since i was in about 8th grade i’ve admired few people more than film critic (don’t like to label him with that) film reviewer roger ebert. bruce springsteen rises up a little, jimmy stewart too, but that’s about it from the entertainment world. ebert is really in the journalism realm but still connected to entertainment of course. i love movies, and i love when people talk about movies, and through the 80’s and 90’s, nobody was more fun to listen to than siskel and ebert at the movies.
one of my friends in high school and college was mike senatore back in lyndhurst, nj. we spent hours upon hours watching and talking about films and talking about what was said on at the movies. two of his favorite movies ever were being there with peter sellers, and the in-laws with peter falk and alan arkin, not the recent remake with michael douglass and albert brooks. mike had a film camera, studied film with me at college, and we make some goofy, dumb films back then. he did the camera work while i dreamed up things to shoot. we did some claymation and junk, spliced in some real film like clips from mash and some beatles videos. henry “happy” markowski was in on it too. hey, hap.
anyway, back to roger ebert. for a couple of years i’ve been a subscriber to his online review page, and about a year ago he started a blog that was not just about movies. it included a lot of social commentary, which i’ve found very enlightening as well as entertaining. i’ve posted a lot of comments on his blog to the point where my girlfriend refers to him as my “buddy” because i’m often reading and writing there. it’s not a blog where everyone blindly agrees and “sucks up” to what he has to say. there’s just as much dissent, and sometimes it gets rather heated, especially when it gets political. his entry on evolution v. creationism was followed by an amazing array of debate. i’m not there just to agree and be liked. he and a handful of others strongly disagreed with my opinion of the great gatsby. i should point out that absolutely nobody there agreed with me, but that doesn’t discourage me. i’m accustomed to being on the short side. if you google something like “great gatsby boring,” you’ll get a million people who thinks it’s the best book ever and half a million who think, like me, it’s horribly over-rated. if i can bat .333 for the yankees, i’m a hero; so i’m okay with those stats.
recently, roger (not “ebert,” because i feel that would be unnecessarily formal) did something very nice for me. he wrote a blog about the blogs that he reads and finds interesting. of the half dozen or so blogs on which he commented, one of them was mine. that’s about the greatest recognition of any kind that i’ve ever had for anything. he commented about my michael jackson hair accident hoax, in which i showed before and after pictures and video of the alleged accident. i also suggested that it was a staged accident, designed to help cover up the scars and scabs from hair transplant surgery. regardless of whether i’m right or wrong, i greatly appreciated that roger not only quoted what i had written but also suggested very strongly that he agreed with me.
in high school and college i loved reading newspapers and couldn’t wait each morning to hear our copy of the new york daily news to hit the front porch. i had the idea that i’d like to work for a newspaper. i like the immediacy of reporting, the rush to get it right and get it quickly, and also the idea that your name is in front of people regularly. although i worked on the college newspaper (the beacon) at william paterson university and also edited the literary magazine (essence). i went into teaching instead, but i’m teaching about writing, which is also a good thing. i currently have two novels finished and a third almost there. i haven’t tried to sell any yet, not sure why, or maybe i do. maybe those novels will put my name in front of people. even if they don’t, i still don’t have much room for complaint right now.
i took a few graduate writing classes over the past few years, and one of the professors talked about blogging. she said if you aren’t blogging, you should. and if you think nobody is reading, you’re wrong. i’ve had mine since about 2006, and for a long time i assumed nobody was reading. i know that roger reads it, and many more people are reading it because of his mention. that means i better keep writing, and i also better keep improving.
roger, you come across as a very humble guy. however, there’s no need to be humble if i say that it’s no small thing for someone of your literary stature to show your readers that there are smaller people like me who are worthy of a little attention. it may seem cruelly ironic that you’re known for talking about movies, but recent operations have cost you your ability to speak. it’s unfair and selfish for me or anyone to suggest looking for a bright side, but perhaps the blogging/writing that you’ve done since those operations has introduced you to a much greater worldwide audience. the cause was a great loss for you, but the effect is a gift to your readers.
thank you, sir.
you can follow him on twitter: @ebertchicago.
there’s a phony guy pretending to be him under something like @rogerebert, but don’t get fooled by that.