Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

I know [my death] is coming, and I do not fear it,
Because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.
I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path.
I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.
What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter.
You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip.

I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”
–Roger Ebert, 2010

Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago at the age of 70.

On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.” “We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”

Ebert had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland. He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times. He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.” But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.

Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, Life Itself. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, 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.”

Read more about the life of Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: Roger Ebert’s Influence and Legacy

When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, came together to tell his remarkable story.

Roger Ebert: Remaking My Voice

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Williamsburg Hair Man: “Gawker” Exposed as a Vile, Venomous Pit

Williamsburg Hair Man: “Gawker” Exposed as a Vile, Venomous Pit

Williamsburg Hair Man is a three-minute short film by Zach Timm and Matt Rivera, which on one level deals with how Chris Lancaster managed to grapple with his unwelcome notoriety, suddenly thrust upon him by coverage in the slimy New York City gossip blog, Gawker.  On a perhaps deeper level, the film is an example of the vile nature of Gawker’s narcissistic staff writers and commenters, who fashion themselves as modern counter-cultural activists.  But in fact they’re just a bottomless bucket of filth, who spend most of their time finding great satisfaction in degrading celebrities and politicians, and also taking immense pleasure in extending their painfully humiliating pronouncements to unsuspecting city residents, such as Brooklyn’s Mr. Lancaster.  And when finished with that, Gawker’s poseur writers fall back upon their compulsively gay fascinations with penises and then relaxations for the night with doobies, some blow and many drinks.

The Williamsburg Hair: A Sobering Look at Gawker Snarks

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Empathy: A Foundation for the Complexities of Love

Empathy, Mutual Recognition and Feelings of Love

I truly hope that readers won’t mind my writing this message that attempts to convey some sense of tranquility. One of the most wonderful opportunities made available and nurtured by writing on the internet is that there arise moments of inspiration which can beget an artistic container enclosing, and a liminal space that relates to, differing personal and public interests with a variety of perspectives. In my case, the art of blogging or writing on the internet evolved or transmuted into a focus upon creative blog composition. My earlier compositions were somewhat lengthy expressions of my understandings of and perspectives on contemporary psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, art, photography, diversity (including the rights of persons in the GLBTTQSA community and other ethnic/minority groups), politics, multimedia and music.

My current blog compositions tend to be short and condensed, but which at the same time embrace several layers of meaning. For example, this composition simply consists of a photograph, this descriptive and interpretive introductory text and a 60-second short-film. A later post might consist of just a single thoughtfully chosen photograph. Regarding this particular composition, in the midst of our current climate of heatedly divisive national political discourse, worrisome economic stressors, environmental and energy concerns and ongoing involvements in international crises, I thought that it might be helpful to offer readers a small oasis, a few moments of thoughtful calm and, perhaps, serenity.

Empathy is a one-minute short film that was a Regional Winner in the 2008 British Academy Film Awards. It is a film of elegant simplicity, which demonstrates how people of different generations can briefly be united by even small gestures of empathic mutual recognition. Empathy reveals how even very young children are capable of showing their passions from an early age. In this short film, the brilliant young actor is able to convey a deeply touching sense of truly heartfelt empathic compassion from which many of today’s adults could well learn.

Empathy: A Foundation for the Complexities of Love

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Ms. Olive Riley: The World’s Oldest Blogger Dies at 108

Audio: BBC Interview with Mike Rubbo, Olive Riley’s Assistant

Ms Olive Riley: The World’s Oldest Blogger Dies at 108

Ms. Olive Riley died over the weekend in a nursing home on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia, at the age of 108. Born in Broken Hill in 1899, Ms. Olive returned in 2004 for a filming of the documentary about her life, All About Olive.

Since early last year, she had written about 70 entries on her life experiences and posted them on her blog, All About Riley. Ms. Olive’s blog had a large following of readers from all over the world. In her final post, dated June 26th, an increasingly frail Olive noted that she couldn’t “shake off that bad cough.” She also wrote, “I read a whole swag of email messages and comments from my internet friends today, and I was so pleased to hear from you. Thank you, one and all.”

What follows is an earlier posting, which I wrote upon the occasion of celebrations for Ms. Olive’s 108th birthday:

Miss Olive Riley Makes a Toast!

Miss Olive, will be turning 108 in two days. Over at Miss Olive’s blog, The Life of Riley, they’ve already started the celebration. The home where Olive lives insists that they can hold birthday celebrations only on weekdays. But heck, she’s already live 3,9417 days, so what’s another two, right?

Born in 1899 in Broken Hill, Australia (just outside of Sydney), Miss Olive started her blog, what she calls a “blob,”in February of this year. The entries consist largely of Riley’s transcriptions to her friend Mike, where she talks about her day to day events and also tells stories from her 108 years of life.

The Documentary: All About Olive

Miss Olive’s Birthday Party

ABC News: Miss Olive’s Birthday Party

You can read a much earlier article about Ms. Olive here.

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Carnegie Mellon University’s Ranking of the 100 Most Important Blogs

The Carnegie Mellon University rankings are based on the following question: Which blogs should I read to be most up to date, i.e., to quickly know about important stories that propagate over the blogosphere? In other words, if I can read 100 blogs, which should I read to be most up to date, wanting to be the first to know about something with many people blogging about the story after me. Read all about Carnegie Mellon’s rankings here.

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What Makes a Blog Great?

Should we think of a particular blog as being a successful one if it gets a loads of page views everyday?  Furthermore, if we might use the same logic, should the blog be judged a failure or worthless if only a handful of people actually read it?  Thomas Bartlet over at The Chronicle of Higher Education recently took up this issue, writing:

“That’s what Another Damned Medievalist, who has been blogging for more than five years (an eternity in Internet time), asked recently.  By all means add a few hits to ADM’s counter by clicking through.  Judging the success of a blog by its page views is sort of like rating a movie by its box-office tallies, a TV show by its Neilsen ratings, or a book by its place on the best-seller list.

By that standard, the best movie in the country is 30 Days of Night, the best TV show is Dancing With the Stars, and the best novel is World Without End, by Ken Follett.

(shudder)”

And I agree.

(shiver…)

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Dancer from the Dance

Take a look at this dancer.  Is she spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise?  This little dancer provides an important lesson about how things we conceive as indisputable facts are often highly subjective.  How you see the dancer also says something about whether you tend to emphasize left or right hemisphere brain functions, as well as some of the cognitive characteristics that are suggested by the particular focus that you stress.

Dancer from the Dance

(Click Image to See How You Match Up)

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