Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Question

I consider myself a pretty intelligent person.  Especially good at figuring things out.  But recently I have been pondering a pretty big question, and I honestly can't get a grip on it.

How the hell did the world work before the internet?


Can't work my head around it.

Here's what got me thinking about it.  I'm going to be in Vermont this summer for a wedding.  Some of my friends and I thought it would be fun to rent a cabin for the weekend instead of spreading out over a couple of hotels.  So what do I do?  Google of course.  The first results are the bigger "vacation package" type organizations.  Going through them would cost upwards of a couple of thousand dollars for the weekend, which is out of my range, even spread over a large group.  But dig a little deeper and I find some individuals renting vacation homes, much cheaper and more flexible.  I used Google Earth to figure out exactly where these places are in relation to where the wedding is going to be.  And now I'm in the process of emailing back and forth with a couple of people to finalize plans.

If you told me to find and book a cabin in central Vermont from south Alabama without using Google and email, I wouldn't have a clue about where to start.  A travel agent?  Then I would just wind up with one of those overpriced "vacation packages."  Maybe try and get in touch with some of the bride's family in the area?  For an anti-social person like myself? Yeah right.  I just don't know.

My point is this.  We live in a great time.  And I only see it getting better.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Living Up to Expectations

Remember this day, men, for it will be yours for all time.

When the first teaser for the movie 300 came out some time last summer, I was stunned.  It was gorgeous.  Absolutely spectacular.  Doing an even better job of capturing Frank Miller's hyper-realistic visuals than Sin City.  I would watch it over and over again, never losing excitement.  I became obsessed with the movie, working myself into a froth about how I just knew it was going to be the greatest movie I had ever seen.

Give them nothing! But take from them everything!

But obsessed in a strange way.  Although I had the trailer in an endless loop in my head, I really didn't want to know anything else about the movie.  I didn't read pre-release reviews.  I didn't look for images or clips on the web.  I didn't even read the graphic novel, even though I'm a huge Frank Miller fan.  This was because, although I loved Sin City, I found myself comparing every scene to its corresponding frame in the comic book.  I wanted to go into 300 more pure.

A new age has come, an age of freedom. And all will know that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it.

There were ample reasons why I was so excited about this movie.  First, I love Frank Miller.  Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, Daredevil.  His graphic novels and comics have always hit me on a very visceral level, and I was sure that 300 wouldn't be any different, not reading it only because I wanted the purer film experience.  Second, I have always loved Greek legend and lore.  As a child, I read all about the Greek gods.  As a teenager, I read the Illiad and Odyssey, not for any school assignment, but because I wanted to.  In college, I read dozens of Greek plays, some for class but many for pleasure.  And while the battle of Thermopylae certainly happened, this particular telling of it falls clearly in the legend and mythology category, not strict historical accuracy.  Thirdly, this movie simply looked like a checklist of everything that I love in movies.  Heroic men making speeches and fighting and dying for what they believe in.  Strong women doing the same.  Blood, sex, and magic, and lots of it.  Strong and memorable visual, music, and dialog.  Idealism.

This is where we fight! This is where they die!

So after 6 months of psyching myself up, there was certainly no way for the film to live up to my expectations.  But it tried really damn hard.  And I do love this film.  For all of the reasons that I stated above.  So what if the first half hour was a little slow.  And the actual movie used different and more subdued musical cues than the trailers that I have drilled into my head.  And that the inevitable betrayal was really obvious.  Who cares?  This movie ownes like few others, and I will see it again.  And again. And again.  "This is madness," you say?