Friday, April 5, 2013

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: April 5th

It was with crushing sadness that I learned of Roger Ebert's passing yesterday.   The first one to break the news to me was through a friend.

My buddy Oomer, aka WFAN Clips wrote "R.I.P. Roger Ebert."   Then I saw another such tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter.   With the recent twitter hoaxes of late and the TMZ debacle regarding Lil Wayne's condition, I had to wait it out before I could react, so I went to the research.  Then I looked it up on twitter itself, and it pointed me to the Chicago Sun-Times official twitter page:

It is with a heavy heart we report that legendary film critic Roger Ebert () has passed away

That's as official as it gets.  Shortly thereafter, the Sun-Times linked a full article announcing the news.   There really won't be another like Roger Ebert.  Some may say he was a bit pompous, but for a man as learned as he was with movies, who wouldn't be?  Some may say he was inconsistent, but man, he was quite the realist.

The key with Roger was perspective.  He knew the aim of a film which contributed to his evaluation therein.  That may lend audiences to think he was "the more lenient reviewer," but let's face it, some of the harshest criticism of movies came from Roger's pen.   There's a plethora of old clips of Roger Ebert on youtube, going at it with his long-time partner Gene Siskel.

More than anything, what a personality!  What an interesting guy, but what a genuine human being to boot.  It's hard to really come upon anyone like this in the media.  What he said was, by and large, what he meant.  Dude was hilarious too!   Nobody seemed to rock the sarcasm like he, but when he needed to be he'd be as blunt as a stone tool.  I loved it.

Siskel and Ebert, in their day were the authority on movies, and while some of that was marketing hype, a lot of it rang true.  I give them both a lot of credit for not selling out and schlepping more than a handful of guest cameos on television.  The exception was talk show interviews with Letterman, Conan, Leno, Carson, and others.

Actually, a funny thing about that: I'm reminded of a cameo appearance they made on SNL, but from 1982.  They were reviewing the sketches of a Chevy Chase hosted Premiere episode from within the program.  A little odd, in retrospect, but a neat peek at the two characters in their prime.

From their partnership and the numerous arguments, came so many parodies, and among them were the Simpsons.  My favorite S&E gag was the one where they had their own movie, and on the theater marquee:  "SISKEL AND EBERT: THE MOVIE.   *Two Thumbs Up -- Siskel and Ebert"

How about when Roger, later in life, put the can of whup-ass on Jay Mariotti.  By then cancer had taken Rogers voice away, but his dry wit and unique style of humor hadn't left him.   I'm honestly very surprised he left so soon.  I grant you he had struggled with health for almost a decade, but I didn't think he'd disappear and then go poof!

You know, my buddy "Coach" had alluded to Ebert taking a "leave of absence" only the other day.  In so doing, Ebert promised to make a return within a short while.  That's exactly how it played out for Poor Gene Siskel 14 years prior.

 "In 1998, Siskel underwent surgery for a cancerous brain tumor. He announced on Wednesday, February 3, 1999, that he was taking a leave of absence but that he expected to be back by the fall, writing "I'm in a hurry to get well because I don't want Roger to get more screen time than I".[5]
On Saturday, February 20, 1999, Siskel died from complications of another surgery at the age of 53.

--source: Wikipedia
Death is a mysterious element that wallows in the dark, and even as one anticipates its arrival no one can predict its path.  Suddenly you don't even get the chance to react, and life is taken from you.   It brings anyone pause to think and be thankful for the life lived.

Roger may no longer be with us, but his contributions live forever.

There's really no segue here.   It's a sad day as a fan of the movies or any medium.

You know one thing I never knew about Roger Ebert, and I thought I had him completely figured out.  He was a vocal opponent of video games.   Most of it was because I imagine he simply didn't have time for them.  When you think about it, Video Games are a real time waster, and I can't imagine what can be gained, on an intellectual level, by playing them myself.   For that reason and the simple unwillingness to get into that kind of technology, Roger Ebert dismissed the medium.

I respect his opinion.   I don't agree with it, and I'm sure others didn't as well.   However, for someone to have lived and experienced so much culturally, I don't know where the time would be to lounge around an arcade and pound away on "Asteroids."

If you were walking around the Loop in Chicago in 1980, went to a corner arcade, and saw Ebert with his big puft of hair wailing at the Pac Man machine that would throw *you* for a loop too!  "Don't you have that Ordinary People film to write about?"  "What are you doing trying to get after the cherry?!   There's a Star Wars sequel out!"

It's for the best our boy Ebert never partook in video games.   We would all have been cheated of such great commentary.

If I prayed on two knees for days, I still would only have three percent of the writing skills of a Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert.   The best I can do is make connections to several inane and unrelated topics, all while adding personal perspective.

Some may call it genius... I consider it a stroke of good luck, heehee.

Some of my buddies can review movies and TV as a hobby.  One such friend is a colleague from my day job, Jason, who developed his own TV and Movie reviews blog:

I mean this is some good stuff!  I highly recommend that you check it out.

As far as this mongo's pen, I write just for fun.  I have no objectives.   A lot of the time, I start with one sentence and don't even have a theme.  Sometimes I do, like I did the other day with the "apologies" theme.   Most of the time, I start with just the one sentence, and see if it connects with another sentence.

It's worked well to date.  I'm happy to see that I've now made daily blog postings for about 8 months now.   I had long hoped to make regular contributions to the "Locks of the Week" blog and I want to thank all my friends at for encouraging me to keep writing.

I might consider doing a "Video Game of the Year" list as Roger and Gene did for movies.   To pose an example, would you all consider "League of Legends" as the "Video Game of 2012?"  I would.  It seems to have captured the nation!

1985 is easy: Super Mario Bros.  That game was so good it could have been the Best Video Game of 1985, 1986, AND 1987.  But, let's be fair, '86 was clearly in the domain of "Legend of Zelda."  1987 is a layup:  "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!"

1988 is tougher, but I think I'd go with Madden Football.
1989 might be Altered Beast, Moonwalker, or Joe Montana Football
1990 is Super Mario 3.

I could go on, but then I'd bore the audience.    Favorite tacos!   Asada nubmer one.  Al Pastor number two.  Lengua number three.  That's a great rotation.

I just read U.S. Acres Comic strips for an hour.  What in the world am I dong?!

So glad Friday is here.    

I have Louisville beating Wichita State and, I believe I have Syracuse beating Michigan for the Final Four games.  REALLY tough call, though.

I have the Yankees taking two of three from the Tigers this weekend. 

I think that's all I've got.  Have a good weekend!

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