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Target Margin goes Greek for 2006-07 season January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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The Obie Award-winning company Target Margin Theater will produce an Ancient Greece-themed 2006-07 season, including adaptations of Euripides, Sophocles and Plato and a new version of Aristotle’s “Poetics” written and performed by David Greenspan.

The season begins with As Yet Thou Art Young and Rash, an adaptation of Euripides’ Suppliants directed by TMT’s artistic director David Herskovits at the Ohio Theatre January 9-February 3, 2007. The cast includes Satya Bhabha, Mia Katigbak, Mary Neufeld, Tina Shepard and Stephanie Weeks.

Next on tap is the TMT Greek Laboratory, which will include a series of events, including an adaptation of Sophocles’ The Women of Trachis by Kate E. Ryan, directed by Alice Reagan, from January 18–February 3 at the Ohio. The cast will feature Sara Buffamanti, Todd d’Amour, Birgit Huppuch, Jodi Lin, Rebecca Lingafelter, Debargo Sanyal, Heidi Schreck and Indika Senanayake. For other lab events visit www.targetmargin.org/greeklabs.html.

Greenspan’s work, The Argument, based on Aristotle’s “Poetics” and the essays of Gerald F. Else, will be directed by Herskovits at The Kitchen in June 2007. Also directed by Herskovits at The Kitchen in June 2007 will be Dinner Party, based on Plato’s “Symposium.”

Target Margin’s productions include Mamba’s Daughters, which received a Obie, and its recent production of Goethe’s Faust.

The Ohio Theatre is at 66 Wooster Street in Manhattan. The Kitchen is at 512 19th Street. For more information visit www.targetmargin.org For tickets call (212) 352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com.

Athens link uplifting city’s culture, park January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Nashville’s Parthenon will soon have closer relations with its much older Greek sibling, if city officials have their way.

With the upcoming completion of a new Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, officials at both Parthenons are in talks to create linked exhibits, cultural performances and Webcams and blogs linking the two facilities. Some of these developments could be seen as soon as within the next year. Nashville’s Parthenon is the world’s only full-scale replica of the ancient structure in Athens.

Those connected with the project describe it as a “win” for both Nashville and Athens. The internationalization of the Parthenon with ancient exhibits from the Acropolis could take Centennial Park to a new level of visibility. And visitors to Athens stand to benefit from seeing a replica of the Parthenon, complete with a statue of Athena, just as it looked when the original structure was built for worship.

“Every time you talk to a competitor, and every city is a competitor, it has to make sense,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We can both reach new and different audiences with our message with a partnership.”

Susan Jones, chair of the Metro Park Board, said there is an opportunity to have a “real connection from Nashville to Athens.” “Athens is considered the birthplace of European civilization,” Jones said. “You really can’t estimate the cultural and tourism impact of that kind of relationship.”

Talks between the two Parthenons were formalized in December, when a delegation of Nashvillians including Jones and Spyridon, as well as other Parks Department and Metro representatives, traveled to Athens for a three-day trip to meet with the Greek Minister of Tourism, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and Museum officials. Also on the trip were George Anderson of Friends of Centennial Park & The Parthenon, Mayor Bill Purcell and Barbara Tsakirgis of Vanderbilt University’s Classical Studies Department.

“They were very receptive,” Anderson said. “It really turned out to be more than we expected.”

In addition to cultural and educational benefits of shared exhibits with the Acropolis and links to the people of Greece, the project could help market Nashville as a tourist destination. International visitors currently make up 3 percent of Nashville’s 10,000,000 visitors annually, or approximately 300,000 people, Spyridon said. With valuations of the Euro currently making U.S. travel relatively cheap for Europeans, it’s a good time to market Nashville overseas.

While the Nashville Parthenon alone, even after it is enhanced with links to Athens, might not draw the bulk of Nashville’s tourists, Spyridon said the project stands to enhance the city’s international profile, diversify the music industry brand and extend the stays of visitors.

“I think the contributions are immeasurable, because it is such an urban, iconic park for Nashville and speaks to the city’s educational heritage,” Spyridon said. “We won’t stray from our brand, but we’ll broaden the perception of our brand.” 

‘Agamemnon’s Daughter’ January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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‘Agamemnon’s Daughter’ by Ismail Kadare > Winner of the 2005 Man Booker international prize

Ismail Kadare is customarily hailed as Albania’s greatest writer. This is probably true, but since few other writers from that isolated nation are even known to the rest of the world, it’s not all that much of a compliment.

Perhaps it would be more apt to point out that Kadare won the 2005 Man Booker International Prize and that he is one of Europe’s most consistently interesting and powerful contemporary novelists, a writer whose stark, memorable prose imprints itself on the reader’s consciousness.

But whose prose is it that we are reading? Since few readers and even fewer critics know Albanian, we know Kadare through his translators. And the word indeed has to be doubly plural here since David Bellos has translated into English the novella and two stories that make up “Agamemnon’s Daughter” not from the original Albanian but from translations into French by two different hands. Translation is always a vexed topic, how literal should it be? Is fidelity to the original phraseology more important than belletristic style?, but double the translations, and the problems become redoubled. As the first translator alters the text from which he is working, so will the next. So, all you followers of the auteur theory, who gets the credit line here?

Certainly the English-language prose on these pages flows easily and thoughts, images and perceptions are acutely rendered, and in the end it is to them that the reader will gravitate, grateful in this case that he has been enabled to glimpse into a closed society and beyond that into some eternal human verities. Much of Kadare’s earlier work focused upon the clash in his native land between ancient feudal customs and the harsh modernizing scrubbing brush of Communist ideology and practice. It was sometimes hard to tell where his sympathies lay. Indeed, how do you choose between a ruthless totalitarian autocracy on the one hand and a system based on endlessly simmering tribal feuds and endless cycles of vengeance and revenge? A good artist goes where his heart and mind take him and in all three parts of “Agamemnon’s Daughter,” you see a writer who consistently affirms the humane and humanistic and champions the individual over a system that is inimical to his core values and desires, whatever that system may be.

Albania may be a tiny nation that was cut off from much of the outside world during the Cold War and more isolated than most of Europe throughout its history, but it sits at the crossroads of many great civilizations. The three works that make up this book each reflect one of these. The title story takes place in a gray, faceless, totalitarian society dominated by a Leader, but it is imbued throughout its pages with the ancient Greek myths of the huge empire that once dominated it. “Half dreaming, I took out a book I had just read, and flicked through the pages again,” the narrator says as he muses on the topic of sacrifice. “It was ‘The Greek Myths’ by Robert Graves…. Why had the parallel occurred to me? Because Suzana had used the same word? Because her father, like Iphigenia’s, was a high dignitary of the state? Or simply because Graves’s book had kept me buried in the world of myth for several days?”

An Albanian writer evokes an English one to raise their shared heritage of Greek myth: a truly European moment, a cross-cultural exercise of significant fecundity.

The second piece in the book, “The Blinding Order,” looks at the Ottoman Empire, which, long after the Greek, held sway in this corner of the world. The sophistication and the elegant cruelty that were hallmarks of that particular civilization are chillingly evoked by Kadare in a 19th century conversation between a man, Gjon, and his wife, about using sunlight to blind as a means of torture.

” ‘Neat work, you can’t deny it,’ Gjon said. ‘No blood, no branding iron, none of those barbaric devices … ‘

” ‘Well, I think it’s the cruelest way of doing it,’ Gjon’s wife said. ‘To be basking in the light of the sky and the sea, and then to be suddenly deprived of both!’

” ‘Would you prefer the opposite means, being blindfolded and locked in a cell for three months?’ Gjon asked.

” ‘I think it might be less painful overall,’ she replied. ‘It would give you time to get used to darkness.’ ”

This is life in such a society then and, in some places, now: Which form of torture is the more palatable?

Kadare’s final story, “The Great Wall,” deals with yet another clash of civilizations that took place when Tamerlane, the Central Asian conqueror of the 14th century who famously rode in triumph through Persepolis and went on toward China, burst upon the world. In this tale Kadare gives everything he’s got in his arsenal, which in his case is a lot. Life, death, the afterlife, heaven, hell, the shade world, even Jesus Christ. Conquerors come and go, people live and die, the Great Wall stonily endures.

The magnificent achievement of all three parts of “Agamemnon’s Daughter” is to evoke so much in the way of myth and historical inevitability and still leave the reader more than ever convinced of the unquenchable resilience of the human spirit.

Greek Myth parallels life January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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Creative father/son writing team weaves tales of ancient Greece into their story of three families of middle and high school youth plagued with poverty, personal loss and handicaps, who are learning to overcome life’s obstacles.

Steve Reed, two times “Teacher of the Year” in Phoenix, AZ, and son Aaron Reed, a designer of private education programs for student with alternative learning styles, have combined talents to write the inspiring young-adult novel “The Myth of the Summer Moon” (Baker Trittin Press, 2006, ISBN 0978731603).

A depression era, backwoods mountain community in Appalachia becomes the setting for a group of middle/high school children who were forced through circumstances, to grow up before their time. Merging themes of grief and loss with courage and faith, this character driven novel creatively uses Greek legend to support the storyline, and strengthen the timeless quality of the character’s personal journeys.

“The Myth” tells the story of Jimmy, a quiet sensitive boy, who loves his big sister Frankie. Since their mother’s death, she has taken on role of caregiver and protector to her younger brother. Jimmy falls innocently in love with a Greek girl named Helena, who is extremely shy and deemed “slow,” making her a target for town bullies. Many other pertinent characters punctuate the Reed’s story including grandparents, the spiteful Zach and his gang, Helena’s sister Gabriella, and Titus, the massive bull who lends an endearing, competitive commonality between himself and Frankie, helping bring an ancient Minoan legend to the mountains of Appalachia.

The trials of life come alive in this narrative from growing up in a single parent home, to social acceptance and personal insecurities, through the interactions of the “good” characters pitted against their adversaries. Gang behavior and the ills of prejudice polarize the children, making for an interesting platform on which to build the Reed’s message of the importance of developing strength of character by standing up for what you believe in, and rising to challenges as they come.

“The Myth” rejuvenates the paradigm of an extended family lifestyle where multiple generations live together and everyone takes care of each other. Readers are drawn into this unique circle of relationships while bearing witness to the characters’ significant personal transformations. Geared loosely towards the faith-based reader, a strong wholesome perspective makes this book highly appealing for a crossover market at any age.

The Reed’s masterful blend of classic literature, ancient legend, and contemporary poetry graciously punctuates this unforgettable story about the gritty realities of life, and the similarities we all face.

Steve Reed taught high school in Detroit for 16 years before teaching Middle School in Singapore and Phoenix. He is a graduate of Easter Michigan University and is currently enrolled at Trinity College seeking a Ph.D. in Cultural Theology and Hermeneutics.

Aaron Reed, obtained his BS in Written Communication from Eastern Michigan University, and aside from teaching English in Japan for a year, has focused the past ten years on designing and implementing private education programs. He is actively involved in global ministry which includes traveling to Ecuador, Thailand, and Ghana.

“The Myth of the Summer Moon” (Baker Trittin Press, 2006, ISBN 0978731603), can be purchased at online bookstores, or visit http://reedwriters.com

My big Greek dining experience in Manila, Philippines January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Lovers of Mediterranean food all agree that Greek cuisine is relatively simple, organic and extraordinarily healthy. No one knows this better than Filipino-Greek Geni Psinakis, who owns and manages Mati.

Located at the posh Power Plant Mall in Rockwell Center, Mati, defined as a blue glass amulet resembling an eye, serves authentic Greek dishes amidst a very cozy and homey ambiance. Its customers range from dating couples to families celebrating special occasions. Even Psinakis’ father is a regular customer of the restaurant.

“Mati is the only authentic Greek restaurant in town,” shares Psinakis, “First of all, the people behind the restaurant, from the concept, the recipes, the service training, are all Greeks.”

Psinakis assures that all the crucial ingredients, from the water, the wines and spirits, to their spices, tomato paste, cheeses and halva, are imported from Greece. The olive oil, Mati uses Sparta Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil, winner of the 2006 Superior Taste Award from Europe’s International Taste and Quality Institute, and olives, which are the trademark of Greek dishes, are also imported. Even the staff have been trained to pronounce the names of the dishes perfectly so that guests can feel they are basking in Greek hospitality and service. Head chef, Jeremiah Go, has also undergone extensive training from Greece on top of his studies in Switzerland and in the Culinary Institute of America in Sta. Helena, California.

Mati takes pride in its core concept of “feeding everyone.” It boasts of huge servings that are perfect for Filipinos who love to share and eat together. The tables and chairs, themselves are arranged in way that makes families feel that they have never left their homes.

Mati’s bestsellers are the mezedes (starters). The sampler plate consists of a selection of five popular dips such as tzatziki, yogurt cucumber and garlic dip; tirokafteri, spicy feta cheese dip; fava, pureed fava beans dip; taramosalata, cod roe dip; and the well-loved melitzanosalata, smoked eggplant dip. The spanakopita, is also a favorite. It consists of spinach and feta filo, which is a bit crispy on the outside and surprisingly moist and a little sweet on the inside.

Highly recommended is the Greek salata (salad) or horiatiki, which consists of refreshingly healthy and delicious tomatos, cucumbers, capers, parsley, oregano, Κalamata olives and feta cheese served with red wine vinaigrette. Psinakis also recommends the tangy salata me kyvous fetas, which consists of fried feta with arugula, mesclun and raspberry vinaigrette.

For the main dishes or kyria piata, there’s the famous moussaka, which is baked layers of eggplant with ground beef and bechamel sauce; and garides saganaki pasta, which is spaghetti with prawns, feta and tomato sauce. This dish is particularly good for seafood lovers. Another must-try is the popular chicken souvlaki, which is the Greek version of chicken barbecue and consists of grilled skewered chicken and vegetables.

Psinakis also suggests the halibut with mushroom risotto, pan-fried halibut with Portobello mushroom risotto and white truffle oil. Finish off your gastronomic experience with Mati’s all-too sinful desserts (glyka), which according to one member of the press, “puts back all the calories we’ve lost.” Try the Mati chocolate sin, which is warm, flourless, Valrhona chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream; the equally famous baklava, which is layers of filo and toasted almonds, pistachios and walnuts; and the latest addition to the menu, halva ice cream, which is crushed sesame seed with honey.

The Cup-Bearer January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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The Cup-Bearer, a Cycladic figurine of unknown provenance dating between 2800-2200 B.C., is displayed at the N. P. Goulandris Foundation-Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens.

A new discovery of smashed marble figurines on an uninhabited Aegean Sea islet has shed new light on the mysterious Cycladic civilization, whose strikingly modern figurines are prized exhibits in museums and collections worldwide.

The Cup-Bearer, Greek Cycladic figurine