Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Friday, February 11, 2005

Miscellany

A couple of random bits of jibba-jabba for the postin’:

------
I accidentally removed the previous post on Frank Miller by clicking on the wrong dang link on my homepage. Yep, I’m Mistah Technophile. Sorry about that. Fortunately, it was easy to restore. Man, was that weird. “Where the hell did my post go? It had good comments in it! AAGH!”

-------
One of you in Internet-land pointed out that my critique of Frank Miller’s 300 may have been way off. Which would be embarrassing, because I took Miller to task for sloppy research. I’ve decided to actually (gasp) crack a book or two and see if my recollections of ancient Sparta are correct.

If I find I’m wrong, then I’ll post again to say “oops, never mind, I’m a dope” rather than redact my earlier post. It’s only fair. Erasing my mistake and any reference to it is just a wee more Stalinist than I fancy myself.

Which is why my accidental hiding of the post freaked me out. Makes it look like I was trying to squelch criticism. Nope, I’m just incompetent.

--------
Another fellow commented on 300 and mentioned his own analysis of Miller’s strange sexual motifs. I read his critique.

It’s much better than mine and goes into greater depth. Check it out here and look for the entry dated 22.12.04, “Comics You Should Own.” Good stuff.

----------
I picked up a western miniseries from Wildstorm called Desperadoes: Quiet of the Grave. It’s...okay. The characterizations are above average, but the pacing’s shot all to hell.

Old-timey comic guy John Severin provided the art. He has a very distinct style that’s hard to explain but completely unmistakable. There’s something about his basic line-work that’s different. And I like it. For a western, his style is near perfect. If it were up to me, I’d keep Severin drawing Desperadoes stories as long as he wants. Damn, he’s good.

It’s probably better that I don’t run a comic company, though. “This month, every comic must have dachshunds with jet packs in them! No exceptions! And would it kill the artists to put all the women in sombreros and the men in duck costumes? Come on!”

-----------
My efforts to create a comic for next year’s Small Press Expo have collided with the mighty stone walls of my laziness. Or my fear of failure. I’m not sure which. I never appreciated the sheer power of my sniveling cowardice until now. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.

-----------
Okay, I found something to at least partially validate my criticism of 300. I said that the Spartans mocking the Athenians as “boy-lovers” was nuts, given that the Spartan system of education was largely built on pederasty. A reader of the site suggested I was wrong, and that Spartan homosexual relations were between men of similar age.

Digging around, I found this:

“Young men undergoing training were isolated from the rest of society; it is perhaps not surprising that homosexual relations between boys and young men were regarded as standard. Indeed it was a mark of shame for a boy not to be courted by an older youth. The Spartans believed that homosexual relations between young men encouraged unit solidarity and battlefield valor, reasoning that a lover would surely not shame himself before his beloved by flinching back from the line.”
(Josiah Ober, “Fall of an Evil Empire,” MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History, Summer 1998.)

So it looks like my critic and I were both close but kinda wrong. There was indeed widespread pederasty, but it appears not to have been institutionalized, nor were the age gaps quite as large as I thought. I’ll keep looking around to see if I can get more solid information on the topic, to see if I'm full of crap or not. I still may owe Mr. Miller an apology.

That Ober article hammers home that no matter how you slice it, Sparta was a miserable blight on humanity. And the closer you look, the worse it gets. A military state established to keep down their massive serf population? A city-state notorious for stupidity, cruelty, and inflexibility of mind? Sounds like its destruction was a net plus for humanity.


-----------
Valentine’s Day approaches rapidly, and I must figure out what to do for Mrs. Jerkwater. Last February 14th I proposed, figuring the massive cheesiness of proposing on Valentine’s Day would be so overwhelming, she’d never suspect me capable of it. The cheese was indeed mighty, but it all worked out. Now she expects cheese. Delivering it will be difficult, for I am romantic as a tree stump, and not quite as sensitive.

I need to find skydiving mariachis, stat.