Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring On 5th Avenue

The indoor cherry blossom mega-bouquet at the Neue Gallery convinces me that spring will come, somehow. But the snow still is pretty.

War Bonds & Human Bonds

The Neue Gallery in New York is exhibiting World War I posters juxtaposing beautiful Austrian style and the futility of war:
The gallery is really a museum dedicated to a narrow window of history that interested two collectors. The exhibition notes that 100 years ago, Europe's cataclysmic war brought down four empires: Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914.
The war was expected to "cleanse society," but euphoria gave way to despair, as hunger became widespread and staples dwindled. Disease and death followed. The loss of life with industrialized warfare is shocking to remember: 9 million military and 12 million civilian lives. The exhibit quotes Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who described the initial days of World War I:
"Trains arrived with freshly arrived recruits. I found the entire city of Vienna in a state of intoxication. ... Suddenly flags unfurled, bands and music were everywhere. Young recruits marched in triumph and their faces were radiant because one cheered them ... The little common people who no one otherwise notices or celebrates. ...I found something great, magnetic, irresistible and even seductive in this first popular awakening. .. Hundreds of thousands felt something as never before that they should better have felt in peacetime: that they belonged together."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Accept No One's Definition Of Your Life

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life. Define yourself."
That's a Harvey Fierstein quote via Zelda Williams, daughter of comedian Robin Williams, as she returned to social media. She dropped out for just a bit after some people said dumb things regarding her father's suicide.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nutty Coconut Honey Granola

Appalled at the price of granola, I made my own, finally. It certainly smells amazing as it bakes. I modified Martha Stewart's recipe using my stash of ingredients, including a two-pound container of oats ($6) -- the minimum a New Yorker pays for puffed-out, puny portions of granola.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Facts About Ebola

Fact #1: you probably won't get Ebola if your modern NYC hairdo is dyed granny blue. Photo at right is public-service information on a New York City subway train.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Yorker Cartoonist: Revenge of the Pen

Charlie hebdo deaths2A poignant illustration and comment from cartoonist Liza Donnelly, forwarded to me: "My heart goes out to the families of the cartoonist and others who were killed in the senseless violence at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Cartoons are incredibly powerful, and it is the responsibility of the cartoonist to use her power for good. The cartoonists who were killed did just that in their own way; it is a provocative way, but that is their right.  I mourn the loss of these cartoonists as champions of freedom of expression.  My solution to revenge their killing is to draw for peace at every opportunity."
Source: http://lizadonnelly.com/archives/revenging-deaths-french-cartoonists

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Sleep: 2014 Turkish Film Now in US Theaters

An interesting Turkish film shot in Cappadocia, Winter Sleep, is now showing in New York City. Hope to see it as it was nominated for many awards.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Orata: Is It Lavraki?

In Greece, Lavraki is a near mythical fish, ever elusive. When Greek journalists stumble upon a great story—snag that rare exclusive scoop—they call it a Lavraki, says Milos, a Greek fish restaurant in New York, on its website.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall In Central Park

Photos from a recent day of leisure in Central Park. I like the lens on my new iPhone. Not ready for the arctic blast!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reset your mind: Glass & Kurosawa

Tired of endless chatter? Reset your mind with this, which surely is completely unrelated to anything you have done or seen today: a scene from "Dreams" by the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa set to the music of Philip Glass.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Muslim Girl Who Wants An Education Gets A Nobel Prize

Watch the 2009 profile of the young woman from Pakistan who won the Nobel Peace Prize today.
Malala Yousafzay is an incredibly well-spoken girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, and recovered. She first wanted to be a doctor, then a politician, but always wanted to be educated, and her father ran a school for girls. They had to leave the Swat Valley, near Afghanistan, and live in the UK now.
 The video embedded below shows her in 2009, but other New York Times video here shows Malala's progress after meetings with President Barack Obama, etc. She shared the Prize with Kailash Satyarthi of India, who has championed children's rights.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antique Earthen Vases At ABC

These clay vessels for oil and wine and food are what Greeks called κιουπια and what museums call Grecian urns.
Clay pots were all over the Mediterranean, but ABC Carpet and Home, New York's fabulous interiors mecca, is selling these whitewashed pots as "Antique Turkish Pithoi." The white sign, which greets visitors at the entry to the Union Square store --  pictured at right -- reads: "Turkey circa 1900. Handmade, sun-bleached earthenware, historically used to store water, wine, olive oil, butter (!) and all types of grains. The various sizes and styles reflect the culture, craftsmanship and local soil from its region of origin. One-of-a-kind and exclusively at ABC. Recycled. Indigenous. Handmade. $95-$1595."
My question for buyers: who sold these, what is the actual geographic origin, and who should be profiting? I'm off duty, so more to come.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Love At The Beach

From a recent visit to a Riis Park beach, an uncommercial propeller plane message worth repeating.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Soccer Travel, Italian Style

From the online magazine Quartz, just love these shots. Better rendition on http://www.twitter.com/defotis


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Soundtrack For Brazil

For Brazil fans who want an avant garde soundtrack to the World Cup games, try the Brazilian group Uakti and the sound of wooden vibraphone. This piece, Tiquiê River/Japurá River, was written by the contemporary American composer Philip Glass.
My favorite Uakti piece is for flute players, electronica fans and those who love them: Alnitak, circa 1991.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Upper West Side Cherry Blossoms

New York, NY: On West End Avenue and 91st Street, ivy and Upper West Side cherry blossoms. From the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church entrance ramp.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Don't Want To Live Like A Refugee

This rather lush Greek book promotion says we are all refugees and author Dimitris Karavasilis asks, what if the our children don't have any memories of Asia Minor? What if they don't feel it in their soul? An obvious fear, since many of those children read English and the stories are in Greek.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do Smartphones Dumb Down The Greek Language? X! X3ro!

You can write with the Greek alphabet on many smartphones, and the iPhone Greek keyboard makes messaging very simple.

But Android phones don't come with Greek keyboards, and long Greek words mean expense and hassle. So more and more Greek-speaking people are using Roman letters combined with abbreviations to text on phones. Greek is daunting: is the "E" sound spelled ει, οι, η, ι, υ ?! But as technology speeds up communication, will the result erode written Greek? A University of Western Macedonia study in 2008-2009 found that "Greeklish" is slipping into Greek students' work, with crazy word spellings, the use of Roman letters, and other mistakes that totally confound teachers. An example from a recent text I received:
Received: Efxaristo poli, sou efxome ke esana oti pothis.
Should be: efharisto polu, sou efhomai kai se sena oti potheis.
In Greek: ευχαριστώ πολύ, σoυ εύχομαι σε σένα ότι ποθείς.
In English: Thank you very much. I wish you whatever you desire.
The iPhone has a built-in Greek dictionary that auto-corrects spellings, teaching students of Greek like me. But foreign scripts should be universally accepted on all devices -- or supported by the data providers. That many devices can't intercept Greek-language texts is one more reason for me to put up with the small-screened iPhone, for now.

Many decades ago my grandfather, who contributed to the the publication -- in Chicago -- of several books in Greek, and taught Greek in North Side immigrants' homes, still used some Katharevousa, or high Greek. He and one of my uncles lamented new word usage and abbreviations in Demotiki, the everyday Greek that is now widely used in all but government, court or scientific settings. When my parents were kids, U.S. Greek school lessons required learning all the complex accents -- Greek diacritics -- that were mostly abandoned in the 1980s.

My favorite Greeklish for texting and tweeting: x! That is an abbreviation for χάλια (halia), meaning lousy, really bad.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fish Soup & Kalamari

Found an irresistible special on a chalkboard menu today: ψαρόσουπα-- with carrot, potato, just a bit of flaky white fish and lots of fresh lemon. It may have had a little tomato, or okra, for flavor. And it was not pureed, but not too chunky. I had καλαμαράκια and pita bread on the side.
This is my favorite taverna in Astoria: Tiny, nice menu with a few twists, the server with hazel eyes always calls me sweetie, and today he's playing the best acoustic rebetika. Antiques and old photos on the shelves, below wood beams. Νow playing: "Φεύγω, γιασου γιασου!"
This fish soup recipe is quite simple.