Because he hasn't updated in a while!

Posted by Dan Tuesday, April 10, 2007 21 comments

Okay, I'm totally using this without his permission, but he hasn't updated his blog in a while, so I'm hoping he'll notice this and throw his ravenous fans (like me!) a bone, and update his damned blog. This is the one comics project for 2007 that I am most looking forward to. Check it out!

If you haven't seen 300 yet, you should drop what you're doing, call Mr. Moviephone, go get tickets, or whatever it is you do, and go see it. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. This movie kicks ass on so many levels, it's hard to decide where to begin. First, a bit of back story I think.

In a nutshell, in 480 BC, Persia invaded Greece with what was at the time, the largest army ever assembled. What we know of the invasion, we get from several sources, but the most detailed account, and the one with the most interesting bits, is by the Greek Historian Herodotus. The great Persian God-King Xerxes made a play to conquer Greece by threat and bribery, and when the two great city-states of Athens and Sparta told him to get bent, he invaded. While Athens navy held off the bulk of the invading ships, Sparta, which was hamstrung by an outdated set of laws that required the King to get approval from their oracle before declaring war, did nothing.

In a desperate ploy, the Spartan King Leonidas hand picks 300 elite soldiers to accompany him to a mountain pass known as The Hot Gates near Thermopylae. The mountain pass acts as a natural funnel where the Greeks can make a stand against an army whose numbers suddenly count for little. The rest is history as 300 Spartans and about seven thousand other Greek soldiers hold off an army of at least 100,000 strong, for three days. On the third day, the Persians are told of an alternate route around The Hot Gates. About to be outflanked, Leonidas orders the remaining soldiers into a retreat. He stays behind with his remaining Spartans and about 1,000 Thespian soldiers to cover the withdrawal.

Later, Leonidas' martyrdom galvanizes Sparta into action, and together with their Athenian counterparts, they hand Xerxes a defeat that begins a downward spiral that will end 150 years later when Alexander the Great ends the Persian empire on a more permanent basis. And you all thought history wasn't fun!

In 1998 the great comics writer and artist Frank Miller created a masterful retelling of this historical account. Setting up the characters with fully fleshed personalities and rendering them in his highly stylized trademark drawing style, resulted in a modern classic of the comics art form.

Enter Zack Snyder, fresh off his success remaking George Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead, Zack dives into the 300 project headfirst.

The result is 117 minutes of fun, and one of the best movies ever made. Because the Grecian topography has changed radically in the 2,500 years since the battle, location shooting would prove impossible. Instead, Zack filmed the entire movie in front of a blue screen. The backgrounds and scenery were filled in later by CGI. While I'm not completely sold on this technique (previously used in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, as well as the Matrix movies,) in this case, as with the previous Miller adaptation Sin City, the CGI allows the cinematographers and the set designers the freedom to adapt the comic panel by panel. It's a perfect fit. Not only do the characters look and act true to Miller's work, but even the scenes that were added to pad the story for motion picture pacing, look and feel like they're right out of Miller's story.

Gerard Butler is absolutely perfect as King Leonidas. He looks the part as do all the actors playing the Spartans. There are more six packs in this movie than at a frat house on pledge night. Butler turns in an Oscar worthy performance that makes Russell Crowe's Gladiator look like a little girl in a pink frilly dress. Leonidas opposite number Xerxes is played to absolute perfection by an almost unrecognizable Rodrigo Santoro. When these two fine actors are on scene together they bring every acting skill they've ever learned to bear, resulting in some of the most intensely brilliant scenes ever filmed. It's like watching a precision practice run from the George C. Scott school of caffeine frenzied scenery chewing. You will believe these two actors are opposing battlefield generals.

The writing is dynamic and fluid, allowing plenty of breathing room for the battlefield action. Scriptwriters Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon, with an able assist from the director, should be commended for turning out an outstandingly tight script. It even has the requisite one-liners, several of which are right out of Herodotus. When the Persian field commander yelled, "Spartans, throw down your weapons and surrender." and King Leonidas retorted, "Persians, come and get them." The whole theater cheered. Of course, with source material this good, it's hard to go wrong.

Larry Fong turns out a feast for the eyes, bringing his cinematography skills honed on several seasons of the TV show Lost. The combat is period specific, so there's lots of spraying blood and flying heads, but Fong shoots it all so well, that it hardly matters. Every scene is altered to look like it came right out of the 300 graphic novel, so it has the effect of making the gore more tolerable.

300 is a violent story, so it's not for younger kids. There's a lot of on screen gore, but again, it's stylized so the effect is muted, and I would have no problem taking a teen to see this. Just make sure you're a good parent and you watch this with them in case you have to explain things. This movie earned its R rating so go see it with that in mind and you'll be fine. It's a terrific, grandiose spectacle of a movie, based on one of the most enduring stories ever told. It's destined to become classic fare, and it'll definitely be a must own when it finally comes out on DVD.

101 Things I Love About My Wife

Posted by Dan Sunday, April 01, 2007 5 comments

So the other day my wife Courtney and I were driving in the car before work, coming back from getting an early dinner, breakfast for me because I work night shift. I was carping like I always do about what I was going to write about that night on my down time. Jokingly, she said something to the effect of "Write about how awesome your wife is." A few days later, here's what I wrote over two nights. All in all, it was one of the easier things I've ever written. I could have done 1000.

1. I love the way she smiles.

2. I love her sardonic, dry wit.

3. I love her black sense of humor.

4. I love the little noise she makes when she's exasperated with me. I can't really describe it but our bird mimics it perfectly.

5. I love the fact that I can't take her to the animal shelter without an hour long discussion about why we can't have just one more.

6. I love the fact that she loves animals.

7. I love the fact that she wants to go to college.

8. I love the fact that she has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up.

9. I love her sense of style.

10. I love her sense of color, design, and placement.

11. I love the color of her eyes.

12. I love the fact that she's not afraid to dye her hair, or get a tattoo, or get pierced in odd places.

13. I love the fact that she can never decide what she wants to eat...

14. ...and I love that every so often she knows exactly what she wants to eat.

15. I love the fact that she gets so frustrated with video games that she will throw the controller.

16. I love that she likes music...

17. ...and that she likes different music than I do.

18. I also love the fact that she likes electronica, but doesn't like Moby.

19. I love the fact that she seems genuinely interested in what I'm rambling on about, even when she's not.

20. I love the fact that she's patient with me.

21. I love the fact that she steals the covers...

22. ...and cocoons herself in them so tightly that the only way to get them back is to wake her up.

23. I love that she'll stay up all night with me watching re-runs of Roseanne.

24. I love the fact that she's an obsessive compulsive collector.

25. I love the fact that she collects naughty nic-naks.

26. I love the fact that she'll snuggle with me even though she's not a "snuggler".

27. ...except with the cats, but everybody snuggles them.

28. I love the fact that she'll trade movie quotes with me.

29. I love the fact that she's a wizard with the computer.

30. I love the fact that she's an impressive researcher.

31. I love the fact that she reads.

32. ...and that her reading list is as large and as backlogged as mine.

33. I love the fact that she prefers to wear slip on tennis shoes with no backs and no laces.

34. I love the fact that she won't make me give her long foot rubs when she knows my hands are sore and tired.

35. I love that she loves McDonald's breakfasts.

36. I love that she has a favorite kind of pen.

37. I love that she's a talented artist, but doesn't think so.

38. I love that she's stunningly beautiful but doesn't think so.

39. I love that she will fall asleep with the TV on, but the computer monitor must be off.

40. I love the fact that she has Courtneyisms.

41. I love the fact that she always wants to drive over the river on the back road.

42. I love that she has pen pals.

43. I love that she tolerates my quirks, moods, and foibles well.

44. I love that it's easy to tell when she's upset...

45. ...and easy to tell when she's happy.

46. I love that I can talk to her about anything...

47. ...and that she'll even talk about stuff she doesn't want to talk about given enough time.

48. I love the fact that she likes movies...

49. ...and that she's willing to try any movie I throw at her.

50. I love the fact that she's found several comics she likes, even though she's not particularly interested in comics in general.

51. I love that she hates Star Trek.

52. I love that she loves Dr. Who.

53. I love that she's tiny but mighty.

54. I love that she can sleep through almost anything.

55. I love that she'll game with my friends and I even though she's not particularly interested in it.

56. I love the fact that she has a great butt, however she insists that some of her jeans make it look better than others.

57. I love the fact that she loves the ocean and marine life of all kinds.

58. I love the fact that she knows how to properly set up and maintain fishtanks of all kinds.

59. I love that she loves to take pictures of everything.

60. ...and that she's really good at it.

61. I love the fact that she loves a good horror movie.

62. I love that she's generous, and loving, and kind.

63. I love the fact that she loves insects of all kinds.

64. I love the fact that she drinks Dr. Pepper like water.

65. I love the fact that she's constantly tinkering with her blog.

66. I love the fact that she's an atheist.

67. I love that sometimes I can introduce her to new music.

68. I love the fact that she can listen to a song twenty times in a row without blinking.

69. I love the fact that she's a Libertarian.

70. ...and that she calls me a Communist because I'm a bleeding heartliberal.

71. I love that she has no fear of offending anybody, ever.

72. I love the fact that I always learn something new about her every day I'm with her.

73. I love the fact that she's extremely polite.

74. I love the fact that she can out belch any man...

75. ...and that she says, "Excuse me." after every one.

76. I love the fact that she can curse fluently in several languages, but usually doesn't.

77. I love the fact that her sneezes almost always come in twos.

78. I love the fact that she almost always needs help to stop the hiccups.

79. I love that she'll hit the snooze button twenty times before getting up, even when I have the clock across the room.

80. I love that she thinks that the bed must be made every day.

81. I love that she likes 80's music.

82. ...and cheezy 80's cartoons.

83. I love the fact that she's loyal.

84. I love that she will never answer the door when I'm there, not even for the pizza guy.

85. I love that she can spend twenty hours straight web surfing, then tell me that there's nothing good on the internet.

86. I love that she loves to watch boxing.

87. I love that she's a creative and talented cook.

88. I love the fact that her foods must never touch, unless they're supposed to.

89. I love the fact that her favorite jet fighter is the SR71 Blackbird, even though she can never remember what it's called.

90. I love the fact that plastic wrap is okay to seal refrigerated containers with, but aluminum foil is not.

91. I love that Beethoven's Fur Elise will make her purr like a kitten.

92. I love that she ranks the cats in order of preference, and tells them this often.

93. I love that she's an outstanding gardener.

94. I love that she stays in touch with current news.

95. I love that she's addicted to Jeopardy.

96. ...and that she hates Wheel of Fortune.

97. I love the fact that she reviles Microsoft.

98. I love that she's the first person I want to see when I wake up...

99. ...and the last person I want to talk to when I go to sleep.

100. I love the fact that she lets me spoil her rotten.

101. Most of all, I love the fact that she picked me to share her life with.

About Me

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Im an essayist, critic, online blogger, short story writer and to borrow a descriptor from Peter David, "Writer of stuff." I love all things pop culture related: Music, Movies, Comics, Books, Politics... if you can label it I probably have an opinion about it, and I love to argue. All informed opinions are welcome here.
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