Jessica Bennett

Stories by Jessica Bennett

  • Addicted to Sudoku

    Not since the Rubik's Cube of 1980 has a puzzle been this hot. From its mind-teasers have sprung clubs, competitions, computer-games and a cult-like following. It has become a fresh way to procrastinate. And some experts are even asserting that it can lower your blood pressure, relieve stress -- even make you smarter. It might just be the least-harmful addiction around.As nearly everyone knows by now, Sudoku resembles a traditional crossword puzzle, with a nine-by-nine box grid. But the game relies on logic -- not knowledge. The goal is to have the numbers 1 through 9 in each row and column of the puzzle's grid, filling in the empty spaces until the box is complete. The game, whose name suggests that it was developed in Japan, was actually invented in the United States, first published in the Dell puzzle magazine in 1979. Five years later, it was picked up by a Japanese magazine and then by a retired New Zealand judge living in Japan, who wrote a computer program for it. In 2004,...
  • Crescent City Comeback

    Delisea Holloway didn't speak with her family for three months after she fled Hurricane Katrina. During that period she traveled by car, helicopter and plane from the Louisiana Superdome to a shelter in Washington, D.C., to Sulphur, La., and finally back home. But home was no longer home—it was a hotel room in the downtown New Orleans La Quinta Inn, where Holloway had worked in food services. "It felt really strange being back," says Holloway, 36, whose Garden District home was severely damaged in the storm. "I was thinking: 'how am I going to get my life in order?' But I had the will to live ... I wanted to come back to New Orleans to rebuild my life, and I think a lot of people feel like that."In some ways, Holloway was lucky: she'd been at an armory shelter in Washington, D.C. for just two weeks when she was able to get in touch with her boss, Joseph O'Connor. He sent her a first-class plane ticket to Sulphur, La., where he'd set her up with a job, and a room at another La Quinta...
  • Melody Makers

    Television is all about the images, but don't forget the sound--especially music. Joel Beckerman has built a career on figuring out how music plays on emotions and hooks television audiences. His New York-based firm, Man Made Music, creates promos and themes for some of the biggest shows on the air. He collaborated on production of the NBC News theme and worked with artists like Fatboy Slim and Sting for Showtime and CBS.As TV networks struggle to retain increasingly fragmented audiences, the music becomes even more crucial, Beckerman says. And on the other side, new singers and musicians are more dependent on television exposure to make it big. "You can't break a band on MTV anymore. You also can't break a band on the radio very easily anymore ... Television is one of the places where you can break new bands and new records," he says. NEWSWEEK's Jessica Bennett spoke with Beckerman about the new ways these two industries are collaborating. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: How important is music...
  • Blogs: The Secret Is Out

    Everyone has a good secret. And, as it turns out, there are a heckuva lot of people who like to share theirs with Frank Warren. For the past year, Warren has operated a surprisingly successful Web site, post secret.blogspot.com, where he has solicited, and published, anonymous postcards that people send to him confessing something. Warren started the project by distributing 3,000 self-addressed postcards throughout the Washington, D.C., area, asking people to participate. When those cards ran out, "people started homemaking their own postcards, and they started coming from around the world," Warren says. Now he gets about 400 submissions each week.The entries come with magazine clippings and wedding invites; photos and ads. One, an abstract image of the Twin Towers, reads: "Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead." Another confesses to eating the marshmallows from a spouse's Lucky Charms cereal.The site didn't stay a secret for long. Technorati rates it as the third most...
  • You've Got Confessions

    The postcard is an abstract black-and-white image of the twin towers, smoke rising from the gaping holes. "Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I'm dead," it reads. Another, a picture of a pink razor, says, "I've written my suicide note four times. And never followed through because I didn't like the way my letter sounded."Not all the confessions are as tragic--one, a magazine cutout of strappy sandals, tells of plans to blow a paycheck on heels. Another confesses to eating the marshmallows from a spouse's Lucky Charms cereal. But all are unique--and, in the past year, the anonymous postcards have arrived by the thousands in the mailbox of Frank Warren.A small business owner, Warren's venture began as an experimental art project: he distributed 3,000 blank, self-addressed postcards near his suburban Washington, D.C., home. He left them at bus stops, in restaurants, and between the pages of library books, encouraging people to confess a secret and send them back."Slowly, they...
  • Who's Responsible?

    Former Army major Tammy Duckworth lost both her legs in Iraq. The helicopter pilot--a major in the Illinois Army National Guard--was flying a Black Hawk over hostile territory when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her aircraft. Duckworth spent the next 13 months in hospitals and rehab centers, in a wheelchair or on prosthetic limbs, trying to relearn the skills she'd once taken for granted. "It's the very little things," that can be the hardest, she says. "It's something as mundane as trying to do your laundry. For me, it was changing the sheets on my bed. How do you do that if you have no legs?"Duckworth is now running for Congress as a Democrat, hoping to win Henry Hyde's seat representing Chicago's western suburbs. But she's the exception: most of the more than 8,000 American soldiers severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't doing nearly so well. With record numbers of soldiers surviving injuries that would have killed them in earlier wars, veterans' organizations are...
  • 'We Weren't Ready for It'

    Maj. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Army National Guard, was piloting a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in November 2004. Duckworth lost her right leg and most of her left as a result of the attack. Now, she's running as a Democrat for a congressional seat representing Chicago's western suburbs, replacing Republican Henry Hyde, who is retiring after 32 years.Duckworth spent nearly 11 months during her rehabilitation at the Fisher House at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, one of 35 facilities started by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, the founders of the Intrepid Fund, which provides accommodations for family members of soldiers undergoing treatment. NEWSWEEK's Jessica Bennett spoke with Duckworth about the challenges and issues surrounding her return from service. Excerpts: ...
  • Parallel Trends

    Ariel Sharon always attracted controversy. From his early years as a hawkish commander of the Israeli army to a centrist-leaning prime minister who forced right-wing Jewish settlers to withdraw from Gaza last summer, he drew criticism and praise both in Israel and abroad. In Israel, the end of his career has thrown the nation into political turmoil. For America's 5.2 million Jews, it raises questions about the future direction of the Zionist state and how a new leader will affect the Bush White House's approach to the Middle East.NEWSWEEK's Jessica Bennett spoke with Jonathan D. Sarna, director of the Jewish Communal Service program at Brandeis University and author of "American Judaism: A History." (Yale University, 2004) about Sharon's political legacy, his relationship with Jewish Americans and the similarities between Israeli and U.S. politics. Excerpts: ...