Entry for January 23, 2008: R.I.P., Heath Ledger

As genre entertainment fans may know by now, actor Heath Ledger was found dead in New York yesterday of an apparent drug overdose. He was only 28 years old and leaves behind an estranged wife and young daughter.

I first saw the promising Australian in Roar, a fantasy television series about a Celtic warrior trying to stave off Roman conquest of Ireland. Since then, I've enjoyed Ledger's performances in movies such as Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm, and I look forward to his take on Batman villain the Joker in this coming summer's Dark Knight. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Brokeback Mountain.

The troubled, self-destructive artist is an unfortunate stereotype that has been realized numerous times over the years, from Michaelangelo to Mozart to Judy Garland. One can only hope that people such as Amy Winehouse and Lindsay Lohan get the help they need soon.

I was at work when the news about Ledger broke, and Brian F. and I were both reminded of The Crow's late Brandon Lee, whose untimely death also prevented him from reaching his full potential. The surprising news cast a pall over us and last night's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" fantasy session, which otherwise went well.

Of course, there are many other serious issues to be concerned about, such as an incipient economic recession, environmental degradation, the ongoing so-called war on terror, and the U.S. presidential election. But human tragedy is still felt most immediately on the individual scale. May we have the compassion and wisdom to deal with all of these things.