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Jump-roping to be introduced to Cypriot students May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Sports & Games.
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For the first time, a US delegation is visiting Cyprus with the aim of introducing the sport of jump-roping to students and coaches.

The delegation, consisting of two seasoned coaches and 14 national champions, will be on the island from May 17 to 19. During their stay, several events have been lined up so the team can show the many aspects of the sport to the public. Additionally, they will train local coaches and provide instruction material to coaches who wish to start a team, or simply use some of the skills in their classes.

If the visit is successful, there are plans for a follow-up in November to hold workshops for newly established teams and help coaches and teams further develop their skills.
According to Fofi Constantinidou, Associate Professor at the University of Cyprus’ Psychology Department, jump or skip roping has become a very popular sport across the world over the past 15 years.

Several official federations have been created, (www.erso.org, www.irsf.ca, www.usajumprope.org), with the sport gaining popularity due to its many athletic and mental benefits.

“These include the development of skills such as endurance, speed, flexibility and creativity,” said Constantinidou. “There is also improvement of motor coordination and the enhancement of cognitive abilities such as attention skills, speed of processing, goal setting and self direction, not to mention the development of team work and social skills.” She added that the sport also has practical benefits as, “it is contusive to all ages and both sexes, is inexpensive and does not require specialised training facilities, allowing year-round participation.”

Schedule >
May 17: 11am-1pm
 > Demonstration and student training at Keravnos Stadium, Strovolos, Nicosia
May 18: 6pm-8pm > Jump rope and gymnastics demonstrations with the Pentadaktylos-Kyrenia Gymnastics Club at the Apostolos Varnavas High School in Strovolos
May 19: 12pm-2pm > Demonstrations at the Senior School Nicosia as part of the Spring Active Day events. For more information, email fofic@ucy.ac.cy

Greeks dancing > your Big Fat Greek Feet May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s 49th annual festival at the church on North Highland, with spanakopita, baklava, church tours, and Greek dancing.

Sometimes Americans are wary of Greek dancing because it looks complicated and you have to hold hands, often with someone you don’t know. But, as veteran Greek dancers, taught by some of the oldest and most skilled Greek dancers in the world, we can assure you that it’s very simple.

greeks_dancing.jpg  You step to the right with your right foot; then cross your left foot behind. Then walk three steps to the right and kick your left ankle in front of your right foot. Take a step back with your left foot and then your right behind your left and repeat! Oopa!

Oh, just forget it. Just do a little hippie dance to the right … and make sure the kid next to you hasn’t been eating baklava with his bare hands.

Big Fat Greek Festival > Annual festival with authentic Greek food, traditional dance, live music, and a marketplace of clothing, jewelry, and more. Fri.-Sat., May 11-12, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $2. Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 573 N. Highland, (Midtown), 327-8177.

Wine through religion May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Wine has always played an important role in Christianity; since the Last Supper, it has faithfully represented the blood of Christ. But in Luther’s day, the priests consumed the wine on behalf of the congregation. This didn’t wash well with him and wasn’t a practice adopted by Protestantism.

The particular wine used by the church in 16th century Germany was probably Pinot Noir, Blauburgunder, grown in Alsace, it would have been the most readily accessible red wine. Sacramental wine may be made from any variety.

Christianity wasn’t the first religion to attach an importance to wine; the cult of Dionysus also used wine in its ceremonies, but was far more liberal in its application. Although Dionysus is known as the Greek god of wine, he originated further east and spread through Phoenicia and Egypt to the Minoan civilisation of Crete and thence into Greece, where he became one of the twelve Olympians gods.

The wine of Ancient Greece wouldn’t appeal to most modern palates. We’ll never know just what they tasted like and there is no objective data such as alcohol content or grams per litre of residual sugar to report, but from what can be called the tasting notes of the day, we know that they drank both white and red, and had a preference for sweet styles.

They always added water, actually they always added wine to water rather than water to wine, only the barbarians would be crude enough to drink undiluted wine, and other additives were common. Lead was said to add sweetness to the wine and is in fact a good preservative as it kills the bacteria, and the neurons in the head, once consumed. Herbs and honey were common; one recipe for mixing suggests 50 per cent honey, so we can be sure this particular wine was very viscous. And the water added was frequently seawater, which was often aged before blending.

The most common preservative was tree resin, the best being from the terebinth. They didn’t age wine in oak; they used clay amphorae instead. The Romans were the first to use oak, simply because barrels were easier to transport. The added flavour and texture are merely a side effect that happens to be fashionable in the modern world. Although we can consider this point a step forward in the progress of wine, archaeologically the effect is that we have far less evidence of wine from this point, because barrels rot away without a trace, whereas amphorae last for millennia.

One important find for wine historians was made in the tomb of the boy king of Egypt who was given some fine vintages to take with him into the afterlife. Whether the wine actually went with him to the afterlife, or just evaporated is another question.

Eurovision Song Contest 2007 > final results May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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Once again congratulations Serbia the victory was a deserved one. For the first time since televoting was implemmented in the Eurovision Song Contest a ballad wins the contest.

The favourites once again proved to been predicted despite the excuse they had last year. The important thing is that the contest is balancing now with a calmed song, an excellent melody and a wonderful, warm performance. Good news for Portugal which was the 11th country in the semifinal proving that the country has potentials in the future when they bring to the contest descent stage presentations and nice latino songs. RTP should be proud. Serbia won both the semifinal and the final. FYR Macedonia once again did its miracle: they went through the final but in the final they did nothing again!

Ukraine, Turkey and Greece all of them hosts of the recent Eurovision editions made a great job in the scoreboard. Greece received a very descent position and indeed Sarbel although nervous was genuine. This time Greece beated Armenia which last year ranked over Anna Vissi for one point. Belarus would have made much more if a better draw was given to the country. Finland received a dissapointing result despite the hosting of the contest. We cannot really blame them because despite their magnificent on TV outcome, the organization was cold and full of complaints. The Big 4, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and France once again plundered. Eurovision Queen Ireland ended up last naturally after a very dissapointing performance.

Moldova was the country which was described as the country who needs to be in good care due to financial problems. Moldova goes to the final next year. Disappointing news for Cyprus which despite the predictions did not make it to the finals. The good news are coming from Bulgaria which ranked 5th after a far better than the semifinal performance. Sweden promoted so much by sites and media made absolutely nothing; the entire Nordic area goes to the semifinal next year if the format keeps the same. Interesting: United Kingdom gave nothing to Ireland! Turkish diaspora worked extremely well. Latvia lost more than 100 points from the semifinal to the final. The overall idea? The East won the West with the help of the West. People recognized that the East had better songs. Though the diaspora and neighbour voting worked in full more than ever. Problem for the Eurovision future? Maybe.

Concerning the praise of the press and fans regarding the Latvian song as a Eurovision request for Italy to return, we think that RAI will give many thoughts than return to the contest soon although we will always keep praying for it. Greece holds a remarkable record after the Helsinki Eurovision edition. As of 2004 Greece achieved extremely high rankings. In 2004 it came 3rd, in 2005 it came 1st, in 2006 it came 9th and in 2007 it came 7th. Despite the voting diaspora in the scoreboard and the lower than the 2006 winner’s score, Greece scored more points than in 2006 when hosted the contest. Well done Greece. Netherlands scored only points from the West.

For the first time no Nordic country is in the final directly for 2008. Andorra gave null points to Spain. Don’t forget Serbia won in its native language and with a ballad. This is quite a success in Eurovision. In 1956 the debut country Switzerland won the 1st Eurovision Song Contest but that would have happened anyway due to the opening of the contest. Serbia is the first therefore debut country winning a contest.

Greece rediscovers Maria Callas, the Diva of the finest music May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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Much as she was lionised abroad, the little girl christened Maria Anna Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou, before reaching stardom as Maria Callas, was never quite as well received at home.

She was the prima of all donnas, a diva for all lovers of the finest music. But as much as she was lionised abroad, the little girl christened Maria Anna Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou, before reaching stardom as Maria Callas, was never quite as well received at home.
Among her own, at least, the singer is better known for her family’s fraternisation with the enemy during the Italian occupation of Athens, her ill-fated affair with that other Olympian Greek, Aristotle Onassis, and her tempestuous relationship with her mother, than for any of her supreme operatic skills.

Look hard enough and you will find a tiny bust of the chanteuse tucked away in an alley behind the Athens Hilton, but other than that there is not even a street named after her in the Greek capital. Indeed, for years, it has only been a hardy few, usually those who want to tread the boards at the under-funded National Opera House, who have ever bothered to light a candle in her name.

Until now, that is. Three decades after her premature death in Paris, the Greeks appear to be making a concerted effort to reclaim the world-renowned soprano with the instantly recognisable voice. Suddenly in this, the Official 2007 Year of Maria Callas, MPs are tripping over themselves to attend recitals, concerts and shows dedicated to La Divina.

Even the Athens Parliament, which has failed, scandalously, to recognise the great dramatic singer’s contribution to Greece, has weighed in on the act with an exhibition in her memory. And, with the timing of a maestro’s baton, those who once met her are surfacing to recall the icon who avoided the land of the gods during her latter years, when her voice had cracked and her joy had gone, for fear of the schadenfreude it might elicit.

‘It has taken us 30 years to find her,’ says Yiannis Papathanasiou, a former Deputy Mayor and dedicated opera lover who in 2002 went against the tide to establish a small Maria Callas Museum beneath the Acropolis. ‘We’ve had a very strange relationship with Maria, even if she is to the classical world what Madonna is today. Yes, you could rightly say that we are reclaiming her, although I’d like to add only to give back to the world again.’

While the new focus is on the diva’s glamour, wealth and charisma, and almost none of the tragedy and scandal that also marked her life, until now Greeks would mention Callas in the same breath as Onassis, who left her for Jackie Kennedy months after she gave birth to his stillborn son, the love attack may be too late.

The Italians, who also see Callas as one of their own, given her marriage to industrialist Giovanni Meneghini and her long sojourn at La Scala, have named several streets after her. Recently they issued a La Divina stamp and produced a book of her favourite recipes.

To make matters worse, the Italians also appear to have more of her possessions. While visitors to the Maria Callas Museum have to make do with a wig, gloves and photographs of the singer playing with her favourite dog, more than 500 of her personal effects went on display at Athens’s Italian Cultural Institute on Thursday night.

‘When they came up for auction in Paris seven years ago, the Municipality never had the money to buy them,’ Papathanasiou said. ‘One Lebanese devotee felt so sorry for us during the sale, he bought the dress she wore in Norma and donated it to us there and then.’

But fans should know this: in a vault somewhere in this city, there are hundreds of Callas’s knickers and stockings. ‘The Athenian conservatory bought them and hid them for fear of exposing Callas to ridicule,’ says Papathanasiou. ‘People could be wearing them for all I know.’

Eurovision Song Contest 2007 > Serbia wins May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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Serbia won the Eurovision Song Contest last night at a ceremony in Helsinki.

Marija Serifovic beat 23 competitors to clinch victory in a three-hour televised mishmash of power ballads, ethnic rhythms, and bubble-gum pop. Serifovic scored 268 points from telephone voters in 42 countries with her potent but simply-staged ballad “Molitva”, or “Prayer”.

The contest, held this year in the Finnish capital after monster rockers Lordi last year secured Finland’s first win, is a live showcase of pop music talent selected by each nation in preliminary rounds. The flagship set-piece of the European Broadcasting Union’s light entertainment programming was broadcast live across Europe to an estimated 100 million viewers.

The bookies’ favourite, drag queen Verka Serdyuchka, from Ukraine, came in second, while Russia took third place. The contest, which featured offerings from 24 different European nations, saw the usual round of tactical block voting.

Greece ranked 7th scoring 139 points.

To view this year’s final results go to > http://www.eurovision.tv/addons/scoreboards/2007/final.html

Related Links > http://www.eurovision.tv

Happy Mothers’ Day > May 13, 2007 May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Editorial.
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Dear Friends,

Fitting tribute on a Special Day

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced to Ancient Greece’s Spring Celebrations honouring Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

rhea.jpg  Rhea, Mother of Gods

Mother’s Day is widely reported as the peak day of the year for long-distance telephone calls and one of the highest gift-giving holidays. For many, it is also a day to remember mothers, cherish and love mothers to whom we owe our existence. To all the mothers of the world, we send our warmest, sincerest wishes for a Happy Mothers’ Day along with a big Thank You for what they have done for us.


The above photo is courtesy of my good friend Nik Handson, a British freelance graphic designer, with our thanks for his kind approval to use it. Copyright by Nik Handson. All rights reserved. To view more of Nik’s work, please visit www.nikhandson.co.uk

Join us in Celebrating this Day! Follow the Special Feature on our affiliated Special Celebrations blog > Christmas & Easter Spirit & Other Festive Celebrations