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Friday, October 7, 2011

The Slap


Played by Jonathan LaPaglia

“On the day before his 40th birthday, Hector awoke with one thing in mind…Connie.”
Hector seems to have it all. He is a handsome, financially secure and married to the beautiful Aisha with whom he has two children, Adam and Melissa. From the outside looking in, it appears like his doting Greek parents have handed him everything on a plate. But Hector knows that under this seemingly ideal facade of his life lies a dangerous secret.Over the last few months, Hector has become infatuated with 17 year-old Connie, who works part-time at his wife’s vet clinic.The slap and its aftermath force Hector to face up to his actions, understand his weaknesses and to re-evaluate what is truly important to him.

Relationship to “the slap”

His cousin Harry is the one who slaps Hugo. His wife, Aisha, sides with Hugo’s family and Hector’s loyalty is torn between his wife and his extended family.

From the book

“He simply loved women. Young, old, those just starting to blossom and those beginning to fade. And sheepishly, almost embarrassed

Slap is a bold, provocative television drama series that forensically examines the mores and morality of contemporary middleclass life. Based on Christos Tsiolkas’ bestselling novel, this 8 –part drama series traces the shattering repercussions of a single event upon a group of family and friends.
The series starts at an Australian backyard BBQ. Amongst alcohol, friendship and a children’s cricket game a man slaps a child who is not his son. The party comes to a sudden halt. The child’s parents are so affronted they vow to take the man to court. As the series unfolds the police become involved and friends and family are forced to take sides. One cousin is forced to testify against another. Couples are caught in the crossfire. Beliefs are tested and relationships strained.
 Christos Tsiolkas writes novels, plays and scripts. His first novel Loaded was turned into the film Head On by Ana Kokkinos in 1998. His second novel The Jesus Man was published in 1999. His third novel Dead Europe won The Age Fiction Book of the Year prize in 2006 and also the Melbourne Prize for that year. In 1999 Christos was asked to participate with three other writers (Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius and Melissa Reeves) and composer Irinia Vela, on the theatrical collaboration Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? The production won the Australian Writers Guild top prize for that year but more importantly was the beginning of a long professional relationship with the above artists and the Melbourne Workers Theatre. Other plays include Viewing Blue Poles and Elektra AD, and Non Parlo di Salo, written with Spiro Economopoulos, about the Italian filmmaker, poet and activist, Pier Paolo Pasolini

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Animals suffer in Greece

After its inclusion in the European Union, additional pressure was placed on the Greek government to bring its animal policies in line with those of the EU and to enforce existing laws. In 2007 the European Commission reported Greek authorities to the European Court of Justice for continuing lack of action for animal welfare. A commission statement added: “The decision to take this action against Greece follows persistent shortcomings identified in the field of animal welfare over a number of years. The standard of animal welfare in Greece remains below par and the necessary legislation has not been adequately implemented. Therefore, the commission has no alternative but to refer the case to the Court of Justice.”
As a member of the European Union, Greece is bound to wide-ranging EU regulations regarding the treatment of animals. The EU regulates the transport of animals and issues “passports” to traveling pets. Welfare groups sometimes are able to transport strays to other EU countries for adoption. Unfortunately, they have been hampered by widespread rumors that the animals are wanted for laboratory experiments or fur rather than as pets and have had to battle with a resistant bureaucracy. There have been numerous instances of officials delaying the removal of animals from Greece.
Nine Lives’ neutering programme costs nearly 10,000 euros per year, while our feeding costs are around 600 euros each month.  
The response to government inaction is the formation of many small shelters and welfare societies by both Greek citizens and expatriates. A number of these efforts are affiliated with groups from the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, The Netherlands, elsewhere in Europe, and even Canada. As a rule these groups are focused on one island or locality. Some have adopted colonies of feral cats and follow trap-neuter-return programs, treating diseased animals, giving inoculations, and neutering to control breeding, often with the help of volunteer veterinarians and technicians from sponsoring countries. Local groups also attempt to find permanent homes for kittens and cats that are tame enough to be adopted. Feeding stations are established that both sustain the cats and provide a means of monitoring their condition and numbers. Some hotels will allow feeding stations to be set up on their grounds.

Greece and the Greek Islands are all inundated with stray, abandoned and feral cats. The majority of them are born in the spring and survive through the kindness of tourists who feed them.  At the end of the summer season the tourists leave and then some survive through the kindness of local Greeks, some die of starvation and some are unfortunately fall foul of cat hating people who poison them.  Despite this their breeding potential is phenomenal.  If an average female produces three litters of four kittens annually and the female kittens go on at the same rate, the result is about 5,000 cats from a single breeding female in four years.  
If you would like to make a monetary donation to help us in our work, our Alpha Bank IBAN number is GR2701401280128002786010729, BIC code CRBAGRAA

The account is in the names of Eleni Kefalopoulou & Evgenia Mataragka.

Please include your name and address so that we can send you a receipt along with our grateful thanks.  
Donations of cat food, spot-on anti-parasite treatment (eg Frontline or Stronghold), cat-carrying cages, cat hospitalisation cages, cat traps or any other equipment are most gratefully received.

We also warmly welcome any saleable items – such as books, clean clothes, accessories, DVDs, household ornaments and kitchen items – that you can spare for us to sell at our monthly carboot sales.

If you have items to donate, please email us at

Old Xanthi

Located in the heart of Xanthi, the old town is a pole of attraction in a wider geographic region that attracts cultural, historic and ecological attention.
The settlement’s preserved characteristics mostly reflect the 19th century, with the building process having started during its third decade (1830), as seen by the Christian churches around which the first settlements were established. The years between 1870-1910 represent a period of rapid growth as the city emerges into a commercial, administrative and military centre of a growing region whose economy is mostly based on the development of tobacco cultivation. The economic activities related to tobacco growth and commerce are to mark and seal the development of the settlement. During this period of development, tobacco producers of Epirus and Macedonia move to the city and the Greek element propelled upwards in the local economic and social life. Greek store-owners built the mansions that are still intact and the Greek community re-built schools and churches. At the heart of the city, trade, administrative and industrial projects develop steadily.
Today, about 3,800 persons reside in the Old Town of Xanthi. Approximately 46% of the households moved there from other areas of the city during the twenty-year period of 1951-1971, while another 27% moved there from the mountain areas of the Prefecture of Xanthi between 1971 and 1991.
The need to develop a programme for the protection, restoration and upgrading of the Old Town in the near future arose from the area’s cultural and historic significance, as well as from the troublesome living conditions, such as the locals’ inability to preserve and maintain the remaining houses and by the area’s growing tourism. The programme’s targets should be focused on five basic axes , such as the maintenance of the overall housing project’s character, through the creation of public benefit networks, the preservation of the natural habitat and the eradication of the negative elements that have altered the local community’s character, the improvement of the living conditions and the creation of a complete documentation of the remaining restored buildings.


The Route that Apostle Paul followed in Greece
Athens In the year 51 Paul went to Athens by boat. Athens was far from the typical bright city of classical times. The works of art were frequently pillaged, the Romans deserted the city of Pallas Athena and the descent of ideals started to become obvious.
The boat that brought Paul to Athens anchored in Faliro. At that time (and before then) that was the area were the main port of Athens was located. The location of the port was between Kifissos river bed and the small church of Agios Georgios. It is believed that it is constructed on the ruins of the dock of ancient Faliro and the area around it is going to be developed. From there started the road leading to Athens. This was also the road that Paul followed after he got off the boat.
While he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to come from Macedonia, he was walking around the city, discussing with the locals in the synagogue or the market and was upset by the numerous statuettes. His preaching on the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection impressed some epicurean and stoic philosophers who characterized him as “newsmonger”. He was never chased for his preaching while he was in Athens. On the contrary he was taken to High Court (Areopagus) in order to preach formally and in more details.
Regarding the spot from where Apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians, it is also said that he preached in front of the High Court's Body as one of its members (Dionysius the Aeropagite) adopted the ideas of his preaching.
Areopagus was the name of the hill west of the Athenian Acropolis.
Apostle Paul’s church was established in 1887 very close to the heart of Athens. Two years later, Queen Olga set the foundations for the construction of a new and larger church. This happened under the Metropolitan bishop Prokopios, Mayor Labros Kallifronas and the architects Trobus and Soultze. In 1923 the  Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos prescribed that the Vespers of Apostle Paul’s celebration must be performed on Areopagus.

Greece's government has enough cash to continue operating until the middle of November

By Alkman Granitsas and Stelios Bouras

ATHENS (Dow Jones)--Greece's government has enough cash to continue operating until the middle of November, the country's finance minister said Tuesday, despite facing an apparent delay in the disbursement of the next tranche of promised aid.

"Until mid-November there is no problem," Evangelos Venizelos said at a news conference. "We have done a cash flow forecast and our estimates are secure."

In a lengthy meeting of euro-zone finance ministers in Luxembourg Monday, the ministers decided to put off a decision on whether to approve an EUR8 billion payment to Greece until later in October, and beyond an informal deadline originally set for Oct. 13.

In previous remarks, Greek government officials have warned that the country was only weeks away from running out of cash and that cash reserves would only last until the middle of October.

Fears that Greece could face imminent default have rocked world financial markets in recent weeks and continued to unsettle investors Tuesday.

In afternoon trading, all major European bourses were showing heavy losses with the Athens bourse's benchmark general index plunging some 6.7% at about 1400 GMT. This weakness is also expected to spill over into U.S. markets when they open later Tuesday.

But Venizelos played down those fears, saying Greece will continue to meet all its debt obligations in full, and that euro-zone finance ministers were "impressed" with the austerity measures the country has taken to narrow its budget deficit.

"The basic messages from the eurogroup meeting is, firstly, that the banking system is absolutely secure, this relates to European and Greek banks. Secondly, Greece is, and always will be, in the euro and, thirdly, there is no talk of default," Venizelos said.

His remarks come two days after Greece disclosed that it would miss its budget targets for this year, forecasting a 2011 deficit of 8.5% of gross domestic product, or about EUR18.69 billion--well above a previous target of EUR17.1 billion.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pelagias Song Italian and Athenian Mandolinata

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a 2001 film directed by John Madden and based on the novel of the same name by Louis de Bernières. It stars Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz. The film was panned by critics on its release and disappointed fans by deviating somewhat from the plot of the novel, with many of the book's tragic episodes softened.
The main characters are Antonio Corelli, an Italian captain, and Pelagia, the daughter of the local physician, Dr. Iannis. An important event in the novel is the massacre of Italian troops by the Germans in September 1943.The idyllic beauty of Greece's Mediterranean islands has been invaded by Italy, bringing legions of soldiers to the once tranquil island of Cephallonia. Captain Antonio Corelli, an officer with an irrepressibly jovial personality and passion for the mandolin, initially alienates a number of the villagers, including Pelagia. The daughter of the village doctor, Pelagia is an educated and strong-willed woman, and while at first offended by the Italian soldier's behaviour, she slowly warms to his certain charms as they are forced to share her father's home.
When Pelagia's fiance, a local fisherman, heads off to war, the friendship between Antonio and Pelagia grows even stronger. Her beauty and intelligence have captured his heart and his fondness for the village's vibrant community causes him to question his reasons for fighting. Antonio becomes a part of the lives of the villagers, but the moment is fleeting. As the war grows ever closer, Antonio and Pelagia are forced to choose between their allegiance to their countries and the love they feel for one another-a love which must overcome tremendous odds, and endure the inevitable sacrifice which accompanies eternal devotion.

 Athenian Mandolinata

Mandolinata Guiness book of world records in Crete July 2011

My Greek and - Great Greek Info

To some it may seem that I am obsessed, constantly writing and talking about things Greek. I am admittedly a poor excuse for a Greek. I wasn't born in Greece, neither were my parents or grandparents. I don't live in Greece, I am not a Greek citizen, don't have a Greek passport nor do I own property in Greece. 
You may be surprised to learn that I quite agree with you. Greeks are not better than any other nationality. I challenge you to find anything I have written that says anything of the kind.  
This of course does not mean that the innovative and exceptional brilliance of the Greeks does not stand out in sharp contrast to that of other civilizations. It was their curiosity,their relentless questioning, their drive to explain human existence that was the starting point for achievements in logic, criticism, history, philosophy, rhetoric, dialogue, tragedy and analysis.  
It is the critical consciousness handed down to us from the Greeks that is responsible for the ascendancy of the West.  Science, technology, individualism, liberal democracy, natural rights, no matter how they have been influenced by other factors, came to us originally from the Greeks.  All those "great and powerful" countries you talk about owe their success to the Greek values that they adopted. We are all Greeks.
The West has also been predominantly Christian. Christianity is a hellenized Hebraism.  A development and completion of it. It was the Greeks who made the spread of Christianity possible. It was the Greeks who brought it out of its birthplace into the known world. The Greeks made possible both the rationalism that fueled modernity and the moral counterforce that fulfilled the very real spiritual needs of human beings. 
Unfortunately, the modern West, despite its wealth and technological accomplishments, has morphed into a barren spiritual wilderness with a mediocre culture where appetite and its gratification are the driving forces. Its values may be your values but they are not my values. The people of the countries you speak of have not only abandoned Christianity in large numbers, they have abandoned the critical consciousness of the Greeks.  They have lost the understanding that Greeks had for the limits or inherent destructive implications of unbridled rationalism and freedom. 
Greece is a puny country, small and insignificant. Perhaps that is because they too have abandoned the wisdom of their ancestors in exchange for the illusory and transient wealth of the mighty.  Yet, even the puny can sometimes teach the mighty valuable lessons and Greek history, throughout the ages, is replete with such examples. 
Greeks are not constrained by boundaries and by the small minds that create them. Our values are timeless. I will continue to teach my children Greek values: to question and look at the world critically, to value the dignity and worth of the individual, to love freedom. More importantly, I will teach them the central importance of a loving God in their lives. 
You see Ardi, Greek values are universal values that we ignore to our detriment. They are not the  exclusive possession of the Greeks who gave them freely to the world nor are they something the mighty can buy.  A country's worth is not determined by its possessions or its power, it is  determined by the content of what is in the hearts and minds of its citizens.  Poverty of the soul is poverty of the worst kind.