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James Prineas

July 2011

Dear Friends of Kythera,
I'm writing this from a small shady cave at Kalathi Beach on Kythera. The sun is shining, a good wind blowing, and small waves slapping up on the perfect pebbled beach before me. It's Kythera at its best. Although the beach is quite empty - there are perhaps 20 families spread across the three sections of the beach - the season has started quite well for the island, with many flights booked out and the best-loved traditional guest rooms filling up. Don't let that put you off jumping on a flight to Greece (and a boat to Kythera) - there is still plenty of room for all (for example at the Windmill Hotel in Mitata - www.thewindmillresort.com and To Kamari in Mylopotamos - http://kamari.kythera.gr ). Many guest houses are offering special rates until July 20th and as of the end of August - yet another reason to visit. 

To make your stay even more special, Kythera regular Kalie Zervos has written "Tips for enjoying a Kytherian summer" which you can find below in the "Recent Entries" section.

News from the Island
Yesterday I visited the head doctor - the charming Dr. Kosmas Megalokonomos - at the hospital in Potamos. He told me the new hospital on the road to Aroniathika was ready but the current financial crisis in Greece meant that the increased running costs of the new building were beyond the current (reduced) hospital budget. It's apparently a similar story with the optical fibre cables laid across the island last year (almost all the roads have a new dark stripe on them where they were dug up, the cable laid, and new asphalt poured). Depending upon whom you talk to, the reason why they haven't been connected yet is either the money ran out to hook up the final metres to the local network, or there are technical problems which can't afford to be solved at the moment. Those responsible are currently expecting to have it all hooked up by the end of the year, but the estimates are pushed back 3 months every 3 months...

Exciting new Project
You'll all already know of Kythera's vital link to the goddess Aphrodite - she was not only said to have been born off the shores of the island, but the most holy temple to her in the Greek-speaking world was located on the island (where exactly it was is still the subject of great controversy). This lack of a focal point for the cult once so important to the island has absorbed me for some time. Add to this the fact that the story of our island, full of fascinating history from prehistoric, though Minoan, Spartan, Classical, Byzantine etc. times to the present, is not told anywhere on the island itself, and the need for a new museum concept becomes apparent.

Greek historians & anthropologists, academics, civil engineers as well as Swiss, German and South African architects and I have been working on a big new project for Kythera - the Kythera-Aphrodite Museum. As you can see from the pictures below, we're at an early stage in the process and even the museum site is still to be determined - that was one of the reasons I visited the aforementioned Dr. Megalokonomos, who is on the committee of the Kythera Land Trust (Enhorio Periousia). He was enthusiastic about the project, and has sent me to the topographer with the best knowledge of the Trust's land for advice on possible locations. Although it would be optimal to put the museum somewhere with a grand view down to the ancient settlement of Skandia (Paliopoli), forestry department restrictions and the sheer size of the land we need in order to build a large complex - approx. 1500 sq. metres building area - outside village-limits, mean we have to be realistic and are open to all suggestions. So if you know of a 40-stremata or larger (40 000 sq metre) site with an ocean view anywhere on the island which might be suitable please let us know. 

The museum complex will have (at least) 7 main areas:
1. An Historical Museum telling the story of the island from neolithic times to the present, using information boards, maps, modern relics such as traditional arts and crafts, geological exhibits and other material. It will contain no archeological finds, which belong exclusively to the domain of the old archeological museum in Hora.
2. A wing devoted to Aphrodite - her history and Kythera's role in it, as well as her changing role in spiritual and popular culture over the centuries
3. A Kythera-Natural History Wing, containing the extensive private collection of Robin Tzannes which is in part visible on the Kythera-Family.net site here:
4. A Sculpture Garden featuring high-quality reproductions of ancient Aphrodite statues mixed with modern pieces and installations produced especially for museum by world-class local and international artists. The garden will also be an oasis of shade and tranquility, attracting visitors to the complex in its own right.
5. An Accommodation Wing for visiting researchers and artists producing work for the museum.
6. A cafe/restaurant siding onto the sculpture garden providing yet another good reason to visit.
7. A Lecture Area and Workshops for local school children as well as adult courses.

You are probably asking how such an ambitious project can be financed, especially in the current depressed financial climate in Greece. We have already identified some European funding sources and welcome support from the whole Kytherian community. You could have a museum wing named after your family, or a sculpture from the garden dedicated to your grandparents if you are able. We have a concept to minimize running costs using renewable energy, collected rain water, accommodation swapping for care-taking and tour-guiding duties, and dozens more ideas to make the museum enjoyable, educational, inspiring and beautiful.

Some pictures are below, but many more (including larger versions of the below examples) are on the website we have created for the project:
The site is not quite finished, but full enough to get a clear idea of the overall plan.

If any of you are interested in joining the project group or simply wish to make suggestions, please let us know. It is obviously a challenging project, but one which will be beneficial to the island in more ways than one. It will take many years to organise and build the museum, so we will create a virtual one on the website in the meantime, which will also help us to optimise the presentation of the information and exhibits. If you're a professional or amateur historian/curator/researcher and would like to take on a piece of the historical puzzle (such as "Kythera in the Byzantine period" or "Kytherians in Smyrna") we'd love to have you on board. 

Once the museum complex is finished there will be lots of work for volunteers as well, so plan to spend at least some of your well-earned retirement giving tours of the Kythera-Aphrodite Museum in the not-so-distant future...

Best regards from a beautiful beach on Kythera,

James Prineas

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Samios-Psaros Wedding 1932

Inverell Times, Friday, 3 June, 1932.
Posted by Peter Makarthis

A most attractive wedding, which created considerable interest locally, was celebrated in Greek at St. Augustine's Church of England yesterday by the Greek priest, Archemanretty Theofilactos, who journeyed specially from Sydney for the occasion. The ceremony, according to the rights and ceremonials of the Greek Church, was most interesting and was witnessed by a large congregation.

The bride was Miss Annie Psaros, sister of Messrs. Theo and Peter Psaros, of Otho Street, and Mr. Nicholas Samios of Garah, was the bridegroom.
The bride looked charming in her white satin frock and beautiful hand worked veil, which was the handiwork of Mrs. Phacheas. She carried a bouquet of choice white roses, and her long train of pink crepe de chene and silver lace was held by the dainty little Poppy Psaros, who carried a basket of pink roses, and was prettily dressed in blue georgette.
The bride was attended by Mesdames Phacheas and Psaros as matrons-of-honour, and was given away by her brother, Mr. Theo Psaros. Mrs Phacheas's gown was of dark-red chenille georgette, and Mrs. Psaros chose an attractive apricot georgette, with hat to match. Both carried bouquets of roses and fern.
The duties of the best men were carried out by Messrs. Con Baveas (Glen Innes), Mr N. Nicholas (Glen Innes), and Mr. J. Aroney (Elsmore).
The reception was held at night in the Phoenix chambers, where numerous guests were treated to a delicious assortment of Greek and English dishes. The catering was carried out by Mrs. Psaros, assisted by Mr. Aroney, on a lavish scale, and the function was most favourably commented upon by all present.
The Rev. E. H. Stammer presided, assisted by the Archimanretty, who proposed the health of the bride and bridegroom, after which Mr. Con Baveas toasted the parents, which in their absence in faraway Greece, was responded by Mr. Psaros.  The handsome three-tier wedding cake, made by Mr. Kautz, and was held pride of place on the festive board, was greatly admired by the Greek guests who were pleased at this English touch to the ceremonials.
The happy couple left for Moree this morning on their honeymoon, the bride traveling in a neat light-green frock with hat to match.
Their future home will be at Garah where the groom is in business.

This report of the Samios-Psaros Wedding was researched from the Inverell Times, Friday 3 June 1932, recorded on micro-film at Inverell Shire Library. Phoenix Chambers, the venue for the reception, is at 94 Otho Street Inverell and a photo can be found in "Life in Australia" page 146, English translation 2009. Messrs. Theo and Peter Psaros were the proprietors and conducted the business as S. Peter & Co.  

Researched by Peter McCarthy
Delungra NSW
4 July 2011
© S. Peter & Co 4 July 2011

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Kytherian Initiative present a proposal for the immediate functioning of the Municipal Library

On Friday, 25 June, municipal councillor Viron Protopsaltis, representing the Kytherian Initiative reform group, placed before the municipal council a proposal for the immediate functioning of the Municipal Library in Kontolianika and its administration by a team of dedicated volunteers. The proposal is backed by other interested organisations including the Kythera Cultural Association, the PTA and the Book Club.

We believe that this proposal represents a practical, effective and above all immediate solution which calls for neither financing nor manpower from the municipality, but which on the contrary relieves it of a heavy responsibility. We would like to believe that the municipality will embrace this proposal, responding positively and above all expeditiously.

John Stathatos
Press & Publicity Officer, 
Kytherian Initiative


We are all aware that the municipality faces enormous problems both financial and organisational. However, the magnitude of these problems should not result in all cultural activities grinding to a halt.

The municipal library building in Kondolianika has been ready for occupation for almost a year, while the necessary shelving and furniture is also in place thanks to the generosity of American Kytherians. It is of course clear that in view of the current financial crisis, the hiring of staff and the normal functioning of the library are not feasible.

Nevertheless, we believe the opening and operation of the municipal library to be absolutely essential for both cultural and educational reasons, above all in view of the definitive closure of the Children's Library in Leivadi.

The immediate solution to this dilemma, as of so many others, can be found in volunteer action. Kytherian Initiative, in collaboration with the Kythera Cultural Association, the PTA, the Book Club and other associations, wishes to place before the municipal council a formal proposal for the organisation, administration and manning of the library on a voluntary basis, always of course on behalf of the municipality and under its control.

A crucial element of this proposal is the enthusiastic collaboration of Mary Kalligerou, who was for years director of the Children's Library and has more hands-on experience of libraries than anybody else on the island. Equally important is the likelihood of having the entire holdings of the Children's Library, including some 7,500 books, transferred to the Municipal Library.

We therefore propose the immediate creation of a Voluntary Committee for the Administration of the Municipal Library, consisting of active volunteers under the chairmanship of a municipal councillor. Such a committee, which could be assembled in a matter of days, could undertake the following tasks:

- Design and arrange interior;
- Classify books and place on shelves according to the Dewey Decimal System;
- Begin cataloguing the holdings;
- Open the library to the public at regular hours at least twice each week;
- Maintain and clean the building;
- Arrange cultural events in collaboration with interested parties and organisations.

Thanks to the personal contacts of several volunteers with cultural organisations and publishers, as well as with Kytherians of the diaspora and friends of Kythera, it will be possible to enrich the library holdings with new and useful books at no cost. Finally, it should also be possible to make available for sale the publications of the municipality and of the Kytherian Studies Association.

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Here are some tips designed to assist you in making the most of what our island has to offer. 

Before starting I suggest you pick up a copy of the free Kythera Summer Edition newspaper available from shops and cafes around the island.

Getting Around
- Best way to get around is by car. Kythera's road network is good however to access many places and beaches be prepared to drive on dirt tracks.
- A bus service is available from Agia Pelagia to Kapsali during summer, check with store owners for timetables as it is not a frequent service. 

Mobile phone reception and Internet Cafes and Wireless hotspots  
-International mobile phones will operate on roaming networks in most parts of the island. For cheaper phone calls to Greek numbers you can purchase a Greek SIM from the OTE shop and the Sehos electrical goods store in Potamos or at the Sehos and Germanos stores in Livadi. Take your passport with you, as all Greek mobile phone numbers are required by law to be registered.  If you have an existing Greek number  that was not registered before the 31st July 2010, it will no longer work, Recharge cards for the Cosmote, Wind and Vodafone networks may be purchased at the Kiosk (Periptero) in Potamos, post offices, and selected souvenir shops around the island.

-Internet Cafes are found in the main towns (ask locals for specific shops offering the service)
-In 2010 the majority of towns on the island were serviced with broadband internet cabling, so many more hotels, and rooms for rent will now have internet connectivity.
-If you have your own laptop or iPAD there are several towns around Kythera, such as Potamos, Agia Pelagia, and Hora that are Wi Fi hotspots.

- The bulk of Kythera's beaches are located along the east coast, with various coves and inlets sprawled around the island. Accessing most beaches is easy, however be prepared to rough it on dirt tracks to reach the most spectacular ones. 
- As there is little or no shade at most beaches, be prepared to supply you own shade, water and food. 
- Please remember to take any rubbish with you when you leave. 
- The best beach for children is Diakofti with white sandy shores and clear blue shallow water. Agia Pelagia Kapsali Limiona and Platea Amos are also suitable for families as there are food outlets located on or near the beach. 

Weather Tips   
Kythera is known for being windy. If you prefer to swim in still waters here is a list of beaches that are best depending upon which way the wind is blowing:-
- Northerly wind (Vorgias) : Kapsali, Halkos, Melidoni, Likodimou and Limiona
- Southerly wind (Notias)- Limiona, Likodimou and all east coast beaches except Paleopoli.
- Westerly wind : all beaches except Likodimou and Limiona 
- Easterly Wind- Halkos, Melidoni, Kapsali, Liomiona and Likodimou

-Nights can get quite cool and damp. Always carry a jacket and your mosquito cream if you are prone to getting bitten. 

Festivals and Dances
- Cultural festivals and dances take place throughout late July and all of  August and some of September. Keep an eye out for notices posted on shop windows, street poles and trees around the island.  Most will be written in Greek so ask the locals to translate them for you.
- The place to be on Sunday mornings is Potamos. Locals and tourist merge to meet up with friends over a coffee or to buy fresh local produce, arts and crafts and jewelry from the bazaar. Parking is available in the free council parking lot. 

Exploring Kythera
Some of the best sights are only reached on foot. Wear comfortable walking, sensible clothes, sunscreen and a hat and always carry water. Here are some sights not to be missed:-
-Venetian castles : Hora,  Kato Hora (great to watch the subset) ,and Avlemona
-Caves : Agia Sophia Milopotamos which are opened most mornings in August  and Agia Sophia Kalamos open all the time.
-Paleohora- The deserted town of Agios Demetrios ransacked in 1537. Access is restricted due the unstableness of the buildings, however restoration works have commenced. Best time to visit is late in the afternoon.
-Waterfall known as Neraida located below Milopotamos.
-Natural Springs : Karava, Viaradika, Mitata and Galani.
-Monasteries: Mirtidiotissa, Agios Theodoros, Agia Elesa, Agia Moni.  (Wear modest clothing when visiting monastries).
-Archeological dig site at Paleokastro during July and take part in the dig as a volunteer for the day.

With a map and Kythera Summer Edition at your side I encourage you to explore the enchanting isle that is Kythera. Enjoy!

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Messageboard Topic

George Castrisios in Hobart
by Len Eaton

Back in the 1950's my mother was a waitress in George's Oasis Cafe in Collins St, Hobart. George was a tall, dark-haired man with a big heart and hearty manner. As a boy in high school I worked at his fish shop further up the street, the Galaxy. I'm afraid my mum learned quite a few of the naughty greek words which George found hilarious. Would love to hear from any of his family.

Protopsaltis family Spit Junction
by Len Eaton

George and Heraklia Protopsaltis of Spit Junction in Sydney were a great part of that community. I knew from working nearby at Line & Co, a small department store. My younger (late) sister worked in their café as a waitress, we were made to feel more a part of their family than customer and employee. Both George and Heraklia were short in stature, but had a large heart. Their favourite breakfast or snack was hot buttered toast with grapes and piccorino cheese - I got to love it. They had a daughter and a son at school - sorry but I have forgotten their names, although I recall the boy attended Mosman Prep. Their home overlooked Middle Harbour on the lower side of Spit Road neighbourhood. They were good customers of Ted Line's store, loved a good yarn and were certainly the most friendly people I have ever known.  I would certainly like to know how the two children made out in life.

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Winnie the Witch
ONLY €5.00
Assorted signed, editions in English, French, Italian, Spanish. 
Tzerigotika to come…

To buy, phone (Kythera): 00 30 694 922 8515
email: [email protected]

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(continued from the last newsletter)
Maria Marcellos Whyte

My life became intolerable in my 20's - the strictness and mistrust had reached new heights - and I was forced to leave the family home. I wrote to the one person who I knew would understand, my godmother, Maria Kaloutsis in Dubbo. I wrote to her, telling her of the circumstances which had caused me to leave, giving her my address, hoping that she would contact me. Instead, contacted my mother, telling her to come to me and to be a good parent. She spoke sternly to her, and my mother respected her, and chose to do as instructed.
How I recall the day when there was a knock at my door of the tiny flat I shared with my new husband. I opened it to see my mother looking down at a piece of paper, reading from it, saying my name, looking for me. She then looked up, and the surprise on her face was evident as she saw me. Her first words to me were, "you have shortened your dress". Yes, I had, slightly, just skimming my knees.
She did not stay but for a few minutes, but invited my husband and myself for dinner the following night. The family gathered and my beloved uncle Nick also attended to meet the young man who was now part of our family. He was accepted warmly by my father and uncle Nick. The years passed, and many terrible and frightening incidents caused us to flee Sydney with our then four children, leaving our address and phone number only with the one person I trusted most.
A call came one day close to Christmas from my koumbaro. I was at the hospital, caring for my youngest son, who had been run down by a car such a short time before, his injuries severe. I took the call and was told to come to Sydney quickly, as my father was dying. It was a difficult time, as my son, just 6 years old, was critical. But my father was dying, and I was torn, needing to be with both my son and my father. I rang my mother, who told me whoever had told me my father was ill was lying, as he was well and happy. I did not accept this, choosing to transfer my son to Sydney,  with the support from doctors, nurses and the ambulance service assisting me to overcome so many obstacles,  My son was admitted to the Children's Prince of Wales Hospital. As soon as I had him settled, I went directly to the family home.
I pressed the doorbell. The door opened a fraction, and I saw two faces barely visible, not allowing me to enter, but I put my shoulder to the door, and forced my way in. I went directly into my parents bedroom, finding my father laying in his bed, almost unrecognizable. Always a man of small stature, but strong, he was now so withered, breaking my heart. How could I have been told he was well? He took my hand, looking at me in surprise, wanting to know why I was there and not with my family, as his concern was that I would neglect my children to visit him. I did not tell him of his grandson's condition, but told him I had come to visit him, as I loved him. Looking at his hand, I was surprised to find it swollen, but we held hands, crying, spending such precious moments together. As always, my father asked if my mother had invited me to stay for dinner. I glanced up at my mother and sister as they stood in the doorway, and my mother gave me an indication to tell him that she had. Of course I obeyed. These last moments with my father were moments which will stay with me forever. I wished to return the following day, but, I was told to leave, and not to return. Such a short distance away, but I did not see my father alive again. The call came to the hospital on a Saturday morning, my sister saying: "our father is dead, but do not come". I immediately went, as I was my fathers daughter, even in death, finding him laying in his bed, appearing so peaceful, as if he was asleep. There was a funeral directors strike that day, and I sat for hours with my mother, neither of us speaking, simply keeping my father company. The doctor finally arrived as did the priest and the mortician. Each of these people asked me who I was. I told them, but they replied that they had been told my father had only one child. One daughter. No, I was his daughter also. 
I had sat watching my father for hours, yet now, as so many people arrived, I was concerned, asking them not to speak loudly, as my father was asleep, and they may wake him, which would mean he would be in pain again, asking them to please go to another room. They looked at me strangely. Then, as I looked on, a stretcher was brought in from a black van with blackened windows. Two men lifted my father from his warm bed, causing me to cry out, "What are you doing? My father is asleep, do not wake him, please leave him." My father was removed from his home, and that day the lights went out in my childhood home.
A few months ago, I read my mother's will. She wrote that at the time when my father and I spent such precious moments together, I caused him great distress instead of comforting him. Reading these cruel words were shattering to me. 
My  father had shown his grandchildren, my children such love, as each time we visited. A memory they treasure when speaking of Papou, which they at times do, remembering him with love. He never saw his youngest grandchild, as he had lost his sight, but the tears rolled down his face as he held her, this child whom he loved as deeply as he did his other grandchildren, running his hands over her tiny face, trying to imagine how she looked. My father was a kind man, misguided at times, but still a loving father. There is a void within me which time has not eased, as I cannot move forward, being haunted by the cruel words I have recently read left by my mother.
My parents have both passed into Gods care, leaving me the greatest pain one can endure. I was not permitted to say goodbye to my father, to hold him as I so desperately wanted to, and I was not permitted to say goodbye to my mother, even though she had been a hard woman in many ways, not wishing any further contact, but, in her heart, I know she would have wished to see me and to make peace before departing this life, as in her final letter dictated to me, she still said she loved me. How deep the pain is that I did not kiss her, nor see her, nor was I given the opportunity to speak to her, as she would have wanted to depart this life, knowing I still loved her as a mother, setting aside at that time my own pain. Being a mother myself, I know this to be true.
She passed away in a nursing home, having been there for three months, yet few were aware of this, and they were forbidden from letting me know. The news of her passing came about only because a close family friend rang to speak to her, only to be told that she had died.  She passed in this nursing home, although my father had stipulated conditions in his will so that she would see out her last days in her own home, her own bed.
How I yearn for my departed loved ones, including my beloved aunt who expressed her delight when I would appear at her door, to be embraced and kissed, yearning for my departed family members, remembering  wonderful times spent together. As I look at the sky at night, looking at the moon to see what tomorrow's weather will be, as taught to me by my aunts in Kythera, I see a star which seems to shine just a little more than the others. Is it wrong of me to believe that the twinkling star is maybe there for a reason?
I have chosen to break my silence in the hope that others may also find some release, as they also have such deep emotions, which they have shared with me. It was difficult to be raised in such a strict family, attempting to live a normal life in a very Greek family in Australia. Some may be critical of me for putting words to paper, but I make no apology for this, as I have finally found the freedom to speak openly, praying that my words may help others also to express themselves and to free themselves of the painful memories they also bear.

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Chez Stamatakos  
by James Prineas

In the 1980's and 90's, George and Maria Stamatakos' cafe-restaurant in Mitata was one of the island's great attractions. George's service and Maria's irresistible laugh - not to mention her delicious village cuisine - drew guests from all corners of Kythera. Of the three cafes in the village, theirs was situated to the left of the other two when viewed from the town square, a location which suited the political leanings of its owners. Greece was split between three political parties and this was mirrored in the cafe culture of Mitata, George and Maria's cafe purportedly representing the staunchly socialist verging on communist. Purported in that although a copy of Marx's "Das Kapital" indeed took pride of place in George's modest library, one could safely assume it had never been read, being as it was, in German. And, perhaps rather appropriately, it was the only book upside down on the shelf. In 1989 a fundamental change took place at George and Maria's restaurant. Now growing a little older, they realised their inability to further offer an extensive menu, and consequently adopted a foolproof service technique: upon seating their guests, whether two or twenty, they saved precious time and trouble by disappearing into the kitchen to battled together enough plates of food to feed twice the number. Before the guests have comprehended the system, Maria had already scuttled back and forth with dishes of chip omelets, tender rabbit in clove sauce, stewed goat and boiled greens, while George prepared fresh salads of tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese - all of which, he reports, are home-grown and home-made. This no-one doubts, despite the many plant pots on the wall separating the restaurant from the garden which look very much like converted Dutch feta canisters.

The food now laid out in abundance, the guests decide amongst themselves which of the dishes they might have ordered had they been given the choice, and then settle down to a grand meal. When some uninitiated guests enter and naively attempt to order a meal of their own choice, George patiently hears the strangers out, and then promptly brings them that which they would have received anyway, had they acted in the jolly communist spirit of "you get what you're given."
George Stamatakos' prized possession was his vintage AMI jukebox. Its mysterious form stood at the front of the restaurant, shrouded by a yellowing sheet, patiently waiting to assail the unsuspecting. Just when one thinks one has enjoyed a peaceful evening, George marches up to the fat contoured box which, relieved of its veil, resembles an upright boiled lolly. He would jab five well-worn buttons on the control panel and turn the volume right up for maximum enjoyment. The "Tzuk Mpoks", as George fondly referred to it, boasted a fine repertoire of fifty Greek hit songs from 1966. Almost all remained barely tested, as the owner was the exclusive operator, and he only played his five favourite songs, the preference for which had not altered in living memory. While it played, George Stamatakos stood straight and motionless by the machine, like a soldier beside his sentry post, smiling knowingly at the deafened yet well-fed guests. 
"Good? Good?" he screamed at the cringing faces. 
"Good!" they shouted back.

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