Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth is a 1954 novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, about a Roman family in Britain in the second century, that was recently made into a film called The Eagle.   Marcus Flavius Aquila is a young Roman Centurion who has asked to be posted to Britain so that he may find out what happened to his father's legion, the Ninth, that famously disappeared north of Hadrian's Wall.

Shortly after arriving at his fort in Britain, Marcus becomes seriously injured in a battle with native British, and the injury ends his military career.  While recuperating from his injuries, Marcus hears that the bronze eagle standard of his father's legion has been seen in the north and is in the possession of an unknown tribe.

Upon his recovery Marcus, along with Esca, a slave he has freed, heads to the north, in the guise of an Greek eye doctor to move among the tribes and find the eagle.  Marcus is well received by the tribes, as he has received some rudimentary training in eye care and successfully provides some treatment to the natives.  While there, Marcus and Esca learn more about the location of the standard and follow it to a remote coastal village that is a religious center among the tribes.  During a religious ceremony, Marcus and Esca see the eagle displayed and decide that night to sneak into the nave where it is kept and recover it.

After taking the standard, the two flee to Hadrian's Wall with the villagers in hot pursuit.  After a tumultuous chase, with several close calls, Marcus and Esca finally make it safely to south Britain with their prize.  Due to the circumstances of the loss of the standard a Roman official recommends that the eagle be buried and tells Marcus that there is no way the Ninth Legion will be re-formed, but he is successful in petitioning Rome for a land award and a pension for Marcus for the services he has provided.  The book ends with Marcus, Esca and Marcus' beau deciding to take the awarded land in Britain and to farm it, as Marcus comes from a long line of farmers.

If not for the recent film I would have never heard of this little book.  As usual, the book is better than the movie.  In this case, the movie was over dramatized and much less believable than the book.  In the film, the natives are little more than bloodthirsty savages, in an Indiana Jones way, whereas in the book they are much more sophisticated, more human and less cartoonish.  Likewise, the book presents the Romans as more realistic and not in a "Rome Rules!" kind of way.

Overall, a pleasant book to read: a good story, light reading but informative about that era in British history. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Urban Myths

Ugh. Yet another urban myth spam email ended up in my inbox today. This one is a protest of a (supposed) upcoming film called Corpus Christi, based on a theater production of the same name in which Christ and his disciples are portrayed as being gay.

A very quick Google search of "Corpus Christi film" turns up a Snopes.com page exposing the spam-mail as a hoax, one that has been around since at least 2001.  Yes, there is such a theater production, but no, there is no film based on it. There is a documentary film out there about the making of the theater production, and perhaps there is where some of the confusion lies.

I typically react to these urban legend spams in a couple of ways, delete and forget, or find the reference in one of the urban myth sites and reply with it, taking into account the personality of the person who forwarded the email to me. 

There needs to be some sort of an email filter that looks for repetitive subject lines, based on an updated urban legends database, and automatically returns the email with a new "Hey Gullible" subject line.  Either that or have it automatically reply with one of those Nigerian prince scams, sort of a Rickrolling for the Internet noobs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness

Why do I bother entering NCAA Tournament pools?  I end up rooting against teams I like in favor of teams that will help my pool.  I'm sitting here watching Villanova beating George Mason, hoping GM comes back to win so I can get those valuable two points.  Oh well, it will be worth it if I end up in the money. Heh.