Showing posts with label celebrity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label celebrity. Show all posts

Don't Pity Roger Ebert

Esquire recently posted a brilliant profile piece on film critic and writer Roger Ebert. I used to love watching Siskel and Ebert's televised film reviews on At the Movies but never really developed much of a sense of who either of them were as human beings. They had amazing chemistry and were fun to watch, but they didn't really exist outside of the most obvious character traits that were so predominant in their show. The one exception was when Ebert spoke of Gene Siskel's death on the first episode after it happened. In that moment it was obvious that the two men were more than two people simply doing a job and acting up for the camera.

Ebert has had a difficult decade. He developed various forms of cancer that affected his jaw, eventually resulting in its full removal. He can no longer talk, eat or drink and has suffered through a series of horrifying surgeries. But he is writing more than ever, much of it on his brilliant blog. He also has one of the most interesting feeds on Twitter. Like anything, technology can be misused and warped by malicious people. I love this story, this example of how it can enable wonderful things. It is inspiring, and if nothing else, it's an example of how significant social media can be and how important access is.

Ebert doesn't believe in God and he doesn't seem to want to be turned into a self-help guru. Nevertheless, he's learned a few things:
I believe that if, at the end of it all, 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.
Ebert wrote the note at the top of this post during his Esquire interview. He's turned the act of making lemonade into an art. I'm going to try to keep this in mind as I head into Monday morning.

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"There has never been such a collection of bitchy people. They were all obsessive gossips, and they were absolutely consumed with one another. I was never gangy or very chummy with any of them. I guess one of the real reasons was that I knew they were going to stay there, and I wasn't. It was like being in a school where you knew certain people were going to graduate and certain people weren't." Truman Capote on his tenure at the New Yorker.
Image from

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If George Can Do It ...

I'm not now, nor have I ever been a huge George Clooney fan. I have nothing against him but just think he's kind of boring and that silver hair makes him look old to me. Still, I love this picture, presumably taken some time during high school.

The message? Things can and do change radically. If this young, awkward boy can become one of the world's sexiest men alive, anything is possible so you may as well have big, bold dreams.

Image from Unique Scope's Rare Photos of Famous People .

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The Day I Met the Queen

Whether you love or hate the monarchy, you have to admit that Queen Elizabeth II had style.

From my experience, Canadians as a whole (with the exception of Aboriginal people who rightfully are quite wary of the representative of a country that tried to destroy their culture) are definitely more enamoured with the monarchy than the people living UK-side. I think it comes from some strange sense of displacement resulting from the fact that many Canadians are only first or second generation. Especially in my grandmother's generation, there is still a yearning for the imagined homeland, even for those who never really lived there. Francophones are, obviously, exempt from this observation as are the myriad of Canadians whose ancestors are from other parts of the world.

Some examples of our strange love affair with the monarchy:
  • I have personally been in the homes of multiple elderly people who have either commemorative plates or spoons (or both) with pictures of the monarchy proudly displayed on their walls.
  • Almost everyone in my family stayed up until 2 am to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. I know this because even though I was only five years old, they kept me awake by feeding me caffeinated fizzy beverages and sugar.
  • My grandmother used to tell me that if I was very lucky (and lady-like) I could marry Prince William. Obviously my grandmother lacks an understanding about how royal marriages tend to work.
  • Many of us (delusionally) imagine that we do a good impression of the Queen's accent, which we practice during the long winter months. Some of us also practice The Royal Wave (TM).
  • I've been to at least a dozen formal dinning events where hundreds of people have risen to their feet, held their wine glasses in the air and chanted "To the Queen!". Yes, this is something we do. Even in Saskatchewan.
  • I know all the words to 'God Save the Queen' because when I was in elementary school, we sang it every morning after the Lord's Prayer and Oh Canada.
  • Every Canadian province spends money on a Lieutenant Governor, whose only job is to be our local Queen's Representative. All the LGs report to the all mighty Governor General of Canada, who is the closest thing we have in our country to the Queen (note: despite being appointed by the Canadian Government, she also reports directly to the Queen of England).
I am the only person I know in the UK who has actually met the Queen. It seems that it's much easier to meet royalty when you live in an outpost in the Canadian prairies than here in Britain. The event was the unveiling of a mural in the Saskatchewan Legislative Building during the province's centennial celebration. The Queen and her Prince were there to celebrate the anniversary and were on hand to unveil the mural. I was present (one of about 300 other people) because I worked for the agency that commissioned the mural.

The only reason I actually had occasion to speak to the Queen is because I was standing next to then Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan, an Aboriginal woman who was none too pleased with the history of the atrocities the British committed against her people throughout Canada's official history or the fact that, in her eyes, the Queen represented it. Picture it:
"Your Majesty, this is our wonderful Poet Laureate," speaker of the House of Commons.

"Oh, hello. Lovely to meet you," the Queen, her hand extended.

Poet's eyes go wide, face flushes and she takes a step back.

"This is my friend Amy," Poet Laureate.

"Um. Oh... OK then. Well, hello dear," the Queen says reluctantly to me and shakes my hand.

"OH MY GOD! YOU'RE THE QUEEN! HOLY CRAP!" (that would be me, though not verbatim)

The Queen moved on pretty damn quickly, let me tell you.

It's not that I am in awe of the monarchy and to be honest, I don't even really have a major political stance on whether UK (or Canadian) tax payers should continue to fund what is likely an archaic system that is past being useful. But she's the Queen! The iconic Queen of England whose face is on our money. I think I would react the same if I met, for example, Michael Jackson or Elizabeth Taylor. Again, not because I am a huge fan. Just because, you know, WOW!

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