Mystery and thrills in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Barcelona

Continuing with the Spanish theme of the last three posts on my blog, The Shadow of the Wind is a novel set in mid-twentieth century Barcelona. In the middle of the old city of Barcelona is a ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’, a library with winding passages and corridors so hard to find again that you must leave a trail as though journeying into the heart of the Minotaur’s den.

The Shadow of the Wind book

When Daniel is ten years old, his father takes him to choose one book from this mysterious labyrinth of a library. He picks an obscure title, La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind) by Julián Carax. As Daniel grows up, he tries to find more titles by Carax, but he cannot find a single one. There are reports of a strange man who calls himself Lain Coubert — the name of the devil in Carax’s novel — who is going around the city asking for Carax’s books to burn.

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Disney’s Loss of Innocence: language, race and gender in children’s animated movies


Disney Orlando castle at night. By Veryhuman (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most of my peers grew up with Disney animated movies. They watched the classics — The Lion KingPocahontasBeauty and the Beast… I didn’t. To this day, I’ve seen a grand total of two Disney animations: Dumbo and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t seen The Lion King, or Bambi, which is sometimes marked out as an oddity if it comes up in conversations with friends, as though I’m confessing an eccentric habit.

Disney’s movies are a fond presence in millions of childhoods throughout the world, and beyond (last year, a friend asked me if I wanted to go and see Cinderella with her. I suggested Far from the Madding Crowd instead). But these movies aren’t as child-friendly and full of innocent wonder as they seem. In fact, they have some symbolism in them that is pretty downright disturbing.

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Cultural Life turns two!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Cultural Life! Public domain image - Happy Birthday In Sand by Petr Kratochvil

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Cultural Life!
Public domain image – Happy Birthday In Sand by Petr Kratochvil

My WordPress blogging journey began two years ago today. I have enjoyed every minute of blogging so far and I am glad to be a member of the WordPress blogging community. In the past year, a lot has happened in my blogging life: my number of followers has grown significantly from a mere 60 this time last year to 619 (and counting!) at the time of writing this post. And I was Freshly Pressed in February! That was a wonderful experience and getting a personal email from the editor of WordPress made me feel very honored.

To mark my second blog anniversary, here are a few highlights from the past two years of Cultural Life:

Reasons why I want to move to Maine – this post, with wonderful Maine photos courtesy of Karen at Back Road Journal, is one of my most popular posts. It seems that a lot of people Google “reasons to move to Maine”!

Saying Goodbye – This is my Freshly Pressed post, about the emotions I felt when saying goodbye to my mother before she was wheeled into an operating room for lifesaving surgery.

Valencia Orange Cake – a delicious recipe with no flour, making it perfect for gluten-free diets. The cake is simply amazing, especially when served with cream.

Photo Challenge day 1: Resolution – I took this photo on the first day of this year; it’s a pretty view from outside my home.

Thoughts on reading The Hunger Games – when I first read The Hunger Games in November and December 2011, I became hooked on the series. When I was going through a stressful time last year, I re-read the series a couple of times. I find that I take inspiration from Katniss’s grit and determination.

Thank you to my readers for supporting my blog and here’s to the next two years – and more! – of Cultural Life.

Photo challenge day 12: Flakes

First Thirty-one Photo Challenge day 12 (Fourtuitous)!

I have much better pics of snowflakes on my camera, like this one:

snowflakes falling

snowflakes falling

But that was taken in 2011, whereas the photo below was taken today. It’s an embarrassingly terrible photo though but it was all I could get!

snowflakes and ice on the car

snowflakes and ice on the car

Photo challenge day 3: Returns

Day 3 of the First Thirty-One photo challenge (!

When the clock ticks past 4 pm, I know who will be waiting patiently until I return home to feed her.

Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream — T.S. Eliot

Waiting for the human

Waiting for the human

Nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award!

Thank you to Lisa at fLVE for nominating me for the Sunshine Blog Award! Lisa’s blog is a wonderful blog about food, cooking and dining. Check it out!

In order to accept the Sunshine Blog Award, there are a few steps to complete:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Write a post about it.
3. Answer the questions that come with it.
4. Pass it along to 10 people and let them know they have received it.
5. Answer the following questions . . .

Favorite Color: I love blue: the color of the sea. But I enjoy wearing red and pink, although not at the same time!

Favorite Number: 9

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: I can’t go without green tea in the morning!

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook.

My Passion: Culture and traveling

Getting or Giving Presents: Both! It’s equally nice to give and receive gifts, in my opinion. 😀

Favorite Pattern: I love the patterns on Mediterranean tiles

Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday.

Favorite Flower: Roses – they are beautiful

Finally, I am nominating the following 10 blogs to receive this award:

Back Road Journal – I found this blog when I was searching for blogs about New England, specifically Maine. It’s one of my favorite blogs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… – I love this blog because of Jessie Veeder’s beautiful writing and North Dakota photography. It makes me want to go live on a ranch and ride horses everyday!

Cartoons & Creative Writing – I found this blog when it was on the Freshly Pressed page and I really enjoy the posts. Lots of amusing cartoons!

101 Books – a blog written by a man who is undergoing the challenge of reading each one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels, plus Ulysses. I like books and I also like blogs about books. If you’re the same, check out the link!

Seen Along the Trail – this is a photo blog by a woman named Carolyn (aka Skip) who lives in Ohio. Her blog charts her daily walks via the medium of photography. Lots of beautiful, peaceful photos of nature.

Mama’s Gotta Bake – I love cookery blogs with photos of things that look unbelievably mouth-wateringly good. This blog indulges my sweet tooth!

Frugal Feeding – another cookery blog. This one is fairly self-explanatory: delicious recipes which are low-cost to prepare.

The Maine Road – another lovely photo blog with gorgeous images of Maine throughout the year.

Canadian Cinephile – a well-written blog with lots of great movie reviews.

And last but not least, Oh Shine On – a cookery blog with delicious recipes!

Welcome to Cultural Life!

This is my first ‘culture blog’ and I will be updating about once a week  (more frequently when I am not busy).

I was inspired to start a blog about culture because it is one of the most important intrinsic elements in my life — we are all involved in a cultural universe. Culture brings people together and unites the world in many different ways….through food, music, dance, movies, geography, literature, education, language, art, philosophy, science.

I hope you enjoy this blog!