Saturday 20 November 2010


“There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery.” - Joseph Conrad

Back home in Melbourne and to a beautiful Spring day: Sunny, warm and fair. We went out to do some shopping this morning and it seems everyone else had the same idea as it was so very busy even quite early. Unusual, as on Saturdays people take their time and it is rarely so busy before 10:00 a.m. I suppose between now and Christmas it will start to get busier and busier, crazier and crazier…

The rest of the day just flew with chores, gardening and fixing a few things around the house. At least this evening was beautiful as usual on Saturday nights. The full moon in the sky brings to mind a good old song, play it Glenn Miller!

"Moonlight Serenade" by Glenn Miller

Thursday 18 November 2010


"Too many people just eat to consume calories. Try dining for a change." – John Walters

As I wrote yesterday, on Wednesday night I attended a work function and dinner at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. There were 100 guests and the event was highly successful, not only because it was organised faultlessly with a good selection of speakers, panel members and guests, but also because of the wonderful venue. We were in one of the main function rooms of the Wine Centre and the sit-down formal dinner was exquisite. Of course, it was accompanied by excellent South Australian wines from the Torbreck Winery of the Barossa Valley.

The Spring evening was delightful and we started off by meeting and greeting the guests in the garden, while sipping a glass of chilled bubbly. The perfumed air was wafting from the botanic gardens adjacent to the wine centre and the air was mellow, but had a slight edge, making for comfortable dining with the doors of the function room wide open to the gardens outside.

The menu consisted of:

On Arrival:
Selection of wines and locally brewed beers, canapés

BBQ King prawns, Thai Snapper Cake, Pea Vine Salad and Citrus Aioli

Main Course:
Crispy Skin Duck Breast, Twice-Baked Duck Leg, Pistachio & Orange Risotto, Sticky Port and Quince Glaze

Baked Individual Toffee Apple Tart, Peanut Brittle Parfait & Amaretto Crème

2009 Woodcutter’s Semillon
2007 The Steading GSM
Locally Brewed Beers
Soft Drinks

Coffee & Tea with Handmade Pralines

It is extremely civilised to sit down and formally partake of a carefully prepared gourmet meal, which is punctuated by conversation with compatible people. Furthermore, it is even better if one’s mind is further stimulated by listening to a fascinating panel discussion in between courses, and to cap it all off having a distinguished after-dinner speaker.

In our case, the speaker was Tim Jarvis, a well-known South Australian explorer and adventurer who regaled us with amazing stories of his expeditions to the North and South Pole. As all adventurers are concerned, completely crazy, but wonderful-crazy!

The night concluded with drinks back at our hotel and I dare say, a sleep-in the next morning with Eggs Benedict and strong, freshly-brewed black coffee for breakfast!

Wednesday 17 November 2010


“Bacchus has drowned more men than Neptune.” - Giuseppe Garibaldi

Last night we had a work function and dinner at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. The National Wine Centre is adjacent to the Botanic Gardens and is a collaborative initiative of the Government of South Australia and the University of Adelaide. It is housed in a remarkable complex of buildings that have been constructed so as to make the most of the views of the Botanic Gardens. The architects have drawn inspiration from a wine barrel (an exploded one!), but I always feel the interior is more impressive than the exterior… The building is designed and uses building materials to reflect items used in making wine – wood, especially features prominently. Planted outside the building are rows of grapevines, showing seven different varieties of grapes to visitors who are unfamiliar with vineyards and grapevines.

The Centre consists of a cluster of exhibition halls, function rooms, displays, tasting rooms, bars, cafés, restaurants and allows visitors to enjoy wine and winemaking from the ground up. It has an excellent interactive Wine Discovery Journey and Exhibition, which showcases the complete wine making and drinking experience. Other facilities of the National Wine Centre of Australia include on-site educational services, wine tourism information and the wine retail store.

After having finely tuned their senses in the Wine Discovery Journey, visitors are ready to taste the extensive selection of wines available from the Australian wine regions in the Centre's Concourse Cafe, which is open daily for wine tastings and great food. The wine is complemented by a selection of Australian cheeses or if something more substantial is desired, the visitor can select from the seasonal lunch menu. Australian wines are showcased and available for tasting, being changed regularly to allow the exploration of different wine making regions and grape/wine varieties.

When the Centre was developed by the Olsen Liberal State Government, the project was shrouded in controversy and it was labelled as a white elephant by the Labour Opposition. It eventually opened on 7th October 2001 after enabling legislation created the concept in the National Wine Centre Act (1997). After a number of problems with funding, management and profitability, the Wine Centre operation was taken over by the University of Adelaide on 1st July 2003. It now offers some of the university’s oenology courses, as well as the public face of the wine industry in Australia.

Wine is an alcoholic beverage, typically made from grape juice that has been allowed to ferment. The composition of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Various types of yeast that are added to the crushed grapes, cause them to ferment. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the type of wine being produced. Different production methods will give rise to red or white wines, still or sparkling. Although other fruits such as apples and various berries can also be fermented, the resultant wines are normally named after the fruit from which they are produced, for example, elderberry wine. These are beverages that and are generically known as fruit wine.

wine |wīn| noun
An alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice.
• [with adj. ] An alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of specified other fruits or plants: A glass of dandelion wine.
• Short for wine-red .
verb [ trans. ] (wine and dine someone)
Entertain someone by offering them drinks or a meal: Members of Congress have been lavishly wined and dined by lobbyists for years.
• [ intrans. ] (of a person) Take part in such entertainment: We wined and dined with Eddie’s friends.
“Good wine needs no bush” proverb: There’s no need to advertise or boast about something of good quality as people will always discover its merits. [ORIGIN: a bush was an innkeeper’s sign, originally depicting a bunch of ivy used (in place of grape leaves) to show that the establishment sold wine.]
Winey (also winy) adjective
ORIGIN Old English wīn, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wijn, German Wein, based on Latin vinum, from Greek (w)oínos.


“People don’t come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I am in Adelaide for work for a few days and it has already been quite hectic. Many things to do, as well as some social functions for Marketing and PR. I always enjoy visiting Adelaide, which is a gracious, beautiful small state capital city that has a distinctive atmosphere and people that are friendly, fun-loving and relaxed. Adelaide is frequently given the appellation “City of Churches” as there are so many 19th century churches around the city, almost one on every block!

Part of the attraction of Adelaide lies in the wine growing areas relatively close to the city, including the world-famous Barossa Valley where some delectable vintages are made. The Adelaide Hills, very close to the CBD provide a beautiful alternative to suburban living and there are many delightful small towns and villages that offer numerous tourist attractions for the visitor. One of my favourites is the old German village of Hahndorf, now a haven for artists and craftspeople, with many galleries, artist studios and fine gift shops.

A poem by Edith Sitwell today, resonating perhaps a little with the “City of Churches” reference:

Bells of Gray Crystal

Bells of gray crystal
Break on each bough –
The swans’ breath will mist all
The cold airs now.
Like tall pagodas
Two people go,
Trail their long codas
Of talk through the snow.
Lonely are these
And lonely am I...
The clouds, gray Chinese geese
Sleek through the sky.
                        Dame Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, on 7th September 1887 the only daughter of the eccentric Sir George Sitwell, 4th Baronet, of Renishaw Hall. She had two younger brothers, Osbert (1892-1969) and Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988) both distinguished authors, well-known literary figures in their own right, and long-term collaborators. Edith never married but had an association with Russian homosexual artist, Pavel Tchelitchew. The poems she wrote during the war were much praised. Many of her poems have been set to music.

In 1948 Sitwell toured the United States with her brothers, reciting her poetry and giving a reading of Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene, which brought her great notoriety. Her poetry recitals were always occasions; she made recordings of her poems, including two recordings of Façade, the first with Constant Lambert as co-narrator, and the second with Peter Pears.

Sitwell became a Dame Commander (DBE) in 1954. In August, 1955, Sitwell converted to Roman Catholicism and asked author Evelyn Waugh to be her godfather. Around 1957 she was confined to a wheelchair after battling with Marfan’s syndrome throughout her life. Her last poetry reading was in 1962. She died of cerebral haemorrhage on 9th  December 1964 at the age of 77.

Monday 15 November 2010


“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” - Ralph W. Sockman

Today is the International Day for Tolerance. In 1996, the General Assembly of the United Nations invited its Member States to observe this Day for Tolerance every 16th November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public. This action came after the United Nations celebrated 1995 as the Year for Tolerance as proclaimed by the Assembly in 1993, on the initiative of the General Conference of UNESCO. The 2005 World Summit Outcome document outlines the commitment of Heads of State and Government to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilisations and peoples.

Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to accept something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. The various usages of this word promise, perhaps falsely, to reveal some hidden truth about what has become its most common use, that is, the freedom from racial and ethnic prejudice, the willingness to accept the differences between ourselves and our neighbors. In its other meanings, tolerance refers to (amongst other things) as a measure of physical space, most often narrow… This is perhaps a helpful reminder that tolerance (in the sense of open-mindedness) may require an amount of unusual endurance, and that it has something to do with how much room we have, with the space we are obliged to share with the neighbour whose differences we must learn to tolerate…

The day is an opportunity for everyone to learn about recognising and respecting the rights and beliefs of others and a time for reflection and debate on human rights. Tolerance means an appreciation of diversity and the ability to live and let others live. To do this we must have a fair and objective attitude towards those whose opinions, practices, religion, and nationality differ from our own. It is not just agreeing with each other, but more so showing respect for the essential humanity in every person, while acknowledging and respecting differences.

The day today enshrines a message for us to live together peacefully in a society where people can feel valued and respected, in communities where there is room for each to have their own ideas, thoughts, hopes, beliefs and dreams. Tolerance is a mark of civilisation and self-confidence. To tolerate others we must first accept ourselves and learn to live with our own shortcomings. If we acknowledge and accept our own weaknesses, our faults, our failings, our inherent imperfection, we can tolerate and accept other people’s.  Intolerance is rooted in ignorance, fear, small-mindedness, prejudice and is linked to an exaggerated sense of self-worth and pride. Intolerant people are not very pleasant to live with or to befriend. They regard all other “different” human beings as failed copies of themselves and they set out to destroy anything that doesn’t mirror their own faults and imperfections.

Events in one part of the world, however isolated, eventually affect the entire planet and each major local problem can become a global concern. More than economic and political alliances, tolerance creates a society in which people can feel valued and respected. Time and effort, with great commitment is required in building tolerance. Trust added to tolerance, achieves the kind of peace we all need. More than ever, tolerance is needed nowadays to make the world a better place to live in.

Sunday 14 November 2010


“A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.” - James Feibleman

Growing up as a child in Greece I was surrounded by history, breathed in myth, conversed with the gods of old in the friendly neighbourhood museum and trod the same streets as the philosophers of old. I gazed at the Acropolis from my bedroom window and each bit of stone or fragment of marble breathed out the living tradition of centuries. No wonder I wanted to become an archaeologist when I was growing up!

Greek myths are powerful enough to have survived for centuries and to have inspired many artists worldwide to create masterpieces. This of course began in ancient Greece and Rome where statues, frescoes, mosaics, pottery and paintings brought to life the gods and heroes that were the subject of Greek mythology. The Renaissance subsequently revived the Greek myths and the new wave of creation continued the tradition for centuries up until the modern day. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, Dali, Picasso, etc, etc, etc have all contributed to the iconography, while famous composers were inspired to create music, song and opera that had as its subject matter mythical heroes, heroines, gods and goddesses. Literature was uninterruptedly inspired by mythology and even today the Greek myths stimulate the creative juices of many an author.

More recently Hollywood has taken Greek myth as inspiration and has created some films that brought the mythology to life in interesting ways. At the weekend we watched the 2010 Louis Leterrier film “Clash of the Titans” and were greatly disappointed. The movie stank! This was Hollywood at its worse, spending an enormous amount of money to make a third-rate Sunday matinee movie that only kids and people unfamiliar with history, mythology, culture, traditions, art would think represented a passable depiction of a Greek myth on screen.

Not only was the story mangled by the terrible trio of screewriters: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, but it was obvious these people had no sense of history, geography, literature, chronology and cultural awareness. The result of this puerile attempt at re-writing Greek myth was comparable to the cultural bathos of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. This “Clash” was a really bad movie! I would have forgiven it if it had any trace of humour in it, as the previous 1981 Desmond Davis movie “Clash of the Titans” did. At least one could forgive it the Hollywoodisation as it did make us laugh. All the 2010 version of the “Clash” did was make me grumpy.

The casting was pitiable and the costumes, settings and “creatures” were lamentable. The departures from history were unforgivable, for example:
•    The Saddhu (Indian holy man) priest-activist in mythical ancient Greece!
•    The “christening” of Perseus’s adoptive father as “Spyro” (a Greek Orthodox Christian name)…
•    The lamassu (Assyrian winged bulls) depicted in Greece!
•    Argos (sitting in the Argive plain 3 km away from the sea) depicted as a sea-side cliff-perched city!
•    Casseiopeia and Cepheus being queen and king of Argos (whereas in the myth they were rulers of Ethiopia)!
•    The Kraken (a sea monster of Norwegian myth) having holidays in the Aegean!
•    Io as the love interest of Perseus – you have to be kidding! She was star of another Greek myth and lover of Zeus, not Perseus…
•    Andromeda as the “communist” daughter of the kingly couple! Ridiculous!
•    Calibos? Who the hell is he? A runaway from another movie (B-grade horror flick)
•    Acrisius was Perseus’s grandfather and the father of Danaë, Perseus mother – not her husband!
•    Danaë survives with Perseus, she is not dead in the floating casket, as in the film…
o    And the list goes on and on and on…

It was embarrassingly bad… Not even as a fantasy movie, “inspired” by Greek myth was this palatable. Sam Worthington as the hero Perseus looks remarkably unhero-like and sullen for the whole movie, while his unwashed, unkempt, unattractive and unlikeable companions can’t make up their minds whether they are pious or impious, with him or against him – quite tiresome really. The Olympian gods are most ungod-like and except for Zeus and Hades hover in the background generally uninterested in any of the goings-on (probably quite wise of them). Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes look so much like one another under the make up and beards that I thought they were the same actor playing a double role. Gemma Arterton as the waif-like protectress of Perseus looked curiously oriental – I half expected her to walk out with a kimono in a number of scenes. Oh bad, bad, bad…

If you are interested in the real myth, Wikipedia does it well but even better is to read Robert Graves’s excellent book “The Greek Myths”.

Now for the good parts of the movie, hmmm let me think...

I’m thinking, I’m thinking…

Still thinking…

OK, computer-generated imagery – yes they were good, as one would expect nowadays with any of the fantasy films. Medusa and Pegasus were OK…

It is really not worth watch this bombastic, self-touting film, we thought it was a waste of our time. If you do watch it, do it with a group of friends and play spot the silliness while quaffing beers and eating pizza and laughing and joking. Should be a good night then...