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Spain's Peace Efforts

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 26, 2015

National and International Peace Efforts In March 2015 the Royal Mint of Spain announced the release of a series of collector’s coins to celebrate “70 years of peace in Europe” with the obverse showing a bust of the new king Don Felipe VI.  However it is the reverse of the coin showing a dove with an olive branch which we want to focus on. To what extent has Spain made an effort to embrace, spread and work towards the concept represented by this universal symbol? This article aims to answer this question by looking at some of the different Spanish initiatives, institutions and paintings which are and were dedicated to promoting and spreading both national and international peace… read more »

Cork Production in Spain

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 19, 2015

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Jazz in Spain: From the Golden Age to Nowadays

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 12, 2015

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What's Wrong With Spanish Cinema?

by John Bascombe on Thursday, March 05, 2015

Spanish cinema has just had its best year ever with record attendance and box office earnings. So what can go wrong? With films like Spanish Affair and El Niño generating millions at the box office and delighting Spanish filmgoers, it is hard to believe that anything can be wrong. But to some people in the film world, all of this success hasn't translated into recognition or invitations and nominations to the most important film festivals or major film awards. (The last Spanish film to be nominated for an Oscar was The Sea Inside , which also won the award in 2004) According to some, it appears that in the industry's attempt to raise flagging attendance, they have sacrificed some of the elements that captures the attention of serious film lovers and critics… read more »

The Teacher and the Beatle

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Beatles was a band that swept over the world with startling speed, even a country like Spain couldn't avoid this English steamroller thanks in part to Radio Luxembourg and its shortwave transmissions of rock n roll into Spain. One person, in particular, who was an admirer of the group, also used the lyrics from these transmitted Beatles songs to help teach English to his students. Juan Carrión, now 90 years old, was an English teacher at the University of Cartagena and his story was the inspiration behind the movie Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed by David Trueba which was selected as Spain's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2015 Academy Awards… read more »

Update: The Search for Cervantes

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, February 18, 2015

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Downtown Madrid - El Madrid de los Austrias

by John Bascombe on Monday, February 16, 2015

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Visit Spanish Landmarks Virtually

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 12, 2015

Internet giant Google is always up to something. Sometimes it takes the form of something not very useful or, possibly, ahead of its time (think Google Glass) but there are other things that are infinitely helpful, like Google Maps and its associated Street View. Back in the day, we had to use Thomas Guides (if you lived on the west coast of the U.S.) at home and Michelin maps when traveling abroad—two costly, but necessary tools for finding your way in strange places. But Google changed all of that, with street maps for just about anywhere and point to point driving directions that you could print out in the pre-smartphone days. Later, Google took things further with Street View. With this add-on to Maps, you could now SEE the address and visualize your destination.  With all of Western Europe, most of North America, and almost all of South America and Australia uploaded and ready for yo to use, you can travel virtually to just about any place in the world. But in Spain, Google has gone a step further—with Street View, you can now "walk" through some of Spain's most emblematic landmarks such as the Alhambra and Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona … read more »

The Thyssen Goes for Gamers

by John Bascombe on Thursday, February 05, 2015

I had no idea how popular video games were until I heard about gamers becoming celebrities by posting videos of themselves on youtube talking about the games they play. Personalities like El Rubius have inexplicably amassed millions of fans around the world. The number of viewers anxiously tuning in everyday to watch Minecraft players talking about Minecraft is mind blowing… read more »

Rooftops As Cultural Spaces in Spain

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 29, 2015

The rooftops of buildings in Spain , as elsewhere, are generally not used for much beyond accommodating satellite dishes and laundry lines. But in urban areas where attractive event space gets spendy and space itself is limited, some groups and communities have begun to rethink the usefulness of rooftops, particularly in the warm southern Andalusia region, where outdoor activity season extends much longer than in the north… read more »

The Borja Painting: Pennies from Heaven?

by John Bascombe on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Spain's Word of the Year

by John Bascombe on Sunday, January 18, 2015

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Goya's Los Caprichos in NYC

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 15, 2015

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes or simply "Goya" (1746-1828) is one of Spain's most famous and recognized artists . His mastery of art allowed him to bridge the romantic with the modern; considered the last of the Old Masters, he was able to change his style with the times in a way that few other artists have been able to accomplish. Today, the National Arts Club in New York is showing one of his seminal works, the Los Caprichos (Caprices) series of prints in its entirety.  Subversive and critical, Goya was never afraid to air his opinion through his art and deftly aired his feelings through his work—even as court painter—and with Los Caprichos we can see how he pushed the limits (and buttons) of Spanish society in an era of instability and unrest… read more »

The Erasmus Student Exchange Program

by John Bascombe on Thursday, January 08, 2015

The concept of the Erasmus program has been known in the sphere of higher education for many years now and it is still gaining in popularity around Europe. Since its establishment in 1987 millions of students have participated in the program, obtaining invaluable experiences and memories from their time spent abroad… read more »

Spain's Most Famous New Year's Tradition

by John Bascombe on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Madrid's Puerta del Sol New York has the glass ball, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rio de Janeiro has fireworks on the beach and Tokyo has Shibuya crossing. In Madrid, we have the Puerta del Sol—Spain's kilometer zero where all highways radiate from reaching all of the areas of the country. Located in what is Madrid's Times Square, is a stately baroque Post building with a landmark clock tower called the Reloj de la Gobernación or the Clock of the Government in English. When twelve o'clock strikes in Madrid, all of the country tunes in to the Puerta del Sol and listen to the distinctive chimes of the clock striking twelve which is called the Campanadas de fin de año or the last bell tolls of the year. Curiously, the chimes of the stately clock are not the main attraction. Instead the tolling of the bell marks the rhythm for what really matters— eating 12 grapes to welcome in the New Year … read more »

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