Monday, 31 October 2016


The Grandma's celebrates Castanyada
Castanyada, Magosto or Magüestu, Samhaín and Halloween are popular festivals mainly on All Saints' Day. In Catalonia, Andorra and Occitania, celebrations involve eating roast chestnuts, panellets or baked sweet potato and preserved fruit, candied or glazed fruit, typically with moscatell to drink. 

It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints' night, on the eve of All Souls' Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning. Friends and relatives would help with this task, and everyone would eat these foods for sustenance.

Other versions of the story state that the Castanyada originates at the end of the 18th century and comes from the old funeral meals, where other foods, such as vegetables and dried fruit were not served. The meal had the symbolic significance of a communion with the souls of the departed: while the chestnuts were roasting, prayers would be said for the person who had just died.

The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant's clothing and wearing a headscarf, sitting behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale.

Tina Picotes celebrates Magosto/Magüestu
The Magosto or Magüestu is the essential Galician, Asturian and Portuguese autumn pagan festival. In addition to chestnuts and local young wine, various foods have been incorporated such as sausages and other products made from the pig slaughter, which occurs precisely at that time. 

Chestnut festival is traditionally celebrated in the same grove, starting early in the afternoon to collect firewood and chestnuts. One or more bonfires are lit with sticks and pine needles. Young people took to the streets. It was customary for the girls to bring the chestnuts, and for the boys to bring the wine. Chestnuts are roasted on the floor, directly in the fire. Children play to dirt their faces with soot and ash. The adults dance and sing, jumping over the remains of the fire.

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from the very beginning of one Celtic day to its end, or in the modern calendar, from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, this places it about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh

Joseph de Ca'th Lon celebrates Samhaín
Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Kalan Gwav in Cornwall, and Kalan Goañv in Brittany.

Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. The Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb at the Hill of Tara, is aligned with the Samhain sunrise. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain.

More information: Samhaín (Celtic Guide)

Halloween or Hallowe'en, a contraction of All Hallows' Evening, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide,  the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, hallows, martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

Claire Fontaine celebrates Halloween
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. 

In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows' Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes and soul cakes.

It was not until mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century that Halloween became a major holiday in North America. Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.

More information: History of Trick-or-Treating

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Mark Twain

Sunday, 30 October 2016


Orson Welles in the radio
We know now that in the early years of the 20th century, this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied themselves about their various concerns, they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. 

With infinite complacence, people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small spinning fragment of solar driftwood which by chance or design man has inherited out of the dark mystery of Time and Space. Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

In the 39th year of the 20th century came the great disillusionment. It was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 30th, the Crossley service estimated that 32 million people were listening in on radios…
More information: The Smithsonian Magazine

The War of the Worlds is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on Sunday, October 30, 1938, and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H.G.Wells' novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It became famous for allegedly causing mass panic, although the reality of the panic is disputed as the program had relatively few listeners.

Orson Welles & The Daily News
The first two-thirds of the one-hour broadcast was presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. The illusion of realism was furthered because The Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes into the broadcast. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to Edgar Bergen and tuned in to The War of the Worlds during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama, but recent research suggests this only happened in rare instances.

In the days following the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. The episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.

More information: The War of the Worlds (Script)

Create your own visual style... 
let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
Orson Welles

Friday, 28 October 2016


Ration Card during the Post-War
November, 1950

She was a girl. She didn’t understand why her parents were so important for the neighbourhood. His father was a milkman; her mother took care of the little greengrocers shop.
She had learnt how to survive in the middle of a Post-War. It was a terrible age because the population lived under a great poverty and it was very difficult to get food and daily products. Her parents helped as people as they could. The neighbourhood had to share aliments and basic needs. Solidarity appears in the worst moments when the most important is not living but surviving.

She grew up and was a hard worker teenager who looked after her brothers and helped in the little shop. It was normal in that age. She was the girl of the family. The Post-War continued. Nobody hoped a fast final. Life was grey and lots of new neighbours arrived to the suburb. They came from Andalusia, Castile, Galicia, Valence, Murcia, Balearic Islands or Aragon. They were poor people who had lost few things that they had and had decided to start a new life in the Catalan capital.

More neighbours, same things to share. The dictatorship had established a new card to restrict the access to elementary aliments. Solidarity again and a great effort of every member of that community made possible the subsistence with the enormous collaboration of her parents. The little shop was the neuralgic centre of the suburb because it had a great objective: feed the neighbourhood despite of the dictatorship controls.

November, 2016
The Grandma in front of Roser's home

Today, she’s in front of the shop, where she has been living since she was born, 73 years ago. Times have changed. She’s looking at her home with pain. Lots of neighbours have wanted to stay with her in this difficult moment. She locks the door for the last time and takes her beloved things. She says goodbye to her home, her suburb and many years of shared experiences. A new project of the City Hall wants to destroy her home to build new houses. Wow! It's necessary to expel old neighbours to welcome new ones. It's a project of the City Hall. It's not a private project.

When The Antichrist arrived to the City Hall promised to help all people without distinction in their search of basic things: home and work. Some people, like The Grandma, didn’t believe her and they received lots of nagging and bad words. One year and half later, the city is a great chaos. All elementary things have increased their prices in more than 10%; social services don’t run with efficacy and there’s a great feeling of having been abandoned by the City Hall.

This is Roser’s story, today. This can be your story, tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy The Antichrist and her new policy!

Thursday, 27 October 2016


Lurdes Holmes in Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona
Today, The Holmes have received news from Lurdes

She's working in a new project in Barcelona. She's a main character in a historic film, a beautiful story about the citizens of Barcelona during the XIV century and how they built one of the most incredible buildings of the city.

The Grandma, who is still in Belgrade, has received the news with emotion and happiness. She's very proud of Lurdes and very happy for her. In her youth, The Grandma worked as a tourist guide and she remembers clearly how people enjoyed when they discovered the secrets of the cathedral of sea: Santa Maria del Mar.

It's a great honour for The Grandma sharing this information of one of the most important free guides nowadays, our Wiki:

Santa Maria del Mar (Saint Mary of the Sea) is an imposing church in the Ribera district of Barcelona, built between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile preeminence. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that is very unusual in large medieval buildings.

Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona
The first mention of a church of Santa Maria by the sea dates from 998. The construction of the present building was promoted by the canon Bernat Llull, who was appointed Archdean of Santa Maria in 1324. Construction work started on 25 March 1329, when the foundation stone was laid by king Alfons III of Catalonia, as commemorated by a tablet in Latin and Catalan on the façade that faces the Fossar de les Moreres.

The architects in charge were Berenguer de Montagut, designer of the building, and Ramon Despuig, and during the construction all the guilds of the Ribera quarter were involved. The walls, the side chapels and the façades were finished by 1350. In 1379 there was a fire that damaged important parts of the works. 

Finally, on 3 November 1383 the last stone was laid and on 15 August 1384 the church was consecrated. In 1428 an earthquake caused several casualties and destroyed the rose window in the west end. The new window, in the Flamboyant style, was finished by 1459  and one year later the glass was added. The images and the Baroque altar were destroyed in a fire in 1936. The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, adjacent to the apse, was added in the 19th century.

More information: Santa Maria del Mar

From the outside, Santa Maria gives an impression of massive severity that belies the interior. It is hemmed in by the narrow streets of the Ribera, making it difficult to obtain an overall impression, except from the Fossar de les Moreres and the Plaça de Santa Maria, both of them former burial grounds. The latter is dominated by the west end of the church with its rose window. Images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul occupy niches on either side of the west door, and the tympanum shows the Saviour flanked by Our Lady and Saint John.

Details of iron workers on the main door
The north-west tower was completed in 1496, but its companion was not finished until 1902.

In contrast with the exterior, the interior gives an impression of light and spaciousness. It is of the basilica type, with its three aisles forming a single space with no transepts and no architectural boundary between nave and presbytery. The simple ribbed vault is supported on slender octagonal columns, and abundant daylight streams in through the tall clerestorey windows.

The interior is almost devoid of imagery of the sort to be found in Barcelona's other large Gothic churches, the cathedral and Santa Maria del Pi, after the fire which occurred in 1936 during anticlerical disturbances. Amongst the most notable of the works destroyed at that time was the Baroque retable by Deodat Casanoves and Salvador Gurri.

According to the art historian Josep Bracons, the basic unit of measurement used in Santa Maria del Mar was the mediaeval foot of 33 centimetres. Measured in this way, the side chapels are 10 feet deep, the width of the side aisles is double this, while the central aisle is four times as wide, that is, 40 feet. The total width of the church is thus 100 mediaeval feet, which is also equal to the maximum height of the building.

I don't know if it will be the best temple in the world. 
I assure you that it will be unique. 

The Cathedral of Sea

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


Pablo Picasso
The Grandma is in Belgrade. She arrived on The Orient Express and she's going to stay until tomorrow. Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia, a republic built with the union of different old nations. It's impossible to forget the Balkan Wars at the end of the last century. Thousands and thousands of people died as a consequence of them and The Grandma remembers the city of Srebrenica in Bosnia clearly and dramatically.

Today is the anniversary of Pablo Picasso. Picasso painted one of the most beautiful pictures, Gernika. Gernika is a Basque town which was bombed by the Italian and German aviation during the Spanish Civil War.

Gernika remembers Srebrenica as clearly as remembers Aleppo or Mossul nowadays. The question is how much time we need to take conscience about war only creates destruction, pain and horrible consecuences to the future generations.  

Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Gernika (1937).

More information: Picasso Museum Barcelona

Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art. 

The bombing of Gernika, 26 April 1937, was an aerial bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. It was carried out at the behest of the Spanish nationalist government by its allies, the Nazi German Luftwaffe's Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria, under the code name Operation Rügen.

More information: Gernika-Lumo Town Council

The attack gained infamy because it involved the deliberate targeting of civilians by a military air force. The number of victims is still disputed; the Basque government reported 1,654 people killed at the time, while Spanish figures claim around 126. An English source used by the Air War College claims 400 civilians died. Russian archives reveal 800 deaths on 1 May 1937, but this number may not include victims who later died of their injuries in hospitals or whose bodies were discovered buried in the rubble.

 Everything you can imagine is real - Pablo Picasso

Monday, 24 October 2016


We live in the age of the Social Networks. It's a fact. We have all the information that we want only with a click but this could be very dangerous if we don't protect ourselves of this permanent exposition.

Today, Claire Fontaine wants to talk us about digital reputation and shares an interesting report published in It's not only a question of protectinc ourselves, it's also the responsability of protecting our children.
Let's go to read the report...

We live in a society where online searches tend to influence – if not drive – many of our decisions. If we are looking for a good doctor in the area, a potential vacation spot, or advice on what electronics to purchase this holiday season, we will perform searches using our phone, tablet, or computer. It is so easy and has become almost second-nature. That said, we don’t just look up inanimate objects and places – we look up individuals all the time.

More information: Digital Reputation

Most of the time, our information searches tend not to be that in-depth unless what turns up attracts and motivates us to search for more. We spend a few minutes using a few keywords online, and if we like what we see, we may probe deeper. However, if we don’t like what we see within a very short span of time, we will be done with it, and move on. Applying this to information searches about people, it is critical that what is found about you (or me, or anyone) via a simple search engine query induces the person searching to want to learn more. If what is found is questionable, or problematic, or shady, or just plain odd – it stands out very starkly and leads to the formation of a strong and sometimes bad impression. That negative opinion or feeling, then, usually ends the potential for any type of connection.

The first step in controlling your reputation is finding out exactly what is out there and what employers and college administrators are finding when they search for you. You can begin by running your first and last name through Google, Facebook, Bing, Twitter, and other sites where searches are possible. This will mirror the first step that potential employers and admissions coordinators usually take. Next, remove any inappropriate images or communications from your social media profiles or blogs to reduce any negative impressions others may have.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
Warren Buffett

Sunday, 23 October 2016


The Grandma outside Belgrade Cathedral
The Grandma is in Belgrade, Beograd in Serbian, the capital of the Republic Serbia. She has just arrived on The Orient Express after had visited Milano and Venice.

Today, she wants to visit this beautiful capital and she has decided to read something about it before visiting it. She's taking a look in Wikipedia:

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. Its name translates to White city. The urban area of the City of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while over 1.65 million people live within its administrative limits.

One of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, the Vinča culture, evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, Thraco-Dacians inhabited the region, and after 279 BC Celts conquered the city, naming it Singidūn. It was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, and awarded city rights in the mid-2nd century. It was settled by the Slavs in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary before it became the capital of Serbian king Stephen Dragutin (1282–1316). 

In 1521, Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo.It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars. Belgrade was again named the capital of Serbia in 1841.

More information:

Northern Belgrade remained the southernmost Habsburg post until 1918, when the city was reunited. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times. Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia from its creation in 1918, to its final dissolution in 2006.

Belgrade has a special administrative status within Serbia and it is one of five statistical regions of Serbia. Its metropolitan territory is divided into 17 municipalities, each with its own local council. City of Belgrade covers 3.6% of Serbia's territory, and 22.5% of the country's population lives within its administrative limits. It is classified as a Beta-global city.

Let's go to visit Belgrade and enjoy it!

 Belgrade is the ugliest city in the world in the most beautiful place in the world.
Le Corbusier

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Pau Casals i Defilló
Pau Casals i Defilló (December 29, 1876-October 22, 1973) was a cellist and conductor from El Vendrell, El Baix Penedès in Catalonia. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time. 

He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music, also as conductor, but he is perhaps best remembered for the recordings of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939.

His father, Carles Casals i Ribes (1852–1908), was a parish organist and choirmaster. He gave Casals instruction in piano, song, violin, and organ. He was also a very strict disciplinarian. When Casals was young his father would pull the piano out from the wall and have him and his brother, Artur, stand behind it and name the notes and the scales that his father was playing.

In 1899, Casals played at The Crystal Palace in London, and later for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, her summer residence, accompanied by Ernest Walker. On November 12, and December 17, 1899, he appeared as a soloist at Lamoureux Concerts in Paris, to great public and critical acclaim.

Pau Casals with John Fitzerald and Jackie Kennedy
On January 15, 1904, Casals was invited to play at the White House for President Theodore Roosevelt. On March 9, of that year he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York, playing Richard Strauss's Don Quixote under the baton of the composer.

Casals was an ardent supporter of the Republican government, and after its defeat vowed not to return to Spain until democracy was restored. Casals performed at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on October 19, 1938, possibly his last performance in Catalonia during his exile.

In the last weeks of 1936, he already settled in the French Catalan village of Prada de Conflent, near the Spanish Catalan border; between 1939 and 1942 he made sporadic appearances as a cellist in the unoccupied zone of southern France and in Switzerland.

Pau Casals in the UNO, 1971
So fierce was his opposition to the dictatorial regime of Franco in Spain that he refused to appear in countries that recognized the authoritarian Spanish government. 

He made a notable exception when he took part in a concert of chamber music in the White House on November 13, 1961, at the invitation of President John F. Kennedy, whom he admired. On December 6, 1963, Casals was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

One of his last compositions was the Hymn of the United Nations. He conducted its first performance in a special concert at the United Nations on October 24, 1971, two months before his 95th birthday. On that day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, awarded Pau Casals the U.N. Peace Medal in recognition of his stance for peace, justice and freedom. Casals accepted the medal and made his famous I Am a Catalan speech, where he stated that Catalonia had the first democratic parliament, long before England did.

Casals died in 1973 at Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the age of 96, from complications of a heart attack he had three weeks earlier. He was buried at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery. He did not live to see the end of the Franco dictatorial regime, which occurred two years later.

In 1979 his remains were interred in his hometown of El Vendrell, Catalonia. In 1989, Casals was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Al veure despuntar
el major lluminar
en la nit més ditxosa,
els ocellets cantant,
a festejar-lo van
amb sa veu melindrosa.

In seeing emerge
the greatest light
during the most celebrated of nights,
the little birds sing,
they go to celebrate Him
with their delicate voices.

El Cant dels Ocells / The Song of the Birds, Pau Casals

Friday, 21 October 2016


Claire Fontaine in Poblenou
Today, Claire Fontaine wants to talk about one of the capital vices: wrath.

Meanwhile The Grandma is travelling on The Orient Express, Claire Fontaine is elaborating a little study about The AntiChrist and her management in the City Hall. The city is living a horrible nightmare since The AntiChrist took the control of it. She arrived full of vanished promises, impossible plans and a dirty campaign against all her adversaries.

Eighteen months later, the city is a messy place and there are lots of angry and desperate neighbours in all the districts of the city because they're suffering the stupid policies of The AntiChrist and this week the city has experienced a great wave of wrath because The AntiChrist decided to expose some diabolic statues in the downtown of the city, in a place very appreciate and loved by the neighbours. 

Closed streets to avoid traffic without sense; increasing of taxes, decreasing of minimum services, increasing of rent house prices, policies against hotel industry and tourism, refusing of licenses to open bars and restaurants, tolerance with cyclists who drive everywhere without control, obsession to not listening neighbours  or treating them like silly and idiot are only some of the great achievements of The AntiChrist.

It's time for neighbours to resist or serve, and we are going to resist until we win this battle against this diabolic character.

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.  
John Steinbeck

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Tina Picotes in front of The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, Australia. It is one of the 20th century's most famous and distinctive buildings.

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the building was formally opened on 20 October 1973 after a gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. The government of New South Wales, led by the premier, Joseph Cahill, authorised work to begin in 1958 with Utzon directing construction. The government's decision to build Utzon's design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect's ultimate resignation.

The building and its surrounds occupy the whole of Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, and close by the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Though its name suggests a single venue, the building comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centres, hosting well over 1,500 performances annually, attended by more than 1.2 million people. Performances are presented by numerous performing artists, including four resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than eight million people visit the site annually, and approximately 350,000 visitors take a guided tour of the building each year. The building is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, an agency of the New South Wales State Government.

On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More information: Sydney Opera House 

One of the great things about Sydney is that it has a great acceptance of everyone and everything. It's an incredibly tolerant city, a city with a huge multicultural basis.   
Baz Luhrmann

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


The Grandma and Corto Maltese in Venice
The Grandma is spending her last hours in Venice. After visiting old friends, she is going to walk across the city accompanied by Corto Maltese and they're going to travel to the past to remember the old Venice during the beginning of the 20th century.

Corto is an old Grandma's friend whose name is possibly derived from the Venetian Corte Maltese, Courtyard of the Maltese, today Corte Contarini del Bovolo, next to Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. He's a laconic sea captain adventuring. His friends describe him as a rogue with a heart of gold. He is tolerant and sympathetic to the underdog.

Born in Valletta, Malta, on July 10, 1887, he is the son of a British sailor from Cornwall and an Andalusian–Romani  witch and prostitute known as La Niña de Gibraltar. As a boy growing up in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba, Maltese discovered that he had no fate line on his palm and therefore carved his own with his father's razor, determining that his fate was his to choose.

More information: World in words

Although maintaining a neutral position, Corto instinctively supports the disadvantaged and oppressed. The character embodies skepticism of national, ideological and religious assertions.

Chaplin, Hemingway and Corto in Venice
Corto befriends people from all walks of life, including the murderous Russian Rasputin, British heir Tristan Bantam, voodoo priestess Gold Mouth and Czech academic Jeremiah Steiner. He also knows and meets various real-life historical figures, including Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Butch Cassidy, James Joyce, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Frederick Rolfe, Joseph Conrad, Sukhbaatar, John Reed, White Russian general Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, Enver Pasha of Turkey and Sergei Semenov, modelled after Grigory Semyonov.

His acquaintances treat him with great respect, as when a telephone call to Joseph Stalin frees him from arrest when he is threatened with execution on the border of Turkey and Armenia.

Corto's favourite reading is Utopia by Thomas More, but he never finishes it. He also read books by London, Lugones, Stevenson, Melville and Conrad, and quotes Rimbaud. He is present when the Red Baron is shot down, helps the Jivaros in South America, and flees Fascists in Venice, but also unwittingly helps Merlin and Oberon to defend Britain and helps Tristan Bantam to visit the lost continent of Mu.
Corto Maltese in Venice
Chronologically, the first Corto Maltese adventure, La giovinezza, happens during the Russo-Japanese War. In other albums he experiences the Great War in several locations, participates in the Russian Civil War after the October Revolution, and appears during the early stages of Fascist Italy. 

In a separate series by Pratt, Gli Scorpioni del Deserto, The Desert Scorpions, he is described as disappearing in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Corto has reappeared to spend some hours with The Grandma and it's not a casualty that he has choose this date: today, is an important day to repair more than 20.000 citizens who suffered illegal war councils. Today is a great day to repair a big part of our recent historic memory.

More information: Corto Maltese Official Web

Disappear does not mean death - Hugo Pratt

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Captain Ahab
Today, The Grandma, who is still in Venice, wants to talk about one of her favourite novels: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Moby Dick, aka The Whale was published in October, 18 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance. 

Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale which on the previous whaling voyage destroyed his ship and severed his leg at the knee.

Melville’s literary inspirations were Shakespeare and the Bible. The white whale is modeled on the notoriously hard to catch actual albino whale Mocha Dick, and the ending is based on the sinking of the whaler Essex by a whale. 

The detailed and realistic descriptions of whale hunting and of extracting whale oil, as well as life aboard ship among a culturally diverse crew, are mixed with exploration of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God. 

In addition to narrative prose, Melville uses styles and literary devices ranging from songs, poetry, and catalogs to Shakespearean stage directions, soliloquies, and asides.

The novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author's death in 1891, but during the 20th century, its reputation as a Great American Novel was established.

A scene of Moby Dick
Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. His best known works include Typee (1846), a romantic account of his experiences in Polynesian life, and his whaling novel Moby Dick (1851). 

His work was almost forgotten during his last thirty years. His writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. He developed a complex, baroque style: the vocabulary is rich and original, a strong sense of rhythm infuses the elaborate sentences, the imagery is often mystical or ironic, and the abundance of allusion extends to Scripture, myth, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts.

Hope is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity. 

Herman Melville

Monday, 17 October 2016


Thirty years ago, in Lausanne, Barcelona was choosen as the organizer city of the Olympic Games. In 1992, the city organized one of the most beautiful shows of the history and citizens are still very proud of it.

Perhaps, foreign people remember the Open and Closure Cerimonies, Cobi, Petra, the American Dream Team with the NBA players or the Official Anthem with Sarah Brightman and Josep Carreras but there was another story about these games, a story of repression, a story of police control over the population and a story abuot some citizens who were tortured because of their ideology. This is a sad black story that will never appear in the History books but people who lived in suburbs with a great presence of social movements remember clearly nowadays.

Today, The Grandma has wanted to write this short post to remember and honor those neighbours who suffered the violence of some judicial and security forces which, we suppose, exist to serve and protect. 

More information: Barcelona Olímpica

The purpose of torture is not getting information. It's spreading fear.

Eduardo Galeano

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Joseph de Ca'th Lon with the Hale Telescope
Today, Joseph de Ca'th Lon is in Palomar Observatory, in San Diego, California

He's following an Eli Poppins proposal: watching the supermoon tonight and the best place to do it is in an astronomical observatory.

If he chose the Montsec Observatory in Àger to see The Draconids, now he has decided to travel to the West Coast of the United and honor an important astronomer, George E.Hale
A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term supermoon is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but the evidence of such a link is widely held to be unconvincing.
The supermoon behind The Parthenon, Athens

The Moon's distance varies each month between approximately 357,000 kilometers and 406,000 km due to its elliptical orbit around the Earth, distances given are centre-to-centre. A full moon at perigee is visually larger up to 14% in diameter, or about 30% in area, and shines 30% more light than one at its farthest point, or apogee.

More information: Time and Date

The full moon cycle is the period between alignments of the lunar perigee with the sun and the earth, which is about 13.9443 synodic months, about 411.8 days. Thus approximately every 14th full moon will be a supermoon. However, halfway through the cycle the full moon will be close to apogee, and the new moons immediately before and after can be supermoons. Thus there may be as many as three supermoons per full moon cycle.

More information: The Supermoon Patterns
The Supermoon in New York City
Palomar Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in San Diego County, California, The United States, 145 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles, California, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) located in Pasadena, California. Research time is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Cornell University.
The observatory operates several telescopes, including the famous 200-inch Hale Telescope and the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope. In addition, other instruments and projects have been hosted at the observatory, such as the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the historic 18-inch Schmidt telescope, Palomar Observatory's first telescope, dating from 1936.

George Ellery Hale (1868-1938) was an American solar astronomer, best known for his discovery of magnetic fields in sunspots, and as the leader or key figure in the planning or construction of several world-leading telescopes; namely, the 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory, 60-inch Hale reflecting telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, 100-inch Hooker reflecting telescope at Mount Wilson, and the 200-inch Hale reflecting telescope at Palomar Observatory.
More information: Amazing Space 

Like buried treasures, the outposts of the universe have beckoned to the adventurous from immemorial times. Princes and potentates, political or industrial, equally with men of science, have felt the lure of the uncharted seas of space, and through their provision of instrumental means the sphere of exploration has made new discoveries and brought back permanent additions to our knowledge of the heavens. 

George E. Hale