Two Pictures

I was catching up on my New York Times just last night, and came across two pictures that really gut-punched me.

Halima, a resident of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, is the distraught mother of a 22-year-old militiaman hit in the brain by a bullet. Behind her, a wall in her home is ridden with bullet holes from neighborhood fighting.

This is a picture of a woman whose son is now a vegetable from a stray bullet lodged in his brain. The story talks more about it, but it was the picture’s beauty that really grabbed my eye.

Keri Russell, left, and Adrienne Shelly on the final day of production for Ms. Shelly’s film “Waitress.”

This ran in an article about Waitress, a movie being exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival. The picture struck me as uncommonly happy, but the gut-punch came from the article’s revelation that Adrienne Shelly had been killed before finding out that her film had been accepted for Sundance. It’s one of the happiest smiles I’ve ever seen, which makes her death all the harder. Aside from that, it really has me even more motivated to do the things that matter, just in case I don’t get to finish everything.

Oh, and this is my first Facebook note, so I imagine I’ll be writing more of these. Now here’s to crossing my fingers and hoping that it imports properly

Upcoming Films

For the first time in a while, there are quite a few upcoming films that look to have an incredible amount of promise. Most of them are due out in theaters by the end of the year, but there’s one that won’t be out until October 2007.

The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky’s next film looks like the most promising fantasy movie in years, spanning three time periods (1500s, 2500s, and the present day) and tying them all up using some nifty themes and beautiful, beautiful imagery. I have to consciously limit my consumption of the trailer because it’s a work of art in itself. The buzz on this one from the Cannes and Venice film festivals was awful, but the public screening a day after Venice went stunningly well, and I’ve heard nothing but raves about the Toronto International Film Festival screening. November 22nd will be an excellent day.

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Stu.dicio.us Review – A New Tool for Students

On The Potential Blog‘s excellent post on ways to make your lecture notes more readable, a commenter pointed out a new service called Stu.dicio.us. While the name could be taken in a different manner, the service is aimed at students and features note-taking, to-do lists, and wraps it all up in a spiffy interface. The really killer feature is the social sharing of noteslike this one – which could theoretically allow for some neat stuff. If this site takes off, it could seriously change how students learn in classes. In practice, though, I think there would be a backlash from professors and school administrators against students sharing information from classes online. In the meantime, Stu.dicio.us is useful for anyone who finds that Writeboard or other wikis don’t fit their academic needs.

Click on the screenshots below to view them in a larger size.

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Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut

After many late-night watchings, rewatchings, rewatchings-with-commentary, and documentaries, I have decided that Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut is the finest film I’ve ever seen. And the movie reviews you read when it was released were all right too, even though they slammed it as a film. I’ve been trying to unravel exactly where this movie went from sucking to not sucking, and the results of my investigation are below.

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Unusual (and sometimes funny) Deaths

In addition to offering up the usual encyclopedic entries, Wikipedia also cultivates some pages that are best described as “amalgamated awesomeness”. One of those is their List of unusual deaths. This is the type of thing that can’t easily be searched for, but once gathered is incredibly hilarious. The list spans from the Greeks to the present time, and here’s a small snippet of the best ones:

  • 456 BC: Aeschylus, Greek dramatist, according to legend, died when a vulture, mistaking his bald head for a stone, dropped a tortoise on it.
  • 1695: Henry Purcell, composer died of a chill after returning late from the theatre one night and finding that his wife had locked him out. Or possibly chocolate poisoning.
  • 1888: Charles-Valentin Alkan, composer and pianist, died when a bookcase collapsed on him when he was reaching for a copy of the Talmud from the top shelf.
  • 1923: Frank Hayes, jockey, suffered a heart attack during a horse race. The horse, Sweet Kiss, went on to finish first, making Hayes the only deceased jockey to win a race.

As this is Wikipedia, and some of the items on the list don’t link to full articles, you can’t completely trust anything on the list. That chocolate poisoning item looks particularly suspicious. Still, it’s worth a good laugh. Some of the absurdly gruesome ones are also entertaining.

Also entertaining in the same vein is sister-project Wikiquote’s collection of famous last words.

Best 100 Novels since 1923, according to Time Magazine

So Time magazine has come out with the 100 best novels since 1923. While this is labeled the All-Time 100 Novels, I’ll excuse the mistake as a clever pun. Anyway, the list is a wonderful mix, although the non-inclusion of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle is a gross error in my opinion. Snow Crash being on the list is a nice consolation prize. Also included was The Watchmen, something that absolutely blew me away. I think the movie was cancelled/indefinately-delayed, which is good. It works much, much better in an episodic format.

Anyway, aside from the two entries mentioned, I’ve read 13 more of the books in alphabetical order:

  • Animal Farm (yay? It’s been too long)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (bleh, nothing special)
  • A Clockwork Orange (great novel, fantastic movie)
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop (run far far away)
  • The Great Gatsby (characters struck me as nothing special, although a close friend adores it)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (didn’t like it as a kid, don’t like it now)
  • Lord of the Flies (themes have since been done better by The Thing and Battlestar Galactica)
  • The Lord of the Rings (totally awesome and epic; have read many times)
  • Native Son (pretty good, despite being assigned reading in HS)
  • 1984 (does anyone actually remember the plot, or just the world?)
  • Ragtime (assigned reading in the same class as Native Son, but much less compelling)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (overrated tripe)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (not the most enriching and wide-ranging novel, but so perfect in clarity and character that it’s a must-read)

So yeah, I’m moderately-well-read. However, Infinite Jest is on my bookshelf awaiting completion of the Baroque Cycle (along with A Song of Ice and Fire series), so I’ll be 5% further done with the list. *sigh*

Update (January 23rd, 2007):  In the time since I posted this, I’ve managed to finish the Baroque Cycle (and it was excellent), but A Song of Ice and Fire and Infinite Jest have still fallen by the wayside. As far as the list goes, I read The Crying of Lot 49. I did rush through it, but it was enjoyable for doing an excellent job of depicting paranoia.