Sunday, October 15, 2006

300


I’m currently obsessed with the upcoming movie 300, which like Sincity was based on a comic book by Frank Miller, and is now going to be remade into a highly stylistic movie that looks like LOTR/Troy on LSD. Check out the trailer.

What a story. It has so many awesome lines, Frank Miller just had to ink it. It’s one of the greatest stories ever told. At the battle of Thermopylae, a few thousand Greeks, led by the Spartan king Leonidas commandeered the first resistance to the Persian king Xerxes, whose empire stretched from the edge of Greece to the edge of India. By some accounts, it was 3,000 Greeks vs. a two million conglomeration of Libyans, Egyptians, Arabs, Ethiopians, Babylonians, Syrians, Assyrians, Ionians, Lydians, Bactrians, and Indians… it was a formidable fighting force.

The Greeks fought them at the “hot gates”, a precipitous tight narrow path which reduced the Persian numerical advantage, and the Spartan army’s tank-like formation tactics held the line for three days. The sacrifice of the 300 Spartans who died roused the country into unification, and they fought back valiantly.

I can’t wait for this movie. I read the comic book a couple of days ago, and while I liked it, I couldn’t help take offence to some of the undertones. First of all, the timing of this movie is a little suspect. At at time when Iran wants to go nuclear.. comes an ancient story of how they wanted to enslave the last free world of free people who wanted freedom and liberty beyond all means for freedom is worth fighting for and freedom is worth dying for as is liberty rah rah bullshit.

The word freedom is has been molested long enough, and I hope the movie doesn’t have any rah rah Mel Gibsonish war cries about liberty or freedom.

Secondly, the comic has a few symbolic undertones which maybe I’m looking too deeply into, but see for yourself and judge. The Persian arrowheads have moon and trident heads on them. Is it just me?

It's unfair of me to complain about how revisionism in an English movie made for a western audience, but how come when Alexander ran with a similar conglomerate right up to India's door, his great philosophy isn’t enslavement, but "one people"?.

The only fun thing about history is rewriting it, so I propose a story of how a small tribe of Indo-Scythians exiles whose village is sacked, their women raped, children slaughtered, go on a suicide mission and turn the tides of history by assassinating Alexander in a guerrilla fight.

The movie won’t he half as cool though.

P.S. History of the Middle East in 90 seconds

Monday, October 09, 2006

This just in: the world is 8000 years old

I was talking to this Pathan driver who was gonna drop me to the pub. Have you ever taken a ride with these guys? These people love to talk, when they're not listening to BBC Urdu. They're pretty cool actually. They never hustle you, never rob, steal, or cheat, they just drive these beat up crappy 80's hanging-by-a-thread type cars which they bought for 2 grand, and these cars have no seatbelt, and this musty smell that stinks like a fungus factory, but they charge you less than a goddamn Metro taxi. I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay 50 bucks for a trip to Media City just because I wanted to sleep half an hour more.

Anyways, the cool thing about these people, and why they rule more than you is this. They take 6 month vacations every year. Who among you can say that?! They might live in a shithole that has been bombed the fuck out by two superpowers in the last 25 years, but they take 6 month vacations!

Anyways, this old man asks me what I do, so I tell him that I work for an Internet company… He doesn't know what the Internet is, so I try to explain it to him. You see, it's a series of tubes... or something. I gave up when I realised I had no analogies that he'd understand. Later
on, he asked me if I was a Hindu. I said I was. And now the playing field was leveled. Now he could teach me a thing or two. And boy he did! So he said.. in chaste Urdu, which I am paraphrasing..

"Is Duniya me hum kyun hain? Humare aur jaanwar mein kya farak hai? Tumhe naukri, ghar, maa baap, behen, izzat, pyaar kisne diya? Yeh duniya kisne banaya? Yeh sab allah ka den hai. Is duniya ka har ek har tukda uska den hai."

(Why are we here? What makes us different from animals? Who gave you this job, house, mother, father, sister, respect, love? Who made this world? This is all Allah's gift to us. Every part of this world is his gift to us.)

So to asked him. How old is this world according to you?

He said 8000 years.
So I explained the theory of evolution to him. That we are no different from animals. That when you see a beautiful woman, you get a boner; because we are animals. That we came down from the trees 50,000 years ago, and stood upright, freed up our hands, and started thinking. We started thinking and using our brains, which is why they grew huge, and which is why we have women with big hips, which we as men love to hump. I told him the world is 4 billion years old, and that our basest motivations are in protecting our keep and furthering our genes. In Hindi.

I'm not sure he wanted to understand, or share my world view.. but maybe something got through?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Well played

I love reading history threads on Wikipedia, my last insomniac read was the first Gulf war between Iran and Iraq, which lasted for 8 years, and cost $1.8 trillion, a stalemate whose net result was cheap oil for US weaponry, a war that was funded by money loaned by Arab countries to Iraq, a debt so huge that it led to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which led to another war in which it got gangraped, a trail of chemical weapon precursors sold by countries in Europe and Asia, a war so ghastly that it turned a fairly liberal Iran into a shriveled up islamofacist state under Khomeni.

The rivalry between Iran and Iraq was an ancient one, their territories marked by religious seismic cracks and fragile egos, under which lay a vast bed of oil, the engine for industrialisation, that could have ensured their dominance if they'd played their cards well.

Both sides lost the war. It plunged two ancient civilisations with an amazing amount of natural wealth, culture and history into totalitarianism and barbarism. The winner? Uncle Sam.