Thursday, April 04, 2013

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

Back in the late 50's or early 60's, my father sent a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, who was reading billboards calling for his impeachment, wishing him a happy birthday. I don't know if my father was surprised by it, but Warren wrote him back, thanking him for the unusual gesture. Writing thank you notes is a discipline learned by well-reared people.

Roger Ebert was one of several people who I wish I had written to at least once. Something along the lines of, "Nothing to say really, except maybe thanks for living the life you have lived."

Just yesterday the newpaper told us his cancer had returned, and he had taken a "leave of presence" from his column. Today we learned that he died within 24 hours. That's staying in the fight until the end, in my book.

One of the things Roger Ebert liked to do was enter the New Yorker's cartoon caption contest. The New Yorker gives you the cartoon, you provide a caption. The following week the magazine prints what it thinks are the three best entries, and the third week announces a winner.

Ebert was very frustrated about not winning for a very long time. Then finally he did, with this:

I chortled for a full minute over this one, an Ebert entry that did not win:

The New Yorker celebrated his winning entry with an article and more examples of his entries. I guarantee laughs there.

Not much else to say, really, except maybe thanks, Roger, for living the life you lived.

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