It took Rome, the mightiest of empires, 525 years to decline: from Julius Caesar’s coup d’etat in 49 B.C. until the deposition, in the year 476, by Odoacer, a German chieftain, of Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman emperor. Rome’s history spans some 1230 years if 753 B.C. is taken to be the date of Rome’s founding. Rome’s rise accounted for 58% of its existence. Rome’s fall accounted for 42% of its existence, a length of rise before the fall that may be unparalled by any subsequent Western empire. If 1896 is the current mid-point of America’s post-colonial existence and if the final five years of the nineteenth century will have turned out, in history’s reckoning, to have been the transition from American rise to American fall, we’ll have reached the apex precisely at the halfway mark.
We never see when this world ends. We just dream about it. We dream of invasion, extinction, and oblivion. We fear to be the next Mayans or Aztecs with a great civilization lost, and all its people gone without a trace. Will it be Pestilence to ride her black horse across this land, bringing us down to the knees of Death? Man’s latest best friend, promising technology is the gift of future but a future that it will take, and we will be left struggling to hide from termination. No, we will never see when this world ends, but we do dream about it. We hope, we fear, and we pray. We pray that the day never comes, but in the darkest corners of our mind, we know that it will, which begs the question. Will we survive? READ MORE.
This November New Yorkers will go to the polls to vote for a replacement for incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg. Scandals and controversy have blighted the mayoral race so far but for the normal person on the outside looking in, the most interesting candidate is Christine Quinn.
If elected, the 47 year old Irish American Democrat will be the first ever woman to become mayor of New York City. Quinn would also be the first openly gay mayor of the city bursting with a population of over 8 million.
What were the Jetsons’ besides the wet dream of acceleration uninterrupted? The year is 2062. From the opening credits, it’s obvious that all the problems of nuclear annihilation, resource scarcity, and overpopulation have been solved through harmonious technological growth. Everyone gets along. Maybe the environment is still a thorn in this society’s side, what with all the buildings raised on poles high into the air, safely above sea levels.
Nevertheless, what defines the world of the Jetsons’ is how fast everything has become. Paterfamilias George Jetson works an hour a day, two days a week, and still manages a comfortable middle class paycheck. He drops his kids, Judy and Elroy, off like a space shuttle jettisoning so much cargo. It takes no time at all. See ya, kids! Jane Jetson heads off to the aptly named ‘Shopping Center’ after swiping Mr. Jestson’s wallet. Really, this all takes seconds. They even have a robot maid (hi, Rosie!) to do their dirty work quickly and efficiently. READ MORE.
Endless displays of memories frozen in time decorated empty spaces along the walls. Children laughed and chased each other from a garden of green toward a room of deep blue. Celebrations lightened up the darkest corners of the hallways, sending the light dancing down toward the stairs. The haunting gaze of a young girl took hold of all those that happened to walk by, and it was her eyes now that focused on me.
Once upon a time, this young girl was me, and forever will she be frozen in her golden frame. Her eyes were alive and haunting. Her smile was gentle and enchanting. If a glimmer of doubt could cross her face, she would be the one wondering, “Who is this stranger standing before me?”
I worked for years as a church custodian, and I always liked working funerals better than weddings. For one thing, they are usually shorter. But the expectations are lower as well, and so there’s less room for megalomaniacal drama. No one thinks that their Uncle Mike’s funeral is going to make for the most perfect, most magical, most romantic and blissful day of her life.
And so, when trivial things go wrong with a funeral — misplaced flowers, mis-printed programs, a late pianist — people generally realize that they will seem petty and foolish if they corner the sexton and yell at him about it. Weddings, in contrast, escalate expectations and do not invite such restraint. READ MORE.
The Hunger Games trilogy has evolved from the little book that could (the initial, modest success of the first novel built a spectacular momentum over time) to its status as a cultural and entertainment phenomenon. With tens of millions of books sold, and hundreds of millions of dollars generated by cinematic box office sales, Suzanne Collins’ tale of bad governments, battered psyches, and the unstoppable power of teenage sinew calls for some decoding. What explains the novels’ appeal to young men and women across the globe (the book has been translated into over two dozen languages)—and to the parents and teachers who have followed the tales with matching enthusiasm? READ MORE.
We want the ordinary life no more. We want the Ghost Hunters, the Paranormal Activity, and the Ghost Whisperer to whisper sweet darkness in our ears. We need the touch of The Dead Zone, the sight of Medium, and the courage of the Supernatural. We desire the gifted men to bring us closer to the world beyond, the ghosts that still walk with us.
They were doctors, men of science. They knew not of what we desire. They knew only their lives, but in the veil between do they slip past and find themselves caught by the other side. One haunted by his wife, and the other wavering between two worlds of life and death. Both desired normalcy, but there is no ordinary life. They are the gifted men in television shows called A Gifted Man and Saving Hope. READ MORE.
Remember some years back, when the lid was blown regarding the US’ use of torture to gather information from “terrorists”? Many were, rightly so, shocked and dismayed; people from virtually all over the world chided the US for its disgraceful disregard for ethical standards. The ACLU condemned the behavior, journalists from all walks of political life expressed their criticism, and so on and so forth. For a while, America’s use of torture, or rather, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” was met with heated vitriol, brought into the public arena for passionate debate. READ MORE.
However much a government interferes with the lives of its population it seems to never try to dictate the expression of art from its creative citizens. Over the centuries and throughout the world art has been the one medium in which people could express their concerns, hopes and dreams without political intrusion. The early and mid 20th century created a small blip, with its wars and political posturing oppressive governments used the medium and emerging film technology to instigate government controlled art and film propaganda to construct notions of statehood and patriotism in a time of conflict. The most apparent examples were the socialist realism that emerged from the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence and of course Hitler’s Germany. At present when governments try to interfere with the production of films within their own country they are target of bitter criticsism by the artistic community. READ MORE.