Wednesday, September 28, 2005


[Kerkyra, 1970's]

I spent a few hours at a children's hospital today. I will be spending a few more...

It's sad.

You want to run out, as soon as possible.

And you want to stay, become the father and the mother of every child in there.

Including yours.

As I was walking out the gate, I got news of another little kid. A happy, healthy, beautiful little kid (boy or girl? who knows...), one so fortunate and loved.

And it made me smile.

We'll all be ok.

[dedicated to the mother]

(per)chance to dream

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surreal pig photo by joshua brown

I started watching Requiem for a Dream last night. It’s one of those films that’s awkward to watch with another person, and worse to watch alone. It’s about dreams and drugs.

Dreams are drugs. Designer drugs. Both tailor-made and prêt-à-porter. There are recognizable trends, familiar fabrics. Some are forgettable. And yet, each dream is as unique as the dreamer, except when it recurs. Freud proved (I think it was Freud) that people who have similar experiences during the day, and are subjected to the same stimuli when they sleep, produce different dreams. And why wouldn’t they?

Not all dreams are about conflict taking place in the personality; not every dreaming mind is in touch with a supernatural world. Not all dreams are interesting, or worthy of interpretation.

Not all dreams come to us in sleep.

One of the dreams in the film is about a red dress. In my case, the dress is green.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Beer or wine?

[Pic from here]

Nope... Gin!

[And a compliment...]

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

a small fortune

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This is what happens when you don’t know how to negotiate.
(But look, 23 is my lucky number.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

7ish X 2

What goes up...

...must come down

(works the other way round too)

Friday, September 16, 2005

cooking the book

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The above book was written by Sophia Skoura* in 1960. It’s a treasure. In addition to its simple, unsophisticated recipes for all the staples of Greek cuisine, it includes chapters on how to set an everyday table or a formal one, how to invite guests and seat them, and how to behave -- as a hostess (“She serves certain foods at the table, and when someone has finished his food, she asks him if perhaps he’d like some more, without, however, insisting. She herself must eat rather slowly, watching her guests, so as to finish last”) or a guest (“While the food is being served, they must neither choose nor show that they don’t like a food. If they like a food very much, they can be served a second time, but not a third… If they happen to spill something, they must apologize to the hostess and express their sorrow. If they drop a fork or a knife, they must not bend down to pick it up; the servant will do that, and rush to bring another one. After the meal, they are not permitted to fold their napkins…. After coffee, they wait 15-30 minutes, and after saying thank you, leave”) or a servant (“The person who will serve must have a flawless appearance and wear light footwear”).

My favorite chapter is called “What a good housewife must have.”

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Needless to say, I own nothing on the list.

*professor of Home Economics at the Arsakeion Pedagogic Academy of Psychiko and the Arsakeion School of Family and Social Conduct; former headmaster of the Rhodes School of Domestic Science

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


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Proceed with caution.

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Or tailgate at will.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Wish you were here...

Friday, September 09, 2005

under the influence

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A quaint neighborhood restaurant, on a weeknight. A quiet table away from the street, out of the wind. Some Turkish mezedes. A glass of wine, bulbous, proud and tall. A Canadian foursome, loquacious all. The blonde spoke Greek, her boyfriend collected and clueless at her side. A bit of outrageous flirtation with the proprietor; she exclaimed first thing, before she even sat down, that he looked like Antonio Banderas. “No one ever told me that before,” he said, causing her to repeat it four or five times, soliciting superfluous affirmation from the others. Most compliments contain some amount of exaggeration, and some amount of truth. Another couple, sitting side by side at a table for four, facing two empty chairs. This position is called “riding the bus.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


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uncanny book cover

Not so long ago, somebody I don’t know, or didn’t, got struck by lightning, hiking along a Rocky Mountain ridge in Colorado. She died.

Erik could do more with the story than I can; he writes these brilliantly poetic contemplations on man and nature (he’d never say it like that) and all the intricacies, ironies, overlaps, and gaps, between them.

The victim was three years younger than me, a graduate of my alma mater. A wholesome girl, with a straightforward name, and a sister. She worked for the Sierra Club in Billings, Montana, then was promoted. Still with the Sierra Club, she focused on energy issues and conservation throughout the Southwest, protecting sacred Indian lands and rock art, campaigning against oil and gas drilling in Otero Mesa and coal mining at the Zuni Salt Lake.

This woman’s life (i.e. her death) made me think of all the people who’ve done nothing since university, who did nothing then. And the opposite, those overachievers who did so much and are still so accomplished, and so rightly proud, keeping the alumni newsletter chock-full of their arrogant little announcements.

Something tells me this one was different.

Emmanuel (whom I still want to call Mr. Bensah) has also been concerned with the death of a stranger lately. These things catch us unawares, the ties between us so very tenuous, and yet so strong.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

King of the garden

Prickly Pears, by Joan Peters

The dreaded month of August brewed some bad news for our own cute friend Πολυχρόνης (come on, you remember him…). The land in which he was placed to lay roots and grow big and strong turned out to be inappropriate, and it became obvious that a slight change of location, angle and perspective was required to give him the chance of becoming everything we had hoped for.

So fate had it that on this particular, experimentally experimental first weekend of September, a month full of promise, the future of Polychronis came into my hands, since I was the one geographically closest to him. With religious devotion and utmost concentration, I set out to perform and document the delicate operation.

From the start I knew that I was not up to the task.

But I was lucky (oops, almost wrote licky) to have had some unexpectedly expected dear assistance, a poetic helping hand, (upper, lower, it doesn’t matter, one can see from miles that it’s the important one), that first allowed me to get rid of some of my tension, anxiety and stress, and then accompanied me all the way throughout the following adventure.

So, my internal turmoil taken care of, the two of us were able to proceed with…

Step 1: Research.

In the picture we see our friend Poly, in the state he was in until a few hours ago. Healthy, but unable to live there any longer, as was dictated by one of the (world’s) powers that be. We had to find the best way to move him out of there, including his kids and as big a part of his utterly important root system, and relocate him into safety.

Step 2: Dig-out

After identifying and obtaining the perfect pot he would be able to happily live and prosper in, a trench was dug all around him. This was the hardest part of the operation. Ideally, our dear friend would be removed from his current location, and continue experiencing his happy life at a new, different spot, oblivious to the changes that had taken place. He would feel all of his vital organs (ribs, sternum, whatever a cactus such as Poly holds inside his wide, flat body) intact, and, in the process, spill as little Tequila (as someone I know would say) or whatever other juices circulate around there, as possible.

Step 3: Transfer

A few moments of agony later, Poly was in his new (mobile) home. We were moved, concerned about his future, but certain that he would be ok. He always is… we agreed on that.

We took a moment to breath in and out, and to pull out some of the small, almost invisible pricks from each other’s fingertips. It’s a tricky job, especially if done so far up close (or at such a close distance).

Step 4: King!

The ideal location for him had already been established, there was no debating about it. He now stood at almost the opposite side of the garden, on his throne, in his shiny new pot, happy and strong.

We took care of his few scars, carefully covered his belly with some rich, healthy earth, watered him, kept him company for a few seconds, said goodbye and didn’t, and went on with our zillions of different affairs.

He’ll be ok. And we’ll be sure to keep you updated about his future developments, kids, grandchildren, the lot.

Friday, September 02, 2005

september επιτέλους

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The passion for bathing really began with the Romantic generation and "swim" was a word that particularly appealed to its poets. The word suggests a state of suspension, a trance-like condition. There is the strange adverb "swimmingly" that implies unimpeded progress. Like Narcissus, many of the swimmers suffered from a form of autism, a self-encapsulation in an isolated world, a morbid self-admiration, an absorption in fantasy.

---from Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero, Charles Sprawson

The summer was hot, it always is, but I'm not one to complain about the weather. It was uneventful, as summers go. I gained one cat and lost another (beer night will never be the same). I watched a few good films and a lot of really bad ones. I swam, but not enough to change my stroke or learn how to breathe without getting water up my nose and hair in my mouth; things did not go swimmingly. I got burnt, but it felt good. I did some traveling in a hot car. One day in July, there was a very harrowing taxi drive, but it turned into a love story, almost a month later, to the day. One day in August, there was a harmless but ill-fated gecko, persecuted, killed, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The same thing happened to somebody else I know about ten days later. It was a hard month.

Thank God it's over.