Just a quick self-promotional tout before we get started; I wrote a story for ThriveSports.com on John Daly, a U.S. Olympian from Smithtown, N.Y. who’ll be competing in the skeleton at the Sochi Games. He’s a really nice guy who may get a medal, though I think his sport is totally crazy.
There are some jobs that I would never, ever want to do, not for $1 million per year in salary, or even more.
Police officer. Firefighter. Museum security guard (seriously, he has to stand there for eight hours in the same spot all day? How do you not go insane doing that?).
But the job I would want the absolute least right now belongs to Kenneth Feinberg. He’s the guy who, since the 9/11 tragedy, has been the “Special Master” in a host of horrific U.S. disasters. What Feinberg does is put a price tag on each family or victim’s suffering, and decide what they’ll be compensated for from the victims’ fund that has been set up.
Since 9/11, he’s worked on the Virginia Tech massacre, the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and a host of others. This man, literally, has to deal with unspeakable pain and tragic loss all the time, weigh all the facts, and then determine that person’s life is worth this, and but this life is worth more.
Even more excruciatingly, Feinberg meets with the victims of these tragedies and their families before making a decision, having to look into their eyes and hear their pain. Just an unbelievably hard job.
It’s a job without precedent in history, and one that had never really fully been explained before. Chris Jones of Esquire, whose work I tout on the blog often, has written a sensational profile of Feinberg in this month’s issue.
Here’s a quick excerpt; the whole story can be found here.
“Bad things happen to good people every day,” Feinberg says. Why do those bad things happen when they do, and why is our collective response to them just as unpredictable? Why do some who die suddenly and horribly deserve compensation and public keening while others do not? “I’d like to think that there’s some religious coordination of what’s going on in this world, but I don’t know,” Feinberg says. “That’s for the philosophers, I guess.”
**Next up, I can’t decide if this is genius or just really weird. Three years ago a high school student named Matt Perren started taking a photo of himself each day, for a future video he’d make. Each day he also lip-synched the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
Even more impressive (or weirdly), the photos move forward from age 15 to 18 until 53 seconds into the song, when the photos work backwards to age 15 again (while the lip-syncing continues forward with the song). The planning and dedication required to pull this off is extraordinary…
**Finally today, I saw the movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County” last week, and it was, as expected, fantastic.
This movie, about a highly, highly dysfunctional family in Oklahoma that’s reunited at their old home when their father has gone missing, is a lot of things: Loud, fast-talking, sarcastic, and filled with surprising heart.
But what it ain’t, is subtle. Every searing monologue comes with a sharpened knife, and every character’s motivations and feelings bludgeon you at every turn.
Happily, though, the script is fantastic and the acting equally as good. Meryl Streep is, well, Meryl Streep, fabulous again. I had also forgotten how good Julia Roberts can be; she plays the oldest daughter and her scenes where she goes insult-for-insult with Streep are fantastic to watch; Roberts really matches Meryl’s intensity.
Chris Cooper, who rules, is also great, as is Margo Martindale, and Julianne Nicholson, and the rest of the star-studded cast.
The movie goes on a bit too long, and some might find it a little too mean and negative, but I loved it. Definitely go see it if you have the chance.