BrewDog Beer Launches 2014 #Mashtag

by Nicola Brown and Alex Watson

1974579_10153945299565512_180761127_nIn March 2013 BrewDog beer took to Twitter, inviting followers to create an entirely new beer simply by casting a vote each day. With voting polls open from 10am to 8pm over the course of a week, voters decided on the beer style, the flavours and even the packaging. An American Brown Ale with New Zealand hops, aged on oak chips and hazelnuts was the winner. Simple but effective, they named the process #Mashtag.

Now the independent Scottish craft brewery, which has gathered a cult status since its birth in 2007, has relaunched #Mashtag for 2014 this morning at 10am. Today voters are asked to decide between Pilsner, Red Ale and Porter to determine the beer style. In the first hour over 400 votes had already been cast. On Tuesday voters will decide on the Malt Bill and alcohol by volume (abv), Wednesday will choose the hops and IBU (International Bitterness Unit) and on Thursday the beer will be given its distinguishing characteristic with a special twist. The final day of #Mashtag will allow followers to pick a label for their newly crafted, unique beer.

We interviewed assistant manager of Edinburgh’s BrewDog, Calvin McDonald, about 2014′s #Mashtag and his dream beer.

To take part, cast your vote here.

Historic Church to host Victorian Market

File:Tron Kirk, High Street, Edinburgh.JPG

View of Tron Kirk from the Royal Mile   Photo: Kim Traynor

By Jordan Hooks

Tron Kirk, a historic church located on the Royal Mile, has become the new location for a Victorian-style market.

Proposals to convert the A-listed church into a market say the church would become the new home to a dozen stalls selling pottery, jewelry, tweed and whisky. It will also include tourist information points.

[Read more...]

Book Week Scotland Is Back

by Rachael Bell

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Book Week Scotland kicked off on Monday with over 100 events taking place in Edinburgh.

The week will be hosted by Scottish Book Trust and is designed to encourage everyone in the community to take part. Mark Lambert, CEO of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “Book Week Scotland is all about celebrating Scotland’s love affair with a book, and writing. Reading and writing – two of the greatest inventions that human beings have ever come up with and something that Scotland excels in.”

According to the Carnegie UK Trust report 2012, only 12 percent of people in Scotland never or rarely read books. Compare this to the National Literary Trust 2012 and After Now study 2013 that found that 1 in 6 people in the UK have literacy levels below that expected of an 11 year old.

Book Week Scotland has a particularly captive audience in Edinburgh as a UNESCO named City of Literature. Sarah Morrison, communications executive at Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said: “It’s a marker of how much people in Edinburgh value literary interests, not just in the literary community but the wider city community. Everything from the world’s largest book festival to story time readings in a local library are so well supported. There is something of literary interest going on every day in the city.”

It isn’t just Scottish nationals that are to be involved. Book Week Scotland is expected to attract a lot of literary tourism to Edinburgh. Ryan Van Winkle, Book Week Scotland Author Ambassador, said: “One of the things I do whenever I land in a new country is to read books that are set there. To me it’s a really great way to get to know peoples voice, their history, culture and slang. In my first few months of living in Scotland I raced through Trainspotting and Alasdair Grey’s classic Lanark. You don’t have to travel to read a book, of course, it’s obvious, and the great thing about Book Week Scotland is that we will be traveling together in an epic celebration of literature.”

Last year 30,000 school pupils in Scotland participated in the event. This year every Primary One pupil will receive three free picture books to encourage them to participate. That is 180,000 books that will be given out. There will also be 120,000 copies of Treasures to go out to the public. Treasures was a campaign set up after the success of last years Book Week Scotland. It invited Scots to submit a piece of writing about the item they hold most dear.

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Many authors from around Scotland have also been participating in Book Week and sharing their love for reading and writing. Shari Low, popular fiction writer, said: “As a child I spent most of my time in the library. I just loved reading from a really young age and that’s stayed with me until now.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be a part of Book Week Scotland because I think that anything that inspires a love of reading for pleasure can only be a good thing, and I think that if we can inspire as many children as possible to read now then that’s something that will stay with them.”

Book Week Scotland 2013 will be running until December 1st. Treasures is available to pick up in libraries, independent bookshops, Waterstones branches, Visit Scotland Tourist Information Centres and more. Click here to search for events in your area.

New Consoles Launch Amid Poor Review Scores and Developer Pressure

By Alasdair Crews

Microsoft's Xbox One, which launched earlier this month.  Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched earlier this month. Credit: Microsoft

The successful launch of the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles has been overshadowed by poor game review scores. Both consoles launched in the U.S. earlier this month with both console producers, Microsoft and Sony, proclaiming that thier machine have sold more than one million units in North America within 24 hours of going on sale.

Unfortunately, the successful sales for both machines have been dulled by a succession of poor review scores for their flagship games. PlayStation 4 exclusives “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack” and Xbox One-only offerings “Ryse: Son of Rome” and “Zoo Tycoon” have received mixed reviews across the gaming press.

The added pressure game developers are under when working with new hardware could have contributed to the poor review scores.  An assistant producer with Ninja Theory, Colin Chang,  said: “With development of those titles having lasted at least two years and working on theoretical hardware (that changed as time went on) at the beginning of the next-gen SKUs. [It's a challenge], especially if you’re a launch title with such a constrained deadline.”

Having to develop parallel versions of games for the new consoles, as well as the consoles already being on sale, has also affected quality.  Chang said: “I can imagine this would have affected third party publishers and developers like Activision and EA the most as they would’ve shipped 4-5 SKUs of games such as Call of Duty Ghosts and Need For Speed Rivals.”

Alongside the middling review scores, technical issues have plagued both new machines. Faulty disc drives in the Xbox One have led to Microsoft offering affected customers a free game download; whilst Sony has had issues with a blue light on the PlayStation 4 causing the console to reset itself and cause other operational issues.

Both companies maintain that the issues affect less than one percent of the consoles sold so far. With both consoles expected to be top sellers this Christmas, Microsoft and Sony hope that these issues remain isolated.

Related Story: Retailers Braced For PlayStation 4 Launch

Dundee loses Capital of Culture Bid

Image source: DC Thomson

Tay Bridge, Dundee – Image source: DC Thomson

By Hamza Jabir

Dundee has lost its bid to be crowned UK Capital of Culture for 2017, losing out to Hull. The city’s council had invested heavily in the bid and could have expected as much as £80 million worth of tourism income alone had it been successful.

The city had hoped its proposed £25 million year-long programme of events, including a festival of football and light installation spanning the Tay bridge would bring the title to the city in just over three years time.

Bid Director Stewart Murdoch confessed to being ‘brokenhearted’ at the defeat, but was quick to highlight several positives to be taken from the campaign.

He said: “I don’t think the work has been wasted. It carries Dundee forward and has raised its profile and aspirations, and that’s the best thing from a disappointing outcome for us.

“I think a lot of the events will still go ahead. Obviously, the large-scale ‘big bangs’ wont happen, but I think the commitment to culture has been bought into by the private sector and the council and the universities and we’re going to continue to put culture at the centre of the city for a generation.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop took to twitter express a positive outlook despite the disappointment.

Hyslop said: “Dundee has already embarked on a pioneering journey that uses culture and creativity to promote regeneration and tackle wider social issues in a range of innovative ways.

“A city rooted in culture and heritage, Dundee not only cherishes its diverse heritage and traditions, but also seeks further opportunities to share, celebrate and regenerate, and I am confident that its cultural journey is well on track to continue.”

Crocodile Takes Centre Stage at King’s Pantomime

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King's Theatre

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King’s Theatre

By Melissa Steel

The King’s Theatre pantomime will have more bite to it this year thanks to a “particularly scary” crocodile when it opens on 30th November.

The Peter Pan production is set to shake up the standard pantomime format with new special effects. However, fans can still look forward to seeing panto veterans Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott on stage.

Although most of the changes are still under wraps, the production does look set to be much grander than previous years. Director Ed Curtis said: “There will be a new level of scale and stunning special effects, including a particularly scary crocodile. I can’t give too much away, though.”

Curtis is still eager to praise King’s pantos of the past. Curtis said: “There was nothing wrong with the other productions, but we are trying to push the envelope this year.”

Curtis’s decision to take the project on was also influenced by a fondness for the King’s and the pantomime tradition. The King’s has a long history of staging pantomimes – a production of Cinderella actually opened the theatre in 1907. Curtis said: “I love the King’s. I have worked with Andy and Allen before and the prospect of working with them again was extremely attractive. Peter Pan is one of the great British fairy tale stories, too. I’ve not done a Peter Pan before, so I really wanted the opportunity to tell the story. It took me about three seconds to say yes.”

Curtis has directed a variety of pantomimes in the past. Curtis said: “I have directed three or four with Qdos before. This is not the first, but it is certainly the biggest.”

Peter Pan also marks the beginning of Michael Harrison’s tenure as producer of the King’s pantomime. Harrison is head of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomime division, one of the biggest pantomime production companies in the UK. Harrison said: “The late Gerard Kelly said to me, “Pantomime is a celebration of local culture,” and that is more applicable in Scotland than it is anywhere else and probably more applicable at the King’s than it is anywhere else.”

Comic relief comes in the form of performers Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott, as always. This was one aspect of the show Curtis was not eager to change. Curtis said: “It is a joy of a company to work with and the three of them are a strong comic trio.” Producer Harrison was also quick to praise the actors. Harrison said: “Grant is an Edinburgh boy, Andy although he lives in Perth has spent a long time living in Edinburgh, and Allan’s comedy is all about what is topical, whether it’s about the tram, parliament or Edinburgh Zoo. This unmissable production has got something for everyone and I am sure the production will delight audiences of all ages.”

Law students black up for night out

Four students black up on a night out. Image courtesy of www.thedailymail.co.uk

Four students black up on a night out. Credit; Deadline News

By Melissa Fernie

Four law students are at the centre of a race row after painting their faces black for a society night out in Edinburgh this week.

The Edinburgh University students were attending the annual law society ‘Beerienteering’ event, which is highly popular night for the society. It consists of a steeplechase around the bars of Edinburgh with challenges and surprises along the way. This year’s theme was ‘Around the World’ and students were encouraged to dress to impress.

However a team made up of three boys and one girl decided to dress as Somali pirates for the event and subsequently painted their faces black. They happily posed for photos before and during the evening but were called out on their costume choices by members of both the Amnesty International Society and the Vegetable Society at the Three Sisters Pub. Many of those involved and attending the event were surprised the law society let the team continue competing.

Speaking to students who attended the ‘Beerienteering’ event, one said: “This is an image of black and ethnic minority oppression becoming manifested in students’ costumes. Racism should be opposed on every level at Edinburgh University and we as a student body should do all within our power to make sure these attitudes are called out.”

Nadia Mehdi, Vice President of Societies and Activities at EUSA said: “I’m shocked to see that in this day and age these student weren’t aware of or choose to ignore the offence they would cause by painting their faces black.”

The law society hit back at the negative comments and Keir Gilius, President of the society said: “As a society we try to arrange our events within innovative and interesting themes leaving scope for attendees to use their imaginations. In no way was this theme intended to incite racism of cultural appropriation and as a society, we are vehemently opposed to discrimination of any form.”

Gilius apologised if the team’s costumes upset anyone and said: “In future we will strive to ensure that any fancy dress events will actively discourage the use of any costumes that could be perceived as being offensive.”

However not everyone believes the costumes should have incited a race row. One student said: “This is another fine example of some idiots looking for a reason to be offended. Not sure how on earth this is in any way racist or offensive. Absolute morons who need to get a life outside of the veg soc.”

Other students also believe too much fuss was made over the costume, with one student saying: “This is absolutely ridiculous and shows how far political correctness is being exploited. How is painting your skin black a form of minority oppression, discrimination or racism? They weren’t portraying black people in any sort of racist derogatory way. It’s annoying how so many kinds of discrimination are allowed to let slip but as soon as skin colour is involved it’s a different story.”

What’s On in Edinburgh

What’s happening in Edinburgh on the week of the 22nd April 2013.

Includes Tradfest, 30 Days of IPA, Toy and Comic Mart and the Edible garden at the Botanics.

culturebelt.01 from Tom Freeman on Vimeo.

Vinyl Lovers

Record Store Day took place this weekend, and saw musicians, artists and the record-buying public come together to celebrate the unique scene. Set up in 2007 it was established to promote independent music shops by selling exclusive vinyl recordings to fans.

Our reporter, Shiv Das, spoke to Avalanche Records, in Edinburgh, discussing how the weekend went.

Edinburgh is home to five independant record stores-

1.Avalanche, 5 Grassmarket, Edinburgh

http://www.avalancherecords.co.uk/

2. VoxBox, 21 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

http://voxboxmusic.co.uk/blog/

3. Elvis Shakespeare, 347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh

www.elvisshakespeare.com

4.Underground Solushn, 9 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh

5.Vinyl Villains, 5 Elm Row, Edinburgh

http://www.vinylvillainsrecords.co.uk/

Edinburgh Festival Gets New Director

ferguslinehan01

The Edinburgh International Festival has today announced it has appointed a new artistic director. Fergus Linehan, the former director of the Sydney International Festival as well as fomer Head of Music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over the role in October. He succeeds Jonathan Mills, who has been in charge at the festival for seven years.

Mills will step down after the 2014 festival, but Mr Linehan will work part-time as director designate from 1st May this year. He will step up to the role full-time from October 2014, which will mean 2015 will mark his first festival as director. He will remain in charge at the EIF until at least 2019.

Under Mr Linehan the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival almost doubled, rising from $12m to $20m between 2004 and 2009, thanks to a rise in ticket sales, funding, and sponsorship.

Speaking of the appointment, Linehan said “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh international festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all.

“Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for 2015 and for future festivals”

Mills had previously faced criticism over his festival programmes, which some critics claimed were lacking in homegrown talent.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson also welcomed the appointment, saying “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the city.

“Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city he is familiar with what the city can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, added ‘The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries. I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.’

Edinburgh Fashion Show

Edinburgh Fashion Show

The Edinburgh College of Art is getting ready for this year’s fashion show which will take place later this week.

This year’s runway show will feature designs from students graduating in Fashion, Performance Costume and Textiles. The Edinburgh College of Art Fashion Show is Scotland’s leading fashion event and one of the capital’s cultural highlights.

This week’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with 20 collections featuring a diverse range of designs inspired by lost Peruvian tribes, 1990s kids TV shows, the sleek shapes of luxury yachts, and the power of the colour blue.

The Fashion Show will take place on Thursday 25th April and Friday 26th April, in the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall. There will be one Schools performance and five public performances.

For anyone interested in attending the Fashion Show, there are still tickets available online for £15.

 

Edinburgh Gets Ready for the Release of ‘The Hobbit’

The Hobbit hits theatres

The Hobbit hits theatres

Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ will hit cinemas worldwide this weekend.

It has been highly awaited and people in Edinburgh have also jumped in on the excitement, with local showings sold out. The film will serve as a prequel to the highly successful ‘Lord of The Rings’ Trilogy and will feature a lot of familiar faces from them including: Sir Ian McKellen,  Andy Serkins, Cate Blanchet, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.

The Scottish presence is apparent in the world of middle earth. Edinburgh born actor Ken Stott starts in the film as a Dwarf Balin, one of Bilbo Baggins closest friend. Comedian Billy Connolly has been cast at Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and will appear in the second and third instalments. ‘Lord of the Rings’ veteran, Glasgow bred,  Billy Boyd attended the London premiere last night – he appeared as Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Local Edinburgh cinema The Cameo hosted a ‘Lord of the Rings’ film marathon on the 9th of December 2012 to celebrate the release of ‘The Hobbit’. The audience was encouraged to dress up and the event was deemed a great success by management. ‘The Hobbit’ will be the first 3D film to be shown at The Cameo. Kenny Gold, duty manager of The Cameo, “There has been a lot of build up. We couldn’t have picked a better film than ‘The Hobbit’ for our first 3D showing.”

‘The Hobbit’ is set in the all too familiar Middle-Earth and it follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, and 13 dwarves on their quest to take back the Lonely Mountain from the reign of the dragon, Smaug – who will be voiced by Freeman’s ‘Sherlock’ co-star Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Guardian comments that the movies ‘offers an enormous amount of fun, energy and a bold sense of purpose’. Peter Jackson is once again trying to give movie goers a unique and innovative experience. ‘The Hobbit’ is shot in High Frame Rate (HFR): 48 frames a second instead of the usual 24. This gives the movie a higher definition and with the help of 3D makes the 169 minutes of spookiness more realistic.

Fan interviewed by Shiv Das about ‘The Hobbit:’

The Hobbit premiered last night in London, gathering a remarkable group of celebrities, including the Duke of Cambridge.  Sanaa Siddiqui, who was at the front of the crowd at last night, comments on the atmosphere of the event: “The whole of Leicester Square was packed to the brim with fans. The area was stunningly decorated to look like the Shire. I met all of my favourite actors, it was such an amazing day.”

Audio Interview: final hobbit vopxox shiv das

Visual Artists forced to live on the breadline

A recent study by the Scottish Artists Union reports three quarters of visual artists are living on an income of less than £5000 a year.

The SAU, which is lobbying and campaigning on behalf of visual artists working in Scotland states that the present figures are a worrying depiction of their earnings.

Only 5% of artist taking part in the survey are earning more than £15000 after tax and expenses.

Simon Hynd, a successful film director from Edinburgh, is now working for the BBC but says that the first years after graduation are the hardest: “When I started out, I was definitely in that category. For the first three years at least I was earning less than £15000 a year.”

Jonny Wilson, an unemployed film writer from Edinburgh, belongs to the same category and claims that being an artist is often a question of class.

“I fall into that category as I’ve only earned about 5000 this year. I have had some contact with BBC executives and people like that. They all seem to have come from privately educated backgrounds and have the means to fund themselves while chasing their dreams. Those from the lower socio-economic scale just can’t afford to do that. They have the reality of having to pay their bills and that eats into your energy and your ability to create.”

The recent report by SAU also states that most visual artists have never applied for a public funding or received a grant.

Mr Wilson’s observations are backed up by SAU’s report saying that 47% were forced to get a part-time job in order to keep their heads above water. Mr Hynd remembers being in the same situation: “That’s something that I did as well. I was working in retail while I pursued my dream.”

However, Mr Hynd was in the lucky but unusual position to get financial support from his family: “I was in a fortunate position because I have a wife who has a regular job so she was able to support me to an extent. She took a bit of the pressure off. Other artists definitely don’t always have that luxury.”

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Street Party in Edinburgh for the New Year.

Street Party in Edinburgh for the New Year.

1. Street Party

The renowned Edinburgh street party is something that should not be missed. Join 80,000 partygoer’s dance into the New Year with music from top DJs and musical entertainment such as The Maccabees, Reverend and the Makers and The OK Social Club. Celebrate at midnight with the extravagant firework display.

Tickets are £15 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★  Food ★  Venue ★★★  Family Friendly ★★

2. Concert in the Gardens

The music event of the evening proves to be as big as it ever has. Scottish musicians dominate this year with legends Simple Minds, Dundee-based boys The View and Edinburgh four piece Bwani Junction rocking into 2013. Enclosed tickets are sold out and the Garden tickets are soon to follow.

Garden tickets are £37.50 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★★  Food ★  Venue ★★★  Family Friendly ★★

3. The Loony Dook

Maybe the craziest Hogmanay tradition of them all! Join the ‘loony’s’ plunge into the River Forth on the 1st of January 2013. The Dooker’s parade kicks off the event and then it’s into the water. What a better way to kick off the New Year!

Register at http://www.theloonydook.co.uk/Register.html

Music ­­­­- Food – Venue ★★ Family Friendly ★★

4. Propaganda New Years Eve Party Animal

Celebrate 2013 with the UK’s biggest club night, Propaganda. The HMV Picture House will be home to student friendly club night. This event is for the mainstream indie music fans, but chart music is also played.  Curfew is 5am. Definitely the perfect place for those who want to dance all night long.

Tickets are £7.25 available at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/

Music ★★★★ Food – Venue ★★★ Family Friendly –

5. The Keilidh

Fancy learning some traditional Scottish dance moves? If so, then head to the outdoor ceilidh event in the Princes Street Gardens. With a food village and outdoor bar, your every party need is catered to while you master your ceilidh technique. Last years event was a total sell out; so don’t miss out this time.

Tickets are £37 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★  Family Friendly ★★

6. St Giles Candlelit Concerts

If you want to celebrate Hogmanay somewhere that is warmer that Princes Street, then maybe this event is for you. Michael Harris with the St Giles Cathedral Choir directs this year. Parts 1 and 3 of J.S.Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Vivaldi’s Magnificat will be featured. The Candlelit Cathedral provides an exquisite atmosphere.

Tickets are £16 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★  Food – Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly ★★★

7. Vegas! The Grand Hogmanay Ball

Can’t afford a trip to America to celebrate 2013? Well, Edinburgh’s own Voodoo Rooms will turn into Las Vegas for one night on the 31st of December 2012. This sophisticated event features music from Cow Cow Boogie, a swinging six-piece from Edinburgh. Burlesque dancers and showgirls will provide entertainment as well as blackjack tables.

Tickets are £25 available at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/

Music ★★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly –

8. Baby Loves Hogmanay Disco

Electric Circus plays home to the perfect event if you have a baby that loves to dance. Music is played at a baby-friendly volume and Club DJ’s provide the tunes. The disco is family friendly as there is a chill out zone, catering and even a bar for mum and dad.

Tickets are £8 available at http://www.babylovesdisco.co.uk/

Music ★★★ Food ★  Venue ★★  Family Friendly ★★★★★

9. Your Lucky Day Festival

Head to the National Museum of Scotland for some culture on New Years day. Your Lucky Day festival is for all the family and provides dance, music and theatre. There will also be chance to see the Lady Luck art instillation by Walker and Bromwich.

All events are Free.

Music ★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly ★★★★★

10. El Barrio NYE Party

The Latin bar and club will provide a New Years Eve Fiesta. Their aim is to bring the Latin spirit to Edinburgh by providing Latin music, dancing, drink and flair. This night will not disappoint avid Latin music lovers.

Tickets are £10 available on the door

Music ★★★ Food – Venue ★★★ Family Friendly –

Golden Globe Nominations Announced.

The Golden Globe Nominations were released today with Lincoln, Les Miserables and Argo tipped to be big winners.  The results will be delivered on the 13th of January 2013 by comedians Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Jessica Alba announced some nominees just after 5am Pacific Time (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The Golden Globes are seen as major indicators in the race for the Oscars and are actively campaigned for by Hollywood studio bosses.  Awards prognosticator website Gold Derby currently place Les Miserables as the film most likely to win the Best Picture Oscar.

A large British contingent will be present amongst the acting nominations with top British acting talent represented by Daniel Day-Lewis, Helen Mirren, Rachel Weiz, Emily Blunt, Judi Dench and Ewan McGregor.  Day-Lewis is heavily tipped to take home the globe thanks to his critically lauded portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

BEST PICTURE: DRAMA

  • “Argo”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST PICTURE: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
  • “Les Miserables”
  • “Moonrise Kingdom”
  • “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Ben Affleck
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Ang Li
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Quentin Tarantino

BEST ACTOR: DRAMA

  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Richard Gere
  • John Hawkes
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Denzel Washington

BEST ACTRESS: DRAMA

  • Jessica Chastain
  • Marion Cotillard
  • Helen Mirren
  • Naomi Watts
  • Richard Weisz

BEST ACTRESS: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • Emily Blunt
  • Judi Dench
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Maggie Smith
  • Meryl Streep

BEST ACTOR: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

  • Jack Black
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Bill Murray

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams
  • Sally Field
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Helen Hunt
  • Nicole Kidman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Alan Arkin
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Tommy Lee Jones
  • Christoph Waltz

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Amour”
  • “A Royal Affair”
  • “The Intouchables”
  • “Kon-Tiki”
  • “Rust and Bone”

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Argo”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • “Anna Karenina”
  • “Argo”
  • Cloud Atlas”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • “Brave”
  • “Frankenweenie”
  • “Hotel Transylvania”
  • “Rise of the Guardians”
  • “Wreck-It-Ralph”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “For You” from Act of Valour
  • “Not Running Anymore” from Stand Up Guys
  • “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games
  • “Skyfall” from Skyfall
  • “Suddenly” from Les Miserable

GoodReads Book Choice Awards 2012 Results Announced

The 2012 goodreads winners.

The 2012 goodreads winners.

More than 1 million votes were cast and the results are in for the best books in Goodreads 4th Annual Awards.

J.K. Rowling’s book ‘The Casual Vacancy’ won in the ‘Fiction’ category with 11,525 votes. The Edinburgh author got mostly positive reviews for her first book following the Harry Potter series.  The Guardian referreds to it as ‘a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel’. It tells the story of the English town of Pagford, whose inner turmoils comes to the surface after councilman Barry Fairbrother dies and the community has to elect a new member in his place. It deals with issues relating to drugs, self-harm, and sex. It’s a drastic turn away from the warmth of Harry Potter.

The media hype around J.K.Rowling’s first book for adults has boosted sales. “We had a really steady flow of sales. We were lucky enough to get some signed copies, and they just disappeared before we could get a proper look at them ourselves” says Cat Anderson, a bookseller at The Edinburgh Bookshop in Bruntsfield. She also comments on the content: “It was quite hitting in terms of the social comments she is making, but I personally wouldn’t have put it in my top books list.”

In the Young Adult category, John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ won a convincing victory with 37,438 votes. The story revolves around Hazel, who after being diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, was prepared to die until a medical miracle gave her a new chance at life. She later meets with Augustus at a cancer support group for kids. Their romantic relationship helps her get a new perspective on sickness and health and their influence on her identity and legacy. Ms. Anderson comments that: “Everyone who’s read it has been blow away by it. John Green is a beautiful writer.”

2012 has been a big year for Queen Elizabeth II, the top book in Goodread’s Biography category being Sally Bedell Smith’s ‘Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch’. There has been a sea of books talking about the Queen’s life  “The focus on her being a modern monarch is what has given Sally Bedell Smith’s edge over the others”, says Ms. Anderson

Here is a list of some of the winners and runner ups of the GoodReads Choice Awards 2012.

Fiction

‘The Casual Vacancy’ J.K. Rowling – 11,525 votes
“Where We Belong” Emily Giffin – 7,841 votes
“Home Front” Kristin Hannah – 6,072 votes

Non-Fiction

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” Susan Cain – 7,532 votes
“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” Katherine Boo – 5,356 votes
“The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg – 3,300 votes

Young Adult

“The Fault in Our Stars” John Green – 37,438
“Easy” Tammara Webber – 8,890 votes
“Slammed” Colleen Hoover – 6,495 votes

History and Biography

“Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch” Sally Bedell Smith – 6,507 votes
“Drift” Rachel Maddow – 4,313 votes
“Killing Kennedy” Bill O’Reilly – 4,280 votes

Fantasy

“The Wind Through the Keyhole” Stephen King – 8,226 votes
“The Woman Who Died a Lot” Jasper Fforde – 5,221 votes
“The First Confessor” Terry Goodkind – 4,510 votes

 What books would make it in your ‘Best of 2012’ list? Do you agree with the choices of voters at Goodreads?

Review: The Black Keys

The Black KeysThe Black Keys had the Glasgow crowd bouncing, dancing and singing at the tops of their voices at the SECC on Saturday.  The two-piece band, whose hits include Lonely Boy, Gold On the Ceiling, Howling for You and Sinister Kid, stunned the audience with their atmospheric blues. 

The night began with the supporting act, The Maccabees who are renown for their live performances and they did not disappoint.  Front man, Orlando Weeks, has such a unique voice that could almost be described as hypnotic.  The South London band was so in-sync with each other, their live performance was absolutely flawless.  They delighted fans with a forty-five minute set including Feel to Follow, X-Ray, Love you Better and Pelican. As far as warm up acts go, they certainly had the crowd fired up in anticipation for the headline act.

Shouting “Let’s get this going!” Dan Auerbach tore into Howling for You alongside drummer Patrick Carney.

The tone was set for the evening and the audience sang, clapped, chanted, and crowd surfed throughout the show.  The atmosphere was so electric, we could have even revived a dodo.

There was a momentary pause in the rocky proceedings as Auerbach was illuminated by a beam of light during the first two verses of Little Black Submarines.  The almost haunting solo piece soon broke into The Black Key’s distinctive sound focused heavily on the electric guitar.

It was not only the sublime rocky sounds of The Black Keys which impressed fans, but the overall production was a visual spectacle.  Live images were projected onto screens surrounding the stage, giving the concert an edge and an alternative outlook.

The last song was, of course, the anthem, Lonely Boy.  The venue erupted after the first few, distinctive chords were played out from Auerbach’s guitar and the fans can only be described as wild.

However, like all respectable shows, there was an encore and it was a shame for those who rushed out to catch the train home because they missed an absolute treat.  After clapping and stamping our feet, we were awarded with two more songs from The Black Keys and quite possibly the biggest disco ball the SECC has ever seen.

The Black Keys were set-up to be amazing to see live but they exceeded all high expectations and were truly first-class.  If you want to be entertained with good, honest music played back-to-back then go and see this band!

A Little April Foolery

A “little April foolery” is a protest staged all over Edinburgh by local artists on the first of April. The protest is aimed at the controversial legislation, which will come into action on the first of the month. Many hundreds of artists are set to make the city centre their big stage as they fight against the country-wide legislation which will establish rules requiring that every artist has a license before they can stage free events.

Nearly 1500 people are expected to attend this event, either as performers or spectators.

Edinburgh Napier News interviewed Jen McGregor, the founder of the “A Little April Foolery” campaign.

“A little April Foolery” is a very different take on this popular day of pranks. Here are some interesting theories and facts suggesting how April Fool’s day may have originated and how it can be celebrated:

One theory shows April Fool’s Day dates back to the 12th Century Arabia.

A different theory says April Fool’s started with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. Before, people celebrated the new year on the first of April. Hence, people still celebrating on that day were “April Fools”

Here in Scotland we originally call this day “hunting the gowk” (the cuckoo), and if you are tricked, you are an “April gowk”. We love this basic celebration of Schadenfreude that much that we gave it a second day, called “Taily Day”. This day is solely devoted to pranks involving the backside of the body. The “butt” of these jokes may often have a “kick me” sign placed on their back.

In France it is immensely popular to prank someone using a dead fish. Throwing at or even slapping someone with it, putting it in someone’s bag, there are no limits. Just remember to shout “Poisson d’Avril!” (April Fish!) and hilarity ensues.

In Poland the day has a similar theme to France. The Polish love to prank people by pouring water on them.

Depending on where you live in England, you may also be called a “gobby” or a “noodle” if you find yourself on the receiving end of the prank.

Edinburgh International Festival tickets on sale from new venues across the city

Tickets to this year’s Edinburgh International Festival went on sale on Saturday 24th March from the Hub at Castlehill. From today, the public can also purchase them from five new venues across the city.

The Edinburgh Playhouse, Festival Theatre, The Queen’s Hall, Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Usher Hall have joined the list of venues where members of the public can go to buy tickets for this year’s Festival, which will take place from 9th August to 2nd September.

It hasn’t taken long for ticket buyers to make use of the new box office locations in order to purchase tickets. According to a spokesperson for the Usher Hall, 5 people have already visited this morning within one hour of doors opening.

With tickets currently being sold from a variety of venues across the city, potential Festival goers are advised to be quick and buy their tickets in advance, in order to avoid future disappointments.

For more details on how to buy the tickets, click here.

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GAME goes into administration, main Edinburgh stores stay open

A GAME Shop: Open For How Long?

GAME, Britain’s biggest video game retailer, has gone into administration today.

The retailer counts around 1.300 stores distributed between the UK and mainland Europe, 5.100 employees in the UK and Ireland, of which 385 are employed at its headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

In Edinburgh, Gamestation on Princes Street, the flagship store of the company, had already been closed in late 2011.

However, as the retailers are refusing to release any comments, it’s understood that the GAME stores in St. James Shopping centre and Ocean Terminal are still open as usual.

Meanwhile, it has already been reported that about half of the 600 UK shops have been closed during the day, and it’s unclear whether the rest will stay in business.

The company’s website is currently no longer accessible, and it names MJA Jervis and SD Maddison as the appointed Joint Administrators.

Mike Jervis has commented: “Despite these challenges, we believe that there is room for a specialist game retailer in the territories in which it operates, including its biggest one, the UK.

“As a result, we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable”.

GAME, which was founded in 1991 as Rhino Group, had already been rumoured to be in troubled waters as their credit worthiness came under scrutiny just a few days ago.

As a consequence, three main suppliers, Nintendo, EA and Capcom, blocked the distribution of their most recent releases to the retailer.

The overall performance of the company in the last few months has been abysmal, with a £18 million loss for the year to 31 January being blamed on high fixed costs and an ambitious international expansion.

Edinburgh Castle will ‘go dark’ for Earth Hour

Last year, Edinburgh Castle went dark for Earth Hour 2011. This year, the Castle we be dark again for another hour, to combat global warming.

This Saturday, Edinburgh will go dark.

In conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour 2012, Edinburgh will join hundreds of cities from all over the world by switching off lights and electricity, and going dark, for an hour.

Earth Hour is scheduled on the last Saturday of every March, closely coinciding with the equinox,  and will happen this Saturday, March 31st at 8:30 pm.

Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, and since then has spread massively across the globe. In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour, according to the WWF website.

Their website also stated “We’re delighted that all 32 local authorities in Scotland are participating again this year – promoting the event, arranging switch offs and organizing events.”

There will be a great number of monuments in Scotland that will join in going dark, including the Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament, Urqhuart Castle, and Scott Monument are just a few that will celebrate Earth Hour.

According to Mandy Carter of WWF Scotland, local authorities are working to promote Earth Hour to local communities, some by having switch off events and fundraisers. But they are using the trickle down affect to help spread the word.

Here in Edinburgh, the City Council has launched an Earth Hour photography competition that is running from 5th March to 13th April with the theme, ‘ What we’re doing about climate change’ to help promote Earth Hour.

To find out more about Earth Hour, or how you can get involved at the WWF Scotland website or at the WWF Website.

Titanic director breaks deep dive record

Hollywood director James Cameron has become the first person to solo dive to the deepest point in the ocean. The Marian Trench, which is located in the western pacific ocean close to Guam, is an astonishing 7 miles (11km) deep.

In 1960 the first and last successful endeavor to reach the bottom of the Marian Trench was made by US Navy Lt Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard. Cameron though holds the record for being the first person to reach sea ground alone.

He spent several hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking photographs and moving images.

After his return Cameron tweeded: “Hitting bottom never felt so good”

The specially designed sub, the Deepsea Challenger was made in Australia, weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 23feet long.

Cameron said about the expedition: “Most importantly, though, is the significance of pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, what they can see and how they can interpret it.”

National Geographics supported the expedition and its executive vice president of the Mission program Terry Garcia is proud of the program:  “In 2012 we are still exploring largely unknown places — as National Geographic has been doing for nearly 125 years. I’m delighted to say that the golden age of exploration and discovery continues.”

James Cameron always had a passion for deep waters. He has made more than 70 deep submersible dives, including a total of 33 to the wrack of the Titanic. Since Cameron is still a film director at heart it is not surprising that the Deepsea Challenge will become a 3-D film which will subsequently be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.

Literary Death Match to take place tomorrow

A ‘battle to the death’ is set to take place in Edinburgh tomorrow night.

The Voodoo Rooms will for the second time host Literary Death Match (LDM), an event originally created by Todd Zuniga, an LA-based writer and journalist and the founding editor of Opium Magazine.
The contest pits four authors against one another, as each reads a short extract of their work. Two finalists are chosen by a panel of judges, which have in the past included Christopher Brookmyre, Jon Ronson and D.J Taylor.

The winner is then decided by a more esoteric contest, as audience members are encouraged to take part in bizarre book-related games. A recent LDM in Boston on March 8th featured a round of “Pin the Moustache on Hemingway” – audience members were handed the moustaches of various famous authors, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and James Joyce, and then blindfolded, before attempting to attach the moustaches to Hemingway’s upper lip.

Deciding contests have also included a Spelling Bee Finale (held in Norwich earlier this month) and a Neil Gaiman Cupcake Chucking Contest in Minneapolis – St. Paul. Whichever author the winning audience members represent is then crowned champion, and awarded “literary immortality”.

LDM has been described by the Guardian as “witty, iconoclastic and unfettered from the constraints of the traditional, and largely corporate, publishing agenda.” Earlier this year, Zuniga was named one of 2012′s “Faces to Watch” in the LA Times, with his style described as an “unlikely combination of Vegas showman and book geek.”

The event has taken place all around the British Isles and has travelled to 39 cities across the world, taking in Helsinki, New York and Beijing. LDM has also featured at several festivals, including the Free Fringe and the Latitude Festival.

This is the fourth time that LDM has come to Edinburgh, with the first visit taking place in August 2010. Previously the contest has been held in The Banshee Labyrinth and at the Edinburgh Book Festival last August.

Iain McPherson, General Manager of the Voodoo Rooms, described the venue as being “very excited” to host the event again.

New record label launched at Jewel and Esk College

Staff and students at Jewel and Esk College have launched a new record label, Feast Records. Utilizing the college’s impressive array of recording equipment the label is aimed at promoting “new young musical talent in Scotland”.

An event will be held to celebrate the new label on the 30th of March at Edinburgh’s Electric. The launch will be ticketed at £5 on the door and will feature young Edinburgh bands such as Maydays, The Nature Boys and Fridgemaster. Feast’s upcoming website will also feature gig and album reviews, studio sessions and up and coming bands.

This record label comes as the latest in a line of recent small independent labels to be launched in the capital such as Song by Toad, Offbeat, Alextronic and Pure Synthesis.

Feast records can be found here on facebook.

Jewel and Esk College website can be found here.

Podcast: Final Harry Potter named best film at Empire Awards

The final film in the British fantasy film franchise took the top prize at the Empire Film Awards 2012 in London last night.

Along with Best Film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scooped the award for Best Director, for David Yates. Accepting the award he commented, “It’s a real treat to get this from people who love movies,” referencing the fact that the awards are decided entirely by the public.

Harry Potter was not the only British film to emerge victorious, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy winning the awards for Best British Film, Best Thriller, and Best Actor, which went to self-proclaimed ‘veteran’ actor Gary Oldman. Oldman, who received his first Oscar nomination this year after 32 years in the industry, commented that he was delighted to be receiving an award voted for by movie-goers, “This is a very special award, because it isn’t political. There’s no agenda, it’s just movie fans and I will cherish this.”

Best Actress went to Olivia Colman for her harrowing portrayal of a battered house-wife in Paddy Consedine’s Tyrannosaur. “Although it doesn’t seem it, it was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had on set,” said Colman on accepting her award.

Another British film, The Inbetweeners, beat out raunchy comedy Bridesmaids to win the Best Comedy prize.

Listen to Katrina Conaglen and Kirsten Waller’s discussion of the awards in an Edinburgh Napier News podcast extra:

Listen here:


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