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NASA craft’s name is Ares, Greek for Mars July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Science.
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NASA has named its new lunar spacecraft Ares I and Ares V, using a Greek word for Mars, the planet where the space agency eventually hopes to land astronauts.

NASA chose Ares (pronounced AIR-eez) over hundreds of other proposed names, rejecting choices that included constellations and figures from ancient mythology. But two mythology experts questioned whether officials had erred and inadvertently named the ships for a Greek god of war, rather than the Roman term for the red planet.

“Ares is a name that is used to refer to Mars, and it connects to our vision to go to the moon and on to Mars,” NASA exploration chief Scott Horowitz said at a Cape Canaveral news conference Friday.

The rocket that takes astronauts into Earth orbit will be called Ares I. The vehicle that carries the mission’s far bulkier lunar cargo will be called Ares V. The first test flight could be as early as 2009.

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Greece shines from Olympic legacy July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece.
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A new report underscores the positive effect hosting the Olympic Games can have on a destination’s desirability.

Greece consistently ranks among the top tourist destinations, a report by Research and Markets found, with improvements carried out in Athens for 2004 summer’s Olympic Games helping the country to maintain its edge over rivals.

Research and Market’s Travel and Tourism International 2005 – Profile of Greece report found that the country is a frequent inclusion in lists of the top-15 global holiday destinations, attracting some 15 million international travellers a year.

The report notes that Athens has become particularly popular as a city break destination, thanks in no small part to the infrastructure improvements, metro system expansion and up-grades carried out on the city’s hotels in preparation for the Olympics.

The majority of Greece’s international visitors come from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, representing six of the 15 million international tourists that visit the country every year.

Greece is also a popular destination among its own citizens, with four million Greeks choosing to holiday at home during 2002.

Music > Make the most of the music in Athens July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Greece is holding its annual Rockwave Festival in early July, with top music names such as Guns ‘N’ Roses and Franz Ferdinand.

Anyone planning to grab a flight to Athens in the next fortnight should add the Terra Vibe, in Malakasa, Attica based festival to their itinerary.

The Dandy Warhols, Twisted Sister and Wasp are other musical acts present at the event, which is complimented by a number of different activities. Bungee-jumping, skate parks, acrobats and jugglers all feature in the festival’s programme and are on hand to keep tourists and locals entertained.

One extra feature of the Athens festival is the silent dancing trip, where visitors can don a pair of headphones and take to a silent dance-floor, entertaining themselves with their own personal music selection.

For those travellers flying to Athens looking for a more historical trip, the ancient sites of the city are a must see.

On the outskirts of the city is the Acropolis, which is widely perceived as the most important Athens site. Here, visitors can see the remains of Ancient Greek civilisation and learn about the history of the country.

Music > French Kiss-Off July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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They came. They saw. They broke up. And now they’re back… for one night, anyway. After disbanding several months ago, the Secret French Kissing Society is regrouping for a final reunion, a farewell to the band’s main man, Stavros Polentas, who’s moving to New York City on July 1.

From the time the band formed in early 2004 to the time it unraveled at the end of 2005, SFKS earned itself a sizable fanbase, most notably theHoneycomb.com’s Steve Rullman and Purple Skunk Records, which released the band’s 2005 full-length album, First Blood. The final show will feature the band’s original lineup of Polentas, bassist Jessie Steele, and drummer Chuck Britzmayr.

So why are you moving to New York? Is it purely music-related?

Polentas: I was going to move there several years ago but ended up going to Athens, Greece, instead; that’s where my family lives. New York’s a lot like Athens, as far as the big-city aspect of it, and I’m really into urban life. I figure if I want to try to play in the big leagues, I’ll try my luck in the Big Apple. Also, aesthetically, I’ll be happy. I’m pretty miserable living in South Florida, in the suburbs.

So you lived in Greece for a while?

I lived there a lot as a kid growing up. I moved to the States around the time I started middle school. I moved back to Greece in 2000, then moved back here in November 2003. Most of the songs on our album I wrote when I was living in Greece. I did home demos when I was out there. I had a group in Greece, so when I moved back here, I started looking for a new band immediately.

What was it like playing in Greece?

Everyone’s more interested in things they haven’t heard before. In the States, it’s hard to get people to give you a chance if you’re new. But in Athens, they’re always looking for something new. It’s not like here, where half the place is noisy and rowdy, drinking beer, and trying to pick up chicks. People go to see the bands play.

Are you planning to form a new band?

For the first time in a while, I’m not sure if I want to tie myself to a band. I think I’d rather make a record on my own. It’s easiest to go to New York counting on just myself. I could always meet some kids up there to play bass and drums, so I can form a new group. But I’ve been listening to records by songwriters lately, Bright Eyes, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Daniel Johnston. I’d like to make a record in that vein.

What are your plans, musically, once you hit NYC?

I have a bunch of new songs I’m really excited about. I’m really dying to make a new record. One thing I really want to do is, I’ve been talking to [Mark] Kramer, who is a pretty big producer, he produced Daniel Johnston, Galaxy 500, Lou Reed, Urge Overkill, the Butthole Surfers. He runs the Shimmy-Disc label. Anyway, he sent me an e-mail saying we should make a record together. We’ve been talking back and forth a lot. I’m really hoping something with that pans out. Other than that, I have some friends in New York who play in bands, so I’m hoping to plug myself into the network up there.

There’s got to be some stuff you’ll miss about South Florida, right?

I’ve met a lot of really cool people in the music scene down here, kids who come to shows, other bands, promoters. That’s why I always liked playing here. At a certain point, I stopped seeing local shows as getting me anywhere. I realized, “This will be it.” It’s more about having a good time, seeing friendly faces. I’m sure I’ll be back in town sometime. I’ve been back to Greece, and I’m sure I’ll be back here sometime, to play shows with all my old friends. 

Cyprus Wine Festival attracts large crowd July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus.
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The annual Cyprus Wine Festival, which was organised by Greek Cypriot weekly newspaper Parikiaki, kicked off at Alexandra Palace, North London on Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of June 2006.

With fine summer weather a large crowd of people attended the festival. Many non-Cypriot locals also gathered at the palace to sample Cypriot souvlaki and sheftalia, which they washed down with Cypriot wine or KEO beer. Visitors were also treated to many tasty Cypriot food and other delights.

As well as promoting Cypriot wines, the festival consisted of a business fair, where visitors could talk to property agents selling holiday homes, CYTA telephone services, and catering equipment firms. The Greek Cyprus Tourism Board, the Greek Cypriot Community of Enfield and the Metropolitan Police were also present at the fair offering information about their services. All aspects of Cypriaphilia were on sale, including books on Cyprus, miniature flags and souvenirs.

Towards the end of Saturday, Greek Cypriot singer Glykeria sung for the crowds, while the Greek Cypriot lobby for Cyprus invited guests to attend their march in July.

A ceremony of the senses July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Finding the right partners for one of the world’s best Champagnes

Anassa is the ancient Greek word for queen. Dom Perignon is considered by many as the queen of vintage Champagnes. It was not by accident then that Photiades Distributors, importers of Dom Perignon, choose the five-star Anassa Hotel in Paphos, Cyprus to launch the new 1998 vintage with its seven senses.

As legend has it, the Benedictine Monk, Dom Perignon invented Champagne. That is not the whole story. A few facts first: Champagne is three different things, a sparkling wine made in France; a geographic area in France, about one hour from Paris, and the only area where Champagne, the wine, can be produced; a name associated with large deposits of limestone (chalk) in the earth.

Dom Perignon, the man, was born about 1638. His full name was Pierre Perignon. He was a Benedictine Monk at the Abbey of Hautville near Riems in France. Wine was already being made in the Champagne region before Pierre was born but Dom Perignon’s legacy to the world was a procedure for the production of Champagne. This included riddling the ageing bottles so the sediment can be removed, adding a dosage for secondary fermentation and the use of corks to seal the bottles. These steps, combined with the availability of stronger bottles that could hold the added pressure, allowed the commercial production of Champagne to begin in about 1700. Dom Perignon died 16 years later. His famous statement, “I see stars”, was uttered upon his first taste of Champagne.

Dom Perignon, the Champagne, was first produced in 1936. Moet et Chandon, which purchased the Abbey of Hautville 120 years earlier, produced a super cuvee to celebrate the monk’s exploits. The champagne is only produced in exceptional vintages; in two styles, the Brut and the Brut Rose and in two sizes, 750ml bottle and 1.5l bottle. The name has become synonymous with class and stature. A gift of Dom Perignon will express that only the best will do.

Back to the 1998 vintage. The Anassa chef had created a menu to perfectly match the Dom Perignon 1996, one of my favourite vintages. Then, in a different room, the guests were exposed to the seven senses. Richard Geoffrey, Dom Perignon’s chef de cave, has hand picked seven exclusive delicacies that echo the sensuality of Dom Perignon vintage 1998. As we were enjoying this precious liquid, a Dom Perignon magnum was unveiled through a smoke screen. Then performers took us on a voyage through sophisticated taste sensations, which paired unaltered ingredients with the Dom.

The journey began on the shores of Mediterranean, a dialogue between two contrasting liquids, the Dom and Fontanasalsa olive oil from Sicily. The next stop was the Aquitaine region of France, where superior caviar is produced by Prunier. Eat this delicacy the traditional way, off the back of your hand, before you raise the flute. We crossed the Atlantic for the third sensual experience: Fundadores of Trinidad Cuban cigar, regal smoothness communicates perfectly with the aristocratic Dom. Onward to Asia, a rare poisonous blowfish, the fugu, which can be fatal if it is not correctly prepared by a fugu master, had its melting texture contrasting with the weightlessness of Dom. The Middle East was the next stop, where we discovered the strangely delightful combination of locum; with Dom, it creates indescribable sweet and textural sensations in the mouth. Back to France and the sixth sense was the special menu of southwestern French cuisine created with inventive, poetic approach by Darozze, a rare female chef who has been awarded two Michelin stars. The journey ended with an aroma, the pure scent of a Hawthorn candle by Diptyque of Paris, which provides the ideal introduction to the resonant bouquet of Dom Perignon.

Wine of the week
Dom Perignon 1996
Okay, so this is not the most exotic wine of the week I have ever chosen, nor one of the greatest bargains, but I thought it worth alerting you to the fact that this seems to be one of their best vintages. The 1996 is relatively tight and austere and should probably be kept and drunk after 1998. This cuvee is extraordinary open and ripe already, it hits the palate with such force it is easy to confuse its ripeness with sweetness but then, in Dom Perignon style, it tightens up immensely and finished with great race and refreshing dryness. The nose initially suggests something headily fragrant, lilies perhaps, but then develops in the glass to be much meatier and denser. Serve at 8 to 10 degr. C. Exceptional as an aperitif or with caviar, smoked salmon oysters and Chinese food slightly spiced.

Get stomping July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Stage & Theater.
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Stomp, which has been on Broadway and the West End for a decade brings a slick and energetic show to our shores.

We have been lucky over the last few years to be able to see some modern musicals, and this year we will get the mega hit Stomp, which has been playing in the West End and on Broadway for over a decade.

Stomp began as an independent show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by two street performers from Brighton. Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have taken their art of busking and turned into a worldwide phenomenon. Busking can include any number of performing arts, all performed in order to seek attention from the busy city folk. You can still witness these kinds of performances in the New York subway, in the actual trains!, and on the streets of big cities.

Stomp is very different from your typical musical. There are no cheesy songs performed in a wide stance with arms stretched out, there is no T&A factor, no costumes with sequins. This is a rock show, a crowd pleaser that is contemporary, urban, and packed with energy. The show’s creators have managed to take the performing art of the streets and packaged it for the audience at large to see. Having said this, the production value is high and the show is impeccably choreographed, timed, and composed.

Stomp is a mixture of many elements. Dancers create music, musicians create dance. Using everyday objects performers create impeccable rhythms and a visual spectacle. Drumming is the basis for the show but percussion is created in unconventional ways, using broomsticks, trash can lids, matches, and plungers. The percussion will get you in the stomach and if you think it is too loud you are too old. The show has a familiarity about it because it is grounded in everyday life. Although, the show is marketed as “raw”  it is not. The production level is too high. Granted I do not believe that anything that is placed under the microscope of stage life can be “raw” or “real.”

The show is advertised as original but I cannot give them such credit. Unfortunately, Cypriot television no longer shows old musicals but Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly both created musical numbers using everyday projects. Even in Singing in the Rain, an absolute must see if you have only seen the scene in the rain, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor clean up the house dancing and singing, walking over couches and tapping. In the marvelous New York, New York the tapping masters dance with trash can lids attached to their feet and sweeping the streets of the Big Apple.

For the art snobs, here is my pitch. The contemporary dance scene in Cyprus loves postmodern performance art. Postmodern performance art/dance tends to combine a number of elements such as movement, sounds scores, voice, and random props. It is most often concerned with social and emotional environments and tends to glorify everyday behaviours and occurrences. So how is Stomp different? The show blends music, which is live and created by performers, movement, and exploitation of everyday objects in non-traditional ways.

This particular production appears to all ages. It is clever and catchy and makes you want to start drumming away on your kitchen sink while doing the dishes. All my college friends who preferred beer to theatre, saw Stomp and loved it. For dance and music lovers, this is a rare treat. Boys love it because it is loud and has an edgy, dark feeling about it. Grown ups love it because it is a great show.

The mission of the show’s producers is to bring attention to the noises that surround us at all times and that we normally ignore. They have taken the perpetual urban soundtrack and created a fascinating art show. The show is incredibly energetic and a sure crowd pleaser and what it lacks in content and narrative it makes up in explosive performance style. The show is consistent and well crafted, designed to keep your attention just as it wants to wander.

Stomp > Group of artists working together to create music using abandoned and industrial waste products. July 6 and 7. Patticheon Theatre, Larnaca, Cyprus. 9pm. Tel: 24-657745.