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Masterpieces in marble and clay from Louvre to Japan June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia.
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It was only last year that the Louvre Museum fascinated Japanese art fans with its famous 19th-century French paintings in an exhibition in Yokohama and Kyoto. This summer, the museum hits Japan once again with its ancient Greek art, the origin of Western culture, with an exhibition in Tokyo and Kyoto.

About 130 items, including large sculptures, are on show in Ancient Greek Art from the Louvre Museum. Most of the items are being exhibited in Japan for the first time.

In the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., Greece was said to have been at the peak of its creativity. Greek culture in those years, from the start of the Greco-Persian Wars to the death of Alexander the Great, is called the Classic period, and the exhibition aims to explore ancient Greek culture through artworks from this period.

While ancient Greek art sometimes seems to have been deified, and while scholars obsess about minute questions of style, this exhibition is an attempt to draw a bigger picture of the period from a broader point of view, said Jean-Luc Martinez, the Chief Curator at the Department of the Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities at the Louvre, which holds 45,000 items.

The exhibition is divided into four sections: Classic-period Athens, life in ancient Greece, sporting spirit in ancient Greece, and gods and religion.

The sporting spirit section shows how ancient Greece’s liking for sport and competition helped in the development of artists.

“One characteristic is that artists competed against each other and created great works. Artists felt very responsible for their creations, and clients tended to contract artists who had won fame through artistic rivalry,” Martinez said in French through an interpreter.

The exhibition also features a new take on the depiction of women in Greek myth. Exhibits include painted pottery that depicts a weaving woman in a section on ancient Greek life, and various Aphrodite sculptures in the gods and religion section. Aphrodite was a goddess whom the Romans later called Venus. According to Martinez, the ancient Greeks believed that she dated from the creation of the universe, her role being to connect the different parts of the cosmos.

“People back then saw women as having great power,” Martinez said.

Other items on show include a wide variety of pieces, from masterpieces such as the Venus of Arles, a sculpture once displayed at the Versailles Palace, and the Ares Borghese, which Napoleon purchased, to unique items such as a pitcher illustrated with images of owls, a symbol of Athena, goddess of wisdom. The lineup also includes works made in ancient Rome that imitate Greek art.

Martinez explained the significance of the Roman copies, saying: “They’re not just imitations. Some of them used Greek materials and others were made by Greek sculptors.”

His favorite is a relief of Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice based on the mythological tale of how the musician Orpheus goes to the underworld to bring his wife Eurydice back to life. Hades, god of the underworld, and Queen Persephone are moved by Orpheus’ music and agree to let Eurydice go with her husband. The only condition is that Orpheus should not look back to see her until they see the light; if he breaks the promise, she will be lost to him forever. Predictably, he does look back.

“Orpheus’ horror at realizing he will never be able to see his wife again can be seen in little details like the way he holds his hand,” Martinez explained. He also likes the fine lines of the folds of the clothes. As a curator and as an individual, the ancient Greek culture is something in which I can find myself, and find a meaning for life,” he said.

Martinez was born on March 22, 1964, the day Venus de Milo landed at Yokohama Port for her first outing to Japan. “Maybe I was fated to oversee this exhibition,” Martinez says.

Ancient Greek Art from the Louvre Museum. Through Aug. 20, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Mondays (except July 17) and July 18. University Art Museum of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, a 10-minute walk from JR Ueno Station. Admission: 1,300 yen for adults, 1,000 yen for university and high school students, free for middle school students and younger. For more information visit > www.ntv.co.jp/louvre or call (03) 5777-8600. The show will move to the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art in September.


Marcos Baghdatis marches on at Wimbledon June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Marcos Baghdatis marches on at Wimbledon as Cyprus’s unlikely hero

The list of famous Cypriots is not terribly long but in the modern day one name stands out. Since Marcos Baghdatis surprised everyone, including himself, by reaching the final of this year’s Australian Open, Greek interest in the sport has never been higher. Yesterday the 21-year-old needed only three games to reach the third round after his opponent Andrei Pavel retired with back trouble. Already he has gone further than any compatriot has ever done on a tennis court, grass or otherwise.

Strangely, the only Cypriot not getting highly excited is Baghdatis himself. Bizarrely, there may not be another man in these championships less convinced of his own ability or his place in the elite. He may be a grand-slam finalist and a hero in his own land but he currently possesses a fragile self-confidence. “My head is a balloon of doubts,” he confided yesterday, a good title for a celebrity autobiography if ever there was one.

The problem is that Baghdatis still cannot quite believe his exalted profile. Cypriot tennis players are generally as famous as Madagascan bobsleighers and, while the current world No16 moved to France at the age of 14 to develop his game, the frenzy at home and in Melbourne last January has left him confused.

“What happened in Cyprus was amazing. Guys were telling me they’d never seen anything like it. When Roger Federer wins a grand slam title, it’s normal. In the months since I reached the final it has felt really strange. I’m still trying to work out whether I belong at big tournaments like this. My mind is all over the place.”

Such honesty is as refreshing as it is unusual. It is a bit like Tracey Emin conceding her infamous unmade bed had nothing to do with art. But Baghdatis, seeded 18th despite never winning a match at Wimbledon prior to this year, is adamant. “I’m still young and I need more experience. It’s going to take time. There are big expectations now but I want to play my way and enjoy it.” He even confessed to a pre-match premonition he would lose yesterday, having twice required medical treatment during his marathon five-setter against Britain’s Alan Mackin the day before. “I needed an ambulance yesterday and I still felt awful when the match started. I was very tired.”

What a stroke of luck, therefore, that Pavel, who beat Baghdatis in straight sets on grass at Halle recently, was in an even worse state. The Romanian won only four points out of a possible 19 before his back forced him to give up the unequal struggle. “I suppose I made my own luck by winning yesterday,” shrugged Baghdatis, cruelly afflicted himself by injuries this year. Ribs, back and respiratory problems have meant he has not made it beyond a quarter-final anywhere since Melbourne. As a result “my confidence is a bit down”.

If the Mediterranean weather continues, though, those weary Cypriot bones may just be revitalised. What is certain is that Baghdatis will chase every ball, whatever the stage.

There could scarcely have been a greater contrast between Court Three yesterday and the Rod Laver Arena in January when Melbourne’s huge Greek community turned out en masse to roar him to victories over Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian. The nearest thing to an Australian cheer squad this time was the courtside presence of the impeccably behaved former Wallaby fly-half Michael Lynagh.

The noise levels will surely increase if the underdog can make it into the second week. Baghdatis’s home village near Limassol is called Paramytha which translates as “fairytale” in Greek. It would be one hell of a tale if he reaches next week’s final, deserving of the full Hollywood treatment. My Big Fat Greek Backhand does have a certain ring to it.

Greek Heritage Festival July 7-9 June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greek Heritage Festival coming July7-9

By St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church

Over the weekend of July 7-9, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church will host the 9th annual Greek Heritage Festival in Saco. The church is located on Bradley Street, Route 5.

The festival hours are Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday, July 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Come to Saco for three fun-filled days featuring crafts, church tours, attic treasures, religious items, Greek bookstore and continuous music, food and activities for children.

Travelling Around Greece June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece.
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“Travelling Around Greece” is a new tourist and travel show that is broadcast live via the Internet every day 14:00 – 15:00 (Greek local time) and via ERT SAT every evening 19:00 – 20:00.

The show aims at bringing Greeks and foreigners closer to the beautiful corners of Greece, by presenting the multi-faceted tourist activities available in every getaway.

Four teams of reporters travel constantly all over Greece, recording and promoting the unique character of some faraway locations of the country with their cameras.

The show uses all the latest technology, broadcasting live pictures from around 40 locations in Greece (ski resorts, ports, towns) via webcams. In the meantime, with the use of videophones, it performs live links with remote areas, while this is the first time that telematic systems for real time recording of map routes will be implemented.

The aim of the reporting crew is to connect Greek tourism to the rich cultural heritage and tradition of every area, with special focus on alternative forms of tourism.

Furthermore, during the show, there is a constant flow of information regarding the weather in 160 Greek cities and towns – in collaboration with the Athens Observatory, – departures and arrivals of ships and planes, as well as traffic updates from national and regional roads.

The show also hosts well-known Greeks, who talk about their birthplaces, as well as their favourite getaways in Greece.

Finally, the website offers interactive communication via a forum for exchanging travel information, experiences and tips.
Related links:

Music > Madeleine Peyroux in Greece June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Her voice is reminiscent of the great jazz female performers, her performances flirt with blues sounds and her record “Careless Love” has drawn raves across the board and sold more than a million copies worldwide.

Madeleine Peyroux will be in Greece for two performances only. Born in Georgia, the USA, but brought up in Paris and New York, Peyroux will give a performance on July 6 at the Thessaloniki Earth Theatre and on July 7 at the Lycabettus theatre, Athens.

Peyroux, whose spirited and gifted performances earned her a spot next to Billy Halliday, was only 22 years old when a talent scout discovered her in a New York bar.

Although her first record, including covers of songs by Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline and others, was a great success, the young performer was not lured by the sirens of music industry and chose to perform only in underground venues.

Tickets are available by Ticket House on 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens.

Related Links:
Madeleine Peyroux’s Official Website

Kakia Skala motorway opened June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure.
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As Well as the Lane Toward Athens

An end was put to the hassle of drivers passing by Kakia Skala, since as of Friday morning the two last tunnels of the route from Corinth toward Athens were opened to traffic by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias. It is noted that the tunnels hold the European record of being the widest.

Together with the introduction of the tunnels, the automated inspection system of the tunnel and traffic administration, which immediately provides information to drivers for their safe transport, were also introduced.

As per the measurements, the two new tunnels will shorten the ride from Corinth to Athens approximately to 20 minutes, while it is estimated that 30,000 vehicles will pass on weekdays and 50,000 on weekends. As Souflias stated, this is a modern and safe motorway measuring 7.5km and equipped with three lanes, as well as an emergency lane in both directions. The motorway and the railway cost 313 million euros.

“The works for the motorway in Kakia Skala have successfully ended,” noted the Minister, adding “It is an exceptional work, on which I owe to congratulate the employees of Public Works and Special Public Works Service for Patras-Athens -Thessaloniki-Evzonoi Motorway (EYDE PATHE).”

The Minister also referred to the issue of road safety, saying “Of course a work such as this one, allows us to move very safely in relation to the past. However, I would like to underline that the road safety issue is every driver’s first priority and main responsibility.” 

Greek Know-How in Space June 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Science.
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State-of-the-art tiles, which will be protecting spaceships from really high temperatures, are being manufacturing by scientists of the Greek National Centre of Scientific Research “Demokritos.” The European Space Agency has already demonstrated its keen interest in this pioneer achievement of the Greek scientists. The fireproof tiles are expected to be tested on real flight conditions by 2007.

Apart from bracing spaceships for high temperatures, the material in question will also serve as a shield against meteor-related impacts, allowing spaceships to enter the atmosphere really faster.
Final Tests on the Way

Hybrid Thermal Protection System “Hybrid-TPS”, which is being developed in Demokritos’ specialised labs in collaboration with the European Space Agency and companies in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, ranks among the most promising new generation systems aiming at spaceship protection.

Dr Giorgos Vekinis, head of Advanced Ceramics and Composites Department, and his associate Dr Galina Xanthopoulou, have been working on special fireproof thermo-isolating advanced tiles using the method of the self-spreading high temperature synthesis (SHS). Their work is protected with patent certificates.

From now on, the funding of the patent produced by the Greek researchers will lie with the European Space Agency, while NASA has also expressed its interest in the tiles.

The final tests on the tiles’ resistance will soon be carried out in the Netherlands, while a Greek company will undertake to usher them in the market.

Related Links:
  National Centre of Scientific Research “Demokritos” > http://www.demokritos.gr
  European Space Agency > http://www.esa.int/esaCP/index.html