- Yes, most of the Nigerian girls Boko Haram kidnapped are still missing.
- It’s possible that Mittens was right about Russia.
- Jimi Hendrix died this week in 1970, he was 27 years old. In memoriam, read his 1969 interview with Rolling Stone, then watch “Voodoo Child.”
- NASA just found a massive black hole (it has the mass of 21 million suns) inside one of the densest galaxies ever seen.
- How the day of Scotland’s independence vote looked in newspapers.
- One way to boost the economy: Legalize same-sex marriage.
- If this doesn’t work, then yes, troops on the ground in the Middle East (again).
- The Benghazi hearing where something useful might actually be accomplished.
- Print and read: How Ebola jumped from a fruit bat to a child and then fooled everybody into thinking it was cholera.
A Nietszche-loving disgruntled German doctor and his worshipful, sickly wife; a “Baroness” who believes no man can resist her; an isolated island; weaponry and jealousy. How could anything go wrong? The story of how it really, really did is the subject of The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, one of the year’s curiouser documentaries.
The Galapagos Affair is on DVD and Blu-ray now. My review is at PopMatters:
In 1929, a certain kind of European man apparently thought nothing of packing up and moving himself and his family to a remote cluster of islands far off the coast of Ecuador … The first couple to arrive on the tiny and uninhabited island of Floreana was Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch. From his and Dore’s writings, it’s clear that Friedrich was a walking stereotype of the clueless Germanic intellectual, so slavishly devoted to his beloved Nietzsche that reality didn’t stand a chance. A successful doctor who believed society to be “a huge impersonal monster,” Friedrich moved them to Floreana in order to “make an Eden.” That they were both married at the time to other people and didn’t know much of anything about surviving in the wild wasn’t deemed an obstacle…
Here’s the trailer:
20,000 Days on Earth is a meta-fictional documentary about Nick Cave, art, life, death, and above all writing. It’s beautiful and transfixing and is opening in limited release this Wednesday.
My review is at Film Journal International:
The last thing that audiences need is another documentary about the greatness of another band or artist of the past. It’s all too easy once artists have their glory days behind them to lock all that rough chaos up into a neatly packaged movie, maybe a box set filled with B-sides and rarities. That doesn’t mean that the likes of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Finding Fela and A Band Called Death aren’t worthy films. But today’s documentary audiences could be forgiven for thinking that to be a music fan today is akin to being an archivist. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s new documentary about Australian Goth-poet Nick Cave is a long overdue reversal of that nostalgic trend…
You can see the trailer here:
Having a hard time getting started on that blank page? Every writer has their tried-and-true cures for the block—taking a walk, playing with the cat, etc. But even those will eventually run up against the dread lack of inspiration.
In those scenarios, prompts are the kind of thing that never hurt. Writer’s Digest has a handy repository of them here, ranging from things like mysterious monsters on a ship to zombie-killing and a pun competition.
Anything to get the juices flowing.
Does this list say something about who’s using Facebook? In yet another of the listicles that they’re famous for, BuzzFeed shows the Top 20 books most beloved by Facebook users. With the exception of the number one pick (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?), it’s pretty much what you would expect:
- Great Modern Novels I Had To Read In School But Actually Liked (1984, The Great Gatsby)
- Books That I Read 50 Million Times As A Child And Whisked Me Away Somewhere Magical Each Time (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lord of the Rings)
- Actual Classics That Tend Not To Be Assigned In School Anymore (Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice)
- Self-Help Creed Masked As Literature (The Alchemist)
- The Only Book I Read In The Past Few Years (The Hunger Games)
- Outlier (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Bible)
When you dig into the full dataset that Facebook made available, particularly the full Top 100 list, a few more surprises pop up. There’s a heavier sprinkling of modern YA, plus the occasional religious text (The Book of Mormon). But what’s fascinating is just how overwhelmingly genre the list is, compared to what it might have been a few years ago. Even though many mainstream readers barely know who they are, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, Alan Moore, Robert Heinlein, and Robert Jordan all make appearances here.
This begs the question: Are Facebook users geekier than the population at large, or as the percentage of adults who actually read books falls every year, are genre fans just the ones more likely to keep reading books as opposed to tweets?
Also: is it a problem that the number-one book is Harry Potter? After all, according to Scientific American, children who were read to from those books acted more compassionately afterwards.
- It’s not just Ferguson that needs investigating, it’s the whole county.
- 2013’s worst Cardinals fan tweets.
- What happens after robots have taken everybody’s jobs? Also: how then will people get paid? And: Robot restaurants, coming soon to a strip mall near you.
- Literate millennials: More people under 30 years old read a book in the last 12 months then their elders.
- Could TMZ win a Pulitzer for the Ray Rice video?
- Junk food is better for the environment than healthy food … sort of.
- Thirty years later: Miller’s Crossing.
- Print and read: The angry moms who could take down the NRA.
Wars aren’t fought just by armies and weapons. They also need intelligence, which requires spies, who often need to betray everyone around them. It’s a tricky business.
The Green Prince, about a Palestinian who risked his life to spy for Israel, opens tomorrow in limited release.
My review is at Film Racket:
Restrained, clinical, and yet full-hearted, The Green Prince is one of the year’s, and maybe ultimately the decade’s, great spy stories. A two-hander about betrayal, shame, honor, and murky motivations, it includes nothing more than two men — one an Israeli intelligence operative and the other his Palestinian source — telling their part of a sprawling and many years’ long operation to undermine Hamas. Director Nadav Schirman stitches together their crisp, well-honed interview segments with a textured mosaic of surveillance footage and the fortunately occasional live-action reenactment into a nearly seamless whole. The result both outdoes the invented drama of many a spy thriller and raises more ethical quandaries than can be easily dispensed with…
You can see the trailer here: