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Friday, 31 October 2008

Buenos Aires: The necropolis of Ricoletta

Casa Rosa (the pink house - BA's city hall)




Without any doubt in my mind, the best trip I have ever been part of was in Buenos Aires in March 07. The entire family plus about 10 friends from Athens and Salonika went for Manos' wedding. It was my first encounter with Latin America which I can tell you that immediately climbed on top of my favorite destinations. Now I am dreaming of going back to Argentina, doing BA again, as well as Patagonia, gaucho land and some road trips. But I also want to go to Peru, Brasil, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, you get the idea.
The ten days I have spent in Buenos Aires were the most memorable of my life. Very emotional as well. I kept crying throughout Manos' civil wedding and dancing at the reception of the religious one. In Argentina people get married twice, to the same person usually the same week. Not a bad habbit. Two parties :-)
There are several things that are different in Latin America. Different in a better way than we do it here. The most important thing that i liked the most, people are friendlier. They have a better mood, they love to dance, and they have a much more relaxed attitude than the rest of the world, at least the world that I have been to
Another thing that stroke me as extremely unusual was the fact that in the heart of the city, where Kolonaki would be in Athens, lies the Necropolis of Ricoletta. Necropolis, as the name implies from Greek, is the city of the dead. The Dead are extremely important in Catholic religion, but I think in LATAM they place more emphasis than, say in France, a catholic overall country. The Dead are so important in the religion, that there is early November the day of the Dead, a bank holiday, where people parade with lit candles in memory of loved ones who are now gone
Yet, never would I have imagined, that a cemetary, or cemetaries, would be so celebrated.

Necropolis of Ricoletta

The Necropolis of Ricoletta, is a famous cemetary where a family grave would cost more than a 5-room house in an upscale residential area!!! In the Necropolis Evita is burried, but Peron himself, was burried in a cheaper cemetary!!!

Evita Peron's grave (family name Duarte)


Argentinians consider Evita as their national heroine, they still love her and miss her and her grave is still full of flowers. Fresh flowers delivered every day by her people. There are tourist tours conducted in Ricoletta. My hotel was facing the necropolis and was considered one of the most priviledged spots in the city. In a way it is strange. In another way, it makes people suffer less for the ones that are gone. It somehow keeps them part of our lives.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Family moments

Most week nights after work, stroll in the park, and the exercise regime, I am dreaming of the sofa for reading or watching a movie. Friday night, which is the most important cocooning night - you see the fatigue load of the entire week is released - some other guys had the same idea...
This is what I saw once I was out of my shower, into my PJs and with my book in the hand. We ended up watching a movie. Impossible to read a book with Klelia licking my hand all the time.

Impossible is nothing!


I have very often quoted Adidas' slogan. I find it extremely powerful. Watching Gerbelassie break another world record a month ago in Berlin - in marathon this time - does turn this slogan into a mantra. More so four years ago when the Greek national team won the Euro. In that sense, impossible is nothing.
The same would be true on its negative - or mirror -image. It is not impossible to lose when a team is winning 3-0!!! Milan lost to Liverpool a few years ago in the CL final in Istanbul. But this is because Liverpool played an amazing second half. Not because, like AEK yesterday, they decided that the football matches should last 45minutes and not 90!!
Yesterday, I did not watch the game between Thrasyvoulos and AEK. After having watched the Barca game the previous night where they were winning 5-0 at the 30th minute playing artistic football, I did not want to have a bitter aftertaste so I did not watch any superleague game. Instead, during the game yesterday I did my daily jogging routine - on the treadmill this time, watching 'le diner des cons' a superb movie on which I shall elaborate on a later posting.
This season I have only been in the pitch once. Just one time. I don't even have my season ticket. I gave it to my brother to take any friends along that wished to go and watch what is left of a once great team. Olympiakos lost, but at least they were playing with Aris, not Thrasy-who????. Panathinaikos got a draw at last moment. It is not, unfortunately so, that the smaller greek teams got better and the league more competitive. It is that the bigger teams are becoming smaller and smaller.
After 2004 Greek football is becoming worse. How is that possible???

Entre les Murs


In 'Entre les Murs' (between the walls), François Bégaudeau, a French highschool teacher plays himself in a movie based on a book that he wrote about a year of teaching a racially mixed class of 14-year olds in a rough neibhborhood of northern Paris. The students can be clever, lazy, abnoxious, hopeful, in short entertaining. But they can be tiring if a job is not paid well, student attitude can be demotivating, and parents don't usually work with the teachers as their life priorities stem from a completely different set of values.
Begaudeau is not trying to provide a formula to fix France's social problems of its economically challenged class. Instead, he is attempting - with great success I would say - to portray modern Paris which is a bit further away from La Seine, Champs Elysee, La Tour Eiffel, les bistrots dans le Marais, les philosophes du Sorbonne et les coquilles St. Jacques, but still want to be close to Galleries Lafayette...
Besides the focus on Paris' racial, hence cultural, richness, there is a lot of emphasis placed between the relationships of the teacher and his students and the students themselves. Whoever has been a teenager (and can remember that:-) or has a teenage child will definitely find a lot of familiarities with that. What however I find beautiful in this movie is the way that the teacher/author/protagonists mix and matches street French with subjonctif du passe...Superb mastery of the so demanding French language is required and undoubtably Begaudeau has it
The film received le Palm d'Or at Cannes Film Festival. Besides François Bégaudeau who plays himself, so do the students..Everyone in this movie is a real figure. A most interesting project and a must see film

DVD review

Michael Clayton

A great movie, disclosing the lunacy required to keep a cool facade in the board room. A superb cast performing under the direction of a great master. George Clooney is portraying the role of the laywer with broken dreams turned fixer superbly and Tilda Swinton proves once again what a great actress she is (I first saw her in the Beach and she is the main reason why I finished watching that movie). After Syrianna, Clooney is involved in a project that brings to the surface some of our deepest nightmares regarding the society around us. Things we fear but try to avoid believing they are true. In Syriana, US conglomerates were responsible for keeping an entire nation under a siege of an uncompetent rich man, killing the only hope. In Michael Clayton, an american legal firm - in our nightmares second in command in evilness after oil companies - wants to hush a carcinegous practice of a manufacturing company by killing the lawyers that are fighting to get the truth out.
I must say that I have developed a strong respect for George Clooney as an actor, director, and generally as a thinker for choosing to participate in meaningful projects. In many ways his work reminds me of Robert Redfort in charisma, talent and anticomformity.

In the valley of Elah

Tommy Lee Jones, in my mind one of the best actors ever, stars in this tragic movie about a war veteran who has already lost his eldest son in the airforce and his youngest son gone missing after return from Iraq. Jones belongs to this school of actors where they tell the most with their face without talking. A most powerful performing technique without the noise. The absurdity of war and its dreadful consequences are portrayed magnificently. Jones' son was perished because war veterans come home and are expected to function in our society as they were before the war. But wars kill far away from the warzone and this poor soldier was killed by his mates, the very people that would die for him, and him for them, at the war front. Men are deprived from their humanity and operate by insticts. Unfortunately the war front has turned human survival insticts to paranoia, hence the death of Jones second son. A story that was not underlined as much as it should have been is the relationship of the soldiers' parents. Susan Saranton, the mother, kisses her husdband when he drops her off at the airport after seen the remains of her dead, burned and chopped son. This kiss alone for me is formidable. Any mother would loathe her husband; why is he still alive? her sons are dead. Both of them. Following his tracks. But she kissed him goodbye. Relationships like that are extremely rare. A very sad movie with a powerful anti-war message. Tommy Lee Jones is superb. The entire cast is. The predominant color of the movie is black. It sets the stage appropriately. The valley of Elah was where David beat Goliath. Still not sure who is David here though

Friday, 24 October 2008

Beach autumn



Greece is great most times of the year because of many reasons, but the top two for me is that you can go to the beach almost throughout the year and you can almost always find at least one friend who can come along - or who is already there and drags you along.
Monday last, I left work earlish and went to Erotospilia beach, near Porto Rafti. A bit too cold for me to swim - it seemed, but there were a few people swimming and they were not cold. The sea looked lovely. The problem with Erotospilia is that the sun sets behind some rocks and it gets shadowy early. Yet, the dogs loved it. I took both Zizou and Klelia with me. When Zizou understood we were at the sea he went wild, extremely happy running around like a mad dog and stopped only when his breathing got into trouble. Klelia, on the other hand, who had never before seen the sea, opened her eyes completely wide, smelled everything, curious, hypnotized by the new smells and the big blue, and like Zizou the first time, started barking at the waves. She was too scared to go in, but they both enjoyed the beach.
So, only 30min away from home, end of october, the sea is as inviting as ever, if no more, as there were only 6-7 people there and 5 of them were taking diving lessons. That was probably the highest point I had all week if not month. Having one of the largest coastlines in the world is something we should take advantage of. I strongly recommend it.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Justice not for all




In 1994, I was living in San Francisco, going through my first MBA year. I loved the city and the liberty and openess of its residence and appreciated a city with crime rate close to zero. Also with some of the country's top universities nearby, no wonder the intellect in San Francisco is above US average and most people I talked to knew about the then ongoing Balcan war and who Milosevic was. Needless to say that the propaganda against the Serbs was extravagant, long before any war crimes were even mentioned. The jury - that is the press - has condemned the Serbs. I think back then the main reason is that they were supported by the Russians as atrocities were taking place from both sides.
Just at the same time as the Kosovo war - in my opinion the closer we ever got to WWIII - was in its peak, all the 50 TV channels have stopped showing their normal program to broadcast a car chase. Not a hollywood car chase, a real one, but with hollywood flair. OJ Simpson who was accused of murdering his wife Nicole and her lover in their flat fled and a car chase begun that ended up being more famous than Steve McQuinn's in Bullitt. The weeks/months that followed Simpson's case was frontline on newspapers and great money earner for TV stations as it monopolized the news. Jay Leno would frequently start his show with jokes about Simpson's innosence. Credits for these of course were given to Simpson's top laywer team rather than in reality and the american juridicial system. The people's jury though - that is the press again - even though talked a lot about the evidence that was so much against him, focused a lot on racial issues. That simply sold more. Racial discrimination? Please. If anyone suffered discimination back then, it was Nichole for being blonde!

Now, thirteen years later, Simpson is back in court. Guilty this time he was found, on all counts of robbery and kidnapping that could put him to jail for life. Yet, another team of brilliant lawyers are now taking their shot at spotlight fame trying to get the trial annuled based on juridicial mechanics. A little bit like the first time. Circumstantial insufficient evidence, jury's misconduct, etc. Of course there is one element missing since the first time: Nicole Simpson was a blond white model and OJ was black. Too sensitive issue to put in jail for life a black football hero for killing a white girl. Now, there is no racial issue. But everybody is thinking that he should have been guitly the first time. I would really love to hear the new jokes about Simpson.
He will probably be announced innoscent again. What does this mean? That anyone who has fame and a lot of money can kill/rob/kidnap? Or should we not mention past crimes? Or are we to believe that it is possible that he did not kill Nichole? I think it is more likely to believe that he suffers from acute OCD uncontrollable at times. It is convenient for him that he is rich enough to afford the best laywer team. I think the court should impose on him psychiatrical treatment; the best, obviously he can afford it.

Milosevic was killed in his cell. I would bet anything that Simpson will never in his life see a cell from the inside. Sadam's killing was televised. And some other war criminals - mainly americans - will never pass trial. Although the severity of war crimes is googol times greater than killing one person, the judicial system should be fair to all trials. Once again it is proven that it is not. Of course we have to wait and see what the final decision for OJ will be. I bet $10 he will be freed. I also bet $100 that W will never stand trial.

PS: Not many people outside San Francisco, New York and other mega-urban US centers have ever heard of Milosevic, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Serbs and Croats. They have all watched OJ's car chase back in '94. Majority of them voted for W.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Thievery Corporation

I had no idea who these guys were. Nor did I care much to find out, except that too many people I know to ignore the fact, were too excited and were organizing to go to their Saturday night concert at Theatro Vrahon. So when my friend Mike - friends since primary school!!! - called to ask me if I would like Ioanna, another childhood friend!! - to get a ticket for me I immediately said yes. So, five childhood friends - a bit older now - set off. Everybody knows the songs, the lyrics, the band, except myself. Stefanos who came along, had a CD with him so we played on the way. Nice, lounge music, a bit of reggae-ish, some funk, the type of music I would expect to listen on a beach bar and did not believe that it would be appropriate for a concert.
When we arrived, the place was packed. Actually the venue was the worst part of the concert. No toilets, and only one exit, and no parking nor metro nearby made it a bit hard to get there and even harder to leave.
But the concert was very good. Not sure how many people were there, but the theater was packed and everybody was jumping and singing along. Thievery corporation are a big band. They have five or six musicians that are constantly on stage and then the singers change in every song. The group is Washington-DC based but there are band members from Jamaica, Brasil, Argentina, Africa, and of course other american states.
Singers sang in their native language their country's songs (probably a bit alternated though to fit the Thievery sound)
What was cool, was that the group themselves were too glad to be in Athens. Apparently their first two international gigs ever - that is outside the US - where in Athens and in Salonica a few years back, so they got very emotional and the crowd with them
The highlight of the concert I think was that there was a technical problem right when a belly dancer was performing on a oriental tune. The sound went dead, but she kept on dancing and the crowd kept on cheering for her.
Also, when the lead singer (a rastaman from Washington DC) dedicated a song to the bankers in the US
And at the end when the people in the crowd from the first rows (girls mostly) got onstage and were dancing and singing along.
Despite the horror of trying to find a toilet and being stuck before the exit for half an hour, it was a very good night. I don't think I will ever be a huge fan of Thievery Corporation, but I wouldn't mind getting their album as it is great chilling music with influences from across the globe.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona




My mum who is having guests over the last few days, called me yesterday and asked my opinion on which movie should should go and see with her friend. Her only requirement was that it should be a good movie and not something stupid. I have not taken any time lately, I am ashamed to say, to check the movies, so I quickly entered the internet and checked this week's movies. When I saw Woody Allen's movie released, I looked no further. I was sure it would be good and not stupid. Plus, it was shown in the theater really close to her house. So I advised her. And I also asked her to buy a third ticket for me so I could join them - I think the last time I went to see a movie with my mum was...ET. That alone was a huge reason for her to decide to go.
So, so far, the experience is great. The critics said that it was his best comedy ever. The viewers at Athinorama gave it 4.5stars. High expectations set. I also need to tell you that I absolutely worship Woody. I think he is a genius. The story is about two young American girls, Vicky and Cristina, who are best friends and are finding themselves in Barcelona for the summer as Vicky is finishing her masters in Catalan culture and Cristina is...well looking to find herself and I guess happiness. (Aren't we all??) Vicky's life is certain to include Hampton summer house weekends, and for Christina anything is possible. They are both very beautiful but completely different. So it seems. Javier Bardem is a very attractive painter that asks them -without knowing them - to go for a weekend away. Of course soon to be married and structured Vicky rebels but Cristina manages to convince her to go. I need not say more because the story starts getting interesting, and it gets even more so, when Maria-Elena, Bardem's film ex-wife shows up. Penelope Cruz is absolutely amazing in Maria-Elena's role. The entire cast is, but Penelope is worth at least an Oscar nomination for her role. The comedy is not in what is happening, although that is funny too. But it is of course in the script. Vicky calls Christna (Scarlett Johanson) neurotic, but she is really the calmest character. In Cristina's thinking and way of talking, one can easily recognize a New Yorker as seen by Woody. Vicky and Cristina could be the same person in all of us, one is structured, the other displaces any iota of responsibility for a moment of passion. But..don't we all sometimes, even the most structured of us? And if it comes in our life, can we handle it? Even Maria Elena needs a break.
Also, besides the acting, the directing, the script, the other element that makes this movie absolutely worth seeing it is the photography and the scenery. Beautiful.
OK, I should not have imagined that I might have liked a Woody movie better than his Manhattan stories or his Annie Hall, I didn't, but this one was one of his best. I will also give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. And I wish Cruz will get her Oscar. It should - for once - go to a comedy role and this one is billingual!! Not to mention she is absolutely gorgeous

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Put that ciggie out

Glenn, a friend from Cisco USA, has quit smoking. He is coming next week to Athens, he read on my blog that I quit (he is reading my blog daily but never leaves a message :-(
AND HE DECIDED TO QUIT!!!
So we had a deal for him to have quit by the time he comes over. Another incentive for me to keep going despite my occasional cravings (occasional but very strong) so that I can be a good role model for Glenn.
Thanks Glenn for making me feel slightly important in this world.

:-))))

Palin had a bad week.


One of my favorite persons in the world, Brigitte Bardot, she wrote Palin a letter wishing that she loses the election since, as she put it, the world would win! Good for BB. Great looks can go with high intellect, she can prove that.

"I hope you lose these elections because that would be a victory for the world," her exact words were. "By denying the responsibility of man in global warming, by advocating gun rights and making statements that are disconcertingly stupid, you are a disgrace to women and you alone represent a terrible threat, a true environmental catastrophe," wrote Bardot.
The main reason for why the 60s screen icon attacked Palin is her support of Arctic oil exploration that could jeopardize delicate animal habitats and for dismissing measures to protect polar bears.
"This shows your total lack of responsibility, your inability to protect or simply respect animal life," Bardot wrote. In a final salvo against Palin, the 74-year-old ex-star picked up on Palin's depiction of herself as a pitbull wearing lipstick and said she "implored" her not to compare herself to dogs.
"I know them well and I can assure you that no pitbull, no dog, nor any other animal for that matter is as dangerous as you are," Bardot wrote.
...And paraphrasing Madonna..."GIVE IT TO HER. YEAH!!!'

Speaking of Madge, she also asked in her Madisson square garden concert to 'kick f((*&ng Palin out of her show as she freaks her out'. Luvly.

She also compared McCain to Hitler on Get Stupid, but she did that in all her shows. And what an amazing song it is.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Following a fitness tip can be most fun


Yesterday on my blog, the fitness tip of the day said: 'Engage in physical activity with friends'. So I did. Yesterday, a group of four, Ioanna, Vicky, Stamatia and myself, got enrolled in a health club in our hometown and had our first group tennis lesson. The coach was very good and patient and even though the first lesson was mainly consumed on learning how to hold the racket, we had so much fun. Being friends with these girls since we were 10 or 11, it is fantastic that we find ways to continue to have fun and keep fit. I can tell you that if you can do something with friends, don't hesitate.
Of course I do more exercise the other days of the week, but learning how to play tennis with my best friends is so much more enjoyable.
Just do it :-)

Monday, 6 October 2008

Pou pas re Karamitro?




None of the two karamitroi above have understood which team they serve. Incomprehensible apathy from the bench from one side (Donis) and from indside the pitch from the other (Basinas)
The best player of the game, Peletieri made one mistake and Olympiakos celebrates the first goal. Yet, Basinas was the worst player of the entire game and AEK played with 10 since the begining. Juanfran's suspention left her with 9.
Donis is learning how to be a coach and Basinas is now finishing his 'ensyma'
I appreciate and totally understand Demis' position not to go to Karaiskaki (Olympiakos did not give AEK fans tickets and Demis stayed away like the rest of us - plus I would have trouble to go to Karaiskaki even if Madonna would perform) but I am only hoping he watched the game. I understand that Basinas WAS a good player and of paramount importance in gaining the Euro, but why do we have to become an elephant graveyard?
Not to mention that in the entire game Olympiakos had 2 shots and 2 headers and scored two goals. The game sucked.
Aisxos! What was worst, I missed the REM concert to stay in and watch the game. AISXOS!!!!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Favorite pictures

At my photography course, we are at the stage of creating our portfolio. That is first of all we have to select a few out of the thousand pictures we took and try to classify them into categories and create an adobe portfolio, a professional software by adobe. Which means in general more computer empowered manhours
I love taking pictures. I love going to school and learn about how to take better pictures and how to view the world differently.
But the hours in the laptop are not my cup of tea. Yet, the beauty is again in the process. There is always something elevating when a process is coming to an end.
Anyhow, selecting pictures is hard, especially when you have four or five approximately the same. But there are some pictures that are both appealing to me for emotional reasons and to the very demanding eye of professional photographers and photo teachers. I don't know what is their opinion of this one, but it is one of my fave pictures of this summer.

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!

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