A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Go With the Grain

Freerice.com is an intriguing site that claims to do two things: help you build your vocabulary and feed the world's hungry. I'm not certain of its effectiveness on either count, but it's an ingenious attention-grabber.

The premise is that you're given a series of words to define. Each word has four purported synonyms. If you pick the right synonym, you earn 20 grains of rice, to be donated to the United Nations World Food Program. The ads on the site pay for the rice.

When you miss a word, you're given an easier one. When you get one right, you're given a slightly harder word. The site keeps track of your score, too. I got up to level 50 a couple of times, but fell back to level 46 or 47 pretty quickly. At the upper levels, you're getting words like apologue, petrous, secern, axenic, furcula, altazimuth, and retrorse. Time for some educated guessing.