Tara Pepper

Hidden Treasures in Secret Spaces

By Tara PepperVisiting a great museum doesn't have to mean enduring crowded lines of pretentious would-be art connoisseurs in bustling cities. A plethora of smaller galleries lurk near windswept beaches, in idyllic rustic villages, and other out-of-the-way locales, and many house remarkable treasures.

The Good Life

Stars have always relied on borrowed frocks to give them the edge on the red carpet. Now a new breed of high-end rental showrooms is making it easier for the rest of us to dress up in style without making a long-term commitment to a gown or shelling out thousands for a bag that's out of fashion by its second outing. "Let's face it: most women don't want to wear the same thing to an event more than once," says Joanna Doniger of the London-based evening-wear-rental company One Night Stand.

The Good Life

For true foodies, it is no longer enough simply to visit a great winery, tour an organic farm or dine at a three-star restaurant. Culinary tourists increasingly want to sample all the local treats a region has to offer, from wine to herbs to chocolate.

The Good Life

When Michelin published its first-ever guide to New York City restaurants and hotels last week, the name Nicholas Chauvin popped into my head. Chauvin was that 19th-century French soldier whose hyperpatriotism spawned the term "chauvinism." And the Michelin's coveted star list is one Chauvin would love.

Good Life

To say that Dr. Steven Pratt is passionate about food would be an understatement. To Pratt, coauthor of the 2004 best seller "SuperFoods Rx," food choices aren't about anything as trivial as personal tastes.

Making Their Own Breaks

When Singer Gilli Moon moved from Sydney to Los Angeles 10 years ago, she flung herself into meeting record-industry execs, arranging gigs and scraping together a living. "I didn't know anybody, I didn't have any money, but I worked very hard," she says.

The Beauty Within

The laconic opening of Zadie Smith's new novel may seem familiar to readers of English novelist E. M. Forster. "One may as well begin with Jerome's e-mails to his father" is Smith's postmodern reworking of the famously casual first sentence of "Howards End": "One may as well begin with Helen's letters to her sister." It is an elegant hint of what lies ahead in "On Beauty" (445 pages.

The New Blasphemy

Omar Marzouk, a Muslim comedian from Denmark, had but one request at last month's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. "Tell me if you don't find my jokes funny," he told his audience. "I don't want to die--I'm not that kind of Muslim."Poking fun at the world's religions was de rigueur at Edinburgh's annual stage jamboree.

Of Criminals And Ceos

For a while, Brian Blackwell seemed to have it made. His girlfriend believed the cosseted only child from Liverpool was a professional tennis player, with a $125,000 Nike contract funding his jet-set lifestyle.

GOOD LIFE

TECHNOLOGY: DRESS UP IN HI-TECH CLOTHAnyone who's worked in an office knows the uncomfortable challenge summer poses for stuffy, traditional suits. It's hard to look suave in an air-conditioned conference room when you're still sweat-drenched from a commute and, until recently, warm-weather office-wear options were limited.

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Why? "The main reason has been severe restrictions on the types of missions they are allowed to undertake," says a U.S. defense analyst under Pentagon contract who works closely with special-forces units (he declined to be identified because his work is classified).

Snap Judgment: Books

The Greed Merchants by Philip AugarIn his last book, "The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism," Augar, a former investment banker, showed how American financial giants gobbled up the City of London.

SNAP JUDGMENT: BOOKS

Going Sane by Adam PhillipsMadness has always captured the creative imagination. Yet none of the great writers who explored madness--Shakespeare, Freud or William Blake--had much to say about its counterpart, sanity.

Waiting to Inhale

Kenia de Marco has lived most of her life in constant fear of the tightening of the throat that precedes an attack of asthma. She's been getting them since she was 8, but the worst year was 1997, when she was 17.

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Britain: Trouble in the RanksThe pernicious rivalry between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his de facto No. 2, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, has become a fixture of the Labour Party's nearly eight years in office.

TIP SHEET

Travel: Vacationing With Verdi By Tara Pepper Want to take a musical holiday? A variety of tours allow music lovers to build vacations around concerts, and specialist travel agents can make sure you get the best seats in Europe's historic venues.

Journalism Onstage

Talk about biased reviewers. When British playwright David Hare's latest controversial offering, "Stuff Happens," previewed at London's National Theatre earlier this month, The Guardian newspaper broke with protocol and sent a stable of politicians and pundits to cover it.

Theater: A Spoonful Of Sugar

At first glance it seems the big new shows hitting London's West End stages this autumn couldn't be more different. "The Woman in White," Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, is set in an adult web of intrigue, marriage, lawyers and secrecy. "Mary Poppins," the latest offering from the West End's other theater titan, Cameron Mackintosh, takes place largely in the children's realm of polite teas, kites and walks in the park.

CHANGE OF DIRECTION

When British director Gurinder Chadha started work on "Bend It Like Beckham," she was determined to prove that a film with an Asian star could be a mainstream commercial success.

SNAP JUDGMENT: BOOKS

Transmission By Hari Kunzru Cubicle-bound computer geeks everywhere dream of destroying the corporations that co-opt their waking hours. But unlike Kunzru's Bollywood-obsessed Indian techie, Arjun Mehta, few actually try it.

TIP

Food: The Bounty Of Summer Nothing says summer better than a perfectly ripe strawberry, a plump briny oyster plucked from the sea or a tall glass of ale--enjoyed on a shaded patio on a lazy afternoon.

THE TALKING CURE

Within a decade Ugandan villager Josephine Namaganda lost her husband, mother and six children to AIDS, which left her, at the age of 54, to care for nine orphaned grandchildren.

Rebellion By Design

Nothing is ever quite as it seems with British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. When she received an Order of the British Empire medal from the queen in 1992, she looked the picture of respectability in a gray flannel suit.

Classical Appeal

Near the gaudy banners advertising "The Lion King" and "Mamma Mia" in London's West End, a new billboard recently heralded a small musical revolution. In this epicenter of middlebrow entertainment, the world's first commercial opera company, the Savoy Opera, is staging works by Mozart and Rossini, more usually heard at the rarified Royal Opera House.

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CHINAIt's All Part of the PlanChina's bureaucrats are at their best mobilizing against a threat, whether it's a virus, an "evil" cult or, now, an overheating economy.

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EU: Revolving DoorsDespite promises to open their doors to migrants back in 2000, the European Union's current members are now slamming some of those doors shut.

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Middle EastThe Rise of NasrallahIsrael sometimes has a way of emboldening its enemies and enervating its peace partners. Hassan Nasrallah was the benefactor last week.

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HEALTHFlu Fears Take WingLast year's SARS outbreak terrified people around the world because of how easily the virus could jump from country to country in an age of frequent-flier travel.

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TURKEYSavagery in IstanbulWho bombed the synagogues in Istanbul? Despite initial claims of responsibility from an obscure Turkish Islamic fundamentalist group known as the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, or IBDA-C, Turkish security sources are pointing the finger at an outside organization such as Al Qaeda.

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