Friday, May 20, 2005


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Back, sooner or later.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Great Baclava Recipe

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Photo: Brian Leatart, via

Thomas kindly notified me: his fine blog, Anatomy of Melancholy, just received some high-traffic exposure from the Dame herself in The Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington, currently visiting our corner of the world for a refreshing dip in the Aegean, might have missed the Olympics by almost a full year but did not miss an opportunity to promote what she describes roughly as global blogging practices -- even going as far as hinting at the suitability of blogging as the next Olympics' new competition event!

Apparently, blogging is a trend affected by globalization's reprecussions in the information processing and dissemination industry. Huffington stresses blogs' role in "the democratization of the media" in the US and is eager to present equivalent cases, if not processes, elsewhere. Her choice of post among Thomas' array of interesting subjects is not without reason: the post singled out deals with the tragicomical construction known as the Greek state civil service bureaucracy. But rather than resting the case on the clientelistic system in effect (widely so until only a few years back), Huffington sharply points at the similarity of such with holding practices in Washington, D.C. In case her American readers didn't realize, well -- it's the same democratization needed in both sides of the Atlantic. (And just the one blogs like The Huffington Post are already dealing with.)

As regular readers of this blog might recall, I was particularly vocal when our North American readership climbed to over 20 percent of hits received. Greece is a small country with a relatively low internet penetration index and the vast majority of Greeks who are actively blogging prefer to do so in their mother tongue. For our international readers' benefit, a discussion of readworthy greek blogs in English was posted here less than two months ago. (A follow-up is in order.) At least one of the blogs Ms. Huffington provides links for, Histologion, is in English and (as we had also pointed out) a good departure point for those American readers who might wish to venture into modern Greek blogging reality.

As it happens, I survey the greek blogosphere on a daily basis and often present interesting findings for my greek-language blog. In order to do this, I closely follow over 120 blogs through an automated feeder-service. Well, believe it or not, there are only three blogs in Greek focusing on food and recipes and two of them are written by non-greeks! And I've yet to find a recipe of the famous greek Baclava in a greek-language blog. Which rather makes sense, given that any Greek actually looking for recipes in a greek blog would already know how to make (good?) Baclava. A cheese cake recipe search would be more logical for us.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Speak of the Devil

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The Political Compass, a nasty little helpful tool.

Ethnic cleansing has been a favorite subject for analysts and journalists dealing with the Balkans, especially in the aftermath of former-Yugoslavia's disintegration and resulting series of quasi-civil wars. During my days off english-language blogging, I came across some over-generalizations by a greek journalist who also likes to post his paper articles in a blog (as a matter of fact, I was told it was paper policy to have him do so, apparently to show the public how in touch with current trends they all are); nevertheless, as mor knows, I happen to be somehow knowledgeable about Srebrenica and the UNPROFOR and all the ugly shit which occured there, so I posted a little protesting remark in my greek-language blog. Funny thing, nobody seems to care any longer. So, why am I pushing this here? I am not. It just so happened that a (remote) cousin of mine recently got married to the daughter of a Serbian businessman. After I received the invitation (for Belgrade, no less, with hotel reservations), I googled the bride's surname. Turned out the father of the bride is a major industrialist, gets some prime ribs of public works (rebuilding what American bombers destroyed back then) and is what we call in greek διαπλεκόμενος i.e. "highly connected (with a politico-economic twist)". I was sorry I couldn't make the wedding.

Did I mention I am now officially back and ready for some action? So is the much-advertised, long-awaited Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington's loud entry into e-journalism (con Blog). It remains to be seen whether it will be a resonant or simply a brassy one. Good thing they already accepted a comment of mine. Yes, looks like all comments go through some cacophony-controlling device. I am glad my voice is still Callas-quality after all these years. I recall Arianna back around 1980, when she visited Swarthmore and I was resorted to by the President's office as the only Greek on campus to escort her through the gardens and buildings. I am not sure we actually exchanged a word, I believe the party was almost a crowd. She was either working on or had just released her book on Maria Callas. Funny how small the world was back then.

In case you hadn't noticed, my impenetrably beloved Karina has (finally) posted her Meme 451 reply in her widely renovated, bilingual blog: go visit for a Totally Irrelevant book meme! Risking the wrath of my two pulchritudinous co-bloggers (oh, they know I love them both, they are the cream of the crop), I should mention they were not as intense and overwhelming as I'd expected in calling me back to action. A little more passion, ladies?

Needless to add, I've been through a lot during my absence. Some of that lot ended up in my stomach, visibly altering my diameter. (One can see a picture here.) While I was digesting (the long hours), soul searching was in order. I am sure most of you will agree that soul searching on an empty stomach is not recommended. Ancient Greeks philosophised during dinners, the Symposia. Uncertain of my current political stance, I took a test. I am sure you'll rejoice to view my results.
Economic: Left/Right: -2.63
Social: Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.08
This puts me in Gandhi's quarter (see pic above). The Political Compass folks have a special (classical) composers' plot as an example, so my "score" places me roughly between Beethoven and Shostakovich. A mere coincidence I happen to like them both?

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Thursday, May 05, 2005


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Literally, in mid-air: a place of poverty, obedience, will, and prayer. I am touched by this place, its asceticism and soundlessness. Such sensations aren't meant to be shared or allotted. They may be articulated, but not really voiced. There aren’t enough pages to purge them in writing; the tropes are too trite for the blog. There aren’t enough hours or hotels to disabuse ourselves in other ways.

I climb to the top of the rock. I summit it. The heights are dizzying, vertiginous, closer to God, perhaps, than sky. All the vows and vistas ensure that you are alone with him and yourself; no one can change this or ease this or accept this on your behalf. It is a place I inhabit already. Tour buses come and go, and I am admitted without charge. I am not a foreigner here.

But first they furnish a skirt. They lend me the chastity that I lack, the modesty, the propriety. I make friends with a nun who is not mute, who would really rather talk than hum, and a tortoise-shell cat, alone and distracted like me. I hit my head. The gardens were closed at the nunnery of the saint and martyr I am most interested in, but temptation comes in many forms. It’s electrifying at the edges. With each new altitude there is another nudge, a little push, to fall, or to fly.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

travels in Epirus

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Ioannina: Town of Silver Art Creators (The art of collage is also practiceable.)

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Metsovo: Orange tile roofs, gray slate streets.

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Traditional dance moves. (That’s how they do it in Metsovo.)

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Lake Pigon Aoou: The line between natural and artificial is ill-defined at best. Distance is one artificial buffer.

You can travel great distances in Greece, gathering experiences of different kinds. There are islands and mountains, cities, dangerous curves and a twisty stomach. Blues and greens are soothing, deep, but the rocks are barren and brown. There is snow on a distant peak; there are cats and cars on steep cobbled streets. You'll rub your feet til they are raw; you'll feel every step, take nothing for granted. Beauty feels good because it hurts, not because it takes the hurt away. A bee hovers by the glass, insists.

photos by sissoula

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