Three incredible things happened Sunday night. One: the Russian military pursued a defeated foe out of South Ossetia, demanding the surrender of an army defending a democratic nation. Two: China began to pull away from the rest of the world in the gold medal count at the Olympics. Three: The United States was shown to be powerless to stop either of these things. Continue reading “Gold Medals and Lead Bullets”
Patrick O’Brian published twenty complete Aubrey-Maturin novels in his lifetime, with an unfinished twenty-first published posthumously. The novels are writ large with swashbuckling tales of life in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Thick with naval terminology and period slang, O’Brian is quite effective at transporting reader far away from what comfortable chambers they find themselves and placing them smack on the quarterdeck of a ship of war. O’Brian’s novels are far from high-minded and haughty literary endeavor. They succeed as great historical novels through the skill of O’Brian’s narratives, not the cleverness of his prose. Like a true saltwater-in-the-veins sailor, they lose direction slightly when characters find themselves on land for extended periods, but pages fly when O’Brian throws his characters into pitched battles with superior foes (as he always does — O’Brian treats his sailors savagely, always requiring them to beat tremendous odds). Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”
You don’t actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country.
— Mark Soohoo, aide to John McCain
You actually do.
— Tracy Russo, Democratic blogger
The information revolution has left a mark on the country and the world every bit as indelible as that of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago. And while no world leader of the time could have been expected to have an industrial-sized loom or steam engine in their offices, today’s leaders should have more than just a passing knowledge of computers and the internet. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: The Technology Vote”
Pundits and scholars made bold predictions in the early ’90’s concerning the new World Wide Web’s ability to disseminate information to the masses, and while they all underestimated what the internet would become, there rose a clamor over the information itself. Good versus bad. Culture versus trash. News versus punditry. We all know which side is winning the battle for hearts and minds. This vast repository we have created for information also has an appetite of its own, craving volume to eternally build the noise to some crescendo that, at this point, remains in the far distance. Along with the opposing sides of quality and worth, there exists the obscure — information that would have been lost to time and degrading videotapes were it not for digitization. Look in any video section on any random humor website, and they are there, somewhere: excerpts from foreign, low-budget schlock cinema that has little regard for cinematic excellence or American trademark law. These inept productions laughably maul such cherished personas of pop Americana as Superman, or blatantly insert footage from Star Wars to beef up otherwise weak productions. Never meant to have much life, these turkeys were turned out for quick cash, and were it not for the great information void of the internet, would have remained in obscurity, instead of rising to the slightly more respectable level of kitsch. Continue reading “Film in the Tubes: The Italian Spiderman Movie”
Excessive weather must be experienced firsthand to understand the true abstractness of the phenomena. Using words to describe the urgency of such moments is difficult, especially in conveying the thin line our psyches walk, knowing that bad decisions, or merely being unprepared, could lead to disaster. What we call normal becomes so through repetition, and does not just encompass things we do, places we see, people we meet, etc. It’s also the environment in which we live. Quick shifts that push the boundaries of our experiences with that environment can leave a person stunned, if only momentarily. Continue reading “Bright Light, Big Valley”
The film 30 Days of Night, adapted from the popular graphic novel, was marketed as a modern update on classical vampires. A break from pattern, these creatures of the night were more fearsome, more violent, more bloodthirsty, than any that had been onscreen before. Indeed, the vampires of 30 Days of Night are not Anne Rice’s cultured charmers, nor are they the stealthy apparitions of Bram Stoker, although their physical appearance pays homage to the Dracula of the classic film Nosferatu. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: 30 Days of Night”
Oh, man. Just...oh, man. Resident Evil: Extinction is one of the worst wide-release films ever made. It’s a film so lacking in quality that the fact it found success at the box office has whittled away a bit more of my confidence in the judgment of mankind. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Resident Evil: Extinction”
The Belmont Stakes was just run, and Big Brown did not win. The heavy favorite, the horse spent most of the race in third, and faded significantly down the stretch. So once again, there will be no Triple Crown winner in horse racing for at least another year. Continue reading “Guess He Needed the ‘Roids, After All”
Sundays are usually pretty slow for me. The day and evening tend to drift by, lost in the newspaper, a book, televised sports, leisurely cooking, and the occasional shitty movie. It was late one Sunday that I came across an awful latter-day Godzilla film dubbed into Spanish (that I subsequently reviewed, along with its sequel). I usually get all heavy thinking out of the way before the sun goes down, and a mindless movie is a great complement to the relaxed nature of a Sunday evening. Paradoxically, this past Sunday’s fare, while mindless, was also frenetic and violent. But it was enough to satisfy the craving for bad cinema that I think all of us have a weak spot for. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Doom”
The numbers were clear. She was cooked, done, finished. Prolonging things any longer, unnecessarily, had dark tinges to it. Were she and all her people suffering from mass delusions, common throughout history among generals and emperors who continue the fight to the last man after the wars are lost? In short, was this bunker mentality? Pray and wait for a miracle? Who knows? It could happen. Problem is, it never does. Defeat doesn’t magically change to victory because one wants it bad enough. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: Scorched Earth”