Oval Office Thunderdome: In on the Big Secret

Former senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama for president yesterday evening. The endorsement came during an Obama rally in Michigan and was timed to coincide with the television networks’ nightly news coverage. In addition, coming one day after Obama suffered a huge defeat in the Democratic primary in West Virginia, the endorsement was designed to steal the spotlight from Hillary Clinton. At least, that is what I learned from watching the news. Therein lies something I’ve always found odd about political coverage, and election coverage in particular. Anyone who pays attention to the news has to have noticed the phenomenon, as well. That is, reporting on politics contains a large amount of analysis of tactics and strategy. Seemingly, more analysis than actual reporting. This has the effect of turning viewers and readers into vicarious participants in the campaigns. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: In on the Big Secret”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien

Always beware when a series of films has been labeled a franchise. Often it can mean that any effort to bring quality to the screen has been abandoned to embrace the industry’s insulting perceptions of mass taste. Such has been the fate of the Alien series of movies. The last entry that remained within the original continuity, Alien: Resurrection, was so awful it effectively killed the series. Since then, it has truly embraced the franchise label, making reality longstanding plans to team up with the Predator franchise, following a trail the comic book wings of the two brands began blazing in the 1980’s. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien”


At this very moment, American troops are engaged in a running gun battle with the Mahdi Army in Sadr City, Baghdad. In order to push Moqtada al-Sadr’s control of the area back to a point where his militia’s rockets lack the range to reach the Green Zone, where the American embassy and Iraqi government offices lie, a decision was made to take on Sadr’s forces in a sort of follow up to ongoing actions in Basra. In a disturbing instance that is becoming an alarming trend, Iraqi troops, allied with the Americans, abandoned their positions in the middle of the fight, leaving U.S. forces to face the brunt of Mahdi resistance. Continue reading “Iraq”

The Empty Balcony: The Matrix

Science fiction is not only the province where the wonder of our imaginations resides, it is also where nagging fear for the safety of mankind finds a home. The best science fiction stretches human timelines to the unbelievable. Also, it reminds us of what is possible. Because we can imagine it, it follows that eventually, it will be done. Some time in the future we will gaze upward at foreign skies with unfamiliar constellations, Sol but one of the infinite dots twinkling in a new sky. We will wander so far from our home for so long it will become legend, rumored to have once been an unthinkable place where thousands of generations could only dream of seizing the stars, when light years were vast and distance still had meaning. It’s possible. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Matrix”

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.”