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Happy National Day October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture Heritage.
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 HomeboyMediaNews Editor sends his best wishes to all the Greek Nation and the Greek people in Greece, Cyprus and the Greek Diaspora all over the world, on the occassion of our National Day on 28 October

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Greece celebrates it’s National Day on 28 October commemorating the “OCHI Day” [Ochi in Greek means No] the anniversary of General Ioannis Metaxas’ flat denial to the Italians’ request for free passage to invade Greece.

In October, 1940, Italy, backed by Hitler, wanted to occupy Greece; Metaxas simply responded “Ochi!” – “No!” in Greek. It was a “No!” that brought Greece into the war on the Allied side; for a time, Greece was Britain’s only ally against Hitler.

Greece not only did not give Mussolini’s forces free passage, they seized the offensive and drove them back through most of Albania.

Some historians credit the Greeks’ fierce resistance to the later German paratrooper landings during the Battle of Crete with convincing Hitler that such attacks cost too many German lives. The from-the-air invasion of Crete was the last attempt by the Nazis to use this technique, and the extra resources required to subdue Greece drained and distracted the Third Reich from its efforts on other fronts.

Had Metaxas not said “No!”, World War II might well have lasted considerably longer. One theory suggests that had Greece agreed to surrender without resistance, Hitler would have been able to invade Russia in spring, rather than making his disastrous attempt to take it in winter. Western nations, always happy to credit ancient Greece with the development of democracy, may owe modern Greece an equal but usually unrecognized debt for helping to preserve democracy against its enemies during World War II.

On Ochi Day, all major cities will offer a military parade, and many Greek Orthodox churches will be holding special services. Coastal towns may have naval parades or other celebrations on the waterfront.

Thessaloniki offers a triple celebration, paying reverence to the patron saint of the city, Saint Dimitrios, celebrating its freedom from the Ottomans, and commemorating the entry of Greece into World War II.

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Related Links > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohi_Day

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‘Ruins’ come to life October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Greek-Canadian writer and director Nia Vardalos was in Greece working on a film that co-star Richard Dreyfuss says is about the ever-present possibility of love

Flanked by US actor Richard Dreyfuss on one side and Greek heartthrob Alexis Georgoulis on the other, writer and actress Nia Vardalos glowed as she addressed the press early this month. In town for the shooting of her new film My Life in Ruins, the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding looked leaner and more glamorous than she did when she played the ugly duckling role for which she’s best known.

“I’m just a girl from Winnipeg,” said the Greek-Canadian actress, who still sounds a little shocked at her quick fame. “It’s a dream to be here,” she added, before confessing: “I get a little choked up to see the word ‘Coppertone’ in Greek.”

Vardalos co-wrote with Mike Reiss and stars in the romantic comedy My Life in Ruins. The film went into production in Spain earlier this summer before shooting throughout Greece from October 9 to 16. Some of the film was shot at the Acropolis on October 13. Though Greek films often depict the Acropolis, it is a rare thing for a foreign production to obtain permission to film there. Vardalos underlined this fact, and Dreyfuss joked about Francis Ford Coppola’s lack of such a permit for filming scenes from New York Stories there in 1989.

“The biggest challenge we have,” noted the film’s director, Donald Petrie [Mystic Pizza, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days], “is that these sites, Olympia, Delphi and the Acropolis, are almost too big to capture on film.” He pointed out: “They are more than just places, they have an aura, a mystery. You walk into these places and it takes your breath away… I almost needed IMAX.”

The filmmaker revealed that he moved the Acropolis scene from the beginning of the film to the end as he felt “the journey ends at the Acropolis”. Petrie indicated that he wasn’t sure if the production will have to digitally recreate the green areas around charred Olympia. Petrie emphasised the fact that the film’s production didn’t interfere with the sites. “If it says ‘Do Not Touch’, obviously, we are not planting a light on top of it,” he explained. “If the script had paintball war in Ancient Olympia, they would have said, ‘No.'”

Upon reviewing the script for approval, the Greek government provided some help by pointing out historical inaccuracies. The film certainly promotes Greek tourism. Petrie explained that Vardalos plays a tour guide who has “lost her passion” for her job. But, while leading around a group, including a man named Herb, “she is almost taught to re-find her passion”. When the film comes out next year, Petrie hopes it will make viewers laugh, as well as cry.

Herb is played by Dreyfuss, who said he came out of retirement to play the part, he teaches civics. “I’ve always wanted to shoot in Greece,” Dreyfuss repeated more than once at the press conference. When asked the actor why Herb is the one who makes a difference in the tour group, he replied: “He woke up every day for 20 years smiling because he was in love with his wife and she with him.”

The actor enthused about Greece’s mythological, artistic and ethical contributions to the world. Dreyfuss said that “film is about magic and the mysterious”, but noted: “Film has created a cynicism and a shallowness in the world that is huge.” He said that he hopes My Life in Ruins will provide a message instead about “the ever-present possibility of love”.

My Life in Ruins is one of the first projects to be assisted by the new Hellenic Film Commission, which opened in 2007 with the purpose of facilitating productions shot in Greece. The office is affiliated with the Greek Film Centre, which funds and produces most local films. The film is the second one, after Mamma Mia!, to be shot in Greece this fall with Tom Hanks’ name in the production credits.

Greek art in China October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia.
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Modern Greek art converses with classical antiquity as part of a National Gallery exhibition that was inaugurated at Beijing’s Capital Museum on October 18.

A shorter version of Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art, part of the Culture Ministry’s Greek Cultural Year in China agenda of events in view of the 2008 Olympics, was first presented at the Cultural Centre of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York. The exhibition will travel to Athens in December in its full, China-specific version.

Speaking at a press meeting, Antonis S Papadimitriou, President of the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, the show’s sole sponsor, said that the choice of title could also be suitable for an archaeological exhibition. “However, the featured paintings of select classic, I daresay, contemporary Greek artists face the future and the past at one go,” he said.

Greek artists’ encounter with their roots was not a simple or self-evident affair, according to the National Gallery’s Director, Marina Lambraki-Plaka. The founding of the independent Greek state in 1830 placed Greeks’ contact with their cultural heritage on new grounds. But it was not until the end of the 19th century that Greek artists, nurtured by the academic principles of the Munich School, manifested a vivid, nevertheless short-lived, interest in the revival of the spirit of antiquity. At the turn of the century, however, the Munich School was dropped in favour of the light-radiating palette of the French Impressionists, who displayed no interest in antiquity.

“Greek art’s turn to antiquity coincides with the interwar period,” Lambraki-Plaka pointed out. “It was actually Konstantinos Parthenis who initiated the dialogue with our heavily weighing ancient heritage, urging Greek artists to set aside their reservations and begin to address the ancient world’s seductive myths and forms.”

Spanning the period from the 1920s to present day, Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art features representative works by 1930s artists such as Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Yannis Moralis and their descendants, as well as contemporary artists Christos Bokoros and Tassos Christakis.

Greek heritage, though, is not confined to classical antiquity alone, but spreads into the realm of Byzantine sources and folk tradition.

These multiple points of reference are evident in the National Gallery’s show. Parthenis’ elongated forms combine elements from antiquity and Byzantium, as well as El Greco’s art. Ghika’s Cubism-influenced compositions reflect the architectural patterns of Greek islands and the pagan spirit of ancient mythology, while Fotis Kontoglou borrows heavily from the Fayum iconography, which has also inspired the art of Moralis.

Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical approach, also encountered in Sarandis Karavouzis’ art, and Byzantine themes coexist in Nikos Engonopoulos’ art. Yannis Tsarouchis’ handsome youths and male nudes, stripped of religion-associated guilt, suggest a celebration of paganism, a quality that also permeates Alekos Fassianos’ anthropocentric paintings. Sotiris Sorongas’ turn to antiquity is used as a vehicle to address existential matters. And Bokoros comes up with symbolic compositions to suggest the longevity of painting. Greek sculpture is represented through the work of Christos Kapralos, Ioannis Avramidis and Thodoros.

Thessaloniki Song Festival October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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Rock ballads, hip-hop songs and electronica tracks will compete in the semifinals of the Thessaloniki Song Festival, to take place at the northern port city’s Pilea Stadium on November 1.

A total of 10 out of 16 songs will make it to the November 3 finals, where the top three contestants will be awarded. The winners will be jointly selected by an artistic committee comprising composer Yiorgos Hadjinassios and songwriter Filippos Grapsas and others, and members of the audience, who will make their selections through SMS and telephone voting. Parallel events will include two concerts featuring songs by Yiorgos Zabetas and Filippos Pliatsikas on November 1 and 3, respectively.

Cyprus town planning goes online October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus.
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Cypriots will soon be able to monitor their application for town-planning permission over the internet.

E-title deeds and other documents will be available over the web too at a later stage thanks to the Town-planning Department’s new website > ww.publicaccess.tph.moi.gov.cy

The site, which will start operating on November 5, will offer the public relief from the tiring bureaucracy the Department is notorious for. Members of public whose planning application is in process can check how it is progressing by visiting the site and entering their ID card number. Soon they will also be able to access their title deeds, topographic plans and other relevant documents from the comfort of their homes.

The website will contain information on applications made from October 29 onwards. In order for the procedure to move into the next stage, where title deeds can be acquired, the Department needs to purchase a new server and computerise its services, which is set to cost Cy£500,000.

A meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon under the presidency of Interior Minister Christos Patsalides, where the proceedings were discussed. The Technical Committee appointed to examine ways to speed up proceedings to acquire planning permissions gave Patsalides a multi-page document, which included a number of short and long-term measures >

  • The creation of unified planning application forms that can be used by all local town-planning authorities
  • The Town-planning Department’s recommendations to applicants will be in writing and binding for at least six months
  • Third-party authorities, such as the Electricity Authority of Cyprus or Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, are obliged to inform Town-planning on changes in transmission waves and so on
  • Planning applications must include a photograph of the developing property and the surrounding area, a survey by an approved surveyor, information on the road network and surrounding environmental descriptions
  • Any omissions will be spotted within two days of applying and the application will be sent back and removed from the website, losing the applicant his place in turn
  • The appointment of special teams that will handle the applications
  • The Town-planning Department must relay all its data to the Interior Ministry, which will be take control of town-planning
  • The Department will take on the responsibility of computerising the data and training its staff.

easyJet to be flying to Cyprus by April October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
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EasyJet could begin flying to Cyprus from April next year after the low-cost carrier bought out GB Airways, which operates flights to the island.

Under the deal, GB Airways will continue to fly under its own name until March 29, after which all flights will be carried out under the ‘easy’ brand.

However, easyJet flights to Cyprus are not a certainty. A spokeswoman for the group said: “GB airways will continue to operate business as usual until March 29, 2008, after this date the operation will continue under the easyJet brand with easyJet terms and conditions. It will not be until this time the airline will be in a position to make decisions about specific routes. However, easyJet will contact all passengers due to travel after March 29 to advise if there are any changes.”

Until now, easyJet has avoided flights to Cyprus, despite the Cypriot origins of the airline’s founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Late last year, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation had been negotiating with easyJet and another low-cost carrier to bring more no-frills airline to Cyprus. Low-cost carriers have been difficult to attract, due to the distance from the UK, as they usually operate within a three-hour time frame and Cyprus is some four and a half hours flying time from Britain.

A statement from easyJet said its acquisition of GB Airways was consistent with the airline’s expansion strategy and strengthened its customer offering at Gatwick, the airline’s biggest base. Following the acquisition for £103.5 million, easyJet will operate 24 per cent of Gatwick’s slots and will fly approximately 8 million passengers across 62 routes from Gatwick.

GB Airways is primarily a London Gatwick based point-to-point airline operating to destinations across Southern Europe and North Africa under a franchise agreement with British Airways.

EasyJet said that by Winter 2008/09, GB Airways would be fully consolidated into the easyJet business model. Andy Harrison, Chief Executive of easyJet, said: “This is an acquisition which both strengthens our customer offering at London Gatwick, our biggest base with an attractive catchment area, and allows us to fully capitalise on the potential of the airport through a larger number of slots. The deal will bring major benefits to both easyJet and GB Airways customers, delivering a wider choice of destinations at easyJet’s great prices, and creating clear value for our shareholders.”

Greek writer wins French book prize October 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek.
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Greek author Vassilis Alexakis has been awarded one of France’s top fiction awards, the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise, for his novel “Ap. J.C,” the academy said Thursday.

Alexakis, 63, was born in Athens and came to France at the age of 17. He writes in both Greek and French. In 1995 he won another prize, the Prix Medicis, for his novel “La Langue Maternelle” (Mother Tongue).

“Ap. J.C” tells the story of a young researcher looking into the history of the monks of Mount Athos in northern Greece.