Showing posts with label Greek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Orthodox Meeting in Crete & Women?

Greek Orthodox leaders meeting in Crete, Greece.
Source: Archdeacon Panteleimon
The Orthodox Church is holding an unprecedented council in Crete.

It was supposed to be in Istanbul but that was deemed too risky. So far the press releases are formalities and the American priests' Facebook posts reflect how awestruck everyone is.

On day one, today, the big story is that the Russians didn't participate. It's a patriarchal power game, and the BBC reported the Russians have issues with the Ukranian Orthodox and unity efforts.

Photos from the cathedral in Iraklion look inspiring, as were the vistas from an ancient monastery overlooking the Mediterranean.

Sadly, I have not seen any nuns or females in photos. Also disappointing: the orange juice brand with a scantily-clad woman (see photo) that someone decided should be served to make a point. You couldn't serve that today in Iznik, Turkey. That city was formerly called Nicea, and was where another of these famous councils came up with the Nicene Creed used in so many Christian services. Today, tour buses visit Iznik and many churches are in ashes. One hopes for some inspiration from such meetings.

Photo credit: New Yorker and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Archdeacon Panteleimon via Facebook, showing the leader of the American Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Demetrios, seated at far left.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lenten Recipes: Bamia & Veggies

Mixed Baked Vegetables

2 c (1 can) diced tomato
2 c (1 can) tomato sauce
4 c small whole fresh okra
1 large eggplant, peeled
6 small red potatoes
4-5 red pearl onions, or onion to taste, chopped
Dry Oregano
Dry Basil
Black pepper
Salt to taste (none if canned tomato has salt)

Method: wash okra and cut off top, place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1
cup white vinegar. Add one cup of water and set aside at least 2

Peel and slice eggplant into 1-inch cubes, sprinkle with salt, put in
colander to drain bitterness, wait at least half hour, rinse eggplant.

Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes or 1-cm slices.

in a small pot, cover bottom with olive oil and briefly sauté onion,
add dived tomato and a little of tomato sauce and cook about 20
minutes, add sprinkled oregano, pepper, basil. Set aside.

In a baking pan - mom uses Corningware, sprinkle olive oil. Place
mixed vegetables, pour sauce over and sprinkle again with olive oil.

Bake at 375 for approximately 1 hour, but check at 30 minutes. You can
cover with foil, and may need to raise temperature. Lenten/vegetarian!

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 taught and 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.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Power of Pontian Dance

You don't need to speak any Greek to be engaged for at least the first 15 minutes of this video that shows the power of dance! It's undenyable.
It's interesting to see how in step the dancers are doing the "Σέρρα" dance, bonding with small movements. See how holding hands supports body movement, even in old age!
Pontos, on the Black Sea in Northern Turkey, was unique. The people were Greek, but had their own dialect, music and dress, all with a certain Turkish influence. As the Ottomans battled ethnic minorities in the 1910s and 1920s, the Pontians became refugees, and were sent mostly to Northern Greece -- much like the Greeks in Asia Minor and other parts of what is now Turkey.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mourn, Be Fierce. One Life to Live

From the balcony: Arvanitaki at Carnegie Hall 2/1/2014. 
Eleftheria Arvanitaki enthralled a packed Carnegie Hall with her songs Feb. 1.
They included heavy laments, but these miroloi were uplifting in their poetic pain. Such songs are not wallowing in sadness, but what one blogger calls "stoic innoculation." It's a very Greek sentiment, aided by the uplift of the bouzouki. And, last Saturday, there was innocence conveyed in the breaks in Arvanitaki's voice, and a collective sway we felt whispering the lyrics together. The New York Times review notes that she draws on rebetika that is "mournful and fierce." Rebetika is the Asia Minor musical-blues influence that arrived in the 1920s with devastated refugees forced to abandon their homes.
I can't get enough of one Arvanitaki song, "το παράπoνο," ("The Lament"), which is an adaptation of an Odysseas Elytis poem. The poetry doesn't translate easily. It roughly says that one may set out to do one thing in life and find, looking back, that it was as if someone else was acting. It concludes: "a second life, there isn't." However, halfway through one's life, there is the other half to live ...
Εδώ στου δρόμο τα μισά 
 έφτασε η ώρα να το πω 
Άλλα είναι εκείνα που αγαπώ 
 γ'αλλού γ'αλλού ξεκίνησα. 
 Στ' αληθινά στα ψεύτικα 
 το λέω και τ' ομολογώ 
Σαν να 'μουν άλλος και όχι εγώ 
 μες' στη ζωή πορεύτηκα 
 Όσο κι αν κανείς προσέχει 
 όσο κ'αν τα κυνηγά 
Πάντα πάντα θα 'ναι αργά 
 δεύτερη ζωή δεν έχει.
Below, Arvanitaki sings the song To Parapono, with more of her hits to follow. The song is on a 1996 album of Greek poetry set to music called,"Songs For The Months" explained on a great music blog. Other quiet songs I recommend: Καθρεφτίζω το νου and Παράπονο (Ξενιτιά).  In New York, her orchestra included Armenian oud player Ara Dinkjian. More from a clever British blogger who says musical laments, for Greeks, are "not wallowing in sadness, but stoic innoculation." Here's the ANT1 Greek interview with Arvanitaki about the New York show.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Alexander Payne At the Golden Globes

Yes it's true: the writer and film director Alexander Payne is of Greek descent.
So Payne was kind to the Greek Reporter shaggy-man behind the microphone below. According to the Alexander Payne Wikipedia biography, his real first name is Constantine and his ancestors come from Livadia, Aegio, the island of Syros, in Greece, and from Germany. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, studied Spanish and history at Stanford University, studied in Spain and later lived in Colombia.
So being Greek isn't the story he tells. (He is close to his elderly parents, a restaurateur-businessman and a French-Spanish teacher, according to a recent New Yorker profile.)
His latest film "Nebraska," one of four set in his home state, features black-and-white winter prairie landscapes that remind me of the ride from Chicago to Champaign, Illinois. That stark beauty helps tell the story. On storytelling, Payne paraphrases Anton Chekhov: "If you want emotional effects, you have to place them against a cold background, so they stand out in relief." (see The New Yorker on Payne Oct. 28, 2013, p. 50). Critics say Payne can be condescending in trying to balance satire and sympathy in his characters. He says he is "deathly afraid of beign too sentimental." Payne told The Guardian in an interview that evoking emotion is the goal:
"Sentimentality is a dirty word to me. It implies trying to wring tears from the audience. I don't want to do any of that crap. If you want to be moved, fine. If you don't, fine. I'm not going to force anything out of you."
I find something admirable about Payne's tenacity, his apparent un-Hollywood existence, and the length of time he spends scouting, writing, filming and editing. Even with success, The Guardian claimed he was not prolific -- now with more than six films to his name, an Oscar and new award nominations.
Creative minds should be condescending, given all the judgement one is constantly subject to.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

H Tύχη: Luck, Fate & Hope

Listening to a Greek song, "Luck," today that says: "Look what fate brings. Some give, others get. For some it opens roads and for others, it kills dreams. The scales are always tilted through life, depending on which side you're on .... η ελπίδα πάντα ζει ... hope always lives."
Avoid the video with singer Despina Vandi - just listen to the music and learn a little Greek with the lyrics below. (Some words are shortened into contractions missing apostrophes.)

Μέρα μπαίνει μέρα βγαίνει
τ΄όνειρό μου κυνηγώ
μα εκείνο μ'αποφεύγει
και είμαι κολλημένη εδώ
Συνεχώς 'στο παρά πέντε' (idiom for "just in time")
και ποτέ στο ακριβώς
βλέπω άλλους να εναι μέσα
βλέπω εμένα να ειμαι εκτός

Μου ειχες πει να ελπίζω πάντα
και να κάνω υπομονή
και αν πραγματικά το θέλω
τώ όνειρό μου θα συμβεί

Όμως για κοίτα η τύχη πώς τα φέρνει
σε άλλους δίνει σε άλλους παίρνει
για άλλους ανοιχτοί όλοι οι δρόμοι
για άλλους το όνειρο σκοτώνει
Κοίτα η τύχη πώς τα φέρνει
ζυγαριά που πάντα γέρνει
κι η ζωή σου εξαρτάται
από ποια πλευρά της θα εσαι

Μόλις φτάνω προς το τέλος
άντε πάλι απω την αρχή
οι προσπάθειες πεθαίνουν
μα η ελπίδα πάντα ζει

Όμως για κοίτα η τύχη πώς τα φέρνει
σ΄άλλους δίνει σ΄άλλους παίρνει
γι΄άλλους ανοιχτοί όλοι οι δρόμοι
γι΄άλλους τ΄όνειρο σκοτώνει
Κοίτα η τύχη πώς τα φέρνει
ζυγαριά που πάντα γέρνει
κι η ζωή σου εξαρτάται
από ποιά πλευρά της θα΄σαι

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Liz Lemon Greek Ben & Jerry's

Yiayia would never put lemon in her yogurt or put yogurt in the "freeza." But you have to love this very New York frozen yogurt tribute to 30 Rock character Liz Lemon, AKA actress and writer Tina Fey, who yes, has some Hellenic heritage. I only caught one Greek reference in the show - when the daffy assistant is engaged to a guy named Dimitri.
This ad is in the 49th Street Times Square train station, and shows the show's namesake Rockefeller Center edifice nearby. Is this Ben & Jerry's flavor available in other parts of the country?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Yogurt, Whey & Greek-Turk Battle For Domination

New York recently played host to a yogurt summit.
That's right. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was front and center, too.
Despite its Big Apple reputation, New York is a state full of dairy farms. And it turns out the national craze - strained, thick Greek yogurt – is boosting milk demand and producing tons of waste. Greek producer Fage has operations in New York’s Mohawk Valley, while Chobani - founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish man of Kurdish extraction - operates in the “Southern Tier” of the state. 
The summit addressed just what to do with the runoff from straining yogurt, otherwise known as “whey.” I think of whey as a good thing. I think that's what Mediterranean food shops use to store feta. One would think industrial bakers could use it, or that someone could bottle a branded, new lassi or salty-mint drink. Instead, this Modern Farmer article totally demonizes the yogurt byproduct as "acid whey" and says it's a potential environmental hazard. One Upstate New York farmer tried to turn whey into electricity, but it cost millions.
There is another way to take the whey away: just artificially thicken the yogurt.
This 2012 NPR story explains the battle - mostly for yogurt authenticity - and says one Turkish dairy products company has studied just how to get the Greek "residual mouth coating, meltaway and jiggle."
Kiss a Greek, perhaps?
My advice: make yogurt at home. Here's a recipe for thick, Greek yogurt. Boil lots of milk, and cool it just enough to mix with some already-made yogurt. (My rule: it's just cool enough if you can hold your pinky in the hot milk for about 10 seconds). Then let the mixture sit in a warm place (that requires more finagling in winter). Strain. The above recipe says use an old t-shirt for straining. Greek grandmothers are known to use cheesecloth.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Last Night in a Dream

In a very deep sleep last night, I felt a pain in my heart.
It was the kind you feel briefly when you get sudden, unexpected bad news.
In the Balakian memoir I am reading, (see below), the grandmother tells stories in allegory, and she recites and interprets dreams.
I haven't been recalling nighttime brain wanderings of late. But in a dream last night, I was missing my grandmother who I never knew. In the black-and-white world she inhabits, she looks very proud and unmovable, with a somber, wise smile and a 1920s wave in her dark hair. It's her sweet bread recipe we repeat every Christmas, every Easter.
Recently I said that I can see her, but I wish I could hear her.
And then, in my dream, she sent me a text.
She simply wrote: "I'm here."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Balakian Book: Baking Choereg & Fate

In a nod to Armenian Christmas on Sunday, the fates left on my office desk today a book apparently delivered in August - !!! - that was lost in the bowels of our mail room.
It was Peter Balakian's historical memoir that I ordered long ago: "Black Dog of Fate." It starts with a timely description of making a bread called "choereg."
I am amazed that my mom, when I said the word choereg, which I don't recognize and can't quite pronounce, conjured up some Greek: "Of course. Tsourek-i. Our recipe for holiday sweet bread."
Balakian writes of spending an afternoon with his Armenian grandmother, who was born near Turkey but lived in New Jersey. They prepared bread, which helped her tell deeply buried, moving stories:
"To make choereg, we mixed milk and melted butter into a ceramic bowl. I poured [yeast] into a glass measuring cup and watched it fizz. Eggs, sugar, salt, rising agent, and my grandmother poured in the mahleb."
Mahleb, or mahlepi, is a spice that looks like a small nut, but is the essence of a cherry pit, his grandmother explained. Then she quoted the Song of Solomon on spices and praised the merits of memorizing the Bible and prose.
"She sifted flour and we mixed it all with a large wooden spoon until it was dough. Then she scooped the dough out and put it on the flour-glazed bread board. We squeezed and pressed it with our hands. I liked how the wet dough stuck between my fingers. I liked how she took it to another bowl and turned it all over its oiled surface, then covered the bowl with a towel and put it in the unlit oven. It was warm there and free from drafts, and when we opened the oven two hours later, the dough was an airy saffron-colored mound. I loved punching the dough down so that it's porous insides collapsed. We pulled it into pieces and made ropes, braids, and rings."
You can see ours, a vasilopita, but always with mahlepi and sesame.
Perhaps it was again fate, but tonight I also received the latest Columbia Journalism Review offering this feature: "Where Truth Is a Hard Cell: Although Seen as Modern & West Leaning, Turkey leads the World in Jailing Journalists," by Stephen Franklin, a former Chicago Tribune Middle East correspondent.
"The most dangerous problem is self censorship," according to one veteran Turkish editor who's quoted. "You don't even ask questions. And that kills journalism."
A recipe for disaster, not bread, in that case.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Are So Fortunate

The curls and somber face on a used book have transported me each night in a rather delirious week ... with only a little bread and water, feeling ill .... over mountains, through villages, past gendarmes ... on a horse-drawn wagon full of refugees. It was 1915. This biography has gripped me with its detail about the refugees' escape and the futility of hate. And what motivates hate and war: money and power.
Seared in the mind of a child and written for posterity by her son, Veron speaks simply without judgement and tells of violence, starvation, lies, death and, miraculously, hope and love.
Each day we breathe, we must remember our unlikely fortune. Each of us is a survivor with a purpose.
Read "The Road Home," by David Kherdian. A Newberry Honor Book. 1979, Greenwillow Books, New York.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Listen To Alkinoos Ioannides

Guitar, raw vocal folk melodies and poetic lyrics are what engage you at an Αlkinoos concert - and the singer-guitarist may come to a big-city venue near you in 2012.
A pianist friend from Greece told me four years ago that Alkinoos is "the best new musician Greece has right now." And my Athens cousins gave Alkinoos a thumbs up long ago.
The beauty of Alkinoos is that he is an anti-star. And his music and lyrics are his own - those of a lover-rebel. Even the album art is a family affair - his father is a painter.
From Cyprus, the singer is in his 40s. Just as he is not afraid to show his grey hair, he is not afraid to express a feeling in a weird octave. Sometimes there are English horns, recorders or a stringed instrument. It makes you listen. And the words and instrumentation deliver.
His new album, "local stranger," is a best-of CD that I picked up at his only NYC show last night. It's presented in English, lyrics all in Greek, and it is really mellow and accessible and addictive, even if you don't know Greek. Favorites songs:
The Pilgrim
Afternoon at the Tree (apologies for the YouTube remix)
All Love Dreams Of
This Changing World
You can buy it on Amazon!
Alkinoos plays small venues when he tours; I only heard about the show from a last-minute, local poster. He raps, does a waltz, includes bouzouki, and even tries some orchestral arrangements.
Some critics can't relate to the rock component in some of his songs, but Greek youth have been getting hard rock in volumes for decades. Those same kids also hear traditional music. One more lesson in the hodge-podge that is Greece.
Alkinoos ended last night's show with an acoustic, un-microphoned Cypriot lullaby that his grandmother once sang to him.
Post show, we went out for salad, Halloumi cheese and a Cypriot ground-pork-and-mint meze you sprinkle with lemon.
Here is the Alkinoos Ioannides tour schedule.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Find Work in Greece

Hysterical desperation from two young Greeks looking for work (δουλειά) is on display in this video passed on by a friend in Athens.
All in Greek, but you will get the negotiation: They start by saying all of the things they don't need -- acronyms for retirement, extras, days off work. You'll hear number of hours they are willing to work, what personal things they are willing to give up - pay, their homes. The punchline? The winner calls his honey: the work is at Mitso's little restaurant.
Quoting my friend who sent this: "Ο ΄Ελληνας δεν χάνει ποτέ το χιούμορ του, ούτε και στις πιό δύσκολες στιγμές του. Γι' αυτό : Η Ελλάδα ποτέ δεν πεθαίνει. Απολαύστε την συνέντευξη!
"The Greek never loses a sense of humor, even in his/her most difficult moments. Greece won't die ..."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Payne Loves Mama

Alexander Payne may have received the Oscar for his adaptation on The Descendants, but he deserves another for dedicating it to his mother, and telling her Σ´αγαπω - "I love you" in Greek - on national TV. Maybe John Stamos will pop over with a case of Danon's oddly pronounced Greek yogurt being advertised all night.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bouzouki's Lending Hand

A facebook friend in Greece dug up this old song from an old movie of the same name called  "Μιας Πεντάρας Νειάτα" or "Three-penny Loans." The singer, Maria Douraki, says at one point, at least they have the Lord and Panagia. Maybe the Greek government should do a WPA-style program to revive acoustic bouzouki music. If it didn't help the economy, at least it would improve the mood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

From A Beirut Mall

Word has it that this inspiring flash mob Easter video from a Beirut, Lebanon mall will inspire counter mobs. Blogger won't allow me to label it in Arabic. The words:
Arabic: !المسيح قام! حقا قام
English: Christ is Risen!
Al-Masih qam min bain'il-amwat
wa wati al mowt bil mowt
wa wahab'l hayah lil ladhina fi'l qubur
Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών / θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας / και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι / ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
Christ is risen from the dead / By His death, He has trampled upon death /and given life to those in the tombs.

A blogging Catholic cleric got some interesting commentary on the video and there's a Wiki with hundreds of translations. Also: an Easter folk song from a pretty Serbian cherry orchard, and catch a documentary on an Orthodox prayer on Chicago's PBS station Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Bright Week indeed!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hellenic Fairy

Live from the Greek Independence Day parade in New York Sunday, a rollerblading, flag-bearing fairy. She fluttered by before Annunciation Church from the West Side and the Consul General of Greece, after the Pan-Cyprian and Messinian societies.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Savalas Jazz

Went to see Ariana Savalas (left), a child of Telly Savalas aka Kojak, sing some jazz downtown Thursday. It was her first time in New York, and what promise for a 20-something who wants to do acting too. She performed standards, but I was most moved when she sang La Vie En Rose in French, and she seemed most moved performing something she wrote, infused with pop-rock styling. (For the uninitiated, Kojak was a TV cop show and character who sucked on lollypops and called everybody "baby." Here's a classic Kojak episode, where he calls a Greek criminal a "Mediterranean fungus." The video has great scenes of 1970s New York, and imperfect acting and editing that are so refreshing. Richard Gere plays a two-bit criminal, and his partner utters some of the worst Greek pronunciations ever heard.) Nearly as entertaining was the company at my jazz club table: a long-haired Russian nut in sunglasses, lavender satin hanky in his breastpocket, who slugged several vodkas and made cat calls the whole show, and next to him a TV cameraman I know from NYC media circles who fell off a Greek island cliff while shooting "Blue Zones", went into a coma, was operated on in Greece, airlifed home, and lived to tell about it. New York life is never dull.