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Copyranter calls them the "cutest brand ambassadors ever" and we're inclined to agree. According to the Scotland tourism board, which put together the campaign, the two Shetland ponies - Fivla and Vitamin - are wearing their "winter woolies" (?) in order to mark "the Year of Natural Scotland." The Year of Natural Scotland, in turn, appears to be a project that the tourism board totally made up.
As near as we can tell from the project fact page, they wanted to brand Scotland as a natural travel destination, and so they took the word "Scotland" and the word "Natural" and put them together. The ponies, we're told are "helping promote the Year of Natural Scotland with beautifully created cardigans."
Break the bounds of Broadway with our coverage of the Brooklyn arts scene.
The route to the former spice mill that now holds St. Ann's Warehouse, the performance venue named for its former Brooklyn Heights home, is a forbidding trek through underpasses and still-deserted city streets. But every once in a while, you look up and see, framed by buildings, a lighted strip of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Such surprising brilliance seems to come naturally to St. Ann's, which retains its large indoor space to be reconfigured for events both grand and intimate. Aimee Mann recently used the space for a three-night stand to record a concert DVD, and both the Brooklyn Opera Society and the Coen brothers have felt right at home here.
This week: March over to St. Ann's to see the National Theatre of Scotland in "Black Watch," an incredible meditation on the war in Iraq through the eyes of a famous (and since disbanded) regiment; Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it "One of the most richly human works of art to have emerged from this long-lived war," and we heartily concur.
Alcohol / Scotland / Mancations / → All Tags
There's a certain romance to the soft, bucolic green hills of Scotland--a romance that wouldn't normally inspire us to take a trip there with the guys. But after hearing about the whisky festival in Speyside we're changing our minds. Pack your best tweed jacket for this mancation, and come ready to quaff some of the finest single malts the island has to offer.
Speyside, an area taking its name from the river Spey, has a history of making whisky that stretches more than 150 years. Even back when distilling was a "crime against the crown," says the Guardian, it was home to more than 200 distilleries. Many of the world's most popular whiskies have emerged from the region (Johnnie Walker ring a bell?) but the more artisan single malts are Speyside's signature. Benromach, one of the smallest distilleries, has a shop in the town of Elgin that sells 750 kinds of malts.
The Spirit of Speyside whisky festival runs May 1 - 5, and includes a variety of tours, tastings, food events and (if you're still able to stand) even dancing. The festival drew about 16,000 people last year and some of the events are already fully booked. As always, classiness comes with a price--tastings run from about $10 - $40 each.
Glasgow is about to join the list of smaller European cities that put New York (and many other American metropolises) to shame in the airport transportation department. The Scottish Parliament just approved the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill, which covers construction of a direct train link between Glasgow's city center and its international airport.
The airport link, expected to be operational by 2010, will run between Central Station (where a new platform will be built) and Glasgow International Airport. Additional stops should include the Paisley Gilmour Street and Paisley St. James stations. Glasgow International is currently serviced only by public buses.
A similar project is currently under review for Edinburgh.
· Glasgow rail link gets go-ahead [BBC]
Languages / Animals / Scotland / China / → All Tags
We already know that the Chinese have launched a campaign to fix up their somewhat comical English. It's a pity, really, that gems like the "No entry on peacetime" sign at Beijing Airport won't welcome travelers anymore. But it seems that on our own English-speaking shores, we can't get other languages right. We can, however, get them funny.
The Fire and Rescue department in Strathclyde, Scotland, recently translated a safety handout into multiple minority languages: jolly friendly of them, we say. But, as so often happens, something got lost in translation. The Urdu version, translated back into English, gives us this hint on escaping from a burning building:
Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a donkey etc and come down.Seems the Urdu words for donkey and cushion are similar; this kind of mix-up could happen to anyone. But if you see any Urdu-speakers on your travels panicking and frantically seeking a donkey, be as community-spirited as the Strathclyde Fire department and help them out.
· House Fire? Grab a Donkey [Ananova]
· Old, Weak, Disability and Pregnant Lounge [Jaunted]
Scotland / music / → All Tags
We always knew those Scottish were a bit odd, what with their haggis hurling, rubber boot tossing contests, and passion for deep-fried Mars Bars. But they're good, solid folk, and they take care of the gifts of nature they have by cleaning up their mountains every so often.
Last week on Ben Nevis--at just over 4400 feet, it wins the badge for Britain's highest mountain--a volunteer group of rubbish collectors found a piano. Mystified, the Sherlock Holmes of the gang found a cookie wrapper under the piano dating from 1986, quickly surmising that the instrument had enjoyed its mountain top resting spot for over twenty years.
A little controversially, Kenny Campbell has come forward and claimed he carried it up in 1971 as a charity fundraising escapade. While another group claim to have done the deed as a drunken prank, Kenny seems more plausibly insane to us. Whichever crazy Scots are responsible, the Scottish Tourism Board recommends this walk up "the Ben", but doesn't give any hints on the best instrument to carry. We prefer something easier to dismantle: a 105-piece drum kit should do the trick.
[Image via Haylstrom Head/Flickr]
Nevis Music Mystery [BBC]
Date a Hot Scot [Jaunted]
Which famous actor was it who performed a sexually inappropriate act in front of a Scottish hotel masseuse two years ago?
Warren Beatty seemed like a possibility. And then there was Michael Douglas. But what about Jack Nicholson? In fact, when we first heard about the incident, a lot of famous old pervs came to mind.
But now our worst suspicions have come true. Kevin Costner--the handsome actor/director arguably most famous for taking the advice, "If you build it, they will come,"--has been accused of exposing himself to a massage therapist in 1994. While on vacation with lucky second wife Christine, Costner allegedly dropped trou and "performed a sex act" in front of a masseuse at the Old Course Hotel Spa in St Andrews, Scotland.
Perhaps he thought she'd jump at the chance to touch his Tin Cup, or maybe he just assumed he could get away with his nasty behavior because his buddy owned the hotel. Well, at least he was right about that last part: The 34-year-old masseuse was inexplicably fired after the incident and has since sued for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination.
In the end, we think the only winner here is Costner. After all, he got a little top-notch golf, most of a good massage, and something to finally replace the embarrassment of Waterworld.
· Costner Happy Ending Bandit [HC]