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300: Homophobic Propaganda for Bush’s Upcoming Invasion of Iran?

The movie 300, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, has earned $70 million at the box office, breaking some records. But if you read some of the commentary out there you might not be too interested in seeing it. All the villains are gay. All the good guys are white and the bad guys are black. The whole thing is just Frank Miller's thinly-veiled cheering for Bush to invade Iran. Etc. Now, 300 is definitely not a historical documentary. But I don't think the criticisms mentioned above are completely true-although I can certainly see why many people may have jumped to them. First off, any movie about war coming out in the year 2007 will inevitably be seen as a commentary or allegory for the current War in Iraq. That's understandable, but probably not reflective of the intent behind this particular movie. In fact, 300 (the novel) came out in 1999, well before the current Bush presidency. Ah, but isn't Frank Miller known to be somewhat right-wing, and couldn't he have updated the movie to better reflect his clash-of-civilizations views today? Miller has said that 300 is largely director Zack Snyder's film. Although he seems more-or-less pleased with the result, he plans on directing any movies based on his books himself from now on. Second, it is hard to equate 300 Spartans repelling an invasion of their homeland by a technologically and numerically superior force of Persians with the current Iraq War or any planned invasion of Iran. That is, unless you switch the metaphorical teams. The United States is clearly the superior, invading force in the Middle East. Leonidas personally leads his Spartans against Xerxes' forces and is able to succeed because of superior tactics and knowledge of the terrain. This has been the exact opposite of the current administration's handling of war. Insurgents have used their knowledge of the neighborhoods of Baghdad to their advantage, and are using asymmetrical warfare tactics with unfortunate success. Where was the scene of Leonidas getting into the Laconian Air National Guard and avoiding combat? The charges of homophobia are largely based on two things - the "boy lovers" crack about Athens and the notion that Xerxes was portrayed as gay. Many have pointed out that the Spartans most likely had just as much pederasty as the rest of Greece at the time, so the joke didn't even make sense to anyone with a little historical context. True enough. But I would like to point out that sexual relationships between men and young boys are not the same as homosexual relationships between consenting adults. You can condemn child molestation without being homophobic - in fact, many gay organizations make this point themselves. As for how whether or not Xerxes was gay - I can see where that interpretation comes from, but I guess I didn't interpret it that way. Critics cite the makeup and jewelry, but that to me seemed like obvious symbols of decadence and Xerxes' facade of otherworldliness (and therefor godhood). There is one scene where Xerxes puts his hand on Leonidas' shoulder which some have said looks like a come on - to me, the scene looked more like an attempt at paternalism on Xerxes' part. He was, after all, offering Leonidas control of Greece in return for acknowledging Persia's rule, as you would offer your son the keys to the car if he respects your curfew. This is all not to say that 300 was a perfect film. My biggest criticisms were: 1) Although the vast majority of 300 is an almost miraculously successful translation of comic art to live action, the freakish characters like Ephialtes were overdone and looked a little ridiculous. Why would the Immortals look like the orcs from Lord of the Rings? What was with the giant fat guy with axes for hands? 2) All the mentions of fighting for freedom were a bit much. I get the point, that the Greek city-states fought dearly for their freedom from external rule, but most modern viewers will think the Spartans were talking about the modern idea of freedom - that is, personal political and economic freedom. Sparta wasn't exactly a shining example of this kind of freedom, built on the slavery of serfs working the land. There was some democracy, but only for the few. 3) One of aspects of the story of this battle that made it interesting was the fact that Leonidas knew he was doomed. According to Herodotus, an oracle had told the Spartans that they would either lose their kingdom, or lose their king. So beyond the incredible odds, Leonidas would have gone knowing there was no chance of return. In 300 instead they draw a distinction between the mysticism of Persia and the rationality of the Greeks. It's an interesting choice, but I kind of missed the fatalism of Herodotus' telling. 4) I thought the scenes back in Sparta of Gorgo's attempts to get support for sending the whole army were a good addition, but it was more than just 300 Spartans fighting this war. Thespians and Thebans fought and died with the Spartans and Athens was busy preparing to fight Persia at sea. Adding a bit of larger context, even indirectly could have made this a better movie. Any film worth watching will inspire different interpretations and criticisms, but I recommend you watch 300 before taking some viewer's criticisms (including mine) to heart.


Does this look like a watch logo to you?I know that you are all bored waiting for the movie 300 to come out whilst surrounded by the sub par offerings of entertainment Hollywood has thrown you like spoiled meat to a bad dog. There is a movie out there to quench your thirst. I guarantee that you will appreciate the homicidal goodness that is the movie Zodiac. Now, I do not pay attention to pop culture like most other people in America. I didn't have any idea what this movie was about or even that one of my top hotties of all times Jake Gyllenhaal was in this movie. I just know that we were bored on a Sunday night in suburbia and decided to go and see a movie. I don't watch TV at all, I get all of my tasty tidbits of entertainment from the internet, so I have not seen any advertisements for this movie. I do go to the movies sometimes, but and I had not seen any previews for this movie, either. Basically my point is that I don't feel that this movie got the advertisement that it deserved. I don't know how much you know about the Zodiac Killer, but this movie will fill you in on all the details. I know you worry about the length. Don't. It says it's three hours long but it really doesn't feel like it at all. At least until I had to pee, then it felt kinda long. But it is three hours long, that's an incredible amount of time for me to hold my bladder, being a woman of small bladder capacity. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Greysmith, a cartoonist working with the San Fransisco Chronicle who decides to write a book on the Zodiac Killer after no suspects are ever apprehended. This is a true story based off of the book by Robert Greysmith by the same name. This movie is intense and the acting is superior. I don't know what else to say here, except that I have heard that David Fincher is perhaps as obsessive as Robert Greysmith and that he is incredibly meticulous when he directs his films. Which is maybe why we get such fantastic films from him such as this movie, Fight Club and The Game. Also, I guess that I am able to forgive James Vanderbilt for Darkness Falls now that he has screen written such a good movie, but he is not completely in the clear as there was already a book written for him to mooch off of. I am just saying some of the shame has cleared his name with this gem, just not all of it. I mean, how seriously can you take a horror movie where the bad guy is the Tooth Fairy? The Tooth Fairy is grounded, yo. zodiac.jpg Basically, if you go to see this movie, which I highly recommend you do, I just suck at saying why, you will leave the theater feeling like that is one of the best movies you have seen since Children of Men. Unless you didn't see Children of Men, in which case you need to go out and rent/buy it when it's available (yes, I am aware that there is currently no release date set, but I hear from internal sources that it's due to come out March 27) since you happened to miss one of the very best movies of 2006. My grade for Zodiac is 8.9 out of 10 Reasoning: Very good. A little too long. Phenomenal acting. True and scary story.

Book Review: Look At My Striped Shirt

Look At My Striped ShirtLook At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate by The Phat Phree $10.36 @ First off let me admit that this blog - or at least me - is somehow related to The Phat Phree. I'll give you 3 minutes to Google it and figure it out. If you can't, well then it's of no concern to you. But I did get this book sent to me for free with the understanding that I would review it. Such is the duty of a "Blogger" - we are here to spread the word where no one else gives a damn. Now let me explain a little bit about The Phat Phree. It's an online humor magazine that is about two hundred times more popular than Unsought Input. But then again, uhm...we like it that way. The guys from The Phat Phree are those kids who probably beat you up in elementary school, played sports in middle school and by high school they were all of a sudden really in to drama club and the school newspaper because they were slightly too intelligent to stay in football. They weren't in drama to sing and dance (cuz "that's be gay, dude") or on the newspaper to write scandalous op-ed pieces, but because they like when people listen to them talk or read what they write. They're those guys who fill the large gap between the over-smart introverts and the air-headed extroverts. Now they work office jobs but hope to someday make it big in a way that people will pay money to hear what they have to say. So, nothing wrong with that. Someone's got to fill that gap. They're honing their skills by following the TPP credo: Target. Observe. Ridicule. They're taking "observational comedy" to a different level than we're used to - different than the droning of Jerry Seinfeld's sly jabs at everyday annoyances and not so far as the over-done "people of [my ethnicity] are funny because..." yawn-fest of Carlos Mencia. Look At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate contains 73 essays written from the point of view of all of the quirky lamers you work with, ring up at the cash register, run into at parties and, God forbid, are related to. A Spoon River Anthology for the modern day, if you will. The characters in the LAMSS book are those idiots you know you know, but really never cared to think about before. The dude who's "really into philosophy." The jackass with the "GONFISHN" license plate. The guy who wanted to be "fuck buddies" but maybe without the "buddies" part. Your "cool" teacher. The lady who collects ladybugs. And of course, that fella sportin' the striped shirt at the bar who knows that he is totally going to get laid tonight. The Phat Phree writers (all 28 of them) put together an interesting menagerie of characters for this book. They were smart enough to leave out the painfully obvious targets of ridicule - fat people, non-Americans, IT guys, soccer moms, the religious Right - and delve a little bit deeper into the idiocracy that truly makes up most of the American population.
This gangbang is so awkward This gangbang is so awkward...
Many of the pieces do fall flat while others are stand out. Like most Saturday Night Live sketches (and really, a good chunk of Monty Python as well), some of the essays come out swingin' and die halfway through as if they'd be better minus the last three paragraphs. My favorite part of the book is actually the essay titles and accompanying pictures (yes, I read like a six-year-old, thanks.) "You Can't Plinko For Shit, You Dumb Bitch," "This Gangbang is So Awkward" and "Having a Huge Penis Isn't So Great" are some of my favorites. Also much like Python, and the Kids in the Hall, it seems that the Phat Phree writers can't write for women. There's only a smattering of essays written from a female point-of-view (two of the contributing writers are women) and they aren't quite as strong as the others. Although "Seriously, Get This Sweater Off Me" written from the point-of-view of a woman's "rat dog" is one of the best pieces. Maybe chicks just aren't that interesting.
Seriously, get this sweater off me Seriously, get this sweater off me
Since the boys at TPP are so wildly different (read: popular) than us here at Unsought, the book gives me a chance to learn a little bit about people that I would know only if I only left the house once in a while. People that go to clubs, go to after parties, drive nice cars, think they're "just like Sex and the City," etc. I think those sort of people are more ubiquitous than I had previously imagined - although MySpace is changing my perception of the world quite rapidly. Now, thanks to this book, I have some basis for my "who the hell are all these people on MySpace?" snark. If nothing else, this is the perfect bathroom book. The essays are short enough to get through a few at a time during your morning constitutional. Or, if you're like me and spend more time eating than excreting, it's a nice little lunchtime accompaniment. I guarantee if nothing else you'll be remembering a character or two the next time you run into someone annoying, or emailing your friend about how this essay you just read reminds you of him. Check out The Phat Phree Web site which is updated daily with lots of new content. Some of the pieces from the book can be found there, most likely in their "Hall of Fame." Fifty of the essays are brand-new, and can only be found in the book. The Look At My Striped Shirt Web site has a few excerpts plus pod-casts of performances of the essays and some pretty funny wallpapers (see, even they find the titles and pictures funny!) Go forth and read, my friends. Don't read too much, though. I will have more television reviews for you shortly.

Finally we can Blame 9/11 on Gay Marriage

It has taken five years and two wars, but finally, author Dinesh D’Souza has found the real cause of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  Saddam Hussien?  Nope.  Lax airport security?  Sorry.  Osama bin Laden and the extreme religious conservatives who plotted and carried out the attacks?  Not so much. The real culprit is gay marriage and Fear Factor.  D'Souza explained on the Colbert Report. [youtube]rqIXBRTwcUI[/youtube] Now, some might say that advocating that we become more like the terrorists in order to avoid terrorist attacks is sort of like giving in.  But that's just silly.  Let me explain why with a simple analogy everyone can understand : Imagine you are back in grade school and out of no where another kid hits you in the head with a rock, then says: "That's for all the times you came over to my house and broke our yard gnomes.  Also, your T-shirt has GI Joe on it and that means you are an idiot because Thundercats are obviously better than GI Joe and Panthro rules!" How should you respond?  Now my first thought would be to go over to a totally different kid's house and start breaking his yard gnomes in revenge.  But it turns out, the best course of action is to stand up, brush the dirt and little rock pieces out of your hair, and tell your attacker: "Of course, you are right, Thudercats is way better than GI Joe, though I must point out that Lion-o is truly our lord and savior.  This shirt is a hand-me-down from my brother, I blame him for the whole situation!" That way, the disagreement is cleared up immediately, and instead of a schoolyard enemy you now have an ally to help you plot the brutal beating of your own brother. Isn't it funny how things like this end up?  It truly takes a world-class intellect like D'Souza to figure things like this out, but once he says it, it so obvious!  It's just like when the Wright brothers had their first flight, and the next day everyone walked around saying, "all it took for man to fly was an airplane!  Why didn't I think of that?"

Gift Ideas: 5 Practical Presents that are Actually Useful

Looking for some interesting gift ideas? Sick of buying the traditional tie for dad and sweater for your nephew, and want to get them something they might actually have a use for? Look no further! Well, actually you should look further down the page. Below are five unique holiday gift ideas for that special someone that won't find their way into a box in the attic. Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner1. Give the gift of convenience. It is the year 2006, and yet you cannot fly around town on a hoverboard, jet pack, or even a flying car. Luckily, we do have robots to do menial household labor. I highly recommend the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. You may be wondering: does it really work? Our experience with the Roomba has been very positive, so much so that we got one for my parents last Christmas. How is it practical? You just have to press a button, and it cleans the whole floor! Seriously. It takes longer than you might be able to do with a fancy Dyson vacuum, but you don't have to do anything! My mom loves it. To be fair, you do still have to empty it out when it is done and once in a while you might want to clean hair out of the brushes. But if you are lazy like me, it will do a much more thorough cleaning job, and you'll end up vacuuming twice as much. $149.99 at Amazon 2. Give the gift of health. Many of us suffer from health problems that could be improved by improving our diets. There is a lot of homeopathic quackery out there, but there's also a large and growing body of research on how to fight high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other common modern ailments. Unfortunately, the vitamin, supplement, and "natural " health food industry is largely unregulated. How can your dear mum be sure she is taking fish oil and not a mercury smoothie? Get her a subscription to How is it practical? I think this one is pretty obvious. Access to independent testing data on different brands can ensure you're getting what you're paying for. It might not seem like as much fun as a Big Mouth Billy Bass or a keyboard tie, but trust me, no one wants those things anyway. $27.99 for a one year subscription Kil-A-Watt 3. Give the gift of power. Not everyone is a tree hugger, but everyone likes to save money on their electric bills. You might be surprised which appliances and gadgets are sucking down the most power - or your recipient will, when you give them the Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. How is it practical? Just plug the thing you want to test right in and you'll be able to compare kilowatt-hours. It can also help justify buying that new flat panel monitor, air conditioner or other more efficient device. "Look honey, buying this new MacBook with the Core 2 Duo will actually save us money!" $24.99 at Amazon (and a little less from some of their "featured merchants.") Mind Hacks 4. Give the gift of brains. Publisher O'Reilly is well-known for their technical books and their fun "Hacks" series. Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain is a very entertaining book on how your brain works and why it works the way it does. The book is not just for nerds--it definitely does not read like a dry technical manual. It does adopt the hacker point of view, a combination of curiosity, cleverness, and an interest in real-world results. A similar book in the series (which I haven't read yet) is Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain. How is it practical? The chapters are, quick, light reads that give you practical insights and tricks, everything from improving memory performance to figuring out optical illusions. Everything is grounded in scientific research, and they cite actual sources! If you think your intended recipient will be put off by the title and format, you might want to consider Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research, which covers some of the same ground from a different perspective. $16.47 at Amazon Lego Ice Cube Tray 5. Give the gift of cool. Like most people, you are probably sick of boring old ice cube trays. Wait, you say you haven't given ice cube trays any thought in your entire life, and that my premise is specious? Once you've seen the Lego Ice Cube Tray and the Lego block-shaped ice cubes that it produces, you'll agree with me. This is the perfect gift for that certain someone. How is it practical? Well, how else are supposed to build a frozen scale model of Edinburgh Castle on the kitchen counter? Unfortunately, it looks like it is sold out until March! Not-nearly-as-cool but just as practical substitutes include the OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray and the ISI Orka Freeze and Press Ice Cube Tray, both with spill-reducing lids. $7.99 for the Lego tray (sold out) $3.99 for the Good Grips tray $9.95 for the Orka Freeze and Press Bonus gift idea! Finally, for those of you who need to the right gift for a godless, hedonistic liberal, The War on X-Mas Manual will no doubt fill their hearts with joy. If they are too far from the lord to truly know joy, then at least you know their hearts will be filled with secular blood as they pick up helpful tips on destroying your faith. How is it practical? Remember: whenever a minimum-wage cashier at a big box retail store says "happy holidays," Jesus cries a single tear. Better yet, if you can get the press covering a "war" against Christmas, they won't have as much time to report on the war in Iraq.