Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Get well, Rog

Wow, that was a long weekend. Actually, I worked Monday so it was more like a sea of vacation with a mote of work in the middle. Anyway, hacknyed analogies aside, I'm glad to be back blogging.

As my first order of business, I want to give a get-well shout-out to Roger Ebert, who was hospitalized over the weekend when complications arose from a previous cancer surgery. He is still in serious condition, but he appears stable.

Roger Ebert is probably the single most influential person for me as far as writing goes. I started reading his annual "Home Companion" books when I was about 11 or 12, and after poring over hundreds of reviews dozens of times I subliminally learned how to write with clarity, critical thought and wit. (Or so I try.) While I now read other critics as much as Ebert, there still is nobody who writes as well for film buffs and average movie-goers.

Ebert also introduced me to a wonderful world of cinema that otherwise would have been unknown to a small town Midwestern boy in the dark ages before DVDs, the Internet and Netflix. He taught me about Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, David Lynch (though he hated "Blue Velvet," the way he wrote about it made it sound so alien and sexy) and lots of other great directors. Along with the books I loved the show "Siskel and Ebert," and would wake up at 2 a.m. to watch it. Though the local TV station apparently didn't think much of two dorks discussing movies with passion, I was blown away. Other people care about this as much as I do? Again, before the Internet, this was a big deal for cuturally isolated small-town kids. And I'm not just talking about me. Snobs might look down on him for his cheesy thumb shtick, but there's nobody who has done more to increase apprection of film in the mainstream in the last 50 years than Ebert.

Sure, I'm as dumbfounded as anybody when Ebert gives three stars to the latst "Garfield" sequel. But Ebert is America's critic now, and he reviews movies based on how well it satisfies its intent and audience demands. I'm not sure I agree with that of reviewing movies (it seems a little too close to excusing garbage), but I respect the guy for engaging mainstream culture instead of putting himself above it.

Here's a nice tribute to Rog from a co-worker, which includes a link to his hilarious "Deuce Bigalow II" review. Read more reviews here.


Blogger paul said...

And Peter Gammons is on the DL with a brain aneurysm

5:32 PM  

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