Roger Ebert loved movies.
Except for those he hated.

So begins the Chicago SunTime’s feature on the death of film critic and author Roger Ebert.  Ebert was one of the few critics (in any field) whose work I respected, even when I disagreed with his opinions.  I’ve always suspected Ebert secretly loved those movies he supposedly hated, because they afforded him the opportunity to pen the most entertaining of his critiques.  Check out these two collections of some of his most scathing reviews, his books I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, and the exquisitely titled, Your Movie Sucks.

Having read a news article just days ago about Ebert’s announcement of his cancer’s recurrence, I feared the worst was coming, soon.  Yesterday I intended to forward the article to friend and fellow movie lover CC [1].  I logged on to the computer, and there was the sad news.

Rereading that last paragraph, I’m thinking that while I may have “feared the worst,” Ebert didn’t.  As followers of his blog know, Ebert wrote with clear-eyed eloquence about his battle with cancer and the contemplation of his inevitable demise, from the perspective of a literate, intelligent, contemplative and grateful atheist/agnostic/deist/non-believer/free-thinker…. [2]

Ebert was fond of a quotation by Brendan Behan, which he cites in the following excerpt from arguably his most profound blog entry – you must, must, must read it –  Go Gentle Into That Good Night. [3]

I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer. 

“For 57 words, that does a pretty good job of summing it up. ‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
(Roger Ebert, 1942 – 2013)

I am happy he lived long enough to share that.  Two thumbs up to a life well-lived.  The balcony is closed.

The key to maintaining a motivated, youthful perspective is immaturity.
Chapter 324 in a never-ending series.

 I rarely listen to music when I’m working on new material.  Doing the bizness stuff – what I consider to be unpleasant, logistical/housekeeping chores of writing – requires both distraction and fortification.  While researching agents to query about my novel, I had the following inspirational song [4] on repeat play. Which may explain my success in querying agents.

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 The new updesk is here!  The new updesk is here!

Actually it’s been here for a couple of weeks, but the screw holes for the crossbar of the desk’s left leg were improperly threaded, and so a new left leg had to be sent from the company’s headquarters in Tennessee.

Two years ago, right around the time MH was having surgery on his back, I became concerned with the sedentary nature of my profession.[5]  No matter that I am a lifelong, devoted, daily exerciser – the latest research says that we desk people are sitting ourselves to death.  I installed an ergonomic program on my computer that makes little icons to pop up a regular intervals to nag remind me to get up and move/stretch. That helped…a little.

I began experimenting with a makeshift [6] standing desk, and discovered I liked standing and working. I also discovered that the relief to my back came at the expense of my knees, a discovery predicted by more of that pesky ergonomics research, which says that there are musculoskeletal problems associated with any prolonged posture.[7]  Also, there are times when I just want to sit and work.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to quickly and conveniently switch between the two modes without having to unplug/schlep everything?

The techno Good Fairies [8] granted the wishes of moiself and others who seek to reinvent our work environment, as I discovered when I searched for adjustable height desks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We received the new desk leg yesterday, and handy husband MH assembled the contraption.  After three weeks of having my office torn apart/rearranged and my papers and materials divide up between the office and kitchen table, I am so behind with everything, and The Mighty Quinn is coming out in four weeks and I haven’t had time to get back to the office and take the desk for a test drive.  Ah, but tomorrow with a push of a button I will be able to raise or lower the desk to two present heights, or any height from 26.5″ to 42.5.”  The future is here (and, as usual, catches me wearing my sweatpants)!

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 Future, schmuture:  back to the Middle Ages.  Which means, of course, a breaking news update on an Islamist society.

Get your motors running, gals, and let's go kick some Saudi ass!

Get your motors running, gals, and let’s go kick some Saudi ass!

In yet another stunning stumble leap toward entering the 19th century, Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on women riding bicycles. As you know, Saudi women may not drive cars, run for public office or vote, or appear in public unless smothered covered head to toe in a black funeral shroud stylish abaya-niquab-hijab combo.  However, as of this week the Mutaween, the kingdom’s notoriously conservative religious police, are allowing female Saudis to ride motorbikes and bicycles in certain areas…providing that a male relative or guardian accompanies the biking babes.

 The Mutaweenies also stipulates that women may not use the bikes for transportation but “only for entertainment,” [9] and that they must not ride near men “to avoid harassment.”

Saudi Leaders March for Equality

Saudi Leaders March for Equality

They’re baaaaack.

Faster than cinema patrons fleeing a Poltergeist sequel showing! More powerful than a politician’s ego! Able to leap inconsistent alibis in a single press conference! It’s SuperCluelessman!

I refer of course to the spectacle that is the political resurrection of Mark Sanford, the self-awareness-impaired former governor of South Carolina.  This week Sanford emerged from the slime seemingly out of nowhere to win his state’s Republican House primary, held for the special election that will fill the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Tim Scott.  The special election, slated for May 7, will pit Sanford against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Stephen Colbert’s sister.

Brief background info:  In 2009 Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association after he admitted to an affair with an Argentinean woman. [10] Sanford was later censured by both the House Judiciary Committee and the South Carolina House of Representatives, as per Sanford’s misuse of state travel funds to conduct his affair.  But the real fun had come earlier in the year, when Sanford, the executive administrator of his state, became the subject of nationwide news coverage because for seven days his location was unknown to anyone – not his constituents, not his wife, not the State Law Enforcement Division which provided security for him.

Providing material for late night TV for weeks, Sanford had told his staff that during his absence he would be hiking the Appalachian Trail.  When a reporter caught him arriving at Atlanta’s airport on a flight from Argentina, Sanford quickly organized a news conference, during which he admitted that when he was supposedly hiking the Appalachian Trail he was actually pursuing some Argentinean tail. [11]

Oh, but that was then and this is now.  Sanford is now back on the campaign trail, and between self-righteous proclamations of change and milking the politics of forgiveness (he’s made mistakes, you know, and none of us is perfect, praise Jeeeeeesus), he also wants you to know that no one seems to know anything about his opponent aside from the fact that she is Stephen Colbert’s sister. On April third he made a point of highlighting this fact on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show:

“She’s not held office. Right now, the one thing that people know about her is that she is Stephen Colbert’s sister. Well, at the end of the day, Stephen Colbert is a very popular, well-regarded comedian, but at the end of the day he’s not on the ticket.”

Oh really?  At the end of the day?  Why not, at the beginning of the evening?  Or, in the middle of the afternoon? Or at the cusp-if-not-quite-not-the-edge-of-the-dusk….

Forget all the other crap Mark Sanford has done and said.  The most compelling reason for not voting in this lying, cheating, censured sack of shit into office is that he used that vapid idiom TWICE, IN THE SAME SENTENCE. Which I didn’t even think was possible.

May the hiking hijinks ensue.

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Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Our nicknames for each other, when planning our movie dates, are Gene and Roger.

[2] These and other labels were given, by others, to Ebert, who refused all labels for this himself.

[3] which also served as the last chapter of his memoir, Life Itself.

[4] Included as a cardboard record in a 1963 issue of Mad magazine.

[5] Translation: my back began to hurt.

[6] Translation, the sequel: monitor & keyboard propped up on lots of books and other non-desk items.

[7] Translation, the last:  “ouch”

[8] Chill out, you paranoid dudes, it’s a compliment.

[9] Riding around in a circle to amuse yourself and your “male guardian” is kosher (ahem), but Allah forbid a women might actually use a bike to get somewhere.

[10] To whom he is now engaged.  Whaddya think, should I send them a toaster oven, or candlesticks?

[11] Not his exact words.  You can credit me on this one.