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Greek Eurostars in Mad TV charity auction December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Sakis, Helena, Constantinos et al

Mad TV, the most popular Greek TV music channel, organise for the fifth year running the Mad Love Auction. Each year, popular Greek and Cypriot singers offer personal belongings to be auctioned and the proceeds go to a chosen charity. This year it will be in aid of the international organisation Medecins sans frontiers.

Amongst the many artists whose personal items can be found in this year’s auction, are the former property of many Eurovision Song Contest stars. Helena Paparizou, the 2005 Eurovision winner, Sakis Rouvas, 3rd place in Istanbul and presenter of the contest in Athens, Konstantinos Christoforou, Cyprus 1996, 2002 as member of One boy band and 2005, Evridiki, Cyprus 1992 and 1994 and widely expected to represent Cyprus once more in Helsinki as well as many more. At the moment writing, there have been received more that 2.500 bids. Following you will find the full list of participating Eurostars:

*Helena Paparizou offers a precious bolero
*Sakis Rouvas, this lot contains a chance for the lucky winner to watch the filming of Sakis’ new film Alter Ego and participate in one scene. Also the winner will get one of the T-shirts Sakis’ character Stefanos wears in the film.
*Christos Dantis, composer of My number one has offered a hat of a high sentimental value.
*Konstantinos Christoforou offers his favorite leather belt.
*Pegky Zina, Greek NF finalist, a pair of Rayban glasses.
*Evridiki offers a dress she wore during her summer tour.
*Kaiti Garbi, Greece 1993, offers a Swarowski crystal studded T-shirt.
*Andreas Konstantinidis, Cyprus 2006 NF, offers one of his best loved sweatshirts and a pair of glasses.
*Michalis Chatzigiannis, Cyprus 1998, offers his favourite necklace together with his lucky ring.

This year, for the first time, the auction will be supported by two international music channels so that diaspora Greeks have a chance to bid as well. MadWorld (Mad/UBI World) in Australia and Blue Channel (Mad/ANT1 Satellite) in the USA.

Related Links > http://www.mad.tv/auction/2006/index.php?action=items

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Early tickets for Final Four sell out fast December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball.
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Euroleague Basketball announced Wednesday that the first lot of 2007 Final Four tickets, which were put on sale last Friday, sold out in just 34 hours.

That overwhelming demand led to some technical problems that will be resolved as soon as possible. A second lot of tickets will be put on sale shortly. The avalanche of interest in the first individual tickets that were made available to the public makes evident once again the huge popularity that the Final Four has gained and its status among the top world sports events. Euroleague Basketball reserves a portion of all tickets for the teams that eventually qualify to play at the Final Four.

The 2007 Final Four will be held from May 4 to 6 at OAKA Olympic Arena in Athens, Greece.

When running was not just sport but spectacle December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athens 2004 Olympics, Culture History Mythology.
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Running is among the oldest of all competitive sports, in fact, for the first centuries of the Olympics, it was the only sport in the games. Ancient Olympic competitors either sprinted or ran for distance, but the similarity to today’s events end there. Ancient poets and writers tell tales of runners, barefoot, bare and slick with oil, tripping each other, cutting corners, pulling competitors’ hair to get ahead and even of all-out fights erupting over who crossed the finish line first.

In the first Olympic games, back in 776 BC, the title of winner went to a man named Koroibos, a local cook who won the games’ benchmark 210-yard race. Koroibos and his fellow Olympians ran naked except for a layer of olive oil, which they slathered on from head to toe before and after any workout. This ancient locker-room oil was a grade or two lower than the stuff used in kitchens at the time. The oil prevented dehydration, and produced a nice, deep tan after a day in the sun.

Glistening with oil, the athletes would parade before the judges in a precontest display of fitness and beauty. In later years, after other sports were added to the games, some athletes would powder themselves too.

Evidently, the ancient judges cared as much about looks as they did about performance: An ideal runner, they felt, should be tall, but not too tall, have slim legs but well-built arms, and hands of average size. To the music of a flute, the runners stretched and warmed-up while spectators in the stands snacked on bread and wine.

Races began at a marble starting line, still visible in Olympia today. The runners’ starting postures would seem odd to most modern runners and spectators. They began races from a standing position, arms spread wide, toes hooked into grooves in the marble, putting one bare foot just inches in front of the other.

A rope was stretched taut at chest-height along the row of runners to keep them in line. Archeologists still haven’t quite figured out how it was released to signal the start of the race.

In the earliest games, runners sprinted west toward a temple to Zeus, to whom the games were dedicated, and who was reputed to have been a pretty good athlete himself. In later games, long after the temple was in ruins, runners continued their symbolic run to the west.

In longer races, they ran back and forth along the straight track, but they always ran their last lap in the direction of the god of gods. Even those long races capped out at a few miles, three, to be exact. In fact, the only “marathon” ever run in ancient Greece was done by a messenger who had to carry news of war from the city of Marathon to Athens, 26 miles away.

It was the one-lap sprint, called the stadion, that stole the show for the ancient Greeks and conferred immortality on its winner: The year’s games were named for the man who finished the stadion first. The winner also received pine branches and victory ribbons encircling his arms, a crown of olive branches cut from a sacred tree, a hail of music and flowers and an elaborate feast.

And then, of course, he had the knowledge that he had been smiled upon by Nike of Samothrace, long the ancient winged goddess of victory before she became the inspiration, thousands of years later, for a running shoe.

Greeks prepare for ‘Cross Day’ celebration December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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TARPON SPRINGS, US >  Greeks in this sponge-fishing capital, gravely concerned over the fate of their homeland, turned today to preparations for their colorful feast of the Epiphany celebration January 6.

While the festivities are in swing, the struggle of tiny Greece against Italy will not be forgotten. A campaign to raise $25,000 for Greek war relief is part of the program.

The observance, popularly known as Greek Cross Day, will be conducted by the Greek Orthodox Church, but clergymen of other faiths will participate and thousands of tourists and residents of cities and towns for miles around will come here for the occasion.

The Old World pageantry, enacted almost identically after the fashion of Epiphany celebrations on the shores of the Aegean Sea back through the centuries, will be climaxed by the annual cross ceremony in Spring Bayou.

There, the Right Rev. Athenagoras, bishop of the Boston diocese, resplendent in the colorful raiment of his high office, will mount a barge with other notables.

The bishop will toss a golden cross into the clear, sparkling waters of the bayou, and 24 bronzed young divers will seek to retrieve it. The one who is successful will be given the bishop’s blessing and, tradition has it, will enjoy good fortune in all he undertakes for the coming year.

A dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, will be released from the barge to flutter aloft toward the heavens.

Other solemn rites of the Epiphany observance will be conducted at little St. Nicholas Church.

The picturesque sponge fleet will be in harbor so that the fishermen, many of whom were born in Greece, may attend the services.

New Year’s carols sang for country’s leaders December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture.
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Members of societies and children’s groups sang New Year’s carols for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and party leaders on Sunday. The Prime Minister was visited for this purpose by members of the Pampontian Federation of Greece and the Federation of Pontian Societies of Southern Greece and the Islands, as well as by children’s groups.

Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou was visited at the party’s offices by children’s groups, including the Northern Epirus Forum and the Organisation of Women from Africa.

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga was visited at the party’s offices by members of the Epirus Confederation of Greece, while Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos visited the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre where children sang New Year’s carols for him.

Figuring out the Greek figurines December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Recent excavations may tell us more about the mysterious Cycladic people, a civilizationthat flourished 4,500 years ago.

Unlike its larger, postcard-perfect neighbors in the Aegean Sea, Keros is a tiny, rocky dump inhabited by a single goatherd. But the barren islet was of major importance to the mysterious Cycladic people, a sophisticated pre-Greek civilization with no written language that flourished 4,500 years ago and produced strikingly modern-looking artwork.

A few miles from the resorts of Mykonos and Santorini, Keros is a repository of art from the seafaring culture whose flat-faced marble statues inspired the work of 20th century masters Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore.

Indeed, more than half of all documented Cycladic figurines in museums and collections worldwide were found on Keros. Now, excavations by a Greek-British archaeology team have unearthed a cache of prehistoric statues, all deliberately broken, that they hope will help solve the Keros riddle.

When found, the white marble shards were jumbled close together like a pile of bleached bones, an elbow here, a leg there, occasionally a head. British excavation leader Colin Renfrew now says he believes Keros was a hugely important religious site where the smashed artwork was ceremoniously deposited.

“What we do have clearly is what must be recognized as the earliest regional ritual center in the Aegean,” he said.

This could put it on a par with the sacred islet of Delos, also in the Cyclades, revered from early antiquity until Christian times as the birthplace of Apollo, god of music and light. The finds on Keros date to about 1,500 years before the cult of Apollo started on Delos.

There is no evidence the Cycladic culture worshipped the Greek gods of Mount Olympus, who first appeared in the 2nd millennium B.C., and their beliefs are shrouded in mystery as no sanctuaries dating to before 2000 B.C. have been excavated.

However, some experts think the islanders’ religion was probably built round a fertility cult tied to the mother-goddess of Neolithic times, whose worship survived in various forms until Christian times in the Greco-Roman world. The Cycladic statues, many depicting pregnant women, may have played a part in such beliefs, and their deliberate destruction would have been a ritual act.

During excavations in the spring and early summer, Renfrew’s team found an undisturbed trove of figurines missed by looters who ransacked the islet in the 1950s and 1960s. They all had been deliberately smashed around 2500 B.C.

“We’ve got hundreds of marble bowl fragments and many dozens of figurine fragments, which don’t seem to fit together,” said Renfrew, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Cambridge University and ex-director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

“You have a head here, a single foot here, a torso there, some thighs here, and all very deliberately broken. Pieces have been deliberately broken again into small pieces.”

The Cycladic culture, a network of small, sometimes fortified farming and fishing settlements that traded with mainland Greece, Crete and Asia Minor, is best known for the elegant figurines: mostly naked, elongated figures with arms folded under their chests. It flourished in 3200-2000 B.C., then was eclipsed by Crete and Mycenaean Greece.

A group of broken figurines like that found this year is known from private collections formed after the looting. But for the first time, experts can now try to piece a story together from the subtle clues that treasure hunters destroy. The excavation disproves theories that the artifacts came from cemeteries, as no human bones were found, or were wantonly broken by modern vandals.

“We can say that the breakages are definitely old,” Renfrew said. “The figurines weren’t smashed there because then you’d find the bits together. And there’s differential weathering, which suggests that not only were they broken elsewhere and brought there, but also some of them became weathered elsewhere.”

Renfrew believes the figurines, some originally up to a yard high, may have come from sanctuaries throughout the Cyclades. And pottery finds indicate the site could have attracted worshippers from as far away as mainland Greece.

“Maybe at some point in some life cycle, the figurines were ritually smashed and taken to Keros in some ceremony,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to sort out what’s going on.”

Experts agree the figurines, which initially had details painted in bright colors, were highly prized in the early bronze age Cyclades, but still don’t understand what they were made for. About 1,400 have survived, although only 40 percent are of known origin, since looters destroyed evidence on the rest.

The figurines were made following a pattern that changed little during 800 years. They have been variously interpreted as depicting gods or venerated ancestors, serving as replacements for human sacrifice, grave goods, even toys.

While Renfrew believes they should not be associated with the cemeteries many were found in, he concedes there is little evidence of how they were used in everyday life.

“So there’s a lot we have yet to learn,” he said. “We may be on the path toward learning now.”

End of the year > some statistics December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Editorial.
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