Implosion, and thoughts on a goat man

I’d be remiss if I didn’t let KLAS tell you about the Stardust implosion:

The excitement of the implosion is over and now the massive clean-up effort begins bfore the old Stardust property is turned into the $4 billion Echelon resort.

The legendary Stardust hotel tower on the Las Vegas Strip was brought down by implosion early Tuesday morning.

There was a hail of fireworks before the 2:34 a.m. implosion. At 32 stories, it was the tallest structure to ever be imploded on the Las Vegas Strip.

It took 428 pounds of explosives to bring down the tower and less than 10 seconds for the building to fall. The final result was 170,000 tons of debris and a lot of dust. | News for Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas’ Legendary Stardust Bites The Dust

I was going to watch the excitement first hand, but Suni and I didn’t get back from LA until about 1, and I was pretty thrashed after driving the 4+ hours after a full day on that ranged from Culver City to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and back. Once again, sleep wins out over watching history being made–or unmade, as the case may go.

The implosion aside, I’ve got a non-gambling or Vegas thing that’s been bugging me. I saw 300 over the weekend, and can’t get certain elements of it out of my mind. this isn’t a review as such, and there aren’t any spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it I’ll give you a few things to think about before you plunk down your money for a ticket.

As a historian, I should be aghast at anyone playing fast and loose with the past. After all, I get peeved enough at people who say that Bugsy Siegel founded Las Vegas or built the first casino on the Strip. As you can guess, I’d get really bent out of shape if someone made a movie that showed Bugsy and Aslan turning over dirt at the Flamingo’s groundbreaking. But my problem with the movie wasn’t so much the inaccuracy as it was the weird direction it took.

I’m no specialist on Ancient Greece, but I get the feeling that that’s about as accurate as 300 is. Now, I could see some room for creative license. For example, I’d buy Xerxes as the clueless but powerful guy he seems to be in the Book of Esther, but not as an 8-foot tall pre-op tranny with an interest in body piercings. The guy arrived for the battle, as my sister-in-law said, on a Carnivale float. It looked visually striking, but I don’t think, creatively, was the best route. Why not make him an effete, corrupt, power-mad king who seems like a pushover but, once the fighting starts, is an absolute maniac and a formidable foe for the Spartan king? It’d give the character more than one dimension. But the Persians were just depicted as universally weak and evil (which is in itself troubling) with no sense of how or why they had assembled such a powerful empire.

(By the way, the tranny thing isn’t just my take–there are actually 2 actors credited as playing “transsexuals” in the cast.)

All that said, I absolutely loved Xerxes’s speaking voice. Seriously, that guy should be doing voice-over work. If Gotham ever does an audio book of Roll the Bones, he’s got my vote as narrator. But there’s a scene where he comes up behind the Spartan king Leonidas and I could just hear him saying, “Hey, have you been working out?” As cool as Xerxes was, I’ve got to confess that I was laughing through all of his scenes thinking about that kind of stuff.

But Xerxes is a model of historical accuracy compared to one of the bit players. At one point in the orgy scene–yes, there is an orgy scene, but it’s very tasteful ;)–the camera pans over to a goat man chilling out, smoking a pipe.

I’m pretty sure that Xerxes wasn’t 8 feet tall, and that the Persians didn’t have orcs wearing silver masks fighting for them, but I know for sure that they didn’t have any goatmen in the ranks. He’s only in the shot for a few seconds, but he seems so non-chalant that you almost don’t notice. And nobody else at the orgy seems to particularly mind.

I just don’t get it. I didn’t see a goatman or faun in the credits, so I’m guessing it was just a CGI thing that someone at the studio thought was cool. And don’t get me wrong, I think it was absolutely cool. But it really undermined any sense that the movie was more a quicker version of Lord of the Rings where the “good guys” lose.

One last cool thing–Dominic West had a big role–you might know him as McNulty on The Wire. I kept on waiting for him to complain to the Spartan council that the fight against the Persians can’t go on unless they start tapping phones and cloning pagers.

Ahh, I still can’t get past the goat man.

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