Went to see “300” last night. The NY Times review that described it as “all the violence of ‘Apocalypto’ and twice as stupid” is pretty much bang on, so if you go in expecting that, you will not be disappointed. The story bears only a passing resemblance to Herodotus, which is a pity — the actual story of the last stand of the 300 would have made for a much better movie. Probably the biggest surprise from the film was that the thing that broke my suspension of disbelief the most was neither the guy with axe hands nor the armored rhinoceros, nor even the various things that required credits like “über-immortal” and “transsexual (asian, #2);” it was hearing a bunch of Spartans give lectures about the virtues of reason, liberty, and Greek national identity.
(The government of Iran has apparently lodged a protest about the depiction of their country in this movie, and for once I agree with them; the Persians are portrayed as what I can only describe as depraved and both physically and morally monstrous, while the Spartans all look like some weird cartoon versions of body-builders.)
Decompressed a bit more by re-watching “Chungking Express,” a movie which I really enjoy for reasons that I can’t really put a finger on. (Gods know, it’s messy enough, with the plot and set of characters being completely replaced about halfway through)
And then finished reading Rudy Rucker’s “Mathematicians in Love,” which was absolutely fantastic. It’s a novel about mathematicians discovering some equations that allow them to reshape reality, all the while fighting over women, status, and a budding career as rock stars. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a while, although I have no clue what it would read like to anyone who hasn’t done mathematics professionally. But it did answer one question that’s bugged me for a while:
“Unger is a point-set topologist turned transfinite set theorist,” said Unger. “He can’t tell a raven from a writing desk.” Pause. “That’s a joke. The raven’s, ah, digestive tract and two beak-nostrils being homotopic to the three holes formed by the desk’s, ah, four legs and three cross-bars?”
(No, the book isn’t quite that ridiculously obscure most of the time. Rucker is actually a remarkably good writer)
Now I’m testing out some new speakers by playing the Pogues’ “Turkish Song of the Damned” at high volume. All in all, not a bad way to spend a weekend.