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Movies > Troy August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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troy.jpg  Passion is at the heart of all the momentous events driving Troy, an epic chronicle of the triumphs and tragedy of the legendary Trojan War. The seeds of war are sown when King Menelaus of Sparta hosts a banquet to make peace with King Priamos of Troy, represented by his eldest son, Prince Hector, defender of Troy

While the two leaders celebrate an end to countless devastating years of war, Hector’s preternaturally handsome brother Paris disappears, only to reappear in the bedchamber of Menelaus’ wife Helen, known far and wide as one of the world’s greatest beauties.  When Paris spirits Helen away from Menelaus’ palace without Hector’s knowledge, their fate is sealed: the leaders of countless Greek tribes will unite to wage war against the Trojans.

Among the gathering forces is Achilles, a warrior of such skill and fame that his name alone invokes cold dread in his opponents. It is rumored that his mother Thetis (Julie Christie) is a goddess, and that he shares her power of immortality. But in truth he is only a man, and so must capture eternal life the only way a mortal can: by ensuring that history will forever remember his name. 

Achilles’ rapidly growing legend compels Agamemnon, the arrogantly ambitious King of the Greeks and brother to Menelaus, to reluctantly summon him for battle against the Trojans. Although he knows that Agamemnon does nothing except for his own personal gain, Achilles’ insatiable lust for glory and eternal renown leads the warrior far from home and into the front lines of a war waged to seize power and exact vengeance for others.
Hector and Paris arrive in Troy just ahead of the encroaching Greek armada. Their father, King Priamos, must decide whether to press war with the Greeks or return Menelaus’ stolen bride and consequently deliver Paris to certain execution, as the young prince would surely follow his love. The choice is soon made clear: Paris will not surrender Helen and Priamos will not sacrifice his son. War is the only way. 

And war is soon upon them. A thousand Greek warships land upon the Trojan shore, and with Achilles’ god-like abilities driving the attack, not even the leadership of the mighty Hector can keep the Greeks from swiftly taking the beach. 

By sunset, the ground is soaked with the blood of Greeks and Trojans alike. Helen is brokenhearted that the cost of her happiness is the death and destruction of so many on both sides of the conflict, but she is powerless to stop it. Paris’ love sustains her, but he too is stricken at the battle he has caused, the Greeks seem destined to take the city.

Destiny, however, is less certain than the Trojans know. All is not well between Agamemnon and his prized warrior Achilles, who makes no secret of his contempt for the King. The warrior fights for no one but himself, until he finds a defiant, terrified girl in his tent, intended as his prize for laying waste to the Temple of Apollo, patron god and protector of Troy. She is Hector’s cousin Briseis (Rose Byrne), a beautiful acolyte of the Temple and seemingly the only person alive who isn’t awed by Achilles’ power. Intrigued, he takes her under his protection instead.

He soon learns the price of such devotion. Achilles finds that he cannot protect Briseis from the whims of an angry, jealous king who longs to punish him for his scorn. When Agamemnon abducts Briseis, an enraged Achilles refuses to raise his sword again in the name of the malevolent King. Without Achilles to tip the scales of fortune towards the Greeks, the Trojans prove to be a much more formidable foe, and the bloody standoff that ensues ultimately wreaks terrible destruction on both of their nations.

“There is an old saying that war brings out the worst and the best in human beings,” muses acclaimed producer/director Wolfgang Petersen. “But war is a disaster for everyone involved. While our film shows the spectacle of battle between tens of thousands of soldiers in a way that audiences have never seen before, the focus of our story is the timeless human aspect of the victories and defeats that Homer recorded.”

Troy is inspired by The Iliad, the epic work attributed to the ancient poet Homer, considered to be the Western world’s original literary master. The epic poems Homer is credited with appear to have been composed in the 8th Century BC, 300-400 years after the supposed fall of Troy. While it isn’t clear whether Homer recited existing oral chronicles or was the sole and original creator, his work has survived the centuries to become literature’s most compelling glimpse into the past.

“I don’t think that any writer in the last 3,000 years has more graphically and accurately described the horrors of war than Homer,” says Petersen. “But in his epic works, the human drama was overshadowed by the brutality. A contemporary audience needs to come into the story through the lives and passions of the real people caught up in this terrifying experience.” 

The film’s screenplay is written by David Benioff, author of both screenplay and novel for Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film 25th Hour. “This is one of those universal stories,” says producer Diana Rathbun. “Not everyone is going to be a great hero and go off and slay the dragon, but the emotions that drive them are something that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. When I read this script I fell in love with it, the insightful portrayal of the characters makes them immediately recognizable to an audience. It’s very hard sometimes to relate to classic literature as it feels distant, of a different time, a different world, but there’s something about this story that is so easy to connect with, it’s about emotions, whether they were experienced thousands of years ago, or today.”


Music > Yanni thanks fans for standing by him August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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Five months after music superstar Yanni’s girlfriend accused him of roughing her up, the new age artist has thanked his fans for their unfaltering support during his moments of crisis.

Expressing his gratitude, the Greek musician is happy that “the nightmare is coming to an end.” Yanni said that Sylvia Barthes’ accusation, which forced the celebrated musician to spend 11 hours in a Florida jail, had been a very ‘painful experience’ for the musician and his family.

“It was a very painful incident for me and my family. She just lost it for a second. I wasn’t afraid for my life or anything. Sometimes couples get into arguments and it escalates a little too much,my fans have been very supportive. I have not gotten one single negative comment when I’m walking around. People walk up to me, look me in the eye, and tell me, ‘I believe you,'” he added.

In March (06) Barthes called 911, claiming that Yanni had hit her at his Florida home. But Yanni steadfastly declared his innocence and all charges against him were later dropped.  

As the spit turns the Greek way August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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It makes me tingle just to think about it.

Which more or less explains why I was in food heaven last Thursday, just hours before the opening of Greek Fest, an 11-day celebration at the Hellenic Centre on Prince of Wales Drive. There, I happily surveyed the barbecue pit where no fewer than 10 lovely lambs were gently being turned (over and over and over again) for a most tasty meal on the first day of festivities.

He begins by inserting the skewer up the length of the beast, up against the backbone and protruding through the head. It is secured at each end by large forks, just like your barbecue rotisserie at home. The metal spit is secured to the spine in two places with ordinary muffler clamps, which are screwed tight with wing-nuts. The feet and legs are both tightly bound to the rod using thick butcher twine to keep the carcass from flopping around.

Volunteer Taso Kousouris showed me how to season the inside cavity with a generous sprinkle — say, two or three handfuls — of a mixture of salt and pepper. Into each cavity goes a half lemon, cut into four pieces, and four or five whole cloves of garlic. Now seasoned, the cavity is sewn shut along the entire length using the same thick butcher twine. (Use a bent metal kebab skewer with an eye at one end to thread like a needle.) Finally, paper towel is shoved inside the bottom opening of the carcass — you know where — to prevent juices and steam from escaping.

Briquettes are placed at each end of the carcass, below the hind feet and head. No charcoal is placed under the main body because that would cook the rib section too quickly, and dripping fat could cause unwanted flare-ups. The securely fastened lamb is hoisted into position, about 16 to 18 inches (43 cm) away from the hot coals, and the electric motor is turned on. The rotation of the rotisserie ensures even cooking and allows the meat to baste itself with its own juices. Properly done, the meat should develop a smoked flavour and a perfect, crispy crust. At the rotisserie, Louis Romanzas likes to place thick cardboard around the perimeter of the charcoal box to keep the wind from blowing away precious heat.

Now, you wait. A whole lamb should take 31/2 to four hours to cook completely. Check periodically to ensure the coals are still good at either end, and two or three times while roasting you sprinkle seasoning over the outside as it turns. You’ll need about 2 cups (500 mL) of seasoning, which includes three parts dry oregano, one-half part dry parsley, one part salt and one part pepper. (Family recipes vary, but this is the basic idea.)

Hellenic Banquet Centre > 1315 Prince of Wales Drive, South of Baseline Road.

But read the whole story and view the accompanying pictures at > As the spit turns

Classic works of modern art in an Athens venue August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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New gallery in heart of Kolonaki offers diversity

The red frame of a window display on Lykavittou Street in Kolonaki will catch someone’s eye.

The display belongs to the Down Town Art Gallery Shop, a recently opened art venue and an unusual spot designed at the opposite end of the conventional, all-white ice-cube-shaped galleries. Owned by the jeweler and art collector Alexis Mariathanakis and with gallerist Nikos Stathoulis as artistic counsel, Down Town Art Gallery Shop is a home and showroom for modern and contemporary art.

The gallery, which is named after Stathoulis’s Down Town gallery in Psyrri (one of the first galleries to open in downtown Athens), is not run as a conventional art gallery with temporary exhibitions and one-man shows. Instead, it pivots on its rich permanent art collection, which ranges from works by the great classics of modern art, including Picasso, Matisse, Max Ernst, Joan Miro and Alexander Calder, to Greek artists such as Yiannis Tsarouchis, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Alexis Akrithakis and Takis and works by emerging contemporary artists.

The diversity is apparent. Creations by Paul Thek and Andy Warhol, including the Warhol-signed work of the Marilyn Monroe image published in the late 1970s, and a series of original lithographs by Ernst are presented in the same space as those by emerging artists such as Anastassia Vassileiou, Vangelis Vassileiou, Evripidis and Nikos Nomikos.

Many of the classics come from the Alexander Iolas collection. Stathoulis, who is Iolas’s biographer, recognized the authenticity of these works and helped track down many of them around the world to bring them to the gallery. The mark of Iolas is evident on one side of the gallery, which is taken up by a large window display containing documents and photographs of Iolas. The elegant catalogs and publications that Iolas made for the artists that he represented (Max Ernst, Man Ray, Alfred Otto Wols, Rene Magritte, Roberto Echaurren Matta, Niki de Saint Phalle) are presented in a separate display case.

The official opening of the gallery, which is planned for November, is meant as a tribute to this great Greek art collector and coincides with the 20th anniversary of his death.

Besides the impact that some of the works have, what is also striking is the design of the gallery. Gray and red tones and carefully designed lighting that can be adjusted for various effects help create a relaxed atmosphere and warm environment that pull in the viewer and generate a sense of ease.

The extended operating hours of the gallery (it will be open until 10 p.m.) strengthen the cool profile of the gallery.

While the valuable works in this gallery would categorize it as a high-end venue, the place remains friendly and open to visitors.

Located in Kolonaki, in the heart of the neighborhood’s commercial area and next to some of the neighborhoods traditional coffeeshops, Down Town Art Gallery Shop is a welcome and fresh addition to the city’s art scene.

Some of the city’s trendiest gallerists have closed down and downtown Athens is no longer the capital’s artistic center. With that in mind, we should watch with interest to see how this new venue establishes itself in the urban gallery scene.

Down Town Art Gallery Shop (15 Lykavittou street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3640223). The website, www.athensdowntownart.com, will be up and running in September.

Music > Goran Bregovic in Preveza and Crete August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Music Life Greek.
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Goran Bregovic in Preveza and Crete with his boisterous Wedding and Funeral Band > Goran Bregovic will stir things up on Friday and August 21.

One of the most popular foreign musicians working in Greece, Goran Bregovic, will be giving two concerts over the next few days: The first is on Friday at the Municipal Garden Theater in Preveza, northwestern Greece, before heading for the Pancretan Stadium in Iraklion, Crete, on August 21.

The musician will be appearing with his Wedding and Funeral Band, performing select pieces from his extensive repertoire of compositions for film scores and other recordings. The Preveza concert will open with the Greek Darnakes band, which was awarded third prize at the Ljubljana International Ethnic Music Festival.

In Crete, Bregovic will be joined by one of the island’s most popular traditional musicians, Psarantonis, whose compositions for the lyre have brought the old-fashioned musical instrument renewed popularity among young Greeks.

Bregovic was born in Sarajevo to a Serbian mother and Croat father. During his teenage years, he led a number of bands and later met filmmaker Emir Kusturica, at the time a nascent auteur and bassist in a rock group. Bregovic penned the scores to two of Kusturica’s greatest screen hits, «The Time of the Gypsies» and «Arizona Dream,» both of which were extremely popular in Greece.

Hot Greek Dip > Recipe August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (1 to 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients until well mixed. Place the mixture in a disposable 9-inch aluminum pie pan.

3. Place the pan on the grill and cook, uncovered, for 7 to 9 minutes, until the dip is heated through and bubbly.

NOTE: This is great served immediately but you can also make it in advance and keep it warm on the side of the grill.

Traditional Greek fare and culture available to all August 16, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greek fest prep well under way
Thousands of koulouria cookies, other goodies have been produced to feed festival crowds

Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 97 Walcott St., Pawtucket, will hold its 79th annual Greek Festival on Friday, August 18, from 5 to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20, from noon to 10 p.m.

Traditional Greek food, all cooked in the parish community center, will be available for sale. There will be an agora, a marketplace with imported giftware, jewelry and foods. The Stratis family will prepare and serve the Friday evening menu of Greek family recipes. A Kafenio will serve Greek coffee, baklava sundae, ouzo and other specialty dishes. A meze plate will include stuffed grape leaves, octopus, cheese and olives.

New this year, the ladies of the Philoptochos (Charity) Society will demonstrate the art of baking with phyllo dough on Saturday and Sunday. They will prepare Baklava (honey-nut pastry) and Spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese), and Kataifi, a shredded dough.

Admission is free. For information, call the church at (401) 725-3127.

Although the 33rd annual Indianapolis Greek Festival isn’t until September 8 and 9, the baking has already begun.
Parishioners of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, site of the fest, have been hard at work churning out cookies and other goodies that feed hungry crowds of up to 15,000. One recent Saturday alone, volunteers whipped up 800 dozen koulouria cookies, buttery concoctions twisted into braids and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Food plays a major role in the festival, from calamari and shish kebabs to spanikopita and gyros. Baklava and kourambiethes, a Greek shortbread cookie dusted in confectioners’ sugar, will appeal to the sweet tooth.

• Where: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 4011 N. Pennsylvania St.
• Admission: $5; children younger than 12 free with adult
• Information: (317) 252-9966, www.IndyGreekFest.org