Tag Archives: Gripster

Gripster: Greek American Hank Azaria

14 Sep

The Mindset List recently came out, and it’s making me feel old!  It’s not on the list, but one thing that I was thinking about is the fact that The Simpsons has been part of the Class of 2015’s entire life.  I remember when The Simpsons was just a sketch on The Tracey Ullman Show.  When the cartoon got its own primetime show, it was huge!  In school, some of the teachers even used to give extra credit for Simpsons trivia.  In the summer, when my family went to Greece, we brought Bart Simpson t-shirts for relatives.

Eat my shorts!

Did you know that Hank Azaria, the voice of Simpsons characters Moe, Apu, and Chief Wiggum, is Greek American?  His parents are Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki, Greece.  Hank Azaria was born and raised in Forest Hills, Queens, though.

Remember when Hank Azaria played Nat the dog walker on Mad About You?  And Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend on Friends?  Well, Hank Azaria is on a new NBC sitcom called Free Agents, based on a British show by the same name.  Can you hear the hipsters?  I only watch the British version of Free Agents.  Well, Greek hipsters, decide for yourself.  It’s premiering tonight, September 14.

Gripster: New Yorker Festival 2011

8 Sep

 

The New Yorker Festival line up has been released, and we’ve got a few Greek Americans on the panel!

 

 

What Greek American authors were you hoping to see on the New Yorker Festival panel?

 

Gripster: Storm Stylin’

26 Aug

 

Hey all you hurricane hipsters, hopefully Hurricane Irene will blow out to the ocean and this whole state-of-emergency situation will have just been the government’s effort to revitalize the economy through the mass purchase of flashlights (you know us Greeks love our conspiracy theories) but just in case here are some tips for staying storm styling during Hurricane Irene:::

If you’re like me and totally unprepared for any sort of emergency and don’t own a flashlight, shame on you!  By now, all the flashlights are gone.  Even finding candles in the drugstores is getting hard.  Get creative.  Barnes & Noble* is a tranquil oasis right now, and they just so happen to sell a wide variety of battery-operated reading lights.  Just because it’s for reading, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to find your can opener if the lights go out.

While you’re there, pick up the Barnes & Noble* ereader the nook if you don’t already have one.  Charge it up pronto and download some books.  If the power is out for a long time, you’ll have plenty of reading material.

It’s still a good idea to have some candles on hand.  If you can’t find any at the drugstore or grocery store, that’s okay.  Class it up with some scented candles from Bath & Body Works.  I picked up the Cranberry Woods one during the winter holiday sale and am loving it; right now their summer scents are on sale.  (PS: I’m obsessed with the Black Currant Vanilla aromatherapy line, if you ever want to buy me a you’re-my-favorite-blogger gift.  But that could be weird if I don’t know you.  Hm, never mind.)

Speaking of scents, if we don’t have access to water that means you won’t be able to shower.  I suggest some perfume or body splash to keep you smelling fresh.  I’ve got Bath & Body Works‘ Plumeria body splash (which always makes me think of my Hawaiian friend from undergrad) and Zara‘s Creme (which my sister gave me).  And remember, just because you can’t shower doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reapply your deoderant.

Now you may not be able to wash your hair but you can use an oil-absorbing dry shampoo.  I’ve used the TRESemme dry shampoo with mixed results.  That said, I do favor their regular shampoo and condition.  And, they don’t test on animals.

Another great animal- and eco-friendly company is The Body Shop, where I’ve been shopping since middle school.  I love the Tea Tree Oil line, and today stocked up on their cleansing wipes in case I won’t have access to water to wash my face.  Bonus: there’s a buy 2 get 1 free sale on select lines right now at The Body Shop.

While at The Body Shop, I also picked up anti-bacterial hand sanitzers in my most favorite scents satsuma and pink grapefruit.  I normally advise against these sorts of anti-bacterial hand sanitizers because I fear using it will lead to the creation of a resistant super-bug, but hey, you’ve got to have clean hands somehow if there isn’t good old-fashioned soap and water.  Plus these ones smell amazing, unlike some brands that smell like rubbing alcohol.

If you wear contacts, keep your stylish glasses in an easy to locate place.  In fact, make a to-go bag of all your critical necessities (medication, keys, cash, etc.).

Now in terms of food, non-perishables does not have to mean SPAM!  The Village Voice published a great piece called “How to Stock Up for Irene: A Gourmet Guide to Hoarding.”  And all you Gripsters (Greek hipsters) will be happy to know they call stuffed grape leaves (ahem, dolmathes) ” the queen of canned vegetable matter.”  A shout out to my Swedish side, they also suggest Swedish hardtack.

I’m getting word via social media that the Trader Joe‘s line is crazy insane right now (which, really, is nothing new), but another great Greek food to have on hand is the Trader Joe’s Kalamata olive spread.  If you get it fresh in Astoria like you normally would it will need to be refrigerated, which isn’t good if the power goes out.  But the Trader Joe’s version doesn’t need to be refrigerated til after it’s opened.

Nutella!

Have some nuts on hand for protein.  Unsalted is best so you don’t drink all your water.

Instead of potato chips, why not veggie chips?  I got mine from Gourmet Garage.

I couldn’t find a single jug of water.  But you know what I could find?  Perrier.  Now I can feel fancy during the storm.  And to ghetto it up, before the storm hits, fill up your Brita water filter, travel mugs, coffee pots, flower vases, sauce pots, you name it, with tap water just in case.

I’ve seen a lot of people buying alcohol.  Not to sound like your yiayia but I’d caution against drinking alcohol during Hurricane Irene.  Not only will it dehydrate you, causing you to drink more of whatever precious water you have, but should you need to evacuate you need to be as clear-headed as possible.

You should indulge in something though.  I recommend chocolate!  My friend Sally gave me a milk-chocolate bark and a dark-chocolate bark from Jacques Torres Chocolate.  Let’s not forget about the Greek American chocolate brand Chocolate Moderne I mentioned in my recap of the Gabby Awards after party.  Gourmet chocolate won’t prevent the hurricane but if you’re stuck inside your apartment during torrential rains you might as well eat something sinfully delicious.

How are you staying storm stylin’?

 

*I work for a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.

Gripster: Documentary Films, Dolphins & Pirates

11 Jul

Arion Riding a Dolphin, by Albrecht Dürer (ca. 1514; public domain)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Greek American photographer and film director Louie Psihoyos is the son of an immigrant from the Peloponnesus.  The Peloponnesus incidentally is where my immigrant family came from as well.  Whether it’s a coincidence or a matter of upbringing that Psihoyos was intrigued by dolphins, the Peloponnesus has a dolphin myth.

Arion, the poet who invented the song and dance (called the dithyramb) for the wine god Dionysus, was kidnapped by pirates while returning to Greece from Italy.  In an effort to save his life, Arion sang to the poetry god Apollo, before flinging himself off the ship.  His song attracted a pod of dolphins and one of them carried him to safety, bringing him to the sanctuary of the sea god Poseidon in Cape Tainaron.

A swashbuckling tale of pirates, wine, and poetry, you have to admit this is a pretty cool Greek dolphin myth!

It led me to study up on Cape Tainaron.  Also known as Cape Matapan, it is the southernmost part of mainland Greece.  It’s located in Mani, which reputedly has the world’s best extra-virgin olive oil, grown organically on mountain terraces, and is also known for its superior honey and syglino (pork with oregano, mint, and orange peel.)  There are also some stalactite and stalagmite caves, which are partly underwater, and can be visited by boat.

I’m putting Cape Tainaron on my to-do list for the next time I go to Greece.

For more on Poseidon, check out:::

Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth

Gripster: 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade & Greek Mermaid Myths

Gripster: 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade & Greek Mermaid Myths

20 Jun

I hit the beach for the first time this year for the 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade.  I’ve been going for a few years now, so I was kind of surprised when friends asked me what it is.  It’s pretty much what it sounds like.  It’s kind of like an all-mermaid version of the Village Halloween Parade.  A lot of the outfits are scandalous, but the parade is so much fun!

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is the world’s largest art parade.  It was founded in 1983 by the same not-for-profit arts organization that produces the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.  The official website describes the Coney Island Mermaid Parade:

The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and mythology of Coney Island, Coney Island pride, and artistic self-expression. The Parade is characterized by participants dressed in hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes, various sea creatures, the occasional wandering lighthouse, Coney Island post card or amusement ride, as well as antique cars, marching bands, drill teams, and the odd yacht pulled on flatbed.

You probably know that Neptune is the Roman version of the Greek god Poseidon, the god of the ocean.  (If you’re curious about Poseidon, check out my blog entry “Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth.”)  What I was curious about was mermaid Greek mythology.  I always think of the sirens that the cunning Odysseus outwitted as mermaids, when in fact they’re actually half woman, half bird.  So what does Greek mythology actually say about mermaids?

According to myth, Alexander the Great’s half-sister is a mermaid.  Thessalonike was born to King Philip II of Macedon and his concubine, Nicesipolis, in 252 or 345 BC.  According to legend, Alexander the Great bathed Thessalonike’s hair in life-giving water that he retrieved on his quest to find the Fountain of Immortality.  When her older brother died when she was only nineteen years old, Thessalonike tried to drown herself.  In death, Thessalonike transformed into a mermaid, according to legend.

Mermaid Thessalonike lived in the Aegean.  She stopped ships, asking, “Ζει ο Βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος?” (“Is King Alexander alive?”)

If the passing ship answered, “Ζει και βασιλεύει και τον κόσμο κυριεύει” (He lives and rules the world), she calmed the waters.

If the ship answered anything less positive, she caused a severe storm that would spell death to all sailors.

I took some 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade pictures.

I hear 2011 is the year of the mermaid trend.

2011 Gabby Awards: Fashion Report

10 Jun

Euxaristo to all of you who have been checking out my Gabby Award coverage!  It was truly an amazing event.

Last Friday’s events for Gabby Awards Lifetime Achievement winner neon artist Stephen Antonakos and jewelry designer Konstantino were just precursors to Saturday’s main event — the presentation of the 2011 Gabby Awards!

I slept in as much as I could on Saturday morning — hey, a girl needs her beauty rest if there are going to be lots of cameras around! — but I was too excited to stay in bed.  I tried to Skype my parents in Greece — I’d been going back and forth on what to wear, and my mom has a great eye for fashion and style so I wanted her opinion  — but they were out.  Fortunately, I had booked an appointment with my hairstylist, Wendy, who did a great job on my hair!  Finally, after I’d already gotten dressed and was about to head out the door, my parents Skyped me.  The dress was Mom-approved!  It had a bit of a vintage feel to it.  It was a black chiffon number with white polka dots.  It had a deep V-neck and an asymmetrical cut.  I wore it with a simple strand of pearls to kick up the 50s flair.  For makeup, I wanted a fresh, springtime look so I wore Stila lip glaze in guava, which is what a makeup artist had used on me during Fashion’s Night Out.  I spritzed on Zara Creme eau du toilette, which my sister gave me for my birthday, and then I was out the door!

Probably one of my favorite aspect of going to the Gabby Awards was seeing what everyone was wearing!  I have to say, I was quite impressed with the men — they really picked some stylin’ suits and tuxes. Gabby Award founder Gregory Pappas wins the award for coolest tie!  Meletis Koropoulis wore a sharp suit and hipster-ish glasses … perhaps we can add him to our growing “gripster” list?

Of course the women looked gorgeous, as well.  Most opted for floor-length gowns in bright colors — canary yellow, azure, and cherry red were popular.  Many wore, not surprisingly, goddess gowns.  There were also some sparkling numbers.  Melina Kanakaredes dazzled in a patterned, one-shoulder dress.  Cat Cora looked spicy in a red dress with a fantastic neckline.  Jane Monzures was looking anything but plain in plum.

Everyone looked gorgeous!  You can view photos from the event on the Gabby Awards website and on the Gabby Awards Facebook page.

φάε: Spinach & Kimchee Pies — My Childhood in Savory Pastry Form

14 Mar

I grew up in a town in New Jersey that was heavily populated by Korean Americans.  You can imagine my delight then when I stumbled upon a kimchee variation of spanikopita.  It was like my childhood in savory pastry form!

On her ever-popular blog, Not Eating Out in New York, Cathy Erway tells how her friend inspired her to make spanikopita.  When she didn’t have any feta cheese in her fridge to make the spinach pie, she decided on a unique alternative: kimchee.  “I’ll take spicy, briny, tart pickled cabbage over feta this time,” she wrote.

 

Spinach & Kimchee Pie. Photo via Not Eating Out in New York. Used with permission.

For anyone who doesn’t know, spanikopita is the name of a Greek spinach pie that is made out of delicious layers of phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, egg, and onion.  This being the season of Great Lent, I should point out that there is also a vegan version that does not contain cheese.

Kimchee, meanwhile, is a popular Korean dish of fermented vegetables.  The main vegetable is cabbage but it could also have onions and cucumbers in it.  Kimchee is having its moment right now.  It’s being packaged up and branded to the foodie hipster crowd.  The brand Cathy uses in her recipe is her friend Kheedim Oh’s Mama O’s Kimchee, but I also discovered via Joy Deangdeelert Cho’s blog, oh joy!, the brand Mother In Law’s Kimchi, which I then stumbled upon at Whole Foods.

Cathy’s spinach & kimchee pies are not your yiayia’s spanikopita.  She combined the spinach and kimchee and folded it into pastry dough.  Get the full recipe and its health benefits on the Not Eating Out in New York blog.

Gripster: Community’s Starburns Is “Creepy, Seems Greek”

7 Mar

Greendale Community College held an impromptu election for student government on the last episode of Community, “Intro to Political Science.”  As usual, Jeff scoffed at the idea and then, wearing a leather jacket and tight black jeans, used his lawyerly tricks to prove votes aren’t based on anything of substance.

Troy and Abed gave a rundown of the candidates, which included Starburns.  Describing him, Troy said, “creepy, seems Greek, possible drug dealer.”  The ethnicity on the screen shot shows: Cambodian.  This is right after they said another candidate changed his last name to get the Hispanic vote and right before they mentioned Jeff, whose ethnicity was listed as Northern European.  Mind you, the ethnicity of the ever-perky Annie is listed as “hot.”

Starburns’ given name, we find out via Troy and Abed’s campaign coverage, is Alex Osbourne.  So what gives with the “creepy, seems Greek” comment?  Well, in case you didn’t know, Alex “Starburns” Osbourne is played by Greek-American actor Dino Stamatopoulos.

Stamatopoulos was born in Norridge, Illinois, on December 14, 1964.  He attended Columbia College Chicago before becoming a writer for such shows as The Ben Stiller Show (for which he won an Emmy), The Dana Carvey Show, the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, MADtv, and Important Things with Demetri Martin (another fellow Greek-American).  He also wrote the claymation episode of Community that everyone raved about: “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.”

Pretty good for a guy whose Myspace page humbly says, “He’s also written and produced many of show business’ least-watched shows, but he doesn’t care.”  Oh, and according to said Myspace page, he’s got great taste in music.  He likes The Mountain Goats, Nick Cave, John Lennon, and The Magnetic Fields.

If you’re looking to get into screenwriting or comedy writing, you may want to study Stamatopoulos’ Emmy-Award-winning writing.

The next episode of Community will air March 17 and is entitled “Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy.”

Gripster: Can Greeks and Hipsters Coexist?

28 Jan

All that talk about Portlandia made me wonder what the Greek population in Portland is like.

According to census data from, oh, about a decade ago, .5% of the population in Portland is Greek.  The Pacific Northwest city has its fair share of Greek restaurants and holds one of the biggest Greek festivals in the country.  Still, Zest reports that the hipster movement is pushing out at least one Greek diner.

Can Greeks and hipsters coexist in Portland?

Well, he predates the aughts’ hipster culture, but Art Alexakis is at least one example of a Greek-American—and a Christian—who came out of the alternative arts culture of Portland.  Although he’s originally from Los Angeles, it wasn’t until Alexakis moved to Portland that he formed the 90s band Everclear.

Gripster: Portlandia, Hipsters, and Greek Myth

21 Jan

The new IFC series Portlandia has been getting major press.  My eyes have been rattling around in my head, they rolled back so far.  Are hipsters still in?

But, after seeing this clip about how in Portland the dream of the nineties is still alive, I’m amused.  Plus, I love Fred Armisen.

Portlandia is also the name of a sculpture located at the entrance of the Portland Building (1120 SW 5th Avenue, in Portland, Oregon).  Sculpted by Raymond Kaskey, it’s based on Portland’s city seal, which features a woman, the Queen of Commerce, in Classical garb, brandishing a trident.  Wikipedia quotes The Morning Oregonian as stating on March 22, 1878, that the lower portion of the seal contains a wreath of myrtle.

Sound familiar?

The Greek muse Erato was often portrayed wearing a wreath of myrtle and roses.  Interesting, since Portland is none other than the City of Roses.  Erato, the muse of lyric poetry, is often depicted carrying a lyre; however, Portlandia carries a trident, which is the traditional symbol of the Greek god Poseidon.  The irony here is that with its sheaf of grain, the city seal was supposed to recognize Portland’s agrarian, which a pitchfork would have symbolized.  The similar-looking trident symbolizes fishing, and Poseidon used it to wreck havoc on the land by creating earthquakes.  Of course, the Queen of Commerce is standing by a body of water so perhaps she is also Queen of the lower Columbia River.

Another possibility is that Portlandia is based on the Greek goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite.  Aphrodite is often depicted with myrtle and roses.  She is often positioned by the sea, but she holds a scepter instead of a trident.  Aphrodite is the Greek incarnation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, whose symbol is the star.  In the seal of Portland, a star hovers above the Queen of Commerce.

It’s interesting the way Greek mythology resurges, insinuating itself in pop culture.  Does this mean we might be seeing Greek hipsters—Gripsters—in Portlandia?

Portlandia airs tonight at 10:30 on IFC.