Friday, April 27, 2007

Thank you, Roger Ebert

Also at My Left Wing, Street Prophets, and Booman Tribune

I wasn't planning to try to write anything tonight, given that I'm tired from working overtime all week and am preparing to attend the consecration of our new bishop. But Roger Ebert has gone and made me admire him again. I suppose some background is in order...

Back in the year 2000, when the movie 102 Dalmatians was coming out, my big issue was dog rescue/humane education. Simpler times, remember? Bush had not yet taken office and made such a pig's ear of this country, so I wasn't into any sort of political activism at that point. But, being involved in a local animal rescue organization, I had become aware that a big reason dogs end up being surrendered by their owners is that the decision to add a pet to the family is often made too lightly. And with Disney's live-action Dalmatian movie coming out, people in the rescue community were bracing for a rash of "impulse adoptions" of the spotted dogs. Which would be followed, inevitably, some months later, by a rash of owner surrenders because "It just didn't work out."

I don't even recall how I got the idea, but at some point it occurred to me that Roger Ebert would probably be writing a review of the movie, so why not drop him a note asking him to address this issue when he did? So I found his e-mail address, wrote to him, and in less than an hour received a quick note back, which read "I'll see if it fits."

As it turns out, it did fit. And I'm pretty sure that I wrote to him and thanked him at that time. But I don't think I've ever put into words what that meant to me to have someone with such a large audience take my request seriously. That early positive experience of calling on someone who had a big enough "soapbox" to be heard and potentially make a difference is a significant event in my life story. And it was certainly on my mind as I became more involved in blogging.

About's easy to get burned out, isn't it? Or at least to have those days when you wonder, "What's the point?" or "Am I really making a difference?" Well, I don't imagine I'll ever be able to completely banish those rough times, but I'll tell you what helps keep them at bay.

*Really celebrating* the good stuff--especially those moments when we make a real human connection. Like the time, after the Washington Post article was published, Maryscott wrote:

One little old lady sitting at her kitchen table alone in Virginia stopped feeling so alone yesterday because of something I did; that is enough.

I remember reading those words, and thinking, "A-freaking-men!" Because, that is what it's all about, and we'd be wise not to let each other forget it.
The article that inspired this post is well worth reading.

Ebert: We spend too much time hiding illness

Originally, that article was going to be the focus of my post, but once I started writing, it turned into something else. And, almost seven years later, the "Thank you" was long overdue.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Renee.

As a film junkie, Ebert is one of my idols. Before Siskel and Ebert At The Movies, TV movie criticism was populated by dumb punsters who were there only because they weren't good enough to be weathermen.Ebert and Siskel elevated the medium into Art.

And his commentaries on DVDs are wonderful. The sci-fi cult classic Dark City is worth buying simply to listen to his insightful analysis alone.

As a fan, I think Ebert is a national treasure and I wish him well.