Category Archive 'Spain'
02 Oct 2012

European Relationship Problems

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03 Jul 2012

Spanish Flashmob Celebrating Bank Sabadell’s 130th Anniversary

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Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

08 Jul 2011

Codex Calixtinus Stolen from Cathedral of St. James de Compostela

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The Codex Calixtinus, reported stolen last Wednesday, is a 12th century manuscript, the earliest known version of a text constituting a guide and reference book for pilgrims to the Cathedral of the Apostle St. James the Great . The book, known also as Liber Sancti Jacobi, or the Book of Saint James, contains sermons, accounts of miracles, liturgical texts connected with devotions to Saint James, the patron saint of Spain, and some very important pieces of polyphonic music. The pilgrim’s guide contains descriptions of the route, advice on sights to be seen along the way, and descriptions of local customs.

The manuscript is believed to have been taken by professional thieves from a safe in the cathedral’s archives the previous Sunday (July 3) night.

Reuters report.

Guardian story.


Congaudeant catholici [Rejoice together, Catholics], the first known polyphonic chant for three voices, composed by Magister Albertus Parisiensis [Albert of Paris, cantor of Notre Dame Cathedral, in the 12th century, from the missing Codex Calixtinus.

10 Jan 2011

Order of the Golden Fleece

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19th century medal of the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece

The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded January 10, 1430 in Bruges, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and is the oldest of the great chivalric orders of the Middle Ages.

The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded, according to Philip’s proclamation:

[F]for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also …to do honor to old knights; …so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order … should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds…”.

The name of the Order and its badge, a pendant sheep’s fleece made of gold, represented the fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts – a heroic legend which must have reminded Philip of the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail. The badge is suspended from a Collar in the form of a Fire-Steel (fusil), throwing off flames (the central fire-steel being elaborated later into an ornate, enameled jewel, from which the badge was hung).

The motto of the Order, Pretium Laborum Non Vile (“Not a bad reward for labor”) traditionally appeared on the front of gold versions of the collar and, on the reverse, the motto Non Aliud (a translation of Philip the Good’s motto “Autre n’auray” – “I will have no other”). Non-sovereign knights were traditionally forbidden by the Order’s statutes to accept membership in any other orders of knighthood.

Membership was originally limited to twenty-four knights, but was gradually increased to 51. When Burgundy was absorbed into the Empire, sovereignty over the order passed to the House of Hapsburg. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) divided the Order into separate branches under the patronage of both Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs. Its members have typically been drawn from the ranks of sovereign European princes and the most prominent military heroes. Ironically, both Napoleon Bonaparte and his adversary, the Duke of Wellington, were members of the Spanish Order.

The connection of the Austrian Order to the state was lost in 1918, but the Austrian Order is still regarded as “an independent legal entity in international law”, and its current sovereign is Archduke Karl Habsburg-Lothringen

The sovereign of the Spanish Order is King Juan Carlos of Spain.

20 Dec 2010

Riu Riu, Chiu

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Riu riu, chiu is a villancico (a courtly song form emulating rustic dances) printed in a 1556 Venetian collection.

An arrangement created by the New York Pro Musica circa 1954 is now a popular standard performed by many a cappella choirs, especially during the Christmas season.

Performed here by the Nashville Early Music Ensemble at Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, TN.

Riu, riu chiu / [nightingale sounds]
La guarda ribera / The river bank protects it
Dios guarde el lobo / As God kept the wolf
De nuestra cordera, / From our lamb.

El lobo rabioso / The rabid wolf
La quiso morder, / Tried to bite her
Mas Dios poderso / But God Almighty knew
La supo defender, / How to defend her.

Quizole hazer que / He wished to create her
No pudiesse pecar, / Impervious to sin
Ni aun original / Without Original Sin
Esta uirgen no tuuiera. / The virgin was born.

Este qu’es nascido / He who is born
Es el gran monarcha, / Is the Great King,
Christo patriarcha / Christ, God
De carne uestido, / Made flesh.

Hanos redimido / He has redeemed us
Con se hazer chiquito,/ By making Himself a child
Aunque era infinito, / Although everlasting,
Finito se hiezir. / He made himself finite

Este uiene a dar / He comes to give life
A los muertos uida, / To the dead
Y uiene a reparar / He comes to redeem
De todos la cayda, / The fall of man;
Es la luz del dia / He is the light of day,
Aqueste mocuelo, / This child
Este es el cordero / He is the lamb
Que San Juan dixera. / St John prophesied.

22 Nov 2010

“Voting is a Pleasure”


According to the Young Socialists of Catalonia.

The American viewer can tell immediately that she voted for the wrong reasons for the wrong party.

15 Nov 2010

European Opera Day

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Location and date: Café Iruña, Pamplona, Spain — May 7, 2010. Ensemble: Asociación Gayarre Amigos de la Ópera de Navarra. Music: Libiamo ne’ lieti calici, from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata.

17 Jul 2010

Eagle versus Izards

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7:19 video of Golden Eagle(s?), Aquila chrysaetos, preying upon what appear to be Rupicapra pyrenaica, Izards or Pyrenaean chamois. A particularly effective hunting technique consists of snatching the goat-antelope off the cliff and simply dropping it.

19 Jan 2010

Traviata in the Central Market

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Europeans play the best cultural pranks.

A group calling itself L’Ópera para principiantes (“Opera For Beginners”), last November, placed singers among the stall vendors in the Central Market of Valencia, then started the music and astonished and delighted shoppers as professional performers emerged, one after the other, singing first Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo (“Dearest, we’ll leave Paris”), the moving duet from the final act of Verdi’s La Traviata, then the famous chorus Libiamo ne’ lieti calici (“Brindisi — a drinking song”).

6:31 video

From Bird Dog via Karen L. Myers.

18 Jan 2010

World”s Most Expensive Ham on Sale at Selfridges

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You can buy real Smithfield Hams right here in the United States for around $100. The traditional Virginia country ham is awfully good, but Virginia hams don’t come with special metal DNA ID tags, and their former owners are not alleged to have enjoyed a special diet of acorns each on his own 10 hectare (24.7 acre) dihasa.

The Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota hams are cured and aged three years, as opposed to “up to a year” for Smithfield hams.

Hmmm. Three times the aging at 29x the price. I think I’ll pass.


“The world’s most expensive ham” has gone on sale in London, according to retailer Selfridges.

The leg of Iberico ham, which costs £1,800 ($2931.84), went on sale at the food hall in the retailer’s flagship store in Oxford Street, central London.

The 7kg (15lb) ham leg comes with its own DNA certificate as proof of authenticity.

Pig farmer and ham expert Manuel Maldonado selected 50 pigs that were reared in Extremadura in western Spain.

The pigs were fed on a diet of acorns and roots to give the ham a distinctive flavour.

After being slaughtered their ham was salted and cured for three years, before going on sale in a hand-made wooden box wrapped in an apron made by a Spanish tailor.

31 Aug 2009

The Patriotism of Teddy Kennedy

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José Guardia quotes (and translates) a story about Ted Kennedy from recalled by former Spanish Ambassador to the US Javier Rupérez, adding his own puzzlement about the late Senator Kennedy’s behavior.

    Shortly after the Iraq war started I saw Senator Kennedy in a public session of the U.S. Supreme Court. As we were taking our seats he briefly took my arm and told me he greatly appreciated the attitude of the Spanish government regarding the decision taken by the White House because, he said, “although you know my position ” — he was one of the few senators to oppose the authorization for the war — “I appreciate the solidarity with my country in times like this.” “I would appreciate if you relay this to President Aznar,” he added.

Interesting. Let me see if I get this straight: if it’s good to show solidarity with the US “in times like this”, why did this only apply to foreigners? Why didn’t he start with himself? I understand the “politics ends at the water edge” principle, but it’s one thing not to criticize, and another to send a clear, precise message like this. Of course it may be he was acting as a politician, telling his interlocutor what he wanted to hear. But still, the opposition to the war in Iraq was a topic in which Ted Kennedy was very vocal, and it’s certainly odd he said this, if he did.


How much solidarity with his own country did the late Senator show?

Paul Kengor, at American Thinker, reminds of us of the 1983 KGB memo describing the late Senator Kennedy making a confidential offer to General Secretary Andropov to join him in opposing the Reagan Administration defense build-up which ultimately persuaded the Soviet leadership it could not win the Cold War and brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There’s solidarity for you. Too bad the solidarity of the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was with his country’s enemies. And they buried him with honors in Arlington National Cemetery! That noise you hear in the distance must be the real Americans buried there revolving in their graves.

The subject head, carried under the words, “Special Importance,” read: “Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Y. V. Andropov.” According to the memo, Senator Kennedy was “very troubled” by U.S.-Soviet relations, which Kennedy attributed not to the murderous tyrant running the USSR but to President Reagan. The problem was Reagan’s “belligerence.”

This was allegedly made worse by Reagan’s stubbornness. “According to Kennedy,” reported Chebrikov, “the current threat is due to the President’s refusal to engage any modification to his politics.” That refusal, said the memo, was exacerbated by Reagan’s political success, which made the president surer of his course, and more obstinate — and, worst of all, re-electable.

On that, the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Chebrikov’s memo got to the thrust of Kennedy’s offer: The senator was apparently clinging to hope that President Reagan’s 1984 reelection bid could be thwarted. Of course, this seemed unlikely, given Reagan’s undeniable popularity. So, where was the president vulnerable?

Alas, Kennedy had an answer, and suggestion, for his Soviet friends: In Chebrikov’s words, “The only real threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Therein, Chebrikov got to the heart of the U.S. senator’s offer to the USSR’s general secretary: “Kennedy believes that, given the state of current affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan.”

Of these, step one would be for Andropov to invite the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting. Said Chebrikov: “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they would be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.”

The second step, the KGB head informed Andropov, was a Kennedy strategy to help the Soviets “influence Americans.” Chebrikov explained: “Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year [1983], televised interviews with Y. V. Andropov in the USA.” The media savvy Massachusetts senator recommended to the Soviet dictator that he seek a “direct appeal” to the American people. And, on that, “Kennedy and his friends,” explained Chebrikov, were willing to help, listing Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters (both listed by name in the memo) as good candidates for sit-down interviews with the dictator.

Kennedy concluded that the Soviets needed, in effect, some PR help, given that Reagan was good at “propaganda” (the word used in the memo). The senator wanted them to know he was more than eager to lend a hand.

Kennedy wanted the Soviets to saturate the American media during such a visit. Chebrikov said Kennedy could arrange interviews not only for the dictator but for “lower level Soviet officials, particularly from the military,” who “would also have an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR.”

This was apparently deemed crucial because of the dangerous threat posed not by Andropov’s regime but — in Kennedy’s view — by Ronald Reagan and his administration. It was up to the Kremlin folks to “root out the threat of nuclear war,” “improve Soviet-American relations,” and “define the safety for the world.”

Quite contrary to the ludicrous assertions now being made about Ted Kennedy working jovially with Ronald Reagan, Kennedy, in truth, thought Reagan was a trigger-happy buffoon, and said so constantly, with vicious words of caricature and ridicule. The senator felt very differently about Yuri Andropov. As Chebrikov noted in his memo, “Kennedy is very impressed with the activities of Y. V. Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”

Alas, the memo concluded with a discussion of Kennedy’s own presidential prospects in 1984, and a note that Kennedy “underscored that he eagerly awaits a reply to his appeal.”

What happened next? We will never know.

16 Jul 2009

11 Year Old Kentish Girl Lands Fish Twice Her Size

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11 Year old Jessica Wanstall of Sittingbourne, Kent, on vacation with her father in Spain, set a new world record for a freshwater fish caught by an angler aged 16 and under, by landing a nearly 9′ (2.74 m), 13 stone 8lb (193lb – 87.7 k) Wels catfish (Silurus glanis) from the Ebro River. The catfish was considerably larger than the young angler, but was defeated in 20 minutes.

Daily Mail


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