The Empty Balcony: Zodiac

David Fincher’s Zodiac floats through the 1970s and beyond, often in a dreamlike state. A story about a notorious serial killer and those investigating him, it’s the period backdrop where Fincher and his crew are most effective. Whether his vision of the times is accurate is hard to gauge, but peering back through the lens of memory with Zodiac superimposed on top brought to the fore feelings of nostalgia. And, in fact, period pieces can never be completely accurate. They live and die in our own flawed remembrances of times gone by. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Zodiac”

The Empty Balcony: Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket is a comedic tour de force. At a younger age, the idea of growing up and coming face to face with R. Lee Ermey in a cold and brutally lit recruit barracks was an uneasy thought indeed, if not downright intimidating. Being on the cusp of every youngster’s wild transition from the coddling environment of elementary school to the hormonally-driven torture of middle school, I looked upon the visage of Ermey’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman as the great and enduring symbol of social intimidation. He was mean, he was loud, and, like the most effective bullies, there was never any correct answer to his questions, no way to put brakes on the shit heading in a person’s direction once his sights were set. There was even a classic bullying staple in evidence as Ermey’s character ruthlessly forces Private Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio) to choke himself, a unique twist on the old ‘stop hitting yourself’ routine. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Full Metal Jacket”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Return of the Dixiecrats

No one knows what will happen on Super Tuesday. More than likely, though, one of the Republican candidates will have their party’s nomination securely in hand. John McCain has all the momentum in the world, and despite all the rancor he raises among many conservative ideologues, his once-dead campaign seems capable of taking advantage of the breakdown in GOP solidarity. That is, his appearance of sincerity and genuineness contrasts starkly with Mitt Romney’s lack of authenticity. Romney will win the reddest of the red states, but the primaries aren’t about red and blue. The more populous states along the coast, and the least conservative, have quite a bit of weight to throw around on Tuesday, and McCain should do well in those contests, all but putting him over the top in delegates. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Return of the Dixiecrats”

Death of a Journalist

October 20, 2007 to January 4, 2008. In that span of time, not one article was posted on Missile Test. The previous three months leading up to that hiatus had been prolific ones in the life of the site. Seventeen articles posted from July 18 to October 20, an average of more than one a week. In 2006, my output for the site was dismal. Only sixteen articles. Using that as my guide, during the summer I made a decision to step up production, with the goal of posting a minimum of fifty-two articles a year. For me, that was an ambitious goal. In the life of the site, there had never been a year that maintained enough consistency to guarantee that many postings, but I had seemed to hit a stride in the last few months. Quality was as uneven as ever. After all, I am working without an editorial staff to slap me when I’m being foolish, but that’s neither here nor there. Continue reading “Death of a Journalist”

Gears and Dials, True Results

If you’ve ever harbored doubts about the reliability of touch-screen voting machines, then Clive Thompson’s article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will turn those doubts into certainty. Thompson spends thousands of words lambasting the touch-screen machines, their makers, and the local elections boards that purchased them. Near the end, Thompson puts forth an alternative system that has proven far more reliable in the past than touch-screen machines: optical scan ballots. In the interest of postulating diverse solutions to an important problem, I offer this: Continue reading “Gears and Dials, True Results”

Sports Do Not Matter

The reverberations from the Mitchell Report released last month will be felt for some time in professional baseball. One of the most prolific offensive eras in baseball history, one in which personal performance soared and the records associated with it fell, has now been tainted. In a sport that maintains a direct connection to its century-long history through its statistics, its holy numbers, anything which could damage the validity of those numbers threatens the very integrity of the sport. The report contained few surprises, but it set forth in writing just how widespread the use of performance-enhancing drugs had become in the major leagues. Most compellingly, the report named names. Continue reading “Sports Do Not Matter”

Jackasses at the Helm, Oval Office Thunderdome

Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Dennis Kucinich, all Democratic candidates for president, have withdrawn from the January 15th Michigan primary. The reason? Michigan violated Democratic National Committee rules by moving its primary forward of February 5th. In addition, all the Democratic candidates, including the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, have vowed not to campaign in Florida for identical reasons. The DNC itself has added injury to insult, vowing that no delegates from the two states will be seated at the party’s nominating convention in Denver next year if the states go through with their early primaries. All this begs the question: Have the Democrats gone insane? Continue reading “Jackasses at the Helm, Oval Office Thunderdome”

In the City, the New Immigrants

The beeping had gone on for days. Once every minute. Loud. It hadn’t bothered me at first. I noticed it during lunch. Later that day the beeping was still there, and I left the living room, retreated to my bedroom. It was strange. The only time I could remember when my bedroom was more peaceful than my living room. I’m not being a pig. Swear. My bedroom faces the street. The living room is nestled in the middle of my apartment. It’s a sanctuary, a place of peace from the noise of the street, a great buffer of contentment, and rarely was there disturbance. But that damn beeping. It was regular, dependable, and loud, in every negative and annoying way a sound could be. But after that first night, I forgot it. Parked in front of the machine, the living room took a back seat. Less living there than there should have been. But that’s the way in the age of technology, right? Continue reading “In the City, the New Immigrants”