Arts and Entertainment

Sheryl Crow "Feels Like Home" (Warner Bros)

Write and wrong: Authors Julia Crouch and Stella Duffy, left, find common ground

Let me get this straight ... or not: Stella Duffy and Julia Crouch on sexual identity

The novelists Stella Duffy (who is gay) and Julia Crouch (who is not) discuss issues of identity and authenticity that can arise when your lead character is a lesbian – and why authors should simply ignore them all

Stereophonics, Graffiti on the Train (Stylus)

Album review: Stereophonics, Graffiti on the Train (Stylus)

Keep Calm and Carry On from 2009 found Stereophonics struggling to find a decisive way forward, and while Graffiti on the Train is a significant improvement, it's still something of a patchwork affair, lurching between string-laced pieces like the elegaic title track and “Indian Summer”, soulful blues odes such as “Been Caught Cheating” and “No-one's Perfect”, and out-and-out rockers like the swaggering “Catacomb”.

Hollywood: Variety's daily edition gets ankled

Famous film trade mag Variety is adapting for the web by killing off its daily print edition in favour of a once-a-week edition and removing its online paywall. In its honour here are some of its best inside-Hollywood lexicographical inventions (dubbed slanguage):

British group: Mumford & Sons

Brit Awards 2013: No wild things from a music scene in the wilderness of mediocrity

Emeli Sandé, happily, doesn't look like an identikit winner, but she does sound an awful lot like Adele

Barrie Edgar claimed to have been 'the world's worst actor'

Barrie Edgar: Television producer who worked on 'Come Dancing' and 'Gardeners' World'

In a television career spent entirely with the BBC, Barrie Edgar demonstrated a parallel loyalty to his home area of Birmingham. Specialising in outside broadcasts and bearing the title TV Producer, Midland Region, he established his reputation in the single-channel era of the 1950s, continuing as the city's production centre became Pebble Mill in the early 1970s. While his credits were as disparate as children's programmes, variety shows and the 1962 consecration of Coventry Cathedral, he also made programmes that reflected his own interests; as a keen horticulturist, he produced BBC2's Gardeners' World, one of several shows that survive him, in varying formats.

Album review: Various Artists, Reason to Believe: the Songs of Tim Hardin (Full Time Hobby)

Just as he was, by all accounts, an unpleasant man blessed with enviably beautiful gifts, so do Tim Hardin's songs clothe often unwelcome sentiments in gorgeous melodies.

Album review: Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim (New West)

Buddy Miller is fast becoming a ubiquitous presence on quality Americana and, through work with the likes of Robert Plant and Richard Thompson, quality Albiona, too.

IoS album review: Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, The Golden Age of Song (Rhino)

This collection of collaborative covers trawls Holland's Hootenanny shows, with a dozen specially recorded tunes thrown in.

Taylor Swift, pictured, will play the legendary Joni Mitchell

Why does today's pop music sound the same? Because the same people make it

Experimentation is being pushed to the margins as labels rely on successful producers

IoS paperback review: The Man Who Sold the World, By Peter Doggett

Just as the Beatles' musical revolution summed up the spirit of the Sixties, so, Peter Doggett argues, David Bowie was "popular culture's most reliable guide to the fever of the Seventies".

Frank Ocean’s coming out was a watershed moment for hip-hop and homosexuality

New gay club nights bring hip-hop out of the dark, into the bright lights

Hip-hop has a difficult relationship with gay culture – could a raft of new club nights fix that? Lemma Shehadi reports

The Rochdale Cowboy bows out with guns blazing

The sacking of BBC folk radio DJ Mike Harding is a sad end for one of broadcasting's most tireless characters

After all this time, it's still good to Talk Talk

A book and CD show how influential the band remain, says Pierre Perrone

Green Day

Prolific pop: Should you really release three CDs in four months?

Pop music is going through a prolific period. Elisa Bray reports

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all