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”

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”