Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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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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