the revitalised status label to watch.There was nothing much easy on the eye about the Comme des Gar?ons collection shown the previous evening. This powerful vision was as challenging and uncompromising as might be expected of fashion's most consistently innovative and inspirational name. The label's founder and designer, Rei Kawakubo, said she was thinking about "inside decoration": where other designers might use jewellery for the surface of their collection, this was about externalising what you do to protect yourself inside.And what clothes these were. The most arresting and unconventional silhouette was achieved by stuffing garments with anatomically shaped padding, edged with a small frill which, flying in the face of fashion's obsession with a slender and flattering line, made even the world's slightest models appear positively hefty and strong, interestingly enough C by comparison.All the Comme des Gar?ons signature fabrics were in place C pin-striped wool, polyester, tartan and more. Kawakubo's ability to breathe new life into these season after season is remarkable. In the end, however, the brilliance of this particular fashion statement lay in the fact that it went to prove that the confrontational may indeed be beautiful C and even romantic. Put very simply: it takes a courageous spirit to flag up fat as fashionable, but Kawakubo did just that.?Pulling in lady fans to score two UK gold and US platinum albums, that's easy enough (he's a looker) but the fact men adore the former child actor just as much, if not more, makes Drake the sort of clever conundrum that could remedy the many faux pas hip-hop has willingly entertained over the last 20 years. He'll say himself that he's more concerned with reckless good times, than thuggish bravado, welcoming tonight's sold out crowd to "the greatest fucking club in the world, club paradise" - and for at least 90 minutes, he pulls off one heck of a party.It's not an easy job either, as he's joined only by a six-piece band, a few visuals, and a humble light show (and not evenan outfit change). However, he runs laps along the O2 stage as track after track fromhis latest album Take Care crash brilliantly around the arena, like? 'Under Ground Kings'. ??"I bet we can make tonight the greateststory ever told, cause I'm down to spend whatever, lately I've been on aroll!" yells the rapper as the crowd effortlessly screams along. Other big hitters like'Headlines' and 'Over' - where urgent, grandiose beats meethis hooky, monotonous flow - also light up the proceedings, and even when hegoes into R&B mode la Craig David and delivers the emo-ballad'Marvin's Room', he's still winning.?That is, until a knucklehead thuggishness makes an appearance by way ofhis excessive use of the N-word ("Tonight we're gonna let it slide,"he smiles) and references to "bustin pussy" sound way too wrong tobe consensual.? Perhaps his mentor LilWayne is to blame for gutter moments, coming off a bit try-hard for a guy namedAubrey who hails from the land of Celine Dion and takes every possible gap togush about how much he loves his fans. But as far as hip-hop shows go, Drakedoes a good job in showing he's earned the hype, and with a heartfelt approach tothe genre that's tougher than you'd imagine. ?The 25-year-old singer's sister and sometime assistant, Grace, scuffles about the kitchen, comfily attired in sweatshirt, leggings and leg-warmers, and busy with the coffee and toast. She is 36 months her pop-star sibling's junior but, by flighty Flo's own admission, light years ahead in the grounded, practical stakes. One Welch sister is, you might say, Pre-Raphaelite; the other, post-gym. They make a great team, especially when touring.Which is exactly what Welch has just been doing. She's fresh(ish) off a plane from Japan, where she'd journeyed from South America. Hence, she apologises, her occasional "vacant" expression and the 1,000-yard stare that speaks of mind-melting jet lag.She'd better get used to it: Florence and the Machine's second album, Ceremonials, has been out for little over three months but has already sold 1.8 million copies around the world. There's a lot of life in it yet, and a lot of touring.And, one suspects, a fair few awards ceremonies. On Welch's to-do list in the days after our meeting: a visit to the National Gallery in the company of BBC2's The Culture Show C with her mother Evelyn, a professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of London, Welch has a keen interest in art. And beyond that engagement, the singer has to wade into rehearsals for her appearance at Tuesday's Brit Awards.For Florence and the Machine, it's a big do. Welch and her band are renowned for their fashionable and theatrical flair, whether in photoshoots (Welch is hot from the cover of Vogue and a Karl Lagerfeld collaboration in Paris), videos or on the television stage C they've previously wowed the watching millions with appearances on the Oscars, the Grammys, the MTV Video Music Awards and the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.On top of that, the Brit Awards represent a sort of homecoming for the band that Florence and Isabella Summers (aka the Machine), a friend from Camberwell College of Arts, formed in 2007. The newbies won the event's Critics' Choice Award in 2009, and Best Album the following year for their debut, Lungs."It's going to be a celebration of this album," Welch says of her performance at London's O2 arena of "No Light, No Light", her punchy, dramatic, harp-flecked, aerobic-gothic new single. "And of coming back to the Brits with a record that I'm really, really proud of. We haven't really done any big UK TV stuff for this record C or anywhere for that matter. So this will be the first time we get to create something around this record. That's quite exciting. And," she dimples, "it's very nice to be invited back."And this time, at least, she brings with her the experiences C and the fabulous frock memories C from other awards ceremonies from around the world...The Brit Awards, London 2009Florence and the Machine won the second-ever Critics' Choice Award. She didn't perform at the actual Brit Awards, but did at the launch event. "That gig was the first time I ever [bought] a dress for something. I've still got it C it's over here somewhere..."Welch clatters off to her room and comes back with a mint-green brocade in sheer lace gown of 1930s vintage. It was, she recalls, like slipping on her armour for her first big TV exposure C especially useful as she was, at the time, bunkered in a London studio working on Lungs with producer Paul Epworth. She wasn't used to the spotlight.The inaugural winner, Adele, told me she'd had to battle suspicion that the Critics' ChoiceAward had been invented just for her. "I was dead embarrassed winning that bloody award," she said to me afterwards. "What's the point of being awarded something when you ain't done anything yet?"This year's winner, Emeli Sand, has no such fears: she's already had a number-two single (with "Heaven") and been to number one courtesy of her guest slot on Professor Green's hit "Read All About It". And she's finished recording her debut album, Our Version of Events, released last week. ("I wanted the Brit so much," Sand admitted to me, "more than anything. Why was it so important? Cos it's an appreciation of the music.")Welch can't confess to such self-possession four years ago: "It was a really terrifying experience, a baptism of fire. I was completely unprepared C I was hyperventilating when I was getting the award. It was almost like having Second Album Syndrome first. I had that really intense press scrutiny, and it was my first experience of everyone really focusing on me, waiting on this record. And I still really didn't have any idea what kind of record it would be. I was still making it and figuring out the sounds."So it was like a lift-off, really, yet the pressure that came with that was really intense. But it has helped in the long run. It seems like I was established from the beginning."The NME Awards, London 2009The other end of the spectrum from the slick extravaganza that is an American awards show: a boozy, none-more-indie night at London's Brixton Academy, where pre-planned bad behaviour is de rigueur."I performed with Glasvegas," recalls Welch. "We sang 'Suspicious Minds', the Elvis song, together, and drank Buckfast. I got really drunk and don't remember what happened next. A very chaotic night. And a literal bunfight C there were handbags being thrown."The Brit Awards, London 2010One year on from her "unveiling" at the Brits, Florence Welch returned, victorious. Lungs (which to date has sold four million copies) won Best Album, and she performed on the show with Dizzee Rascal. In the glorious C and sometimes inglorious C tradition of one-off collaborations at the Brits (PJ Harvey and Bj?rk; Estelle and the Ting Tings), they sang a mash-up, "You Got the Dirtee Love". Released as a charity single, it promptly went to number one.Why collaborate with Dizzee Rascal?"He was an underground artist who worked his way up to the mainstream, a self-made man. It felt like it was a really triumphant night for both of us."As for her choice of song C based on her album's cover of the Source/Candi Staton rave classic "You've Got the Love" C she admits she was playing to the Brits TV audience at home. She wanted to "cater for a wide spectrum of musical interests". And it worked."Oh yeah! That was the biggest single we've had, ever! The Brits performance just took 'You've Got the Love' to another level. Dizzee and I sang it together again on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury C which was another moment altogether C and at Wembley for a Capital Radio event. It really took on a life of its own from the Brits."On every level, for Florence Welch it was a brilliant surprise. "I didn't even know it was going to be released as a single."The MTV Video Music Awards, Los Angeles 2010"You have to not think about the millions of people who'll be watching an awards show on TV. That's the scary thing about them. Playing live feels for me very free, but when you're on TV you are within the constraints of a box C and it's preserved in that box. If you mess up it will be on YouTube forever, go round the world in seconds."What was really nice about the VMAs was that they allowed us to recreate the video for 'Dog Days are Over' C we were up for an award for Best Video, so they allowed us to go full throttle. That was brave of them C we were a really unknown act in America. And to give us this huge scale of a performance with all the bells and whistles C well, it could have gone one of two ways: 'Oh my God, this crazy English girl... go back home!' Or they could embrace it."So we arrived at the VMAs, painted 27 people blue, massive psychedelic choir, spinning podium, drummers, Busby Berkeley dancers, me in a kind of Grecian, pink extravaganza with no shoes on, lying on this podium, waiting for it all to start, looking at the ceiling thinking: [strangulated wail] 'What am I doing here?'"And after the performance I was the most Googled person in the world for about... 10 minutes, I hope, I like to think. 'Who was that, and what was she doing?' That performance really kicked everything off for us in America."But afterwards it didn't really hit me what had just happened. There's always five minutes after I do an awards thing where I'm like, 'Was it OK? Did I sing? Did words come out of my mouth? Was I waving my hands?' Five minutes of denial that it went well."But I remember Chelsea Handler was the host that year and I passed her in the hall, and she went, 'YOU FUCKIN' RULE!' And I thought, 'Yes! Maybe it did go well.' Then I remember us all running down this corridor screaming."The Grammys, Los Angeles 2011This time last year, as Adele was dominating the Brits, Florence and the Machine were in America. The VMAs performance of "Dog Days are Over" rocketed their profile in the US, a process further accelerated by the song's usage in the Julia Roberts feel-good flick Eat, Pray, Love.She was, as a consequence, very much in demand. At the beginning of February she was at the Grammys. At least, she thinks she was."God, I can't believe that was just last year. What's going on? Right, yes: I did an Aretha Franklin tribute with Christina Aguilera, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride and Jennifer Hudson. There were some big voices up there C then me, English girl, at the end, looking like this..." Welch makes a lost-rabbit face.The rehearsals, she remembers, were "really fun and relaxed". Any diva tendencies were parked at the door, although Aguilera did induce microphone envy with her custom-made jazzy red microphone stand. Hudson's cuter-than-cute infant son broke the ice by doing his Michael Jackson impersonation. Welch, meanwhile, did her best "crazy English girl" impression, dancing around backstage, much to Hudson's titillation. "There was a real warmth and it was quite celebratory. But the actual performance was really frightening C you're singing in a line in a tribute to the Queen of Soul, and you're like, 'Oh my God, my turn's coming.' I had to hold the 'Freedom!' line for about five minutes. Then Christina comes on and does her thing..."But LL Cool J did say my name when he introduced me, which was the best thing ever."It wasn't a performance in which she had much creative input C "I was just there to pay homage to Aretha." Apart, that is, from her costuming."I wore three dresses that night. That was a big evening for my outfits. An Elie Saab pink sequinned thing to the show, a Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy swan bird-like thing to the entrance. Then, to actually be at the awards ceremony, I wore a custom-made YSL lavender gown. So, a good award show for dresses. You don't get to keep most of them, though. I still have the YSL one cos it was custom-made. But the others had to go back. It is Cinderella: you do get to wear it, and love it C but for only one night."The Oscars, Los Angeles 2011"God, this is a rollercoaster," exhales Welch as she's reminded that she appeared at the 83rd Academy Awards two weeks after the Grammys. It was a last-minute booking: Dido, nominated in the Best Original Song category for "If I Rise", from Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, was unavailable to sing C she was pregnant and chary of the transatlantic flight.AR Rahman, writer of the song, duly called Florence Welch. The Indian composer had seen the Titian-haired Englishwoman at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway two months previously. "That was one of the ones I enjoyed most, actually C we got to do it with a 60-piece orchestra and a 30-odd choir. It was all acoustic, and the King and Queen of Norway were there. It was so fun to play there in that scale at an event of that calibre."The Oscars were very different. She had to learn to sing a song where the lyrics were "emotive sounds", soundtracking as they did the moment in 127 Hours where trapped hiker Aron Ralston hallucinates and starts contemplating hacking off his arm to free himself from a boulder that had trapped him."The thing AR said to me was that he wanted the audience to levitate. It was to be a very serene performance, which was light years from the Grammys performance."Lost in said serenity, Welch C accompanied on stage only by Rahman and his "electric sitar" C didn't spot any Hollywood A-listers staring in rapt attention."But during rehearsals they had those Guess Who?-style face cards that go on all the chairs. That was weird C Brad and Ange, Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake, Robert de Niro..."And then to the after-party: Florence and the Machine also performed at Elton John's fabled, celeb-studded post-Oscars bash. She and Elton sang "Tiny Dancer", and he sang "You've Got the Love". "That's some big hobnobbing," she says proudly. "But we just ended up drunk backstage. We always do this, me and the band, back at the hotel room, dressing up, drunk." kAlco-amnesia, Florence Welch cheerfully admits, is something of a theme for her at awards shows. After the Grammys, she had a "big conversation" with Win Butler, lead vocalist and songwriter of Arcade Fire, one of her musical heroes. What did they discuss? She has no idea."I once had a two-hour conversation with Beyonc, apparently. And she met my sister at something and cos she's really polite, she was like, 'Grace! Hi! I've heard so much about you!' And I was like, 'Hmm... what did I say?'"Merrily gladhanding her way round the world's premier gong-giving bashes, Florence Welch takes her Brit-muso ambassadorial role seriously. "I hope I'm not letting the side down!" she laughs. "I think I'm flying the flag. I think they'd be disappointed if a Brit was sober and boring..."The Brit Awards, London 2012No, Florence Welch can't tell us what she's planning for her performance in the O2 on Tuesday night. But more than likely it will be something grand. Yes, much as she loved Adele's unadorned performance of "Someone Like You" last year, that's not Welch's awards-show style."For me as a maximalist who's really prone to excess, that stuff is what excites me C like Lady Gaga's performances. But then you get Adele and it's that sense of being really zoomed in on someone and you're as close to them as we are now."Mostly, she beams, she'll be there to enjoy herself. "It always feels to me that the Brits is a great British musical. It felt like that the last time we performed C everyone's running around backstage, half-dressed. Gaga's going in one room, Dizzee's in another, Lily [Allen] is coming out of that one, and there was me in some funny brocade dressing gown, barefoot, chatting to everyone. It does have that sense of a celebration. I guess I think about it in that way to help myself process it. I understand musicals."Florence and the Machine are nominated in two categories, Best Album and Best Female. Would she like to win? She frowns and glances up at the kitchen dresser, where her Critics' Choice Brit stands next to a Q Award and some charity shop bric-a-brac ("Where's the Best Album?" she asks Grace, puzzled. "In the office," comes the reply)."I mean, it would be nice to win," she eventually decides. "But I'm not gonna put pressure on myself to win; that would spoil it for me. I'm just really looking forward to going, enjoying being there, seeing everyone, and getting a bit drunk."Anyway," Florence Welch smiles, "I've got two. I don't want to be greedy."The Brit Awards will be televised live at 8pm on Tuesday on ITV1?This was, of course, in the pursuit of knowledge not thrills, though I have to say, it was a pretty good read (an interview with two gay butchers in Beijing!). Butt was the first publication to be launched C in 2001 C by the Dutch team of writer/editor Gert Jonkers and art director Jop van Bennekom, who on Tuesday night unwrapped their third project in Paris. At a party of cherry-picked guests in a plush maison particulire in the rue du Bac, the first copies of The Gentlewoman, a new fashion and culture magazine for women, were circulated among the 80 attendees.Expectations for The Gentlewoman C aimed at a thoughtful and sophisticated female reader C have been high among the planet's style afficionados. It follows in the footsteps of Jonkers and Van Bennekom's second project, a perfectly manicured men's style magazine called Fantastic Man which crept up on the fashion world in 2005. Where Butt was undressed and sexy C there's a lot of hairy chests, naked bottoms and visible excitement among those dense pages of Courier type C Fantastic Man appeared like some fabulously well-attired alternative. Interview subjects are referred to as "Mister"; clothes are modelled by handsome 30- and 40- somethings with smart day jobs (they've included Giles Deacon and Roland Mouret); each issue has pages of recommendations by arbiters of taste, from graphic designer Peter Saville to Tate Modern curator Stuart Comer; and only a Fantastic Man's tailor needs to know if he dresses to the right or the left. It has, says Jonkers, " a nice formality to it" C a formality that sometimes teeters just this side of ironic and camp.Jonkers and van Bennekom's publishing empire is something of a cottage industry (no pun intended), operating from a small office in Amsterdam and another in Shoreditch, central London. They met on Boulevard, a Dutch lifestyle magazine, and have a range of experience. Jonkers , 43, was fashion critic of de Volkskrant for many years; van Bennekom, 40, is cultishly celebrated for a ground-breaking magazine called Re, which dealt with one subject per issue (including 'The Home' and 'Boredom').Money made on projects is reinvested, all expenses are spared. There is a smattering of staff and no-one earns much. Which all goes to prove that you can make a successful high-end fashion magazine without a vast flower and limousine budget; a certain kind of perfectionism is free. The response to the twice-yearly Fantastic Man has been, well, fantastic, with a current international circulation of around 70,000. It talks directly to its reader who, it implies, shares its values, its wardrobe, its deep concern for life's finer details. It is not aspirational; it politely assumes you've arrived. It profiles men who have interesting lives: in fashion (Tom Ford, Claude Montana); architecture (Rem Koolhaas); or art (Steve McQueen, Frieze director Matthew Slotover); or others (they interviewed a chemist once). "We're always looking for people who don't have anything to sell," explains Jonkers. "Where there is no hidden agenda."Jonkers and van Bennekom have a long and healthy relationship with the fashion world. Belgium designer Bernhard Willhelm appeared on Butt's first cover (Wolfgang Tillmans took the pictures). Karl Lagerfeld came upon the launch issue by chance in Colette in Paris and immediately placed an order for all subsequent copies (it comes out C mostly but not always C four times a year). Gucci was the first advertiser, thanks to Tom Ford's appreciation of the product, and then Dior Homme (because Hedi Slimane totally got it too). In autumn 2006, Helmut Lang chose Fantastic Man to reintroduce himself to the world, after leaving his own label when it was sold to Prada in 2004. Bruce Webber took the photographs. Now, the much sought-after Phoebe Philo has chosen to give one of her very few interviews, in her new role as creative director at Celine, to The Gentlewoman, and she is its cover star.Jonkers and van Bennekom see The Gentlewoman as inevitable. "It was the natural thing to do. If you're interested in style and imagery and stories, it's strange to exclude 50 per cent of the world," says Jonkers. They have worked on the idea for two years, finally settling on an editor, Penny Martin, last year. "I feel like the honorary girl in the sixth form at the boys' school, " she says.Martin came from the experimental world of Showstudio C a ridiculously cool and well-connected website almost entirely financed by photographer Nick Knight which largely explores what can happen to fashion online. She put in seven years as editor-in-chief there.She is also Professor of Fashion Photography at the London College of Fashion and has an (unfinished) PhD on British Vogue to her name. At first she was terrified of "joining the brand that everyone loves. You feel you can only let everyone down". But then "I realised that the magazines I grew up reading didn't exist anymore. Back then, you had Marina Warner and Antonia Fraser writing in Vogue. Now the focus is all on merchandise, and the readers are consumers."Martin, 37, is Scottish which means, she says, that she conveniently holds the same Protestant values as her new Dutch employers (Jonkers' father was a Protestant preacher; Martin's was in the Average White Band).She is passionate and political and married to a man she met when both were 21 and who works in public health, not fashion. "I'm surrounded by bright women, and I don't see them represented," says Martin. "My idea for the magazine was to give them a voice. There's been a silencing going on. Look at Sex and the City. That programme is absolutely corrupt. The characters in it are not people, they're projection objects." The magazine's name and logo was conjured up by van Bennekom. "It's an ambitious title," he says, "that poses a question about behaviour, and a very modernist logo that makes it clear it is of today and tomorrow, and the very opposite of a 19th-century gentlewoman."In Martin's hands, it becomes an exploration of many things that women can be C a world of personalities that includes wine makers and long-distance swimmers, and rather fewer models and actresses than we are used to seeing crammed in between the advertising."We really wanted Chelsea Clinton," muses Martin. But she got American artist Jenny Holzer, a woman who makes incredible ice cream, and an interview with Japanese architect Kasuyo Sejima (by myself) instead. Fashion is of the Prada, Comme des Garcons, Jil Sander variety C graphic and grown-up; photography is unromantically clear."We do not deal in fantasy," says Jonkers. "From Butt onwards, we wanted to make reality-based magazines with long interviews. This started when I was looking at gay magazines and thinking, 'Why am I supposed to like reading about Kylie, or a spa in Thailand?'" For the many women who feel the same flicking through the female equivalents, The Gentlewoman will be good news indeed.?Having said that, I find it touching that so many gay people want to get married, and this month the Government starts a consultation process aimed at changing the law, something the Prime Minister enthusiastically supports. Most heterosexuals (myself included) have shown repeatedly that we are hopeless at marriage. It's one thing that practice doesn't necessarily make perfect. And not all gay men and women want to get married C many are satisfied with civil partnerships But why should those who do be denied the same rights as everyone else?The Church of England has behaved disgracefully over this issue. Far from welcoming a new and vibrant source of supporters, it opposed civil partnerships, then dragged itself into the modern world by grudgingly accepting them. Officially, the church still refuses to hold formal blessings or services for couples in a civil partnership, although many vicars privately do so. Instead of being inclusive, many leading clerics wring their hands and fail to adopt Christian values. In short, under the feeble Rowan Williams, who exhibits all the leadership skills of a plate of tapioca, the church acts as if it's an exclusive club that can afford to be hyper-choosy about new members. In reality, the CofE is on the skids, increasingly irrelevant in modern Britain. In surveys we say we believe in God, but we don't want to get involved with his sales force. The debate about female bishops moves at a snail's pace C thank God these old farts aren't running a FTSE 100 company: it would have gone bankrupt decades ago.The language used by modern church leaders is utterly out of step. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, says marriage can only exist between a man and a woman and thinks David Cameron is acting "like a dictator", and the Pope yesterday condemned the Prime Minister's plans too. Far from articulating the mood of his flock, Dr Sentamu is the shrill voice of the minority C according to a 2009 Mori poll, the majority of Brits want gay people to have exactly the same rights as everyone else. In the real world, as opposed to that of the dessicated, inward-looking theologians of the high church, it's not an issue. The Church of England is in total disarray: Rowan Williams opposes gay marriage, but the new Dean of St Paul's has said he doesn't have a problem, as has the former Bishop of Oxford, and the new Bishop of Salisbury. The Roman Catholic church is in meltdown: a letter railing against gay marriage was expected to be read out in 2,500 churches during mass today. The leader of the Scottish Catholics calls the proposals "grotesque", and compares them with legalising slavery, while Catholic convert Tony Blair backs gay marriage. As for other faiths, the British Jewry Reform movement, the Unitarian Church and the Quakers all support a change in the law. Muslims and Orthodox Jews oppose it. The truth is, whatever dictats religious leaders issue to their congregations, it's highly likely that gay marriage will end up on the statute book. That result will be bad news for the Church of England, which passed up an opportunity, as the church of the establishment and our monarchy, to re-engage with the British people. As Dr David Ison, the new Dean of St Paul's says, "We need to make sure that the virtues that you see in married relationships are available to people who are gay." Precisely. The most important thing for our society is stable relationships which form a solid bedrock enabling communities to flourish. People in loving, respectful, committed relationships deserve, no matter what their sexuality, to be treasured and nurtured, not demonised in the name of dogma.Osama bin Laden was probably shopped to the authorities because his eldest wife was unhappy that he had transferred his attentions to a younger wife. He had dozens of children by different wives. Is that arrangement more acceptable than a relationship between two gay people who commit to love, respect and care for each other for the rest of their lives? What terrible social injustices are committed in the name of religion. For God's sake, let gay people get married.Gilbert and George know how to make the headlinesDoes bigger mean better? Committed chroniclers of London life Gilbert and George were a huge success at Tate Modern with a massive retrospective in 2007 C the swear-box souvenir is one of my most treasured possessions. In the past fortnight they have unveiled new work in four White Cube Galleries, one in Hong Kong and three in London. The 292 (72 are on show in London) pictures use slogans from thousands of Evening Standard billboards pinched over several years, reworked into formal panels, reflecting common themes C violence, crime, money and death. It's all about PAEDOS, OAPS, TOTS and GUNS. The result is like walking through a modern version of Dickens. I've always collected billboards, but these guys have come up with some corkers C GUN FOUND IN MAN'S BUM and GIRL BOTTOM-BOOSTER PILL PERIL are favourites. Gilbert and George have an unerring knack for tapping into the pulse of London in a way no other contemporary artists can match. There's misery, clich and cash galore, but you emerge smiling at this tidal wave of catastrophe which is recreated new every day. Art for All has always been their mantra, and the 10 catalogue (signed) and souvenir bag are excellent value. Truly, a modern version of music hall.The lean new look that works Terrific news for women's fashion C Hedi Slimane is returning to Paris as head designer for Yves St Laurent. At Dior Homme he changed the male shape, and women loved his narrow line. I still wear his sharply tailored jackets; my favourite in black silk was made for the Queen's first Women of Achievement lunch at Buckingham Palace in 2004. Others were in hats, frocks, jackets and fussy two-pieces. My simple black man's suit looked fantastic and utterly modern. Like Phoebe Philo at Celine, whose pared down collection received rave reviews last week, Hedi doesn't do retro.No room at the bank for womenNick Clegg opened trading at the London Stock Exchange to celebrate International Women's Day surrounded by a football club executive, an interior designer, a model and the usual mix of high-profile females, all lined up like gurning acolytes. Did any of them know that as a result of a high level reshuffle at Deutsche Bank last week, not a single woman remains on the board? Well done! Instead of posing like dummies for a photo, perhaps these successful women ought to be campaigning for equality where it matters C in the boardroom. The City just used Clegg and Co as window dressing. ?Along with tipples of reds and whites, waiters dished up a palette ranging from pungent blue to goat-milk creaminess and crusty buttery cows' milk slabs. "What do they have in common?" said master cheese-maker Herve Mons. "They're made of raw milk."Of the 100-150 available raw milk cheeses available, three disappear each year, meaning around 40 have become extinct in the last decade.Held ahead of National Cheese Day, feting its 10th edition this weekend, the tasting was organised by a grouping bent on saving ancient cheeses from falling off the food map - the Association Fromages de Terroirs."The paradox," its president Veronique Richez-Lerouge told AFP, "is that we're known as the land of cheese yet we're losing an increasing number."Long known as a country of avid cheese-eaters, with more than 1,000 varieties in a symphony of creams, pale yellows and subtle shades of orange, overall cheese consumption is on the rise in France, but industrially-made products are outgunning traditional farm-crafted varieties.One of the last to go was the much-regretted and extremely creamy "Vacherin d'Abondance", named after the Alpine slopes in Savoy where Celine Gagneux grazed her race of cows for a cheese matured under an ancestral recipe. Then, in 2004, when aged 72, she gave up, unable to manage."Her daughters refused to take over and she refused to hand over her know-how to an industrial concern," said Richez-Lerouge.That is the fate of many of the rare raw milk cheeses - produced for centuries in small corners of France from milk flavoured by local flowers and grasses and brought to maturity by mere handfuls of cheese-makers.And when a cheese becomes extinct, say the raw milk enthusiasts, the countryside too suffers."Cows are sold and pastures planted with corn, which pollutes and transforms the land," said Richez-Lerouge. "Keeping old cheeses alive is a key to sustainable development."While Americans, Australians and Britons are increasingly going for unpasteurised cheese, in France raw milk cheeses dropped to 179,750 tonnes in 2008 against 183,500 tonnes in 2006."The problem," said Laurent Mons, the cheesemaker brother of Herve Mons, who exports to 19 countries, "is economics. Small producers are unable to cope. They regroup and eventually sell out to large conglomerates."In comparison to wine, where small organic and natural labels are on the up and up, cheesemaking was a highly technical art requiring 365-day-a-year attention."Consumers need to be made aware of the existence and variety of cheeses available outside the supermarket shelves," he said.However on National Cheese Day on Saturday, some 1,200 supermarkets across the country will be offering unpasteurised cheese.?Ninety-one catwalk shows in the official diary alone will keep the fashion crowd on its toes for nine days starting Tuesday, without counting the off-calendar and showroom events favoured by many smaller designers.Once the day is done, Paris is also set for a burst of extravagant partying, with fashion magazines and brands competing to attract the in-crowd to a string of late night events - a way of drawing a line under the economic slowdown.For the first time in close to two decades, the Paris shows are deserting their traditional venue under the Louvre Museum, for a giant tent set up at the foot of the Grand Palais, a vast domed exhibition hall near the River Seine.Four rooms nestled under the Louvre pyramid long formed the nerve centre of the Paris ready-to-wear shows, hosting up to eight shows a day.But the jump in event numbers, and designers' growing taste for offbeat locations meant fashion week had started to outgrow the Louvre location, and this year shows will be spread across venues on both sides of the Seine.Day one, as dictated by tradition, will put the spotlight on young designers: Aganovich, from London, and Anthony Vaccarello who was singled out for attention by Vogue's influential doorstep-thick September issue.But from then on all fashionista eyes will be on a quatuor of classic houses - Balenciaga, Balmain, Celine and Givenchy - that have received a burst of fresh energy with the arrival of talented new designers.At 88, Pierre Cardin is returning to the catwalks after a long absence, while fresh faces coming to Paris include the US designer Zac Posen, 29, and the New York-based duo Proenza Schouler, receiving on invitation-only.Kenzo is marking its 40th birthday with a show at Paris' Winter Circus.Other people to watch include Sarah Burton, who stepped up to replace Alexander McQueen following his suicide in February, and who is unveiling her first collection to the Paris crowd.Britain's Giles Deacon is also showcasing his first collection for Ungaro while Jean-Paul Gaultier - with perhaps a touch of nostalgia - will unveil his last for Hermes, where he is handing over to Christophe Lemaire.A Japanese trio - Junya Watanabe who claims US First Lady Michelle Obama among his fans, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto - join forces with Australia's Collette Dinnigan to defend Asia's colours in the world capital of fashion.And French designer Roland Mouret who has bought back the rights to his own name, held since 2005 by his former financial partners, will show an eponymous collection - dropping the "RM by Roland Mouret" tag of past seasons.The spring/summer 2011 fashion shows wrap up on Wednesday October 6 with collections by Hermes, Vuitton and Miu Miu, Prada's line launched to woo the young and wealthy crowd.?Was director and screenwriter Richard Linklater hinting even then that this documentary-style study of a love affair was just beginning? Nine years later he made a sequel, Before Sunset. Now, almost another decade on, his cast has hinted they will make a third next year.That they have not penned a script or started shooting yet should not present a problem. The second film was made in 15 days and was largely improvised. More difficult would be what to call it, now that the dusk and dawn conceit has been exhausted. "Before Death" perhaps.In any case, haven't audiences already seen enough? Before Sunrise defined an era when it was released in 1995. In it, an American man and a French woman in their early twenties start chatting on a train from Budapest. Both beautiful, passionate and ber-intellectual, or at least trying to be, they hit it off and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) convinces Cline (Julie Delpy) to abandon her journey and join him for a day in Vienna, where he has to catch a plane the next morning.Nothing much actually happens C they walk, they talk and yes, eventually make love C but somehow this simple tale, told in startlingly realistic long takes and a meandering script in which the couple discuss everything from war to reincarnation, so resonated with young audiences that the film doubled its budget at the box office.The film played on the seductive theory that life will happen to you when you least expect it. Just 14 when I first saw it with some friends, all greasy hair and teenage pimples, we wondered when we would have the freedom to InterRail around Europe.In retrospect, though, part of what makes the film so realistic is that it is underwritten with a tangible sense of insecurity and a fear of growing up. At the end, they arrange to meet up in six months. In Before Sunset, which takes place nine years later, we discover that their reunion never happened because Cline's grandmother fell ill.They meet again though, and the connection is still there. Like the first film, the second, though more sombre and reflective, leaves us on tenterhooks. "Baby, you're gonna miss that plane..." sings a still very sexy Cline to a Nina Simone song. "I know," Jesse grins back at her. Fade to black. But will he?Both films worked because of an exquisitely balanced tension: despite an insistence on realism, our hopefulness that things will somehow work out persists. Time constraints, in the form of Jesse's departure, force the issue to a climax as both films end.Could a third film really replicate that tension without it seeming contrived? Another will they/won't they plot would feel tired and unlikely. If it turns out that they have ended up together after all, I wonder if the lack of the mystery so integral to its predecessors might be felt too keenly.There's no doubt that Hawke, Delpy and Linklater are talented enough to produce a fascinating study of ageing dreams, of love after it has been realised. But is the poetry of day-to-day life what we want from this couple? Like a slow-burning version of Fran?ois Ozon's 5x2, that gloomiest of marriage studies, might further scrutiny of Jesse and Celine not pollute the magic of their first encounter in the very way they themselves dreaded? The teenager in me wants their future to remain a question. The answer would be just one long take too far.?"Sorry I'm late," said the bubbly 22-year-old model and singer, ordering a soft drink from the hovering, rapt waiters before sitting down to discuss the latest sartorial trends in the army-ruled country.She is busy promoting her first solo album and named singing stars Beyonce and Celine Dion as her main influences, but Chan Chan made her name through clothes modelling, a job she claimed "every girl" in Myanmar wants."More and more girls like to wear short skirts. We're growing every day and finding every new fashion. We go on the Internet and chat and see lots of fashion from the West and Asia," she said."So in the last three years we've had more confidence to wear these kind of things. No one looks at you if you wear short pants... It's not a problem now."The military regime appears to disagree."Decadent alien culture such as scanty dresses is unacceptable in Myanmar society," said a recent comment piece in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a junta mouthpiece."Appropriate measures need to be taken by one and all to protect own culture," the English language article warned.Myanmar's traditional dress, which is still mandatory in high schools, universities and most state workplaces, is the demure "longyi" - a sheet of cotton or silk cloth wrapped around the waist which runs to the feet.Sported by the country's detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in her rare public appearances, the often intricately patterned and brightly coloured longyi is still widely worn by both men and women across the country.But the younger generation, especially urbanised young women, are increasingly shunning the national garb and embracing unconventional alternatives as they brush aside concerns about morals and modesty."Now they know the fashion has developed in our country and now they feel very comfortable wearing short skirts. They know the freedoms. They believe in themselves and they've got lots of self-confidence," said Chan Chan.Male fashions are evolving too - there's a growing taste for the rock music-inspired youth style known as "emo", for example - but women's changing dress sense has unsurprisingly drawn more attention in the conservative nation.One expatriate worker suggested the noticeable development began in the commercial hub Yangon after the regime moved the seat of government and its officials away from the city in 2005.The timing coincided with the "Korean wave" - the South Korean cultural invasion that has swept up Myanmar as it floods much of Asia and the wider world with its soap operas, films, "K-pop" and clothing."South Koreans look so fabulous and stylish in our eyes," enthused Chan Chan, who said the top K-wave fashion items - such as little skirts and jackets, shorts and leggings - were easy to buy and wear in Myanmar.The craze for all things Korean is particularly striking in a nation widely known for its impoverished and isolated status after decades of military rule. Even Korean celebrity look-alike contests are now held in Yangon."The problem is that Myanmar's traditional fashion cannot overcome the Korean fashion," said designer Ma May Myo. "It can't compete because young girls want to wear something light and different and cute."They want to show off and you can't do that in a longyi."The 34-year-old dressmaker, who set up her popular label in Yangon five years ago, said the demand from her customers for Korean-influenced styles shows no signs of abating."The situation has changed a lot," she said. "We can see through the Internet what is happening abroad: what designers are doing and the latest trends. It's not difficult like it was before."In November, Myanmar is holding its first election in two decades, but observers are widely expecting an unfree and unfair poll that will keep the army regime in charge under a cloak of civilian rule.Aung Naing Oo, a Myanmar analyst based in Thailand, said that the lack of political change was unlikely to curtail the evolution of fashion or the desire of Myanmar's youngsters to emulate their more affluent Asian neighbours."I don't think the military can actively stop something like that, a cultural invasion," he said. "The new generation is wanting something different after being choked for so long."Ma May Myo said there have been attempts to modernise the style of the longyi, with Myanmar's officials sponsoring designers to promote the traditional dress."But the people don't listen. They put on the clothes they want," she said. "It's a good, exciting time for fashion in Myanmar."?Bookmakers indicate that France's Amaury Vassili with his operatic "Sognu" ("I Would Dream About Her") - belted out in the Corsican language - is the favourite to take top honours in Duesseldorf, western Germany."I don't have a perfectly trained opera voice yet but my voice is really well adapted to performing in front of large audience," said Vassili, 21. "I will give it my very best."But stiff competition comes from Ireland, who have won Eurovision a record seven times. This year the Emerald Isle's hopes rest on quiffed twins Jedward and their song "Lipstick".The 20-year-olds appear to have more of a chance than 2008's shouting-and-farting Irish entry, Dustin the Turkey, who managed a surprisingly good 15th place with "Irelande Douze Pointe".Making a Eurovision comeback meanwhile is Israeli transsexual pop diva Dana International, the 1998 champion whose victory ruffled feathers among the country's influential ultra-Orthodox community.Bookmakers give her latest effort, "Ding Dong", long odds of 200-1, however.Also having another go is Germany's homegrown Lena Meyer-Landrut, who won last year in Oslo with her ueber-catchy ditty "Satellite", this time performing the darker "Taken By A Stranger", still in her slightly Bjork-esque accent.It is because of Lena's victory that the competition is being held in Germany this year, since the winner's country automatically becomes host for the next Eurovision, one of the world's longest-running TV shows.The competition is broadcast live throughout Europe, but also in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States, even though these countries do not participate.This week, a series of qualifying rounds have been whittling down the 43 official entries to 25 for Saturday evening's grand final. The "Big Five" of Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Italy automatically qualify.Viewers at home and juries from each of the 43 countries then vote on each song, ranking them from their favourite, which gets a full 12 points, to the biggest howler, which gets zero. The results are also announced in French.All the entries can be seen on the Eurovision website,, where the final can also be watched live.Britain, which last year came last, is hoping for fewer "nul points" scores with squeaky-clean boy band Blue and their upbeat "I Can". The last British victory was Katrina and The Waves back in 1997.Another favourite is Finland, hoping for a repeat of 2006 when rockers Lordi, dressed as orc-like creatures, won the competition with "Hard Rock Hallelujah".This time Finland is sending Paradise Oskar with his song "Da Da Dam", a environmental ballad about a nine-year-old boy who "went out in the world to save the planet" and who "ain't coming back until she's saved".Victory at the Eurovision can be the start of a glittering career, as it was for Sweden's ABBA, who won in 1974 with "Waterloo", or Canadian Celine Dion, who won for Switzerland in 1988. But for many, it is their one moment of fame.?Frenchwoman Celine Lesage told a court the children had been born alive. She strangled two and suffocated the others.Lesage, from Valognes in Normandy, bowed her head and avoided looking at anyone in court while the charges were read. Afterward, she said in a soft voice, "I acknowledge the facts."She was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time discovered the corpses in plastic garbage bags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes.Her lawyer Veronique Carre said Lesage "does not contest the facts ... but isn't explaining them either." Several medical and psychological experts are expected to testify in the four-day trial."We are here to try to understand you before judging you," the judge told Lesage.She told investigators that the father of five of the children was ex-boyfriend Pascal Catherine, who was detained for questioning after Lesage was arrested in 2007.She said the father of the sixth was the partner who discovered the corpses, Luc Margueritte.At the time of her arrest, prosecutor Michel Garrandaux said she described giving birth to the first five alone in the apartment she shared with Catherine, her boyfriend at the time.Mr Garrandaux said the boyfriend "was far from unaware" of her pregnancies. However, the investigation against him was dropped. He will give evidence as a witness tomorrow.The prosecution say that when Lesage and boyfriend Catherine split up in 2006, Lesage, who also has a son of 14, moved in with her new boyfriend, and brought the plastic bags from her old basement to her new one.Her trial for aggravated homicide comes after a more highly-publicised case involving a Frenchwoman convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children.Veronique Courjault's husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer. During the trial psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a psychological condition known as "pregnancy denial."Germany also has seen a string of similar cases. In one, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.?Celine Lesage faces life in prison if convicted in a trial that began Monday in the courthouse in Valognes, near the Atlantic coast.She is charged with "aggravated homicide." She was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time discovered the corpses in plastic bags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes.Her lawyer Veronique Carre says Lesage "does not contest the facts." Several medical and psychological experts are expected to testify in the four-day trial.?Although she had not starred in a serious film for the best part of 30 years, the double Oscar-winning actress is now believed to be one of an elite group of just 14 self-made women able to claim to be a billionaire in her own right.Having negotiated some of the most lucrative film deals ever witnessed in Hollywood during a lengthy acting career C she was paid $4m (the equivalent of $47m today) to appear alongside her future husband Richard Burton in Cleopatra, nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox C she spent the last decades as a virtual one-woman brand.A deal with Elizabeth Arden in 1991 to market her own perfumes, White Diamonds and Passion, has since turned over a combined $1bn, earning the British-born actress a considerable cut. Pioneered long before the celebrity scent became de rigueur among famous women such as Celine Dion, Jennifer Aniston and even Katie Price, the cosmetics giant reported combined sales of Taylor's fragrances last year of $69m. It said it intends to continue to produce the products despite the star's death last week from congestive heart failure at the age of 79.Her jewellery collection was reported to be worth $150m as far back as 2002. As well as some outsize diamonds, she also owned the celebrated La Peregrina pearl, formerly the property of Mary I.It was also reported that Taylor had a portfolio of real estate valued in excess of $150m, including her ranch-style home in Los Angeles replete with 18th-century English furniture and antiques she bought from Nancy Sinatra in 1981.There were also settlements from her eight marriages. In 1996, when she divorced her last husband, Larry Fortensky, Taylor was said to be worth $608m. Taylor also deployed her money-making skills to help others, raising $270m for her AIDS Foundation, which is also likely to benefit from the sale of her jewels.The rest of her fortune is expected to be shared among Taylor's four children, although who will benefit from her future earnings is yet to be established, according to commentators in the US yesterday. One friend was quoted as saying: "The one thing she didn't do was understand that, much like Elvis and Michael Jackson, she might be worth more in death."Elizabeth's riches* Taylor was a product of the Hollywood studio system, and was being paid $750 a week by MGM as a 13-year-old following the success of 'National Velvet'. As a result, she earned more in a month than the average American earned in a year. Six years later, in 1950, she signed a new contract that paid her $2,000 a week.* A shrewd deal in 1991 with cosmetic giant Elizabeth Arden saw her launch the trend for celebrity fragrances. Her brands White Diamonds and Passion have generated sales of over $1bn (625m), with White Diamonds the biggest-selling celebrity perfume in history.* Her lovers and her studio chiefs lavished jewels on the young actress. Her collection, valued at $150m, included a ruby and diamond Cartier necklace from husband Mike Todd, the 33.19-carat Krupp diamond from her fifth husband, Richard Burton, and a crystal and diamond lily of the valley brooch from Rex Harrison. She also owned the famous 69.42-carat pear-shaped Burton Taylor diamond, given to her in 1969.?On his lawyer's advice, the couturier kept quiet on Tuesday after he was sacked as creative director of Christian Dior. But no sooner had he issued an "unreserved" apology, in which he accepted that accusations of anti-Semitism made against him had "greatly shocked and upset people", he learnt that prosecutors in Paris had decided to put him on trial over the affair.Galliano, who continues to deny the claims, was suspended from his post at the French fashion house last week after allegedly launching an attack on a couple sitting on a caf terrace in Paris. Footage later emerged of a separate incident which appeared to show him abusing drinkers in the same bar and telling them he loved Adolf Hitler.Just minutes after Galliano broke his silence, prosecutors said he would stand trial some time between April and June. He faces up to six months in jail and 22,500 in fines if convicted.In his statement, Galliano said delays in his case had led to him to speak out. He claimed there would be witnesses who had told police he was verbally abused and subjected to an "unprovoked assault" during the incident last Thursday, and that an assailant tried to hit him with a chair."For these reasons I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me," he said. "However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people."I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion."His future remains uncertain, however, with the news of his dismissal from Dior, one of the most prized jobs in the business. Galliano was the latest in a string of illustrious names at its helm, including Gianfranco Ferre, Yves Saint Laurent and of course Dior himself. When Galliano was appointed in 1996, there was outrage in the world of French couture at the choice of a young Gilbraltarian-British upstart, but he soon won over critics. His dismissal has, however, raised the inevitable questions about his successor.Pundits are looking to other big names on the fashion scene, but it is more likely that Dior will look on the Paris circuit for its next star. Currently in throes of fashion week, the city saw Lady Gaga modelling for Nicola Formichetti's first womenswear collection for Thierry Mugler last night.The contenders: Who could take over the house of Dior?9/4 Hedi SlimaneCurrent job: PhotographerCV: As creative director of Dior Homme, Slimane revolutionised modern menswear with his super-skinny and severe silhouette; his clothes were so lusted-after that even Karl Lagerfeld went on a diet to fit into them. He was made art director at YSL in 1997, moved to Dior Homme in 2000, and left in 2007.The look: Goth on a diet.8/1 Haider AckermannCurrent job: Head of his eponymous labelCV: A graduate of the acclaimed fashion college in Antwerp, Ackermann launched his own label in 2001 and has become a cult name among the cognoscenti for his flattering and sophisticated draped and romantic pieces.The look: Cocktail hour meets witching hour.4/1 Kris Van AsscheCurrent job: Creative director at Dior HommeCV: A former assistant of Slimane's, Belgian designer Kris van Assche is the quiet powerhouse behind Dior Homme, specialising in classically tailored menswear which is as effortlessly stylish as it is easy to wear, and has broadened the brand's appeal.The look: Sporty but elegant, informed by utilitarian workwear.11/8 Stefano PilatiCurrent job: Creative director at Yves Saint LaurentCV: Pilati gave up his training as a surveyor to move into the fashion industry, starting at Cerruti as an intern, before moving to Armani as an assistant in 1993. From there he became assistant designer at Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu label in 1998, before joining Yves Saint Laurent in 2000 and taking the top job two years later.The look: Strict and darkly coloured feminine tailoring, with a hint of whimsy. Recent collections have included strawberry motifs and votive wimples.10/1 Phoebe PhiloCurrent job: Creative Director at CelineCV: Saint Martin's graduate Philo won the British Fashion Council's Designer of the Year award last December for her work at Celine. She began working as Stella McCartney's assistant at Chloe in 1997 before succeeding her as head designer. In this role she created some of the brand's most famous clothes before leaving in 2006 to spend more time with her family. She took charge at Celine in September 2008, and has been credited as the force behind the recent resurgence of a more pared down aesthetic.The Look: Sleek and modern minimalism.?Janet Jackson took up a front-row seat to watch the models step out in a riot of hats, gypsy scarves and fur collars, each outfit intended to be as singular as a portrait said the British designer.Models in over-the-top make-up twirled in light, flounced dresses cut from fragile, transparent fabrics, for Galliano's spring/summer line for 2011 unveiled mid-way through Paris' marathon ready-to-wear shows.A skirt was hemmed with ostrich feathers or Spanish shawl fringes, ultra-wide pants were layered with black tulle, and trenches were cut from translucent grey organza that left the structure and seams on full display.Galliano took his inspiration from Maria Lani, muse to some of the greatest artists of her day including Amedeo Modigliani, whose portrait adorned the invite to the show.There were pink and orange - everywhere this season - but also butterfly motifs on a frou-frou bustier dress or see-thru jacket.At sundown, Galliano's woman stepped out in cristal- and gold-incrusted gowns, mostly white, displaying an artisan's touch unusual for a ready-to-wear collection, however luxurious.Galliano says he was inspired for evening wear by Constantin Brancusi's metal sculptures. The kinship is far from obvious, but the result is delicate, feminine, with laser-sharp tailoring, and terribly desirable.Cheers of delight rang out earlier as flavour-of-the-moment designer Phoebe Philo unveiled her third collection for Celine, a summer look brimming with elegant sophistication.Caramel leather, desert-hooded weaves and flowing pants in ivory silk, with navy and sharp green bands lining the waist and side like a tuxedo: at each new piece, the room held its breath in admiration.The magic was in the details, like a simple white jacket in starched cotton that left the back bare and fastened with a plain leather strap, or a white cotton blouse with a deep pink leather collar.High-waisted leather skirts just covered the knee, curling around the hips to end in a gentle diagonal panel in the small of the back.A sleeveless top in butter-soft maroon leather was paired with roomy trousers in vivid blue, while a long cotton damask tunic, like a sleeveless kimono was split on either side of the body, over a pair of pants.A Moroccan flavour came from a green silk top with geometric motifs, hemmed with a band of orange, while a fluid, bare-armed navy dress robe plunged to a deep V shape at front an back - while its modest, sister piece offered long sleeves and demure neckline.?A television audience of 125 million from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea is expected to watch the 56th annual pop music competition that is, like the performing acts themselves, taken seriously in some places and lampooned in others.Germany's Lena Meyer-Landrut, who won last year's contest in Oslo with a British-style pop song "Satellite", will be up against performers from 24 countries in Saturday's final after a field of 43 nations was reduced in two semi-finals.While the Eurovision Song Contest is derided as a monument to mediocrity and bad taste in some countries, it has legions of enthusiastic followers in others - especially in this year's host country Germany, where 2,500 journalists are covering it.It has been a launching pad for international careers. Swedish pop group Abba became famous after winning in 1974 with "Waterloo" and Canada's Celine Dion took top honours in 1988 with "Ne partez pas sans moi" while competing for Switzerland.A singer named Ruslana won for Ukraine in 2004 and was later rewarded with a seat in parliament.From its start in Switzerland in 1956, the contest conceived by the European Broadcasting Union has grown into a giant event watched by millions in a glitzy live broadcast where spangly costumed performers belt out their songs in different languages.Fans draped in their national flags or clad in outrageous outfits will pack the 36,000 seat arena in Duesseldorf and cheer the 25 finalists who will mix glitz and kitsch, ballads, rock 'n' roll and disco to try to win the highest number of votes.Predictions on potential winners are notoriously wrong in many years because the outcome is determined - partly - by viewers from around Europe who call in their votes which are then awarded to the various acts on a scale of 12 to 0.One of the most talked-about performers ahead of this year's contest, Stella Mwangi from Norway, was already eliminated in Tuesday's first semi-final round.That has not dampened the enthusiasm of punters. Oddsmakers have identified Ireland's pop-rap duo Jedward, identical 19-year-old twins, as a hot favourite.France's opera singer Amaury Vassili, a tenor, and Britain's boy band Blue are also tipped as favourites by bookmakers. As the main financiers of the contest, France, Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany get automatic spots in the final.Lena, a fresh-faced 19-year-old, said she hopes for at least a spot in the top 10. She became an instant national hero a year ago for ending Germany's three-decade Eurovision drought that made many Germans anguish over why Europe so disliked them.After winning Eurovision, "Satellite" went to the top of pop music charts in six nations and a top 10 hit in seven others.Lena admits to being nervous about her title defence - the first attempt since Corry Brokken of the Netherlands tried it. Brokken won in 1957 but was last in 1958."I'm terribly, terribly excited, super nervous and as usual have stage fright before it starts," Lena told German public TV network ARD, which has spent 16 million euros ($22.35 million) as host broadcaster."It's the same before going on stage or to a press conference: I'm totally impatient and want to start. Then the nervousness disappears. Waiting is always hard, my palms get sweaty, my legs go numb and my throat dries out. It's horrible."History is against her. Only one performer won more than once: Ireland's Johnny Logan in 1980 and then in 1987. Ireland has the most wins (7), although the last victory was 15 years ago.Some other famous participants in past contests include Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Secret Garden, t.A.T.u., Lordi and Patricia Kaas. Riverdance was created in 1994 when Ireland hosted the contest.?Under the serach term "Les Paul," filtered for "uploaded today" and rated by "view count," the top five most-watched efforts on YouTube are:1.?Google Doodle Guitar - Les Paul by balasvdo?2.?Les Paul's Guitar Chords in Google's Home Page - Les Paul Google Doodle by SkyingBlogger3.?Google music guitar logo?by kanagJ?? ??4.?Les Paul Google Doodle Guitar by balasvdo5.?Google Les Paul - ?????? by overconda?Recorded on June 9 at 3:00PM GMT.?Though not in the top five, some contributions of popular songs include:My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion by jedeedayah One - Metallica - by miguelhp89 Star Spangled Banner -- Francis Scott Key by habsye Stairway to Heaven - Led Zepplin by CSWagner2 Imagine - John Lennon by Arturoathbp?MacGibbon's last collection for Chlo - fall/winter 2011 - was not met with enthusiasm during Paris fashion week and had many onlookers speculating about whether her contract would be renewed.After ten years of working for the label and three of being at its helm following now-Celine designer Phoebe Philo, MacGibbon is set to be replaced by former Pringle of Scotland designer Clare Waight Keller.A statement by Chlo CEO Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye reads: "We warmly welcome Clare to Chlo as we continue to define feminine elegance for the radiant, active and effortlessly graceful woman of today...Clare's unique talent and skilled eye is enriched through her deep experience across global fashion players and her highly acclaimed rejuvenation of a major heritage house [Pringle of Scotland]."A job-searching Hannah MacGibbon further adds to the current designer merry-go-round, which also saw well-known designer Patrick Robinson being sacked by the Gap last week.?Ten years on, and the world has been through another boom-and-bust period. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that an equally protracted attachment to opulence C and indeed often a quite literal interest in the Eighties C has by now been supplanted by an aesthetic that is free of the ribbons, bows and furbelows that characterise fashion at its most light-hearted. There is a renewed focus on design and determinedly worldly clothing, where theres no place for meaningless surface embellishment or indeed traditionally bourgeois proportions. In place of the indiscriminate flashing of flesh comes a discreet, peek-a-boo style eroticism. A body-conscious line, equally, has been replaced by a more subtle, often veiled silhouette.Inevitably minimalism and utility are, once again, buzzwords, as early Prada and Yohji Yamamoto have both proved considerably influential. Mid-Nineties Jil Sander too is a reference. More than any other designer, however, the aforementioned Mr Lang is the fashion hero of the hour. The man himself resigned from his own label five years ago C he said that he had become a victim of his own success, and was clearly uncomfortable with the burgeoning scale of the brand he presided over and the increasingly obvious commercial demands that went with that. But while at age 53 he is happy pursuing a career in fine art, his signature remains all-pervading. And so, Langs handwriting was all present and correct at Stella McCartney, where layered chiffon tunics had fluttering tails, and at Celine, where strictly conceived lace more than whispered of the oeuvre of this designer. At Givenchy, Riccardo Tiscis skinny, sexy tailoring was indebted to Langs own, as indeed was the show presentation itself C it took place in a vast warehouse space where models, male and female, stormed around on concrete at ground level, like a particularly glamorous urban army.Add to this, the soft-bondage draping of Rodarte, the cutaway little black dresses of Antonio Berardi, and the hard-to-identify mix of traditional and tech fabrics at Balenciaga...And so the list goes on.It seems only apposite, given all of the above, that over the past year or so Lang has finally made the decision to split up his archive and donate it to fashion institutions the world over. It is incomplete C the designer began his career in a critically acclaimed but relatively small and quiet way in Vienna, moving to New York in 1997, at which point he left most of the early work behind. Even so, galleries as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Kyoto Costume Institute in Tokyo, the Muse de la Mode et du Textile in Paris, the Groninger Museum in Amsterdam, MoMu in Antwerp and Londons V&A are now very happy to have at least some of his work and to preserve it for posterity. And Lang being Lang C and always a designer who worked outside the box C its not only the most obvious fashion collections that will benefit from any generosity.The Fashion Museum in Bath is today in proud possession of no fewer than 23 womens wear and 16 mens wear looks, all of which go on display this month and throughout the rest of this year, much to the delight of any serious fashion follower who happens to visit and indeed that museums principle curator, Rosemary Harden. The donation is absolutely magnificent, she says. We have a fine collection but were still a provincial museum and this is unprecedented. The earliest look is from Autumn 97/98. Its a layered, crumpled, white demi-sheer shift, remarkable not least for the fact that more than a decade later a woman wearing it would be the envy of any onlooker. It hasnt dated in the least. One is from 2000 another from 2001, but we mainly have from 2002 onwards.The fact that Lang has presented the museum with both mens wear and womens wear is entirely in character. Amongst his other accolades, this was the first designer to show both mens and womens collections on the same catwalk, safe in the knowledge that this was a reflection of life as we know it C as opposed to some rarefied vision the fruits of which must be the preserve of the privileged few. The aesthetic connections between Langs mens and womens wear have always been manifold also: the flat-fronted trousers and skinny jackets for him and her, the cuffs, fluttering canvas straps and splits in T-shirts at shoulder-line and/or elbow (the latter is a reference to the wearing of gloves and haute couture, incidentally), the flashes of Day-Glo colour and strips of PVC...To label his style as androgynous would be reductive, however.Girls have been wearing trousers since the 1920s, so I found it really shocking that it was still an issue, he once told me of any reaction to his early work. It was like when Stella Tennant appeared on the runway for the first time and they all said that she was this androgynous woman. I thought, how weird. Shes a really great looking woman. Whats androgynous about her? That she doesnt have long hair? In the end, I do think its insulting to men and women to insist that they fit a certain profile. I never understood that. But it was not a mission of mine in any way. We like our men to be quite manly, with all possibilities, and our women to be quite feminine, with all possibilities.The term minimal, too, receives short shrift. In fact, Langs work is often extremely elaborate, although elaborate in a determinedly modern as opposed to nostalgic way. Of course, we used to be seen as minimal, but that was at the beginning. When we started out in Paris it was all about Mugler, Montana, Gaultier, thats where we came in; by comparison our clothes just looked completely different.Later, he added: Its not trashy and loud. Thats not our thing. But its often very ornate C just not old ornate. However one chooses to describe them, Langs designs are a million miles away from the blandly beautiful style of the red carpet. In his final years working as a designer, he agreed to include the odd floor-length gown in his collection, but even these were far from conventional, one most memorably sprouting bristling tufts of horsehair.Over the past decade there has been this red-carpet aesthetic that has been very influential, Harden confirms, and Helmut Lang does something very different. His is a very clear aesthetic, a very unfussy aesthetic but its also a very complex aesthetic. Its still very pure, and not compromised at all. The craftsmanship is incredible, the materials are beautiful. Lang always used black and white substantially, but that was only a small part of the story. As Harden says, I dont think Helmut Lang should be written off as monochrome, minimal, androgynous. That just seems derisory.More than anything else, however, Langs clothing is just as relevant today as it always has been. This is extremely unusual, and to say, therefore, that the designer was ahead of his time would be something of an understatement.Born in Vienna in 1956, Helmut Lang began designing in his hometown with no formal training in 1977 and first showed in Paris in 1986. What he presented had absolutely nothing to do with the prevailing aesthetic, mood or even time.Somehow Helmut Lang had already formulated the correct conclusion to the excesses of the Eighties, right in the thick of them, wrote Jo-Ann Furniss in Arena Homme+ following a rare interview with the designer in his Spring Street Studio in 2008. He was essentially divining and designing the future.And while today more than a few other designers are picking up on that fact, for those who bow down at Langs altar his style C which, after all, is exceptional for being heartfelt over-and-above a oneseason reference courtesy of the hand of another C is inimitable. Despite pressure from friends and admirers, however, Lang, as reluctant to step into the limelight as he ever was, shows no sign of returning to the fashion arena.You can look at things from a variety of angles and use your own judgement, especially if you go through changing times as we are now, he told Furniss. Thats the run of things. If you really have your own identity youll keep on doing what you think is really right for you, and youll also understand the next step you want to take.?Denis Lavant plays M. Oscar, a protean passenger who uses his back seat as a dressing-room of disguises, playing businessman, beggar, assassin, victim, family man, old woman C it's like Mr Benn back there. In the most antic and violent sequence, he's an orally-fixated leprechaun who kidnaps a glamour model (Eva Mendes) and carries her off to his lair, a twanging erection in full view.Ferrying M. Oscar about the place is his chauffeur, a chic older lady named Celine (Edith Scob), the steady centre of this fast-dissolving fugue. There is a sense that Carax is simply taking us where his fancy leads him; these are vignettes rather than linked chapters, their only connection the strange, satyr-like presence of Lavant in his various personas.What does it all mean? Damned if I know, though its conjuring of different identities could be an allusion to past lives, or to the chaos of a schizoid personality, shattering into pieces. It's not a film so much as a spell, and however enigmatic or opaque it becomes you feel it working C worming C its way into your head.?Daniel Bedard, 36, allegedly forced entry to the 'My Heart Will Go On' singer's Quebec mansion on Monday (05.09.11) by taking keys and a garage door opener from one of her husband Rene Angelil's unlocked cars, before having a snack and filling the tub with hot water.Police spokesman Franco Di Genova said: "He saw one of Rene's vehicles that was there and unfortunately the doors were not locked, the keys were in the ignition and there was also a garage door opener."He opened the water faucets, was pouring a nice warmish bath and he even managed to eat some pastry that was in the fridge."Celine, Rene and their three children, 10-year-old son Rene-Charles and nine-month-old twins Eddy and Nelson were not at the Canadian home at the time of the incident.The suspect triggered the alarm and according to Di Genova, was shocked to find a swarm of police when he descended the stairs.He added: "The suspect was coming down the big staircase and was asking, 'Hey, guys what are you doing here?' So the officers replied, 'What are you doing here?' and they proceeded to put him under arrest."Mr. Bedard has been charged with breaking and entering, auto theft and causing damage to property and is due back in court on November 21.The police spokesman admitted there was a similar incident at the mansion in 2009 although the suspect was stopped by security before entering the house.Source:Bang Showbiz?Hours before the verdict at a court in Normandy yesterday, Celine Lesage pleaded guilty to killing the infants at birth.Prosecutor Eric Bouillard had sought a 16-year prison sentence for Lesage with no early release before half the term was served.Lesage was suspected of killing her six newborns between August 2000 and September 2007. She was charged with aggravated voluntary homicide and could have received a life sentence."Yes, I killed the babies," she said under questioning.Bursting into tears, she added: "I did it but ... I can't explain it."Four of the babies were smothered and two others strangled with small cords, a medical expert told the court at the trial in Coutances, in Normandy's Manche region of north-west France.Lesage was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time, Luc Margueritte, discovered the tiny bodies in plastic binbags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes. He is the father of the last newborn and was a civil party in the case.On the fourth and final day of the trial, Lesage told the court "she had prepared nothing" ahead of the deaths but nevertheless acknowledged that she had given birth in her bedroom with plastic bags and cords next to her.Lesage has a 14-year-old son.?The 42-year-old actress unveiled a chin-length bob style while promoting her latest movie 'Just Go with It' in Madrid.She completed her new look with a black Theory tank top, Celine pants, Fred Leighton jewels and Pierre Hardy shoes, and was joined at the event by her co-stars Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker.A source said: "Jen looked great with her short style. It was a surprise to see her with a new look because her hair was still long before she arrived in Spain."The screen beauty had long locks at the German premiere of the comedy film in Berlin on Monday (21.02.11) and made the decision to take some inches off before making her next stop on the promotional trail.The new haircut is reminiscent of her most famous style 'The Rachel', which she sported when she first played the character of the same name in hit sitcom 'Friends'.Jennifer recently described the style - a bouffant-type layered cut created by her pal Chris McMillan in 1994 - as the "ugliest haircut ever".She said: "I love Chris but he's the bane of my existence because he started that damn 'Rachel', which was not my best look."How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen."?Every triumph C a record-breaking $10m deal with Warner Music, four million albums sold, consecutive No 1s, a brace of Classical Brits C plays out to a discordant backing track of gripes. Jenkins is, her detractors sniff, an under-trained starlet who has the temerity to sing using a microphone rather than her diaphragm; Classic FM made voluptuous flesh. As The Guardian puts it, writer's quill quivering with indignation, "calling Jenkins's music 'classical' is to test the limits of the Trades Description Act". Her latest venture, ITV's Popstar to Opera Star, in which she mentored faded chart stars as they attempted to sing arias, drew yet more stinging criticism. "It would appear Ms Jenkins has never appeared on the operatic stage", wrote Philip Hensher in this newspaper. "Is it too cruel to wonder whether... she has ever actually seen an opera?"Jenkins rolls her huge, immaculately inked eyes. "We don't think people really got the idea. We never once said that within six weeks these people are going to be singing at Covent Garden. It was meant to be fun." And the niggling that she's never sung an opera? "I have never said that I'm an opera singer, that's one thing that really grates me." She gives a sigh which she tries, half-heartedly, to turn into a laugh. "I sing opera arias when I do concerts, I put them on my CDs, I trained at the Royal Academy. I've always said that I count myself as a classical cross-over artist. To be a cross-over artist, you have to have the core classical training, which I did for many, many years, but also be interested in the pop side of things. You can fit in somewhere in the middle. I feel I do that really well."Ever since her debut, singing "Worms", aged four, in her school talent show C "The audience", she recalls, somehow, "erupted into applause" C Jenkins has been an unashamed crowd-pleaser. To say that she does crossover "really well" is an understatement; every aspect of her image hums with all-round appeal. Her journey from church choir to arena has buckets of home-spun charm sprinkled with a touch of stardust. Her ever-growing repertoire ranges from Carmen to "Cwm Rhondda", from Lionel Richie to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Her album-sleeve looks range from barefoot girl-next-door to tabloid-friendly, "diva-statingly sexy", with the result that little girls want to be her, middle-aged women want to mother her and their husbands want to marry her. She's both the official mascot for Welsh rugby and the unofficial Forces' sweetheart.The only bum note was last year's scandal when she admitted, in an interview with high priest of the celebrity confessional, Piers Morgan, that she had experimented with cocaine. The story seems only to have strengthened her brand, balancing the voice of an angel with something edgier. "I really thought when I did it, 'OK, this could be the end of my career'," she says. "I wasn't surprised by the big reaction to it, but I was surprised that people were so quick and lovely in the way that they supported me. Since then, things have changed C in a good way." The "Sordid Drugs Past!" headlines were a little over the top, after all. "It was written like it was more of an issue than it was C because it was literally just a couple of experimental... it wasn't that big a thing. People see you in long dresses, singing in a certain way and you're put on a pedestal like you have never made a mistake in your life. I did start to find that quite difficult. I'd read articles about myself and they'd say, you know, 'perfect', 'voice of an angel' and I'd think, God I don't think they really understand me."With that messy business out of the way, the queen of cross-over is free to focus on the next step: world domination, or thereabouts. She has just completed a UK tour, selling out stadiums with a sort of classical Cirque du Soleil show which saw her belting out arias while swinging from a trapeze. This week she released her seventh album, Believe, which includes the title ballad from Love Never Dies. Andrew Lloyd Webber invited her to his house to ask if she'd be interested in recording the song. "I said, 'Well let's just sing it now. Let's get round the piano.' So I sang it to him and he said 'the song's yours'." Would she ever do a West End musical? "I would, but not now. Maybe in years to come. I haven't got the time to be dedicated to something like that."For now, Jenkins has her sights firmly fixed on America. She is "international priority" at Warner this year which, for her, means being on a plane all the time, and for the company means making Jenkins, at 5.8m for five albums, the most expensive classical signing of all time, work for her money."Nobody knows me", she says. "I'm realistic that it's a big undertaking and it might not work." Her team to crack America includes Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, and David Foster, the platinum-plated producer behind Celine Dion, Michael Bubl and crossover stars Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban. Jenkins is clearly being lined up as their female equivalent and as such has been touted around various gigs from galas in Vegas to an impromptu, jet-lagged performance of "O Mio Babbino Caro" at Barbra Streisand's birthday party. "All the way through it, I could see Barbra, stroking her dog, Samantha, just watching me".Believe is her bid to become the global princess of popera C "it's probably the most commercial-sounding album I've ever made" C a smooth line-up of ballads and pop songs (and an inexplicable cover of "No Woman, No Cry") delivered in her rich mezzo-soprano.It's a businesslike approach and today, Jenkins, in person an appealing, if unreadable mix of sweet and steely, is dressed for business C pristine blonde hair pulled back in a high ponytail, airbrush-perfect make-up and a designery ensemble of towering heels, tight black trousers and power-shouldered jacket. "Although I love fashion, I try and think, 'OK, is this suitable for you and what you're doing right now or are you just trying to follow everyone else?'", she says primly. "I like to try and always be classy. Record companies always try and have their input. Sometimes there's a way of them pushing that skirt a little bit shorter. You know..."Sing-song voice and doe-eyed smiles aside, Jenkins clearly likes to be in control. "Yep. You have to oversee everything. I don't really want to be the puppet that's told 'wear this' and 'sing that'. That's not me." It's certainly not. Though it drives the groundsmen mad, she always insists on wearing her "Millennium Stadium heels" whenever she's invited to sing the Welsh national anthem from the centre of the hallowed rugby pitch. "I don't own a pair of flat shoes".She operates a strict regime for her voice C no spicy food ("acid reflux!"), no dairy ("for clarity") and she doesn't drink for a week before she's performing. At this year's Brits, she got all dressed up in McQueen, called into Jay-Z's party for half an hour and went home. "It's a rare thing that I go to parties anymore. If I know I haven't got to sing and it's planned, I can go out and enjoy it properly. But other than that, it's in and out." She practises most days in her music room at home. "And I like to do all my vocalising in the shower in the morning". I have no idea what this means. "You remember to clean your teeth", she says patiently. "I remember to do these things."She's equally strict when it comes to her private life. She met her boyfriend, Gethin Jones, when the Blue Peter presenter was competing on Strictly Come Dancing and she sang on the show. "We're not together for any publicity reasons!" she says. "Things are going well. We just don't talk about it because you've got to draw a line." It can be quite hard to draw a line when you have paparazzi parked permanently outside your house, though. "I'm not moaning", she says. "It just becomes a bit unfortunate when you have to start thinking, 'do I really want another picture of me without make-up on?'"There are upsides. This week she has five albums in the classical top 40; her first, Premire, hasn't left the charts for nearly six years. Given that her first record deal, aged 22, was for a million pounds, she must be pretty rich by now? "You don't get a million pounds straight off", she points out. She did, though, treat herself to a grand piano when she signed with Warner and her North London home has a whole room set aside for her couture stage dresses. "I'm still pretty reasonable. My mum taught me to be sensible with money."The green, green grass of home is never far from Jenkins's thoughts. She grew up in Neath, where her mother worked as a radiographer and her father worked in a factory. The whole family sang in the church choir. When she was 11, Jenkins won the Welsh Choirgirl of the Year competition. "Looking back I think, 'how did I not get bullied?' There's nothing that makes you stand out more than singing to your year in assembly on a regular basis." Her parents were encouraging, rather than pushy, driving her around to sing at weddings and with male-voice choirs at the weekends. Did they think she'd be a star? "My Dad did." He never saw it happen, though, dying from lung cancer when she was 15. Jenkins, a straight-A student, went through a brief "stroppy" phase after his death. Her mother wanted her to go to Cambridge but Jenkins, itching to sing, won a place at the Royal Academy when she was 17.She planned to spend a couple of years after graduating teaching in order to earn enough money to enrol on the opera course. "I was too young. My voice wasn't quite there", she says. "I thought maybe I'd be lucky enough to get into an opera chorus and slowly, slowly work my way up. I didn't think I'd have a career until I was at least 30."Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. A producer friend of her then boyfriend (Steve Hart of boy-band Worlds Apart) passed her demo onto Universal. Within half an hour of meeting her, they'd signed her for six albums. "I knew people made albums but that's not discussed at a place like the Academy." She'd like to go back there now and teach students about the business.She's still learning, too. She fits in lessons with her old teacher Beatrice Unsworth whenever she can and (how glamorous!) Placido Domingo has been tutoring her on the side. "It's the best thing ev-er", she whispers. "He's like, 'You should be doing opera! You study with me and we can do this!' If he thinks I can do it..." Her dream role is Carmen. "It's always been something I've wanted to do. I know when I do it, I'll get slated." Carmen at Covent Garden? "Oh gosh, I don't know. I'd love to. We'll see."'Believe' is out now on Warner Bros Records?It seems they want me to pay for their ticket, while they contribute nothing. Why not leave it to the beloved free market? Or better still, the Big Society?Howard PilottLewes, East SussexWith each passing day, the uprising in Libya has become more shocking, and with each new twist and turn the appearances of Gaddafi himself have become ever-increasingly surreal.When the protests began in Tripoli on Tuesday evening, Gaddafi made a weird appearance that seemed to be based on Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, sitting in what looked like a cross between an old-fashioned Renault 4 and a Robin Reliant, while holding up an umbrella and wearing what appeared to be a Davy Crockett hat and a leather jacket."I'm in Tripoli," he declared. It must have been met with some disbelief by most of those watching that Gaddafi knew where in the world he was.His next speech a day later, from an even more embattled Tripoli, saw him ranting, in what appeared to be a half-finished home-improvement extension, that he would devolve even more powers to the masses, despite having ostensibly devolved all such powers long ago when he wrote his Green Book, which he brandished relentlessly during his speech.He then compared himself with the Queen, saying "no one criticised her for invading Iraq" (surely she would have left that to Prince Phillip?) and asserted that Bin Laden was to blame and that the protesters were all on powerful mind-bending drugs.I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't Gaddafi who had been slipped some mind-bending mickey finn.Gaddafi appears a cross between Basil Fawlty and Adolf Hitler, dispensing faux largesse by proposing to devolve powers already devolved, while calling on his supporters to kill the "cockroaches" on his streets. Are crazy despots fans of John Cleese?Henry PageNewhaven, East SussexIt is all very well for the Prime Minister to apologise for the delay in getting British nationals evacuated from Libya but it is hardly surprising there have been delays when the contract for the chartering of the plane at Gatwick airport was signed only at 09.30 on Wednesday morning.If the Americans, Austrians, Belgians, French, Germans, Polish (indeed one Briton got out on a Polish plane), and Russians could get their nationals out, why not Britain? Turkey started evacuating their nationals a week ago. No apology can compensate for the unexplained delay in taking steps to evacuate our nationals to safety.Valerie CrewsBeckenham, KentWhy did the Foreign Office not send military planes in to rescue UK citizens in Libya, as did other countries? Could it be because they were outsourcing the rescue to the private sector, which we all know is far more efficient at organising such things?Hilary MobbsLeedsListening to radio reports of British warships in Benghazi, fighting in Tobruk, evacuation to Malta and planned SAS raids in the Western Desert, I thought I'd woken up in 1941.Steve TravisNottinghamAncient woods are protectedThe claims by the Woodlands Trust that the Government is considering the weakening of planning protection on ancient woodland is simply untrue (report, 21 February). There are no such planning changes being proposed. No government document has ever floated the downgrading of such protection. The Coalition Agreement actually commits the Government to protecting important environmental planning designations.The Coalition Government is seeking to consolidate the 1,000 pages of Whitehall planning policy guidance into a shorter document. This will not undermine the local environment. Protection for ancient woodland in the existing guidance will be carried over. It will also help make the planning system more accessible to the public.At present, only full-time planning professionals C from lawyers, to developers, to council officers, to NGOs C are fully able to navigate through these 25 volumes. Pruning such excessive government paperwork may actually save a fair few trees from the paper mill.Greg Clark MPMinister for Decentralisation,Department for Communities and Local GovernmentDon't blame us baby boomersMervyn King's solution for the large rise in inflation is keeping interest rates low, which is all very well if there is anybody taking advantage of it to invest in jobs and producing saleable exports but useless in terms of financial gain. We need government-led investment initiatives to improve our economic situation, not cuts leading to a financial doldrum.As a baby boomer, I am fed up with being blamed for the present financial state by inexperienced, selfish Thatcherite children. The parlous state of the world is not my fault. I have been educated by the state (thank you very much), had a career as a teacher (payback). I have had a conscience about local affairs and been part of the army of volunteers that David Cameron thinks he invented, and stood and gained a seat on the local council. I have even stood for Parliament.It is all not my fault. We baby boomers have worked hard, paid tax, contributed to pension funds (where have they gone?) and given to the community. I blame those people who have led us into this sorry financial mess, the establishment with their inherited wealth who think they can govern and can't, and the nouveau generation who believed that using non-existent assets to gain wealth is not cheating and who led us into the sub-prime mortgage crisis.This country needs freeing up for entrepreneurs, investment in actual products and reform of the property and land laws which lead to such a disproportionate distribution of wealth around the country. And which is the generation who will suffer most from the cuts in pensions, health and care? Why, the baby boomers of course.Gail ColeshillCrewkerne, SomersetAs a baby boomer, I am getting somewhat irritated by the media's continued rubbishing of this age group. I grew up in the austere Fifties; it was not great. Yes, I went to university, all fees covered, but at that time very few people went and the country needed to improve its graduate cohort.I am now retired on a modest pension (I think I am, strictly speaking, living in poverty), after teaching special needs for more than 35 years in schools in deprived areas.Most voluntary work for my age group demands low-level skills. Any government worth its salt should be looking to utilise this well-educated group who can offer a wealth of experience and skills. Baby boomers are not a rich elite but a force for good overlooked in our ageist society.Pauline DandoNarberth, PembrokeshireSmaller fish are endangered tooSteve Connor's article ("Out with tuna, in with sardines C a recipe for saving the seas", 19 February) actively encouraged readers to "do our bit for the balance of the oceans" by choosing sardines, anchovies and herring over threatened larger fish such as tuna or cod.Yes: big fish are in trouble, but what your article doesn't make clear is that because of over-fishing, piracy and pollution, we are losing our populations of small fish too. Anchovy stocks in particular are undergoing the depletion predicted by (of all things) Futurama; herring and sild from most fisheries, and sardines from some fisheries, are also becoming rare and should be avoided by the ethical consumer.Yes, it is one of the biggest idiocies of our time that these delicious and threatened small fish are ground up for fertiliser and farmed fish-food; but aquaculture on its present scale is entirely unsustainable.The ecological damage of the waste chemicals and super-bugs released from intensive fish farms is huge, particularly in developing countries, and eventually we're going to run out of viable water systems to farm in.It is also misleading to imply that we're in for a bonanza of tasty small fish because we've removed the predators; experts agree that what we're actually in for is a takeover by simpler organisms like jellyfish, and more toxic areas in which no oxygen-creating plankton can live, which will in turn accelerate climate change.Miranda RoseOxfordA pension 'race to the bottom'I was saddened by your leading article on public-sector pensions (21 February). You seem to be arguing that because wages and pension rights have been driven down in the private sector (apart from in the boardrooms), similar conditions should apply in the public sector.Thus we become engaged in a ghastly "race to the bottom", with people paying heavily for a pension which will be worth little by the time they come to retire. The Local Government Pension Scheme is viable, with assets of 130bn invested mainly in the UK. We are already having to work longer before we can draw our pensions. This should be enough.Anthea BeaumontHighworth, WiltshireCould do betterYour article, "Teachers 'will face faith discrimination'" (18 February) is inaccurate. The provisions in the Education Bill to which you refer relate to voluntary controlled and foundation schools, yet you assert that they will apply to Catholic schools. No Catholic schools are voluntary controlled or foundation schools.Maeve McCormackCatholic Education Service for England and Wales,London SW1Perspectives on Burchill's viewsA capital crime at the wrong timeWith Julie Burchill for a friend who needs enemies? I refer to the strange travelogue under "Opinion Britain" (24 February), penned by her in capital letters on our behalf.She advocates travel to Israel in preference to other countries in the Middle East ("gone there because they WEREN'T Israel" and "Dubai C WHAT a dump! and "PATHETIC!"). The article must have raised a few eyebrows in Israel, if, indeed, Burchill's column is read or appreciated there. Her immediate reason are the bloody events in Libya.Yes, they are appalling as have been others for the past 60 years in Israel/Palestine itself, in the Lebanon and in Gaza.This is hardly the time to make comparisons and excuses; injustice, persecution and violence are equally unacceptable wherever they occur. But please, no more CAPITAL LETTERS.Professor PP AnthonyExeterThe Arab world is a haven to manyThe Arab world awakens hopefully to a new hopeful dawn. But there can be no excuse for Julie Burchill's offensive and ignorant remarks. Whatever ails the Arab world, it has offered over the centuries a haven and a home to waves of immigrants fleeing persecution. Minorities, including my family, who originally came from various corners of the world, Armenians, Circassians, Greeks and others still live there in harmony.I was not surprised to see Egyptian crowds spilling into the streets to articulate their desire for political freedom, making a point of showing their unity as Christians and Muslims in the wake of the recent disgraceful attacks on Coptic churches.Those less ignorant of history will know that Damascus is as important to the history of Arab civilisation as Venice was to the European renaissance.Satanay DorkenLondon N10The blame gameJulie Burchill is right, Israel gets blamed for a lot of things, including: bombing Gaza; blockades; building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, and having nuclear weapons.Celine SkinnerCoulsdon, Surrey ?The "Next Steps" report of 1988, product of a team led by Sir Robin Ibbs, argued that efficiency would be improved, first, by carving up Departments and hiving off routine work into free-standing "agencies", and second by giving individual managers responsibility for decisions on budgets, personnel and the purchase of stuff like office equipment.A unit was set up within the Cabinet Office to push through these changes. Semi-autonomous "agencies" were created (some of them now seemingly tarred with the same brush as the derided "quangos"). Central provision of services such as advertising (Central Office of Information) and printing (HM Stationery Office) was deemed wasteful. Pay and other personnel matters were decentralised (the Civil Service Department had already been jettisoned); departments were told to negotiate their own terms and conditions of service.Now, along comes another C Green C knight, not to chop off limbs but, in effect, stitch them back together: economies of scale are the new "Next Steps". Meanwhile, in the NHS, budgetary control is to pass from primary care trusts to the service's smallest unit, the GP surgery.You couldn't make it up.C Sladen,Woodstock, Oxfordshire"Staggering waste," says Sir Philip Green of central government's lamentable failure to make use of its scale and buying power. He should turn his lens next on the same central government's deliberate policy of atomising the education service.Successive governments presided first over the demise of highly efficient central purchasing departments like those run by Essex, the West Riding and the GLC. More recently in the name of "freedom for heads" they have allowed every school to organise its own contracts for goods and services, to place extravagant advertisements for staff and to determine salary scales and conditions of service.Does anyone really believe that corner shops are cheaper and more efficient than Tesco or Sainsbury? Whereas heads used to be able to devote most of their time and expertise to leading their teams of professional teachers, now they are expected to oversee administrative services which once were provided economically by their local council.Devising an economical schools service does not seem to be high among Michael Gove's or his department's priorities. Instead of doing that, their aim seems to be to fragment the service and encourage schools to compete against each other with ever more rose-tinted advertisements and ever higher salaries, and make each school accountable directly to the centre. For "freedom" read "divide and rule."John Mann,London NW2Agenda behind the Big SocietyFurious arguments rage about whether this, that or the other budget should be cut and by how much, or this that or the other quango abolished C hardly any about the ideology behind it all.Behind the windy rhetoric of Cameron's Big Society is an ideological agenda which seeks to end the gains painfully achieved over the past century, supported by the likes of Lloyd George, Keynes, Beveridge, and the 1945-51 Labour government, based upon the notion that the state has a duty to protect the poor and vulnerable against the worst effects of free-market capitalism, and provide small but significant benefits which would slightly reduce the vast inequalities that it creates.In the Big Society, with the state's role in education, health, housing, old age and poverty relief minimised, it will be everyone for him- or herself. Inevitably it will be the rich, powerful and cunning who will win out.The deficit, combined with the abandonment by Clegg and others of everything decent that they stood for, provide a wonderful opportunity for Cameron and his party to achieve a historic change, using the disguise of a government bringing in expedient measures to cope with a short-term crisis.It important to defend one's corner against the cuts. In the long term it is more important to fight against the ideological agenda behind them.Jim Cordell,ManchesterWith the inquest into the 7/7 London bombings under way, it is well worth remembering that the UK once had the Civil Defence Corps, effectively disbanded in 1968 by Labour, and the Royal Observer Corps, dismantled by the Tories in 1995.Both of these volunteer organisations would have been very useful in several of our national emergencies, such as the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic and the London bombs. Instead of squandering them, the goodwill and expertise of the thousands of people manning these useful bodies could have easily been channelled to fulfil post-Cold War needs.It is irksome to hear politicians blather on about the "Big Society" when it is they who have destroyed it.Stephen Gash,CarlisleThe "Big Society" idea cannot work in today's self-obsessed society. Most of us are too preoccupied with what we have, materially, and not with who we are, as human beings. We are now simply too selfish and only concerned about having the latest gadget, following celebrity fashions, climbing the social and housing "ladder" and updating our Facebook pages.The idea of altruistic behaviour and concerns about ethics are now rare.Mark Richards,BrightonA pizza and a forced smileI read your article on Pizza Express training their staff to "flirt" with customers and nurture a special relationship, with a depressed sigh (14 October). This is yet another example of the phoney "buddying" these giant conglomerates try to pile on us via their overworked and underpaid staff.Forced small talk builds a relationship only slightly more meaningful than the one we have with the garlic bread. Usually during this bogus love-in, we both know that they simply want to get on with their jobs, get home and enjoy life. We simply want to let them.At my gym, the Virgin Active staff bellow "Hello!" at me as I walk through the door, even though I haven't noticed them and they are 30 feet away. Later on they yell "Bye!" at me as I crawl out of the door. I recently witnessed an external staff trainer chastising one of them for not doing it.If Richard Branson wants to get to know me and make me feel "special", then I'll happily pass on my details and we can maybe talk space travel or beards over a lemongrass milkshake. But making his poor staff force hollow, manufactured greetings on to customers from a distance is just weird.We do not want to be best friends with giant corporations. We want them to treat their staff with the respect they deserve, stop making their jobs harder, not steal their tips and stop treating us like pliable cretins.A Burns,ManchesterSwearing an oath to IsraelDr Jacob Amir writes from Jerusalem (letter, 16 October) that Israel "does not strive to be a purely Jewish state" and the "requirement to be loyal to the Jewish and Democratic state of Israel refers to 'Jewish' as a people not as a religion".Of course, this confusing sleight of hand between Jewish ethnicity and religion could easily be avoided by simply requiring people to be loyal to the state of Israel, not to any particular ethnic or religious group within that state.Unfortunately, this loyalty oath is strongly promoted by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, who most definitely wants Israel to be a purely Jewish state, as he regularly calls for the ethnic cleansing of Arab Israelis. It appears Israel increasingly prefers his road to fascism over its traditions of democracy.Chris Webster,AbergavennyDr Jacob Amir writes: "Many democracies demand a swearing of allegiance as a part of becoming a citizen. The proposed Israeli Law of Allegiance is no different". The proposed Israeli Law of Allegiance is very different, because it applies only to Arabs who apply for citizenship. Jews who immigrate into Israel do not have to swear allegiance.Just as 80 per cent of Israelis are Jewish, so approximately 80 per cent of Americans are Christians. One can imagine the protests if Jews were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States of America but Christians were not C and they would be quite right to object to such discriminatory treatment.John Naylor,Ashford, MiddlesexLast hope for honest politicsMichael O'Hare (letter, 15 October) no doubt reflects the views of a great number of voters who feel let down by politicians. He says he is joining many others in becoming politically cynical. But before people do that, there is one party left to consider.The Liberal Democrats have betrayed a huge number of people: students, the middle class, the working class, pensioners, disarmament campaigners, and others. They promised to introduce a new politics: if that new politics involves crossing your fingers when signing pledges, it's understandable that people are cynical.But the Green Party still stands for everything the Lib Dems used to stand for. Free higher education paid for out of general taxation. Proper, proportional, voting reform. Proper action on climate change, not sham, green-washed action. Opposition to NHS privatisation. A living wage. A decent pension. Genuine action on the estimated 100bn of taxes that are avoided by the rich each year. The scrapping of Trident. And sensible, not populist or oppressive, policies on migration.If disaffected Lib Dem or Labour voters are off to join the ranks of the politically apathetic, I would ask them to think once more, and go for a party which, up and down the country, in councils, assemblies and parliaments, is still with them: and is still keeping its promises.Elliot Folan,London N20Mike Brayshaw (letter, 16 October) asks how Labour voters would feel if the Lib Dem party were to get all they wanted in the Coalition.Well, as a former Labour supporter for 65 years I will tell you. I voted Lib Dem out of disgust at the expenses fiasco. I hoped to see a three-party system that would supply checks and balances to raise the level of ethics in British politics. What did I get? Thatcher Mark 2. I will now vote for the Green Party. At least they are not the puppets of right-wing media tycoons, or exclusively concerned with their bank balance.Dave Lienard,Newcastle upon TyneUniversities are a social goodAndrew Meads (letter, 15 October) suggests that D J Powell's upholding of the view of education as providing social and not merely individual benefits (letter, 14 October) is "undermined" by his example of firms paying graduates higher wages. What a wonderful example of the narrow accountancy mentality which created the problem in the first place!Why ever might we see the benefits here as just economic? Why would we not see them rather in terms of happier, more whole, more broadly fulfilled individuals and organisations operating, as we all do, in the social domain, greater financial fulfilment being just one part of this?The grim, atomised philosophy that sees only a few professions (teaching, medicine) as yielding "positive externalities" for society is surely not one most of us subscribe to; yet this is just what the Browne report would foist on us.Michael Ayton,DurhamThe world financial system was brought to the brink of meltdown by allowing financial institutions to give large loans to people who were not in a position to pay them back. And now we learn that a new proposal is to be laid before Parliament to reform the university system by ... er ... forcing a generation of young people to take out loans of 30,000-40,000 to pay for their education, in the expectation that many will never be in a position to pay them back. This, we are told, is "progressive".Rory Ridley-Duff,SheffieldLatest outrage against EnglishI had just about come to terms, after a long time, with "level playing field" and "at the end of the day", but I'm finding it very difficult to accept the latest in-phrase. Its use has become more and more prevalent during the past couple of years, and now it has well and truly entered mainstream usage.Last week the term "up for grabs" was used many times in respect of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Fiona Bruce on the BBC news stated that there were many medals "up for grabs".Last week in my local paper, a headline read "1,000 of free parking 'up for grabs' ".This term is now used, it seems, to cover anything that can be won, competed for, achieved, is available or is attainable. I feel that it may indicate a change in society whereby an aggressive rather than patient approach reaps the rewards. Its demeans whatever has been achieved.Geoff Manning,Frinton on Sea, EssexSafe sex filmsSo "Fear infects the LA porn industry after star tests positive for HIV" (report, 14 October). During the past 10 years you have published letters from me about the need for all filmed pornography to show protective sex. Is this such a difficult proposal to enact?Mike Bor,(Principal Examiner, British Board of Film Classification, 1993-2000)London W2Perspectives on defence spendingStay out of those foreign fieldsLet us hope that the defence review will be just that C a review of how we defend our island nation, and not how we attack other people.The idea that attack is the best form of defence may be true as a tactic, but as a strategy it is disastrous. It leads to the American idea of pre-emptive attack C attacking countries we don't like because we think that they may attack us.Politicians never properly estimate the consequences of their warlike actions. They make decisions about our lives on an over-optimistic view that they will always win, and win quickly at low cost. They never seem to ask the question, "What if we lose?". And we do.We have found ourselves embroiled in two recent wars, both of which we are likely to lose at a far greater cost than anyone estimated. Our only successes have been in those cases where we co-operated with the UN, usually at the request of the existing government (Kuwait, Kosovo). Why do we never think that people will fight back when we invade their country? It's their home and we would do the same thing.The defence review should concentrate on "defence" and not on "offence" C defending our country and not on attacking others. The English Channel and the North Sea are our biggest defensive asset, so we need a strong air force and a strong navy. We do not need a big army if we don't intend to attack another country.Given that we are now in a Union with the rest of Europe, our defences need to be in concert with our friends. The only time when we need an expeditionary force is to defend British possessions elsewhere, such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. This would not be the invasion of an enemy but the rescue of a friend, and would not need the kind of force that we are presently using in Afghanistan.The French have the same problem with their overseas territories so they are again a natural ally.John Day,Port Solent, HampshireWhy we are in AfghanistanDr Mark Campbell-Roddis (letter, 14 October) has a short memory. We went into Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attack in New York, planned and carried out by Bin Laden, who escaped from Afghanistan years ago. So why are we still there, killing thousands of innocent people?I quote the words of the late Peter Ustinov: "Terrorism is war of the poor and powerless. War is terrorism of the rich and powerful."Celine Skinner,Coulsdon, SurreyGroundedA carrier at sea without aircraft is an Exocet strike waiting to happen. Portsmouth is rather short of car parks. The Royal Navy is rather short of money. Should the new flightless carrier be leased to NCP?John Morris,Worthing, West Sussex***Send letters by email to: post to: Letters to the Editor, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HFBy fax to: 020 7005 2399Please include your street address and daytime phone number.Letters may be edited. ?In her second season at Celine C the revitalised status label du jour C designer Phoebe Philo certainly drove that message home. Narrow coats with funnel collars and impeccably cut shift dresses with big leather pockets were the stuff that fashion editors' C and perhaps even more so, buyers' C dreams are made of. And so too were vertiginous black suede loafers and riding boots with polished gold heels. This was a cleverly thought out and executed collection of real clothes C and real clothes are the story of the season C promoting a basically minimal mindset that was present on this as well as many other catwalks.Yohji Yamamoto's aesthetic has its roots in men's workwear, and this season saw an immensely dignified and impeccably edited reprisal of this particular theme. Although Yamamoto is most famous for his allegiance to black he has also always been in love with navy, and navy gabardine in particular. So here were some of the finest coats, fisherman-knit dresses and kilts suspended from a single diagonal strap, jumpsuits and overblown skirts.In the Future"The revenge of nice clothes" was how one fashion editor in particular summed up the season, and it is true that the catwalks were less pyrotechnic this time around and C for editorial purposes at least C potentially challenging for that.It would be all too easy for Nicolas Ghesquire, designer at Balenciaga, to send out an impeccable collection of tailoring C his is some of the finest in the business. While the Balenciaga selling collection will no doubt include such staples, Ghesquire's main line is more of a laboratory, or "the brains" of the label, as he puts it. And this designer has more ideas than most of those working in fashion put together.There was, as always, a futuristic feel to bright white, quilted coats with scaled up collars, knitwear that stood away from the body in Pop Art colours, and a final sequence of "bubble" dresses C shot through with text from the French press critiquing the art world C in equally pretty, but this time metallic, hues. Fabrics were as technically advanced and difficult-to-identify as ever, as experimentation dominated on every level and throughout.No one would ever expect Comme des Gar?ons' Rei Kawakubo to play safe either C it's simply not in her nature. Even by this great designer's standards, however, clothing that boasted organically shaped padding trapped between layers of classic Comme des Gar?ons fabric C from pinstriped wool to demi-sheer polyester C making models appear at least twice their real size, was "strong", to use that company's own parlance. The idea, according to a spokesperson, was to externalise the way in which we protect our inner selves, and it was a lovely one C as indeed were the clothes.In a JacketThere's been an emphasis on the jacket for some time, but this season there's more choice than ever. Stefano Pilati's collection for Yves Saint Laurent, which was black almost in its entirety, boasted a fine selection C this is the spiritual home of the Le Smoking tuxedo. In particular, a fluidly tailored design, wearable with arms in or out of sleeves and teamed with wide-legged trousers, was the height of elegance. For his finale, Pilati introduced a sequence of vivid shades.Cocktail dresses in fuchsia, emerald, violet and gold were pure Yves Saint Laurent in flavour. More tailored jackets were on display at Givenchy, where models with sparkling crimson pouts wore inky black tailoring with a markedly Gothic edge, at Stella McCartney where mid-Nineties minimalism was key, and at Hussein Chalayan, whose American road trip opened with the type of androgynous, no-frills look loved by the New York uptown girl. Chalayan's collection was remarkable for its authenticity: he is as determined to maintain individuality as he is to dress women in an interesting and elegant manner.In the ColdControversially, and for the first time in years, autumn/winter clothing actually looked like autumn/winter clothing this season. Oversized knitted bed jackets woven with ribbon in sugared almond colours were as pretty as a picture at Dior. Snow boots lined with faux fur as white and fluffy as cotton wool were the order of the day at Junya Watanabe, and as for Chanel on ice C think yeti boots with Perspex heels...The most beautiful coat of the season was, perhaps, Alber Elbaz's black blanket design for Lanvin. With a broad, softly rounded, dropped shoulder, and nothing but a giant safety pin disrupting its soft surface, this was a fine example of why Elbaz C a technician par excellence with a proudly romantic heart C is continuing to whip up a quiet storm at that label. From the sublime to the plain insane over at John Galliano, where fashion's favourite fantasist had what is described in fashion circles as "a moment", with quite the bravest, boldest coats imaginable C best with a dropped waist and big bouncing skirt, and worn with equally oversized hat. This came courtesy, as always, of the milliner Stephen Jones.In the ArmyPatch pockets, epaulettes, camouflage prints and a veritable deluge of green were on display everywhere in Paris. Demonstrating a technical virtuosity that is second to none, Junya Watanabe's intricately worked flight and bomber jackets and parkas, army rib knits and softer pleated, draped and folded jersey dresses and skirts were an exploration of this particular theme from start to finish. Then there were sweet puffed taffeta skirts in sludgy military hues and sprouting silver-grey fringing at Vivienne Westwood, and cavalry jackets in tweedy fabrics worn with ruffled chiffon at Dior. At Dries Van Noten, meanwhile, army green jackets, coats, jodhpurs, skirts and more saw the designer adapting a principally functional mindset to suitably metropolitan effect; very chic in a quintessentially Parisian manner. Also of note here were ultra-luxe sweatshirts that were perhaps the most desirable take on the re-emergence of sportswear-influenced clothing of the season. They looked brilliant worn with opalescent dirndl skirts.?Some 360,000 families make swift exits from their properties each year because of disruptive neighbours; whether it's down to extensive and seemingly unnecessary redevelopment of high-value houses in classy parts of town, or aggression, violence and fear on sink estates, the effect of disputes can take a huge toll. Long-term mental scars can be caused by the constant stand-offs, but there are also financial costs related to trying to put things right C including the ultimate solution of moving house.There are countless ways in which neighbours irritate us, and while they are finding new ways to do so, we're inventing new ways in which we can take offence. A quick survey undertaken on Twitter to unearth stories of readers' altercations with neighbours returned dozens of answers ranging from the distressing to the amusing C but they were mostly centred around the way people's otherwise-private behaviour suddenly becomes public.This can encompass things like unwelcome displays of nudity or out-of-control pets, but the most obvious manifestation is noise; the past 20 years have seen a soaring number of complaints about domestic noise to environmental health officers, and while much of this may be down to our increased awareness of our right to complain, the problem of nuisance noise is endemic C despite the threat of 5,000 fines and prosecution for the worst offenders.But while local authorities struggle to cope with the number of noise-related disputes they're requested to attend with decibel meters, there is little acknowledgement of the disruptive effects of noises that may not reach the required threshold for action to be taken C in other words, it's not all about volume.Richard Moore, who lives in Dalston, east London, describes his experience of an upstairs neighbour with a Celine Dion fixation: "Night or day, she only plays two songs, "The Power Of Love" and "Think Twice". Again and again. Sometimes just one repeated, sometimes both repeated, sometimes one skipped to go to the other, and then impatiently back to the first."Elizabeth Stokoe, professor of social interaction at Loughborough University, wrote a paper in 2005 that examined public manifestation of people's domestic lives, and she acknowledges the potential for low-level irritations to grow into something far greater C particularly in the case of noise. "You can't disattend those things," she says. "It's similar to the way you start to hear your own clock ticking at night, and then you can't stop hearing it, and you need to take the battery out to sleep."Many neighbour disputes centre around such things; others might deem them insignificant, they can't be easily complained about, and they're more difficult to mediate. "You come across people who, for example, want to appropriate public space," says Stokoe. "For example, people get upset about somebody parking outside their home but they don't own the street."The recent case of a skip falling through a Chelsea street and becoming embedded following basement excavations in one property would be a more understandable reason for residents' fury but we can become just as distressed over something as inconsequential as a neighbour painting their fence an unpleasant shade. "You do get people putting things on their house or on their roof or in their garden," says Stokoe, "and if neighbours can see that when they look out of their homes, some will attempt to appropriate the view, as well. They want control over that. But it's very hard to work that up into a valid complaint and not come across as unreasonable."A story emerged a couple of weeks ago concerning a dispute between Charles Saatchi and his wife Nigella Lawson and their Belgravia neighbours that provides a vivid example of this. Saatchi objected to some scaffolding that had long-obscured the view from the back of his home; he eventually snapped, took matters into his own hands and paid his own workmen to remove the scaffolding, but in doing so caused an alleged 50,000 worth of damage to tiles. While some neighbours supported Saatchi's actions, others were baffled; one, Paulo Marques, expressed his view to a reporter that "some people will complain about anything". But while the anger that can be provoked by seemingly innocuous situations can be labelled irrational, it's incredibly hard to pinpoint the stage where genuine grievance spills over into intolerance."Small things to some people are big things to others," says Stokoe, "but once people are entrenched in a position it's like any other dispute C it becomes incredibly hard for them to find their way back from that position." Anyone who, for example, observes their neighbours' inability to deal with refuse might sympathise with Saatchi's distress. But when neighbour disputes revolve around issues of aesthetics and personal preferences, arguments can become as disproportionate and intense as if everyone were living under the same roof.The "menace" of leylandii is well documented; in many cases the fast-growing trees end up dwarfing houses, causing disputes that can sometimes turn violent. But while the law is clear on the permitted height of leylandii, and organisations campaign to keep them under control, a significant proportion of us would say: "What's the problem?" While inappropriately towering trees might provide an immediate indicator that all is not well in a neighbourhood, most neighbour disputes would go unnoticed by passers-by or prospective buyers of a property.Homes are emotional purchases; we become invested in their suitability very quickly and the prospect of bad relationships with neighbours is rarely considered. According to Ed Mead, director of Douglas & Gordon estate agents, this is a big mistake."The single biggest thing that's going to affect your quality of life in a new home is the behaviour of your neighbours. But it's the one thing you're utterly powerless over C so you have to ameliorate that problem to the biggest extent you can, while acknowledging that you're not really going to have a proper idea of what they're like until after you move in." While it's a drawback of property that it's impossible to "test run" it, Mead stresses that there are things you can do. "As part of your strategy you should go and spend time there on a Saturday afternoon or a Friday evening, just walking around the area. But I know from experience that less that 5 per cent of people will actually bother doing that kind of thing."Under the terms of the Estate Agents Act and the Misrepresentation Act, sellers are obliged to tell prospective buyers about anything that would materially affect their purchase C including unruly or unreasonable neighbours C but according to Mead, people tend not to give these details a second thought. "This is particularly the case in a rising property market," he says, "because people figure that that if it's a disaster they'll just sell up and make a bit of money anyway. But at times like this, where people are more likely to stay put for longer, the neighbour issue needs to be looked into more seriously."There is a small crumb of comfort for anyone embroiled in the problem of difficult neighbours, and that's that neighbourhoods are transitory states that are constantly changing; it's entirely possible that the people currently causing you distress may be gone in the near future. But it's a warning to the rest of us that such people may be heading in our direction. And that we may require all our powers of diplomacy to achieve that "perfect blend" so beloved of Ramsay Street.CHATROOM COMPLAINERSNeighbour complaints from Twitter: is this as bad as it gets?@Cornettofairy My neighbours dug up my garden in the night, flattened it, and have put up a marquee which they use as a church.@NadiaKamil I used to live beneath backpackers who at night threw themselves down the stairs & photographed it for fun.@SoooooZee An ex-neighbour once stood outside & yelled "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY LOUNGE?" Then stood there looking embarrassed until I closed the blinds.@dodgrile An old neighbour used to superglue cigarette butts to my house and car in the middle of the night. That was fun.@clarehr A neighbour appeared at the window opposite with a sign: "HELP I'm hostage at gunpoint." We called the police; when they arrived she denied all knowledge.@jamescator I have a crazy preacher neighbour who rings a handbell at 4am for an hour whilst chanting religiously.@karlhodge My neighbour bangs on my door at 6.30 in the morning shouting for "Andy". No one in my house is called Andy.@moonjam One neighbour tried to drunkenly open our front door with their key. And put an entire washing machine in the communal bin.@stuartdredge I had a neighbour who took a boat-load of strange drugs and ended up being led away after shooting our milkman with a BB gun.?"We are not together anymore," it read. "It's very difficult and very personal and we hope everyone can respect our privacy."This break-up is the latest in a line of failed relationships for the 50-year-old serial monogamist, who is currently promoting his film The Ides of March, which will open in Venice this summer.Despite having the looks and charisma of a matinee idol, Clooney is known for being unlucky in love. At least, that's how the thousands of women only too ready to settle down with him see it."I was married," Clooney told Piers Morgan in an interview last January. "I gave it a shot. I wouldn't have the patience and dedication you need to take care of a family. I admire those qualities in other people, but it's not for me."He married actress Talia Balsam in Las Vegas in 1989, but the couple separated after four years, and Clooney's dance card has been marked by a series of models since then. In 1995, he dated TV presenter Karen Duffy; from 1996 to 1999, he was linked to Celine Balitran, a French law student from Paris, who was 23 and working as a waitress when she met him.Balitran subsequently moved to LA to be with him, where her looks secured her modelling contracts with lingerie label Victoria's Secret, among others. Then came UK model and TV presenter Lisa Snowdon, who was on and then off again with the actor for five years, and more recently, Vegas waitress Sarah Larson, who Clooney dated for a year in 2007.Despite his own stellar reputation, Clooney has had relationships with fairly low-profile and ordinary (beyond their incomparable beauty, of course) women C friends say this is to do with the actor's own rather modest, and often humble, outlook on life and the nature of his fame."I am sincerely fond of him," said actress Tilda Swinton in 2008. She became firm friends with Clooney when they worked on Michael Clayton and Burn After Reading together."Would it be too peculiar to say that I feel somehow protective of him? He tends to decide the mood of the room, which must feel like a bit of a strain for him. I don't know whether he always found himself in this position, or if this is a by-product of superstardom."Certainly, Clooney is known to see his career as a vocation, and takes his duties to his fans very seriously.Such is his solicitousness and reputation for being a "nice guy" that Michelle Pfeiffer, his co-star in 1996's One Fine Day, once bet him $100 that he would marry again (Clooney dated Pfeiffer's sister Dedee in the early 1980s). He took the bet and let it inflate to $100,000 (62,260).Nicole Kidman, with whom he starred in The Peacemaker in 1997, also bet $10,000 that he would be a father by his 40th birthday. When she was proved wrong, Kidman sent Clooney a cheque, which was duly returned with a note that read: "Double or nothing for another 10 years.""If I need to surround myself with children and feel like I have this big extended family. I can always call Brad and Angie [Pitt and Jolie] and ask them to stay with me, just to remind me why I'm so happy," Clooney said in his Piers Morgan interview."I'm a firm believer in marriage," his most recent ex, Canalis, told an Italian magazine this month. "In the future, I will be married, but for the time being, I'm happy as I am." She also told journalists that she expected the maternal instinct to kick in at some point "like a lightning bolt".Clooney was clearly frightened off by the remarks. He often plays lone wolf characters in his films, such as Syriana and Michael Clayton, both of which feature isolated and unsocialised protagonists. In both films, his love interests, Greta Scacchi and Jennfier Ehle respectively, were written out with Clooney's approval. "If he's loved, then he has a buffer," he told the New Yorker of the Clayton character in 2008, "and somehow it isn't as awful."But despite this, Clooney is known for his fun-loving and sociable side, not to mention his voracious enjoyment of the company of attractive women. "Who wants 70 virgins?" he joked in 2005 about suicide bombers. "I want eight pros."He also owns an 18th century villa on the edge of Lake Como, to which he regularly invites friends and holds large parties; it became a regular haunt for the fabulous during Milan's twice-yearly menswear shows."He loves the guys and the camaraderie of the guys," actor and friend Richard Kind told the press.Clooney has a soft spot for practical jokes, and once bought a fleet of motorbikes for him and his friends. "I have my friends C nine guys for 25 years," he has said. "They're the guys I see every Sunday."In other words, being George Clooney's girlfriend seems an auxiliary and temporary role, calling to mind Hollywood's great golden age romancers Errol Flynn and Clark Gable. And what more might you expect from a man who once sold a kiss at a charity auction for more than 200,000?Ladies, form an orderly queue C just don't expect a happily ever after.?Wilson, director of the celebrated Central Saint Martins MA fashion course, is showing me around the college's new campus in London's King's Cross. Known as the Granary Building, it opens to students on Monday. And she's on a roll. She talks C that's when she's not shouting or laughing, both of which she does a lot C at breakneck speed, jumping between subjects. The efficiency (or lack of it) of builders, the wonders of fold-down hooks and enormous mirrors might capture her attention one minute; government cuts, the mores of the fashion industry or a high-octane tutorial consume her the next. She is brilliantly intelligent, relentlessly quick-witted, side-splittingly funny and, above all, passionate. Saying exactly what she thinks is something she does as if she just can't help herself. Her lack of diplomacy is dazzling.Her reputation as a formidable taskmaster C and even fiercer critic C precedes her. Wilson is the single most well-known fashion educator, certainly in this country, if not the world. But her success rate is more remarkable still. She's run the course in question since 1992 and, with a skeleton, cleverly chosen team, has seen everyone from Christopher Kane to Mary Katrantzou and from Louise Gray to Louise Goldin make it on to the professional catwalk in recent years, to name but a few. She gets frustrated, she says, by the description "star maker" because that overlooks the fact that her former students are also currently in significant positions behind the scenes at Louis Vuitton, Celine, Lanvin, Balenciaga. Pick an internationally-respected label C any label C and the chances are they will be there. Over 90 per cent of her graduates go straight into employment. And that is unprecedented.We meet a month before the college opens its doors and building work is still in progress. "Look for the bathroom shop. It's opposite that. I'll meet you at the front gates because I'm kind," she says by way of directions. We grab a cup of tea at the local caf that can hardly be described as heaving ("They're not going to know what's hit them when over 3,000 students turn up here") and then move into Granary Square. In fact, the new school will eventually house around 4,500 students."I think I'll miss John Lewis," Wilson says of her relocation from Charing Cross Road, where the fashion arm has resided for decades C John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan are among those who cut their teeth there. "I'll have to go to John Lewis on my weekends off. That's it. I can put it as succinctly as that." Saturday trips to Britain's favourite department store aside, Wilson is determinedly upbeat, and this despite the fact that the project has attracted its fair share of critics. How will Central Saint Martins (CSM) function without the seedy environs of Soho to inspire its students? Given that Soho is about as seedy these days as Henley-on-Thames, that is unconvincing. Or, didn't the formerly make-do-and-mend facilities make students all the more resourceful? In light of the magnificence of the space students will soon occupy, this appears retrogressive in the extreme. Far from being counter-creative, this is a site that maintains many of its original features C expanses of the most beautiful old brickwork have been left exposed, ranks of original columns support floors and ceilings. They are fused with a spare and appropriately industrial modernity that ensures the atmosphere is as raw-edged and expressive as might best befit its soon-to-be occupants. The scale of the place, meanwhile, is nothing short of awe-inspiring."You can't refuse to move forward when you're educating in design," Wilson says, "because that's what we're asking students to do the whole time." She's been working throughout the summer moving materials, putting fixtures and fittings into place and supervising the installation of everything from Pax wardrobes ("I love Ikea, it's non-design but it works") to cutting tables. "It's all focused and completely rejuvenating. When you're responsible for leading a group of young people, you have to be positive. If you're not, you shouldn't be in your job, should you?"There's much to be happy about. The college press department estimates that 2.4 million man hours spread out over 882 days have gone into the development to date. Overall, it boasts a massive 10 acres of floor area. "There are so many unique spaces," project director, Phil Crew, says in the most recent edition of CSM Time magazine. "You can't walk more than 20 steps without entering a completely different environment. It's not just a formulaic collection of identical studios, it is a collection of spaces that have been adapted to Central Saint Martins' needs." The art studios, for example, have walls of windows facing on to a terrace and ideally positioned to catch north-easterly light.Both BA and MA fashion courses are known for their excellence worldwide, but the college's reputation as a hive of creativity is by no means restricted to the design of clothing. Central Saint Martins is also alma mater to artists Gilbert & George, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach; Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh, Sade, Polly Harvey and the Clash are all former alumni. The Sex Pistols played their first ever show there. In recent years, cross-fertilisation between disciplines has been hampered by the fact that students have worked in separate buildings scattered across London. At Granary Building, they will all be in one place."Until now, we had lots of different buildings all over the place and that's not really a community," the head of college, Jane Rapley, confirms. "And the original Saint Martins [School of Art & Design] and the original Central [School of Speech and Drama C the two merged in 1989] were not about ghettos. They were about students mixing with each other. As we've got bigger and bigger, that has become more difficult. Very often the most interesting stuff is where the disciplines start to overlap and you get someone like Hussein Chalayan or Anna-Nicole Ziesche. It's that overlap that really gets the new thinking going."On a practical level, too, the move was necessary. "In terms of all sorts of legislation, to update our old building was going to cost more than developing this one," Rapley argues. "And the logistics of doing it would have been an utter nightmare and would have taken twice as long."even so, such an ambitious project has not been cheap. Central Saint Martins is part of the University of the Arts London (UAL) C the London College of Fashion, London College of Communications, Wimbledon, Camberwell and Chelsea are all under its umbrella. "The Central Saint Martins redevelopment has cost just under 200 million," the UAL rector, Nigel Carrington, explains, "which is a very big number at any time." UAL has been responsible for funding the development, which has been achieved "by a combination of selling our old properties and borrowing 100 million. I think there's been some perception in the media that we had a choice, but at least some of our properties were rented and the leases were coming to an end. Central Saint Martins has been a world centre of excellence for a very long time and we knew we had to do something to ensure the best long-term facilities."For her part, Wilson is no stranger to raising money in an economic climate which is squeezing education, and arts education in particular, like never before. She works with the fashion industry's main players continuously, many of whom sponsor course projects on a regular basis. Last year, she launched a fund asking designers and retailers to contribute 20,000 to the college's benefit. So far, Donatella Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Rocha, Net-a-Porter, Converse, Stella McCartney, Joan Burstein, American Express and Dries Van Noten are among the 21 companies that have chosen to donate C maintaining a healthy working relationship with Wilson and her team is nothing if not a sound investment for the future."Yes, the Government should support education," Wilson says, "but times have changed, the system is changing and because of that it is vital to partner with industry to ensure that talent can always be supported. It can be quite a small amount of money for a company but it makes a big difference to four or five students. Because education has always been there, it's never been in any doubt. If the NHS is failing then there's an uproar about it, but it is a given that we have great art colleges. Now you do have fees, you do have the recession and, whether they understand it or not, people need to support it. This is an art college and it feeds into all the industries so I feel very passionately about that."louise wilson was born in Cambridge and grew up on the Scottish Borders C "my formative education was in Jedburgh." She describes her father as a "gentleman farmer" and merchant banker; her mother "dealt in antiques and things like that. Flower arranging. Member of this. Member of that. Horses. She had a very active life. She loved beautiful things. She owned Dior couture. That makes her sound fabulous but it's true. And there were always copies of Vogue around the house."At school, Wilson excelled in art. "In those days, fashion didn't exist like it does now. You had Wallis shops and they had a bad YSL rip-off and that was about it. So you made your own clothes to go out in at the weekend. You did home economics at school. You bought your bits of fabric and you sewed. It seems very quaint now."Advised by her teachers to pursue further education, she applied to and was awarded a place on the MA fashion course at Saint Martins. "There wasn't really any press on the colleges back then," she says, "but everyone knew about Saint Martins. Still, it was within your grasp. It worries me now because I hear anecdotally that people are told they shouldn't try for it, because they won't get in C but that's totally wrong. It's usually the student who's being told that who will. You know, apply, because it's about the work and we're looking for many different things. There's no given formula."At the time Wilson was a student, Bobby Hillson, famous for identifying the talent of Alexander McQueen in particular, ran the course. She also founded it."I was much thinner then," Wilson says of herself as a student, "and wore white mascara. That was very trendy at the time. And so were Japanese designers. We all saved up and bought their clothes at that Yohji shop at the bottom of South Molton Street and then starved to make up for it. That was my time. Leigh Bowery, Andy Warhol, Caf de Paris. I think the difference between then and now is that young people know a lot more about fashion today. I was taught by Ossie Clark but Ossie Clark wasn't Ossie Clark to us because there hadn't been a resurgence of people wearing his vintage. It sounds so disrespectful and if I had my time again I would make absolute use of being taught by Ossie Clark..." She pauses for thought. "But then maybe when you're young, the beauty of it is that you really don't think anybody else is much good, do you? And that's the way it should be."After graduation, Wilson worked first in Italy for Les Copains and Gianfranco Ferre and in Paris for Daniel Hechter. After that came a spell designing for denim companies, including Guess jeans. In the early 1990s, she became pregnant and moved back to London to teach as an associate lecturer on the Saint Martins MA fashion course and then, following Hillson's retirement, as director.In 1997, Wilson was head-hunted by Donna Karan and became creative director there. "There was this seismic change in education and in art colleges in particular and it all became research-driven," she says. "The Government gave schools more money if they had a research rating. I did feel I wasn't valued. I didn't spend ages thinking about, you know, fabrics that massage your arms or anything. I was much more about true fashion, about gut instinct."She stayed in New York for two years. "When I arrived in America, I remember it vividly, they were all sitting at their desks every morning reading Women's Wear Daily. I read i-D and Dazed and just thought, 'Why on earth would you want to do that?'. It just left my jaw on the table." It's difficult to imagine corporate life suiting Louise Wilson and it is therefore not surprising that, before long, she returned to her old job, although now with a professorship. "I continued working for Donna until 2002, though," she says. "I did both. Donna would wake up as I got home from here. I remember getting massive boils all over me. Talk about burning the candle at both ends. I loved it in a way. I love hard work, energy, feeling involved."The designer Peter Jensen, Wilson's former student and now head of menswear on her team, will testify to that. "I do teach at other colleges and there's a huge difference," he says. "Louise works on every single little thing, with every single student. I think she knows exactly what it is that each person is about and where the value of their work lies and even if she doesn't like that work she still wants them to do the best they possibly can."much has been made of the tears-and-tiaras-style theatrics for which Wilson is famous. "It's sort of true and not true," Jensen says, laughing. "She will hate me for telling you this but there was one time when she was screaming so much at the students that I literally thought she was going to have a heart attack and die right there on the cutting table. I had to tell them all to leave to make it stop, but then she just started screaming at me." Emma Cook, another of Wilson's protgs, has said that she'd rather not share her memories of Wilson's tutorials, because "I'm worried she might be arrested if we put it into print"."But all those stories, really, that's not what it's about," Jensen concludes. "Louise is scary. Of course she is scary. But what you always have to remember is that she really, really cares."Missing from Louise Wilson's new and still far from finished office is a sign that occupied her former lair. It reads: "Same shit, different year". "That's what it's like," she says. "It's the same set of problems, the same small group of students that cry. But they're not really crying because of what I do, they're crying because of the state they've got themselves into. They arrive here at the top of their game and then they plummet to become the worst students known to man. I think that every MA course has that effect. They don't understand about sourcing and sponsorship and context. I hate the word 'market' but it's very valid. Where does their work sit and why? So then they have to climb up to the top again. They cry. I cry. I cry in front of them all time. It gets emotional.""Louise puts them through it, she won't compromise," says Jane Rapley. "She takes them apart and then she reconstructs them. Teaching is a fix for her. She loves it. The way our culture and education system is going, everything is becoming homogenised and that worries me. What I've always said about Central Saint Martins is that it's about managed anarchy and that's exactly what it should be. Louise is a one-off and she's the sort of one-off who fits in a place like this. If we can't host people who are that passionate, that outspoken, that unconventional, then this place shouldn't exist."Today, Wilson is an institution, but it wasn't always that way. "I'm of an age now where we've all grown up together," she says. She's 48. "When I took over the course it was a different age and I knew hardly anybody in the fashion industry. Alastair Mackie, who I taught, is now a seminal stylist. I didn't know a seminal stylist in 1992. I don't think there were any. I know Kim Jones. He's design director of Louis Vuitton menswear. I didn't know the design director of Louis Vuitton back in 1995. Was there one? So I've amassed knowledge which it would be very foolish of the university not to tap into. I'm interested in the industry and, yes, I understand education, my business is education. But I try to sit on the periphery of all of it."Above all, she says, and for all her outspokenness, she loves working with her students C teaching is her life blood. "As much as I might decry the students, as much as they're a nightmare, it is a privilege to be among youth. I'm 50. I'm walking about town and there's no way that young people would be stopping and speaking to you normally. But they do because I'm working with them, I taught them. There's no way in real life I would be going out for a drink with Christopher Kane because our age group is different. We would never have met. In fashion, you're very privileged because you're consistently working with a vanguard of youth."Should anyone think that Louise Wilson might just be romanticising her position, she's quick to assert that that is far from the case. "People always ask me, are you proud of the students or of what has been achieved, but that's not a word I would ever use," she says."When one group has gone, you're just relieved. They've gone. You start again. You think to yourself: 'Wow, we got through that'. And I think that's the ethos of the course and in fact of Central Saint Martins as a whole. 'Wow, we got through that'."?"In L'Amour A 20 Ans, Colette was mean to Antoine, thought of him only as a kind of surrogate brother, while he was clearly head over heels in love with her," said Pisier. "So Fran?ois thought of reuniting the characters to see whether they had learned anything from what had been a platonic, one-sided relationship." She suggested switching Colette's adult job from psychoanalyst to lawyer, a knowing reference to the fact that, during the 1960s the actress had honoured a promise to her mother and completed a law degree in parallel with her film career.Pisier was also a favourite of the director Andr Tchin, who cast her in four films, including Barocco, a political thriller starring Isabelle Adjani and Grard Depardieu, for which she won the Best Actress C Supporting Role Csar in 1977. The previous year, she had won the same award for her "Second R?le" as the jealous wife of Victor Lanoux, who seems to only have eyes for his distant cousin Marie-Christine Barrault in Cousin, Cousine, Jean-Charles Tacchella's engaging comedy. That film's international success brought an offer from 20th Century Fox to star in the revenge drama The Other Side Of Midnight but the movie was eclipsed by the studio's 1977 release, Star Wars.Considered an intellectual, Pisier was a supporter of the left and an advocate of women's rights. During "Les Evnements" of May 1968, she helped smuggle her then-boyfriend Daniel Cohn-Bendit from Germany back to France. "I dyed his red hair in the bath," she recalled. "The colour was awful. When he showed up for the next protest meeting at La Sorbonne, people were horrified." In April 1971 she was one of the celebrities who admitted to an illegal abortion and signed Simone de Beauvoir's pro-abortion Manifeste Des 343 Salopes published in the weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.However, she always tried to avoid being pigeonholed. "It didn't help my career because people, including film directors, are more comfortable when they can put a label on you. And that can help you become a star but it also gets in the way," she explained. She featured on the covers of Lui C holding a machine gun and wearing black leather boots C in 1966, and the French edition of Playboy in June 1979, "to prove that a face can be sexier than a body" as she put it, and she was nicknamed "Miss Cinmathque" by Jean-Paul Belmondo, with whom she starred in the 1976 thriller Le Corps De Mon Ennemi, and L'as Des As, the 1982 Second World War comedy which attracted over five million cinema-goers in France.She was born in 1944 in Dalat in what was then French Indochina, and is now Vietnam, where her father was governor, but she had a far from charmed childhood in New Caledonia and then the south of France. "My parents divorced when I was very young and the sentimental fall-out lasted for years," she said. "I saw my mother struggle to bring up three children. She had abandoned her studies to marry my father, so when she insisted I pass my baccalaurat and continue with my law degree alongside my film career, I understood where she was coming from. Women need qualifications to assert their independence."By the mid-1950s, Pisier was living in Nice, and taking part in amateur dramatics. In 1961, Mario Brun, a local photographer, showed her picture to Truffaut, who was looking for "a real teenage girl, not a Lolita, not a biker type, nor a little woman. Must be fresh and cheerful. Not too sexy," to cast opposite Laud. Her screen test unearthed a "very modern, very frank, very direct girl," according to Truffaut, who made a habit of falling for his leading ladies. "He wouldn't really look at me. He seemed only interested in my voice. He said it was my best asset but also a handicap," she recalled, alluding to her occasionally staccato delivery.After Love At Twenty, she made several genre films with the actor-director Robert Hossein, most notably as a German cabaret singer in Le Vampire de Dsseldorf in 1964. Two years later, the Nouveau Roman author Robbe-Grillet cast her in Trans-Europ-Express, a picture vaguely reminiscent of Last Year In Marienbad, the film he had written for Alain Resnais at the start of the '60s. In 1974, she appeared in Le Fant?me de la libert (The Phantom Of Liberty), the penultimate picture by Luis Bu?uel, and Rivette's bewitching fantasy Cline Et Julie Vont En Bateau (Celine and Julie Go Boating), another film she co-wrote.A versatile actress, Pisier became a fixture on television screens in continental Europe with Les Gens De Mogador, a period drama series that began airing at the end of 1972, and periodically returned to television and the theatre throughout her career.Souvenirs D'En France (French Provincial, 1975), her second film with Tchin, was another family saga, while in Les S?urs Bront? (1979) by the same director, she played Charlotte to Adjani's Emily and Isabelle Huppert's Anne. Apart from Chanel Solitaire, a 1981 British-French coproduction in which she portrayed Coco Chanel, few of her '80s and '90s pictures gained a UK release, though Pourquoi Pas Moi? (Why Not Me? 1999) won plaudits at lesbian and gay film festivals, and Le Temps Retrouv (Time Regained), adapted from the Proust by director Ral Ruiz, and starring Catherine Deneuve and Emmanuelle Bart, was nominated for the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1999. In her last film she was cast against type, as a slightly racist bourgeoise, in Anne Depetrini's Il Reste Du Jambon? (Any Ham Left?) in 2010.Pisier directed two autobiographical pictures, Le Bal Du Gouverneur (The Governor's Party, 1990) from her best-selling novel, with Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead, and Comme Un Avion (Like An Airplane, 2002), which dealt with the suicides of her parents. She was found dead by her husband in her swimming pool at their second home, in Saint-Cyr-Sur-Mer. The cause of death is being investigated but foul play is not suspected. She was looking forward to participating in a tribute to Belmondo at the Cannes Film Festival next month.Pierre PerroneMarie-France Claire Pisier, actress, writer, director: born Dalat, French Indochina (Vietnam) 10 May 1944; married firstly Georges Kiejman (marriage dissolved; one son), secondly Thierry Funck-Brentano (one son, one daughter); died Saint-Cyr-Sur-Mer, France 24 April 2011.?Promoted to the Cabinet in the misapprehension that he is the grandson of Jackie Milburn, whom Mr Tony Blair saw at St James's Park while a foetus, Wor Alan is an inspired choice.Although there was no more vigorous defender of the New Labour policies that produced the most dramatic reversal of social mobility for decades, his own life beautifully illuminates the escape route from childhood poverty. Become a Trot, jettison everything you once professed to believe when it becomes expedient, ingratiate yourself with power, fight for policies such as university top-up fees that might have prevented the young Alan escaping his own working-class roots, and flounce out of government to make some dough when the going gets sticky. Do all this, and you too might one day pick up an annual 30,000 for spending a few days as "an adviser" to private healthcare firms and the global warrior for social justice that is Pepsi-Cola.* If there's one facile criticism of newspapers that drives me mad, it's the one about online message boards being a repository for the embittered, deranged and not so bright. Take this, posted last week on the Daily Mail site beneath a report about an academic's musings on the eventual need for the human race to colonise space. "I believe next to nobody would listen to Stephen Hawking if he wasn't crippled in a wheelchair," wrote CBD from Melbourne. "I'm not saying he doesn't have the right to his views, but if he was another astrophysicist who talked and walked around the same as the rest of us do, his views wouldn't get listened to nearly as much ..." Now who could argue with that?* Not everyone is as thrilled as Alan Milburn by his new appointment, alas, and as ever when a former colleague is called to service by the coalition, John Prescott denounces him as a "collaborator". Once again, the mouth of the Humber makes a mistake. The term that Baron Prescott of Croquet-Mallet in the County of Hyprocrishire was seeking but failed to find is "class traitor". If it hasn't come to him soon, perhaps one of his new pals on the red benches might help him out.* Returning to Sir Philip Green, it was good to hear him tell the Today programme that the Monaco residency of his wife, nominal owner of Arcadia, in no way makes her a tax exile. Once Greeny has the cost-slashing under control C his first moves will be to cancel the booking of Beyonc for the Dept of Work and Pensions Christmas party, I gather C no doubt he'll find a moment to explain any semantical distinction.* As that interview ended, meanwhile, a presenter emitted what was either a mirthful snort or a cough. I suspect it was Jim Naughtie chuckling over his script for the one-man show C a few ballads, some whimsical stand-up about his 2005 reference to the Labour party as "we", a finale involving the Dagenham Girl Pipers and Bernie Clifton's ostrich C he is taking to Colchester's Mercury theatre on Friday evening. If the show is a hit, Jim could take it to Vegas, where he is regarded as the ideal warm-up act for Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace.* The campaign to reopen Dr David Kelly's inquest has its most significant boost so far, thanks to a David Aaronovitch Times column headlined "There is no mystery over David Kelly's death". In the light of this contribution from the man who said he'd never trust a word any politician said again if no WMD were discovered in Iraq, the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, is expected to announce a fresh inquest within the week. ?The Montreal, Quebec-based entertainers have created "Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour," set to debut October 2011 with ticket sales beginning November 6.The writer and director of the show will be Jamie King, it was announced yesterday. King has been Madonna's creative director for the last dozen years, including her 2008 Sticky and Sweet world tour, and has also worked with Rihanna, Celine Dion, Asian superstar Rain, Pink, and Christina Aguilera.The concept of the presentation centers on "Michael's inspirational Giving Tree - the wellspring of creativity where his love of music and dance, fairy tale and magic, and the fragile beauty of nature are unlocked," according to the release.Cirque Du Soleil's fusion of visuals, dance, music, and acrobatic production will celebrate Jackson's legacy, featuring 60 international performers who showcase the King of Pop's choreography, literally turning "his signature moves upside down." The show has been approved by Jackson's estate.Opening on October 2, 2011 at the Bell Centre in Cirque's home of Montreal, the 30-city tour will cross Canada before debuting in the US in Seattle on November 9, 2011. Stops include Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Madison Square Garden in New York on April 3, 2012.Exclusive presale tickets are available to Cirque Club members and subscribers online until tickets go on sale to the general public Saturday at noon EST. Membership is free at .Ticket prices, which range from $50 to $250 for VIP, can be purchased by calling 1-866-858-0008 or online at .RC?Here are current and upcoming recording projects:"Everybody Hurts"Music impresario Simon Cowell organized an all-star rendition of the 1993 R.E.M. song "Everybody Hurts" in an effort to raise funds for the Haiti earthquake relief. Released to UK radio this week, the single can be downloaded on February 7 with the CD available the next day.The 20 participating performers included Susan Boyle, Robbie Williams, Michael Bubl, Rod Stewart, Leona Lewis, Jon Bon Jovi, James Blunt, Mariah Carey, and Kylie Minogue, plus more. Funds will be split between the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the Sun newspaper's Helping Haiti campaign.Hear it at, and"We Are the World"Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie gathered a supergroup of more than 70 singers the day after the Grammy Awards to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Richie's "We Are the World," a song written with Michael Jackson in 1985 for African famine relief. The 2010 update will benefit Haiti earthquake relief.Instead of Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper and Bob Dylan, this version included Usher, John Legend and Pink. The diverse talents ranged from Barbra Streisand to Kanye West, Celine Dion to Snoop Dogg, the Jonas Brothers to the Beach Boys, Miley Cyrus and Tony Bennett, and actors Jeff Bridges and Vince Vaughn.The video, by Oscar-winning Crash director Paul Haggis, will debut February 12 during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics."Bridge Over Troubled Water"The Grammy tribute with soulful Mary J. Blige and tenor Andrea Bocelli performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," by Simon and Garfunkel, at the Grammy Awards telecast was another effort to raise funds for Red Cross efforts in Haiti. The song and video are available at:'"SOS Saving Ourselves - Help for Haiti"On February 5, another benefit event will be telecast from Miami's American Airlines Arena on BET (Black Entertainment Television), featuring performances by Ne-Yo, Justin Bieber, Keri Hilson, Chris Brown, Akon, Ludacris, Nas, Damian Marley, Busta Rhymes, India.Arie, Robin Thicke and more.Hosted by Queen Latifah, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Pharrell, appearances include Missy Elliott, Gloria Estefan, Pete Wentz, and The Dream. In addition to BET, the show airs on MTV, VH1, and TNH in Haiti at 8 pm ET/PT. Tickets are available at The show also streams live on benefit Yele Haiti, CARE, Project MediShare, and Children's Safe Drinking Water."Hope for Haiti Now"MTV and George Clooney's telethon on January 22 has raised more than $66 million. Featuring Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Beyonc, Coldplay, Bono, Rihanna and Jay-Z, among the 21 all-star performances. The Hope for Haiti Now" charity album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard.RC??Eschewing Galliano's signature passion for bigger-than-life theatrics, the lower-key presentation saw some of the world's top models emerge from a tall mirrored door into two adjoining drawing rooms to pose in a limited number of outfits with an unmistakeable 1920s flavour.Notable among the guests was Sidney Toledano, chief executive of Christian Dior, which abruptly fired Galliano - facing trial later this spring for alleged anti-Semitic remarks - on day one of Paris fashion week last Tuesday."In trying times, you have to move forward and stay the course," Toledano told AFP, adding that while he has never missed a Galliano show, he wanted this time "to be here to support the teams" which put the looks together.Christian Dior, a cornerstone of French tycoon Bernard Arnault's global luxury goods empire, holds a majority stake in the John Galliano label.The mood on Sunday was a world away from the funereal atmosphere that haunted the full-scale Christian Dior show on Friday where the venerable Paris fashion house resolutely distanced itself from its chief designer of 15 years.Tactfully left unstated, too, was the fact that Sunday's elegant venue on Avenue Foch was the Hotel Blumenthal, built in 1900 for a rich American leather merchant and art collector of German Jewish heritage.But while the 50-year-old designer is reportedly getting help for alcoholism at an exclusive substance abuse clinic in Arizona, his imagination - and his fascination with times past - very much informed the designs.As Galliano would have had it, the teenaged American model Karlie Kloss opened the presentation in a checkered grey tweed jacket, mottled skirt cut just below the knee, and tall black felt hat.More tweeds and furs followed, belted tightly at the waist, testifying to Galliano's strong sense of tailoring, with evening wear distinguished by sheer flowing fabrics in deep violet and somber green shades.No doubt relieved not to walk a runway for a change, the models struck elegant poses against such trappings of 1920s decor as teddy bears, rocking horses, hunting-dog paintings and Louis XVI chairs.Gibraltar-born and London-bred Galliano, 50, was seen by many as one of the finest designers of his generation before he was grilled by police over a complaint that he uttered anti-Semitic remarks at a chic Paris cafe.Then a mobile-phone video emerged in which he is seen at the same cafe, La Perle, apparently drunk and saying "I love Hitler" - prompting Dior to sack him as prosecutors announced he would be charged over his purported remarks.Through his lawyers in London, Galliano apologised for his conduct, but firmly denied being anti-Semitic.But as he reportedly sought help for alcoholism - incidentally, only fresh fruit juice was served at Sunday's presentation - his future in fashion remains very much in question.Equally unknown is who will follow him at the creative helm of Dior or the label that bears his name. Asked by AFP what thought has gone into naming a successor, Taledano just waved his hands and flashed a beguiling smile.In other shows on Sunday, Phoebe Philo at Celine - another brand in the Arnault stable - did not fail to disappoint her many fans with a tastefully elegant fall-winter collection that blended leather and fur.Hermes, the family-owned house that Arnault wants to acquire, unveiled its first collection from its new designer Christophe Lemaire, formerly at Lacoste, at its new Paris boutique situated in a one-time swimming pool.Alexis Mabille meanwhile sent out styles for an insouciant and eclectic woman that mixed vintage and contemporary ideas and drew inspiration from the young couturier's far-flung travels.?The first record I bought was...Alex: The Marshall Mathers LP. It was a little bit naughty, which I loved.Rob: Make Way For The Indian by Apache Indian. I was about 14 and in town with some girls who loved hip hop, so I bought it thinking I'd look cool!Jon: Shaggys It Wasnt Me. I was young and na?ve! It was 2.50 on cassette.Steve: Spaceman by Babylon Zoo. What a disappointment that was. Once the Levis ad chorus was over, it turned into a dirge.Elliot: Boom Shake The Room by Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. What a great track that was.The first gig I went to was...J: My own, supporting an even worse band than us at the YMCA in Chelmsford. We had no transport so I ended up standing in the rain after with my drums trying to hitch hike home.A: Foo Fighters at Wembley Arena around 2001. They have such an incredible live sound and theyre such a tight band.R: Cover bands down the local pub. The way even the worst 'dad bands' on the planet swooned the ladies sold it for me.My favourite album is...J: Muse, Origin of Symmetry. I worked out all the piano, bass and drum parts a month after getting it, and it made we want to become a musician. For that reason - thank you, Muse.R: A Night At The Opera by Queen. I studied it at college and its mind-blowing. Some of it is so camp and in places its just plain weird, but it has a very high sentimental value.E: Fat of The Land by The Prodigy. I remember listening to it for the first time and thinking this will be a 'best of' album for years to come. Every track was an anthem.S: What's the Story Morning Glory by Oasis probably had me skipping the least amount of tracks. Noel Gallaghers approach to melody and simple chord patterns has rubbed off on me, and he always manages to paint a great picture with his words.But my parents always liked...A: Frank Sinatra, Westlife and The Jam. I had to just ring my mum up and ask that, I didnt have a clue!E: Every car journey wed listen to Eric Clapton Unplugged album or Otis Reading. Occasionally Celine Dion would come on and me and my brother would complain until it was removed from the CD player.R: Chas n Dave, honky tonk, soul and blues. Lots of cool influences.S: My Dad is a big classical music fan, but I just don't have the attention span for it. My Mum likes Cliff Richard!J: Country and Western - yuck! Every car journey as a kid, no matter where we went, it was Daniel O'Donnell or Tammy Wynette! When youre force-fed it, it puts you off very quickly.I couldn't marry someone who liked...E: Death metal. I don't mind the occasional metal song, but not all day long. And Celine Dion fans should stay well away.J: Bondage or Cher Lloyd.A: Jedward or Glee.R: Waking up too early in the morning, unless it was with a cup of tea, a Hob-Nob, or something of equal value.S: Im no music snob but if you're cranking up David Hasselhoff on every car journey, I think there would be issues.In the studio I like to wear...E: Something thats not going to chafe. Its got to be comfortable and stylish. It's important to look the part in the public eye, and you never know which band may be in studio two!J: Something sexy or revealing, because the cameras are always rolling.A: Dressing gown and slippers. Im only a pipe away from being a 60-year old in the studio.R: Something comfortable I can wipe my hands on - studio time is always accompanied by coffee and pizza.S: I go for style over comfort. I like to look good when I'm working - it puts you in the right frame of mind.I'd love to have on my show...E: Charlie Sheen fuelled on Tiger Blood. Just imagine it.A: The chuckle brothers Cameron and Clegg, Jeremy Paxman to give them all a good grilling, Jonathan Ross to take the mickey and Stephen Fry for his sarcasm. I'd ask a load of questions we rarely get to hear the answers for.J: Jeremy Clarkson, so I could ask him in return to go on his show. You know youve made it when you do a lap on Top Gear.S: Pyrotechnics. Thats when you know you've made it, when venues let you blow stuff up indoors!One thing that must change in the music industry isA: Illegal downloads are crippling the industry. Young people today dont expect to pay for music. At a festival this year a young girl about 14 came up to us and she was a massive fan. She told us shed downloaded all our songs off of YouTubeJ: Its piracy. When you spend more money than you have, and pour sweat and blood into a recording, it breaks your heart to see people ripping it off rather that spending 79p online.E: The way artists get ripped off more than anyone. Behind the scenes, they are skint.R: The amount of censorship and control. When you are a band who have something valid to say, the man still wants to shut you down.A great album cover is...E: The Prodigys Fat of The Land. I remember trawling through the shops looking for their new album. It was the coolest bit of artwork in the shop.J: Nirvanas Nevermind will go down as probably the greatest. Even today its on t-shirts and posters.R: Green Days Dookie, because the whole thing is a doodle by Billy. As a scribbler myself, I thought that was ace.S: Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I think our Greatest Show on Earth EP has awesome cover art. It sends a strong message about the problems our society is facing.On my iPod I listen most to...E: I've just bought the new Bon Iver album, Im liking that.A: One minute Ill be listening to The Specials, the next I'll be screw-facing to some Dubstep, then relaxing to While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles.J: I love new metal: Linkin Park, Funeral For a Friend, Paramore. Something about that sound that makes me unwind.S: A lot of Blur. We're working on tracks for album two and Im starting to hear Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn influences.If I could have written any song it would have been...J: Ghost Town by The Specials. Its the perfect song and very thought-provoking.A: The orchestration for I Am The Walrus by The Beatles.R: I Get Around by The Beach Boys.S: Something like London Calling, Guns of Brixtonor Thats Entertainment. Songs written in times of civil unrest, a snapshot of that moment in history.E: Billie Jean. Id love to write a song as timeless as that.The worst song Ive heard isA: Swagger Jagger by Cher Lloyd. Just awful. I hope most people bought it for a joke otherwise there's something really wrong [entire band agrees on choice].J: Friday by Rebecca Black as well, though. I could write a book on how much that song has affected me and the rest of music as a whole.?So is it the glamour of Titanic that compels us? It's been dramatised so many times (many of them silly, some of them with Celine Dion to add to the anguish), that we feel we know this story inside out. The pathos is undeniable: bright young things wearing beautiful frocks, mingling with an impoverished underclass, all trying to reach the same few lifeboats.The Titanic story is one in which myth and legend have become so tightly wound C did the band really play on? Was it women and children first? Had the White Star Line really claimed the ship was "unsinkable"? C that it has almost reached a separate level of truth, in which the narrative matters more to most of us (other than the Titanoraks C a word I have happily discovered this week) than the facts.But an undeniable fact about the whole affair is that it has had a dramatically higher impact on our news cycle today than either the death toll or the temporal distance can really explain. And the media is merely reflecting genuine public obsession: a memorial cruise even left Southampton 100 years to the day after Titanic did, full of high-paying passengers dressed in Edwardian outfits.And given the enthusiasm for an anniversary in the media, those who aren't especially interested in Titanic have had a culturally deserted few weeks. By the time you'd switched off the Julian Fellowes programme (remembering in your irritation that Downton Abbey began with the sinking of Titanic, so it's not like you weren't warned), and discovered that the cinemas are showing a new 3D version of the James Cameron Titanic movie, you might have been tempted to go to see Battleship instead. And even that has ships sinking in it.But you couldn't go and see football tomorrow to take your mind off it, at least not if you support Liverpool. Since the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, Liverpool have refused to play on its anniversary. While you might think this a perfectly reasonable response to a major tragedy, not everyone agrees. Alan Davies moaned about their behaviour on a podcast this week, because of the impact it has on other teams' schedules.The predictable outcry went up. Davies's argument appeared to be that if Liverpool were going to mark the deaths of their own fans at Hillsborough, why did they not also mark the deaths of the 39 Juventus fans who died at a match against Liverpool on 29 May 1985? A spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign confirmed that it had rejected the 1,000 donation Davies had offered to make, explaining, "While we accept his apology, we would prefer that he genuinely tried to understand why the decision never to play on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster is so important." But however crassly he made his point, doesn't Alan Davies ask a reasonable question? How long do we mark tragedies for? And how many of these anniversaries should we keep? Liverpool has maintained the anniversary of Hillsborough for 23 years now, but other football clubs don't do the same. Major football tragedies aren't so numerous that all teams couldn't mark all of them, and yet they don't. Does that mean they don't care, or does it just mean that they choose not to make a public statement?When it comes to anniversaries, round numbers matter in the media far more than they do in real life. Last year's 11 September memorials were a big deal because it was the 10th anniversary. I suspect the 11th anniversary will receive far less coverage, and I bet the ninth anniversary did too. But a line has to be drawn at some point, when we shift from commemorating every year to every 10, or 50, or 100 years. Otherwise we would do nothing but remember losses every day, from every war, every disaster ever to befall humanity.And media anniversaries aren't just negative. They're often marking events of social and cultural importance: battles, discoveries, legal rulings and the rest. In addition to the Titanic sinking, 14 April marks the completion of the human genome project (2003), the first edition of the Highway Code (1931), and the publication of The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Remembering these anniversaries is one of the ways we anchor ourselves to our history.Objectively, it doesn't matter if it was on this day or another that Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, or that the Yorkists won the Battle of Barnet. But dates do matter to us C whether we are historians, trivia buffs or just holding out for a birthday gift. Without them, we're lost. Which is something that ancient historians knew perfectly well: Livy dated his history of Rome ab urbe condita C from the founding of the city C in 753BC. Everything else was measured according to when it all began.My only plea in our mania for anniversaries today is that we try to expand our horizons to encompass more than one or two at a time. This coming July, for example, will mark the 75th anniversary of the deaths of Amelia Earhart, Guglielmo Marconi and George Gershwin, and the 75th anniversary of the births of Hunter S Thompson, and the processed lunch meat Spam. It's 40 years since the first Gay Pride march in London, and 25 years since Thatcher ratified the agreement to build the Channel tunnel.So there's no excuse for the monomania we saw at the start of the year, when no one could have missed that 2012 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens. The BBC began the year with a big Dickensian bang; the Museum of London has a special exhibition on until June, and Portsmouth has begun advertising itself as the place where Dickens was born. It's enough to make one wonder what will fill the airwaves and galleries this time next year. Or it would be, if I didn't know that 2013 is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. ?Rather, fierce would be a more accurate description of the surreal flowers, tangled branches and violently coloured reptiles that crawl across Nicolas Ghesquire's clever volumes at Balenciaga. The patchwork baby blanket print on inky black leather at Christopher Kane is equally an unsettling juxtaposition, if ever there was one. Mary Kantrantzou's print is more precious than perverse, inspired as it is this time by everything from Ming Dynasty porcelain to Faberg eggs and establishing this designer as a name to watch. Less splashy souls might like to opt for the season's ubiquitous polka dot, as seen at Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, checks (Prada, Marni and Burberry, of course) and less classic geometries most lovely in jewel colours at Dries Van Noten.1940sThe exaggerated shoulderline at Miu Miu which touches everything from twisted Zoot suit-style coats and jackets to sequinned tea dresses in black, white and more typically Prada-esque shades of sludge drive home the fact that the 1940s C and with that more than a degree of apparent austerity C are on fashion's agenda right now. The latter, in particular, are already among the most photographed pieces of the autumn season. Then there are the shoes to consider (and copy should anyone be foolhardy enough to dare): glitter-dipped ankle boots have a trompe l'oeil vintage sandal upper applied to their front. A more strict silhouette characterises Marc Jacobs' take on this era C think a high shoulder, peplums aplenty and a narrow, mid-calf length skirt.This was also seen at Jonathan Saunders, the London-based designer who's been on something of a roll for several seasons now. More than a hint of the Forties also at Louis Vuitton and also John Galliano's swansong collection for his eponymous label.AndrogynyThe mannish trouser suit is as much a part of a modern woman's wardrobe as the little black dress, say, or a cardigan jacket. And Chanel Karl Lagerfeld features them all. The classic Chanel jacket was this time styled over masculine shirts and wide-legged black trousers designed not to be worn with the requisite talon heels but with laced military boots finished with tufted wool cuffs. Jil Sander, Celine and Paul Smith all regularly borrow from menswear, as so too does Yves Saint Laurent C that house's namesake famously appropriated men's tailoring and sent it down the couture catwalk on a woman in the first place. Such gender blending works both ways: Rick Owens is a designer as happy putting a man in elevated wedge heels as he is a woman in a single-breasted jacket with signature elongated skinny sleeves. Stella McCartney, for whom the Savile Row tailoring tradition adapted to fit the female form has long been part of the agenda, comes up with perhaps the most accessible take on a time-honoured theme.1960sComing in a close second to the Forties, as far as any heartfelt nostalgia is concerned, are the Sixties. Enter Yves Saint Laurent, who first gave the world the youthful trapeze-line back in 1958 at the beginning of his brief tenure as successor to Christian Dior and carried it forward when he started his own line. More than half a century later and Stefano Pilati, today creative director of the house, has reinvented it, in everything from studded patent leather to more sensible black wool and monochrome tweed. Miuccia Prada, too, has long been indebted to the modernity of this decade also and her take on the Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress is just as strangely beautiful as might be expected. At Jil Sander, Raf Simons' colour blocking is a more muted treatment on a similar theme and it is well known that Swinging London is among the Burberry designer Christopher Bailey's favourite references.Sweet WrappersSummer's much lusted-after neon brights have, for autumn, been replaced by a decidedly festive, upbeat and not even remotely shy take on sequins, sparkle and a palette that appears to owe more to a family size tin of Quality Street than anything more obviously hi-tech by nature. Certainly, such an unabashed display of shimmer and shine is likely to brighten up the party season. Gold is ubiquitous C gold stars at Dolce again C gold glitter from head-to-toe at Vivienne Westwood, big gold frilly knickers at Comme des Gar?ons and very slightly more decorous gold lam shorts at Lanvin. Then comes the colour: the most unforgiving turquoise, bubblegum pink, spearmint green and tangy orange. It takes more than a little front to step out dressed like a sweet wrapper, but rest assured that a little fashion folly never hurt anyone, bringing a smile to even the most po-faced lips. Sometimes it's good to look marginally ridiculous C dressing to impress is meant to be fun, after all.FetishDesigner-clad French maids. The Night Porter and Allen Jones. These are the things a fashionable being would do well to consider when she's dressing this autumn. It was the story from start to finish at the Louis Vuitton show, where everything from handcuffs and black rubber boots to high-shine corsetry and monogrammed army caps accessorised a look that is ultimately just as chic as it is politically incorrect. Givenchy, too, features visible (and quite formidable) patent leather underwear worn under black silk tulle and Roxy Music-inspired black panthers. For Giles Deacon at Ungaro, showgirl feathers, leather and lace reveal a similarly obsessive take while, for the designer's own label, an overtone of ultra-strict Victoriana more than hints at the fact that this is not simply a one-century wonder C shades of the madwoman in the attic here. Finally black leather greatcoats at Acne and leather motor-cross trousers courtesy of Junya Watanabe are a suitably tough take on an over-arching theme.Shopping by Gemma Hayward?Hope Powell's valiant side have spent much of their careers seeking equal status with their male counterparts and last night, perversely, they got it in time-honoured fashion. Just as the men suffered World Cup shoot-out agony in 1990, 1998 and 2006 so did the women in 2011.And as the dust settled on a tumultuous night, it became clear this was an end of an era as both England coach Hope Powell and her captain Faye White prepared to step aside from the international scene.Yet it could, perhaps should, have been so different. Powell's team were within three minutes of winning before a French equaliser took the game into extra time.The Everton midfielder Jill Scott had given England a 58th-minute lead, but Elise Bussaglia brought France level. The Arsenal striker Ellen White missed a good extra time chance to regain the lead, but the match ended 1-1 and the shoot-out was lost when Faye White C with the last kick of the contest C struck the bar to hand France a 4-3 penalty victory."Faye is desperately upset," said Powell of the 33-year-old Arsenal central defender, who had stated that this would be her last World Cup and finished it with tears streaming down her face. "That's football," Powell added, "the game has to end some way, and it was the wrong way for us."Powell knows all about shoot-out misery after being a midfielder in the England team that lost on penalties to Sweden in the 1984 European Championship final."This one felt worse," she said. Her players had come so close to securing what would have been the national team's first World Cup semi-final C at the third attempt C but she admitted that she had never felt the game was safe as France pressed in the closing stages."It felt very, very tense and I was just trying to wind the clock quicker and quicker, but it wouldn't shift. It's never over until the final whistle and you have to give credit to France. They were the better team in the first half, and although we showed our resilience in the second half they pressed and pressed and finally got the equaliser. We were so desperately unlucky."There was no denying that France were the better team. England started brightly, the striker Kelly Smith having a goalbound shot turned round the post by the central defender Laura Georges after only 16 seconds.But Bruno Bini's team quickly gained control, and by the end of extra time the shots-at-goal count, 33-7 in France's favour, told a brutally honest story. The goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, blamed for the goal that led to Mexico sneaking a 1-1 draw in the opening group match, was England's outstanding player with a series of fine saves that kept the French at bay.The New Jersey Sky Blue keeper kept out good first-half efforts by Gaetane Thiney and Louisa Necib, while Camille Abily also went close and, just after interval, Marie-Laure Delie sent a 10-yard shot inches wide.When England took the lead it was again the run of play, but it was a fine goal by Scott.The midfielder dinked a 20-yard shot over Celine Deville after Smith C with the help of an undetected handball C and Rachel Yankey had combined to set up the opening.As France hit back strongly, Bardsley had to make two excellent stops from Abily. But the save of the match was made by a striker: Ellen White diving to head the right back Laure Lepailleur's 86th minute header off the line.Powell's team were eventually undone when Bussaglia, collecting a weak clearance 20 yards out, curled a shot in off a post.Extra time brought few opportunities, though in the 103rd minute Ellen White shot wide when well placed 15 yards from goal. And so to penalties, Bardsley diving to keep out the first one by Abily. But first the substitute Claire Rafferty and then, decisively, White missed to leave England once again losers in a World Cup quarter-final.England Bardsley (New Jersey Sky Blue); A Scott (Boston Breakers), F White (Arsenal), Stoney (Lincoln), Unitt (Everton); J Scott (Everton), Williams (Everton); Carney (Birmingham City), Smith (Boston Breakers), Yankey (Arsenal); E White (Arsenal). Substitutes Houghton (Arsenal) for A Scott, 81; Rafferty (Chelsea) for Unitt, 81; Asante (NJ Sky Blue) for Yankey, 84.France Deville; Lepailleur, Georges, Viguier, Bompastor; Soubeyrand (Thomis, 67), Bussaglia; Abily, Necib (Bretigny, 79; Le Sommer, 106), Thiney; Delie.Referee Ms J Palmqvist (Sweden).?Scorn and indifference because Britain is the country of the Beatles and the Stones, punk, post-punk, New Romanticism and a hundred other innovative youth fads thereafter. Along with America we are the pop and rock creative workshop of the world, with no need for the trite, cheesy, besequinned and seemingly irrelevant Euro-pudding.Where do Buck's Fizz and Brotherhood of Man, after all, stand within the British pop and rock canon? Footnotes at best.Cynicism because the centre of Eurovision has shifted resolutely eastwards since the UK last won, in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves C the arrival of former communist states leading to block-voting that even drove the relentlessly good-humoured Terry Wogan into quitting his BBC post as Official Amused Onlooker.And kitschy glee because, well, it's as camp as a row of tentsBut in 2011 are there reasons to be cheerful, to quote a cockney pop poet who had no need for Eurovision to sell his wares? Is this year's songfest going to see a drift back to its West European heartlands? And, more importantly for British viewers, is the UK, with Blue's "I Can", in with a shout after recent debacles C the "Royaume Uni", as we're known in francophone countries, having finished bottom of the continental pile three times in the past eight years (and second bottom once)?Indeed, Britons might be forgiven for feeling paranoid (does nobody like us?) if those entries hadn't been so truly awful. Josh Dubovie's 'That Sounds Good to Me' didn't sound good to anybody else in 2010, while X Factor bin-man Andy Abraham's "Even If" was trashed in 2008 C even if Abraham garnered 14 more points that Jemini in 2003. Their "Cry Baby" had the scouse stage-school duo shedding tears of humiliation in Latvia after earning "nul points" for the first time in the UK's involvement in the event. Until 1998, it should be recalled, Britain had only finished outside the top 10 on two occasions.So are resuscitated boy band Blue about to end 14 years of hurt? Could Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Antony Costa and Simon Webbe restore national pride when they belt out their Obama'ish ditty "I Can" in the German city of Dusseldorf tonight?"We have a good as chance as winning as anybody," says Costa, with admirable realism, although the bookies reckon Blue has more of a chance than most C placing them as second favourites to scoop the top prize. The bookmakers' favourite, however, is France, with a mournful, operatic power ballad called Sognu, delivered by long-haired Gallic dreamboat Amaury Vassili, the world's youngest professional tenor. Interestingly enough Sognu is being sung in the Corsican language C perhaps a belated recognition by France that Eurovision voters have a soft spot for the underdog.On which subject, Ireland are sixth favourites C surprisingly since they're represented by X Factor novelty leprechauns Jedward (assuming that John and Edward make it through Thursday's semi-final). But then maybe the quaffed twins will seduce the European public and judges in the same way they won over Simon Cowell, and are worth an each-way punt. The Republic have won the song contest more than any other country, after all, virtually owning it in the 1990s when the ruinous cost of repeatedly hosting the event nearly bankrupted the state broadcaster RTE.There's a famous 1996 episode of Father Ted in which the Craggy Island priests' tuneless song is entered in an attempt to sabotage Ireland's Eurovision hopes and save the country a fortune C and perhaps in economically-stricken 2011, Jedward is the Dublin government's secret plan for a similar cost-saving exercise.For 2011 however, it's Germany hosting the contest, with a French favourite and a British second favourite C all very Old Europe, and quite a throwback to the 1950s when Eurovision was first dreamt up by a Swiss executive of the European Broadcasting Union, Marcel Bezencon, as a way of uniting the various national broadcasters of the western half of the continent around a live event C quite a feat in those days.The initial Eurovision Grand Prix, as it was known back then, was held in the Swiss town of Lugano, being won by, well, Switzerland. The next time the Swiss won would be in 1988 with 'Ne partez pas sans moi' C sung by a certain French-Canadian wearing a costume seemingly scrambled together out of a charity shop. Come on down, Celine Dion.Ever the laggard in Europe, Britain joined the following year, winning its first contest in 1967 with a barefoot Sandie Shaw padding around to Puppet on a String. Lulu followed that win in 1969 with the quintessential Eurovision ballad Boom Bang-a-Bang, but not before Spain had bribed its way to victory in 1968. General Franco was so eager to stage the event that he bought a whole pile of European programming he had no intention of broadcasting, and otherwise purchasing votes to ensure that Spanish ditty La, la, la pipped Cliff Richard's Congratulations! in front of a visibly surprised audience at London's Albert Hall.Despite this skulduggery, Eurovision's image in its early years was of genteel, middle-of-the-road light entertainment studiously ignoring the youth revolution happening around it. The year of Cliff's Congratulations! was, after all, also the year of the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man and the Beatles' White album.But while it may have been something of a cultural irrelevance in the West, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Eurovision was having an unsettling effect on the populace. An excellent documentary on More4 last weekend, The Secret History of Eurovision, documented how the communist regimes bordering West European countries first attempted to jam Eurovision broadcasts, and then produced their own version of the contest C the Sopot International Song Contest held each year in Poland.It's worth remembering the illicit thrill generation in Eastern Bloc countries when you consider their current enthusiasm for the event, as well as savouring the irony of Moscow hosting the most extravagant Eurovision of all time, in 2009, after the long history of the Soviet Union trying to supress the contest. And before anyone accuses the Baltic states of unfairly voting for each other, they should recall how Estonia (in 2001) and Latvia (2002) triumphed at pivotal moments in their disengagement from the collapsed Soviet Union.The Balkan states also tend to vote for each other C despite a recent history of internecine bloodshed. This prompts apologists to argue that the "block voting" is not political but cultural C the public in Bosnia, for example, appreciating the music of Serbia (the 2007 winners), while not necessarily wanting Serbian tanks parked on their front lawn. But when the 2008 contest was held in Belgrade, and Russia came out the winners (a result he had predicted), it all became too much for Sir Terry Wogan, and he quit hosting the annual broadcast that in many ways he had made his own.And let's face it. For the majority of viewers in this country, Wogan and Eurovision were almost synonymous, although some reckoned Tel was becoming increasingly xenophobic as he fell out of love with Eurovision C that he was becoming more and more (in so far as it was possible for an Irishman) a Little Englander. Wogan argues he was just having a harmless laugh at Euro-preposterousness, and most people would agree with him, but his successor on the BBC broadcast, Graham Norton, is arguably more in tune with the new Eurovision sensibility C not least because Norton is openly gay.At least since Dana International dragged the competition out of the closet in 1998 (the transsexual Israeli singer named in camp honour of 1970's squeaky clean and devoutly Catholic Irish winner Dana), Eurovision has had an overtly gay following C nowhere more than in countries such as Poland, Serbia and Russia where enthusiastically oppressed. During the 2008 Moscow contest, as protesting gay activists were being beaten up by police thugs outside, inside the city's Olimpiysky Arena, the contest was being won by Norwegian gay icon Alexander Rybak with his song Fairytale in front of row-upon-row of gay fans.But what of the artistic worth of this annual bardic babel? What is the cultural value of Blue, for example, a boy band well beyond their teeny-bop prime. 'I Can' is a pleasant enough but unremarkable ballad whose chorus might be of use to beginner students of the English language ("I can, I will, I know..."), and the "boys" (their average age is 30) are attractive enough, although again rather more unremarkable than the narcissism of the accompanying video perhaps warrants. But are they enough to restore national pride? National pride? Do we perhaps care more than we let on about the UK's diminished standing in Eurovision?We certainly seem to be getting more serious about it. Having seen that leaving it to the Great British Public to vote for their preferred song C in BBC1's annual Song for Europe contest C didn't seem to be working, Andrew Lloyd Webber was drafted in to the national cause, penning the fifth-placed "It's My Time" for future Sugababe Jade Ewan, while last year's entry was written by Pete Waterman of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hit factory.Eurovision Song Contest is on BBC1 at 8pm?Stepping out into a courtyard, the first model wore a cropped white jacket with a long tail falling down the back, over a black skirt and transparent petticoat that stretched down to thick, dizzying heels.Singers Lily Allen and Courtney Love, Justin Timberlake and Liv Tyler were among the famous faces who watched as designer Riccardo Tisci sent out organza tops secured at the back with leather straps that hinted at bondage gear.Faces were powdered white with darkened lips, the hair stern and short, or gathered on each side of the face amd tipped with small plaits.Golden zippers ran all over a sleeveless black jacket, above sleek pants with a copper belt hooked at the top of the thighs.A few pieces in the palest pink provided a brief distraction, but the show returned swiftly to a darker register, with a whole series in leopard-skin.Short skirts were layered over pants - then covered over by long petticoats in see-thru fabric or fish-net.A tight, starched blouse like a fencer's suit had a transparent back, while a thick, breastplate-like piece flowed into a cape sweeping down the back.For his men's collection in June, Tisci also built around black, his trademark colour, and leopard-skin, dressing models in Mexican-wrestler style leather masks with grids for the eyes and mouth.But the designer broke with the gothic tone of his spring/summer line for 2011, unveiled mid-way through Paris' marathon ready-to-wear shows, stepping out to salute the crowd in a bright blue-checked shirt.A world apart, John Galliano chose a 1920s artist's muse as inspiration for his luxuriant new summer look.Janet Jackson took a front-row seat to watch the models step out in a riot of hats, gypsy scarves and fur collars, each outfit intended to be as singular as a portrait said the British designer.Models in over-the-top make-up twirled in light, flounced dresses cut from fragile, transparent fabrics.A skirt was hemmed with ostrich feathers or Spanish shawl fringes, while ultra-wide pants were layered with black tulle, and trenches were cut from translucent grey organza that left the structure and seams on full display.Galliano took his inspiration from Maria Lani, muse to some of the greatest artists of her day including Amedeo Modigliani, whose portrait adorned the invite to the show.There were pink and orange - everywhere this season - but also butterfly motifs on a frou-frou bustier dress or see-thru jacket.At sundown, Galliano's woman stepped out in crystal- and gold-encrusted gowns, mostly white, displaying an artisan's touch unusual for a ready-to-wear collection, however luxurious.Galliano says he was inspired for evening wear by Constantin Brancusi's metal sculptures. The kinship was far from obvious, but the result was delicate, feminine, with laser-sharp tailoring, and terribly desirable.Earlier, Celine set Paris abuzz with a summer look that was all butter-soft leather, fluid cuts and sober sophistication.Cheers of delight rang out as flavour-of-the-moment designer Phoebe Philo unveiled her third collection for the label.Caramel leather, desert-hooded weaves and elegant, flowing pants in ivory silk, with navy and sharp green bands lining the waist and side like a tuxedo: at each new piece, the room held its breath in admiration.The magic was in the details, like a simple white jacket in starched cotton that left the back bare and fastened with a plain leather strap, or a white cotton blouse with a deep pink leather collar.High-waisted leather skirts just covered the knee, curling around the hips to end in a gentle diagonal panel in the small of the back.A sleeveless top in butter-soft maroon leather was paired with roomy trousers in vivid blue, while a long cotton damask tunic like a sleeveless kimono was split on either side of the body.A Moroccan flavour came from a green silk top with geometric motifs, hemmed with a band of orange, while a fluid, bare-armed navy dress robe plunged to a deep V shape at front an back - while its modest, sister piece offered long sleeves and demure neckline.?The gala features the Parade of Nations with 2,500 athletes from more than 80 nations who will compete in 86 winter sports. With a capacity of 60,000, it will be the first indoor arena for the opening night in Olympic history. An estimated three billion people will watch the televised ceremony.The producer of the opening and closing ceremonies is David Atkins, the Australian who created the opening ceremonies for the 2000 Sydney Summer Games and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. It's expected he will reference the 30 tribes of the First Nations in Canada for the program, with elements such as the mythological mascots and symbolic Inukshuk logo of a traditional stone landmark.Atkins' presentation will represent Canada's cultural diversity and linguistic duality to a global audience, highlighting performances by leading Canadian artists. The choreographer for the opening ceremonies is Jean Grand-Maitre, the artistic director of the Alberta Ballet, but other details remain confidential to provide an element of surprise.Which of Canada's many contemporary musical artists will perform is the subject of much speculation. The country boasts popular performers such as Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, and Michael Bubl as well as the Quebec-based Cirque du Soliel. Singer Sarah McLachlan has written "One Dream," her theme song for the Olympic Games.A lineup of more than a dozen North American acts will perform at the Victory Medal Presentations, including Barenaked Ladies, Feist, Usher, Devo, and The Fray. The acts perform at Whistler Medals Plaza, February 13 to 27.Canadian artists will also perform representing the regions they are from, including Nelly Furtado on British Columbia night, INXS with frontman J.D. Fortune from Ontario, Canada, The Guess Who's Burton Cummings on Manitoba night, and Great Big Sea for Newfoundland and Labrador.Also, typically, the final torchbearer who lights the cauldron when the Olympic flame arrives at the stadium is kept a secret. Speculation includes Canada's hockey hero Wayne Gretzky, among other possibilities. There have been 12,000 torchbearers, the most in any single country. The ceremonies are mandated by the International Olympic Committee to promote international peace and understanding, honoring the world's greatest athletes, and celebrating humanity.In addition to the planned performances, NBC television will include the world premiere of the video by an all-star supergroup singing "We Are the World" 2010 to benefit Haiti recovery during the coverage of the ceremonies February 12.RC?S