Tuesday, 19 September 2017

JEREMY IRONS: ELEGANCE IN ENGLISH ARTS

Jeremy Irons
Jeremy John Irons, born 19 September 1948, is an English actor born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  

After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969 and has since appeared in many West End theatre productions, including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Godspell, Richard II, and Embers

In 1984, he made his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and received a Tony Award for Best Actor.

More information: Jeremy Irons

Irons' first major film role came in the 1981 romantic drama The French Lieutenant's Woman, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor. After starring in dramas such as Moonlighting (1982), Betrayal (1983), and The Mission (1986), he gained critical acclaim for portraying twin gynaecologists in David Cronenberg's psychological thriller Dead Ringers (1988). 

In 1990, Irons played accused murderer Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune, and took home multiple awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Jeremy Irons and his Academy Award
Other notable films have included Steven Soderbergh's mystery thriller Kafka (1991), the period drama The House of the Spirits (1993), the romantic drama M. Butterfly (1993), the voice of Scar in Disney's The Lion King (1994), Simon Gruber in the action film Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), the drama Lolita (1997), Musketeer Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the action adventure Dungeons & Dragons (2000), the drama The Merchant of Venice (2004), the drama Being Julia (2004), the epic historical drama Kingdom of Heaven (2005), the fantasy-adventure Eragon (2006), the Western Appaloosa (2008), and the indie drama Margin Call (2011). 

In 2016, he appeared in Assassin's Creed and, starting that year, he plays Alfred Pennyworth in the DC Extended Universe, beginning with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and later reprising the role in Justice League (2017) and The Batman (TBA).

More information: Jeremy Irons On Line

Irons has also made several notable appearances on TV. He earned his first Golden Globe Award nomination for his break-out role in the ITV series Brideshead Revisited (1981). In 2005, Irons starred opposite Helen Mirren in the historical miniseries Elizabeth I, for which he received a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor. 

Jeremy Irons in The Mission, 1986
From 2011 to 2013 he starred as Pope Alexander VI in the Showtime historical series The Borgias. He is one of the few actors who won the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Tony Award. In October 2011, he was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Irons is a patron of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company which produces Shakespearean plays annually in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Irons was bestowed an Honorary-Life Membership by the University College Dublin Law Society in September 2008, in honour of his contribution to television, film, audio, music, and theatre. Also in 2008, Irons was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Southampton Solent University. On 20 July 2016, Irons was announced as the first Chancellor of Bath Spa University.


 I wanted to become an actor because I wanted to become a gypsy. 
I wanted to live the gypsy life!

Jeremy Irons

Monday, 18 September 2017

JIMI HENDRIX: THE GREATEST ROCK INSTRUMENTALIST

Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (November 27, 1942-September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.

More information: The Official Jimi Hendrix Page

Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. In 1961, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division; he was granted an honorable discharge the following year. 

Soon afterward, he moved to Clarksville, Tennessee, and began playing gigs on the Chitlin' Circuit, earning a place in the Isley Brothers' backing band and later with Little Richard, with whom he continued to work through mid-1965. He then played with Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after being discovered by Linda Keith, who in turn interested bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals in becoming his first manager. 

Jimi Hendrix
Within months, Hendrix had earned three UK top ten hits with the Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe, Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary

He achieved fame in the U.S. after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the U.S.; it was Hendrix's most commercially successful release and his first and only number one album. 

The world's highest-paid performer, he headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 before his accidental death from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27.

More information: BBC

Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. 


Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.

Jimi Hendrix

Sunday, 17 September 2017

WILLIAM GOLDING & LORD OF THE FLIES: BREAKING RULES

William Golding
Sir William Gerald Golding (19 September 1911–19 June 1993) was a British novelist, playwright, and poet. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also awarded the Booker Prize for fiction in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

William Golding was born in his grandmother's house, 47 Mount Wise, Newquay, Cornwall. The house was known as Karenza, the Cornish language word for love, and he spent many childhood holidays there. He grew up in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where his father was a science master at Marlborough Grammar School. 

In 1930 Golding went to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read Natural Sciences for two years before transferring to English Literature.

More information: BBC

Golding took his B.A. degree with Second Class Honours in the summer of 1934, and later that year a book of his Poems was published by Macmillan & Co, with the help of his Oxford friend, the anthroposophist Adam Bittleston. He was a schoolmaster teaching Philosophy and English in 1939, then just English from 1945 to 1961 at Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
 
William Golding
Lord of the Flies focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

Published in September 17 1954, Lord of the Flies was Golding's first novel. Although it was not a great success at the time, selling fewer than three thousand copies in the United States during 1955 before going out of print, it soon went on to become a best-seller.

The book takes place in the midst of an unspecified nuclear war. Some of the marooned characters are ordinary students, while others arrive as a musical choir under an established leader. With the exception of the choirboys, Sam, and Eric, they appear never to have encountered each other before. The book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves on a paradisiacal island, far from modern civilization, the well-educated children regress to a primitive state.


Golding wrote his book as a counterpoint to R.M. Ballantyne's youth novel The Coral Island (1858), and included specific references to it, such as the rescuing naval officer's description of the children's pursuit of Ralph as a jolly good show, like the Coral Island

Lord of the Flies Cover
Golding's three central characters -Ralph, Piggy and Jack- have been interpreted as caricatures of Ballantyne's Coral Island protagonists.

At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting human impulses toward civilization and social organization, living by rules, peacefully and in harmony, and toward the will to power

Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality

How these play out, and how different people feel the influences of these form a major subtext of Lord of the Flies. 

The name Lord of the Flies is a literal translation of Beelzebub.


What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?

William Golding

Saturday, 16 September 2017

TINA PICOTES VISITS THE STATE OF TIROL IN AUSTRIA

Tina Picotes in Innsbruck, Tyrol
Tina Picotes is visiting Tirol, a wonderful bundesland with centuries of history and an own culture.

Tirol or Tyrol is a federal state or Bundesland in western Austria. It comprises the Austrian part of the historical Princely County of Tyrol

It is a constituent part of the present-day Euroregion Tyrol–South Tyrol–Trentino, together with South Tyrol and Trentino in Italy. The capital of Tyrol is Innsbruck.

More information: Province of Tyrol

The state of Tyrol is separated into two parts, divided by a 7-kilometre wide strip. The larger territory is called Nordtirol and the smaller area is called Osttirol. The neighbouring Austrian state of Salzburg stands to the east, while on the south Tyrol has a border with the Italian province of South Tyrol which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War. 

Tina Picotes in The Golden Roof House, Innsbruck
Tyrol shares its borders with the federal state of Salzburg in the east and Vorarlberg in the west. In the north, it adjoins to the German state of Bavaria; in the south, it shares borders with the Italian province of South Tyrol and the Swiss canton of Graubünden. East Tyrol also shares its borders with the federal state of Carinthia to the east and Italy's Province of Belluno, Veneto, to the south.

The state's territory is located entirely within the Eastern Alps at the Brenner Pass. The highest mountain in the state is the Großglockner, part of the Hohe Tauern range on the border with Carinthia. It has a height of 3,797 m, making it the highest mountain in Austria.

More information: Tyrol

In ancient times, the region was split between the Roman provinces of Raetia, left of the Inn River, and Noricum. From the mid-6th century, it was resettled by Germanic Bavarii tribes. In the Early Middle Ages it formed the southern part of the German stem duchy of Bavaria, until the Counts of Tyrol, former Vogt officials of the Trent and Brixen prince-bishops at Tyrol Castle, achieved imperial immediacy after the deposition of the Bavarian duke Henry the Proud in 1138, and their possessions formed a state of the Holy Roman Empire in its own right.

When the Counts of Tyrol died out in 1253, their estates were inherited by the Meinhardiner Counts of Görz

In 1271, the Tyrolean possessions were divided between Count Meinhard II of Görz and his younger brother Albert I, who took the lands of East Tyrol around Lienz and attached it, as outer county, to his committal possessions around Gorizia inner county.

The last Tyrolean countess of the Meinhardiner Dynasty, Margaret, bequeathed her assets to the Habsburg duke Rudolph IV of Austria in 1363. In 1420, the committal residence was relocated from Merano to Innsbruck. The Tyrolean lands were reunited when the Habsburgs inherited the estates of the extinct Counts of Görz in 1500.

More information: Stadt Innsbruck

In the course of the German mediatization in 1803, the prince-bishoprics of Trent and Brixen were secularized and merged into the County of Tyrol, which in the next year became a constituent land of the Austrian Empire, but Tyrol was ceded to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1805. 

Tina Picotes inside her home in Kufstein
Later, South Tyrol was ceded to the Kingdom of Italy, a client state of the First French Empire, by Bavaria in 1810. After Napoleon's defeat, the whole of Tyrol was returned to Austria in 1814.

Tyrol was a Cisleithanian Kronland, royal territory, of Austria-Hungary from 1867. The County of Tyrol then extended beyond the boundaries of today's state, including North Tyrol and East Tyrol; South Tyrol and Trentino, Welschtirol, as well as three municipalities, which today are part of the adjacent Province of Belluno. 

More information: Kufsteinerland

After World War I, these lands became part of the Kingdom of Italy according to the 1915 London Pact and the provisions of the Treaty of Saint Germain. Since November 1918 it was occupied by 20-22000 soldiers of the Italian Army.

After World War II, Tyrol was governed by France until Austria regained independence again in 1955.


 ...seen from above, landscapes are made up of mountains and watercourses. Just as a transparent model of the human body consists of a framework of bone and a network of arteries, the earth's crust is structured in mountain ridges, river, creeks, and gullies.

Reinhold Messner

Friday, 15 September 2017

THE CASSINI-HUYGENS LAST MISSION IN SPACE

The Cassini–Huygens
The Cassini–Huygens mission was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites. The Flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft comprised both NASA's Cassini probe, and ESA's Huygens lander which would be landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. The craft were named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.

Launched aboard a Titan IVB/Centaur on October 15, 1997, Cassini was active in space for more than 18 years, with 13 years spent orbiting Saturn, studying the planet and its system after entering orbit on July 1, 2004. The voyage to Saturn included flybys of Venus, Earth , the asteroid 2685 Masursky, and Jupiter

More information: NASA

Its mission ended on September 15, 2017, when Cassini was commanded to fly into Saturn's upper atmosphere and burn up, in order to prevent any risk of contaminating Saturn's moons, some of whose environments could potentially bear life, with stowaway terrestrial microbes. 

The Cassini–Huygens
The mission is widely perceived to have been successful beyond expectation. Cassini-Huygens has been described by NASA's Planetary Science Division Director as a mission of firsts, that has revolutionized human understanding of the Saturn system, including its moons and rings, and our understanding of where life might be found in the Solar System.

Cassini's original mission was planned to last for four years, from June 2004 to May 2008. The mission was extended for another two years until September 2010, branded the Cassini Equinox Mission. The mission was extended a second and final time with the Cassini Solstice Mission, lasting another seven years until September 15, 2017, on which date Cassini was de-orbited by being allowed to burn up in Saturn's upper atmosphere.

More information: Cassini-The Grand Finale

The Huygens module traveled with Cassini until its separation from the probe on December 25, 2004; it was successfully landed by parachute on Titan on January 14, 2005. It successfully returned data to Earth for around 90 minutes, using the orbiter as a relay. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System and the first landing on a moon other than our own. Cassini continued to study the Saturn system in the following years.

Landed on Saturn's largest moon Titan
At the end of its mission, the Cassini spacecraft executed the Grand Finale of its mission: a number of risky passes through the gaps between Saturn and Saturn's inner rings

The purpose of this phase was to maximize Cassini's scientific outcome before the spacecraft was destroyed. The atmospheric entry of Cassini effectively ended the mission, although data analysis and production will continue afterwards.

Until September 2017 the Cassini probe continued orbiting Saturn at a distance of between 8.2 and 10.2 astronomical units from the Earth. It took 68 to 84 minutes for radio signals to travel from Earth to the spacecraft, and vice versa. Thus ground controllers could not give real-time instructions for daily operations or for unexpected events. Even if response were immediate, more than two hours would have passed between the occurrence of a problem and the reception of the engineers' response by the satellite.


We must believe then, that as from hence we see Saturn and Jupiter; 
if we were in either of the Two, 
we should discover a great many Worlds which we perceive not; 
and that the Universe extends so in infinitum.
 
Cyrano de Bergerac

Thursday, 14 September 2017

DURANTE DEGLI ALIGHIERI: DE VULGARI ELOQUENTIA

Durante degli Alighieri aka Dante
Durante degli Alighieri, simply called Dante (May, 29 1265-September 14 1321), was a major Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later christened Divina by Boccaccio, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. It has been referred to as the greatest poem of the Middle Ages.

In the late Middle Ages, the overwhelming majority of poetry was written in Latin, and therefore accessible only to affluent and educated audiences. In De vulgari eloquentia, however, Dante defended use of the vernacular in literature. He himself would even write in the Tuscan dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and the aforementioned Divine Comedy; this choice, although highly unorthodox, set a hugely important precedent that later Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would follow. 

More information: Biography.com

As a result, Dante played an instrumental role in establishing the national language of Italy. Dante has been called the Father of the Italian language and one of the greatest poets of world literature. In Italy, Dante is often referred to as il Sommo Poeta and il Poeta; he, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called the three fountains or the three crowns.

De Vulgari Eloquentia by Dante
De vulgari eloquentia is the title of a Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, its writing was abandoned in the middle of the second book. It was probably composed shortly after Dante went into exile; internal evidence points to a date between 1302 and 1305.

In the first book, Dante discusses the relationship between Latin and vernacular, and the search for an illustrious vernacular in the Italian area; the second book is an analysis of the structure of the canto or song, also spelled canzuni in Sicilian, which is a literary genre developed in the Sicilian School of poetry.

Latin essays were very popular in the Middle Ages, but Dante made some innovations in his work: firstly, the subject, writing in vernacular, was an uncommon topic in literary discussion at that time. Also significant was how Dante approached this theme; that is, he presented an argument for giving vernacular the same dignity and legitimacy Latin was typically given. 

Finally, Dante wrote this essay in order to analyse the origin and the philosophy of the vernacular, because, in his opinion, this language was not something static, but something that evolves and needed a historical contextualisation.


In the beginning, Dante tackles the historical evolution of language, which he thinks was born unitary and, at a later stage, was separated into different idioms because of the presumptuousness demonstrated by humankind at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel. 

Dante Alighieri, the Hell and Florence
He compiles a map of the geographical position of the languages he knows, dividing the European territory into three parts: one to the east, with the Greek languages; one to the north, with the Germanic languages, which he believed included Magyar and Slavic languages; one to the south, separated into three Romance languages identified by their word for 'yes': oc language, oïl language and sì language. He then discusses gramatica, grammar, which is a static language consisting of unchanging rules, needed to make up for the natural languages. 

In chapters ten to fifteen of the first book, Dante writes about his search for the illustrious vernacular, among the fourteen varieties he claims to have found in the Italian region. In the second book, Dante deals with literary genres, specifying which are the ones that suit the vernacular.


The major Occitan work that influenced Dante was probably Razos de trobar by the Catalan troubadour Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun and the Vers e regles de trobar, an amplification of Vidal's manual, by Jofre de Foixà. Both of these works were Occitan manuals of grammar for troubadour poetry

They implicitly and explicitly defended Occitan as the best vernacular for song and verse, prompting Dante to come to the defence of his beloved Tuscan tongue


 A perpetuale infamia e depressione delli malvagi uomini d'Italia, che commendano lo volgare altrui, e lo loro proprio dispregiano, dico...

To the perpetual shame and lowness of the wicked men of Italy, that praise somebody else's vernacular and despise their own, I say...

Dante Alighieri

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Indigenous people of Peru, South America
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). In May 2016 Canada officially removed its objector status to UNDRIP, almost a decade after it was adopted by the General Assembly. By now also the other 3 objectors have, to various degrees, turned their vote.


While as a General Assembly Declaration it is not a legally binding instrument under international law, according to a UN press release, it does represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN's member states to move in certain directions; the UN describes it as setting an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet's 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation.

Butchulla People, Fraser Island, Australia
UNDRIP codifies Indigenous historical grievances, contemporary challenges and socio-economic, political and cultural aspirations and is the culmination of generations-long efforts by Indigenous organizations to get international attention, to secure recognition for their aspirations, and to generate support for their political agendas. 

Canada Research Chair and faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan, Ken Coates, argues that UNDRIP resonates powerfully with Indigenous peoples, while national governments have not yet fully understood its impact.

More information: United Nations

The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues

It also emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples, and it promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development

Nunavut People, Canada
The goal of the Declaration is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous peoples to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization. According to Article 31, there is a major emphasis that the indigenous peoples will be able to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition, which is extremely important in preserving their heritage

The elaboration of this Declaration had already been recommended by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

More information: Cultural Survival

The Declaration is structured as a United Nations resolution, with 23 preambular clauses and 46 articles. 

Articles 1–40 concern particular individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples; many of them include state obligations to protect or fulfil those rights. 

Masai People, Kenya / Tanzania
Article 31 concerns the right to protect cultural heritage as well as manifestations of their cultures including human and genetic resources. 

Articles 41 and 42 concern the role of the United Nations. 

Articles 43–45 indicate that the rights in the declaration apply without distinction to indigenous men and women, and that the rights in the Declaration are the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, and do not in any way limit greater rights. 

Article 46 discusses the Declaration's consistency with other internationally agreed goals, and the framework for interpreting the rights declared within it.

More information: UNESCO

The opening and Article 2 of the Declaration provide that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, guaranteeing them the right of existence, of living free of discrimination, and entitling them as peoples to self-determination under international law.


All religions, all indigenous traditions, 
all origin stories provide a large map of where you are. 

David Christian

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

RAYMOND BURR: PERRY MASON, IRONSIDE AND ORCHIDS

Raymond William Stacy Burr
Raymond William Stacy Burr (May 21, 1917–September 12, 1993) was a Canadian-American actor, primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas Perry Mason and Ironside. He was prominently involved in multiple charitable endeavors, such as working on behalf of the United Service Organizations.

His portrayal of the suspected murderer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window (1954) is regarded as his best-known film role. He won two Emmy Awards, in 1959 and 1961, for the role of Perry Mason, which he played for nine seasons (1957–1966) and reprised in a series of 26 television films (1985–1993). His second hit TV series, Ironside, earned him six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

Raymond William Stacy Burr was born May 21, 1917, in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Growing up during the Great Depression, Burr hoped to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, a renowned community theater and school in Pasadena, California, but he was unable to afford the tuition. 

More information: Perry Mason TV Series

Burr appeared in more than 50 feature films between 1946 and 1957, creating an array of villains that established him as an icon of film noir: Desperate (1947), Sleep, My Love (1948), Raw Deal (1948), Pitfall (1948), Abandoned (1949), Red Light (1950), M (1951), His Kind of Woman (1951), The Blue Gardenia (1953) and Crime of Passion (1957).

Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale in Perry Mason
In 1956, Burr auditioned for the role of District Attorney Hamilton Burger in Perry Mason, a new CBS-TV courtroom drama based on the highly successful novels by Erle Stanley Gardner

Impressed with his courtroom performance in the 1951 film A Place in the Sun, executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson told Burr he was perfect for Perry Mason. Also starring were Barbara Hale as Della Street, Mason's secretary; William Talman as Hamilton Burger, the district attorney who loses nearly every case to Mason; and Ray Collins as homicide detective Lieutenant Arthur Tragg.

The series ran from 1957 to 1966. Burr received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations and won the award in 1959 and 1961 for his performance as Perry Mason

More information: Pinterest

Burr moved from CBS to Universal Studios, where he played the title role in the television drama Ironside, which ran on NBC from 1967 to 1975. In the pilot episode, San Francisco Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside is wounded by a sniper during an attempt on his life and, after his recovery, uses a wheelchair for mobility. 

Raymond Burr aka Robert T. Ironside
This role gave Burr another hit series, the first crime drama show ever to star a police officer with a disability. The show earned Burr six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

In 1985, Burr was approached by producers Dean Hargrove and Fred Silverman to star in a made-for-TV movie, Perry Mason Returns. He agreed to do the Mason movie if Barbara Hale returned to reprise her role as Della Street. Hale agreed, and when Perry Mason Returns aired in December 1985, her character became the defendant. The rest of the principal cast had died, but Hale's real-life son William Katt played the role of Paul Drake, Jr. The movie was so successful that Burr made a total of 26 Perry Mason television films before his death. 

 More information: MeTV

As he had with the Perry Mason TV movies, Burr decided to do an Ironside reunion movie. The Return of Ironside aired in May 1993, reuniting the entire original cast of the 1967–75 series.

Burr and Hale in Perry Mason Returns
He developed his interest in cultivating and hybridizing orchids into a business with Robert Benevides, his partner. 

Over 20 years, their company, Sea God Nurseries, had nurseries in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores, and California, and was responsible for adding more than 1,500 new orchids to the worldwide catalog. Burr named one of them the Barbara Hale Orchid after his Perry Mason costar. 

Burr and Benevides cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and grapes for Port wine, as well as orchids, at Burr's farmland holdings in Sonoma County, California.

More information: Touring & Tasting

Raymond Burr died on September 12, 1993, at his Sonoma County ranch near Healdsburg.


Try and live your life the way you wish other people would live theirs. 

Raymond Burr

Monday, 11 September 2017

1714, SIEGE OF BARCELONA: LOSE BUT NO SURRENDER

The Siege of Barcelona, 1713-1714
Today is la Diada, the National Day of Catalonia. The Grandma wants to talk about the origin of this festivity and the importance of its meaning: lose but no surrender.

The Siege of Barcelona was a battle at the end of the War of Spanish Succession, which pitted Archduke Charles of Austria, backed by Great Britain and the Netherlands, i.e. the Grand Alliance, against Philip V of Spain, backed by France in a contest for the Spanish crown.

During the early part of the war, Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, had fallen to the forces of Archduke Charles: his fleet had anchored in the port on 22 August 1705, landing troops which surrounded the city. These troops later captured the fort of Montjuïc, and used it to bombard the city into submission on October 9. The Principality, as well as the other States of the Crown of Aragon, quickly accepted Charles III as their new king. Charles summoned the last Catalan Courts of history.

More information: MHCAT

As the freshly defeated Catalan Court supported the Archduke against Philip V, the Franco-Spanish forces were not strong enough to attempt a recapture of the city until 1713. When the Treaty of Utrecht was signed between April and July, Catalonia remained, alongside Majorca, the only realm of which still fought for the cause of Charles III. By 9 July, the General Estates of Catalonia decided to continue the war in order to defend the Catalan constitutions.

The Grandma in El Born, Barcelona
By 25 July of that year, the city of Barcelona was surrounded by Bourbon forces under the command of Restaino Cantelmo-Stuart, Duke of Popoli, but attacks upon it were unfruitful due to the scarcity of artillery. 

The Bourbons then waited for a 20,000 man reinforcement force, which arrived in April–May 1714. 

Under the command of Duke of Berwick, the assault was renewed despite the efforts of the Catalans to break the siege by sending troops behind enemy lines.


After entering the city on 30 August, the Bourbons finally triumphed on 11 September, when the assault which started at 4:30 in the morning was successful, as the wall fell in several places and the Conseller en cap and chief commander of the Coronela, the urban militia of Barcelona, Rafael Casanova, was wounded during the fight.  

The Grandma and Rafael Casanova
The day was marked by fighting in the streets, led by Antoni de Villarroel, the general commander of the Army of Catalonia, who was also wounded. Finally, the Catalan leaders decided to surrender and start the negotiations about capitulation. 

The talks were extended until the next day, because Philip V wanted to punish the population without any agreement, but Berwick, fearing a prolonged struggle, formally accepted to respect the lives of Barcelonians.

This defeat represents the end of the Principality of Catalonia as a political entity, as its independent institutions and legislation were suppressed and replaced by Castilian ones in order to establish absolutism. 

This event is now commemorated as the National Day of Catalonia, known in Catalan as the Diada Nacional de Catalunya.

More information: Tricentenari BCN

Finally, Britain and the Dutch Republic reached a peace agreement to end the war with France on 11 April 1713, Treaty of Utrecht; Austria reached a peace agreement to end the war with France on 7 March 1714, Treaty of Rastatt and The Holy Roman Empire reached a peace agreement to end the war with France on 7 September 1714, Treaty of Baden.


 It is not of the interest of England to preserve the Catalan liberties. 

Henry St. John Bolingbroke

Sunday, 10 September 2017

COLIN FIRTH: ENGLISH SMARTNESS AND DISTINCTION

Colin Andrew Firth
Colin Andrew Firth, born 10 September 1960, is an English actor. He has received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two BAFTA Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Volpi Cup. 

Firth's most notable and acclaimed role to date has been his 2010 portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech, a performance that earned him an Oscar and multiple worldwide best actor awards.

Firth was born in the village of Grayshott, Hampshire, to parents who were both academics and teachers.

More information: Colin Firth Facebook

As a child, Firth travelled a lot due to his parents' work, spending some years in Nigeria. He also lived in St. Louis, Missouri when he was 11, which he has described as a difficult time

Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice
On returning to England, he attended the Montgomery of Alamein Secondary School, which at the time was a state comprehensive school in Winchester, Hampshire. He was still an outsider and was the target of bullying. To counter this, he adopted the local working class Hampshire accent and copied his schoolmates' lack of interest in schoolwork.

By the time he was 14, Firth had already decided to be a professional actor, having attended drama workshops from the age of 10. Until further education, he was not academically inclined, later saying in an interview, I didn't like school. I just thought it was boring and mediocre and nothing they taught me seemed to be of any interest at all

However, at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College in Eastleigh, he was imbued with a love of English literature by an enthusiastic teacher, Penny Edwards, and has said that his two years at Barton Peveril were among the two happiest years of my life.

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After his sixth form years, Firth moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre. There, he made many contacts in the acting world, from which he got a job in the wardrobe department at the National Theatre. From there, he went on to study at Drama Centre London.

Colin Firth winning an Oscar
Identified in the late 1980s with the Brit Pack of rising, young British actors, it was not until Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that he received more widespread attention. This led to roles in films such as The English Patient, Bridget Jones's Diary, Shakespeare in Love, and Love Actually

In 2009, Firth received widespread critical acclaim for his leading role in A Single Man, for which Firth gained his first Academy Award nomination, and won a BAFTA Award. Firth starred in the action spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2014, which was a commercial success and received generally positive reviews.

In 2011, Firth received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was also selected as one of the Time 100. He was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Winchester in 2007, and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2012. 

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He has campaigned for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples, and is a member of Survival International. Firth has also campaigned on issues of asylum seekers, refugees' rights, and the environment. He commissioned and is credited as a co-author on a scientific paper on a study into the differences in brain structure between people of differing political orientations.


I feel more comfortable in drama. Comedy is a high-wire act. 
I find it stressful. It's a precision science in a way. 

Colin Firth