Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong is a personal hero of mine. Not because he was the first American to set foot on the moon, but because he was the first person to do so. He was the first person to set foot on any natural celestial body outside of the earth. That accomplishment is not a national accomplishment. It is an historic accomplishment. He didn’t do it alone. Thousands of people, thousands of hard workers and great minds made the Apollo missions possible. While it was an American effort (with German assist), in direct competition with the Soviet Union, the payoff could be celebrated by all — something Armstrong understood and stated in his immortal words upon hopping off the lander. Continue reading “Neil Armstrong”

The Empty Balcony: The Arrival

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the ’90s. In that decade, Hollywood fell in love with CGI. Not because it looked good, or that it served to immerse a viewer further into a film. It certainly did not matter that CGI was still in its infancy — that there were better methods for applying visual effects to film. Nor was there a sense of charity on the part of the studios — a nurturing instinct meant to develop a process that was clearly important to the future of film. Goodness, no. CGI was cheaper than traditional F/X, that’s all. And boy, did it look cheap. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Arrival”

Oval Office Thunderdome: Paul Ryan

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been sputtering. Under a relentless attack from the Obama campaign, while holding to a steadfast refusal to define its candidate or his policies, the Romney campaign has had to face up to the fact that without a change in trajectory, they cannot win. Enter Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Continue readingOval Office Thunderdome: Paul Ryan”

The Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention

The Dark Knight Rises movie posterChristopher Nolan has wrapped up his epic interpretation of the Batman saga, and the viewing public has benefited greatly. After two of the most epic and well-made superhero films of all time, and fine films in their own right, the tale comes to an end this summer. Nolan, and his screenwriter brother Jonathan, should be credited with legitimizing and dragging into believability an aged franchise that at times wears its history and legacy as a seventy-year-old burden.

Only the most basic of continuity from the DC Comics characters remain in the Nolan retelling. Ra’s al Ghul? Dead after one film. Joker? One film and done (extenuating circumstances do apply). Two-Face? Dead, and a far cry from the criminal mastermind of the comics. Even Scarecrow, a stalwart of the Rogues Gallery, saw his menace pass with Batman Begins, settling for mere cameo in the subsequent films.

One of the things regular readers of the serialized Batman comics can count on is the lack of finality in any story. Sure, Joker, or Killer Croc, or Zsasz will wreak their havoc upon Gotham City and its inhabitants, but Batman always prevails, and Arkham Asylum welcomes the vanquished villain with open, inadequately secured arms, sure to let their ward escape to challenge the Masked Manhunter again...editors willing. Continue reading “The Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention”

The Empty Balcony: The Virgin Spring

Ingmar Bergman is one of those foreign film geniuses that is an acquired taste. Brilliant as he was, his stuff is hard watching for anyone raised on standard Hollywood fare. He was an artist. He put art to film. He was even able to pull off wearing a beret. Not many guys can. Art is often hard to digest, and The Virgin Spring is no different. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Virgin Spring”