October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens

Alien is an artful film. It is frightening and suspenseful, but it also has operatic grace and gritty realism, despite being set mostly aboard a spaceship. It’s hard to imagine Alien spawning a sequel so tonally different yet still so successful, but Aliens does just that. The two films are poles apart, sharing with each other only the alien creatures and Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role from the first film as Ripley. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens”

Oval Office Thunderdome: It Works

The Democratic nominating process is near an end. Supposedly. Last night, Hillary Clinton crushed Barack Obama in Kentucky, but lost to him in Oregon. Due to the party’s rules for apportioning delegates, the math has been against Clinton for months now. In order to grab the nomination, the lopsided victories she has garnered in Kentucky and in West Virginia last week would have had to have been the norm since at least the beginning of March in order for her to have any hope of erasing Obama’s delegate lead. But, she has not been able to string together such large victories. Clinton will not be the nominee. Continue reading “Oval Office Thunderdome: It Works”

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”

Iraq

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”