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300 reasons to see the movie March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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Although the film does not accurately account the historical story of the Battle of Thermopylae, it does provide special effects that make up for it.

The film brings Miller’s comic series to life. The many opponents of Spartans are created with great imagination, from elephants and rhinos to giant-disfigured soldiers and crab-claw men.

The battle scenes featured in the film move in a slow motion manner as if the audience were flipping through the comic book itself.

This effect not only makes the facial expressions of the Spartan soldiers vivid, but it also makes the audience feel as though they could reach into the screen and feel the bloodshed and pain throughout the movie with their fingertips.

The lighting and shadowing of the film are very much like “Sin City,” another graphic novel based on Miller’s work. The half shadowed scenes appear with much frequency.

The film also does well in adapting the 480 B.C apparel.

There is something flashy for everyone. The soldiers are covered only with a small garment, showing off those hard working bodies, while the women are dressed in goddess like clothing that outline the curves of their lean bodies.

Finally the film provides a unique approach in telling the Spartan story.

The experienced Spartan soldier Dilios, played by David Wenham, narrates the entire film, further adding to the comic-like effect.

Whether you are a Spartan fanatic or you just want to get a sneak peak of what battle was like in an elite army, “300” does not disappoint. One thing is certain; it tells the story of a few good men who outnumbered thousands.

Onasis Estiatorion March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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When I was recommended this new place on Haddonfield Road, I invited a friend to lunch, and we headed to Onasis Estiatorion, across from the former Garden State Park site.

The place was recently renovated. The front doors are pretty light wood with glass, and the interior is the same. We sat on the Haddonfield Road side, shielded from the kitchen by large tanks of tropical fish. The tables are covered with white cloths, the chairs are light wood. The place settings are modern, in blue and white.

A basket of warm bread was served with oil for dipping. We sampled the bread, crusty outside, firm inside, but were careful not to fill up. We skipped the appetizers, although the calamari, “apple-wood fire grilled in garlic, herbs, and greens,” sounded wonderful.

Instead, my friend ordered the Greek salad, a large plate of romaine with tomato wedges, olives, cucumbers, red onion and feta cheese. There were stuffed grape leaves, dolmades, on top. It was tossed in a homemade dressing that was a little too tart for her taste.

I selected the special soup, apple lentil. What a wonderful choice! It was served piping hot, and I had to wait for it to cool before I could enjoy the combination of flavors and the texture of the beans. Next time I’ll try the egg lemon soup, another fascinating combo.

The entrees were beautifully presented. I chose the Liga Apo Ola, a combination of traditional Greek favorites, moussaka, pastitsio and spanakopita. Moussaka is baked layers of ground meat, sliced eggplant, and tomato, topped with a bechamel sauce. Pastitsio is similar, layers of pasta, ground beef and tomato, topped with bechamel sauce. Spanakopita is like a spinach pie between a top and bottom shell of phyllo pastry. Neither was heavy as I had anticipated, and the bechamel on top was divine. The spanakopita, though, was my favorite. The light and flaky crusts were perfect with the spinach inside.

My friend really enjoyed the crabcake. It was shaped like an upright egg, and served with a mustard sauce. If you are a crabcake connoisseur and think you’ve found the best in the area, stop by Onasis Estiatorion. It has a real contender! This offering was a golden brown and nothing but lump. It was served with mashed potato and broccoli.

And then there was dessert. All the desserts are homemade. I was pleased with the Swiss Roll, a cake with walnuts and cream. The brownie, a dark-chocolate lover’s delight, was served warm with ice cream.

This was a very pleasant meal. The server was knowledgeable and personable, and we didn’t have to wait or ask twice for anything. Onasis is a professional, polished place that you will want to visit more than once.

Onasis Estiatorion (Onasis Restaurant), 800 Haddonfield Rd., Cherry Hill. Phone: 856-488-5888. Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday; dinner 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Related Links > www.onasis.com

British firm lose EC fetta battle March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece.
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The makers of the so-called Yorkshire Fetta or Pheta will have to axe the name of their cheese after losing a 10-year battle with European officials.

But Shepherds Purse Cheeses have hit back with a new name, Fine Fettle Yorkshire Cheese, to mark their long fight. Chief Executive Judy Bell said yesterday: “We wanted something that was true to Yorkshire and summed up the battle we fought for a decade.”

Fetta cheese was awarded Protected Designation of Origin according to EC Regulations, which means that only cheese made in Greece can be called Fetta. The decision by the European Commission was a controversial one. EU regulation 2081/92 says the term can only be applied to sheep or goats’ milk churned in Greece. In its wisdom, it concluded that only the feta cheese made in Greece may bear that name, as geographical-origin names that may only be used by producers in designated regions.

As much as fetta is true to Yorkshire, then HM the Queen is true to the Greeks! But let’s not forget that Brits have a tendency in proclaiming Greek National Heritage theirs, just like in the case of the Parthenon Marbles!

Further reading > here and here

Greek investments in Serbia March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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According to the Hellenic Business Association, Greek companies invested 2 billion euro in Serbia in the past ten years.

Greek companies have invested significant amounts in various sectors, from banking and telecommunications to food processing industry, cement production and tourism, the Association’s Chairman Stefanis Vafidis said.

Vafidis, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company’s Serbia General Manager, added the trade also improved, citing a 300 million euro figure in trade between Serbia and Greece. He added he was “particularly proud” of the fact the Greek companies operating in Serbia have created more than 25,000 jobs.

In a gathering marking the third anniversary of the Hellenic Business Association, Vafidis said those companies “believe in Serbia’s perspectives and future development”, and were ready to share their European Union experience, in order to assist a smooth transition in Serbia’s European integrations.

The Hellenic Business Association lists the National Bank of Greece, Alfa Bank, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Metal Globe and Veropoulos Supermarkets among its members.

Greeks in anti-war rallies March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics.
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Anti-war demonstrations were staged Saturday in central Athens and Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, marking world action day against war, as well as the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

A rally was held in central Athens, which was followed by a march to the U.S. Embassy. Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Stop the wars and occupations” and “Foreign armies must be removed from the Middle East,” and also called for money to be channeled to education and health instead of armaments. A concert was also staged, with anti-war songs, while brief greetings to the demonstrators were addressed by representatives of the participating organizations and movements.

Athens News Agency reported that in Thessaloniki, the protestors condemned the “invasion and occupation” of Iraq, demanding “an end to the war and withdrawal of the occupation forces.”

300 > The Few, the Proud and the Movie or the politics of dancing March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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The Politics and Drama of the 300
Marines love it. Iran calls it an act of war. ‘300’ is essentially a Spartan, yet lavish, videogame, but people take it seriously.

The New York Times and the government of Iran agree > the movie “300” has no redeeming social value.

The movie, which depicts the brave stand of 300 Spartans against a marauding army of hundreds of thousands of Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.,

“is about as violent as ‘Apocalypto’ and twice as stupid,” according to A. O. Scott, the Times’ movie critic.

The Iranians, who presumably don’t screen many Mel Gibson movies, were nonetheless even more offended. The movie is aimed at “humiliating” Iranians, who are descendants of the ancient Persians, said Javad Shamghardi, cultural adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

“300” is “part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological warfare aimed at Iranian culture.”

And this was the headline in the Ayan No newspaper > HOLLYWOOD DECLARES WAR ON IRANIANS.

To most moviegoers, “300” may or may not evoke the Clash of Civilizations, but it certainly is popular among young American men. The R-rated film grossed more than $70 million its opening weekend, the biggest March debut ever. The majority of the audience was under 25, though there were a surprising number of older viewers. They were probably not drawn by their interest in classical Greece. The bloody 2004 epics “Troy” and “Alexander” were expensive box-office duds. “300” was made for $65 million in a warehouse in Montreal, using B-list actors filmed against a blue screen, with the digital mayhem painted in. Aggressively marketed online, “300” may be none too cerebral, but it is disturbingly beautiful. It looks and feels like a lavish slash-and-chop videogame.

Still, the cultural significance and popular appeal of “300” reach beyond the thrill of watching pixilated decapitations. The Persians in “300” are the forces of evil: dark-skinned, depraved and determined to terrorize the West. The noble, light-skinned Spartans possess a fierce love of liberty, not to mention fierce six-pack abs. “Freedom is not free” says the wife of Spartan King Leonidas.

The movie was adapted from a graphic novel by Frank Miller (“Sin City”). Miller’s post-9/11 conservatism, he is reportedly working on a new graphic novel pitting Batman against Al Qaeda, titled “Holy Terror, Batman!”, suffuses his comic-book fantasies. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that “300” resonates for some real warriors.

300_conquers.jpg

At a theater near Camp Pendleton outside San Diego, cheers erupted at a showing of “300” the Los Angeles Times reported. The Marines “The Few, the Proud” identify with the outnumbered Spartans. In fact, “Gates of Fire”, a novelized version of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield, is on the Marine Corps commandant’s recommended reading list.

The analogy between the war on terror and the death struggle of ancient Greece with Persia has not been lost on some high administration officials either, especially Vice President Dick Cheney. A White House spokesman declined to comment about the film.

In the months after 9/11, a classics scholar named Victor Davis Hanson wrote a series of powerful pieces for the National Review Online, later collected and published as a book, “An Autumn of War”. Moved by Hanson’s evocative essays, Cheney invited Hanson to dine with him and talk about the wars the Greeks waged against the Asian hordes, in defense of justice and reason, two and a half millennia ago.

The movie is a cartoon, based very loosely on historical fact. The Persians are depicted as either effeminate or vicious abusers of women, while the Greeks are manly men. The bad guys in “300” also include corrupt Spartan politicians who refuse to send more troops to the battle. Some right-wing bloggers have likened them to liberal Democrats voting against the surge in Iraq.

Moviegoers may be a little confused by other cultural echoes in the film. The Spartan heroes seem to be in love with what one of them calls “a beautiful death.” Just like, er, Islamic suicide bombers.

300 > Artifacts from the real-life March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas, Movies Life.
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On the grave mound of 300 Spartans immortalized at Thermopylae in Greece is this haunting inscription >

Go tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by,
That here obedient to their words we lie

This epic battle against invading Persians in the late summer of 480 B.C. was essentially a suicide mission. For three days the warriors under King Leonidas held off at least 600,000 invaders of Xerxes at a narrow pass northwest of Athens.

The new movie, “300” depicts the hand-to-hand combat in gory detail. While the movie rakes in big money at the theaters, rare relics from that very battlefield, and other objects from the rival city states of Athens and Sparta, are on display at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York through May 12.

300_artifacts1.jpg  Arrowheads from the battlefields of the Persian Wars

Arrowheads and javelin tips from Thermopylae are “the most poignant objects of all – these could be the very ones that killed some of the 300,” said Paul Cartledge, professor of Greek history at Cambridge University in England who consulted on both the movie and the exhibit.

Although Thermopylae meant defeat, the manner in which Leonidas and his 300 specially selected Spartans went to their chosen deaths “was such as to inspire their Greek allies to eventual victory,” Cartledge said. “It was the Spartans who crucially led that victory at Plataea in 479 B.C.”

300_artifacts2.jpg  A bust of Leonidas, the Spartan King who died with his troops at Thermopylae

“Had the Greeks lost, and the Persians had taken over mainland Greece, the course of Western history, and especially the history of democracy, philosophy and theatre among other, would have been hugely different… So in that sense Thermopylae, though a defeat in itself, was ‘the battle that changed the world.'”

Cartledge rates the film good entertainment, though not as “a documentary of what actually happened at Thermopylae” or of the situation in Greece and Persia at that time.

“The movie both suggests what is false, that the Persian king was an outlandish giant with multiple piercings, etc., and suppresses what is true, the Spartans were in fact fighting as the lead members of a Greek alliance.”

Also, the Persian Empire “was not a one-dimensional barbaric despotism but actually quite civilized and tolerant in many ways, even if by no means well disposed to Greek-style democracy,” he noted.

Cartledge praised “authentically Spartan material and spirit” in the film, including gallows humor in comments like, “Eat a hearty breakfast, men, for tonight we’ll be dining in Hell.” “And it makes Leonidas’ wife, Gorgo, a spunky political actor, which does reflect what little we know about some politically active and interventionist Spartan wives,” he said.

Historians rely on Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, for what transpired at Thermopylae.

“No other surviving historian gives a full-dress account,” Cartledge said. “No other sources permit a broader, non or anti, Herodotean interpretation. We have to do that for ourselves.”