Oval Office Thunderdome: The Maps

Months and months went by and we all saw the maps. Generally shaded in five or six colors, shades of red, blue, and yellow or grey with new names, new notations and definitions. Strong Obama blue, weak Obama blue, strong McCain red, weak McCain pink and tossup yellow or undecided grey. New additions to the Crayola 64? Not likely, but someday soon may see Democratic blue and Republican red in crayon boxes throughout America’s elementary schools, simplifications of two colors that have become so associated with American political ideology and identity that the shift may be permanent. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: The Maps”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Things Come Together

Waving the Flag

New York City exploded when Barack Obama was called as the victor Tuesday night. Harlem, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Times Square, all these places and more, filled with people celebrating Obama’s win. These images are from Union Square approximately half an hour after Obama delivered his victory speech. The sounds of whooping and cheering could be heard for blocks, reverberating off the concrete and glass of the surrounding buildings. New York wasn’t alone. A quick search on flickr turned up more than 20,000 photographs uploaded since Wednesday morning of gatherings all over the country, from Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, etc. This was a deeply moving sight to behold, an expulsion of eight years of frustration and anger in a single, affirming moment. It was as if even Americans had doubts about our nation’s ability to achieve greatness, to rise above. The celebration was raucous because we proved ourselves wrong, and have begun healing the damage done by the Bush presidency.

Oval Office Thunderdome: Missile Test Predicts!

Prediction is a science. Just ask any physicist. The functioning of the universe operates within well-established rules of probability. The margins are slim, but real. For example, there is a slight chance, 1 in 1 trillion trillion trillion, that when placing your hand on a wall, it will pass right through. This isn’t magic — it’s physics. Missile Test takes politics every bit as seriously as science. As such, Missle Test has spent painstaking minutes theorizing, experimenting, and rigorously analyzing all the factors that will decide this election. These are not just predictions, but will be proven as immutable fact after election day. There is no margin of error on this page. We deal with realities. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Missile Test Predicts!”

Oval Office Thunderdome: If the Dead Could Talk…

The best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the...courage of everyday Americans, those who are...fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform...

— Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin, addressing a McCain rally in North Carolina

Since the war in Iraq began, 67 residents of the city of New York, where I live, have been killed in the conflict. This number does not include those that have died in Afghanistan, nor those from the wider New York metropolitan area. In fact, from areas of the country that Sarah Palin presumably regards as not pro-America, i.e., from states that voted for John Kerry in the 2004 election, 1,789 service members have been killed. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: If the Dead Could Talk...”

Film in the Tubes: The Herbivore

The contributors to Wikipedia define outsider art as art “created outside the boundaries of official culture.” They also define folk art as “generally produced by people who have little or no academic artistic training, nor a desire to emulate ‘fine art’.” Internet filmmaker James Rolfe has gained attention for his in-character video reviews of retro videogames, and also for his film reviews. Before he was a viral star, Rolfe made over a hundred short films, starting at an early age. These films are strictly low-rent, mostly made on his parents’ home video camera. As such, they mostly show the over-active imagination of a hyperactive child. Some of them are purely playtime — Rolfe hanging out with friends and convincing them to whirl around plastic swords while he tapes. But, in 1997, he hit gold. Continue reading “Film in the Tubes: The Herbivore”

Mike Likes His Job

Michael Bloomberg is a popular and successful mayor. The city has thrived with him in City Hall. Increases in crime that have bedeviled other large cities in the United States these past years have either been non-existent or far less severe, depending on the category, while police tactics have been less punitive than they were under Rudy Giuliani. A troubled budgetary state following Giuliani’s largess and misspending was stabilized. Public schools have a higher graduation rate since the city took control of their operations. New York has been a leader in an aggressive pursuit of illegal firearms sales. Bloomberg has also been a consummate advocate for the city, traveling to Washington to secure fair treatment from a government too willing to ignore the problems of big cities. Continue reading “Mike Likes His Job”

We Are Being Fucked

The White House has sent a $700 billion bailout package to Congress for approval. Add that to the approximately $815 billion of the current costs of the various bailouts and emergency loans, and the housing collapse is now costing the American taxpayers over one and a half trillion dollars. That’s trillion, with a “t”. Or, this: $1,500,000,000,000.00. That is a staggering amount of money. Combine that with what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing, and the budget deficit, and the next president has just had all the discretionary spending of the next term wiped out. Continue reading “We Are Being Fucked”

The Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China

As I was watching John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China recently, I was struck by the familiarity of the material. I felt I had seen it before, but in some other context. Confined, mazelike, and windowless environments; various tricks and traps the heroes must overcome; goons, monsters, and the bosses that control them, etc. And there it is. Big Trouble in Little China plays like a videogame. Considering it was released in 1986, before videogames became complex enough to compare, does that mean John Carpenter was breaking new ground, that Big Trouble in Little China is ahead of its time? No. It just reaffirms that the pacing and storytelling of today’s videogames are derivative of cinema. There are plenty of other films from around the same time that are akin to videogames (Aliens, Commando, and Total Recall all come immediately to mind, among many others). Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China”