31 December 2008


My new fave equipe.

I've hooked my puter to the TV screen and was playing this when some sparks arrived to fix the garden pump.

I think they were going to drag their heels and hand in a ripoff bill but the young punk assistant liked this so much he had advice on others i should check out.

It was such a basic fix they only charged for the call and the dude wrote out the name of the others so i could find them in Greek.

I once thought that one couldnt rap en grecque but this changes my mind.

Way up north ...

(North to Pantokarator)

I pop in for a bouteille or 3 of grog to take to my hosts.

Emerge and tiens! Storm clouds brewing right where I'm heading.

It was ok. Clouds blew away even as I gunned the jalopy up the Paleo highway.

Few other cars and it was a dream drive, Callas rattling the windows and the new tyres taking every corner as if we were on rails.

Posted by Picasa

Tassia's Mousaka


Every time maman goes away Tassia panics I'm going to starve so she bustles round cooking up a storm and stocking the larder - pushing the bottles towards the back with loud clunkings and meaningful looks at baggy-eyed massa. The darling.

Tassia is abbrev for Anastasia and she had her name day last Dekembrios 22 for which I had some sweetmeats ready as in years past. This always cracks her up because it's the namee who's meant to stock on goodies and ply all visitors.

I gobbled it down to the pumping sounds of Junior Parker:

"Going down to Gouvia, get my hambone boiled
Going down Gouvia way, git my hambone boiled:
Those Dasia darlings, they let my hambone spoil."

Just kidding.. Them's the words I put in when I sing it in the locale.

Yo! Listen up, folks - it's not mOUsaka, accent on the Mou, it's mousaKA, accent on the last vowel. I never hear it pernounced kerekt by the visitors. Nor is it spelled avec 2 sigmas.

(Boy I'm in pedant mode going into the year of the Earth Ox (牛), 26 January 2009 - 14 February 2010.)

Moussaka ([musa'ka]; Greek: μουσακάς, South Slavic: musaka, Macedonian: мусака, from Turkish: musakka, ultimately from Arabic: مسقعة‎ musaqqaʿa "chilled".

A traditional eggplant (aubergine)-based dish in the Balkans and the Middle East, but most closely associated with Greece and Turkey.

The Greek version, which is the best-known outside the region, traditionally consists of layers of ground (minced) lamb or red meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with a white sauce and baked.

Despite its Arabic name, moussaka is usually thought of as a Greek dish in the West.

Posted by Picasa

30 December 2008

God's Guitar

One day on Bainbridge, I was driving with G and we breasted the hill from Ferncliffe and there below was a broad band of sun slicing thru the cloud right down on the Safeway sign.

"God's ... Supermarket," I said in my serioso basso God voice.
We both laughed but realised later that if I'd snapped the shot we might have sold it to the Safeway press dept for some bucks.
So. You know where I'm heading. Soon as i saw the sunbeam hitting the Axminster, I tastefully arranged the Ovation and snapped away, hoping I'd get a shot worthy of the luthiers' next catalog.

Of course, it doesnt work - just lying there inside on a mat. I shoulda been plucking on the patio with a pal with a camera conveniently at hand when suddenly she gasps,

"Omigod ... that ... bright ray ... I can't see ..."

I look up and am blinded.

A Voice booms down,

"oKAYY!! Now you's blind, gone make it easier fo' the boys to fix you up wit' streety name. Next, NO MORE FAFFIN' AROUND with those idiot compositions. It's back to basics, back to the blues with you ..." etc etc.

Then He frazzles my Ovation (sob sniff; was a good friend) and hands me down a hot Taylor with latest electronics.

The smokin' wreck of the Ovation is bought by Ovation Inc for a sum that keeps my gels in comfort for the rest of their days ... and the geetar stays smoking and is hailed as a miracle.

Pickers come from far and wide to worship. Scientists do tests but they never work out the everlasting smoulder.

In fact, one machine designed to expose the trickery spontaneously combusts and a mighty rumble is heard that, recorded and played back at 45rpm, can be heard chuckling, "Do Me a favour! Har har".

Post-script: I knew  I wasn't happy with that last feeble line; knew it wasn't Le Bon Dieu rumbling.

I've respun it at 78rpm and it's Mistah Wells:

"Unhand Barry's banjo! Hie thee below to yon crossroads!"

In the Nick of time.

29 December 2008

How much've I drunk, officer?

Just a preliminary transubstantiation

If I dwelt in the UK, I'd have my cheat sheet ready.

As it is, I'm practising all the usual and have asked my Greek fuzz friends to give me a list of *Greek* tongue-twisters they'll be putting us thru during NY's Eve slebrations.

Post-post: Speaking of the articulate inheriting the earth, or at least beating the rap, take a look at this driver reciting the alphabet backwards ... and a few other acrobatics I couldn't pull off sober with a week's training.

FYI, when I was pulled over by a Washington State patrol and asked to recite the alphabet A-Z, I was told to do it without the usual pauses and breaks one learns from the nursery. I tried it and didn't quite manage so I told the officer it was not a good test since, if I couldn't perform it in my current sober state, I'd almost certainly reel it off as required had I imbibed. He didn't accept it but that was too bad and I rattled it off letter perfect but was told I'd failed because I'd pernounced the final letter 'zed'.

28 December 2008


Bracing day. We drive into town for coffee and cakes with pals.

Someone reads out Maureen Lipman from the sinbad-verboten Daily Telegraph, clever Kate Weinberg's 'CultureClinic':


Romantic love:

  • A chemical shift causing a kind of obsessive madness. (Yep, that's you 2).

    Real love:

  • Familiarity
  • Belonging
  • Tenderness
  • Shared humour"
  • Fall at every fence.

    27 December 2008

    House of the Heckling Son

    Do let me play you survivor John Otway's marvelous countering encounter with a clearly staged heckler.

    And a younger model - almost echoing the rising sun act - just to remind you to lead a clean life.

    Gloomy Day

    Filthy filthy  day, in fact ...

    Woke early and remembered instantly every jab and parry of the night before.

    We'd committed to meeting and the moment I entered her place I knew it was going to the mat, and so did she.

    We weren't looking for a fight; we'd prepared for it and dispensed with formalities, sitting straight down with arms round each other and our eyes full of alarm at the horrors ahead.

    The barricades we glared at each other over were the mountainous baggage we each brought to the reunion.

    Our ammunition belts are loaded with the sharpest most accurate barbs we knew we had.

    Who was afraid of Virginia Claus? Both of us.

    Music, guitar, the old songs, glares, tears, frosty distance, melts, strokes, cigarette and the couch.


    We are two ends of an elastic band: we want it we dont want it; when we're out we want in.

    26 December 2008

    Don't Try to Please Me

    cara dillonWhich, of course, pleases me mightily.

    Chanteuse Cara Dillon is a new one on me and I don't really get an idea of her voice on this clip, but this whole ensemble is what we sometimes achieved on soggy Seabold Saturdays when no one turned up and we were left standing around looking at each other going,

    "So whad're you wanna do?"

    I dunno, what YOU wanna do?

    "I dunno. You know Wildwood Flower?"

    "Nah I don't wanna do that ... done it a million times ... what're you picking over there, Eddie? Sounds good. One of yours?"

    "It's nothing ... coupla chords I thought sounded cool together, get a little melody bass line in there ..."

    "Hey, neat. Lemme play around with some inversions .. I think you've got something there, Ed ... keep it rolling ... "

    And gradually we'd mooch over and join in and someone would start some words and others would add some more and suddenly we'd have something going on.

    Listen to the harmonies and that sonorous bass voice; catch the sinuous steel guitar.

    25 December 2008

    Kwanzaa !  Chronia polla !

    The first time I heard the word "kwanzaa !" (it needs the old tom-tom throb of an exclamatio), I just fell about laughing at the very sound.

    When they told me what it was about I thought what a wizard marketing ploy but I didn't see it getting off the ground, for some reason.

    But what a lovely multi-talented ονοματοποιΐα it is, to be sure.

    Can't you see it: a fleet-footed messsenger bursting from the brush, embossed despatch from Government HQ in cleft stick: "Kwanzaa ! B'wana !  You got mail!"  

    Kwanzaa ! Chronia polla !" The perfect all-purpose greeting.

    I take it less and less seriously each time I hear it, and here in Greece of course they just look at you curiously if you try to describe the concept ... but now comes an article that feeds my mirth and scepticism like a stuffed turkey, not to mention settling my cynical suspicions once and fo' all.

    Posted by Picasa

    Xmas Dawn ~ Xmas Supper

    Posted by Picasa

    19 December 2008

    Posted by Picasa

    In My Pocket

    Out to pick up my Friday 'Athens News' which, I notice, has a supplement:

    Handy booklet offering me Athens in my pocket.

    Quel irony: these publications are commissioned, planned and put together weeks if not months in advance.

    Who could have foretold whose and how many pockets Athens would be in ....

    18 December 2008

    "It's on your guitar."

    God, he looks decrepit - as cometh to us all - but what a great line to get to say.

    If you don't know Les and Mary - they were ahead of their time and he stays unequalled.

    100 TOP SITES

    (Of which I know nothing, natch) ... Sindbad having forebade me to read my daily biblical Torygraph.

    Whole lot of Heaven

    My favourite Iris DeMent and the great Jerry Douglas.

    Seabold Saturday on Bainbridge up the 305 would very occasionally get like this with a tight line up of everyone knowing what they were doing.

    Very nice feeling when that happens.

    By the by, anyone who knows this kind of music or playing will smile at how the dobro comes in *exactly* when it always does and with exactly those throwaway notes. My theory is that this is how Jerry has always done it and, since he is such an influence on all other players, they have adopted this as The Way.

    The only problem is that JD now sounds as if he's a) lapsing into cliché b) parodying himself. Most unfair.

    But listen to that tight sound, look at their expressions and smiles at each other and sheer enjoyment of making their music. And their contentment at the end.

    They don't give a damn about you or me. They're just there for the music and we're lucky guests to have had the camera running.

    16 December 2008

    Happy Holidays

    No, not that idiot American greeting around Christmas time but a rather good local site that I consult early and often.

    14 December 2008

    Guitar Fix

    Very tasty lady's guitar been hanging there since whenever and never examined.

    Labels faded but from years back.

    I get to keep it if I fix it up to the state of being able to play Jeux Interdits and Adelita.

    I haven't told them but it will be a pushover: the frame is in great nick and the fretboard action is close and even.

    I am puffing and hrrmphing and scratching my head and making out it will be a tough one.

    This way I will look a craftsman hero and be able to charge a bomb for the next job - that Giraffe Bechstein in the kids' rumpus room.

    Aγιος Σπυρίδων

    Athens on fire; Kerykyradical yoofs run riot with the spray cans.
    Next day, St Spiro's name day, a tree falls in the forest - ok,the waterfront - and I stop to snap it.

    Passing locals ask me "Yati;" and I tell them, 'But lo! Cannot you see the saintèd Spiridion? Do not your nostrils quiver to the odour of sanctity?

    And over there - those daubings - no wonder he's back to give those scamps a piece of his tongue.

    They do look closer and cross themselves before hurrying on.

    Also a touch of Area 51, if you ask me, round the mascara. Shudder.

    And, if you know this strip, you'll know that just up from the old fort stands the proud statue of Count Matthias John von Schulemberg, tag team victor of that bout with the Turks when the Count rallied his troops and Spiro appeared in the stormy skies brandishing a fiery scimitar.

    Posted by Picasa

    13 December 2008

    The English Daughter

    Lindsay Townsend

    'oh do come on chloe, of course i know the way to kouramathes'

    I *have* to read and review this for the Temploni chapter of my voracious book group, the Harridaniliads.

    "Of English, Greek, and Italian heritage, 27-year-old Valerie-Chloe is already the widowed mother of a four-year-old, and an acclaimed expert in her field of musical-instrument restoration.

    On a visit to her childhood friend, she is overwhelmed with dark memories of a grisly murder while she fights to retain her inheritance and make peace with her estranged father and half brother.

    Troubled by eerily prescient dreams often portending pain and death, she is alternately perceptive and self-absorbed, desperately craving the respect and affection of her family while resisting the allure of her late husband's best friend, Harry, who has been quietly supportive for years and would love to claim her publicly as his own.

    Townsend's English romantic suspense is reminiscent in many ways of Mary Stewart's early works, and should entertain admirers of this style.

    Product Description (whate'er that might be):

    "A tense and atmospheric romantic thriller set in Outer Scheria.

    Val Baker, tough but loving, restores musical instruments, but her relationship with her Greek-Italian family on Corfu is broken beyond repair. When she is commissioned by her old friend Alexia to restore a rare giraffe piano, she returns to the island to find her dreams haunted by memories of Hilary, a young English girl raped and murdered ten years before.

    Val determines to uncover the truth about the case, and set to rest her own doubts about the involvement of her father, Yiannis, and half-brother, Markos, both policemen who were involved in the original investigation.

    Joined by her friend Harry, Val begins to unravel the threads. Then two strange tokens arrive, one for Alexia's daughter Chloe and one for Val, and it becomes clear that Hilary's unknown killer is on Val's trail. Her search for the truth becomes a race for life."

  • I absolutely know the local lovely Mistress "Tough but Loving" is modeled on: I was the one she dumped before going back to her hubby before last.

    I knew  that babe would end up in a bodice ripper.

  • "Fights to retain her inheritance and make peace with her estranged father and half brother."? Leaping Laestrygonians, Batman!

    If the giraffe pianist cracks just one of those, this roman à clef  will be required reading throughout the Greek legal system - and ensure the author's lack of welcome in many a local household.

  • 12 December 2008

    how to talk to gurls

    this little chappie is articulate AND handsome.

    i will take a few tips from him.

    10 December 2008

    Riotous Assembly

    For non Greek speakers, the reporter is horrified by the sight:

  • The screams of children being thumped by the fuzz
  • Bystanders trying to stop them.
  • People being dragged along the ground.
  • Children fainting or being beaten 'til unconscious.

    BALLISTICS: I've been with a policier pal, no-nonsense type. He says the bullet's been examined and there was NO ricochet.

    All this chatter from the defence about a "mistake" is crap.

    Also, he says the 'special' policeman(meaning not at all specially trained) was in his car and fired from the vehicle which was never under attack. I can't vouch for that bit; just quoting an In with an in.

    Accident schmaccident: Gonna be trouble oop t'mill over this one.

  • 09 December 2008

    The twang's the thang

    Worst time to make new best friends of the frettin' kind: mater embarking on extended Grand Tour of Tuscania and Londinium, house full of hooch, new strings on the geetar.

    Kiss my axe, dude.

    I'd wandered in a week or so back when it was just opened, tried a few Satriani licks and the boss man said come to the official opening.

    Typiquement: all me old plunking muckers there, none of us told t'others we'd had invites; right sulky we were to see each other there.

    I like G Street, quiet alley away from the caterwauling and tear gas.

    Some 'orribly talented players there (scowl bitch) and of course dynamite guitars on show, all plugged into the latest wah-wahs and pedal stuff.

    Mr Frisell, thou should'st been here.

    Someone struck up the opening line of Layla and a thousand lyres leapt to the breach. It was like that Tacoma gig I went down to to swell the Guinness book of how many angels can strum Louie Louie except with these gunslingers they were all expert.

    Wine everywhere ... where's that link Wells sahib sent me to Al Anon.gr?

    There was a honey of a Valley Arts guitar that played itself. ("This button's, er like, off; this one - ya know? - sorta goes to 11")


    08 December 2008

    Rioting in Greece

    So ... I woke up early and got all organised for a busy day in town - right where the riots took place - got my camera (as always) and cool DVDs, money galore and ... zilch.

    I'd left the lights on and bateria was phlat.

    My pal came to jump start me and said it was all pretty hairy dah tahn:

    "You would have loved it - camera junkie that you are. Someone would have spotted you, guessed you was foreign or a stool pigeon for the Filth, thumped you one and upturned the car, set it alight.

    Great photos for your blog ... you were lucky. Athena stepped in and whispered in Zomeone's ear."

    Ace comment from Wells sahib on a post i was asked to remove - the only comment possible. Le voici.

    monarch butterfly

    OUP drops Christian British words

    I read that Oxford Univ Press have dumped "words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history."

    Words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch", to be replaced with the likes of "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity".

    Quoth the publisher (hardly deserving that noble name), "changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society."

    I swear, if I hear that vile weasel word 'multicultural' one more time, I shall ... well, I know not what I'll do.

    07 December 2008

    Posted by Picasa
    Posted by Picasa

    Top Hunnert Living Genii


    Bonanza Athens News this week, thanks to Keith Moore's excellent write-up of 'Herbie Hancock's diversity' during which he introduces me to Swiss harmonica virtuoso, Gregoire Maret - also here - and Western African guitarist Lionel Loueke.

    Coolness tip: say the first name à la française, Lee-oh-nell, and the family name along the lines of Loo-ekeh, emphasis on the 'e' of 'ekeh'. (There now, don't say I don't have your backs.)

    Maret has a cool myspace page with all the right friends (including my confrère of the fretboard, Bill Frisell) but look at the top of the page where it lists the sponsor - none other than our truthin' scientologists.

    Hmmm ... but since when did a little bit of looniness affect how good a musician racked that bone, right?

    I love weird tunings and Loueke tunes *his* E B G D high A low D with the trick of shoving paper by the bridge - somthing taught me in Hong Kong by Pat Metheny when he visited the Jazz Club.

    It sounds a lot like Pat's Last Train Home.

    Incidentally, that Youtube clip settles an argument I'd had for years - whether that rapid-fire drumming could be sustained by a human.

    Latest fotos of the Garitsa Bay ballyhoo

    Posted by Picasa