S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

‘Silent Souls’: A Dying Tribe, A Burial Ritual

Exhibitions in the Museo Nacional del Prado

Acrobat on a Ball, Picasso – September 16 – December 18, 2011

From 1904 onwards Picasso regularly went to the Cirque Medrano, which was located near his studio in the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre. The Impressionist painters had already been interested in the circus, attracted by its light and movement. Picasso’s interest, however, was of a more universal and profound nature. Through the symbolic figures of the world of the circus he offered a reflection on the life of the artist while also using this theme as part of his process of investigation on fundamental issues of painting.

The two principal figures in the present work reveal the two poles of Picasso’s art: creativity and fantasy on the one hand and seriousness and rigour on the other. The figure of the female acrobat on a ball, which is also to be seen in another important painting of this date, The Family of Saltimbanques (Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection), reveals Picasso’s characteristically playful temperament. His close friend, the writer Guillaume Apollinaire, interpreted this motif as a dance of the stars in reference to the radiant harmony of the cosmos.

Following the intense and melancholy expressivity of the Blue Period, during his next phase, which began in Paris in 1905, Picasso focused on some of the key visual aspects of painting: precise and energetic line; closed, perfect form; and a pronounced sense of volume. His investigations led him to take a direction very different to that of the contemporary young French painters who were fascinated by the violent chromatism of Fauvism.

At that period Picasso was short of materials and thus reused one of his large canvases on which he had previously painted a portrait of the painter Francisco Iturrino (1864-1924), as photographs and x-rays reveal. The portrait had been exhibited at the Ambroise Vollard gallery in Paris in 1901 within Picasso’s first exhibition, which he held jointly with Iturrino.

The painting was acquired by Picasso’s American patron Gertrude Stein then passed to Kahnweiler’s gallery from where it was sold in 1913 to the Russian collector I. A. Morosov. After the Russian Revolution it entered the State collections and has only rarely been loaned by the Pushkin Museum in Moscow where it is now housed.

San Fran Gate – Stacy Finz

The biggest threat to California’s historic olive industry isn’t the bad weather, disease, prohibitive harvesting costs and fierce competition already taking their toll, growers say: It’s the federal government.

The United States has promised Morocco – one of California’s main competitors – hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to stimulate agriculture in that country, including rehabilitating its more than 1 million acres of existing olive trees and planting 150,000 additional acres. This while California, the only state to commercially produce olives, has been battling Morocco and Spain for the black table-olive and olive-oil markets in this country for more than a decade, local growers said.

“We’re struggling to survive, only to find out that our own country is subsidizing the very place that could put us out of business,” said Dennis Burreson, who with his three sons has 500 acres of Manzanillo and Sevillano table-olive trees in Orland (Glenn County). He hopes that his grandchildren will someday run the farm, but worries that California olive growers could be a dying breed.

By now, his trees should be weighed down with fruit. But spring rains and winds destroyed much of California’s olive crop this year; the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the harvest will be down 67 percent. Although olive trees are alternate-bearing, that is, they yield a robust harvest only every other year, this will be one of the worst years for growers in recent history, said Adin Hester, president of the Olive Growers Council of California.

As Burreson walked through his Orland groves recently, he wondered whether the cost of picking the fruit was even worth it. But if he leaves it on the trees to rot, it might attract the dreaded olive fruit fly, which could be lethal. In the meantime, an abundance of highly subsidized and lower-priced olives and oil are being imported and inundating the U.S. market, he said.

Burreson knows that life as a farmer is never easy, but he said he never thought his own country would work against him.

In 2004, Congress created the Millennium Challenge Corp., a foreign aid agency headed by the secretary of state, to help developing countries reduce poverty. Since its inception, the agency has authorized grants totaling more than $7 billion to help 23 African and Latin American countries.

In 2007 the agency agreed to give Morocco $697.5 million over five years to improve the country’s employment rate and salaries by investing in its fruit-tree farms, small-scale fisheries and artisan crafts, according to Millennium. Nearly half of that money – $320 million – is earmarked for the Fruit Tree Productivity Project, with 80 percent of the cash going to olives and the rest to improve date, fig and almond production…

700 year old copy of Magna Carta goes on display

“Magna Carta has now been moved permanently to the Guildhall which, in a sense, is its spiritual home and I am delighted that my colleagues at Guildhall Library will bring it over to the art gallery to enable visitors to see it free of charge.

“It is an extremely rare opportunity and I am sure that it will prove very popular during Open House London weekend.”

The City of London played an active role in the events that led to Magna Carta’s creation in 1215 and the Mayor (later known as the Lord Mayor) was appointed, along with the barons, to see that its provisions were carried out.

London was also the only city named specifically in the document, in the clause that stated that “the City of London shall have all its ancient liberties by land as well as by water”.

Over the years, Magna Carta developed great significance for Americans and is thought to have influenced the framers of the Declaration of Independence.

The City of London Corporation’s 1297 Magna Carta has been unveiled at the Guildhall Art Gallery in the capital.

The gallery’s Roman Amphitheatre was chosen to house the charter copy by conservators for its ambient low light conditions.

The document, on display until 5pm tomorrow, includes Edward I’s seal and the original writ directed to the Sheriffs of London, ordering that the Charter be promulgated within the City.

The 1297 Charter was confirmed in Parliament, which gave the document statutory force.

John Scott, chairman of the City of London’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said: “The City of London’s Magna Carta is a beautiful document which, over the centuries, has been preserved carefully by our ancestors and, more recently, by a team of conservators at one of our flagship services, London Metropolitan Archives.

Kurt Sanderling (September 19, 1912 – September 17, 2011) was a German conductor. Born in Arys (Orzysz), East Prussia, to Jewish parents, Sanderling, after early work at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, left for Russia in 1936, where he worked with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra. From 1942 to 1960 he was joint principal conductor with Yevgeny Mravinsky of the Leningrad Philharmonic. As a German refugee with a broad cultural outlook, he grew very close to Dmitri Shostakovich.

He returned to Germany where he led the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and Dresden Staatskapelle. He made his British debut in 1970. He later became particularly associated with the Philharmonia starting in January 1980, with a series of performances of the complete Beethoven symphonies at Wembley. The Philharmonia later appointed Sanderling their Conductor Emeritus. He was also Emeritus Conductor of the Madrid Symphony Orchestra.

He announced his retirement from conducting in 2002His recordings include sets of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Philharmonia, and the piano concertos with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, Nos. 3,4 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Nos. 1,2,5 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was among the first conductors to perform and record Deryck Cooke’s completion of Gustav Mahler’s 10th symphony, which his friend Berthold Golschmidt had premiered.

Sanderling had been married twice. His son, by his first wife, is the conductor Thomas Sanderling. His marriage to his first wife ended in divorce after his return to East Germany in 1960. His second wife was the former Barbara Wagner, a double bassist in the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Together, they have had two sons, the conductor Stefan Sanderling and the cellist and conductor Michael Sanderling.

Eel enters man’s penis in spa treatment, is surgically removed

Los Angeles Times – By Amina Khan
Yes, you read that right. A Chinese man had to have an eel surgically removed from his bladder after a mishap while undergoing an unusual spa treatment.

Zhang Nan, a 56-year-old resident of Hubei province, was bathing with live eels, in the hopes that the tiny, serpentine critters would nibble away layers of dead skin, revealing more youthful-looking skin below.

It’s similar to those unusual pedicures that have fish eat dead skin off people’s feet — except that you’re fully submerged, and you’re probably naked, and there are eels all over you.

Anyway, Nan felt a sharp pain, realized a 6-inch eel had entered his penis and was wriggling up through his urethra. He tried to pull it out but its tiny body was too slippery to hold, and it disappeared up his penis and into his bladder, according to the story.

This, the writer points out, is not the first time such an incident has been described: A teenage boy had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a 0.79-inch fish that climbed into his urethra while he was holding it and urinating.

(Superfluous health advice of the day: Don’t hold live animals while you’re relieving yourself. No matter how good an idea it seems at the time.)

Freakish as this sort of accident sounds — and it is, of course — there’s actually a particular type of fish that has a reputation for bladder-diving. According to a Kansas State page on parasitology, there are some types of parasitic catfishes in the Amazon (mostly in the genus Vandellia, and commonly called candiru) that have been known to invade the human urethra, often while humans are urinating into a body of water.

For the record, though, most men out there should be more worried about bacteria and viruses entering the urethra than eels doing so. For some perspective, here’s a rundown from the Cleveland Clinic on some of other, more common conditions affecting the penis.

Pat Robertson Says Alzheimer’s Makes Divorce OK

Home movies hold their own at San Sebastián Film Festival


The cine-event, which starts today, features some promising Spanish titles

This year’s San Sebastián International Film Festival starts today boasting new works by the likes of British filmmaker Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), South Korean ace Kim Ki-duk (Amen) Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda (Kiseki/I Wish) and Canadian actress-director Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz) in its Official Selection, this year to be judged by a jury comprising Frances McDormand, director Alex de la Iglesia and Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, among others. But a solid selection of new Spanish movies is also on show across the festival’s various strands. We took a tour through some of the stand-out homegrown titles of the cine extravaganza.

INTRUDERS Showing out of competition in the Official Selection, the new film from Canarian director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo opens this year’s proceedings. Like his 2007 zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later , it’s another English-language horror and stars Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Brühl and Pilar López de Ayala in a story about two children – one in Spain, one in the UK – terrorized by visiting monsters.

THE SLEEPING VOICE Already on Spain’s shortlist of Oscar candidates (see below), Benito Zambrano’s version of Dulce Chacón’s book La voz dormida stars Inma Cuesta (of TV series Águila Roja ) and María León in a tale of two sisters separated when one is thrown into a Francoist jail in the aftermath of the Civil War. Zambrano shot to fame with the multi-Goya-winning Solas in 1999 and also directed 2005’s Habana Blues .

WRINKLES Ignacio Ferreras’ feature debut is an animated adaptation of Paco Roca’s award-winning graphic novel Arrugas about the dreams, feelings and frustrations of a group of retirement home residents. It’s screening in the Zabaltegi-New Directors strand.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL Oscar-nominated (for his short film 7:35 de la mañana ), Nacho Vigalondo’s much-anticipated follow-up to his quirky 2007 debut Timecrimes (2007) is another original sci-fi offering. Julián Villagrán, Michelle Jenner, Raúl Cimas and Carlos Areces star in this alien invasion-set romantic comedy, which is showing in the Zabaltegi-Specials section.

VERBO After making a number of successful shorts, notably Contracuerpo (2005), Alumbramiento (2007) and The End (2009), Madrileño director Eduardo Chapero-Jackson moves into features with this fantasy about a young girl’s journey into a new dimension. Featuring Alba García in the lead, it also stars Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Verónica Echegui, Najwa Nimri, Víctor Clavijo and Macarena Goméz.

14 D’ABRIL: MACIÀ CONTRA COMPANYS The latest movie from Manuel Huerga,who directed Daniel Brühl in 2006’s Salvador (Puig Antich) as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, is a historical drama about the declaration of the Second Spanish Republic and the confrontation between the two Catalan government presidents of the era, Francesc Macià (Fermí Reixach) and Lluís Companys (Pere Ponce).