Sunday, January 30, 2011

The "Italy runestones"

Although, on the runestones, the location of the death of the warriors was linguistically translated as "Lombardy," it appears that they actually died fighting in one of the two southern Italian regions of Spoleto and Benevento under Byzantine service. Those two former southern duchies of the Langobards did continue on after Charlemagne destroyed the Langbard Kingdom. This would completely change the historical context of these runestones.

From Wikipedia's "Italy runestones" page:

"The Italy Runestones are three or four Varangian Runestones from 11th century Sweden that talk of warriors who died in Langbarðaland ("Land of the Lombards"), the Old Norse name for Italy. On these rune stones it is southern Italy that is referred to (Langobardia), but the Rundata project renders it rather anachronistically as Lombardy.

"The rune stones are engraved in Old Norse with the Younger Futhark, and two of them are found in Uppland and one or two in Södermanland.

"The memorials are probably raised in memory of members of the Varangian Guard, the elite guard of the Byzantine Emperor, and they probably died while fighting in southern Italy against Normans or Muslims. Many of their brothers-in-arms are remembered on the 28 Greece Runestones most of which are found in the same part of Sweden.

"The young men who applied for a position in the Varangian guard were not uncouth roughnecks, as in the traditional stereotype, but instead, it appears that they were usually fit and well-raised young warriors who were skilled in weapons. They were the kind of warriors who were welcome as the elite troops of the Byzantine Emperor, and who the rulers of Kievan Rus' requested from Scandinavia when they were under threat."

From Wikipedia's "Varangians" page:

"Varangian Guard

"Basil II's distrust of the native Byzantine guardsmen, whose loyalties often shifted with fatal consequences, as well as the proven loyalty of the Varangians, led him to employ them as his personal bodyguards. This new force became known as the Varangian Guard. Over the years, new recruits from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway kept a predominantly Scandinavian cast to the organization until the late 11th century. So many Scandinavians left to enlist in the guard that a medieval Swedish law from Västergötland stated that no one could inherit while staying in "Greece"—the then Scandinavian term for the Byzantine Empire.

"In the eleventh century, there were also two other European courts that recruited Scandinavians: Kievan Rus' c. 980–1060 and London 1018–1066. Steven Runciman, in The History of the Crusades, noted that by the time of the Emperor Alexios Komnenos, the Byzantine Varangian Guard was largely recruited from Anglo-Saxons and "others who had suffered at the hands of the Vikings and their cousins the Normans". The Anglo-Saxons and other Germanic peoples shared with the Vikings a tradition of faithful (to death if necessary) oath-bound service, and after the Norman Conquest of England there were many fighting men who had lost their lands and former masters and looked for a living elsewhere."


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Quintessential experience when in Italy: The opera

Quintessential experience when in Italy: The opera

By Giovanna Dell'orto - Associated Press - June 24, 2011

MILAN, Italy – Opera is as fundamental to Italy's soul as the Colosseum, Michelangelo or pasta. To attend an opera performance here in the summer is a quintessential Italian experience — especially if you're willing to brave the often-byzantine process for getting last-minute but astonishingly cheap tickets.

"I don't understand a word of Italian, but I had to be here for the experience," Dr. Ravindran Kanesvaran, a young oncologist from Singapore, confessed in a whisper as we waited in La Scala, Italy's most famous opera house, for the crimson curtain to open on "Aida."

Top tickets for the season-opener at La Scala in Milan go for about $2,400 (2,000 euros), but the last-minute seats Kanesvaran and I got for a midseason sold-out performance cost just $15 (12 euros).

The basic concept of opera — putting dramatic presentations to music — is universal, but the modern version was created at the end of the 16th century for Italian aristocracy. Largely thanks to late tenor and native son Luciano Pavarotti, it has become part of pop culture here.

Teatro alla Scala, the theater's official full name, was one of three iconic venues I hit last summer. It's the must-do for acoustics and prestige. The other two are notable in part for their settings: Arena di Verona, an almost-intact Roman amphitheater in Verona; and Torre del Lago Puccini, where another open-air theater sits on the bank of a marshy lake in Tuscany. It's next to the place where Giacomo Puccini composed many of his most famous operas.

From champagne flutes in gilded halls to a panini picnic on 1,900-year-old steps, the three evenings couldn't have been more different. Here are some details, along with a word of caution: Some shows have been canceled this year due to wildcat strikes over new government regulations.

TEATRO ALLA SCALA: Never mind that I was perched high above the swirls of gilded flowers and red velvet draperies, above four tiers of regal boxes and nearly up against the rosette-covered ivory ceiling. The firefighter on duty at the top gallery row inside this fantastically opulent 1770s theater approved of my choice of seat.

Top critics, he said, like to be in the gallery so no abundance of visual flourish could distract them from the sublime listening. No serious opera connoisseur myself, I found it hard not to be absorbed by Franco Zeffirelli's lavish staging of Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida."

Premiered in 1871 in Cairo, and next year at La Scala, the opera tells a tragic tale of love and pharaonic intrigue in ancient Egypt. The grandest of grand operas, its staging that July night was a profusion of massive choruses against gigantic hieroglyphs.

Then Radames, the hero captain of the Egyptian guards who spurns his king's daughter to love her slave, Aida, with devastating consequences for all, sang out the most celebrated solo aria, "Celeste Aida."

And I realized the firefighter was right. Eyes shut, I let myself be transported by this most poignantly lyrical political tirade masquerading as love song. After all, the paeans for lost motherlands sung by Radames and other Verdi characters are but thinly veiled, urgent calls to arms.

That was clear to Italians as well as to their foreign occupiers 150 years ago. In the 19th century, revolts rocked Italy until unification. Verdi, composing operas filled with appeals to freedom and cries against tyrants, literally became the voice of the patriotic Risorgimento movement.

He was so revered as a founding father of modern Italy that when he lay dying in his suite, steps from La Scala, the streets were covered in straw so no noise would disturb the maestro.

Listening to Verdi's music at La Scala is an immersion not only in art but history, and well worth the day I spent getting a rush ticket.

But the procedure was tortuous: Around 11:30 a.m., I got in line outside the theater so that my name would be among the 140 taken down by volunteers at the roll-call beginning at 1 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., I got in line again to be given a number, with which I queued one last time to get the ticket that would finally grant me entry that evening. But it only cost a fraction of the front-row $300 tickets.

ARENA DI VERONA: If "Aida" is the grandest of Italian operas, its most stunning staging is at Verona's Arena, a first-century Roman amphitheater that has hosted theater performances since the early 1700s.

In the warm July dusk, I sat on the top row of giant limestone steps, as the sunset cast a salmon-pink glow over the city's medieval bell-towers and vine-covered hills, while strings opened the first notes.

In the 19,000-seat open-air arena, it's hard to distinctly make out the lyrics, but no setting can better display Verdi's dramatic monumentality. And Verdi's popular appeal is nowhere more apparent than in the contrast between the informal feel of the audience sharing jugs of wine and sandwiches on the steps and the over-the-top staging.

The first massive, full-orchestra chorus invoking war against Egypt's Ethiopian invaders was so thrillingly powerful that even the director jumped up and down. In "Celeste Aida," the tenor's lone voice miraculously filled the entire arena as the city disappeared in the darkness.

But the Arena experience is truly unsurpassable in "Aida'"s most famous moment, the triumphal march celebrating Radames' victorious return.

As trumpeters rang out deceptively simple notes, guards carrying torches filed down and lined up along one-third of the arena.

Four white horses pranced on the obelisk-fringed stage and knelt before the pharaoh while a ballet troupe swirled among the palms and sphinxes. The two toddlers sprawled between me and their German-speaking parents seemed as utterly enthralled as I was.

When "Aida" inaugurated the first summer opera season at the Arena in 1913, the audience included Puccini, whose operas are as renowned as Verdi's, though at the other end of the emotional spectrum.

Where Verdi's music excites fury and glory, Puccini's aims straight at the heart with sensuous, tear-jerking melodies.

PUCCINI FESTIVAL: Puccini penned some of his most famous arias in his Tuscan house by the marshy Lake Massaciuccoli in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Every summer, a Puccini festival is held next-door in an open-air theater. Ducklings scurry away as you enter via a lakeside wooden bridge.

Years ago, lantern-laden rowboats were sprinkled on the lake behind the stage for a performance of "Madama Butterfly." For last summer's performance of "Turandot," I thought the orchestra was going all out with gongs and cymbals until I realized a strong thunderstorm was exploding in the mountains behind our seats.

"Turandot" is Puccini's last, unfinished opera from 1924. It is the story of a namesake Chinese princess who resolves to marry only the suitor who can solve three riddles (she kills all the others). Finally a prince gets the three answers right, and tells Turandot she can only get out of marrying him by guessing his name.

One of the world's most recognizable arias is "Nessun Dorma," which the prince sings anticipating love's final victory as the dawn deadline approaches and Turandot remains clueless.

I grew up listening to Luciano Pavarotti's signature rendition of this powerful hymn to hope, so no other tenor, however good, will ever be quite as meltingly emotional for me.

But to experience this aria not in a theater, but among fragrant linden trees on a balmy night, is incomparable. No stage setting could so precisely replicate the fairy tale's first glimpse of a happy ending.

Most poignantly, it is the same lakeside evening Puccini enjoyed, when this aria was still playing only in the mind of one of Italy's greatest musicians.

If You Go...

LA SCALA: Located in Milan. The opera season is year-round, with no performances in August; Guidelines for rush tickets (about $15):

ARENA DI VERONA: Located in Verona, about halfway between Milan and Venice. The 2010 season is June 18-Aug. 29;

PUCCINI FESTIVAL: Located in Torre del Lago, in Tuscany, about 20 miles from Pisa. The 2010 edition is July 16-Aug. 22;

STRIKES: Some performances in the 2010 season have been canceled last minute due to wildcat strikes.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Erickson good... Columbus bad?

The Viking Leif Erickson landed in the Americas sometime about the year 1,000 AD, before Columbus did under the Spanish flag. In fact, Erickson landed on the North American mainland, whereas Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Somehow, via "political correctness," Columbus is in question, while Erickson is not. Why?

Even President Obama, himself a revisionist regarding European colonization, gave the following presidential proclamation regarding "Leif Erickson Day" in 2009. As you can clearly see in this proclamation, Obama continually praises Erickson. I don't think anyone would be going too far out on a limb to state that he absolutely would NOT say a single word of praise for Columbus. Why?

The annual "Leif Erickson Day" is held each and every year without protesters or controversy, while any Columbus Day celebration is marked with much unrest. Often, it's centered around racial unrest. Certainly the Vikings did as much raiding and plundering as the Conquistadors later did, but the Vikings almost always raided other Europeans, while the Conquistadors conquered the Amerindians. Also, the Vikings did not usually occupy conquered lands, while the Spanish did.

That last point brings up another series of questions. The overwhelming percentage of Columbus Day protesters seem to be of Mexican and Anglo-Saxon descent, the very descendants or partial-descendants of the supposed horrible oppressors themselves! Of course, European-Hispanics were the ones who conquered most of the land in the Americas, killed most of the Amerindians, imported most of the slaves from West Africa, and took most of the gold and resources. Okay, that could be a reason, since Columbus sailed under the flag of Spain, while the Vikings simply stayed for awhile and left. However, the protesters don't seem to be interested in acknowledging these facts at all... ?

To digress, although Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Columbo) was specifically of our folk, we should also share in on Leif Erickson's voyage to North America. The Winnili (later the "Langobards") were originally from Scandinavia, although they had left six or seven hundred years before Erickson's landing in North America. It should also be mentioned that other ancient civilizations east of the Atlantic Ocean had reached the Americas, but the evidence has either been suppressed or is not entirely adequate.

I wish that there was a good way to end this posting, but there is not. Columbus is denigrated because his discovery led to the colonization of the Americas by Europeans, and to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The fact that those "Europeans" were mostly from Spain and Portugal (Hispanic) doesn't interest the Columbus Day protesters in the slightest. In other words, to be very blunt, a self-loathing Anglo-Saxon protester would never dream of criticizing Hispanic colonization and slavery; while Mexican protesters don't seem very interested in any "Hispanic-guilt" concept either. They appear to only motivated by a dislike for anything European or White. Even if that were not entirely true for many of them, then why the dismissal of the important underlying facts?? The mistreatment of the Amerindians, and the establishment of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, was predominantly a Hispanic-phenomenon, more-so than a European one.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choosing an identifying name

Many times it's hard to find a proper word to use in casually identifying people, places, and things which are "northern nations." "Northern Italian" isn't necessarily all that accurate because that term suggests that there is a definite "Italian." The Italian Peninsula should be a regional term, like the British Isles or the Balkans. Try explaining to someone in Ireland that he's not Irish, but a "British Islander," or to people in the Balkans that they're all the same... "Balkonians!" Yet we are expected to accept the Italian-arrangement without question, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Even the Austrians didn't outlaw our language and culture.

Other terms tended to be too regional or focus on only one aspect of our history. "Subalpine" is a term, while interesting, refers more to a particular climate around the world. "Gallo-Tuscan" is okay, but is still too regionally specific for us. Of course, "Padanian," while in various forms, is a term that goes back centuries, is still identified as a very modern political term. Although we like "northern nations," it would be entirely lost upon people not of our ancestry, and it's not an adjective.

What it really boils down to is that "Padania" or "northern nations" are, to us, fine descriptive terms for a shared ancestry or a federation of former nations which are very similar; but it would still would draw criticism to throw around the Padanian name in everyday language. The best term for that, I believe, is "Cisalpine." The Romans called the land of our Gallic ancestors "Gallia Cisalpina" (Cisalpine Gaul), which meant "Gaul on this side of the Alps." Cisalpine, by itself, literally means "south of the Alps." Also, there were Celts in Tuscany and Umbria.

For our unique heritage--which is different than the much more historically unified cultures of countries like Germany, Spain, France, Poland, etc.--we require acceptable terminology. Therefore "Padania" is a good term for the modern-day Cisalpine Gaul, Etruria, or Langbard Kingdom. It should be a federation of very similar cultures from past nations, and a reference to a common heritage. However for everyday language, a less political and more regional term for description is needed: Cisalpine or Cisalpines.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ancient Celts in the Tarim Basin (in modern day China)

The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.

The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages.

The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC (European Early Iron Age), developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC (Late Bronze Age) and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.

The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1800 BCE to 200 CE. Some of the mummies are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin, although the evidence is not totally conclusive.

The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about 906,500 km2 (350,000 sq mi). It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west.

Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. Among Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians, their mythology did not survive the Roman empire, their subsequent conversion to Christianity, and the loss of their Celtic languages.

The Bronze Age of a culture is the period when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) in that culture used bronze. This could either have been based on the local smelting of copper and tin from ores, or trading for bronze from production areas elsewhere.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Rugby: Golden Gate, Argentina, Italy

Over the weekend I attended a rugby match between the local team, the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club, and a team from Victoria, British Columbia, James Bay Athletic Association. Golden Gate won the match by an overwhelming margin, although I don't recall the exact score. Golden Gate had won the American Rugby Super League championship in 2009. The hub of local rugby is Rocca Field, located on Treasure Island in San Francisco. Actually, it's on an island on the bay, between San Francisco and Oakland (via the Bay Bridge).

Northern California has been America's chief rugby milieu for decades. The United States national team is called the Eagles, and draws players from different American club teams. All amateur. Rugby is the old English sport that American football developed out of. Local rugby here is particularly popular among Irish-Americans, and Polynesians who once lived under English rule, therefore have long been familiar with the sport. The University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears are long known to have one of the best collegiate teams in rugby, as well.

Although the best teams internationally have been from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom; Italy and Argentina, both made up of mainly Padan-descended players, are two up-and-coming teams on the world scene. On top of international competition, including the Rugby World Cup every four years, there are many club teams which tour around the world, which is a way to gauge the level of play.

The growth of American rugby has been slow and steady over many years, but only fairly recently has gotten well organized with the Super League. One of the very best rugby players of all time was David Campese, an Australian of half Padan descent. He wasn't merely "good," but was possibly the single best player of all time.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Ancient Celto-Alpine settlers in Tarim Basin (modern China)

DNA evidence has so far placed the Tarim mummies' origin to central Europe, and more specifically to the Alpine region and north, which was prime Celtic territory 4,000 years ago. The overwhelmingly best guess is that they were ancient Hallstatt Celts who had traveled eastward, probably on horses and wagons, all the way into the Tarim Basin (present-day Xinjiang, China). As to why they settled in a mostly deserty region is not clear. It's possible that the region may have been greener at that time. Also, they had traveled so far, and over mountainous terrain, that when they reached this valley, they decided to make a go of it. They seemed to have lived there for about one thousand years.

This was a world in which the population levels weren't nearly as high as today. For a good long time, they may have been the principal racial stock of the region, which was not Chinese or Turkic at that time it appears. A thousand years is a long time, and things changed. Today's root stock population is of Turko-Mongolian origin, of which these Celts were absorbed into. Blue eyes and brown hair seem to be somewhat common, with mostly far eastern features.

Upon arriving there, it's likely that they sent out scouts. They must have figured out northward was the mountainous Asian steppe which was even less hospitable, southward were the Himalayas, eastward were seemingly endless deserts and mountains, and turning back thousands of miles to Europe was not an especially attractive option either.

I think that China deserves some credit, as they are fiercely protective of their history. However, since this region is not ethnic Chinese anyway, I think that it makes little difference. It should be noted that these ancient settlers had knowledge of bronze metalworking, which was not present in China at that time, and it was thought that the Chinese developed bronze on their own. They may well have, as this area was still a long distance from China proper.

The earliest pioneers to the Tarim Basin were likely of the same ethnic stock as most of our ancestors in Cisalpine Gaul. For all we know, some of them could have been Cisalpine.

part 1 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

part 2 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

part 3 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

part 4 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

part 5 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

part 6 National Geographic Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found In China

The Tocharian culture existed in the same Tarim Basin over a thousand years after "the mummy people" had disappeared, and it's not known if there was a connection. The Tocharian language was a branch of the Indo-European languages, now extinct. After viewing some of the depictions of them, they appear to be much more Nordic-like than Celtic.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dreaming of the Tuscan Coast

One dream, or spiritual concept I think, is the idea of an unspoiled coastline. In fact, the only visually-lucid dream that I ever had was along a coastline. Sometimes when I have visited some of the coastline here in California, especially when looking at the sea cliffs and the rough waves breaking against them, I also imagine similar sea cliffs in Europe. Especially in Spain and France. Sometimes I imagine music that features a clearly-distinguished string guitar, especially in the Spanish style. The song 'Crazy on You' by Heart always brings me back to the place, as it reminds me of the Spanish guitar; and also, easy listening music by musicians such as Acoustic Alchemy.

I usually imagine the shores of the more temperate climates within this concept, but sometimes in the more colder climates. Recently I saw a documentary set along the shores of Kamchatka, a beautifully unspoiled northern coast. Also, there is something to be said for slightly more exotic coastlines like in Baja California. There are so many examples that I don't think that I will give every one, but I think you would know what I mean here.

Our ancestral homeland, of course, has some beautiful coasts; especially in Tuscany. I remember watching the Italian movie 'L' Avventura' (1960), which had many scenes of the rocky cliffs and volcanic islands along the coast of... probably Tuscany. The fact that it was fifty years ago, and the movie was in black and white, added to my fascination with it. The timelessness of the coast.

Introduction to the Tuscan Coast and Archipelago

[borrowed from the website]

With cities the size of Florence, Pisa, and Livorno, one might think of Tuscany as one of the more densely populated regions in Italy. With a population of over 3.5 million people in an area about the size of New Hampshire, it does have a relatively high population density. However, if you fly over the region on a flight from Rome to Pisa, most of Tuscany seems empty, except for scattered farms and quaint medieval villages. In fact, looking at a night time light pollution map of Italy, you will see that the Pisa plain to Florence is quite bright and really stands out, while one of the darkest areas on the entire peninsula is found in southern Tuscany.

The coastline and islands of Tuscany represent some of the last bastions of non-mountainous, wild Italy. Here, there are extensive parks covered in forests and macchia vegetation. Wild boars run free, while falcons soar above. Pristine coastline and marine sanctuaries protect the precious marine resources that have sustained the economy and Italian heritage of fishing for centuries. This is a remote land, where towers were built on hilltops to look for Saracen pirates and Estruscan ruins still stand after 3000 years.

From the Promontory of Monte Argentario in the south, through the beautiful forested hills and spectacular cliffs of Maremma and Piombino, the sand dunes and old growth ash woodlands of Sterpaia, to the pine woodlands near the mouth of the Arno River, the Tuscan Coast has much to offer visitors seeking solace from the crowds.

For those who make the extra effort to board a ferry, the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago offers remote and exhilarating experiences, as one climbs the sea cliffs of the island of Capraia, through the arid scrubland of the Pomonte Valley or through lush chestnut forests to the remarkable alpine summit of Monte Capanne on Elba. The Tuscan Archipelago consists of seven major islands and dozens of islets. These islands are arid landscapes, receiving only about 500 mm (19 in) of rain per year. They contain unique species and ecosystems, due to their isolation and aridity. Montecristo, Giglio, and western Elba are granite landscapes formed by magmatic intrusions some 6 million years ago. Capraia was the site of an eruptive volcano that at about the same time, and as such contains pumice and andesite lava columns. Capraia was also the site of a former penal colony, while the tiny island of Gorgona still remains a penal colony today. Not to be outdone, the flat limestone island of Pianosa was a maximum security prison where some of the most notorious mafia leaders were held, until it closed only recently. Of these islands, only Elba, Capraia, and Giglio can be visited without special permits. Thus, the remote, rugged nature of these islands has preserved a wonderful landscape to explore.

As for the Tuscan coast, while millions of tourists flock to the manicured sandy beaches of the Italian Riviera in Versilia, Tirrenia, and San Vincenzo, few venture out to the beautiful remote beaches of Maremma or Sterpaia. While tanned bodies lay on beach chairs baking in the summer sun, virtually no one is to be found exploring the isolated hilltop towers or smelling the sweet scent of rosemary in the macchia. While thousands pack the trains and ferries of the Cinque Terre to see the rugged Ligurian coast, the cliffs of Piombino remain empty. If you want to see Tuscany, as it has been for thousands of years, then get off the beaten trail and head to Tuscan Coast and Archipelago.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Movie-making, not nearly as distant as it once was

Probably for most of us, outside of being employed in the film industry, the idea of "making a movie" would still seem pretty far-fetched. There is a lot of fascination and glamour in this industry, and even careers in stage setting, wardrobe, sound, etc., are highly sought after. Prior to the late 1970s, and the advent of VCRs, relatively few movies were produced. This began to change rapidly in the mid-eighties, as independent direct-to-video (or direct-to-cable) movies were produced for video stores and new television networks. Investors could then immediately gain entry into the film industry without having to ingratiate themselves to Hollywood or devoting their lives to a film-related career, and make a descent profit. By the late-eighties, relatively inexpensive movies were popping out like hot cakes. The paradigm had been altered.

Today, with the advance and accessibility of technology, along with a wide industry landscape, movie-making is literally within reach of people of modest means. In fact, within a few miles of where I live, there is a company which rents motion-picture equipment. Anyone with Comcast or DirectTV knows that there are many channels, and a good number of them produce their own original films. To cut to the chase, we would like to see some of our history depicted in film, even if this was accomplished via "low-budget." In reality, low-budget is actually expensive in it's own right; but if frugally and creatively done, can achieve the desired result. It should also be noted that entire topographic backgrounds can be created with inexpensive computer graphics, so that an entire ancient Rome or Egypt can be created without much trouble or cost.

A perfect example of this was the 2007 movie 'Marco Polo'. This movie was produced by the Hallmark Channel, a small cable television network. The film turned out pretty well. The environment and props (architecture, dress, wagons, ships, etc.), whether Venice or Asia, was believable. Although it wasn't as dramatic as 'Gladiator' or 'Braveheart' (it could have been with a similar budget), it gave a good account of Polo's life.

Had Marco Polo, or an entire host of historical figures from the history of our people, been of a number of other racial or ethnic backgrounds, a massively-budgeted Hollywood blockbuster would have been made a long time ago, and would have joined 'Sparticus' and similar historical figures dramatically depicted on screen. As the old saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the oil."