16 September 2007

why did the Greeks start breaking plates?

Well, have a look at these vintage beauties (circa 1955) and decide for yourself!

PLEASE NOTE: with my sadly lacking photographic skills, I could not hope to reproduce the true splendour of the colour of the sky in Greece as depicted on these plates. Picture what you see here and ramp it up in the turquoise direction another ... oh, well, the ensuing colour would be the love child of blue and green salt water taffy!

(I imagine the more appropriate sky colour for today's Athens is grey-brown, but that's another story for another day. And, that serves to make these plates very rare and valuable artifacts, akin to the Elgin Marbles, IMHO. But I, as usual, digress...)

1. The Parthenon

Did you know that the ancient Greeks built a large structure 2,000 plus years ago called the Parthenon? No? If not, here's what it looks like:

2. The Parthenon and Other Structures

...and just in case you don't know what the Parthenon looks like, here's another depiction of it, because after all it was a very important accomplishment of the ancient Greeks, just in case you didn't know that:

But... the creator of this plate obviously wanted to stress the multitalented nature of my forefathers (I only say "forefathers" because I doubt that the foremothers were allowed out of the house at the time, let alone off building future heritage properties) - it is a little known secret that the Ancient Greeks also built other buildings. So, here's one:

...and another...

...and yet another...
Oops! is that the Parthenon again? Must have needed another version in the border just in case the one in the middle wasn't gaudy... er, noticeable enough. And it IS a very important building...

3. A Rare Sight in Greek Modern Art

A whole plate devoted to a building which is not the Parthenon... !

4. Evzonas (Soldier) at the Acropolis
a.k.a. The Favourite Pastime of the Greek Male - Blowing His Own Horn!

Glad to see the creator of the plate didn't forget about the Parthenon. And - check out the detail photo:

Do you notice something unusual? I reckon that this guy must be the tallest Greek in history. Or at least the one with the longest legs - he appears to be about 7 feet tall with legs measuring 6 feet (from the waist - hard to guess the inseam measurement what with the cute little pleated skirt).

And on the topic of cute little skirts, a cross-cultural aside so that DH doesn't feel left out. Note the similarities in stance and activity engaged in:

However, the comparison of the two brings out (to me, anyway) why the Greeks are and always will be superior to the Scots:

(a) the Scot doesn't get to wear pompoms on HIS shoes; and
(b) what else is missing from the Scottish version... three guesses and the first two don't count... tick tock tick tock. Bzzz. Ah, yes... the Parthenon! In fact, no big ass buildings at all, really. I guess the workers were too busy running and hiding from the 50,123rd squeaky squally version of "Scots Wha Hae" or "Amazing Grace" to build all those columns. Hmm.

(No rude comments along the lines of "Ah, but wha' is under the Greek's skirt, hen?", please!!)

5. A Woman's Work is Never Done

And while Nick is up at the Parthenon carrying on YET AGAIN, here's what his wife and daughter are doing:

Note the monochromatic and dull colour scheme in contrast with the bright peacock colours of Takis the Evzonas (or was that Takis the Mangas... or Takis the Malakas? Hmm). Fitting, somehow.

But check out the detail:

What is it exactly she is collecting? The last time I saw something like this was on the school trip to Sharbot Lake and the maple bush, but as far as I know they don't have maple trees in Greece. Hmm. Perhaps it's what she needs to drink in order to stay shacked with Nick? Or...

(Nick rolls in at about midnight, three sheets to the wind yet again)

SPIROULA: Your dinner that I spent two days killing, plucking and cooking over the wood fire is COLD!!!! Were you out at that Parthenon again? You promised you would stop going there so much.

NICK: (staggering to the nearest chair and sitting down) Skase (shut up), woman. I'm tired. Why don't you use the microwave that Yorgo got me off the back of the truck, anyway??? Get me some ouzo/raki (depending on the part of Greece). AMESOS! (right away). It's not easy standing at the Parthenon and having your photo taken by all those tourists, you know.

SPIROULA: Your boss came and smashed the microwave because he was so upset that you hadn't shown up to work for the 3rd week in a row...or was it because you beat his brother-in-law at poker?! And I'm sick and tired of you...

NICK: I said, SKASMOS!! (shut the beep up). Enough! (muttering)... Women talk too much. "They told the old woman to take a dump and she went and s**t out her bowels". [NOTE: this is a perhaps not so ancient greek cliche standing for the that time honoured proposition "Women talk too much". In the Greek "ipane stin gria na hesei ke piye ke exakoliastike").

SPIROULA: You're right, hryso mou (my golden one), you're right. I'll get your drink right away (chuckling to herself as she goes to the urn containing the sap from the poison tree so painstakingly collected earlier that day for just such a moment...)

6. The Happy Couple

And, just in case you didn't think that Greek men and women ever did anything together...

I should note that this plate, unlike all the others, is only about 3 inches in diameter and is meant to go underneath a demitasse cup. They probably only put this image of the happy couple in full Greek Village drag because there was no room for the Parthenon on the saucer...

7. Greek Canadian Schlock

And finally (phew!) my attempt to live up to the proud artistic heritage of those whose works are so lovingly displayed above:

This is my attempt at an evil eye ("mati") plate which is meant to ward off the evil eye. It was originally gifted to a recipient who shall remain nameless, but who had apparently decided that this work of art was meant to collect cigarette lighters, matches and old unopened phone bills on the kitchen table (despite the plate stand that was gifted with it, which I had thought made the purpose obvious). So, this offended artist took back the gift. It now occupies a place of honour underneath my computer desk as it is so heavy that I am frightened to hang it. Materials: heavy plate from the dollar store, stained glass and tile grout.

I'm not so much worried that it would break as that it would inevitably fall down on my head as I was passing and cause permanent brain damage (having said, if you've made it all the way through this long ramble, you may well be thinking "Too late for that!")