Oval Office Thunderdome: None of the Above

What are the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy? Is there a base level of participation that is required? In some countries there is. There is no requirement in the United States that the eligible voters of the country must educate themselves about, or participate in, the choosing of our leaders. There is nothing wrong with that. It would be nice if everyone were engaged with the workings of our government and the actions of our elected representatives, but it is unrealistic to expect such a broad commitment among the electorate. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: None of the Above”

The Empty Balcony: Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia is the grandest of them all. Grand scope, grand personalities, and a grand, at times overpowering, score. The film is at or near the top of more ‘best movies ever’ lists than is worth recounting here. It is a classic, a film at the apogee of the industry’s aspirations for crafting epics. It was also a gaping hole in my experience of film. Until this weekend, I had never seen more than the first few minutes and some random clips here and there. Mostly, I had just never set aside the time. For the last few years, however, I never sought out the film because of what I know of the Middle East, and the film industry’s liberal interpretations of history. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Lawrence of Arabia”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Duck and Cover

It is difficult to believe that Senator Hillary Clinton had been misspeaking, or misremembering, as she told the story of her experience of coming under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996. She told the story multiple times. Documentary evidence has since proven the story false in the most public of ways. Instead of running for cover on the tarmac after her plane landed, press video shows her walking, smiling, with her daughter by her side. At one point, a girl handed her flowers. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Duck and Cover”

The Empty Balcony: Patton

Some actors transcend the characters they play. Some become so familiar to us that no matter the effort we make, it is impossible to suspend disbelief, to see the performance before the performer. Such is the price of fame, at least from the perspective of the audience. As an example, think of Al Pacino’s portrayal of Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross. An incredible performance from a legendary American actor, seething with Pacino’s own brand of exuberance. That role, however, was where Pacino slipped into type. Moviegoers no longer see the characters he plays. They see Al Pacino, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Patton”

All Powerful Men Are Insatiable Lusthogs

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has resigned, due to his involvement as a customer in a prostitution ring. Things happened quickly. A man and three women were arraigned for running an online prostitution ring on Thursday. The New York Times broke the story of Spitzer’s involvement on Monday afternoon. Wednesday morning, Spitzer announced his resignation. There being little question of the truth of the allegations in the Times story, combined with Spitzer’s confrontational and spotty record as governor, the swiftness of his departure is little surprise. If he had not acted, the decision would have been made for him. Continue reading “All Powerful Men Are Insatiable Lusthogs”

The Empty Balcony: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla & Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

This past week the programmers at Telefutura graced its viewers with a very special set of movies. Sunday night saw a rare return in modern television to the late night creature feature, with Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (from 2002, not to be confused with 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla). And last night came the followup, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. from 2003. Of course, Telefutura is a Spanish-language station, and I don’t speak Spanish. In addition, I didn’t mark down any listing times for these movies with an intent to tune in. I stumbled on them while flipping channels, both well into their respective story arcs. But what the hell, it’s Godzilla. Even truncated and in a foreign language, no Godzilla flick is difficult to follow. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla & Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.”

Oval Office Thunderdome: The One-Vote Doctrine

At what point in our democratic system did a close defeat at the polls constitute possible victory? Was it in 2000, when our nation seemed on the verge of descending into an ideologically driven judicial autocracy? Or was it earlier? Say, 1824, when John Quincy Adams managed to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote by more than ten points to Andrew Jackson? No matter. This article isn’t about previous elections or nominating contests. It’s about the massive freight train racing down the tracks, threatening to splinter the Democratic Party at their convention, along with any chance their subsequent nominee has of defeating Senator John McCain in November. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: The One-Vote Doctrine”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Tuesday in Ohio

I am from Ohio. A good deal of family and friends still live in Ohio. Today, most of them, their friends, family, and colleagues, voted in the Ohio presidential primary, one of four states to hold nominating contests today. Ohio has an open primary, which means that a voter may cast their vote in the primary for a candidate regardless of party affiliation. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Tuesday in Ohio”

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”