Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vera Wang’s Paris Love Affair By Rachel Donadio

It is 1969. Vera Wang is 19. Her competitive figure skating career is ending, and she is studying art history at the Sorbonne during a junior year abroad. She is walking down the street with her mother. Both are dressed in their favorite designer of the moment: Yves Saint Laurent. A tan belted raincoat that fell midcalf, brown Céline boots and a Hermès Kelly bag for Maman, and a navy blue peacoat, gray flannel slacks and a turtleneck for Vera. “That was the first time that I really became Parisian,” Ms. Wang said earlier this month, drinking tea tea at one of her longtime Paris haunts, Carette on the Place du Trocadéro in the 16th Arrondissement. The designer was back in town because, on Tuesday, she will become one of a handful of designers to be made a chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor, the country’s most elite decoration for contributions to the glory of France (other American designers who have received the honor include Ralph Lauren). At the end of the ceremony, which falls on the first day of Paris Fashion Week, she’ll be showing her fall 2017 collection in a short film online. She calls it an ode to Paris. “When I heard about the honor, I think I was actually in shock, because I didn’t grow up as a French designer. I’m an American designer,” she said. “But I did grow up with an integral part of my life being attached to Paris and France.” “I have had five lives here. Maybe seven,” she continued. “There’s been so much history for me in this city that sometimes it’s hard to come back, because glimpses of what my life once was and will no longer ever be again still affect me.” Ms. Wang, who grew up in Manhattan, first visited Paris at age 6. Her parents bought her a pair of charcoal-gray patent leather Mary Janes. The shoes opened worlds. “I was a typical kid: I got my school shoes in the fall and I got my Easter shoes in April. And I looked at my feet and I was just mesmerized by them,” Ms. Wang said. “They were shiny and to me, fancy,” she said. “It was my first feeling of being intrigued by fashion. By clothing. By things you wear. It was raining that night and I remember looking down at my feet and I suddenly just had this awakening or something.” Fast forward to her junior year abroad. Ms. Wang was dating a fellow professional figure skater, Patrick Péra, who was on the French national team. She traveled around France attending his competitions. In Paris, she would buy fragrances at Guerlain on the Champs-Élysées; go to the movies at Trocadéro and clubbing at Jimmie’s Regime and Chez Castel, a nightclub owned by the French soccer star Jean Castel. “I was not a member. My boyfriend was,” she said. “It was so sophisticated. It was the mix.” “It was like Studio 54,” she added. “You would see Alain Delon there. You would see Jean-Paul Belmondo.” “That was a good year,” she said, noting (with some understatement), “I did not live the life of a typical exchange student.” She spent her days strolling on the Avenue Montaigne, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Avenue Victor Hugo. She would shop at Kenzo, near the Place des Victoires in the Second Arrondissement, then pop into the tiny Louis XIV restaurant nearby for lunch. “I looked for it, but it’s gone,” she said. That year, she lived on the Rue Spontini, down from what was then Yves Saint Laurent’s shop. Her mother would visit, and when her mom walked the dog, she “would see him coming to work at 10 at night,” Ms. Wang said. “My mother, who always loved fashion, would say: ‘That boy is too skinny. He works too hard.’” When her father visited, he’d stay at the Hôtel Plaza Athenée. “He’d call it the most expensive coffee shop in the world because he’d have a hamburger and a cup of coffee,” Ms. Wang said. He bought her a white cotton double-breasted smoking. She said she loved it, then spilled red wine on it by accident. “I remember crying,” she said. “I don’t usually cry over clothes. That’s how much fashion had come to mean to me by then.” Her art history class at the Sorbonne would visit the Jeu de Paume; its Impressionist collection is now in the Musée d’Orsay. The teacher, Mademoiselle Vanel (“Always Mademoiselle, like Chanel,” Ms. Wang said) “slept one night with Picasso. Probably among thousands of women. And she never married, and she never forgot it. She used to tell us a story of how one night with Picasso was worth a lifetime alone.” That’s when Ms. Wang met a woman who worked as an editor at Paris Vogue. “I just went crazy, and I said: ‘When I go back to New York, when I finish college, Sarah Lawrence, then I want to be that. That’s what I want to do,’” Ms. Wang said. She did, eventually spending 16 years as an editor at Vogue. Then, in 1982, when she was 33, she left Vogue and moved back to Paris for a year to catch her breath. “Paris has always been a place that I’ve run to — it’s always been my escape,” she said. She bought an apartment in the 16th Arrondissement. (She has since sold it.) “It’s not the commercial Paris, l’Opéra or St. Germain des Prés. This is my ‘hood,” she said. She went for long runs in the Bois du Boulogne, dated an art gallerist and reinvented herself. When she returned to New York, she segued into working as a design director for Ralph Lauren. In 1990, she opened her own bridal boutique, and then started ready-to-wear. Her brand is now sold in 28 countries. Which is how she ended up back in Paris. “It takes great courage to just live when you’ve kept yourself busy,” Ms. Wang said. “My own country has always been about career: getting it done, always worrying but not wasting time, trying to be efficient. But Paris taught me how to live.” International New York Times Wikipedia

Friday, February 24, 2017

Peter Alexander - Sag' mir quando, sag' mir wann


Don't Stop Believin' Photo

German tour operators see an increase in Greek bookings

Photo Credit: www.greek-islands.us
Germany’s tour operators say current bookings show an increased demand for Greece this summer and countries of the Western Mediterranean, according to a report by Deutsche Welle on Thursday. The country’s biggest tour operator, TUI, recorded a four percent increase in bookings for Greece in the current winter period and the coming summer, compared with the previous year. The second largest in turnover, Thomas Cook, said there is an increased demand for Greece which overcompensates for the drop in reservations for Turkey. All Tours said demand for Greece is “very good” for the summer and “good” for Spain. At the same time, the operator noted a decline in reservations for Turkey. The same is true for DER Touristik, which said bookings for Greece have doubled compared to 2016, with a simultaneous rise in demand for countries of the Western Mediterranean. It also said demand for Egypt returned for the upcoming season. ANA-MPA Photo

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, top ten Irish novelists in history By Jordana Kozupsky

Photo Credit: James Joyce

Photo Credit: Frank McCourt
Ireland has produced some of the greatest writers in literature. Writing in all different, varying styles, these masters have produced works about Ireland, society, culture, family relationships, and personal events that have greatly influenced Ireland and the rest of the world. Below is a list of ten top Irish novelists, in alphabetical order.

1. John Banville

William John Banville, born in 1945, is best known for his dark humor and precise style, especially in the crime fiction novels that he writes under the pseudonym Benjamin Black. Many consider his clear, unique writing to embody a mastery of the English language. Banville was once a literary editor at the Irish Times and is currently a regular contributor to the "New York Review of Books." His most famous work, The Sea, is the journal of a retired art historian attempting to cope with the deaths of loved ones throughout his life. Aside from novels, Banville has also published various short stories and plays.

Notable Works: The Sea, The Book of Evidence

As Benjamin Black: Christine Falls, the Silver Swan, The Lemur, Elegy for April, A Death in Summer

2. Samuel Beckett

Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-1989), along with James Joyce, is considered to be one of the most influential playwrights, poets, and novelists of the 20th century. Writing in both English and in French, his writing is known to express a bleak outlook on human life and culture while incorporating gallows humour and black comedy, meaning that he managed to bring out humor in situations that are hopeless and problematic. Due to his lifetime of achievements, he was elected Saoi of Aosdána, an Irish association of artists created by writers.

Notable Works: Molloy, Waiting for Godot (play)

3. Brendan Behan

Brendan Francis Behan was a Dublin-born poet, playwright, and novelist whose works were written in both Irish and English. In addition, Behan also volunteered for the IRA (Irish Republican Army), and his writing thereafter was greatly influenced by the subsequent crimes and prison sentences he was dealt. Upon reflecting about his experiences in the Borstal (youth correctional) institution after being sent there for possessing explosives, he wrote his autobiography, entitled Borstal Boy. Later, he was sentenced to 14 more years in prison for the attempted murders of two detectives, which he wrote about in Confessions of an Irish Rebel. Behan struggled with alcoholism throughout his life, spending most of his time in pubs. He ultimately died after collapsing in a bar at age 41.

Notable Works: Borstal Boy, Brendan Behan’s Island, The Landlady (play), The Quare Fellow (play), Brendan Behan’s New York, Confessions of an Irish Rebel, The Scarperper

4. Anne Enright

Pulitzer-prize winner Anne Enright (born 1962) is famous for her novels, short stories, and essay collections about familial relationships, love, sex, and Ireland’s culture and the obstacles the country has overcome. Says Assistant Professor Claire Bracken, “Anne Enright is one of the most important Irish writers of the contemporary period, whose work is notable for its literary experimentation, wry humor, and  piercing intellectual insight." Her first novel, The Wig My Father Wore, is about a girl who works for a game show in Dublin, the angel she falls in love with, and her father who wears a wig that cannot be spoken about in his presence. The Gathering, perhaps her most famous novel, is about a woman name Veronica, who upon her alcoholic brother Liam’s suicide, attempts to look through her family’s troubled history in order to make sense of his death.

Notable Works: The Gathering, The Wig My Father Wore, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood

5. James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, born in 1882 and died in 1941, is considered to be one of the most influential writes of the early 20th century. He is best know for Ulysses, and is, according to Bracken, an “incredible literary work that manages to incorporate a myriad of styles in such a way that creates (in my opinion) the most original piece of writing ever produced.” The novel took him seven years to write, and is noted for its stream of consciousness technique, amongst countless others. Joyce also authored Dubliners, a collection of 15 short stories that depicted middle class Irish life in the early 1900’s. Bloomsday is the day celebrated annually on June 16th dedicated to Joyce; it is the very day in which the events of Ulysses take place, and many also believe that it is also the day that Joyce had his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.

Notable works: Ulysses, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Finnegan’s Wake, Dubliners

6. John McGahern

Throughout his career, John McGahern wrote only six novels, and they're said to document his own life as proven in his autobiography entitled All Will Be Well: a Memoir. McGahern was at first a  primary schoolteacher, but was fired due to the controversy over his novel The Dark. The book was banned in Ireland due to the implication of incest and overall pornographic content.  His first novel, The Barracks, took place in the same place where McGahern grew up and The Dark is said to document the author's relationship with his own father. His best known novel, Amongst Women, tells the story of an IRA veteran and the influence that his changed, now hardened personality has on his family, as is said to be a good example of the changes in personality of any veteran. McGahern also was a writer of short stories, in addition to finishing his career as a processor at various universities across the world.

Notable Works: Amongst Women, The Dark

7. Flann O’Brien

Although one of his most famous works was recognized after his death, today Brian O’Nolan (writing under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien) is considered to be a master of metafiction and satire. O’Brien specialized in writing his works in a confusing, out-of-this world manner, as a way to rebel against  the Irish society he believed to be a bit too uptight. Although O’Brien wrote short stories, essays, Letters to the Editors, and had many columns for the Irish times under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen, he was most famous for At Swim Two Birds and The Third Policeman (published post humorously) and the bizarre humor that accompanied the works. His character choice is notable and equally as bizarre; he is said to have borrowed characters from folklores and legends for At Swim Two Birds, and the characters in The Third Policeman consist of a murderer in a new dimension/hellish world and two policemen who are enthralled by a philosopher and his atomic theory on bicycles.

Notable Works: At Swim Two Birds, The Third Policeman, The Hard Life, The Dalkey Archive

8. Bram Stoker

Abraham Stoker (1847-1912) was a novelist and short story writer best known for his Gothic thriller, Dracula (1897). Dracula is amongst the best selling books of all time (after the Bible) and had influenced over 1,000 vampire-based films throughout the world. The book’s Irish connection is undeniable. In Gaelic, the phrase “Droch Ola” (think: Dracula) means bad blood. Stoker spend years researching mythical stories of vampires before writing the novel in an epistolary style, as letters, diary entries, telegrams, ships’ logs, and newspaper clippings. The original, 541-page manuscript was found in a barn in Pennsylvania during the 1980’s after it was believed to be lost. The original title was “The Un-Dead.” Although Stoker was bedridden and not able to walk until aged 7, he later excelled as an athlete at Trinity College, Dublin. He was also a co-founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1874.

Notable Work: Dracula, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland

9. Jonathan Swift

Like O’Brien, Swift, too, wrote in a very particular, satirist manner; every word Swift picked was chosen to express the opinionated sarcasm in his works. In A Modest Proposal, for example, Swift suggests that the Irish people start eating their own babies to curb the famine; the sarcasm there is hard to miss. “His own style was colloquial, bold, terse, intense, often concealing rage and indignation beneath mild-sounding irony, fiercely comic, yet subtle, at times crude and obscene, lyrical, playful, and liable at any moment to launch into flights of self-consciously mad hyperbole,” explains Professor Peter Heinegg. Tale of a Tub was Swift’s first major published work in 1704; It’s divided into three different “digressions” and a tale of three brothers, which stand for the three main branches of Christianity. Gulliver’s Travels, the story for which he is best known for, tells the story of a shipwrecked man who encounters different species of people every place he goes to. Each group of people represent a part of society that Swift didn’t like: politicians, religious fanatics, etc.

Notable Works: Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift

10. Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s short stories, plays, and poems truly embody a "rich and dramatic portrayals of the human condition." Perhaps getting the creative bug from his mother, who wrote revolutionary poems for a local Irish newspaper, Wilde excelled in literature and arts all throughout his schooling. After he met his wife Constance Lloyd and had a family, his creativity peaked and he published most of his most famous works: A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, along with various other children’s stories. Although he was still married, Oscar met Lord Alfred “Bosie Douglas” in 1891 and the two became lovers for four years until Wilde was arrested and convicted of gross indecency. He was sentences to two years of hard labor and fully recovered. After publishing “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” describing his agonizing prison experiences, Wilde lost his creative spark and died in 1900 from meningitis.

Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest (play), Poems, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (children’s book), A Woman of No Importance (play)
Other Notables:

Elizabeth Bowen- The Last September, The House in Paris

Roddy Doyle- The Commitments

JG Farrell- Trouble

Michael Farrell- Thy Tears Might Cease

Patrick Kavanagh- Tarry Flynn

Molly Keane- Good Behaviour

CS Lewis- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Frank McCourt- Angela’s Ashes

Brian Moore- Judith Hearne

George Moore- Esther Waters

Edna O’Brien- The Country Girls, House of Splendid Isolation

Kate O’Brien- The Land of Spices

William Trevor- Fools of Fortune, Two Lives

* Originally published in 2013. Irish Central

Feeling blue? Try a bowl of blueberries to lift your mood By Claire Murphy

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Consuming flavonoid-rich foods such as wild blueberries can have a significant positive effect on young people's mood, a university study has identified. In two trials published in 'Nutrients', children and young people consumed a drink containing wild blueberry or a matched placebo and were asked to rate their mood. In both trials, they recorded a big increase in positive mood. Professor Shirley Reynolds, expert in adolescent mental health and director of the Charlie Waller Institute, said: "Sustained low mood is a problem that is common at all ages and is a core feature of depression," she said. "This research is important because it suggests that including flavonoids as part of a healthy mixed diet might help prevent low mood and depression." Previous research has shown wild blueberries can improve cognitive function in primary school children. The Irish Independent

Lilly Higgins: Easy peasy cauliflower and coconut soup

This velvety smooth vegan-friendly soup is irresistibly moreish and so easy to make

I first came across the cauliflower and coconut combination at Rustic Stone a few years ago. Dylan McGrath’s Dublin restaurant had a coconut cauliflower puree on the menu that was silky smooth and incredibly moreish. I was at that frustrating stage of my pregnancy where I was constantly starving but nauseous too and very few foods appealed to me. This puree was addictive though and I could have eaten an entire bowl of it. I’ve been combining the two ingredients ever since. Now all three of my children love this soup, it takes 20 minutes to make and they can never guess what’s in it. There are very few ingredients, it’s one of those recipes that is easy to make your own so use this as a base and adore it as is, or add your own stamp. The ginger is subtle with the creamy blanket of coconut calming any potential heat so do add more if you prefer a spicy ginger hit.  
Read the ingredients
I always feel the need to mention that not all coconut milks are created equal so do read the ingredients list on the back of the tin. Some have as little as 40% coconut and the rest is stabilisers, gums and water. My favourite is Thai Gold, it’s an Irish company producing tins of organic Thai coconut milk, 99.65% milk with .35% guar gum. With a soup this simple it pays to start with good ingredients as no amount of cooking will elevate the quality. I often make this soup when I have a cauliflower unused at the end of the week. When buying cauliflower, choose one with crisp green leaves and no discolouration. You can tell how recently it was cut by the base. The whiter it is, the fresher it is.
(Serves six)
1 cauliflower
1 onion
2-inch piece fresh ginger
400g tin full-fat coconut milk
400ml stock or water
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the outer leaves and chop the cauliflower into bite-size florets. Place on a large baking tray. Peel and quarter the onion. Place on the tray with the cauliflower. Drizzle everything with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and roast till tender when pierced with a fork and just browning at the edges, about 15 minutes. In batches, blitz the roast vegetables with the ginger and coconut milk till silky smooth. This is best done in a blender for a creamy result. Or use a Nutribullet. Pour the thick mixture into a saucepan and add the stock. Heat gently and add salt to taste before serving. The Irish Times

Ending 'death by overwork' bad for Japan's economy - Deutsche Bank

Photo Credit: ohfact.com
Efforts by Japan’s authorities to curb long work hours could weigh heavily on the country’s economic growth, a study by Deutsche Bank found. The Japanese are recognized one of the world’s most overworked nations. According to CNBC, the bank said in a note that "cuts in overtime hours lead to lower household income, corporate earnings, and the economy's potential output.” It added that labor intensive industries that depend on domestic demand and have a greater weight of part-time workers in their workforce are likely to suffer more."Unclaimed overtime, negative publicity and the fallacy of composition all reinforce the 'shorter work hours shock." The bank cut its economic growth forecasts for Japan to 1.0 percent in 2017 and 1.1 percent in 2018, from 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. "Japanese employees often work longer than their reported hours in what is known as 'unclaimed overtime,' which does not show up in official data," Deutsche said. "As such, the actual extent of the cut in overtime work is likely to exceed the published data, which cannot be fully countered by the rise in labor productivity." It also said a decline in working hours across the economy would hurt household income and spending. That would spur a negative feedback loop as corporate sales and profits also fall. According to police statistics, more than 2,000 people in Japan committed suicide in 2015. Work stress was cited as one of the leading causes. There’s even a Japanese word ‘Karoshi’ which means death by overwork. The term was coined in the 1970s and is still dominating the national headlines. The government has intensified monitoring of overtime levels after a 2015 suicide by a 24-year-old employee of Dentsu, one of Japan’s most established advertising firms. Matsuri Takahashi had been working in the Digital Accounts division of Dentsu for about eight months when she jumped off the top floor of a company dormitory. For several weeks she was reportedly struggling to survive on just 10 hours of sleep a week. In October, Tokyo released its first study on karoshi, according to which workers at 12 percent of companies work more than 100 hours of overtime monthly. Twenty-three percent of businesses have workers putting in more than 80 hours of overtime monthly. RT Photo

Luis Fonsi Feat. Daddy Yankee

Despacito Photo Luis Alfonso Rodríguez López-Cepero, more commonly known by his stage name Luis Fonsi, (born April 15, 1978) is a Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and actor. Wikipedia

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tokio Hotel

Photo Credit: www.fanpop.com
Through the Monsoon EU/Russia Concert Tour 2017  
Tokio Hotel is a German pop-rock/alternative rock band, founded in 2001 by singer Bill Kaulitz, guitarist Tom Kaulitz, drummer Gustav Schäfer, and bassist Georg Listing. The quartet have scored four number one singles for now and have released three number one albums in their native country. The band sold more than 10 million CDs worldwide. After recording an unreleased demo-CD under the name "Devilish" and having their contract with Sony BMG Germany terminated, the band released their first German-language album, Schrei, as Tokio Hotel on Universal Music Germany in 2005. Schrei sold more than half a million copies worldwide and spawned four top five singles in both Germany and Austria. In 2005 Universal Music Group took Tokio Hotel under contract and developed a marketing plan. Their first single, "Durch den Monsun" ("Through the Monsoon"), quickly rose in the charts, appearing on the German official Media Control single chart at No. 15 on August 20, 2005 and eventually reaching No. 1 on August 26, 2005; it also reached No. 1 on the Austrian singles chart. Wikipedia

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Coco" The Pixar Movie

Coco is an upcoming American 3D computer-animated adventure comedy-fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. On August 15, 2015, Pixar confirmed the title of the film, inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, at the D23 Expo. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, it is being directed by Unkrich and co-directed and written by Adrian Molina. It is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2017. Coco follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion. Wikipedia





  • Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel
  • Gael García Bernal as Hector
  • Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz
  • Renée Victor as Abuelita
  • Ana Ofelia Murguia as Mama Coco

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Young artist wins leading prize with haunting depictions of Colditz By Phil Miller

Photo Credit: The National
Haunting paintings of Colditz, home of the infamous prisoner of war camp, have helped a young painter win one of Scotland's leading art prizes. Frances Rokhlin, 24, has won the Glenfiddich Residency Award at the RSA New Contemporaries exhibition, for her series of "small but powerful" paintings and prints. The Edinburgh College of Art graduate, 24, has received the £10,000 award for her display of work in the show which opens today (Saturday 18 February). Ms Rokhlin has painted a series of building exteriors in Edinburgh and Germany and her work "stood out immediately", organisers said. A series of three paintings in muted colours show aspects of Colditz Castle, which was used as a prison during World War II for Allied officers who had escaped from other camps. The artist will now join contemporary artists from around the world on the international residency programme at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown this summer. Andy Fairgrieve, coordinator of that programme said: “In an age where large-scale attention-grabbing works seem to be in fashion, it is refreshing to see an artist who has the confidence to buck the trend and follow a different path. "Frances' work captured our attention with the economy of scale, palette and historical narrative employed." She is the third artist selected to join the Glenfiddich programme from the New Contemporaries exhibition, and I look forward to seeing what fresh inspiration she will discover during this summer’s residency in the unique environment of the distillery." Born in Croydon, Ms Rokhlin studied on the MFA Fine Art course at Edinburgh College of Art. She specialised in painting and print-making, and has recently travelled to Japan having been awarded the 2016 RSA William Littlejohn Award for Innovation in Watercolour. Colin Greenslade, director of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, said: “The 2017 New Contemporaries exhibition hosts a cacophony of strong voices. Amongst these, Frances Rokhlin's quiet and considered work punches home a strong message which resonates with the viewer long after the encounter." The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme was launched by distillery owners William Grant & Sons in 2002, and is one of the largest privately funded artist residency programmes in the UK with a total budget of £130,000. During the three-month residency at the Dufftown distillery, artists are provided with a house and studio, a monthly stipend and a budget to create new work which is then exhibited in Glenfiddich’s on-site art gallery. Artists from India, Australia, China, Korea, Taiwan and Canada will be at Glenfiddich this summer. To date, over 100 artists from 20 countries have participated, including Alison Watt, Christine Borland, Alex Frost, Damian Moppett, Mao Yan and Valay Shende. Glenfiddich Distillery is a Highland tourist attraction as well as a distillery, receiving 75,000 visitors annually. Herald Scotland Photo

Friday, February 17, 2017

PM Grindeanu unveils Gov't priorities, reasserts firm commitment against corruption

Photo Credit: L. Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu,
R. Chairman of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk
In Brussels on Friday, Romania's Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu unveiled the priorities of his cabinet to Chairman of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk, while reasserting their commitment to continue the fight against corruption. In a press statement released on Friday, the Romanian Government says the Grindeanu-Tusk meeting addressed the main current affairs in Europe, along with the priorities of the new Romanian government. "The Romanian prime minister introduced his government's priorities, with emphasis on economic measures that boost employment and economic growth, all of which are important in the current European context, as well as of direct interest to the citizens. He also reasserted the governments' commitment to continue the fight against corruption, for which he voiced readiness for cooperation with EU institutions." The Government also says that Romania's involvement and the consolidation of the country's part in the EU are some of its main priorities. "EU's unity and support for deepening European integration are essential, given the current internal as well as external challenges facing the EU. Any initiative that could lead to division must be firmly fought against," Grindeanu is quoted as saying in the statement. AGERPRES (RO — author: Madalina Cerban, editor: Florin Marin; EN — author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor: Maria Voican; online editor: Maria Voican) AGERPRES

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Last month, the Clown Prince of Denmark turned 108 By Robert Cellini

Photo Credit: NBC Television
Denmark’s most famous comedian often credited Hitler as the driving force behind his success.
Viggo Mortensen, Caroline Wozniacki and Mads Mikkelsen may have hit the big time internationally, but none are likely to ever achieve the fame that one Børge Rosenbaum was able to obtain on the worldwide stage. He is, of course, better known as Victor Borge, and he would have been a ripe 108 years old this past January 3. Borge did manage to live a hearty 91 years, dying just before Christmas in 2000 at his US home in Greenwich, Connecticut. But while his adjustment to life in America may have seemed effortless to his many thousands of fans, Borge himself would have said it was anything but.
A budding talent
It was certainly a most unusual and unlikely voyage to stardom for the Dane, who was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Copenhagen in 1909. His parents were both musicians, and there was already no hiding young Borge’s immense musical talent, even at an early age. By the age of nine he was given a full scholarship to study at the Royal Danish Academy of Music under several of Europe’s top teachers. But after spending his teenage years as a concert pianist, Borge quickly became bored with the strict and, as he saw it, humourless routine. There was a comedian inside him fighting to get out, and he first used his musical talent to release his playful inner demons in 1933 – the talent that was to become his bread and butter throughout his long, illustrious career.
Ripping the Reich
That same year he married American, Elsie Chilton – a union that casts doubt on his long-standing claim, when he arrived in the US, that he was unable to speak a word of English. It was, however, in Danish that he perfected his famous routine, combining his skills at the piano with a dry brand of sarcasm and visual gags. In the late 1930s the Third Reich was threatening, and Borge’s anti-Nazi jokes were causing a stir among the growing contingent of Nazi sympathisers in Europe. He continued to perform until 1940, by which time the anti-Semitic threat had become too great for him to remain in Europe. “I went to the American Consulate in Stockholm, and one of the officers there turned out to be a fan of mine,” Borge told the New York Times in 2000. “I got a visa to Finland and managed to get on a ship heading out just as they were pulling up the gangplank. It was the last boat to leave Finland for a long time.”
California calling
The ship, the USS American Legion, brought Borge and several high-ranking European and American officials – including the crown princess of Norway – into New York City on 28 August 1940. He later said that if it hadn’t been for Hitler and the rise of Nazism, he probably would have never been the success he was. He continued to lampoon the Nazis in his act, quickly learning to adapt it to an American audience and changing his name to Victor Borge. He swiftly achieved success and moved to California for a job as the warm-up act for Rudy Vallee’s radio variety show. He used that springboard to land a guest spot on Bing Crosby’s national radio show, ‘Kraft Music Hall’. His shtick proved to be such a hit with audiences that, in 1942, he was given a full-time job on the show and became a household name by the following year.
Prankster on the piano
NBC gave him his own radio show in 1945 and he finally made his television debut on the famed ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1948. He then started his own Broadway production in 1952, which was a huge success in both the US and Europe. His trademark routines were the piano bench seat belt, playing a piece with the sheet music turned upside down, and the ‘Phonetic Punctuation’ skit, in which he would tell a story, accentuating the commas, full stops and other punctuation with sound effects. He performed numerous times in Denmark during the course of his career – in Danish, of course. “But in a way, everything I do is understood anyway because it’s musical,” he told Scandinavian Press in 1998. “Basically, there’s no difference between Scandinavian humour and American humour, because when you play something upside down you’re not using language to do it.”
Sorrow over Sarabel
He continued to work exhaustively until just before his death at the age of 91. But when his second wife, Sarabel Sanna Scraper, died in September 2000, Borge admitted he had lost the will to go on. “I was hopelessly in love with her. And her death means that the future now seems meaningless,” he told Berlingske Tidende newspaper just 13 days prior to his own death on December 23. Prior to his death Borge had arranged for his ashes to be placed both in the States – next to his wife’s – and in his homeland. “I’m glad things turned out as they did for me. The USA is a strange country in a lot of ways. But I never felt like a refugee there,” he said.
From Børge to Borge
And as if Borge’s life wasn’t exciting enough while he was alive, now there is cause for further jubilation among comedy and film fans. This week it was revealed that the life of Denmark’s best ever entertainer will be retold as a film and TV series produced by the Danish film production company M&M Productions. Run by the two-time Oscar winner Kim Magnusson, M&M Productions will focus the film on Borge’s voyage from Denmark to the US up until the premiere of his one-man show in New York, while the series will cover his entire life. Both productions are scheduled to be filmed in 2018 and for a man who was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993 and received the prestigious Kennedy Honor in 1999 – his show ‘Comedy in Music’ remains the longest-running one-man show in Broadway history – there is no doubt that M&M Productions will have plenty of material at its disposal. CPH Post

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Two Students Made This Animation. Disney Saw It And Hired Them Both Immediately.

Photo Credit: "The Present" Short Film
When I watched this short film about a dog with three legs, I didn't expect to be so deeply moved. "The Present" is a thesis short from the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany. It has been screened on over 180 film festivals and won more than 50 awards. As soon as Disney came across it, they hired both of the students involved, Jacob Frey (director, writer, animator) and Markus Kranzler (shading, lighting, and rendering). Sunny Skyz (VIDEO) Robin Baumgarten

Starbucks Ice Cream: Coffee Chain To Test Treats In U.S. Stores By Neal McNamara

Photo Credit: Starbucks
The Starbucks line of ice cream treats were pioneered at the Seattle Roastery last summer.

SEATTLE, WA — An ice cream and coffee treat pioneered at Starbucks' Seattle Roastery will be rolled out across the nation soon, beginning first at 10 Starbucks Roastery stores in cities like Boston and New York. The Starbucks affogato drinks are based on an Italian dessert and are comprised of espresso poured over ice cream. After the Seattle-based chain rolls out the dessert at the upscale Roastery stores, Starbucks will test out the affogatos at 100 regular stores in Orange County, California. Starbucks introduced the affogato treat in June at the Seattle Roastery. The company offered the affogato in three different styles, as well as ice cream treats with cold brew coffee. The cold brew float, for example, was cold brewed coffee poured over ice cream. The cold brew malted shake was a mixture of coffee, ice cream, malt and bourbon barrel bitters. The drinks, which cost between $6 and $8.50 at the Seattle Roastery, have become a top-five menu item, according to Business Insider. The drinks will cost slightly less at the Orange County pilot stores. The most expensive drink — the cold brew malted shake — will cost $6.40. On Dec. 1, longtime CEO Howard Schultz announced that he would step down to focus on developing the upscale Starbucks Roastery stores. Patch

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Leo Burnett Chicago

Day in the Life: Jenny Bennett

Take a step into the daily routine of Leo Burnett Chicago and Arc Account Director Jenny Bennett.
Jenny Bennett’s day is never boring. As an account director for Leo Burnett Chicago and Arc, Leo Burnett’s shopper marketing agency, Jenny is responsible for leading strategy amongst her creative team and managing relationships with clients like ComEd and Alcon Eye Care. As if that’s not enough to keep her busy, she’s also an avid traveler and a wellness enthusiast. Follow along on Instagram throughout today as we share an inside look at a day in Jenny’s life. To learn more about Jenny, her role and her post-work passions, check out the Q&A below.
If you could describe your role in one sentence, what would it be?
My role allows me to collaborate and strategize, with co-workers and clients alike, to bring the best possible creative to consumers.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love how much freedom I’m given with my clients to think and explore beyond what they directly ask for. It allows me to be creative and offer new and exciting ideas and opportunities for them to consider that helps their brands grow. But my favorite part is partnering with my team to make the best work possible. I don’t want to sound generic but it really is the people that make a difference. My boss and creative director established a rule for our team: no jerks. And it works!
What’s the story behind your Monthly Inspiration Meetings?
I wanted to create a safe, collaborative environment where anyone from any department could bring thoughts, ideas or whatever in the marketplace they simply found “cool.” Additionally, it’s really valuable when working on larger teams that have different divisions because the sessions allow us to see and learn what each division is working on through creative share-outs. One key factor: Bring candy!
What’s your advice for people looking to get into the industry?
Network. Marketing is a people industry. Many folks leave agencies for other agencies, then return (I did!). With that in mind, it’s important to build and maintain relationships with people. And don’t rely solely on social networks. Personal connections matter. Lunch or happy hour is always a good idea.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
My favorite things to do outside of work are: concerts (preferably at small venues), restaurants (with good wine) and traveling. But, honestly, I also like my couch a lot.
How did you get into Barre Code and Reflexology Massage?
I like to keep my mind and body healthy. Two things that help: Working out. My sister-in-law is a co-founder of The Barre Code, a women-only fitness program that’s really fun. Through our relationship, I was able to secure a corporate rate for all Leo Burnett employees. It’s great to be able to share it with my co-workers. And reflexology massages. My favorite place is a hidden secret. I came across it after hearing I could get a one-hour massage for only $20. I’ve taken friends and co-workers and no one’s ever been disappointed! It breaks up toxins in the body and is a great stress reliever. ** How do you stay organized and maintain balance at work?** Everyone who works with me knows how much I rely on our project status document. I pretty much have a hard copy of it in every meeting I’m in. At times, I manage more than 50 projects and it helps me keep track of every detail, take notes and ultimately know what I need or what to expect next.
Best piece of advice you’ve received relating to work or life in general?
Get a mentor and consult with them often. I was fortunate to be brought into the industry through an acquaintance who has since been my mentor for more than 10 years. Leo Burnett Chicago

Greece: Priorities for a Return to Sustainable Growth

Greece should deepen and accelerate reforms, which, together with further debt relief, are needed to allow the economy to return to a sustainable growth path, the IMF said in its latest annual assessment of the Greek economy. The IMF’s Article IV report notes that the country has made progress in reining in its fiscal and external deficits, although this has taken a heavy toll on society. The report identifies a path to sustainable growth and prosperity that requires a two-pronged approach: ambitious policies on the part of the Greek authorities and significant debt relief on the part of Greece’s European partners. The Q&A below highlights some of the key issues about the country’s progress and its reform priorities for the period ahead.
IMF News: Greece had its last Article IV Consultation in mid-2013. How have the Greek economy and policies evolved since then?
Greece reduced its fiscal and current account deficits significantly since the onset of the crisis. In particular, the fiscal primary and current account deficits declined from 11 and 15 percent of GDP, respectively, to around zero at the end of 2015. This is an impressive adjustment for a country that is part of a currency union and does not have access to monetary and exchange rate policy tools. But extensive fiscal consolidation and internal devaluation have come with substantial costs for society. The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high at 23 percent (October 2016), and Greece has suffered a prolonged recession, with output 25 percent below its pre-crisis level. The high societal costs have weakened support for ongoing reforms. The government renewed its reform effort since mid-2015 with a new adjustment program supported by the European Stability Mechanism. Specifically, they legislated a number of important fiscal (e.g. pensions, VAT, income tax), financial (e.g. insolvency legislation, nonperforming loan servicing and sales loans, bank governance) and structural reforms (e.g. privatization, actions to facilitate competition in key sectors). So, in all, there have been some setbacks but also some progress since the last Article IV consultation.
IMF News: Greece now has a new set of policies in place. Are these reforms sufficient for Greece to embark on a sustained recovery?
While Greece has recently made progress with carrying out reforms, challenges remain. In particular, fiscal policies are still not conducive to growth. Half of wage earners are exempt from personal income tax, while the deficit of the pension system remains at a record high (10.5 percent of GDP, almost four times as high as the euro-area average). At the same time, overdue bank loans make up 45 percent of total loans and unpaid taxes to the state amount to 70 percent of GDP. As a result, investment and growth remain weak. For Greece to return to sustainable growth and exit successfully from official financing, it needs to deepen and accelerate reforms.
IMF News: The report mentions that fiscal policies are not growth-friendly. What policies does the IMF recommend?
Greece does not require further austerity at this time (see recent blog). Accounting for ongoing reforms, Greece is expected to achieve a primary fiscal surplus of 1.5 percent of GDP over the medium and long term. Greece does not need to run a higher primary surplus than that. But if Greece decides aim for a fiscal surplus higher than 1.5 percent of GDP, it needs to show how it can credibly achieve this higher target. In this case, additional structural reforms will be needed. However, these reforms should be implemented only once the recovery is well underway. Regardless of fiscal target, Greece should seek more growth-friendly and equitable policies. Specifically, Greece needs to broaden its personal income tax bases to allow for a more equitable distribution of the tax burden. The revenue this would generate can be used to reduce the high tax rates that are now sending jobs into the informal economy or to neighboring countries. At the same time, further pension reforms are needed to improve the viability of the system and allow for a better and more targeted welfare system to protect those who are most vulnerable. Greece also needs to address tax evasion and the large tax debt owed to the state by restructuring tax debt for viable taxpayers based on their capacity to pay, and by strengthening enforcement for those who can afford to pay but choose not to do so. The full establishment of the new independent revenue agency will be critical in this regard. International Monetary Fund

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

UN launches 2017 edition of Many Languages, One World Student Essay Contest

MINSK, 7 February (BelTA) – The United Nations has launched the fourth edition of the Many Languages, One World Student Essay Contest, BelTA learned from the United Nations Department of Public Information in Belarus. The United Nations Academic Impact, a program of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, and ELS Educational Services invite full-time college and university students 18 years of age or older to take part in the fourth Many Languages, One World Student Essay Contest. The essay must be 2,000 words or fewer and written in one of the official languages of the United Nations (English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, or French). It must discuss global citizenship and cultural understanding, and the role that multilingual ability can play in fostering these. The essay submission deadline is 16 March. The winners will be invited to attend the 2017 Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum to be hosted by Northeastern University. They will be awarded with an all-expense paid trip to Boston and New York City between 15-26 July 2017. The forum participants will present their views at the UN Headquarters in New York and create action plans related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Belarus News Many Languages, One World

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Photo Credit: Mike Jones Photo.com/Freeman Hunt
The Passau weather is improving to 40°F today. Thawing, but snow is not quite melted. Still a chill in the air. Baked a pizza on the blech with mushrooms, shrimps and Emmentaler cheese and a sprinkle of oregano. (You can get Emmentaler at Polish Delis). Box dough/sauce, but still a nice dinner and a break from real cooking.  Mom had Egg Beaters and fat-free bacon for breakfast. Germans wouldn't have any idea what fat-free bacon is. Cooked breakfast with coincidentally eggs and bacon -- (oops), and a breakfast teller of cheeses. Considering cake baking sometime soon. Although diet is going remarkably well.  Diet and exercise ... have lost 1 kg since Christmas. That would be one main meal a day, followed by a dinner soup with veggies and 1-1/2 hours of walking per day.  Everyone who knows me knew I was a thin girl in high school, but age has caught up with me, and can't keep weight off. But hey, a kg. Making progress. Even jeans are starting to feel a lil roomy. It's been a very slow January. Not too much happening. Language courses starting. Just about done reading a children's book. Prayers for some friends who are battling illness and surgeries. Listened to a live recording of Bruckner. Decided I'm not a fan. I'm more in step with Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. The lil hund will get her monthly check-up and I'll see how much weight she has lost. She's been walking a half-hour a day, and enjoying her chicken, tomatoes, beans, carrots, and later this week, kraut. A favorite restaurant is closed for Winter Solstice, possibly a reopening for Germany's Fasching, also known as Carnival, which will be end of February. TV has some new shows starting, "The Voice Kids" and "Heidi Klum's Germany's Next Top Model".  A couple of books arriving on Monday, which I hope are worthwhile, and Angela Merkel is nudging me. No travel plans. Will be investing in a new car. No comment about Trump. I'm a kinda 'wait-n-see' and 'hope for the best' approach. Checks and balances hopefully will keep things stable.  Germany will have elections later in the year for Chancellor which will be decided by The House.  Sonst, just been cooking a lot, and baked a batch of homemade brownies with toasted pecans and date pecan blondies for Choir Birthdays. My new/old role for Choir is Chronik, a.k.a 'Scribe'. I will document Choir Events/Music with photos and text. I hope everyone is managing what life offers, facing challenges with confidence, and having gratitude for God's blessings. Peace.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar to head Cannes film festival jury By AFP

Photo Credit: www.zimbio.com
Director is first Spaniard to get tapped for the job, and says he is “honored and a bit overwhelmed”. Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar will head the jury of this year’s Cannes film festival, said organizers on Tuesday. It is the first time in the event’s 70-year history that a Spaniard has been picked for the role. The acclaimed Spanish moviemaker, famous for a wide range of films including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her and, most recently, Julieta, said he is “grateful, honored and a bit overwhelmed” by the appointment. “I am aware of the responsibility that entails being the president of the jury and I hope to be up to the job. I can only tell that I’ll devote myself, body and soul, to this task, that it is both a privilege and a pleasure,” said Almodóvar in a statement. The festival will take place between May 17 and 28. “For its 70th edition, the Festival de Cannes is delighted to welcome a unique and hugely popular artist. His works have already carved out an eternal niche in the history of film. A long and loyal friendship binds Pedro Almodóvar to the Festival, where he was a member of the Jury under the presidency of Gérard Depardieu,” said the President of the Festival, Pierre Lescure and Delegate-General Thierry Frémaux, in a press release. Even though Almodóvar won the Oscar for best foreign film with All About my Mother, and the best director award at Cannes in 1999 for the same film, he has never received the coveted Palme d’Or, the top prize at the glamorous event in the south of France. His film Bad Education inaugurated the 2004 festival, and Almodóvar featured on the official poster of the 60th edition. “Through the presence of this passionate film lover who constantly celebrates the magic powers of cinema and pays homage to the masters Sirk, Franju, Hitchcock and Buñuel, the Festival de Cannes pays tribute to a great international director and to a modern and free Spain,” says the festival release. EL PAÍS Photo Wikipedia Festival de Cannes