Letters

Letters 09-08-2014

Try This Real Advice

The Advice Goddess? More like the “say confusing analogies and never answer the question,” mere mortal. Take the first reader’s question last week about breaking up with his iPod-purchasing GF: “MP3’S A CROWD”: Break up with her, iClod...

Nine-Year-Olds With Guns Not OK

I have been thinking about this awful situation in Arizona where a 9-year-old blew a shooting instructor away with an Uzi machine gun. I was looking for any consistency with other aspects of life...

Respect Our President

I recently read a Canadian’s view on our lack of respect for our President. It made me think about a time when, once elected, most Americans rallied around our new leader. We became united in moving forward and leading the world...

Northport Sewer A Bungle

The Northport sewer cost is $15.669 million not $12 million as recently stated in the Express. It is the most expensive sewer per household the Michigan SRF ever funded. Today the sewer is only processing 51,000 gpd on average...

Y Members Deserve Answers

Three weeks after Tom Van Deinse was fired from his position as Executive Director and Tennis Pro of the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, I am still trying to understand the motives of the YMCA Board of Directors for their decision to remove him after 14 years of service...

Reflections on Order

Old men make lists. My father did it, and now that burden seems to be imposing itself on me. It wells up inside me with a vengeance and I must give vent to it. Here is my list:


Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · I ain‘t a pretty...
. . . .

I ain‘t a pretty boy no more

Roger Ebert - May 3rd, 2007
My Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival opens Wednesday night at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and Chaz and I will be in attendance.
This year I won’t be speaking, however, as I await another surgery.
I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc.
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.
So let’s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from “Raging Bull,” I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The appeal of “Siskel & Ebert” was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.)
What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding.
A tracheostomy was necessary, so, for the time being, I cannot speak. I make do with written notes and a lot of hand waving and eye-rolling. The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding. If all goes well, my speech will be restored.
So when I turn up in Urbana, I will be wearing a gauze bandage around my neck, and my mouth will be seen to droop. So it goes.
I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what?
I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. I still have my brain and my typing fingers.
Although months in bed after the bleeding episodes caused a lack of strength and coordination, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago restored my ability to walk on my own, climb stairs, etc.
I no longer use a walker much, and the wheelchair is more for occasional speed and comfort than need. Just today we went for a long stroll in Lincoln Park.
We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I’m not going to miss my festival.
Why do I want to go? Above all, to see the movies. Then to meet old friends and great directors and personally thank all the loyal audience members who continue to support the festival.
At least, not being able to speak, I am spared the need to explain why every film is “overlooked,” or why I wrote “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”
Being sick is no fun. But you can have fun while you’re sick. I wouldn’t miss the festival for anything!
P.S. to gossip rags: I have some back pain, and to make it easier for me to sit through screenings, the festival has installed my very own La-Z-Boy chair.
Photos of me in the chair should be captioned “La-Z-Critic.”
 
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