Thursday, August 30, 2007


I saw a headline on the news yesterday, in quotes, “Worst Disaster Since World War II”. I don’t know if this was the talking point of a politician or a journalist, but I’m not sure I agree, generally speaking, that the fires have been a worse disaster than the junta of the 60's. Even so, Greece has had its share of disasters ever since Byzantine times, and certainly the fires of the last few days are disastrous not only on a personal or environmental level but also on a political level. Fires in Greece are a major disaster for a variety of reasons, including lack of infrastructure for dealing with mass fires like this one, and lack of education among the populace in fire safety and prevention. I certainly hope that whatever party gains power in the upcoming election not only sets out to change these things but actually does something about it, because a number of factors seem to indicate that fire season in Greece may only keep getting worse (especially if we continue with drier winters).

On that note, please read Kat’s post about fires and fire safety (if you haven’t already), and her wonderful article in the Guardian U.K.

We all love Greece. Here’s hoping we can make things right for the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lamentation of the Twelve

Sing Muses, Olympus-born, of the tragic burning of Hellas:
Of the gathering anew of your father and the Twelve
veiled in mist on the ancient mountain, your home of old
where the ambrosia has lain untouched and the nectar is undrinkable.
Of the tainting of the god-touched springs where your blessed bodies bathed.
Of the reaping of lush forest long home to your nymphean games.
How your father has called forth once again the Twelve
long abandoned by the mortals whose love they once commanded.

Sing, divine daughters of Aegis-bearing Zeus, your noble father:
Of his anger when the strong-willed Titan dared to steal Fire
to give to man what was meant for gods to wield.
Of Zeus’ anger, forever cleaving the bond with man asunder,
no longer welcome at the magnificent tables of the gods
Of the punishment of mortals for this gift -
Pandora, artfully molded by lame-born Hephaestus,
a woman for Prometheus’ manly folly.

Sing, fair-breasted Muses, from your mountain vale:
How the divine cast off their eyes from the misty peaks
to survey the burning of Hellas.
From Evia, Taygetos, the destruction of Ilieas
to Artimeta and the ancient ruins of Olympia
to the once bountiful forests of Parnitha, and the hills of Imittos
to the tree-guilded fingers of Halkidiki.
Of how the searing flames of the Achaian lands
reflect in the iris of each Olympian.
Even the immortals shed tears this day.

Sing, god-touched Muses, with your golden voices:
As your father Zeus, who once cursed mankind,
demands of the twelve to account for how the fool-Titan’s gift
was squandered, consuming the mortals in its fiery blaze.
To Athene, with her love for the Hellenes - where is the wisdom?
To Artemis, who mourns the forests - why does your bow not sing?
To Apollo, who gave man healing power – why do the wounds lie open?
To Hermes, who travels far and wide - what trickery was wrought?
To Hera, who reigns as Queen - where are the blessings of the marriage bed?
To Ares, armored god of war - why was Hellas left unarmed?
To Demeter, whose will the fields made fertile - why are they now barren?
To Poseidon, who rules the sea - why did the waters not rise in wrath?
To Aphrodite, for whom love is all - why was love betrayed?
To Hephaestus, who shapes the world with fire - why can the flame not be contained?
To Hestia, the immortal virgin - why was the hearth unguarded?

Sing, rosy-lipped Muses, while Greece the flames consume:
Of the Divine in agony, holding council to save their ancient home.
Of the Twelve who once used their immortal powers on the minds of ancient men
to twist and shape them to their folly
Of Titan-born Zeus, who but one response to his supplicants with regal nod can give:
“Whatever in my power lie I will perform.
Fate’s great weave Man must now perfect.”

-inspired by Hesiod

Monday, August 27, 2007


It is hard to be witty and sarcastic when your country is burning. It is impossible to think about anything else these days, as the death toll continues to rise and fires continue to burn. The loss of life, the loss of wildlife, the loss of forests that our planet desperately needs to keep breathing - it is unimaginable that anyone hates the world so much as to bring this kind of destruction on their own country to such a catastrophic level. A lifetime in prison would be far too kind for these monsters. Hate is the only thing I can feel for the arsonists - the ones who set these fires deliberately.

Now all I can do is pray that the fires will abate, that the survivors may endure, and that the criminals will pay.

To the countries that are helping Greeks fight the fires, we thank you.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A summer of tragedy

This has been the summer of fire in Greece, and even Hephaestos couldn’t contain the recent outbreak – 124 fires in 24 hours, mostly burning in the Peloponnese. There are more than 50 dead, and I can’t shake the hellish scenes of scores of burned out cars, filled with the remains of people trying to flee, and of bodies being carried carefully down hills. The horror of these dead is unimaginable, and the anguish is made real by the report of the burned bodies of a mother embracing her four children, her last maternal act before being consumed by fire.

It is hard to doubt that these fires weren’t deliberate – so many started in such a short time - and in my anger I won’t even dare mention what I really think should happen to the arsonists that started these fires. They’ll get theirs, eventually, even though a lifetime in prison is far too kind.

For now, I grieve with my adopted country. Tragedies like this belong in myth, not reality.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For once, I'm glad I don't have access to baseball games

Ouch. Honestly, this doesn't make me love the Orioles any less, but I'm really glad I wasn't watching on T.V. and I am really, really glad I wasn't at Camden Yards to watch the O's take the dive of the century. I'm just going to blame this staggering wipeout on global warming and leave it at that, because I don't want to think about the real reasons this might have happened.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

To the Britney Spears spammer

I know that being a spammer is a hard knock life. You can hardly get anyone to fall for your crap these days no matter how tantalizing the subject line is. But honestly, if you think anyone is going to be tempted by a subject line reading "Britney Spears goes bra-less" you are obviously stuck back in the year 2000. Because everywhere we look these days, even without trying, we see pictures of Ms. Spears bra-less, panty-less, wit-less, and more.

So seriously, quit spamming me a dozen times a day with this overused banality. No one is interested, least of all, me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

British invasion

How hot is new British Foreign Secretary David Miliband?* Even my husband was impressed with his youthful handsomeness. He is supposedly the second youngest ever to hold this position at age 42, and he looks even younger. He keeps a blog (well, it seems to be in suspended animation since his new appointment) and a website. Generation X is plowing their way into big-time politics, and it is nice to have politicians that are seriously droolworthy like Mr. Miliband. But is he smart? Presumably so, he did get his Masters at MIT.

Smarts, good looks, he is on his way to being a rock star. The Beatles better scootch over. I think David Miliband is the new British Invasion.

*I mean no offense to his lovely wife, who is free to drool over my husband whenever she wants

EDIT: Ok, my husband said the above wasn't the best picture. It isn't the same picture that was in the TIME article I read (in print). This one is better.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You gotta fight for your rights

Happy Women's Suffrage in the U.S. Day! Ironically, women had the right to stand for election in the U.S. long before they had the right to vote, but we still haven't managed to have a female president.*

*not that this statement means that I, as a feminist, would support ANY female candidate that ran for office just because she was a female. I believe that no matter your gender or race or religion or whatever, you should be qualified for the job you want. I don't believe in giving anyone an edge if they don't deserve it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The land without the summer blockbuster

Summer is over in Greece. This seems to be the general opinion after the August 15th holiday, which signals back to work, no more playing around, and by god, have a good freakin’ winter because summer is long gone.

During the long, dreary Greek summer, some movie theaters close down and the ones that remain open show whatever crap they can stir up, which probably includes videos of cousin Nikos shooting at goats with a paint gun (I was going to say tipping cows, but do they even do that here?). Nope, the summer blockbuster does not exist here, because Greeks are normal people who spend the warm weather months on the beach, on boats, on the mountains, wherever the hell they can be outside and enjoy life, because people that sit in movie theaters in the summer time are oddities who must live underground, eat insects, and combust at the first glimmer of sunlight. The very idea of someone sitting inside in the summertime is the greatest blasphemy here. Greeks seem to be paranoid about all kinds of mythic ills that can occur from all kinds of things, yet they completely ignore the unmitigated, scientific fact that unlimited exposure to the sun is dangerous for some people, especially light-skinned tourists who walk around the city looking like radiation victims.

At any rate, now that summer is over and citizens are returning to the cities, hopefully we will see an influx of the blockbuster movies that never arrived, namely Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (opening next week). Of course, some movies never make it here, no matter how popular or how highly anticipated (we were waiting forever for Zodiac to make it here, and it hasn’t as of yet – of course, maybe it tanked, but that doesn’t seem to stop half the movies that end up in our theaters). At least now I can look forward to a wide variety of movie choices that I don’t want to see, instead of just a couple.

Καλό χειμώνα (kalo heimona) everyone.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My kingdom for mint chocolate candy

My sister-in-law is visiting from Sweden for a couple of weeks, which is really great because I've missed her a lot. She has been a real friend to me ever since I've moved here, and she has that kind of shining, happy personality that makes you feel good. To prove how awesome a sister-in-law she really is, she brought me a collection of chocolate mint candy - After Eight mints and Lindt Intense Mint, along with some weird Swedish brand. She knows I love chocolate mints, and since Greeks - despite their intense, undying love for chocolate - seem to have an aversion for mint chocolate, I can't get it here (and believe me, I've looked). So it is nice that I have a sister-in-law who can supply these goodies for my sweet tooth every time she comes to visit.

I have hope, however, that some day Greeks will catch on to the wonder that is chocolate mint, so I don't have to beg outsiders to bring some every time they visit, and that some day I will once again taste the refreshing flavor of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another reason I can't wait to leave the city

Our car was broken into again, only this time they did it properly, with the little back window and the front driver’s side window smashed in (I suppose our friendly neighborhood thief didn’t have long enough arms to reach the back door lock from the little window). I hope the effort was worth what they got from the car – our radio, which never really worked properly and is basically useless without the CD changer. Ironically, he (or she, I’m equal opportunity) did not get the nine euros’ worth of change my husband kept in the car, although how they missed that must be chalked up to the fact that they were really jonesing for some dope. They rooted through the glove compartment, no doubt because they think all people are as stupid as drug addicts, and surely the average human being puts their extra money in the glove compartment instead of the bank.

So here we go again, another three hundred euros (or more) to repair the damn car. I still have to wonder how our car went for almost two years in the same damn spot without being touched, only to be broken into once we actually started using it again. Hey, it is all worth it if Mr. or Mrs. Crackhead got their fix. I wouldn’t want them to detox on my watch.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Animal farm

Well, I wondered why the hell there was hardly any fresh corn to be had around here, but I guess this story explains it.

Farmers in Serres, northern Greece, are seeking damages from the government after a pack of wild pigs from Bulgaria entered the country and completely destroyed their crops, Athens News Agency (ANA) reported yesterday.

I suggest the schoolchildren of Serres take this a bit further with the excuse "the wild pigs ate my homework!"

It is kinda fun living in a country that can be invaded by very hungry wild pigs. Who knows, we may be reaching the time when all the animals of the world charge against us for the ruination of their habitats.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's just like living in an episode of Green Acres

Yesterday my husband and I went up to the new house to inspect the work that had been done last week. Because we are lazy, we opted to park in front of the gate instead of driving up to our house (of course, it just means we have to walk further, so whether or not it is laziness or stupidity I just can’t say), and when we got out of the car, we came across a field of goat poop lining the area in front of the gate. I actually wouldn’t have known it was feces of any kind, because it rather looked like dog food to me (except there would be no reason for dog food to be strewn over our front yard), but my husband informed me quite succinctly that it was goat shit.

Yes, it seems Mr. Shepherd-Man has been herding his flock right by our gate so the goats can litter our drive with their little kibble turds. Lovely. And to think, I could have gone my entire life without ever being able to identify goat poo.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summer stock

July 1st seems to mark the “official” start of the summer season in Greece. From that point on, the number of city dwellers appears to rapidly diminish each weekend, to the point of making a person wonder if maybe they should get the hell out of the city too, just in case it is ground zero for some kind of alien attack or something. People here don’t take paltry week-long vacations – they go away (usually to the islands, Halkidiki, or other beach-type destinations in Greece) for two weeks to two months at a time, with the general average hovering around a month of non-city-living, beachcombing fun. Usually, by the time August comes around, the city is completely dead, at least until the Assumption holiday on August 15th. I love being in Thessaloniki during these ghost town summer days – it seems so vast, so quiet, so peaceful, and I always look forward to the stark desolation of August.

Yet, this year, people did not leave. All last week the city was a virtual swarm of normal, everyday life. We had to push our way through the crowds who were shopping and running around as if it was a week before Christmas. What the hell, people? I count on these few weeks of blessed silence in the city to preserve my sanity. And we all know what happens to sanity if it is not preserved. So for the love of all that is good and holy, please, please, go to your summer homes. Enjoy the bright sun and the beaches. I’ll keep Thessaloniki safe and nice until you get back, I promise. Just go! We only get one summer a year, and we each only get an average of 75 summers in our lives. Don’t waste this one in the city!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Goddess, moon

It was a harsh fate, our fair moon goddess, Selene, born to Titans soon expelled to the thrice darkened depths of Tartarus. Once her brother crossed the sky to light our days, she rose triumphantly to regale our nights with her otherworldly glow, a shining beacon in the licorice black darkness. She would love a mortal to the ends of eternal slumber, lest his youth and beauty vanish to Time’s vagaries. Their fifty daughters would bring the phases, and tonight she rises waning after July’s Blessing Moon, her beauty unmatched, her light sharp and fierce as she slowly fades towards the crescent.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It doesn't take much

Every time I walk into the room, my husband is playing this video. Ok, so it is pretty funny the first few times, but after one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine times it is just another nail in the dork coffin. And it isn't just the plain ol' dramatic chipmunk/prairie dog, it is all the spoofs with the godforsaken creature. Stupid viral videos. The internet is a blessing and a curse. Especially when it is used for evil.