Tag Archives: Tyler Hicks

“Flight” is a compelling movie, but I’m not sure it was good. “Homeland” makes my head spin. And Tyler Hicks’ amazing photos of Gaza

Sometimes you go to a movie and as the credits role, you can’t stop smiling at how good it was, and you don’t want to get up and ruin the moment.
Othertimes you go to a movie and it’s so disappointing that you want to run out of the theater the minute it’s finished.
And then there are times like I experienced last weekend, after “Flight.” I sat there kind of dumbfounded, trying to decide in my own head whether I liked it or not, and whether it was any good.

There were lots of good parts; if you have seen it already you’d probably agree. Denzel Washington was terrific as pilot Whip Whitaker, the plane in a storm sequence in the beginning was beautifully shot, and John Goodman, well, he’s just jolly good fun whenever he’s on screen these days. I thought the way they showed Whip’s inner demons, his wild mood swings thanks to alcohol, and his troubled relationship with his son were all spot-on.

But there were some really strange holes in the plot, and odd decisions made, too. Like what the point was of the redhead Nicole, other than to give Whip someone to play off of? She disappears halfway through the movie and isn’t missed one bit?
And the whole final scene with the NTSB lady Ellen Block just played out really oddly to me, like nobody knew exactly where she was going with her line of questioning, including Ellen Block herself.

Still, if you haven’t seen it, I tentatively recommend “Flight.” If nothing else, you get to see John Goodman in two or three hilarious scenes, which is worth the $13 ticket price.

**What another heart-racing, pulse-pounding, what-are-they-gonna-do-next episode of “Homeland.”
I swear, each hour of this show has me scratching my head in confusion, awe, and sheer joy at how good of a show this is.
This week brought lots of questions, including…
— The biggest hole in believability this week was that the CIA was utterly and totally convinced that Nasir would be dumb enough to actually be directly involved in the “homecoming explosion” mission, and that he’d actually be in one of the cars in the parking lot. Why would Nazir take such a risk, when he’s not even sure he can trust our hero Nick Brody anymore? Just seemed like a silly assumption by the CIA.

– So Quinn, after all this time, is actually an assassin hired by a rogue former CIA Agent named Daradell, and he was two seconds from killing Brody in that limo? And who is that baby mama policewoman? And is Quinn going to get back at Saul, now that he knows it was him who interrogated the baby mama? So many fascinating questions around Quinn. He’s become a very interesting character.

So many great things about this episode, including Brody still leaving us guessing as to which side he’s on. I’m even willing to put aside the ridiculousness of Jessica deciding to shtup Mike while her kids are in the next room and they may be killed at any moment. Come on, she can’t be that horny.

Three episodes left, and I have absolutely no idea what will happen. Which I love.

**Finally, I’ve written before about my admiration for my one-time co-worker and current incredible New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks. The man is fearless and brave and a remarkable storyteller with his images, and he was at it again last week in Gaza. Check out this slideshow of images from the awful fighting, and read his thoughts about how he deals with seeing so much devastation every day.

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A few words on my awful handwriting, and critiqueing others. The last days of Anthony Shadid, as told by the journalist who tried to save him. And making great art using just salt

**Today, a few words about handwriting, and irony.

If you know me, or were a classmate of mine at any level of school, you are aware I have the worst handwriting known to man. If I’m not the worst, I’m at least in the photo. I’m a lefty, I write fast, and I write sloppily.

It’s a problem that’s plagued me since second grade, when my teacher Mrs. Broudny had the audacity to tell me I had “the worst handwriting she’d ever seen in all her years of teaching.” (Maybe it was true, but do you really tell that to a 7-year-old?)
I learned to type in the fifth grade, and except for greeting cards, writing checks, and illegible phone messages scrawled out, my awful penmanship hasn’t been that big a problem as an adult (As a journalist it had an added benefit: I knew my fellow writers wouldn’t be able to copy my notes).

Still, it’s something I feel badly about.

So when I got into this whole teaching racket into which I’m now dipping a few toes, I knew there’d come a time when I’d have to criticize another kid’s chicken scratchings. I dreaded that time, but alas, that time has come.
On some essays I was grading the other night I told a student on top of his paper that he “needs to work on handwriting.”

It’s the kind of comment I got ALL the time as a student, and it usually stung a little. I felt bad writing it on this kid’s paper, but maybe there’s hope for him yet. Maybe he’ll take the time to improve, and it won’t be a lifelong problem for him.

Maybe he won’t turn out like me. I half feel like going over to him when we return the essays and showing him my writing, to make him feel better. But no, that might only scare him.

Instead, I just sit here with a twinge of irony crawling across my cranium, as I, possessor of illegibility, have criticized anothers.

**My best friend Clay sent this along and it goes right with that clip I posted last week of the dude who made a drawing of Conan O’Brien using only Cheetos.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, art with salt, done by a guy named Bashir Sultani (see more of his amazing work here.)

This is pretty incredible stuff… though I have to believe dude was on drugs when he first started doing this.

**Finally, I wrote a few weeks ago about the tragic death of the journalist Anthony Shadid, a heroic and brilliant war correspondent who died in Syria of, of all things, an asthma attack.

Tyler Hicks, an outstanding war photographer, was with Shadid when he died, and because he did not want Shadid’s reporting to die with him, he has written this excellent dispatch about what life was like in Syria when Shadid passed (If you read only one part, read Page 4, which has the details of his death. Riveting.)

The whole piece is interesting and tragic and well worth reading.

Celebrating two extraordinary lives that ended Thursday, Gary Carter and Anthony Shadid. And some awesome winter photos

I was going to continue with Good News Friday like usual today, but the tragic deaths of two wonderful human beings Thursday forced me to shelve that idea. Each of them deserves to be thought about and appreciated today.

The first death that saddened me was that of Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher for the Mets and Expos. Carter was 57, and had been suffering from a brain tumor.
There’s no way to picture Gary Carter without thinking of his smile. It was enormous, room-filling, and so genuine. There might not have been a baseball player alive who enjoyed the game and showed it more than “The Kid.” He was the cornerstone of the 1986 Mets, and a catcher who played the game with verve, passion and a whole lot of skill for his whole career.

He was mocked, in the media and by his peers, for his “good-guy” persona, and he seemed too good to be true (he even wanted to take his wife on road trips, which in baseball circles is kinda like worshipping the devil).

But Carter was the genuine article, a decent man who enjoyed life and played the game the right way. He will be immensely missed. Two fabulous tributes to Carter I read Thursday night were this from SI’s superb Tom Verducci and this story from my buddy Pearlman in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s video of Carter’s last hit in the major leagues, from September, 1992 with the Expos. The outpouring of love can be felt through the screen…

The second death I mourned Thursday night is a man who was legendary in my former profession as a journalist. To say Anthony Shadid was a foreign correspondent is like calling Einstein an inventor, or Michael Jordan an athlete. For three newspapers over 15 years, most recently the New York Times, Shadid saw the horrors of war up close, reported on them, and then wrote some of the most beautiful prose you can imagine.
So many people in journalism are great reporters. Others are great writers. It’s very, very rare for someone to be both. Shadid went into the worst places in the world and survived, putting names, faces and humanity into the stories of Iraqis, Afghans, and recently, Libyans. Only 43 years old, it is cruelly ironic that after surviving battlefields forever, he died of an asthma attack.

His friend Tyler Hicks, a world-class photographer and with whom Shadid had been kidnapped with last year, carried his body from Syria to safety in Turkey.

Shadid was a giant in the field, and his loss is a great one. Here is a story he wrote to win one of this two Pulitzer Prizes, here is his obituary from the N.Y. Times, and here is a link to some of his other “greatest hits.”

Gary Carter and Anthony Shadid. Two very different men, but both leave an immeasurable hole in the hearts of many.

**And now, a few happy thoughts. I’m on vacation for a week starting today, as the junior high I’m working at closes for mid-winter break (thank you, Presidents Lincoln and Washington for this holiday! The exhausted teachers of America salute you!).

College basketball is getting insanely exciting as it usually does in mid-February; Michigan State got a big win Thursday, my Duke boys pulled another David Copperfield act (seriously, this is the most bizarre Duke team of my lifetime as a fan), and Florida State pulled off another miracle, too. Can’t wait for March Madness.

And here’s a lovely gallery of people skating through the winter. These pictures hopefully will bring a smile to your face, as they did mine. They’re courtesy of Boston.com’s The Big Picture, a site I love and tout frequently on here.

My old friend Tyler Hicks survives kidnapping in Libya, and tells about it. Mascot Madness. And a really splashy world record

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You ever meet someone in your life and you think, “Man, that guy is just cool. He totally has life figured out?”
That’s kind of how I felt when I first met Tyler Hicks (that’s him, above) in 1997. I was working at the Wilmington Star-News as a young sportswriter fresh out of college. Tyler was just a few years older than me, and he was a staff photographer. Hard to describe Tyler other than saying he was kind of like Dan Cortese’s character on “Seinfeld” that one time; just a guy who floated through life, happily and acting goofy. He was a sweet guy who was always friendly and always took great pictures.
I lost track of Tyler for a few years after he and I both left Wilmington, and then saw that he’d landed at the New York Times, as a war photographer.
His photographs were nothing short of amazing. Every once in a while I’d pick up The Times and see Tyler’s photo credit on pictures from Serbia, or Iraq, or Bosnia, and be amazed at how good he was, and marvel that this was the same guy who used to shoot New Hanover vs. Laney high school tennis matches I was covering.
I don’t want to exaggerate my relationship with Tyler; we haven’t talked in many years, but I always followed his career and was happy he was doing well.
As you probably have heard by now, Tyler and three other journalists were kidnapped while in Libya last week, and for four days they endured horrendous treatment and conditions.
Tuesday the Times published a first-person account from Tyler and the three others, and it’s absolutely compelling reading.
This is happening more and more to my fellow reporters all over the world; dictators think that by capturing members of the press, they can stop the flow of information.
Fortunately, Tyler and the others survived. Knowing Tyler, he probably can’t wait to go back to Libya.
Though personally, I wish he’d go back to shooting high school tennis matches. Rarely do you get kidnapped from those.

**So you may have noticed if you read this blog a lot that I love, love, love mascot stories. I am truly fascinated by people who dress up in funny costumes and wear giant feet just to entertain thousands.
A Maryland TV station recently hosted the 2011 Mascot Madness competition, and the results, well, who cares? I just had some good laughs watching them play basketball.

**Finally, a short video of a crazy stuntman. This is Professor Splash, and this is him diving 35 feet off the ground, down into a kiddy pool filled with shallow water.
I have no idea how he didn’t kill himself doing this. Guess that’s why he’s a stuntman.