Monday, September 28, 2009

Master Vices

"We meet vices by chance. They visit us as guests. In the end, they stay as masters". Confucius.

Every Friday night, streets tremble with fear for what is coming upon them. What could be regarded as a fashion, going on a drinking binge, is becoming a habit among more and more teenagers.
It seems to be the case that the comsumption of alcohol has increased in the last five years. As alcoholic drinks are quite espensive, younsters are used to going shopping to buy them at the cheapest price. These days, young people start drinking alcohol as early as age twelve. Moreover, once they go out with their friends, they are more likely to be influenced by what they may think about them. Then, they obsess with showing off, and they end up getting addicted to some stimulant to get rid of their restraint.
In the same way, it is very common to meet a lot of people drinking on the sidewalks. The problems appear when they get to extremes. At weekends, as many as three teenagers in five admit to drinking for the sake of it. Their aim is to be on a high quickly to behave in a more outgoing manner. Behind this behaviour we can find a lack of self-esteem or other psychological disorder. However they reassure they can't do without alcohol. In the long term, they become dependent on it, but who is to blame for this chaotic situation?
If parents feel uneasy, the neighbours of the areas where these teenagers spend their evenings are even angrier with those who leave the ravages of the weekend on their streets. In fact, many neighbours also complain about the disturbances they produce. This unrest has gone to such an extent that authorities have forbidden drinking on the street in many countries. This measure has not been welcome among younger population either. We hope we will amend the situation and find solutions to this social phenomenon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Every year, at the beginning of autumn, the most famous folk and beer festival, the Oktoberfest, takes places in Munich, Germany. This time, the event will be held from 19th September to 4th October. For beer lovers and tourists in general, Munich has the best Bavarian gastronomy and cultural offer. Among the attractions, there are parades, carousels, shows and beer tents where you can taste the daintiest bretzel in sweet mustard and all kind of German delicatessen to go with any kind of beer. This year is the 176th anniversary of Munich Oktoberfest! It starts third Saturday in September and only after a traditional ceremony. The ‘Wies’n’ festival originates from the wedding feast for Crown Prince Ludwig and his bride in 1810. The ‘Wies’n’ publicans, set off at 11am on their colourfully decorated floats pulled by horses, make their way along Schwanthaler Strasse towards the Theresienwiese. The first barrel of beer is personally tapped by the Lord Mayor at 12 noon and on Sunday, starting at 10am, groups in traditional garb from all over Europe march to the Theresienwiese. The blissful, beer-laden festical lasts for a total of 16 days and six million people attend each year. Although other Oktoberfests are celebrated worldwide, this is the one. The entry to the festival is free and everybody is welcome in any tent. Remember seat reservations are hard to get. Here you are a guide to the festival where the best tips about accommodation, transport, tickets and so on are given. You can't miss it!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Missing holidays?!

Read the following comic strip. Do you feel the same? We all know the back is hard! Just, keep on smiling!

On stage, post-vacation syndrome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to school

fter having spent a lovely summer break, many children have woken up earlier than usual these days. They have to get ready to go back to school. This time the course starts with many issues brought out into the open. They vary depending on the country: the school-voucher program available to all Swedish students contrasts with Indian literacy projects for slum children.
Although Education (with capital E) is settled in the Chart of Human Rights, many African students and teachers face not only a lack of materials, but also a lack of access to teaching and learning resources. Northwards, not very far from there, in Spain, the economical situation makes harder the return to schools as the amount of money the parents have to spend on school materials exceeds the medium families' expenses.
But, what's the icing on the cake?
Don't you figure it out? Yes, flu, swine flu (H1N1).
Although Health Authorities plead for hygienic measures and vaccines for its prevention, the medium have created a sense of distrust to what we learn about this new virus. In fact, we'll have to wait and see how it works, whether it does as a common flu or not. Meanwhile, I want to share with all of you an internet report I was sent some weeks ago where this topic is shown from a different point of view. I've found it only in Spanish, I'm afraid. If you have it in English, please, let me know. Welcome to school!

Operación Pandemia
Pandemic Operation

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Japanese recipe

Going on with the transmission of culture using English, here you are! This time, it's a delicious recipe easily explained in this video, step by step. If you want to surprise your guests, just try with this one!!! Discover Japanese Gastronomy.

BBQ Recipes: How To Make Miso Glazed Barbecued Duck

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Tribute to Alfred Lord Tennyson

Left: I'm half-sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shalott.
Right: The Lady of Shalott. Both painted by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917).

The Lady of Shalott tells the story of a woman who lives in a tower in Shalott, which is an island on a river that runs, along with the road beside it, to Camelot, the setting of the legends about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Every day, the woman weaves a tapestry picture of the landscape that is visible from her window, including Camelot. There is, however, a curse on her; the woman does not know the cause of the curse, but she knows that she cannot look directly out of the window, so she views the subjects of her artwork through a mirror that is beside her. The woman is happy to weave, but is tired of looking at life only as a reflection. One day, Sir Lancelot rides by, looking bold and handsome in his shining armor, and singing. The woman goes to the window to look directly out of it, and the moment she does, she knows that the curse is upon her. So she leaves the tower, finds a boat at the side of the river, writes The Lady of Shalott on the side of the boat, and floats off down the river toward Camelot. As she drifts along, singing and observing all of the sights that were forbidden to her before, she dies. The boat floats past Camelot, and all of the knights make the sign of the cross upon seeing a corpse go by, but Lancelot, seeing her for the first time, notes, "She has a lovely face."

The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance--
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

The Arthurian legend has inspired to many poets. This has been the case of The Lady of Shalott, written by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892).

This poem was first published in 1832, when Tennyson was 23 years old, in a volume called Poems. Up to that point, Tennyson had received great critical acclaim and had won national awards, but the critics savagely attacked the 1832 book, mostly because of poems such as "The Lady of Shalott" that dealt with fantasy situations instead of realistic ones. Fantasy is what we shouldn't wipe out from our lives. Fortunately, his play has overcome the passage of time. The Canadian singer, Loreena McKennitt based her homonym song on Tennyson's poem. Of Scottish and Irish descents, she's famous for writing, composing and performing world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. As a harpist, pianist and composer, she has found in traditional and classical plays her source of inspiration for her lyrics. Among the most famous ones, Tennyson's, Shakespeare's, Lampman's, St. John's (of the Cross), Blake's, Yeats' and Noyes'.

Like in ancient times, poetry is still sung like minstrels did. Enjoy this beautiful song and pay attention to the rhyme.