Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus.
There are still days when rain flooding the gutters conjures a picture in my mind of a paper boat being chased by a little boy in a yellow raincoat. The boy's name is Georgie and he is about to meet a rather gruesome fate, smiling up at him from a storm drain.
Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Credit Desmond Boylan / Reuters /Landov
Ulises Aquino, a prominent Cuban singer, is the owner of the caberat and restaurant. He describes himself as a strong supporter of Cuba's socialist system and split the earnings among his 130 employees.
Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.
Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa runs in the men's 200-meter event at the Paralympic World Cup in May. Some observers have suggested Pistorius receives an unfair advantage from his carbon-fiber "blade" legs.
Credit Michael Steele / Getty Images
"The unaffected leg produces peak vertical forces that are on average 9 percent greater than those produced by the affected leg using a running-specific prosthesis," concluded scientists who studied a Paralympic sprinter. The sprinter ran on one prosthetic like that of Oscar Pistorius; his other leg was unaffected.
Credit William McDermott, Ph.D. / The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, Murray, Utah.
The technology that makes walking possible for amputees is also making running possible at the Olympics. On Saturday in London, South African Oscar Pistorius will run on artificial limbs in the 400-meter sprint. Pistorius is a double amputee who runs world-class times on his carbon-fiber legs.
At last month's Prefontaine Track and Field Classic in Eugene, Ore., Pistorius ran in the inside lane of the 400-meter race. He leaned forward on his knees and fingers, and slipped his feet into the starting blocks — well, they're not actually feet.
Rabbi Yaacov Israel Ifargan is known as the 'X-ray' rabbi for what his followers say is his ability to "see right through" a person. According to <em>Forbes</em> in Israel, he is worth about $23 million, which makes him the country's sixth-richest rabbi.
Credit Tsafrir Abayov / AP
Ifargan, right, sits next to businessman Nochi Dankner, center, at an annual gala in Netivot, Israel, that honors the rabbi.
Over the past year, Israelis have taken to the streets to protest the country's high cost of living. They've also directed their anger at a small group of business moguls who have used their close ties to government officials to gain control of large chunks of the Israeli economy.
Now, the Israeli edition of Forbes magazine has shed light on a surprising category of Israelis who have quietly also climbed to the top rung of society: multimillionaire rabbis.
As fighting between the Syrian military and rebel fighters rages, concerns are growing about how the regime of President Bashar Assad might react if it becomes convinced it's about to lose power.
One theory involves the establishment of a breakaway region dominated by Syria's Alawite minority — which includes the Assad family — in the northwestern coastal mountains. Analysts say this would be a disaster both for Assad and the region, but it can't be completely ruled out.
Speaking from Israel on Sunday, presumptive GOP nominee for president Mitt Romney said that he would respect the nation's "right to defend itself" against Iran. He said the United States also has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons.
Romney's trip and his speech are typical of presidential candidates, who every four years work to outdo one another when it comes to credentials on Israel and U.S. relations with the Jewish state.
<em>Killer Joe</em> (2012) is the latest film from William Friedkin, the director of <em>The French Connection </em>and <em>The Exorcist</em>. The movie, which stars Matthew McConaughey<em></em>, earned an NC-17 rating for its violent content.
Credit LD Entertainment
McConaughey and Zac Efron play brothers in Lee Daniels' 2012 film <em>The Paperboy</em>, based on a novel by Pete Dexter. The film played at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Credit Anne Marie Fox / Le Festival de Cannes
In 2012's <em>Magic Mike,</em> McConaughey brings a subtle, frightening darkness to the role of a strip-club owner with a sizable sleazy streak.
This may be the year of actor Matthew McConaughey.
At the very least, fans will remember 2012 as the year that McConaughey revolutionized his career. He's starred in five different independent films, taking on smaller, character-actor parts in place of his usual roles as the sly-grinning heartthrob in romantic comedies.