Daily Archives: June 29, 2014

300 : RISE OF AN EMPIRE – This Ain’t Sparta, dude…

All right – first things first.

I absolutely LOVE the movie 300.

I love it so much that even though I had my leg broken while watching the movie’s first release at a local theatre here in Halifax on a St. Patrick’s Day evening matinee I still went out and bought the dvd when it hit the stores.

I love the testosterone and the straight-ahead no-nonsense storytelling of 300.

So, last night when I made a quick run to WalMart I was very happy to see that 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE had finally hit the stores.

I grabbed a copy. Figured I’d go home and watch it with my wife. We had both had a long day and an evening of cold beer and swashbuckling would be just fine and dandy.

Turns out we might as well have just plugged in an old Ed Wood movie for all the entertainment we got out of this flick.

What a crappy, crappy, crappy movie.

I may have have left out a couple of crappies there.

First off, let’s start with the actors. Our main hero, THEMOSTICLES, was played by an Australian dude named Sullivan Stapleton.

Anyone remember Gerard Butler from the original movie, 300? Butler just oozed charisma and masculinity. The man was a walking advertisement for porterhouse steak, marinated in Old Spice aftershave and testeronal bull sweat.

This Stapleton dude looked like he would have felt more at home in Dr. Oz infomercial. The man always looked a little constipated and uncomfortable on screen. I took a look at IMDB to see what else he had done and I saw a whole lot of nothing. Maybe in Australia he is King Kong – but to me he seemed just a little bit on the Tarzan-Cheeta-side of life.

What was going on, anyway? First off we have got this evil woman Artemesia who is supposed to be a super-nasty expert of all forms of military conflict but mostly all she seemed to do was to stand around and stomp her foot and throw little hissy-fits before throwing her generals over the side of the ship.

And then we’ve got Themostocles who’s sole military achievement was to fire a dumb luck arrow at the fleet of Persians. That’s it. The dude got lucky – so that made him our hero.

We saw a glimpse of the Spartans and of Queen Gorgo and of Xerxes – but mostly it was Artemesia chasing after Themostocles in muddy murky blurred out battle scenes. Blood was flying all over the place like so much badly-shook-up cherry cola and every now and then we’d have Aremesia demonstrate her military prowess in another hissy-fit.

I mean that girl was making more drama than a season full of The Kardashians.

About 90% of the way through the movie Queen Gorgo (Gerard Butler’s wife from the first movie) and Dilios (the one-eyed storyteller/soldier from the first movie) decide that it is time to do something about the Persians that are pouring into their country after having shadily turned her husband Leonidas into a stunt-double for Saint Sebastian)

“You know,” I said to my wife. “This is RIGHT where they ought to have started this movie.”

That’s the point they missed.

You’re making a sequel to a much-loved movie don’t be messing around inventing characters that didn’t appear in the first movie, clogging up the story-line with unnecessary back story.

Beginning, middle and end – that’s a story.

Take your hero, put him into a tree and then throw rocks at him.

WHY didn’t they just start right there and then take Queen Gorgo and her Spartan and Greek forces with Dilios keeping busy with a little testosteronal-narrative every now – “Now what those Persians didn’t know was that the Duke Brothers had actually switched the roadblock sign…”

Lastly, I want to say a bit more about I call false strong women.

I know a lot of strong women. They are as common in this world as are strong men. But the strong women I know DO SOMETHING if there is something that needs to doing. They don’t just stand there and shake their ta-ta’s and arch their eyebrows and throw their generals overboard. They actually use their mind and come up with a strategy and take action.

Women can kick butt – just like fellas – and they don’t need to be all bitchy to do it – but that was all that Artemesia seemed to be able to do.

“I’m a strong women and a mean motor-scooter,” Artemesia would say. “Want to see my bodacious ta-ta’s?”

I’m sorry – but women play a bigger role in this life than just being there to waggle their bodacious ta-ta’s. If you are going to give us an evil character who happens to be a woman and is supposed to be a military wonder – DON’T LEAVE US STANDING THERE WONDERING!

I mean, what was up with that big naval master-plan that she concocted?

Let’s put a bunch of kamikaze suicide-bomber Persians into the middle of an ocean full of oil and have them dog-paddle with explosive backpacks up to the Greek ship and then when they halfway there lets start shooting some flaming arrows at them – while we are sitting our boat in the same darned oil-filled look-out-its-gonna-blow ocean?

Yeah, that was brilliant, all right.

I am truly sorry that I wasted twenty good bucks on this dvd. I am going to give it away. I don’t ever want to see it again. The movie absolutely sucked. It was a masterpiece of truly abysmal storytelling.

That’s okay, though.

I’ve got another movie I picked up from the five dollar bin. I figure it will make up for the incredible disappointment that was 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE.

That’s right.

I bought myself a copy of MEN IN BLACK 3.

yours in storytellling,

Steve Vernon

Writing and Push-ups and Lions

should you be writing right now-

On Tuesday I begin my big writing challenge – the July NaNoWriMo write fifty thousand words or die challenge.

Which means from July 1 to July 31 I need to write a MINIMUM of 1612 words a day.

That’s an awful lot of words and I know that a lot of you folks who read this entry are going to say something along the lines of “Good job, Steve.” or “Shag it, man!” or “You’re freaking nuts!” or “You can do it!”

Some of you folks might think to yourself – “Wow. How can he do that?”

Well – for starters I don’t KNOW if I can do it successfully – but let’s assume I can.

This is how I look at this sort of writing marathon.

Writing is a little like push-ups.

Do all of you know how to do a push-up? Do you remember in high school phys ed when the teacher would explain to you how to do push-ups? He’d say something along the lines of this.

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “Push-ups are easy. Just lay down face-down on the ground.”

ME – “I can do that.”

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “Now set your hands down flat against the ground at a little more than shoulder-width.”

ME – “That’s easy too. My shoulders aren’t very wide. Can I take a nap while I am at it?”

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “You’re supposed to be pushing up. Raise your body up from the floor. Think of your body as a straight and keep it straight while you push up.”

ME – “You want me to push-up? But I just got down here. Are you sure I’m not supposed to be taking a nap?”

At this point in the game my phys ed instructor’s face would begin to assume the color of a burning rose. I’m talking way-past-beet red, like the sun coming up while you are wearing red-tinted sunglasses and sipping on Hawaiian Punch cocktail and chewing on ripe red cherries smeared with strawberry jam.

PHYS ED INSTRUCTOR – “NO! It’s not time for a nap. You’re on the floor. Are you a worm?”

ME – “Yes sir – I am a worm, sir. I am a lowly wriggling worm who is about to take a nap.”

Which is how I first got to meet my High School principal.


Seriously, I can do an awful lot of push-ups. The way I got started was to get out of bed in the morning and do five perfect push-ups. Then come the end of the week I would add one more push-up. Are you doing the math? That’s five plus one – makes six.

(Burt and Ernie would be so proud of my mathematics)

Then – one week later I would add one more push-up.

After five weeks I was into the double digits.

And every week I would add one more push-up.

So I want you do this for me.

Sit down and write a hundred words on your novel.

Write those hundred words every morning – first thing after you get out of bed.

Come the end of the week write 110.

Just like that ancient Greek wrestler dude who started out carrying a baby lion cub around on his shoulders everyday.

Everyday that lion cub grew just a little bit bigger and that ancient Greek wrestler dude grew a little bit stronger.

Everyday that ancient Greek wrestler dude fed that lion cub a great big old t-bone steak to make sure that lion cub grew just a little bit bigger.

At the end of a year that ancient Greek wrestler dude had muscles like Schwarzenegger.

At the end of two years that ancient Greek wrestler dude looked like Samson and Hercules and Arnold Schwarzenegger had themselves a three-way tub and a love-child who liked the taste of ouzo.

Two and half years in that lion got tired of eating steak – but that’s six hundred words this morning and we’ll just that lion eat in peace.

I’m sure not going to interrupt its chewing.

Meantime get busy working on your push-ups. You never can tell when you might need to out-wrestle a lion.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – if you want to read a bit more about CAMP NANOWRIMO – read it HERE!

The Family of Writers

The Family of Writers

Does anyone else write in your family besides yourself?

Would it bother you if anyone did?

yours in storytelling

Steve Vernon