Friday, June 23, 2006

Fun Facts About Our Final Qualifiers (and 1 I forgot)

First up, poor neglected Italy.

1. Etruscans. Shrouded in mystery, overshadowed by the later greater Italian cultures, The Etruscans were to the Romans what the Olmecs were to the Mayans. They helped establish civilization. They seem to be not part of the Indo-European language migration that came out of India, and presumably predate most other peoples who now claim Italian heritage. They were assimilated into Roman culture well before they had a chance to write a whole lot about themselves. They seem neat.

2. Dirty Filthy Popes. Wikipedia, because it is awesome, has a list of Sexually active Popes. It seems appropriate that the list begins with St. Peter.

The most awesome of them was Pope Alexander VI, who was a Borgia, and held the Banquet of Chestnuts, wherein several dozen whores were brought in, stripped naked, and then encouraged to pick up chestnuts on the floor. The Pope kept score of who penetrated the most whores as they were bending over to pick up chestnuts. Man, the Catholic Church was a lot more fun back in the day.

3. Brilliant playwrights. Of course, everyone is going to think first of Luigi Pirandello, and his Fourth (and to me, Fifth) Wall shattering play, "Six Characters in Search of An Author.", wherein 6 characters storm a rehearsal of a play demanding to explain themselves. Right after that is "Henry IV", with its very troubling rumination on the nature of insanity. Another great Italian playwright, injustly out of print in the US, is Ugo Betti. I read a copy of his "Crime on Goat Island" which is a disquieting mediation on the nature of love, sex, and jealousy, as young stranger shows up, and seduces in turn all the female members of a family. Brilliant, scary stuff, and pretty much impossible to find in the U.S., last time I checked.

Next up, Ukraine!

1. Chernobyl. Simply put, the worst nuclear disaster, aside from Hiroshima and Nagasaki ever witnessed on this particular planet. It happened back in 1986, when I was a youngster. Thanks to the USSR's policy of not revealing too much, the scope of the disaster was in question. But in 2000, some 4000 kids in the area were growing up with thyroid cancer.

2. People have been living there a long, long time. about 6500 years, give or take. Which is almost exactly as long as the Earth has been around. Perhaps the Garden of Eden is in the Ukraine.

3. They Dig the Eastern Orthodoxy. I'll let wikipedia explain it: "Orthodox Christians believe in a single God who is both three and one (triune): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "one in essence and undivided". The Holy Trinity is three "unconfused" distinct divine persons (hypostases), with no overlap or modality among them, who share one divine essence (ousia)—uncreated, immaterial and eternal."

more fun facts here

1 comment:

Lorenzo said...

If you ever need/want more works by Luigi Pirandello or Ugo Betti for that matter, let me know. I took a course on Italian Literature and drama and read numerous literary works from both authors (including Crime on Goat Island - which I enjoyed) - much of which I still have.