Flamenco Fusion by da-AL

“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” is the title of the first of my soon-to-be self-published novels. The ‘Sitting Cat’ part of the title refers to the geographical shape of Iran…

Map of Iran out lined in shape of a Sitting Cat.
Map of Iran outlined in the shape of a Sitting Cat.

I grew up with only classical music — and flamenco music and dance. My father, who left Barcelona in his mid-20s, wanted it that way. Since I left home at 18, it’s a gift to watch any type of dance I like and to listen to every kind of music that comes my way.

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.

I still love classical — and flamenco! Especially fascinating to me is when flamenco is fused with the dance of Iran, where my husband was raised. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is an Iranian dancer now residing in France. Flamenco is as much about individuality as it is about technique — it accommodates all cultures, all forms of beauty.

If only politics were as intent on creating a climate of ‘we’ rather than an ‘us vs. them’!

The way Ghalam (click here for his Facebook page) fuses dance styles is respectful and hypnotic…

For more flamenco, check out Part 3: Marvelous Madrid — Flamenco

What fusion art do you enjoy?

Part 2: Tehran Visits The Louvre by da-AL

Abbas Kiarostami, (Iran 1940-2016)
Look twice at the folks in the foreground.

Art bridges cultures and makes us see differently (that’s why the first of my novels-in-progress is titled, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”)  — look again at these art photos by Abbas Kiarostami, a noted Iranian film producer/director/screenwriter, poet, and photographer.

In his photos, Kiarostami examines the relationship between art and visitors. He shot them at the Louvre, between 1996 and 2012.

My husband happened to visit Iran’s National Museum and generously returned with these photos. Hover over them for descriptions and click on them to see full-sized. Look closely — the people in the front are observers like us…

How do you view art?…

See Part 1: The Louvre visits Tehran by da-AL

Part 1: The Louvre visits Tehran by da-AL

Art bridges cultures…

Wedding of Thetis and Peleus
Wedding of Greek deities: Thetis and Peleus (Italy 50BC – 50AD)

Art museums often lend each other masterpieces. This year, however, marked a first — a large-scale show by a major Western museum in Iran! The world’s largest museum, the Louvre, proudly calls it, “…an outstanding cultural and diplomatic event for both countries.”

The Louvre contributed fifty masterpieces for “The Louvre at Tehran” to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Iran’s National Museum. Meantime, back in France, The Louvre exhibited, “The Rose Garden: Masterpieces of Persian Art from the 19th Century, on Qajar dynasty Iran.”

Lucky for us, my husband happened to be in Tehran to snap these photos for us. The art spanned centuries. Hover over the pictures for descriptions and click on them to see full-sized.

What does art mean to you?

See Part 2: Tehran Visits The Louvre by da-AL to see the contemporary art photos of Abbas Kiarostami, a noted Iranian film producer/director, screenwriter, poet, and photographer.

1. Ever been told…? by da-AL

Photo of da-AL in Spain with caption: Ever been told 'you write like a man' supposedly as a compliment?

Ever been told ‘you write like a man’ as if you’re supposed to take it as a compliment?

Guest Blog Post: “A Little Bit of Something that I Love: Postcards and Handwritten Letters,” in Nadya Irsalina’s exact words

Photo of fronts of postcards

Getting letters and postcards in the mail is a joy! When I was a kid, I even loved getting junk mail! Years ago, a friend told me that only handwritten could suffice for thank you notes, never email. I try to follow her advice as often as I can.

How about you? Do you write and/or receive handwritten mail?

Fellow blogger Nadya Irsalina inspires me to take it to a new level…

Waking Up at 3 a.m

I’ve always been interested to send letters since I was a kid. The curiousity grew from seeing rubik sabahat pena (penpals) on Bobo, a kid’s magazine that my mother bought for me. But I had to wait until I was in junior high school to actually start sending letters. I don’t know about you but finding a new letter on the mailbox is like a nice little surprise for me. Nothing beats the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding a letter, written and addressed just for me. I still remember when my dad’s friend sent a postcard from LA and I was so excited to read it and removed the stamp. I used to collect it, even though I wasn’t really a philately. To me, it’s quite saddening that years after that, letters carried by conventional postal service seemed to be left behind and replaced with modern technology like…

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Beautiful Barcelona, Spain by da-AL

Heading off to La Rambla

This is the first of several posts on my a-w-e-s-o-m-e vacation to Spain and France. It’s no wonder that my upcoming novel is called, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”!

Barcelona is wonderful off-season. In October, the weather was mild and the densely populated ancient city offered my husband and me a great start to a Spain/France adventure. We arrived a Friday evening, bleary-eyed from an overnight flight. Once at our rented room in a centuries-old flat, we stepped outdoors for a quick unexpectedly gourmet dinner. Upon return, we tumbled into bed where stupor overtook us. Fourteen hours later, we woke at two the next afternoon. Our self-imposed itinerary, not to mention our equilibriums, was already thrown off kilter. After sandwiches across the street, we set off for Barri Gòtic, (the Gothic Quarter).

The Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) was the first of the gorgeous sites we enjoyed over the next few days. Barcelona is part of the larger community of Catalonia. At the square, an unfinished upside-down staircase towers over Catalunya’s first president, Francesc Maciá, representing Catalonia’s ongoing history. The monument was designed by artist Josep Maria Surbirachs.

The Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) was the first of the gorgeous sites we enjoyed over the next few days. Barcelona is part of the larger community of Catalonia. At the square, an unfinished upside-down staircase towers over a bust of Catalunya’s first president, Francesc Maciá, representing Catalonia’s ongoing history. The monument was designed by artist Josep Maria Surbirachs.

da-AL at the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is an eye-popping church still under construction since it began in 1835, scheduled for completion in 2028. Cranes continue to erect the innovative structure, its spires akin to the most amazingly intricate candle on the verge of melting heavenward back to the fantastical spirit world from whence it came.

Revelers after pro Spain rally

The cultural and economic arguments for and against Catalunya becoming independent from Spain are beyond the scope of this post. The weekend before we visited, a rally for succession ended in police brutality. Many worried that a subsequent pro-Spain rally scheduled for the Sunday when we were there might end badly too. Fortunately for everyone, the gathering was peaceful and we enjoyed a walk along the La Rambla neighborhood.

skateboard park - rennovated warehouse district

An ally near La Rambla

Throughout Barcelona, art reigns supreme, from the Museu Picasso (Picasso Art Museum) to architect Antonio Gaudi’s many buildings, to street art including this music/graffiti/skateboard park.

da-AL with cousin at Barcelona Cathedral

Our vacation started with a highlight: reconnecting with a cousin I hadn’t seen in far too long and meeting her lovely husband.

Catedral de Barcelona

After they guided us through the vicinity of the Barcelona Cathedral, they drove us up Montjuic for a delicious meal and an impressive aerial view of the city.

dinner at Montjuic

The following morning, we woke refreshed. We rented a car and let the GPS lead us to Basque Country, which lies half in Spain and half in France.

Learn more about Barcelona, the monument at Catalonia Square, Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, the Barcelona Cathedral, and Montjuic.

From Barcelona, we drove through wonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and enchanting Espelette. We were headed further into phenomenal French Basque Country (Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne, and Biarritz), then to experience the food and seaside dogs of San Sebastián, Spain, and to breathtaking Bilbao

Video: “Let’s End Ageism,” TED Talk by Ashton Applewhite

Author Ashton Applewhite is a great blogger too: ThisChairRocks.com
Author Ashton Applewhite is a great blogger too: ThisChairRocks.com

We’re in the age where we’re boxed into ‘isms’ — sellers want us to buy more, more, more — and the most effective way for them to reach us is to niche-itize us.

I’m sharing this video because author/activist Ashton Applewhite discusses more than simply old-ageism …

Please share your thoughts …