Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
This is the first movie I've been looking forward to in a very long time. Here is the trailer:
Here is the estimable Victor Davis Hanson on the movie.
The phrase “300 Spartans” evokes not only the ancient battle of Thermopylae, but also the larger idea of fighting for freedom against all odds — a notion subsequently to be enshrined through some 2500 years of Western civilization.
In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved unstoppable on its way west and southward until it reached the narrow pass at Thermopylae (“The Warm Gates”) in northern Greece. There a collection of 7,000 Greeks had blocked the way. They hoped to stop Xerxes’ horde outright — or at least allow enough time for their fellow countrymen to their rear to mobilize a sufficient defense of the homeland.
Among the many Greek contingents was a special elite force of 300 Spartans under their King Leonidas — a spearhead that offered the other Greeks at Thermopylae some promise that they could still bar the advance of the vastly superior invader. And that hope proved real for two days of hard fighting. The vastly outnumbered, but heavily-armed Greek infantrymen in their phalanx — taking advantage of the narrow terrain and their massed tactics — savagely beat back wave after wave of advancing Persian foot soldiers and cavalry. . .
So almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy — freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested.
Recently, a variety of Hollywood films — from Troy to Alexander the Great — has treated a variety of themes from classical Greek literature and theater. But 300 is unique, a sui generis in both spirit and methodology. The script is not an attempt in typical Hollywood fashion to recreate the past as a costume drama. Instead it is based on Frank Miller’s (of Sin City fame) comic book graphics and captions. Miller’s illustrated novelette of the battle adapts themes loosely from the well-known story of the Greek defense, but with deference made to the tastes of contemporary popular culture.
But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.
If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.
Posted by Critical Matt at 8:34 AM
Friday, October 27, 2006
It died the other day. I'm not sure what happened. It worked fine for about a week after Reagan was roasting it like a marshmallow over a candle... Needless to say, no more candles anywhere below adult height. I'll be looking for a new one today. Any suggestions?
Posted by Critical Matt at 8:58 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.
I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.
My brain remapped.
My speech returned.
Posted by Critical Matt at 9:19 AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Our lovely daughter frequently knocks at her door to get our after bedtime (as seen in the previous post). Her usual tactic is to say she has to go to the bathroom. We're potty training so we have to let her out in case she actually has to go. Well, every time she comes out of her room she yells "Good morning!" no matter the time of day.
Posted by Critical Matt at 5:24 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
My cousin gets to head to game 2 of the World Series tonight. Here is the story from her local paper.
A Detroit Tigers fan since age 7, Howell's Jessica Marcus planned to watch Game 2 of the World Series at home with her family.
Today, however, the 15-year-old Fowlerville High School junior is donning her mitt in the hopes of catching a foul ball as she sits behind home plate at Comerica Park — compliments of the Tigers Clubhouse, which donated two tickets to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, where Jessica has undergone treatment since September 2005 for chronic pancreatitis and chronic kidney failure.
"I was surprised and happy," Jessica said upon learning she was receiving complimentary tickets to today's game. "Go Tigers!"
Jessica, who will attend the game with her father, Dale, said she plans to make a poster reading "Tiger Tough" and "You're my Tiger" for two of her favorite ball players — Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez.
Jessica has been following the Tigers since she attended her first game at 7 years old.
She also was an athlete, playing basketball and volleyball. She is no longer able to participate in sports, however, due to her health.
Dale Marcus said his daughter began to get sick in September 2005, when she spent a month and a half in the hospital.
"It came on her very suddenly," he said of his daughter's illness. "It escalated very quickly, and she went into renal failure within the first 24 to 48 hours."
A big mystery remains — doctors are unable to tell the family the cause of Jessica's illness.
Jessica spends three days a week at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor undergoing dialysis treatment.
She was in the emergency room at the University of Michigan Medical Center being admitted for treatment when she learned that Mott was giving her tickets to the game.
"At first, I was speechless," her father said, noting that he thought it was a joke. "We went to see a game earlier this year, but the thought didn't cross my mind we'd see a World Series game."
Krista Hopson, a hospital spokeswoman, said the Tigers and Mott have a longstanding relationship with players like Inge frequently coming to visit.
"The last time Inge came to visit patients ... Jessica was unable to see him since she was in surgery," Hopson explained. "It was a huge disappointment since he is Jessica's favorite player. So when the tickets became available, it was obvious who they should go to."
Jessica said it is a dream to see a World Series game in person. She is excited the Tigers will face the St. Louis Cardinals in what she said should be some really great baseball.
"I think it will be easy, the first couple innings," she said, adding that in the end, "Magglio will hit a legendary home run — as he always does."
Posted by Critical Matt at 12:17 PM
Posted by Critical Matt at 10:30 AM
Friday, October 13, 2006
Aaarrrgghhh. Well, blogger has upgraded and decided the page I worked on for so long didn't quite cut it 'technically'. I guess my HTML skills aren't up to snuff. Anyway, until I find some time to play with it, it's gonna be this blah setup for a while.
Update: I found a revert button and will be able to use the old setup for a while longer!
Posted by Critical Matt at 10:49 PM
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Here's a shot of the snow we had fall today. Amazingly, it's sticking to the ground and I expect to wake up with it tomorrow. Normally we get a bit of snow and the ground it too warm for it to stick this early, but...ugh. I assume this is a sign Hell is freezing over as the Tigers are only 2 games away from the World Series.
Posted by Critical Matt at 8:00 PM
Snow in October
Posted by Critical Matt at 6:19 PM
Posted by Critical Matt at 5:52 PM
Posted by Critical Matt at 5:45 PM