My Little English Corner

A new accent is an adventure. Be bold! Exaggerate wildly!

酸一篇: Roger and Me

(2013-04-12 21:38:01) 下一个

I first knew of Roger Ebert, probably, in the year of 1999 when I first came to Southern California for graduate studies. In the midst of “Friends” reruns, watching Ebert and Roeper arguing about movies was not a relaxing pastime. To fully understand their points would have required a little more attention from me. I don’t know how much I understood their banter at that time, probably about 50%, the same percentage I understand Chinese Weibo tweets nowadays as they are peppered with internet jargon, shorthand and weird translated-from-English new lingo. But I always made sure I was not distracted when "At the Movies" gave a summary with Ebert and Roeper’s famous thumbs. I always turned to their opinions before heading to the cinema and trespassing to the next movies, only paying for one. I was a poor Ph.D student at that time, with plenty of time to waste during weekends. The theatre in the university village did not have the luxury of showing several movies simultaneously. Four or five of us would carpool to West Covina, 30-40 miles east of campus, form groups according to what movies we wanted to watch, and head back to campus area in the wee hours. Did we all have cell phones at that time? I don’t think so. How we arranged everything so beautifully and had everyone watch his movies buffet-style to his heart’s content, is beyond me. Definitely Ebert and Roeper’s thumbs helped the process of choosing the right movies among the myriad of options.


Those days were gone. The next time I heard about Roger Ebert was two years ago from a story on NPR. The years in between seems to be a blur now. He had lost a lot of weight, his face distorted, and he was speaking via a Text-To-Speech software. I thought, how ironic it is for someone whose job and identity are so vitally dependent on his voice to lose his voice! However, at the same time, aren’t we all so vitally dependent on our voices? It’s just that we are not public figures, and the tragedy of losing our voices, if it happens, not as blatant. I also thought, how close the software’s voice is to Ebert’s, comparing with the TTS software I learned about in my linguistics class 10 years ago when I was watching Ebert and Roeper! Roger was in high-spirit. He was a fighter.

Besides the TTS voice, more importantly, Roger found a new voice online. He was an active blogger and my husband suggested me to follow Roger on twitter. I did. Unlike my husband, I don’t use twitter much, or any other social media for that matter. But Roger is really a good one to follow. His comments or linked articles are always refreshing and good reads. Maybe because it was in written form, maybe because I now knew more about American culture, I understood more of his tweets than the time when he was arguing with Richard Roeper. Going to the movies is much more affordable for me now, but I couldn’t afford the time to go, let along to the movie marathons. Reading Roger’s reviews online and sneaking a peek at twitter on my iphone are now my new hobbies like watching Ebert and Roeper was more than a decade ago.

But Roger is gone now. He’s become my first online “friend”, “acquaintance” or “followee” (how do you categorize him?) that died. How can I start to express my melancholy? I don’t know, I don’t know why his death suddenly made me so sentimental. Is it because it reminds me of the days of “At the Movies”, of old friends who went to the movies together with me but now have gone to different parts of the world? Or does his death remind me again of the transience of life? How do we celebrate Roger’s life? How do I let my old friends know that I am thinking of them, and I miss them? What else could be more appropriate and fitting than giving them a thumb’s up? Roger, I will see you at the movies. My old friends, I wish everything is “thumb’s up” with you! As to myself, inspired by Roger’s voice, I am trying to find my, not my New Voice, but my own natural voice, through speaking and writing.

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