Friday, 23 September 2016

FOOD FRIDAY - CRANBERRY CAKE

“If baking is any labour at all, it’s a labour of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation.” - Regina Brett

We bought some delicious dried cranberries a couple of weeks ago and have been using them in cooking and baking. Their tart favour adds zing to a lot of rather ordinary recipes. Here is a rather easy cake using these berries. If you don’t particularly like them you can substitute other berries or glacé cherries.

Cranberry Cake
Ingredients
200 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
4 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
175 g self-raising flour
85 g ground blanched almonds
½ tsp baking powder
250 g dried cranberries
100 mL milk

Method
Heat oven to 150˚C. Grease well a 20cm deep bundt cake tin.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one by one.
Fold in the almond extract, flour, ground almonds and baking powder, followed by the cranberries and milk. Scrape into the prepared tin and then bake for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 minutes, testing with skewer to see if its done. Cool the cake in its tin before serving.

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

ALL ABOUT CHERVIL

“If you’ve broken the eggs, you should make the omelette.” - Anthony Eden

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), sometimes called garden chervil to distinguish it from similar plants also called chervil, or French parsley, is a delicate annual herb related to parsley. It is commonly used to season mild-flavoured dishes and is a constituent of the French herb mixture fines herbes.

A member of the Apiaceae family, chervil is native to the Caucasus but was spread by the Romans through most of Europe, where it is now naturalised. The plants grow to 40–70 cm, with tripinnate leaves that may be curly. The small white flowers form small umbels, 2.54–5 cm across. The fruit is about 1 cm long, oblong-ovoid with a slender, ridged beak.

Chervil is used, particularly in France, to season poultry, seafood, young spring vegetables (such as carrots), soups, and sauces. More delicate than parsley, it has a faint taste of liquorice or aniseed. Chervil is one of the four traditional French fines herbes, along with tarragon, chives, and parsley, which are essential to French cooking. Unlike the more pungent, robust herbs, thyme, rosemary, etc., which can take prolonged cooking, the fines herbes are added at the last minute, to salads, omelettes, and soups.

Chervil has had various uses in folk medicine. It was claimed to be useful as a digestive aid, for lowering high blood pressure, and, infused with vinegar, for curing hiccups. Besides its digestive properties, it is used as a mild stimulant. Chervil has also been implicated in “strimmer dermatitis”, or phytophotodermatitis, due to spray from weed trimmers and other forms of contact. Other plants in the family Apiaceae can have similar effects.

Transplanting chervil can be difficult, due to the long taproot. It prefers a cool and moist location; otherwise, it rapidly goes to seed (also known as bolting). It is usually grown as a cool-season crop, like lettuce, and should be planted in early spring and late fall or in a winter greenhouse. Regular harvesting of leaves also helps to prevent bolting. If plants bolt despite precautions, the plant can be periodically re-sown throughout the growing season, thus producing fresh plants as older plants bolt and go out of production. According to some, slugs are attracted to chervil and the plant is sometimes used to bait them.

In the language of flowers, chervil sprigs mean “sincerity; fine feelings”, while a flowerhead means “I appreciate your fine character”.

Omelette Aux Fines Herbes
Ingredients
10 large free-range eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup loosely packed chopped fresh herbs (1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup combined tarragon, chives and chervil)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method
Using a fork, beat the eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the herbs. Heat half the oil and butter in a 25 cm nonstick skillet over high heat. When the oil and butter are hot, add half the egg mixture.
Stir continuously with a fork, shaking the pan, for about 2 minutes to create the smallest-possible curds. When most of the egg is solid, cook it without stirring for 10 seconds to create a thin skin on the underside. Roll the omelet by folding over one side and then the opposite site, and invert it onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make a second omelet. Cut each omelet in half.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

POETS UNITED - EQUINOX

“Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant clothes.” - Carl Friedrich Gauss

For this midweek challenge, Poets United has as its theme “Equinox”. Here is my contribution:

Equinox

With equanimity, Spring knocks
The door of vernal equinox,
And stops to listen and consider,
Lest hoary Winter entry forbid her.

The skies are still a sullen gray
But burgeoning buds are led astray,
Blooming in cold and rainy weather
Hoping sun ill winds will tether.

The sun relentless follows his course
And closer, warmer and with force
Drives Winter into banishment,
Snow, frost, no more a punishment.

The air is redolent with perfume,
As hyacinth and jonquil bloom;
The iris blue, the freesia yellow,
Embittered hearts to softly mellow.

September cries, September smiles,
Spring comes with all her wiles –
Drive out all coldness and despair
Wounds heal, damage repair.

With firm resolve, Spring knocks
The door of vernal equinox;
She enters boldly and she brings
Light, hope and colour on her angel wings.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

TRAVEL TUESDAY #45 - THESSALONIKI, GREECE

“In Greece wise men speak and fools decide.” - GeorgeSantayana

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel!

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us! Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη) is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralised Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is “η Συμπρωτεύουσα” (Symprotévousa), literally “the co-capital”, a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or “co-reigning” city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.

The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical centre, had a population of 385,406 in 2007, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 800,764. and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area had 1,104,460 inhabitants in 2011. Thessaloniki is Greece’s second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland.

The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greece’s cultural capital. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital.

The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to modern Greece on 8 November 1912. Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures.

The city’s main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. For 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. Among street photographers, the centre of Thessaloniki is also considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece.

The Church of Agios Pavlos (St. Paul), is located in the municipality of Agios Pavlos. The church stands next to the old historic chapel of St. Paul. The new church, consecrated in honour of the apostle of the same name, was built in 1997. It stands on a small hill, so it can be seen from afar. The church houses holy relics of the saint, which are stored in a silver chest. A cluster of historic churches dedicated to the Apostle Paul can be found in this region. This is not surprising, since it is from Thessaloniki that Christianity spread northward to the rest of Europe.

More photos of Thessaloniki can be found here and here.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below,and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 19 September 2016

MOVIE MONDAY - CRIME FILMS

“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

We live in a society where crime is becoming increasingly common and more widespread. It seems that this is the lot of people living in Western countries where affluence is highly visible and very desirable, as it is equated with “success”. No wonder that there is a huge proliferation of films about crime, criminals and the way “justice” is administered and meted out. A crime story is about a crime that is being committed or was committed. It can also be an account of a criminal’s life. It often falls into the action or adventure genres. It can be crafted in a way that is sympathetic to the law enforcement side and where “crime does not pay”, or increasingly there are films where criminals not only commit the crime, but also get away with it. The various sub-genres are:

Courtroom drama: This subgenre presents fictional drama about law. Law enforcement, crime, detective-based mystery solving, lawyer work, civil litigation, etc., are all possible focuses of legal dramas. Common subgenres of legal dramas include detective dramas, police dramas, courtroom dramas, legal thrillers, etc. Legal dramas come in all shapes and sizes and may also span into other forms of media, including novels, plays, television shows, and even radio programs. A classic example of this sub-genre is Sidney Lumet’s 1957 film 12 Angry Men.

Detective story: A story about a detective or person, either professional or amateur, who has to solve a crime that was committed. They must figure out who committed the crime and why. Sometimes, the detective must figure out how the criminal committed the crime if it seems impossible. Related to the “Whodunnit” variant below. A classic French film of this sub-genre is Jean Delannoy’s 1958 movie Inspector Maigret (Maigret tend un piège), based on Georges Simenon’s detective stories.

Whodunnit: This is a complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the audience is given the opportunity to engage in the same process of deduction as the protagonist throughout the investigation of a crime. The reader or viewer is provided with the clues from which the identity of the perpetrator may be deduced before the story provides the revelation itself at its climax. The investigation is usually conducted by an eccentric amateur or semi-professional detective. The classic Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express is a typical example and it has been committed to film many times, for example the 1974 Sidney Lumet version with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot.

Gangster: Sub-genre that focuses on gangs, criminal organisations, which provide a level of organisation and resources that support much larger and more complex criminal transactions than an individual criminal could achieve. Gangsters are the subject of many movies, particularly from the period between 1930 and 1960. A revival of gangster type movies took place since the 1990s with the explosion of hip-hop culture. Unlike the earlier gangster films, the newer films share similar elements to the older films but is more in a hip-hop urban setting. William A. Wellman’s 1931 A Public Enemy starring the classic gangster actor James Cagney is a good example. One cannot fail to mention Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 The Godfather (and its many sequels!) in this sub-genre.

Gentleman thief: Centres around particularly well-behaved and apparently well-bred thieves. They rarely bother with anonymity or force, preferring to rely on their charisma, physical attractiveness, and clever misdirection to steal the most unobtainable objects — sometimes for their own support, but mostly for the thrill of the act itself. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch A Thief starring the ultimate gentleman, Cary Grant, is such a movie. 

Hardboiled: This is a genre sharing the setting with crime fiction (especially detective stories). Although deriving from romantic tradition, which emphasised the emotions of apprehension, horror and terror, and awe, the hardboiled fiction deviates from the tradition in the detective’s cynical attitude towards those emotions. The attitude is conveyed through the detective’s self-talk describing to the reader (or - in the film - to the viewer) what he is doing and feeling. Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film Kiss Me Deadly based on a Mickey Spillane novel is a good example.

Legal thriller: A subgenre of thriller and crime fiction in which the major characters are lawyers and their employees. The system of justice itself is always a major part of these works, at times almost functioning as one of the characters. In this way, the legal system provides the framework for the legal thriller much as the system of modern police work does for the police procedural. Usually, crusading lawyers become involved in proving their cases (usually their client’s innocence of the crime of which he is accused, or the culpability of a corrupt corporation which has covered up its malfeasance until this point) to such an extent that they imperil their own interpersonal relationships and frequently, their own lives. Tony Gilroy’s 2007 Michael Clayton is such a movie.

Murder mystery: A mystery story focussing on one type of criminal case: Homicide. Usually, there are one or more murder victims, and the detective must figure out who killed them, the same way he or she solves other crimes. They may or may not find themselves or loved ones in danger because of this investigation; the genre often includes elements of the suspense story genre, or of the action and adventure genres. Andrew Grieve’s 2000 movie The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.

The Crime genre can become extremely boring and there is only so much crime, detective and lawyers that a poor viewer can take. I find myself tiring of this genre extremely quickly and in order for me to be kept interested there must be seriously good writing, excellent acting and faultless direction, as well as many (entertaining but plausible) plot twists.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

ART SUNDAY - JEAN HEY

“Painting and sculpture are very archaic forms. It's the only thing left in our industrial society where an individual alone can make something with not just his own hands, but brains, imagination, heart maybe.” - Philip Guston

Jean Hey (or Jean Hay) (flourished ca. 1475 – ca. 1505), now generally identified with the artist formerly known as the Master of Moulins, was an Early Netherlandish painter working in France and the Duchy of Burgundy, and associated with the court of the Dukes of Bourbon.

Little is known about Hey, whose style has led to speculation that he may have studied under Hugo van der Goes. It is possible that he spent his last years in Paris. Hey’s most well-known work, the triptych in Moulins Cathedral (see above), dates from the end of 15th century. The central panel shows the Madonna and Child adored by angels, and is flanked by portraits of the duke Pierre II and the duchess Anne de Beaujeu with their daughter Suzanne. The triptych’s state of preservation is generally excellent, although at some time before the 1830s the top and bottom of the wings were trimmed (the left wing more at the bottom and the right wing more at the top).

Until the late 20th century, the name of the painter of the Moulins Triptych was unknown, although art historians identified a number of other works that were evidently by the same hand. The first monograph on the Master of Moulins, written in 1961 by Madeleine Huillet d’Istria, argued that this artist did not actually exist, and that more than 12 different artists were responsible for the corpus of works traditionally ascribed to him.

The Master’s identity was established after an inscription was found on the reverse of a damaged painting, “Christ with Crown of Thorns” (1494) in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, identifying the artist as Jean Hey, Teutonicus (“German”, which at that date included Flemings) and pictor egregius (“the famous painter”), and identifying the patron as Jean Cueillette, who was secretary to the King and an associate of the Bourbon family.

Stylistic similarities link this painting to the works attributed to the Master of Moulins. The Master of Moulins appears to have been the court painter for the Bourbons, and from a surviving account for 1502-03, it is clear that the court painter’s name was Jean; other candidates once considered plausible, such as Jean Perréal and Jean Prévost (an artist from Lyon who worked in stained glass, have proven untenable in the light of subsequent research.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

MUSIC SATURDAY - IGNAZIO ALBERTINI

“The violin sings.” - Joshua Bell

Ignazio Albertini was born, probably in Milan, around 1644. The first preserved document that mentions him is a letter from composer Johann Schmelzer to the Prince-Bishop Olmuca where it is mentioned that Albertini was prized as a violinist, although prone to “bad behaviour”. Albertini was supposedly murdered in Vienna in 1685, at the time he was a musician in the court of the Empress-mother Eleonore Gonzaga, who was a great patron of musicians. In the Austrian capital Albertini belonged to a circle of selected soloists who have been linked to the Habsburg court, and we can we conclude this from his close relationship with Schmelzer, the leading composer in Vienna at that time.

To date, the only known works by Albertini are violin sonatas, which have come down to us in  the collection printed in 1686 in Frankfurt, seven years after the composer’s death. The only remaining copy is now kept in the National Library of France in Paris. Belonging to a long line of violin sonatas published in the second half of the seventeenth century, Albertini’s compositions have some original characteristics, but in terms of musical language, the composer shows a clear blend of Italian style and violin virtuosity characteristic of the German cultural space.

Albertini’s sonatas are multi-sectional pieces, quite varied in content and structure, and all of the highest quality. Some idea of the rich variety of forms found in the “Sonatinae” may be gleaned from the following examples: Sonata IX is a passacaglia in which the main theme is presented as a canon at the fifth in the first and the last sections; and statements of the ostinato sometimes overlap with formal sections of the sonata. Sonata XII, the last in the cycle, consists entirely of imitative movements, unlike other sonatas, in which imitative movements are either absent or are surrounded by free sections, such as slow lyrical arias, toccata-like movements with rapid passagework over sustained bass notes, etc. Albertini’s sonatas are very demanding technically, with frequent instances of difficult fast passages, leaps, sudden changes of register and, particularly in the last sonata, double stopping.

The sonatas are also somewhat reminiscent of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (12 August 1644 (baptised) – 3 May 1704) who was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist. No doubt, these two composers knew of each other’s work (if not personally acquainted with one another).

Little else is known of Albertini’s life (and quite tantalisingly little of his murder by stabbing). One can still enjoy listening to his violin sonatas, here performed by Hélène Schmitt with Jörg-Andreas Bötticher, Karl-Ernst Schröder and David Sinclair on various continuo instruments. There’s poise and grace in Schmitt’s performances, as well elevated lyricism. But most of all there’s passion: A passionate intensity of line, a passionate concentration of tone, a passionate brilliance of color, a passionate love of this fiercely expressive and violently beautiful music. Schmitt’s trio of continuo players are sympathetic players and each gets his/her own sweet solo Prelude or Toccatina interspersed with Schmitt’s Sonatas.

1 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 1 in D minor (8:06)
2 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 2 in F major (5:50)
3 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 3 in B minor (5:56)
4 Prelude (3:56)
5 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 4 in C minor (6:35)
6 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 5 in A major (6:51)
7 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 7 in A minor (6:52)
8 Toccata (4:28)
9 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 8 in D minor (7:04)
10 Prelude (0:54)
11 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 10 in E minor (8:16)
12 Toccata No 5 for keyboard (2:49)
13 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 11 in G minor (5:20)
14 Sonata for violin & continuo No. 12 in A minor (4:46)

Friday, 16 September 2016

FOOD FRIDAY - ASPARAGUS SOUP

“You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else.” - Mario Batali

The fresh, new season asparagus has started to appear at the greengrocer’s and it’s time to use it in all sorts of Spring dishes. As it’s early in the season and the cold weather is lingering on, asparagus soup is one of the first dishes we have at home using this delectable vegetable.

Asparagus Soup
Ingredients
400g fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
650mL vegetable stock
1 tsp dried chopped tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sour cream, to serve
Chopped fresh chives, to serve

Method
Chop the asparagus into 3cm pieces. Heat the oil in a soup saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until sautéed well.
Add the stock or water. Bring to the boil and add the tarragon. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Return to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of cream, and scattered with the chopped chives and freshly ground pepper.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

POETS UNITED - APPRECIATION

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” - Dalai Lama

For this week’s mid-week motif, Poets United has as its theme the word “appreciation”. The word comes form the Latin and the meaning inherent in it is “to set a price for something, to appraise”. We understand it nowadays to mean “recognition and enjoyment of the qualities of someone or something”. It can also stand for “gratitude”, or “a formal written appraisal of someone’s work” or the “full understanding of a situation”.  My poem below:

The Finer Things in Life

Ruby red, clear liquid,
Fine wine fills the crystal goblet:
Full-bodied, with rich aromas,
Sunshine captured in glass
To be appreciated on this winter’s day.

Heavenly strains
Of a string quartet:
Mozart’s music divine,
The players inspired and talented,
Appreciated by sensitive ears.

Fine bone china, gold-trimmed
A most suitable receptacle for:
Duck confit, tender asparagus,
Exquisite sauce and fine spices
To be appreciated by even jaded palates.

Soft silks and sparkling gems,
Superb cut, fine sewing:
Dressed to the nines,
With rich accessories
Appreciated by connoisseurs.

Outside the restaurant,
Beneath the Michelin stars:
A homeless woman.
The people inside fail to appreciate
The magnitude of her plight,
And see her abjection
As self-inflicted…

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

TRAVEL TUESDAY #44 - LAS PALMAS, CANARIES

El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho. (He who walks a lot and reads a lot, sees a lot and knows a lot.)” - Miguel de Cervantes

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel!

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us! Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Las Palmas (officially Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) is a city and capital of Spanish Gran Canaria island, in the Canary Islands, off the north-western coast of Africa. It is the co-capital (jointly with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), the most populous city in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands, and the ninth largest city in Spain with a population of 383,308 in 2010. It is also the fifth most populous urban area in Spain and (depending on sources) ninth or tenth most populous metropolitan area in Spain.

Las Palmas is the largest city of the European Union lying outside the European continent. Las Palmas is located in the northeastern part of the island of Grand Canary, about 150 kilometres off the Moroccan coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. It enjoys a very mild and pleasant semi-arid climate highly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, with mild to warm temperatures throughout the year. Locals know it as the “Eternal Spring”, with an average annual temperature of 21.3 °C. According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in the U.S., Las Palmas enjoys “the best climate in the world”.

The city was founded in 1478, and considered the de facto capital of the Canary Islands until the seventeenth century. Today, the city is co-capital of the Canary Islands with Santa Cruz. It is home of the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a 4-year term with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), as well as half of the Ministries and Boards of the Canarian Government, and the High Court of Justice of the Canary Islands. Thus it is the judicial and commercial capital of the Canary Islands, and is also home to a large part of the executive power.

The city is located in the north-eastern part of the island set in magnificent scenery composed of two bays and their beautiful beaches – Playa de las Canteras and Playa de las Alcaravaneras. It has an impressive infrastructure of hotels and apartments and its harbour Puerto de La Luz is one of the most important in all Europe, giving the city a very cosmopolitan feel. Only under the impulse of tourism and economic activities of the 1960s was the city finally consolidated with a population that has doubled in the last 30 years.

Las Palmas offers a variety of theatre, cinema, opera, concerts, visual arts and dance performances. The city hosts the Canary Islands Music Festival, the Theatre and Dance and the International Film Festival. The main City Festival, celebrating the foundation of the “City Fiestas de San Juan” is held in June. The Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is known not only in Spain but also worldwide, and is one of the main attractions for tourists. The city centre of Las Palmas, specifically the Vegueta and Triana neighbourhoods, are included in the tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A host of museums, exhibition halls, auditoriums and libraries contribute to the cultural life of the city.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below,and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 12 September 2016

MOVIE MONDAY - HORROR MOVIES

“All of us have our individual curses, something that we are uncomfortable with and something that we have to deal with, like me making horror films, perhaps.” - Wes Craven

Remember going to camp and after dinner, when night had fallen and everyone was sitting around the campfire someone would start telling a story? And more often than not that story was a horror story, full of ghosts and vampires, monsters and creepy crawlies, zombies and giant malevolent creatures set on doom death and destruction. Everyone loves a good horror story!

A horror story is one that deliberately scares or frightens the audience, through suspense, violence or shock. H. P. Lovecraft distinguishes two primary varieties in the “Supernatural Horror in Literature”: 1) Physical Fear or the “mundanely gruesome” and 2) the true Supernatural Horror story or the “Weird Tale”. The latter is sometimes called a “dark fantasy”, since the laws of nature must be violated in some way, to make the story “fantastic” or “imaginary”. The following sub-genres are contained within the Horror genre:

Ghost story: A story about spirits of the dead into the realm of the living. There are subgenres: The Traditional Haunting, Poltergeists, The Haunted Place or Object (i.e. the hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining”), or the etching in M. R. James’ “The Mezzotint”, etc. Some would include stories of Revenants such as W. W. Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw.” A typical film in this sub-genre is Tobe Hooper’s 1982 film “Poltergeist” or  Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie “TheShining”.

Monster: A story about a monster, creature or mutant that terrorises people. Usually, it fits into the horror genre, for instance, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Although Shelley’s Frankenstein is often also considered the first science fiction story (biological science reanimating the dead), it does present a monstrous “creature”. Other clear monster stories are of the creatures of folklore and fable: The Vampire, the Ghoul, the Werewolf, the Zombie, etc. Beings such as that depicted in Karl Freund’s 1932 film “The Mummy” with Boris Karloff would also qualify. A very large number of films have been made in this sub-genre, exemplifying people’s delight with being made to feel scared by mythical, monstrous creatures.

Giant monsters: A story about a giant monsters, big enough to destroy buildings is a sub-genre of a sub-genre! Jack Arnold’s 1955 film “Tarantula” is a classic. Some such stories are about two giant monsters fighting each other, a genre known as kaiju in Japan, which is famous for such works after the success of such films and franchises such as Godzilla. Ishirô Honda’s “Mothra vs. Godzilla” of 1964 is a famous example.

Werewolves: Stories about werewolves, humans with the ability to shapeshift into wolves. This is based on many folk-legends around the world and the human fascination with the wolf, a formidable wild animal, made all the scarier perhaps by its resemblance to the familiar and friendly pet, the dog. George Waggner’s 1941 movie “The Wolf Man” is one that has been much imitated and in which Lon Chaney Jr gives a great performance as the monster.

Jiangshi: Stories about jiangshi, the hopping corpses under the control of Taoist priests derived from Chinese literature and folklore. Ma Wu’s 1993 film “Qu mo dao zhang” (Exorcist Master) is a good example.

Vampires: A story about vampires, reanimated bodies that feed on the blood of the living, based on European folklore. Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” (1897) created many of the genre’s conventions. There are huge numbers of films that have translated the Dracula story to the screen, with Christopher Lee being one of the more memorable actors in the title role. Terence Fisher’s 1958 “Horror of Dracula” was one of the first such examples.

Occult stories: Stories that touch upon the adversaries of Good, especially the “Enemies” of the forces of righteousness as expressed in any given religious philosophy. Hence, stories of devils, demons, demonic possession, dark witchcraft, evil sorcerers or warlocks, and figures like the Antichrist would qualify. The nature of such stories presupposes the existence of the side of Good and the existence of a deity to be opposed to the forces of Evil. William Friedkin’s 1973 movie “The Exorcist” was a highly controversial but very popular such film.

Slasher: A horror genre featuring a serial killer or other psychopath as an antagonist, methodically killing a number of protagonists in succession. Dramatic suspense is heightened by the victims' obliviousness of the killer. The victims are typically in isolated settings and often engaged in sexual activity previous to the attacks. The “slasher” kills their victims by stealthily sneaking up on them and then bloodily stabbing and slicing them to death with a sharp object, such as a Chef’s knife. John Carpenter’s 1978 film “Halloween” is a classic in this sub-genre.
Gender roles in slasher films are of particular interest in feminist film theory. which has extensively examined the trope of the “Final Girl”.

Survival Horror: A horror story about a protagonist who is put in a risky and life-threatening situation that he or she must endure, often as a result of things such as zombies or other monsters, and the rest of the plot is how the hero or heroes overcome this. Danny Boyle’s 2002 film “28 DaysLater” is such an example.