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August 10, 2008|Lisa Dillman; Carolyn Kellogg; Peter Y. Hong

BEIJING — TICKET TO BEIJING

Beard is ready to swim

-- Pretty soon she'll be right there with her new friends from PETA, hurling blood at those clad in fur coats.

Uh, not quite.

Amanda Beard is going to draw the line at nudity. Hers.

"Nothing is showing in the picture. So that's pretty mellow, for me," she said on Thursday at a Speedo function at the Jintai Art Museum inside the bucolic Chaoyang Park.

"I like the photo. I thought it was fun. PETA is a little more risque, a little more out there. I know they can be somewhat in-your-face. That's not me. That's not my tactic."

Her appearance Wednesday just outside the athletes' village was to unveil her provocative poster, which focuses attention on cruelty in the Chinese fur trade. And, no surprise, the Beard story was among the most-viewed ones on newspaper websites around the world.

"I've learned the things that I stand for and I represent, things that I'm passionate for and want to commit my time," she said. "I've always been an animal nut and always been somewhat involved with animal groups. It's just building off that and learning different things. It's been an educational thing for me."

If anything, the mini-controversy has enlivened things in the run-up to the swimming here. Beard, competing in her fourth Olympics, will be in the 200-meter breaststroke. The team's first practice here was on Monday night.

"It's been, like, really boring," Beard said. "You are trying to save your energy and not walk around too much. Between my practices, I have five, six seven hours to just lay there. I get kind of bored watching the same movies."

-- Lisa Dillman

From Ticket to Beijing: Daily dispatches on the Summer Games

For more, go to latimes.com/olympics_blogs

JACKET COPY

Rushdie, Frey: Fact and fiction

Salman Rushdie has threatened to sue the publishers of a new tell-all book by one of the officers who guarded him during the fatwa, the religious edict of death imposed on him for alleged blasphemy against Islam in his 1988 book "The Satanic Verses."

"He is portraying me as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant," Rushdie told The Guardian newspaper in London. "In my humble opinion, I am none of these."

He disputes many of the anecdotes in the book (entitled, somewhat confusingly, "On Her Majesty's Service"), maintaining that it is "absurd the idea that they would lock me in a cupboard and go to the pub," and that the "idea of them raiding my friend's wine cellars then me asking them to pay for this is completely fictitious." Rushdie has a clear idea about what is fact and what is fiction.

James Frey does too, but it's very different. On the occasion of "Bright Shiny Morning" being published in England, Frey, whose 2003 memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," was exposed as having fictitious elements, talked to the Times of London:

"I wrote the first one, and it was a bestseller. It was doing well even before [his] Oprah [appearance in 2006]. No one believed I could do it again, but I did it again [with "My Friend Leonard"]. I'm in conflict with what writing is, in conflict with what literature is, in conflict with what people's acceptable standards are. In conflict with the idea of what fiction and nonfiction is, or are.

"There are things that will play themselves out. I'm not done with twisting the lines of fact or fiction. I'm not finished with that issue by any stretch of the imagination. There isn't a great deal of difference between fact and fiction, it's just how you choose to tell a story."

Frey's next book will be about a Messiah figure, tentatively titled "The Final Testament of the Bible."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

From Jacket Copy: Book news and information

For more, go to latimes.com/jacketcopy

L.A. LAND

Selling homes at a deep discount

The folks at online brokerage Redfin looked at more than 2,900 house sales in Los Angeles County from April through June and identified traits of homes reduced that sold for the largest discount from the final asking price.

Prices came down most when the home was listed for more than 90 days, was a fixer-upper, was more likely to have been owned by the seller for 20 years or more, or was owned for less than five years.

Redfin also found that sellers who have already cut their list prices often agree to more reductions to get a sale.

Most of the above are fairly obvious. Sellers who've owned a home for more than 20 years will probably make a solid profit even if they come a long way down from their original list price. Those who've had the home less than five years may be in mortgage trouble or may be flippers who need to sell quickly.

But one conclusion may surprise some: Redfin finds buyers won't have much luck trying to low-ball foreclosed homes sold by banks.

That's because lenders these days are already offering foreclosed properties at deep discounts.

The entire study, which includes data for King County, Wash., and Fairfax County, Va., can be seen at www.redifn.com/.

-- Peter Y. Hong

From L.A. Land: The rapidly changing landscape of the Southern California real estate market and beyond

For more, go to latimes.com/laland

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