jump to navigation

Constantinos Beta > “2” February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
comments closed

Those who have gone along to see the dance production “2”, a box office hit now being performed, agree that the stage project and its music, written by local electronica pioneer Constantinos Beta, formerly of Stereo Nova group, go hand-in-hand.

Or, as the production’s choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou, the man responsible for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Ceremonies, put it: “Constantinos’s music offered form and content to what I had in mind.” I still haven’t seen “2”, the performance, but have listened to this exceptional CD numerous times.

I’ve fallen for the synthesizers, the digital sounds, as well as the guitar’s melancholy strokes. I’ve surrendered to the music’s calm, sweet, and trippy atmosphere. I also respect the sparseness. There’s nothing excessive here. And I’ve succumbed to the charm of one of Constantinos Beta’s most beautiful works, a work that stands on its own, regardless of the stage production.

Latin hip-hop Cuban act in Athens this Saturday February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
comments closed

In Athens this Saturday, Madrid-based Orishas’s work depicts their native land

Orishas, a Latin Grammy Award Winner last year, brings its fresh-sounding Latin-hip hop to the Greek capital’s Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center this Saturday night. Though based in Spain, the group’s songs are about its native Cuba.

The rapid rise to fame by Cuban Latin-rap act Orishas, back in Athens for a performance this Saturday after last year’s successful visit, almost reads like a fairytale.

The four-piece group, which was formed in Paris in the late 90s by Cuban expatriates who met in the French capital during a student exchange program, later relocated to Madrid. Shortly afterward, in 2000, there was an innovative debut album that added another branch to hip-hop’s blossoming tree, the latest offshoot bearing Latin-music fruit. Their similar-minded next couple of albums drew the masses, and, last year, Orishas was awarded the Latin Grammy for best hip-hop band.

With a centralized political system being preserved in Cuba, a country where the hip-hop scene is kept under close watch by the state, there could, of course, be a little politics mixed in with the Grammy musical institution’s recognition of the expatriate Cuban act. But, there is no doubting the wider recognition by fans around the world.

Cuban hip-hop is divided into state-sponsored and independent scenes. The former, which leaves out the style’s rebellious thoughts and feelings, enjoys state support for shows and recordings. The other form, a sidelined scene of struggling artists, acts as a vent for frustrated Cuban youth.

Working abroad, Orishas avoided the entire thing. Ironically, the expatriate act is at the forefront of the Cuban hip-hop scene. Their work focuses on issues and thoughts that concern their native land. The quartet’s international rise has relied mostly on its music and countless lively shows from city to city, no marketing gimmicks involved.

Following the debut album’s creative breakthrough, Orishas’s second album, “Emigrante,” released in 2002, and its follow-up, “El Kilo,” released three years later, rounded up the masses and contributed greatly to hip-hop’s wider acceptance in Cuba, where the style, catering mostly to the needs of angry young artists, had yet to break into the mainstream. Along their course of increasing commercial appeal, Orishas has managed to hold on to its early hard-core fans.

For listeners in other lands, Orishas’s work serves as a historical, sociological and musicological lesson that can be partied to. That isn’t a bad combination.

Oriashas are playing this Saturday at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center, 254 Pireos Street, Building No 6, Athens. Tickets cost 35 euros and can be purchased from www.i-ticket.gr, Metropolis music stores and Tickethouse, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens.

Greek tourism is gaining favor, notably in the USA February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
comments closed

Conference hears about difficulties in evening out seasonal fluctuations

Tourist arrivals from the USA to Greece are expected to rise further this year, boosted by the addition of flights to and from Athens by two major American carriers, Continental and US Airways, an Athens International Airport (AIA) official told a conference in the capital, echoing the views of the government.

Giorgos Karamanos, AIA’s marketing executive, added that last year the new flights by Delta resulted in a 400 percent rise in the number of American tourists who chose Greece for their holidays. He was addressing the third International Meeting Industry Conference (IMIC), held in Athens last week and titled “Marketing Destinations.”

The event also heard Giorgos Drakopoulos, general manager of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, refer to the problem of seasonal tourism in Greece and the difficulty in creating infrastructures for tourism throughout the year. He did note, however, that Greece ranks 11th in the world in revenues and 16th in arrivals. On the issue of golf, he said this form of tourism could be a significant boost, once institutional problems are overcome.

Deborah Luhrman, a crisis management expert representing the World Tourism Organization, presented the WTO data which illustrated the rising course of Greek tourism in 2006. Nevertheless, according to Alexandros Kouris of the PRC Group, Greece should not rest on its laurels as the local tourism product relying on the sea-and-sun model has new strong competitors, such as Croatia.

Kouris also referred to Greece’s limited Internet presence, when a recent survey at AIA showed the Internet to be the second most important advertising outlet for any country’s tourism with 14.1 percent of responders choosing their holiday destination via the Net. Advertising spots, billboards and print adverts are last on the list with just 1 percent. The list is topped by friends’ recommendations (42 percent).

One of the world’s oldest known dramas February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
comments closed

One of the world’s oldest known dramas, is the Greek tragedy “The Suppliants” by Aeschylus, dated about 463 B.C., almost two and a half thousand years earlier.

In Aeschylus’ play, 50 Egyptian sisters flee to Greece with their father to escape marriages, prearranged by contract, with their 50 cousins. Pursued by the jilted cousins, they are forced by the Greek king to honor the contract, but on the wedding night every sister but one stabs her bridegroom to death.

Great Greek tragedy, examining guilt, duty, love, honor, courage, and submission to the will of the gods.

In Greek drama, one overlooks the artificial plot devices, the unbelievable situations, the off-the-wall coincidences, the sudden about-face changes of character. Long speeches, slow delivery, long silences, ponderous philosophizing, all are quite traditional and expected in ancient Greek tragedy.

Euroleague’s Greek flavour February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball.
comments closed

Greece’s National Basketball Team won the 2005 European Championship and then knocked off Team USA in the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship in Japan before losing to Spain in the final, ranking second.

Even though Greek players have not yet been able to establish themselves in the NBA as other Europeans have, the winners of the 2007 Euroleague title will undoubtedly have a Greek flair to it. First off, the Final Four will be played in Athens from May 4-6.

But three of the final 16 teams, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and Aris, are Greek and another five clubs have key players from Greece’s national team.

The leader of the bunch is Greek play-maker Theodoros Papaloukas, who is clearly the heart and soul of the defending Euroleague champions CSKA Moscow. The Russian giants are favourites to repeat the crown as Ettore Messina again has his team loaded with talented veterans who know how to win.

Papaloukas should be in the NBA right now, but no NBA team has been willing to pay the Greek living legend the money he wants, and rightfully deserves as fans of Team USA should know after he picked the Americans apart last September in Japan.

Another top favourite for the Euroleague crown is another Russia club Dynamo Moscow, which also has strong ties to Greece.

Greek national team big men Antonis Fotsis and Lazoros Papadopoulos are pillars of the Dynamo side. And Dusan Ivkovic coached 12 years in Greece for five different clubs, winning the 1997 Euroleague title with Olympiakos, the 1993 Saporta Cup with PAOK and the 2000 Saporta Cup with AEK.

In addition, Nikos Zisis has played a critical role for Italian club Benetton Treviso, while Greek captain Michalis Kakiousis plays for Spanish giants Barcelona. And Lottomatica Roma have been helped dramatically by 22-year-old Greek center Loukas Mavrokefalidis, who was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves last spring in the second round.

Greeks may not have been able to infiltrate the NBA, but they are clearly gods in European basketball.

Two anti-viral drugs should be stockpiled > Greek researchers February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
comments closed

A combination of anti-viral drugs should be stockpiled to fight a potential flu pandemic, say researchers in Greece.

There are two classes of drugs that are effective against influenza viruses: the ion channel inhibitors, amantadine and rimantadine, and the neuraminidase inhibitors, oseltamivir and zanamivir.

Although ion channel inhibitors are effective against several strains of influenza viruses, they are not being widely stockpiled for a future flu pandemic because they cause unacceptable side effects and their use is associated with a rapid emergence of resistance, according to an article in the British Medical Journal.

However, researchers argue that combining the two types of drugs may reduce side effects and the risk of resistance, and could play an important role against a future flu pandemic.

In laboratory tests, the combination of ion channel and neuraminidase inhibitors reduced the emergence of resistance and even prevented the emergence of resistant strains of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus, according to Sotirios Tsiodras, a lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Athens.

Regular naps are good for your heart > Greek researchers February 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
comments closed

A six-year study of nearly 24 000 Greek adults found those who regularly took midday naps lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by more than a third.

Those who made it a practice of napping at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to non-nappers. The relationship was even stronger among employed men as compared to unemployed men, with nappers apparently relieving some of the work-related stress that was bad for their hearts, researchers at the University of Athens Medical School and Harvard said.

The same conclusion could not be made for working women because of a limited number of subjects.

“We interpret our findings as indicating that among healthy adults, siesta, possibly on account of stress-releasing consequences, may reduce coronary mortality,” lead author Androniki Naska wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “This is an important finding because the siesta habit is common in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean region and Central America,” Naska wrote.

Occasional nappers were also less likely to die from heart problems than those who did not nap, but researchers said the benefit was not significant. Out of 792 men and women who died during the follow-up period, 133 died from heart disease. Roughly half the subjects, who ranged in age from 20 to 86 and were not ill when the study began, took naps.

Unlike previous studies that have produced mixed findings on the heart benefits of napping, this study was based on people who died from heart problems, not on those who survived and would be more likely to nap.

The latest study also controlled for the effect from smoking, diet and exercise. For example, Greeks are more likely to partake of a Mediterranean diet heavy in fish and nuts known to be healthy for the heart.

“If our results are valid, if they were to be confirmed, the benefit of naps would be comparable (to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet),” said the study’s senior author, Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health. “However, the effects of the Mediterranean diet, of red wine, and exercise are all proven. Whereas with the siesta, we only have this study,” he said in an interview.

“It would be foolish to claim that a nap was preferable to physical activity,” he said. Trichopoulos said another factor to consider is the so-called waking effect, where the risk of heart attack rises in the morning. Though not conclusive, some scientists believe the higher risk relates to awakening suddenly, triggering a surge in hormone secretions and blood pressure.

It was not known if waking suddenly from a nap posed a similar risk, but Trichopoulos downplayed it.

“I would say people who have been taking naps should continue to take them,” he said. “Here you have a benefit from an activity that has no side effects,” he added, assuming an understanding boss.