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Cypriot drivers win Cyprus Rally October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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Cypriot drivers Charalambos Timotheou and Pambos Laos in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX won the Cyprus Rally, round 6 of the 2007 FIA Middle East Championship (MERC), making Timotheou the first Cypriot driver to win the island’s leading international sports event since 1991.

Defending Middle East and P-WRC champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and co-driver Chris Patterson secured second place in their Subaru Impreza, finishing the event 1 minute 18.7 seconds behind Timotheou.

Current Middle East Championship leader Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi of the UAE and co-driver Nicky Beech steered their Team Abu Dhabi-backed Subaru Impreza to fourth place overall, retaining their Championship lead, but by a reduced margin of 9 points over Al-Attiyah.

The 2007 Cyprus Rally was also an official round of the 2007 FIA Historic Rally Championship and nine Historic Cyprus Rally competitors began the Rally on Saturday morning.

Dimitris Vazakas and Maria Gemeni of Greece showed winning form from the start in their Ford Escort, winning every stage of the event bar the last, which went to Cypriots Christakis Michael and Georgios Lysandrou in their Mk1 Ford Escort who finished third overall. Second place in the event went to Cypriots Pantelis Poetis and Andreas Xydias in a Volkswagen Golf.

The 2007 Cyprus Rally and 2007 Historic Cyprus Rally are organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA).


Nia Vardalos at the Acropolis October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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New film co-written by Oscar-nominated Greek-Canadian actress gets rare approval by Greek authorities

nia_vardalos_acropolis.jpg  Nia Vardalos standing in front of the Erechtheion temple during the shooting of ‘My Life in Ruins.’ Scheduled for release in 2008, the film is produced by Tom Hanks. 

Nia Vardalos, the star of «My Big Fat Greek Wedding,» stood under a big reflector on Saturday, filming a new romantic comedy among the dramatic ruins on the Acropolis. The scene will appear in «My Life in Ruins,» also starring Richard Dreyfuss, and follows a decision by Greek authorities to relax a longstanding ban on any commercial use of ancient sites. Authorities vetted the film script for historical accuracy and convened a panel of senior archaeologists to give final approval.

«Imagine how I feel being here shooting a movie… I can’t believe things like this can happen to me,» Vardalos said late Friday before the Acropolis shoot. Released in 2002, «My Big Fat Greek Wedding» was a surprise international hit and earned Vardalos an Oscar nomination for its script.

On Saturday, dozens of tourists gathered round a tiny set to take pictures of Vardalos. The 45-year-old Canadian actress plays a tour guide and has already been filmed at Delphi and Ancient Olympia.

«I’m just a girl from Winnipeg. I write these ideas and somehow they happen,» said Vardalos, who co-wrote the new movie. «I have cousins from America, from Australia and we all met up here. I have so many memories of being here.»

Director Donald Petrie denied suggestions the script had been watered down to secure access to ancient sites. «If the script had had a paintball war in Ancient Olympia, I think they would have said no,» he said. «The only major restriction for us is that we treat the sites as they are. We don’t bring in fake Roman columns,» he said, smiling.

«The story revolves around the character that Vardalos plays who has actually somewhat lost her passion. She has led so many tours with so many tourists who don’t care… and it’s depressed her beyond belief,» Petrie said. «Through one group of tourists… she is almost taught to rediscover her passion.» The love interest for the film was found in Alexis Georgoulis, an actor popular in Greece.

«It’s a romantic comedy, and we wanted a Greek actor who was experienced but not necessarily well known internationally,» Vardalos said. «We found Alexis Georgoulis. He’s a great kisser, a great actor and a great guy.» Dreyfuss said he had always wanted to come to Greece and was enjoying his time here. «This movie is about the ever-present possibility of love,» Dreyfuss said.

«My Life in Ruins» is the first major project helped by the Hellenic Film Commission, recently created by Greece’s Culture Ministry to try and lure international filmmakers to Greece. «Even small African countries had film commissions. But not Greece,» said the Commission’s Markos Holevas. «This is our first effort,» he said. «We will get organized and provide tax breaks and do what everyone else does.» «My Life in Ruins» is due for release next year.

Acropolis Museum > A new home for old artifacts October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums.
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acropolis_moving_artifacts.jpg  A container with ancient artifacts inside is lowered from the Acropolis yesterday at the start of the process to transfer more than 4,000 antiquities from the Sacred Hill to the new Acropolis Museum some 400 meters away using three giant cranes.

The beginning of the historic operation was watched by hundreds of onlookers, including protesters who want the government to halt plans to knock down two listed buildings that are partially blocking the view of the Parthenon from the new Acropolis Museum, which is due to fully open to the public late next year.

Otto Rehhagel eyes the finish line October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel thinks his side is in the «final stretch» of the race to qualify for the European soccer Championships next year after watching his team beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-2 in Athens on Saturday.

Greece tops Group C on 22 points, four more than Turkey, which is in second place, with just three games to go. European Champion Greece needs just three more points to secure a place in Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

«I would compare the qualification process to a 400-meter race, we are now in the final stretch. We are not over the finish line yet but we are very close,» said Rehhagel following an eventful game at the Olympic Stadium. His side beat 10-man Bosnia-Herzegovina thanks to goals from Angelos Charisteas, Fanis Gekas and Nikos Liberopoulos but suffered a couple of worrying moments along the way.

«The players worked very hard and we deserved the lead but I was unhappy with elements of our game after that,» said Rehhagel.

Greece will now play Turkey in Istanbul on Wednesday. Turkey is the only side to beat Greece in Group C so far and Rehhagel admitted that the 4-1 home defeat is on the players’ minds. «We have not forgotten our defeat to Turkey in the first game, so we want to get something good in Istanbul.»

With Malta at home and Hungary away to come, Rehhagel knows that one win from the remaining three games will be enough to see his side through to Austria and Switzerland for next year’s tournament. Greece only need three more points because Turkey and Norway face each other in the penultimate round of the qualifying stage, which means that only one of the two would go through.

«We will go for the win in Turkey, we always play to win,» said Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos who came on in the second half to set up the third goal.

«We are aware of what happened against the Turks here and we owe them one,» said captain Angelos Basinas. «In the condition we are in, this team can beat anybody. We went through a period of doubt but we have found our rhythm now.»

Greece survives scare for vital win October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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European Champions beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-2 in Athens after letting early lead slip > Greece is within touching distance of Euro 2008 after beating 10-man Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-2 in Athens on Saturday night.

Otto Rehhagel’s squad survived a scare in the second half when the visitors pegged them back to 1-1 after Angelos Charisteas opened the score in the 11th minute. But Bosnia’s goal hero Mirko Hrgovic turned villain within two minutes of his equalizer when he was sent off.

Greece was able to exploit the extra man and cruised to the win thanks to goals from Fanis Gekas and substitute Nikos Liberopoulos. Vedad Ibisevic, also a substitute, pulled one back for Bosnia in the second minute of injury time.

In a disappointing first half, Greece went ahead after Charisteas took four attempts to finish off the best move of the match. Greece was shocked into action when Bosnian midfielder Hrgovic rifled a foul into Antonis Nikopolidis’s top corner in the 55th minute. Hrgovic’s involvement ended just a minute later when he was sent off for a crunching foul on Greek captain Angelos Basinas.

Three minutes after that, Basinas found Gekas in the penalty area on his own and the striker slotted home. The European Champions wrapped up the game when Liberopoulos scored in the 73rd minute. Ibisevic’s goal came seconds before the final whistle.

Thessaloniki’s Demetria Festival October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Festivals, Ballet Dance Opera.
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Thessaloniki’s Demetria Festival was established in 1966 > Richard Strauss’s ‘Salome’ is being staged at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. In this production, the story takes place in a lunatic asylum.

As early as the golden age of Byzantium, about the 14th century AD, Thessaloniki hosted a regular spectacular “New Festival” each autumn. In modern times, since October 1966, a reborn festival bearing the name of Saint Demetrius, also known as the Great Martyr, Megalomartyr in Greek, and as he whose tomb gives forth a sweet fragrance, Myrovlitis in Greek, takes place here. Saint Demetrius is Thessalonikis’ Patron Saint.

This year’s festival is organized in several cycles of events. Opera is being represented by Verdi’s “Aida” performed by the Opera of Thessaloniki several weeks ago without the customary camels and elephants for the triumphant march in Act II, and by Strauss’s “Salome”, famous for its dance of the seven veils. The daughter of Herodias, Salome, the Bible tells us, danced for her stepfather, Herod Antipas, and demanded the head of John Baptist as a reward.

In Thessaloniki, the director Nikos Petropoulos transferred the action to the early 20th century, when Richard Strauss composed the opera and when the founder of the psychoanalytic school of thought, Sigmund Freud, created his theory of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life. A hundred years have passed since those vigorous days. Understandably, Salome’s story as told in Thessaloniki’s Concert Hall takes place in a lunatic asylum.

Incidentally, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall has just embarked upon its new season with a rather limited program. Its stable, yet meager, funding, which amounts to just 1.5 million euros, has resulted in very few events taking place this autumn. Considering the Athens Concert Hall’s funding, the sum for its northern sister seems ludicrous. At any rate, there are no flamboyant opera openings in this city. Do not imagine black-tie at the inaugurations in this Balkan capital. Instead you come across the arty, mini-skirted, bearded and habitually casually dressed local glitterati. During intermissions, one can easily chart the social and cultural changes of the, once, second city of two empires, reduced today to an unremarkable provincial capital.

However, and just for the record, Maria Callas once sang here. In one of her first appearances, in July 1940, la Divina was one of “the girls” in the choir of the Greek National Opera, when it was touring with “Die Fledermaus”. At any rate, no one remembered the event, with all the Callas festivities also happening in Thessaloniki.

Back to Strauss’s opera where the dangerous, sensual, tempting character of Salome has John the Baptist beheaded just to touch her lips to his. A Thessalonian actor and a C.P. Cavafy scholar, Nikos Naoumidis, reminded me that there might have been other reasons as well for the beheading, beyond those in Oscar Wilde’s imagination.

There is a Cavafy poem titled “Salome” which was not published during the poet’s lifetime. In it, Salome instigates the death of John the Baptist as part of a futile effort to win the interest of a young sophist who seems indifferent to the charms of heterosexual love. And when Salome presents him with John the Baptist’s head, the sophist rejects it, remarking in jest: “Dear Salome, I would have liked better to have received your own head.” Now, taking this jest seriously, the hopelessly wounded Salome lets herself be beheaded and her head is duly brought to the sophist on a golden platter. He, however, rejects it in disgust and turns to studying the dialogues of Plato. “Salome” will be performed another two nights, on October 17th and 20th.

As part of the Demetria Festival program, the National Theater of Northern Greece opens its winter season with a tribute to Nikos Kazantzakis, this time on the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Greece’s most important writers and thinkers.

Although the play “Julian the Apostate” was written some decades before Gore Vidal’s homonymous best-seller, it is reminiscent of the spirit of the novel. Could Vidal have ever read the French translation Kazantzakis did in 1948?

“Julian the Apostate” is a heretical, provocative, grandiloquent play little known to a wider audience. It was written in 1939, in the house where Shakespeare’s daughter lived, in Stratford-upon-Avon, under the roar of combat warplanes. Through the historical figure of Julian, Kazantzakis expresses his personal thoughts, creating a drama of extreme situations, rapid plot development and bombastic theatricality. He focuses on the contradictory and unpredictable personality of the Emperor, on the lonely struggle of a fighter and philosopher who sought freedom and self-awareness since he was a child. The Roman Emperor Julian, AD 331-363, linked his name to the effort to convert the Empire to the ancient Greek religion, as he was deeply influenced by his education, which was focused on antiquity. The Church branded him an enemy of Christianity and he was stigmatized with the epithet Paravatis, Transgressor, or Apostatis, the Apostate, although some believe that what he had really attempted to do was to reconcile the Greek spirit with the Christian religion.

Why did Thessaloniki’s National Theater of Northern Greece choose this play? Well, perhaps because of a paragraph, from Gore Vidal’s well-researched historical novel,  that perfectly suits our TV-adoring city: “In every city there is a special class whose only apparent function is to gather in public places and look at famous men… An elephant would have pleased them most, but since there was no elephant, the mysterious Prince Julian would have to do.”

Related Links >
http://www.dimitriathess.gr [available only in Greek language]


Greece’s call for FYROM solution October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics.
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Bakoyannis says Greece is ready to settle and willing to compromise

Greece’s Foreign Minister, Dora Bakoyannis, has called on the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to pursue a more productive stance on the name issue dividing the two countries, as she revealed in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini that Athens is willing to accept a compound name to resolve the matter.

Tension between the two countries has been growing in recent weeks, fueled by Skopje’s decision to use the term «Republic of Macedonia» at the United Nations, and Bakoyannis said she wanted to use her interview as an opportunity to appeal to FYROM to adopt a constructive path to resolving the dispute.

«Burying your head in the sand cannot be a foreign policy,» she said. «The time has come for all of us to take the necessary steps so we can be together in a better tomorrow.»

Bakoyannis said the dispute over the name of Greece’s neighbor has «poisoned» the relationship between the two countries for the last 15 years. But she is adamant that Greece is doing everything it can to resolve the issue.

«We are the biggest investors in the region and we have created the most jobs. We are in a position to support Skopje politically and economically at an institutional and development level» Bakoyannis said.

Bakoyannis revealed that Athens is willing to accept a compromise that would allow FYROM to use some form of the name «Macedonia» as long as there is another element in its title that differentiates it from Greece’s northern region.

«A mutually acceptable solution must be in the nature of a distinct name,» said the Foreign Minister. «The specific country cannot be confused with the remaining geographical area of Macedonia, Greek Macedonia or the part of the region that belongs to Bulgaria.»

Bakoyannis met last month with UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, who has been appointed as a mediator between the two countries, and said she is hopeful that he will soon table another proposal on how FYROM should be named. «We are ready for a proposal that will be constructive and in the right direction toward a conclusive solution» the Minister added.