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What a difference a year makes for Baghdatis January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Marcos Baghdatis was joined by his father, brother and extended family and friends for this Australian Open. They can all go home early.

Baghdatis, whose celebrated run to the last final, beating three top 10 players along the way, was the story of 2006, crashed out of this year’s Open on Wednesday, losing 7-6 (5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 to Gael Monfils of France in a second-round match. Baghdatis lamented that he had too many hangers-on, and that he didn’t feel himself.

Last year, usually it was only his coach Guillaume Payre and girlfriend were in the stands when he won his six matches at Melbourne Park before being beaten in the final by Roger Federer.

“There’s a lot of pressure, not by media or stuff, it’s more like my group,” Baghdatis said after his four-set, first-round win over Rainer Schuettler. “I feel a bit of pressure from them. I’m not myself.”

Things didn’t get any better Wednesday for the 21-year-old Cypriot.

“I wasn’t here, I wasn’t in the match,” Baghdatis said. “Everything went so fast, I couldn’t control anything. I tried to fight, to find a way, but nothing was working.”

The stadium was packed, and the closed roof made the vocal fans even louder. Pockets of Baghdatis supporters in the blue-and-white Greek colors waved Cypriot flags, chanted, danced and clapped between every point.

Monfils got caught up in the moment, too. A comment from one fan had him laughing so hard as he served at 5-6 that he had to back off briefly to regain his composure. He went on to win the point, then fired an ace to force the tiebreaker.

Baghdatis, unshaven and with his usual ponytail held back by a bandanna, pumped his fist when he won the third set. He turned to his fans, and it looked like the magic might be back, especially when Monfils hobbled gingerly with a left foot injury and didn’t make a move for Baghdatis’ set-point ace. The 20-year-old Monfils took a medical timeout and received treatment from a trainer. Once he came back, he ran off the next six games with any apparent hindrance.

“He deserves it,” said Baghdatis. “Gael played a great match. He was very aggressive, playing deep all the time. I couldn’t find a solution.”

When asked about Monfils’ quick recovery from the injury, Baghdatis said: “I don’t want to judge anybody, he can do what he wants.”

Monfils, who plays good friend and compatriot Richard Gasquet in the next round, said his victory over Baghdatis was “magic.”

“Step by step, only one match,” Monfils said when asked if he could replicate Baghdatis’ performance of last year. “Maybe it’s a big win, but I have to do more now.”

Baghdatis, who came into last year’s Australian Open ranked 56th and is now 11th, admitted he had trouble coping with the pressure of his improved ranking.

“I’m the guy to beat, it’s not easy,” said Baghdatis. “It’s not the same pressure as before. I have to get used to it.” As he packed up to leave Melbourne Park, 10 days earlier than he did last year, he was philosophical. “It’s a positive,” he said. “There are more important things in life to losing a tennis match.”

‘God of War II’ > Review PS2 Games January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Games & Gadgets.
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God of War II is a groundbreaking, PS2 exclusive combat action-adventure videogame based on Greek mythology, where you will get reacquainted with the vicious ex-Spartan warrior Kratos and embark on the continuing epic odyssey.

Famed award-winning God of War creator David Jaffe will continue to oversee development of God of War II and comments, “In the gaming world, it’s rare that a sequel equals, let alone eclipses the original, but I think this is going to be the exception to the rule in terms of quality, gameplay and story. I always said that God of War was my dream game, well no longer, God of War II really is the game I’ve always wanted to play.”

God of War saw Kratos, a mortal warrior, set upon an epic quest to dethrone a God. But his journey did not end there. In God of War II, Kratos sits atop his Olympus throne, as the new God of War, far more ruthless than Ares ever was. To end his continued torment, Kratos must journey to the far reaches of the earth and defeat untold horrors and alter that which no mortal, or god has ever changed, his fate. God of War II sets an epic stage for a devastating mythological war to end all wars.

In God of War II, players retake the role of Kratos. Armed with the deadly blades and blistering rage, players will be aided by new breath-taking magic and new brutal combat moves. The journey will take them through vividly striking environments where they will be faced with a labyrinth of challenging puzzles and mini-games intricately woven into the story. The violent world of Greek mythology will come to life in gory detail as Kratos encounters new mythical characters, and compete in epic boss battles in his quest.

Armed with all-new brutal combat moves and magic, players retake the role of Kratos and embark on a new epic adventure to change the fate of mortals and Gods alike. As Kratos, players will travel through unique levels of exceptionally detailed and vividly striking environments, unfolding story driven puzzles and competing in numerous, epic boss battles in the quest for revenge.

The story picks up where players last left off with Kratos. Sitting atop his throne on Olympus, Kratos, the once mortal warrior has become a threat far worse than his predecessor Ares, had ever been. Kratos is a ruthless God, whose wrath strikes down anyone who crosses his path or the path of his beloved Sparta. The “Ghost of Sparta” sets out to alter that which no mortal, or god has ever changed, his fate. Kratos’ journey brings him to the very edge of the Earth, facing countless beasts, monsters, and horrors from his previous life, all bent on preventing him from reaching his goal. But this is Kratos, and his defiance is filled with such arrogance and contempt that all of the Ancient World still trembles at his name: Kratos, the God of War.

KEY FEATURES > 
Huge Collection of Combat Moves: Players can utilize their favourite combo attacks from God Of War along with a whole new set of moves and magic. Magic is based on nature’s elements which include utilizing the power if wind, ice and much more.
New Characters: From the popular Cyclops and Cerebus to the Flying Gryphon and more, players will encounter some of the greatest Greek mythological beasts, along with more enemies and bosses.
Puzzle Solving: God Of War II features more puzzle solving, where players must solve intelligent, challenging and progressively more complicated puzzles latent with brutal elements that are intricately woven into the overarching story.
Exploration: Players will continue their previous experiences in the dark, violent world of Greek mythology and test their agility through more levels as they traverse treacherous, often brutal terrain that will range from the undiscovered Sisters of Fate to the Dark Swap and more.

Food of the Gods January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus.
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APOLLO > great food and warm welcome that hits the spot

As soon as we walked into Apollo we were struck by the aroma of Greek-Cypriot cuisine. If it weren’t for the cold drizzle outside we could easily have been mistaken for thinking we were in a restaurant in the Mediterranean.

We were welcomed to Apollo, the Greek archer-god, by the owner Nick, who showed us to our table and offered us drinks. Looking through the menu, there was a wide range of dishes available. My eye was caught by the sea bass, kleftiko, steak diane and steak au poivre, but we decided on the mezze for two. The mezze is a bit like tapas, and offers a real taste of Cyprus and Greece.

The first course came with tama, hummus, tsahalis, tahini, crab salad, tuna, beetroot, cossica and quail eggs. Smoked ham and prawn salad completed the selection. My personal favourites were quail eggs, hummus and crab salad. The second course was a variety of seafood dishes, including sea bass, mussels, monk fish, crab claws and calamari.

I was bowled over by the monk fish, a superbly meaty piece of fish with makes the tastebuds tingle. This course is one I won’t forget in a hurry. As this point I asked myself two questions. How am I going to find space for the last two courses and when can I next get a table?

The third course was meat dishes. The lamb shank looked heavenly and there was also grilled chicken, sheftalies and keftedes, with a fantastic Greek salad on the side. We had a fantastic fruit bowl for dessert and finished the meal with a gorgeous Greek coffee, listening to the talented guest singer.

The beauty of the Apollo is it is a superbly social place. From the moment we arrived, we felt welcome and valued. Apollo chefs are not meagre with the portions either, and at just £39 for a four-course meal for two, I can only recommend this restaurant highly enough.

APOLLO, 134A Seven Sisters Road, N7, Islington, UK, Tel: 020 7263 4687

Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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The Greek and Roman collections, with works of art ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in A.D. 330, include the art of many cultures.

The areas represented are Greece and Italy, but not as limited by modern political frontiers: much of Asia Minor on the periphery of Greece was settled by Greeks, Cyprus became increasingly Hellenized in the course of its long history, and Greek colonies were established around much of the Mediterranean basin and on the shores of the Black Sea. In Roman art the geographical limits coincide with the political expansion of Rome. The collections also illustrate the pre-Greek art of Greece and the pre-Roman art of Italy.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s very first accessioned object was a Roman sarcophagus from Tarsus, donated in 1870, but a department for Greek and Roman art was not established formally until 1909. Today, the more than 35,000 objects overseen by the department range from over-life-size statues to small engraved gemstones and include virtually all of the materials in which ancient artists and craftsmen worked: marble, limestone, terracotta, bronze, gold and silver, glass as well as the rarer substances such as ivory and bone, iron, lead, amber, and wood.

The strengths of the representative collections include Cypriot sculpture, painted Greek vases, marble and bronze Roman portrait busts, and wall paintings from two villas on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, one in Boscoreale and the other in Boscotrecase. The department’s holdings in glass and silver are among the finest in the world, and the collection of archaic Attic sculpture is second only to that in Athens.

Currently, the Museum is in the midst of a three-phase master plan for the Greek and Roman Galleries that includes complete renovation of the exhibition spaces and a total reinstallation of the collections. The first phase was completed in June 1996 with the opening of The Robert M. and Renée Belfer Court for prehistoric and early Greek art. The second phase, with seven galleries of Greek art of the sixth, fifth, and fourth centuries B.C., opened in April 1999. The department’s extensive collection of Cypriot art will be on view after April 2000. When completed, the master plan will increase the overall exhibition space from 26,700 square feet to 60,000 square feet and the majority of the Greek and Roman Department’s holdings will be on view, either in chronologically organized galleries or in an extensive study-storage collection. 

Related Links > www.metmuseum.org

Academic trip to Greece by Lamar University January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Lamar University public radio KVLU will host a Smithsonian “travel adventure” through Greece this fall.

Sponsored in conjunction with Collette Vacations, the nine-day tour, “Greece: Footsteps through Time” will depart September 20, for Athens. The odyssey will feature day tours to some of this region’s most historic sites including the Acropolis, Delphi, the 3,000 year-old Lions Gate in the ancient city of Mycenae, the Temple of Poseidon and a day cruise around the Saronic Islands, the location of some of Greece’s most important archaeological sites.

“Smithsonian Travel Adventures offers the best in educational travel all over the world,” said Melanie Dishman, station manager for advancement and the tour’s coordinator. “These tours excel in local expert guides and speakers who really make the difference between simply seeing and truly understanding your destinations.”

To provide more details about the trip, KVLU and tour representatives will host an information meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Katharine & Company, 1495 Calder at MLK Jr. Parkway. Anyone interested in taking part in this special tour is encouraged to attend the meeting, Dishman said.

“Anyone who has the slightest interest in discovering Greece should really attend the meeting,” said Dishman.”We’ll be able to answer all your questions and there will be a slide show with highlights from the tour.” One does not have to be a member of KVLU to participate in the trip, she said.

For more information, contact Dishman at 880- 8164 or visit the KVLU web site at www.kvlu.org

Rarely seen shark breed netted off Crete January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Nature.
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A breed of shark which is rarely seen in the Mediterranean was caught in the nets of a Greek fishing boat off the coast of Crete yesterday.

Experts at the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (ELKETHE) identified the animal as a ragged-tooth or smalltooth sand tiger shark (Odontaspis ferox). The shark measured 3.5 meters in length and was netted three nautical miles off the coast of Crete at a depth of 250 meters.

Experts said it is extremely rare for this type of shark to be caught in fishing nets in the Mediterranean as it usually lives at great depths in warm, tropical waters.

Attica’s urban development spreading January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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In a few years, area’s population will reach around 4.5 million
Former seaside resorts such as Loutsa and Rafina now attract primary residences.

Attica is expanding at a frenetic pace. In less than 10 years, around 4.5 million people will live in a vast continuum of urban sprawl.

Apartment blocks are going up in the Mesogeion area even before sewer systems have been installed. The olive groves and farms of the Thriassio plain are thinning out, being replaced by warehouses, transport companies and high-impact development from all over the prefecture. Summer vacation sites are attracting primary residences, while northern Attica and Megarida are losing their agricultural expanses.

The airport’s move to Spata and the construction of the Attiki Odos sped up a process that began 15 years earlier: the movement of residents from Athens and its large municipalities to the northeast and southeast, and the transfer of high-impact development to the west.

An Athens University study directed by Kleito Gerardi, professor of architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, indicates that by 2015 the population of Athens will be distributed as follows:

– In the central municipalities of the Attica basin (Athens, Galatsi, Nea Halkidona, Zografou, Kaisariani, Vyronas, Hymettus and Dafni) the population will fall from 1,001,000 in 2001 to 826,000-855,000.

– In the Piraeus district (the municipalities of Piraeus, Aghios Ioannis Rendi, Moschato, Tavros, Nikaia, Korydallos, Drapetsona, Keratsini, Perama and the islands of Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, Spetses, Troizinia, Methana, Poros, Kythera and Antikythera) the population will remain fairly stable with a small decrease.

– In southern Athens (the municipalities of Kallithea, Nea Smyrni, Palaio Faliron, Aghios Dimitrios, Ilioupolis, Argyroupolis, Alimos, Hellenikon, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Vari), the population is expected to rise from 598,000 as registered in 2001 to 665,000-690,000.

– In northern Athens (the municipalities and communities of Maroussi, Pefki, Kifissia, Nea Erythraia, Ekali, Halandri, Vrilissia, Aghia Paraskevi, Holargos, Papagou, Psychico, Neo Psychico, Filothei, Pendeli, Nea Pendeli, Melissia, Nea Ionia, Iraklion, Nea Philadelphia, Lykovrissi and Metamorphosis) the population is expected to rise from 590,000 in 2001 to 742,000-768,000.

– In western Athens (municipalities of Aegaleo, Aghia Varvara, Haidari, Peristeri, Petroupolis, Ilion, Aghioi Anargyroi, Kamateron, Zefyri, Archanes, Thrakomakedones and Ano Liossia) the population will rise slightly from 584,000 in 2001 to 600,000.

– In eastern Attica (the municipalities of Elefsina, Mandra, Magoula, Aspropyrgos, Fyli, Eryuthres, Villia, Oinoe, Nea Perama and Megara), the population is estimated to reach 126,000, compared to 114,000 in 2001.

– In northern Attica (the municipalities and communities of Aghios Stefanos, Kryoneri, Anoixi, Drossia, Stamata, Rodopoli, Dionysos, Nea Makri, Marathonas, Grammatiko and Varnava) the population will rise to 118,000 from 72,300 in 1991.

– Last, in eastern Attica (the municipalities and communities of Gerakas, Anthoussa, Glyka Nera, Paiania, Kropia, Spata, Markopoulo, Rafina, Pikermi, Artemis, Lavreotiki, Keratea, Kalivia, Kouvara, Saronida, Palia Fokia and Anavyssos), the population is expected to rise from 190,800 in 2001 to 244,000 in 2015.

Experts say it is essential that the city’s frantic pace of expansion to the east and west be reined in and that the retention of agricultural land and the remaining green spaces must become a top priority.

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