Random things.

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.

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Published in: on March 17, 2007 at 17:55  Comments (11)  

11 Comments

  1. I can’t believe you went to see 300 XD. Frank Miller has a tenuous grasp on reality at best, let alone ancient Greek history. It says a lot about society that this is the top movie in the theaters right now.
    Axe hands? WTF?
    That Mathematicians in Love book sounds hilarious. I actually looked up those terms to try to understand the joke ;;; does Unger always talk about himself in third person?

  2. I can’t believe you went to see 300 XD. Frank Miller has a tenuous grasp on reality at best, let alone ancient Greek history. It says a lot about society that this is the top movie in the theaters right now.
    Axe hands? WTF?
    That Mathematicians in Love book sounds hilarious. I actually looked up those terms to try to understand the joke ;;; does Unger always talk about himself in third person?

  3. I went to see it knowing what I was likely to get, and so didn’t mind. Too much. 🙂 The axe hands are simply in the “WTF” category, but really so much of this movie was that it’s hard to tell.
    The joke is a variant on the old “a topologist is someone who can’t tell a donut from a coffee cup” line, but the visual is a hell of a lot more disgusting. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a raven in the same way again. Unger is basically a giant nudibranch mathematician with limited English, so yes, he does, but he’s also a fairly minor character. (I suspect you may enjoy the book)

  4. Ah, but there was a crazy-ass blond spartan that made everything better. 😉 One interesting point, however, was right at the beginning: they made the spartans look quite barbaric in their leather and coarse cloth compared to the silk-clad persian emissary. I quite liked that point.

  5. Ah, but there was a crazy-ass blond spartan that made everything better. 😉 One interesting point, however, was right at the beginning: they made the spartans look quite barbaric in their leather and coarse cloth compared to the silk-clad persian emissary. I quite liked that point.

  6. I noticed that, too. I was surprised that they didn’t use the famous line about “the folly of this Median captain who, when he enjoyed such fare as this, came to rob us of our poverty.”
    And I guess I’m just not Greek enough to have things made better by a crazy blond Spartan. 🙂

  7. I noticed that, too. I was surprised that they didn’t use the famous line about “the folly of this Median captain who, when he enjoyed such fare as this, came to rob us of our poverty.”
    And I guess I’m just not Greek enough to have things made better by a crazy blond Spartan. 🙂

  8. For some reason, that quote from “Mathematicians in Love” conjured up images in my head of Edgar Allen Poe furiously scribbling away at his desk on some poem in which he was encoding some deep insights into set theory through nausea-inducing imagery.

  9. For some reason, that quote from “Mathematicians in Love” conjured up images in my head of Edgar Allen Poe furiously scribbling away at his desk on some poem in which he was encoding some deep insights into set theory through nausea-inducing imagery.

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sat throught that movie thinking “WTF!? This would have been way better had they stuck to what actually happened.” I’m usually in favor of movies being fantastic (in the not-based-in-reality sense), but this was awful.
    And now I have a new book to add to my To Read list.

  11. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sat throught that movie thinking “WTF!? This would have been way better had they stuck to what actually happened.” I’m usually in favor of movies being fantastic (in the not-based-in-reality sense), but this was awful.
    And now I have a new book to add to my To Read list.


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