Joyce McMillan: NTS’s Home Away festival makes a world of difference

Night has fallen, in the Hidden Garden behind Glasgow’s Tramway; and a crowd of perhaps 150 gather in the dark, lit by a flicker of torches and lanterns, to hear two musicians – a guitarist and a fiddler – play a finalé to the evening of performance they’ve just experienced. The music is soft, soaring and a little sad, folk inflected, with a touch of bluegrass. Yet the mood is one of simmering excitement, the crowd a rare mix of ages and cultures drawn from all five continents. The guitarist, Sarah Fanet, is a member of the Adam World Choir, a global internet community of gay and transgender performers drawn together by he National Theatre of Scotland as part of associate artist Cora Bissett’s Eve/Adam Project, to…

How a 'thoroughly depressing' Joni Mitchell song became a Christmas classic Michael Ball, a British stage actor and singer, was watching a performance of traditional Christmas music at a London drama school several years ago when the students unwrapped Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Ball said he was somewhat startled, given that the classic 1971 confessional isn’t really a Christmas song. Never mind that its opening melody is “Jingle Bells” in a minor key and that the lyrics begin with a seasonal scene: “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees/They’re putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace.” Ultimately, “River” is a bereft song about a broken romance and a woman who desperately wants to escape her heartbreak, saying repeatedly: “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” The despairing drama just...

Take 5: Nzilani Simu 1. What’s your favourite platform to design for? Books covers? Personal projects? Pressure projects? Anything creative that includes illustration - book covers, posters, infographics. There are some branding projects that allow you to be quite creative though, so that can also be enjoyable.  2. What led you into this line of work? I’ve always loved drawing, arts and crafts and DIY, so this naturally seemed like the best way to try make money doing what I love.  3. What effect do you think the removal of Arts and Crafts in the syllabus has on Kenyan children today? In an age when everyone else in the world has increased their creative engagement in schools, universities and in the workplace, I think striking it off could possibly be detrimental in ways that may...

Everything you need to know about spices As someone who accidentally added a tablespoon of nutmeg to a batch of mac cheese instead of ¼ teaspoon, I truly appreciate the power of spices. The power to ruin.  Or add mouth-numbing spice, or sure, beautiful depth of flavor and overall deliciousness. I've never thought much about them when I'm in the grocery store aisle, but that's one of the most important factors when it comes to spice success. Related Image Expand / Contract  (Courtesy of Clarkson Potter Publishing) Are they fresh? Unadulterated? Flavorful? 100% what they claim to be? In "The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices," released in November, La Boite spice shop owner Lior Lev Sercarz goes deep into this spice world of ours. From A to Z, he...

Book warns Kenyans to be wary of politicians out to cause chaos Title:Eden in Turmoil Author: Edward Wanyonyi Publisher: Aura Books. Reviewer: Vivere Nandiemo Kenya’s democratic history has been characterised by electoral conflicts and violence, especially in the run up to the elections and after the elections. However, the 2007 General Election was different as the violence that followed was unprecedented. The violence, no doubt, shook the country’s conscience and brought to the fore the chilling realities of the sectarian and ethnic divisions that undermine national cohesiveness. Edward Wanyonyi’s book, Eden in Turmoil, provides an incisive look into this dark epoch in Kenya’s history. The book seeks to bring to light the fact that despite the enactment of a progressive Constitution in 2010 and the launch of the Vision 2030, Kenya remains economically stratified and predisposed to sectarian and ethnic polarisation...

How Bon Jovi saved Ben Franklin’s gravestone A fund-raising campaign to help save Benjamin Franklin’s damaged gravestone is no longer livin’ on a prayer. Rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, on Tuesday donated $5,000 (Dh18,365) to the Christ Church Preservation Trust to quickly push it past its $10,000 goal. The marble ledger tablet marking Franklin’s grave at Philadelphia’s Christ Church Burial Ground has developed a significant crack on top of the pitting caused by the ritual of tossing pennies onto Franklin’s grave. Thousands of coins are thrown onto the marker each year in a tribute to Franklin’s adage, “a penny saved, is a penny earned.” Franklin, who died in 1790, is one of seven signers of the Declaration of Independence buried across from Independence Mall. The trust received grants to...

Bought a car this festive season? Read this NOW! Image courtesy -3M We all love the way a car looks when it’s first driven out of the showroom. The spotless interiors, the new-car smell that we work hard to retain, the scratch free, perfectly shined paint. It’s perfect. But as soon as you buy a new car, you start worrying about it. You keep it covered and protected. You anxiously stare at every passer-by just in case they accidentally or deliberately end up damaging your car. For the first few days you personally try to keep it clean and shiny. But you know how polluted and congested India is. Before you know it, the car starts to lose its shine. You begin to notice imperfections, stains and scratches. But don’t worry. Here are 5 things...

5 minutes with 'Fashion Santa,' Paul Mason With his bright red Harley-Davidson parked outside the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton, Santa (ditching the traditional oversize red velvet duds for a natty corduroy suit) struck his best pose as guests lined up for a photo op last night. Canadian model Paul Mason has become a viral sensation after creating “Fashion Santa” — an elegant, modern twist on Old Saint Nick’s jolly image. The night, which raised money for the D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance, could best be described as Christmas-meets-club. Guests, dressed in trendy festive attire, such as tartan dress suits, strappy red heels and gold lamé trousers, sipped on cocktails and milled around the room as a DJ bumped techno music. Alena, a 2-year-old pit bull mix up for adoption, greeted guests...