This Week's Top Picks.

I wrote this as though I were being interviewed. So...yeah.


Eve's Bayou "My favorite movie ever. It is absolutely, perfectly done, from the pacing to the cinematography to the mood of the time period. Jurnee Smollett's performance is masterful and should have been recognized by the Academy."

Terminator 2: Judgement Day "What I consider one of the best movies ever made. It's much more than an action movie and anyone who doesn't realize that is missing out on on so many amazing things. It actually took me years and years to realize there are three terminators in the film, not just two."

Forrest Gump "It always moves me to dwell on the contrast between Forrest's life--full of great luck and major events and success--and Jenny's, because her childhood abuse led her down such a sad, destructive path. I love how the story never shies away from how arbitrary life can seem."


Return of the Primitive, Ayn Rand "She was the perfect Aquarian! A woman who never shied away from stating her opinion loud and clear, who created her own philosophy (Objectivism), and who stuck to her beliefs and wrote passionately about the Truth at the dawn of the Postmodern era. This book of essays reflects all of that."

The Giver, Lois Lowry "This book is about a future utopia, and all that we had to leave behind in order to achieve and sustain it. It forces the reader to think about what they consider most important in life and society, and shows just how much diversity and chance are necessary evils. Really, really profound the way it's told. And, it's a 'children's book'."

Chaos and Harmony, Trinh Xuan Thuan "Interestingly, he never really shows how closely related the two things are, and only hints at how they are just different forms of the same thing. But he does his best to illiminute quantum theory, and even lends credence to the oft-discredited idea of Platonic forms."


Trouble, Ray LaMontagne "One of those perfect albums, really atmospheric, intimate. A great folk-soul acoustic song-cycle. He may never top it, and hasn't so far with his subsequent albums (not for lack of trying)."

Neptune City, Nicole Atkins "This album has its own atmosphere, too, to the point where sometimes I get uncomfortable listening to it. It is so perfectly what it is. Somehow she updated mod '60s pop without ever losing the past, so it's this synthesis of old and new with original melodies that sound familiar the first time...it's so hard to describe what a wonder this album is."

Midnight Boom, The Kills "Dirty garage band-type rock played by a duo who are so hip it hurts. But as in-your-face and, dare I say, cacophonous as their music can be, I know one thing: they know what the hell they're doing."


Unblock Me "This was the first app I got really addicted to. You have these wood blocks trapped in a square (your screen), and then there's a red block, and you have to move the blocks all around to get the red one through the little doorway on the righthand wall. It ain't easy. But the thrill of success is hard to match."

LineUp "Can't even explain how addicted I am to this. There are lines of little colored squares that keep getting added on to; you have to keep the lines from hitting the top of the screen. You can only tap areas of three or more of the same color to make them disappear. I really do feel like some poor animal in an experiment when I play this. But I can't stop."

Word Warp "You get a six-letter word, scrambled, and have to find all the words within it. If you don't find the whole word, you don't go on to the next level. For the lingual-minded."


When things go terribly wrong: Human Body Edition.

Lately I've been hearing about physical disorders that people unfortunately suffer, and it's pretty fascinating reading up on them. Granted, the reading is courtesy of Wikipedia, and I know that it's not the most reliable source, but then again, I'm not getting paid.

Today it was Kleine-Levin syndrome, dubbed "sleeping beauty syndrome." Read the wiki article here. Sufferers experience episodes anywhere from every couple of years to every couple of weeks. They will simply sleep the days away, some for as long as two weeks, only waking to eat, use the bathroom, and maybe shower. When they are awake for that precious hour or so, they appear spaced-out, childlike, and obviously sluggish. Some will exhibit a voracious appetite. Some will exhibit a voracious sexual appetite. All in all, it's a fascinating disease, one that usually appears spontaneously in the second decade of life and cures itself before old age. Doctors don't know why it happens - which always bugs me - but I want to learn more about this. I think we can actually learn a lot from it, from the behaviors exhibited when sufferers are in their waking mode.

A few weeks ago I heard that the son of a friend of a friend (sorry) had passed away due to complications from Prader-Willi syndrome. This disease usually claims the sufferers before they are twenty-one years of age. They have mild mental retardation, small hands and feet, are chronic overeaters and are, logically, oftentimes obese from a young age. Interestingly they don't actually die from the overeating, it's just a major symptom. Anyway, it's very sad that they must die so young.

(According to the Wiki article, the defect that causes Prader-Willi is similar to that which causes Angelman syndrome. When I read up on that, it was interesting to see that Angelman's is essentially a form of mental retardation--general happiness, a grasp of only the most basic skills, very late potty-training, a vocabulary of maybe five words, tops. It was interesting that the article never said it was mental retardation.)

You may have heard of Desiree Jennings, the "beautiful cheerleader" (they have to mention she's beautiful or, I guess, we won't feel sorry for her) who got the H1N1 vaccination and, ten days later, fell victim to dystonia. If you google her name you'll find videos. She suffers from chronic, manic muscle spasms that make it impossible for her move, let alone walk or perform the most basic daily functions. The only time she is able to move normally is when she is walking backward, or running. (Argh--think how much more we could learn about the human body just by studying why that is!) It even affected her speech. Now, I just saw a video today of her giving an update, and she was able to speak normally again (although she sounded very, very weary), and apparently she is being helped somewhat with treatment. It's not something that will ever go away, but she's not the only sufferer and there are things patients can try to get it under control.

Lastly, there are people who are actually born with no eyes. Specifically, no eye tissue. It's a condition called anophthalmia and while, in the video I saw, you can see this tiny, tubelike [pupil? retina?] just poking through the slit in the eyelids, essentially there is no eye there.

Sometimes I am just blown away by how intricate and fragile the human body is; how inconceivable that it all just came together on its own. (No complex machine/organism ever can) It makes it easier to understand just how quickly or early something can go wrong, though it doesn't take away the great sadness at knowing so many people in the world have to suffer.