Game of Thrones Arya among 200 most popular names

Baby names are becoming increasingly adventurous - often inspired by characters and figures from the world of entertainment.

More than 300 girls born in England and Wales last year were named Arya, sharing their name with the well-known Game of Thrones character.

That's more than the number of children who received traditional names like Mary (204) and Catherine (163).

Another name from the HBO series growing in popularity is Khaleesi.

There were 69 girls born last year with the same name as the would-be Queen of Westeros, according to figures for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

More Game of Thrones names on the list include Tyrion (11), Sansa (5), Daenerys (4) and Brienne (3). No children were given the name of the evil character Joffrey.

Other names from the world of myth and legend are also becoming more commonplace, with 90 boys being called Loki, presumably because of the popularity of the Marvel villain played by Tom Hiddleston.

But his brother Thor only shares his name with 18 boys born in 2016.

The parents of some of the 16 boys named Kal-El could well be fans of Superman - Kal-El is the real name of the superhero from Krypton.

There were 69 girls born last year with the same name as the would-be Queen of Westeros, according to figures for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

More Game of Thrones names on the list include Tyrion (11), Sansa (5), Daenerys (4) and Brienne (3). No children were given the name of the evil character Joffrey.

Other names from the world of myth and legend are also becoming more commonplace, with 90 boys being called Loki, presumably because of the popularity of the Marvel villain played by Tom Hiddleston.

But his brother Thor only shares his name with 18 boys born in 2016.

The parents of some of the 16 boys named Kal-El could well be fans of Superman - Kal-El is the real name of the superhero from Krypton.

The return of Star Wars in 2015 may have influenced some name choices. Last year, 54 boys were called Kylo, and 17 girls were named Rey.

In addition 12 boys were given the name Anakin, the real first name of Darth Vader.

The name Hermione, now most associated with Harry Potter, also makes the list, with 95 girls sharing their name with Harry's intelligent, loyal friend.

The name peaked in 2004 when the popularity of the Harry Potter books and films was at its height.

It's possible that this year's spike is related to the 2016 launch of the hugely successful West End stage show, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

And following the death of one of entertainment's best known figures at the start of last year, there's been an increase in the number of children (seven girls and 35 boys) being named Bowie.

  • Published in Culture

From consumption to utopia? Reflections for parents…

Do we make our children happier when we strive to fill them with beautiful and bright things? Or are we creating fictitious needs that can always be sources of frustration?

After buying the princess covers or minions, the nylon rolls that are only enough for six notebooks and cost one dollar, the geometric figures printed on cardboard, the Disney markers plasticised so they last the whole academic year, apron, the supports and the doily, also plasticised and with fashionable dolls, wipes and napkins that match with the rest of the set and are practically the same as those of the other children, the puppet and even the plant already sown in a condensed milk tin, you feel relieved, since you have almost everything “necessary” to begin the school year, but at the same time, you know you will have to tighten your belt the whole month, because you don’t even want to think about how much money has gone, and suddenly, you miss your grandma…

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Those times when granny used to sew....

....the aprons with any piece of cloth, improvised a remnant puppet and made a little tablecloth for us, less sophisticated than the Frozen doilies or McQuin Ray, but one-of-a-kind and touched by the grace of her skillful and tender hands.


Those times when the students cared about the content of the books and notebooks, which were very happy covered with Russian magazines, cat wrapping papers or with some invention from the great artist of the family, my mother, for example, she used to scrape crayon colors on a sheet of white paper (poster, calendar at hand), melted that with the iron and obviously, I took the latest in production to school.

The supports? They were always big, not the size of a letter-type sheet, a cardboard box open or covered by the most careful member of the family, with little figures cut from some book and the final touch, a nylon that I actually do not remember where it came from. The markers, of course: cardboard strips with the respective tip at the end and if you drew them with felt-tip pens, they were a success, but you were not diminished if you took them colored with colored pencils or even in white.

And what to say about “lunch boxes”, our lunch boxes were cloth bags that are soaked with the sweating from the water bottle (almost never a thermos flask), but we all had more or less the same ones and our parents managed to prevent our bread from getting wet, not to mention they lasted the whole school year.

Tell me the truth, how many backpacks did you use in elementary school? I do not remember exactly, but I can swear that I did not have a new one every year, sometimes not because of the lack of money or offers in stores, but because almost anybody dared to wonder whether that of the previous year was “suitable” or it was necessary to buy another for next September.

Men do not have time to know anything; they buy things from markets....

Thanks to life, there aren’t friends markets yet, and children are still forced to exercise their charms to make friends the first day at school, but I would not be surprised that in the next few years someone will get a licence to set up a friends workshop, juicy enrolment involved, and so they would reach school with their assigned friends.


All of us who are parents today can remember how much we enjoyed that “doing” things together as a family, surely you would be thinking, like me, about some of the many inventions which our parents, uncles, aunts and relatives made us happy with, or the times you shared in the last days of your vacation helping to prepare everything for school.

And that is the first bitter taste I keep after letting myself be dragged, at times, into this bad copy of consumer societies, where there is no time to know or do and the only path is to buy: What are we teaching our children? Are we making them happier by filling them with beautiful and bright things? Or rather are we creating fictitious needs that can always be sources of frustration, complex and discrimination?

Let the vase be but the flower ...

Finally Marti, wise, shakes me in time, shakes me with that phrase he wrote to his beloved child. "A lot of shop little soul", he warned, "who carries a lot inside needs little outside" ... The school year has just begun and in Cuban schools our children have uniforms accessible to all, free school materials and books, the same teacher for those who carry the Mickey Mouse backpack and those who prefer a simpler and more economic one. Parents should think, and I include myself, about what they really need to learn and grow, and should not entangle them or entangle us with superficialities.

Like everyone, of course I enjoy meeting my children’s tastes and have nothing against beautiful and attractive things, I only wonder about the false need and the unbridled eagerness to have them. "I understand it, but if mine does not wear or carry it they look at him badly", a friend tells me truthfully, I too have gotten myself into this type of anxiety, but what if we save ourselves, look well once and recover the essential thing, is it a utopia?

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff


  • Published in Now

TALKATIVE FILES: Carlos Enríquez’s muse

Sara Cheméndez posed for “The Kidnapping of the Mulatto Women” (El rapto de las mulatas). The steamy and beautiful mulatto Sara Cheméndez could well reincarnate one of the classic “Three Graces” (Tres Gracias), the goddesses of beauty, spell and joy.

She, in her best times, has everything at her feet, and to shine, she serves as a model for Ramos Blanco, Fidelio Ponce de León and, in particular, Carlos Enríquez, the rebel bohemian painter, enemy of the academy and avant-garde of the grove of guava trees, the almond trees, the palm tree, cigar boxes, rural myths and peasants in black and white, who will never forget his youthful and audacious treatment of female nudes.

Born in 1920, in Havana’s La Vibora neighborhood, Sara, Vizcaino by name, began her artistic life at the age of ten by the hand of sculptor Casagrán, who needed a little girl to make little clay heads. Then, after several years, Carlos Enríquez, a friend of the stone cutter, went to the girl’s house, took her for a walk, begged her mother, and at the end, hired her as muse of some of his oil paintings, in which the dynamic, fine, flashing and incisive lines as well as soft, elegant and very sensible colors stand out.

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Over the years, Sara lives a complicity of flesh and soul with Carlos Enríquez at El Hurón Azul Farm, where the creator of the Romancero Guajiro, debtor, at the same time, of patriots and bandits and illustrator of texts by Guillén and Carpentier, enjoys very good Creole lunches with Félix Pita Rodríguez, Marcelo Pogolotti or Juan David. The dwelling, a copy of a train station in Pennsylvania and pride of Havana’s Párraga neighborhood, is named after the skin of this rodent that the artist tans and paints that color. El Hurón, a museum nowadays, is full of barefoot legends. María Elena Balán upholds this on her website Arca de Cubanía:

"I asked Alberto Valcárcel, specialist of the museum house, about the curious footprints of the owner that remain, despite the years, on the steps and have given way to various versions. One of them belongs to Sara Cheméndez (...). One day, while he was resting in a hammock in the yard, the rope broke and he fell to the ground. The girl, who was looking at him through a window from above, screamed and Carlos ran up the stairs. While hurrying, he set foot on a tray of yellow paint and his footprints remained marked on the steps. It is also likely that Carlos was provoking the traces, to leave them in a veiled way as something perceptible and at the same time, soft. "

Once, the painter of paintings such as “The King of the Fields of Cuba” (El Rey de los Campos de Cuba) (Manuel Garcia), awarded in 1935, “The Bathers of the Lagoon” (Las bañistas de la laguna”, “Dos Ríos” and “Virgen del Cobre”, an oil painting with a strong Afro-Cuban presence, chains his mestiza on the back of a stallion and orders to hit the furious animal with a whip. Thus, The Kidnapping of the Mulatto Women (1938), one of his most famous works, is born from the desperate ripping of the natural thing, where sensory links are established among men, women, horses and a landscape seen through loose and kinetic brushstrokes, shades, glazes and transparencies.

Later on, Sara, cheerful and witty, frees herself from the omnipotent vocation of her tutor, who replaces her with models such as Eva and Germaine, and poses at San Alejandro Academy for Armando Menocal, the author of “The Death of Antonio Maceo”. For his part, Manuel Vega makes her unforgettable in his painting “Black Pearl”, which causes stir in Spain by showing a black and Caribbean aesthetics that is intertwined with the beauty of a woman as voluptuous as sacralized.

During the 1940s, Sara put up wall posters against the Ramón Grau San Martín government and hid one night at La Vigia Farm, belonging to Ernest Hemingway, where she was about to be bitten by two huge dogs. Then, she became a theater actress in Andoba and joined other projects to show a maturity carved in the map of her followers. One day, at the residence of a common friend, she managed to see Carlos Enríquez, who died in 1957 in Havana after also dabbling into the novel, and gave him her last joy: along with her joyful smile are those earrings he gave her one day. She never takes them off: they’re eternal, like his paintings.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Principio del formulario

Final del formulario

Irma: Vignettes from an event!

In Cuba, there is no other issue today than Irma, the strong hurricane that swept houses, roofs and crops from throughout the country. Irma has left a trail of bad memories and indelible experiences.

Once again, Cubans’ idiosyncrasy stayed afloat. The help and collaboration among neighbors, the funny comments about one of the most fearful atmospheric events that have ever hit the country, and the willingness and perseverance to overcome difficulties among all have been present. Now, I leave you with some anecdotes –as vignettes– about my neighbors from a neighborhood in Havana’s outskirts. Solidarity, obsession, carelessness summarize some of the behaviors.

Yusmaikel and his "plasma TV set"

"It only took me a tile, I have a hole in the roof, but I'm worried about the “plasma” (flat screen TV) that I bought recently. Ask Irma (coincidentally my neighbor is named like that). She saw it, tell her to tell you the size it has, it's like that window. I'm afraid it gets wet and breaks down".

And the roof?, I ask him.

“That is not my matter for the moment. I will see when it rains. The plasma TV set is the most important thing. I use it as an atari, I love it, and that entertains me. Irma has already passed, I am not concerned”.

Mercedes’s cookings…

“As I have my sister and my brother-in-love at home, I bought several things to spend these days. I had chicken, some pork beefsteaks and mincemeat in the refrigerator. And in addition, since the mango harvest was good, I also kept some.

“So the lack of electric power made me very tense, and I resorted to cook. I boiled the meats, made croquettes and cooked the fruits, because there was guava too. I have spent the whole cyclone in the kitchen! I hope no one else comes, but if it happens I am not going to keep so many things in the freezer. If lacking is bad, under these circumstances, lightening the refrigerator is better. It’s an experience to face the forthcoming ones”.

Carlos, the truck and taters

Carlos drives a truck that services agriculture. He’s a strong black man, as tall as a palm tree, and perhaps that’s the reason why, backbone pains always beset him. Therefore, when he brings home some taters, he never forgets to share them with those around him.

“Bring me a sack, a bag”, he tells me from time to time, and fills it with sweet potatoes, cassava, or some other seasonal produce.

Irma had gone, but the whole neighborhood had no power and water. The children were playing, adults were awaiting the restoration of power but that moment never came. However, Carlos brought good news. Some neighbors surrounded the track and he offered something to everybody; as if easing their pains. And he accomplished it! A while later, in the middle of the darkness of the night, the savory Creole flavor revealed that locals were cooking more than one “caldosa” (traditional Cuban stew).

Raimundo: Electricist or mason?

He works in an enterprise that offers maintenance to power stations, fixing heavy equipment, such as transformers. But in his spare time, he earns extra money doing masonry works. Few people know he is an electrician, everybody thinks he only has to do with sand and cement.

"Irma" had not arrived yet. It was around 2:00 pm, and Margarita thought there was no power. It happened that there was a short circuit in her house. Someone let Raimundo know it, and he showed up at the old woman’s home quickly. He climbed a stool on a chair and found out that some cables were really burnt. He was about to fall down, the prop was quite high.

He removed the lamp, separated the cables, and when he decided to test, then there was no power already. “Count on me for anything you need —he told the woman—, but do not tell the neighborhood that I am an electrician, because actually I fix big appliances, not small things like this one!

The kitchen door and Gloria

For months, Gloria has been suffering from the kitchen door of her apartment, located in a fifth floor. It didn’t even come to her mind that the cyclone season was about to begin. The door swelled when there was moisture, and in addition it had termite”. In short, it was an issue to be solved.

She talked to the thousand virgins, as the saying goes, until she finally managed to get one, but very far from her house. The dilemma was how to transport it from Guanabacoa to Arroyo Naranjo, two municipalities of the capital.

That night, during the passing of the hurricane, Gloria and her son spent most of the morning hours holding the door with wood. "What went in through it was a gust of wind". Fear seized them. Changing it was imminent.

After the fearsome cyclone, the boy walked around the neighborhood in search of a vehicle. But as one could figure out, his effort was unsuccessful. He found a truck stopped in front of his building. “Buddy —he said— I give you 5 CUC (convertible currency) if you take me to bring….” The man smiled and told him: “I do not have oil nor where to get it from. Cupets (Cuba’s National Oil Company) that have fuels do not have power and vice versa”.

Hours later, a phone call made them happy. “Get dressed because I am going there, I think that I can carry the door in my car”. So it was, human solidarity solved a problem that seemed to find no happy ending.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

National Electrical Union Working Hard to Restore Power

The National Electrical Union (UNE) is working hard to restore power across the country, following the damages left by Hurricane Irma.

Lázaro Guerra, UNE technical director, noted that almost the entire island was impacted.  He added that service has already been restored in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Granma, Holguín, Las Tunas and Camagüey, thanks to thermoelectric plants in Renté, a unit in Nuevitas and another in Felton.

The engineer explained that these are areas or “islands,” according to the electrical terminology, which are strengthened by power generation through thermoelectric plants.  However, he clarified that the service is not yet stable, and efforts are ongoing, including constant analysis and evaluation to ensure there are no setbacks, as any mistake could imply a further 36 hours of work.

Guerra noted that the power supply in the west is the most affected, with only a few plants functioning in the capital.  Meanwhile, the central region is awaiting the incorporation to the grid of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes generating unit in Cienfuegos.

Guerra explained that the damages are not due to impacts on the technology, but to the integrity of the national electrical system.

With some thermo plants having been cut off from the grid, which generate 74% of the country’s power, full coverage of demand currently remains impossible.  Without the incorporation of these plants to the grid, there can be no stability in the service.  For this reason, efforts are focused on the creation of islands, which will then be interconnected to the national grid and make the service sustainable.

According to the Director General of the Havana Electricity Company, Jesús Samón, interviewed on national television, just 24 hours after Hurricane Irma passed, workers have succeeded in partially restoring power to the capital. “In areas such as the San Agustín substation, La Lisa, the service was restored in the early hours, also in parts of Old Havana, the Avenida del Puerto, a part of Boyeros, and in Plaza.”

He added that of the 302 primary distribution circuits, 128 are ready to restore the power supply, as soon as it can be generated.

  • Published in Cuba

Vietnam Sends Aid to Cuba to Help Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Vietnemese leaders have sent letters of solidarity to the Cuban people and government following the devastating Hurricane Irma.

Vietnam is formalizing a plan to send Cuba a shipment of aid as they recover from the damages caused by Hurricane Irma after it ripped along the Caribbean country's coast as a category 5 hurricane last week, Prensa Latina reported.

RELATED: Cuba Cleans Up Hurricane Damage, Receives Venezuela Aid

The vice president of the Union of Friendship Organizations of Vietnam (VUFO), Don Tuan Phong, spoke to Prensa Latina saying that the Vietnamese express their solidarity and encouragement to Cuba, emphasizing the close economic, political and cultural ties build between their nations. Phong said that Cuba has been with Vietnam during its most difficult times.

Earlier this week, Vietnamese leaders, including Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang, and the Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc sent letters of condolences and solidarity to the Cuban people and government.

Phong also said that a Vietnamese delegation will be traveling to Cuba in October to participate in the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara's assassination.

Teams of volunteers are currently beginning the long process of cleaning and rebuilding from the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Irma, a hurricane that meteorologists have described as one of the most powerful in the Caribbean in a century.

Venezuela has contributed ten tons of material aid, including food, drinking water, medicine, and other needed items to Cuba, in addition to its assistance to other affected Caribbean islands.

For its part, Cuba has sent 771 medical professionals to other Caribbean islands suffering the storm's devastation.

  • Published in Cuba

World Solidarity with Cuba in UN after Scourge of Irma

Ambassadors and diplomats of five continents showed today here its solidarity with Cuba before the devastating step, the end of week, of Hurricane Irma.

By means of telephone calls and the social networks, the Cuban permanent mission before the United Nations has received in the last hours tens of samples of support and disposal to be helped in the middle of the human losses and the lazy ravages largely of its territory.

On Saturday, the chief of office of the Secretary-General of the UN, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, notified to Cuban permanent representative Anayansi Rodríguez the solidarity of the organization and its support in whatever it is necessary.

In this context, the executive director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, will visit countries of the Caribbean Sea affected by Irma, among them the island of Cuba.

Also from New York, where United Nations has its headquarters, messages of breath to Cuba and its people have been transferred.

On the eve, at the beginning of a concert of the Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez in the Central Park, the president of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, emphasized the support of the island to other Caribbean nations struck by the hurricane.

'Thank you Cuba, now we hope that the same support should be extended to you, after the suffering of these days,' affirmed the official.

  • Published in Cuba
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