By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I won’t pretend I knew Roger Ebert personally, but his death affects me as a great admirer of his and what he stood for.
He was a champion of intelligence. The man went out of his way to not go out of his way for the dumb in the world, yet he never tried to make us feel dumb (unless we were really asking for it). His intelligence and his promotion of intelligence was broad—sure, he’ll be first and foremost known as a film critic, and he will forever be the benchmark of that line of work, but he never was just a film critic. In his work he made his audience think about being an audience member, something we too often forget we are in the rhetorical relationship with a speaker, artist, whomever. He didn’t just tell us whether or not to see a movie. He taught us to analyze. Then he wrote books. Then he became one of the great bloggers of all time, essaying on topics away from entertainment, making us laugh, cry, and be uncomfortable, and he was just. So. Damn. Good at it.
I am also moved by the truth of this sentence: “When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.” Ebert was a writer, and if he knew you wanted to be a writer, he wanted you to write and keep doing so, critics like him be damned. He told Will Leitch that. He told himself that. He even, if you look close enough, told the vile Jay Mariotti that between the lines of telling Mariotti to deservedly go, well, ya know. If for nothing else, Ebert got me to read just that much more and, consequently, write just that much more, and to me there is no greater (and I mean both powerful and noble) influence one can have over another person, even if it consumes or produces a single page. How dare any of us with a modicum of such ability let it go to waste.
I’ll never be as good of a writer as Roger Ebert (that’s not modesty, that’s certainty), but I’m an otherwise better analyst, of sports (which he ironically had little interest in), film, and else, than had I not been in his audience. And he has even just a sliver of responsibility, along with many other writers and thinkers, for me standing in front of a classroom and sitting right now in front of a laptop typing these words. For that, I am forever grateful.
And a happy birthday wish to my dad today. His sliver of responsibility for this is just a tad larger.
Weekend. Hello, April.
On to your correspondence. All emails and tweets are unedited.
what’s your opinion on asking girls to prom or proposing in public such as at a hawks game or somewhere else—@Bs_and_Garretts
I very much root for the lady to say no. The prom thing seems to be rare as of now, though never underestimate a high school boy’s willingness to be massively unoriginal or a high school girl’s demand that an otherwise mundane event be made bigger than it needs to be.
You stadium marriage proposal guys are the worst, though, and I hope the lady denies you not only because you’re awful, but also if she says yes the two of you will produce awful children who will make the world that much worse, and then it becomes my problem. Anyone who asks to be the center of attention in a place where people didn’t come to pay attention to that person needs a whole lot of public shame. If I were a woman and a guy proposed to me in front of thousands of people, I’d point and laugh at him and encourage people to mock him, and then I’d leave with one of the players. Some women aren’t as blunt as me in this case, but I like to imagine many who say yes wait until the game is over and break up with the turds.
But don’t take my word for it. I did an informal online survey of what ladies’ attitudes are toward the stadium marriage proposal and received the following responses:
I would say no.—Laura K.
depends on the person. they may just be insane fans and find it perfectly fitting. personally, I would have a panic attack and blackout. too much for a very private moment because what do you do afterwards with everyone staring at you? awkward. and I love attention.—Patricia D.
I think a marriage proposal should be a more private moment. Your family should know how he proposed before thousands of strangers do. It’s an excellent idea if your girl likes that kind of attention, but if that’s the case she probably won’t last long as a wife. —Bernadette M.
It should definitely be done privately or with close family and friends. I always cringe and get embarrassed for people who “pop” the question at sporting events…they tend to look like fools… IMO—Paula P.
It’s my worst nightmare!!!! Definitely should be done privately.!—Maggie W.
Lets just say if it was a marriage proposal that would be the reason we may not spend the rest of our lives together….. Proms different and I think its cute in that circumstance—Katie H.
It’s an annoying intrusion on fans who pay to see a game, not some shmuck on bended knee. And really, what woman wants to be on the jumbotron for something that should be private and, dare I say, romantic?—Michaelene K.
I’d be so embarrassed, one for being proposed to on a Jumbotron, and two because I’d want to watch the rest of the game and he’d probably want to make out.—Ellen M.
Completely agree with the ladies above.—Amy K.
I received no responses that were in favor of proposing at a sporting event. So, please, keep it to in a quiet restaurant or at some beautiful nature place thing or before your uncle comes out of the closet at Thanksgiving.
you think the NHL realignment will add intensity to hawks/wings rivalry only playing twice a year? For Lord Stanley? #TFMB—@rgallik_10
I expect it will do much the opposite. The only rivalry I can recall involving so few meetings would be the Lakers and Celtics of the 1980s, and even that has gone largely by the wayside. Do people under 30 really even consider those teams to be rivals anymore?
Rivalries usually get established and sustained in sports other than football (because of its limited amount of games) via repeated clashes. Current Hawks and Wings fans will probably get up for the two meetings a year for a while, but I’m betting one of the game’s best rivalries will erode, and probably quicker than you’d think if you consider the attention span of the average sports fan (particularly the casual hockey fan). TV might use the teams’ pasts as fodder for promos and time-filler when they meet, but it will soon be treated like Blackhawks/Flyers or Blackhawks/Canadiens—interesting if both teams are good, but otherwise not so much.
Just saw a sign “Key’s Made.” Intuitively I questioned the precision of their work. Do you have a favorite such example? #TFMB–@David_Spellman
Far and away my favorite signage faux pas is “SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY.” Worse than the apostrophe is the misuse of the comma. I’d be willing to bet that less than 10% of American adults know proper comma usage, whether they’re overused or completely punted. The latter occurs in my favorite street sign and produces comical effects. I can’t not see that sign and envision a documentary with a jungle cat stalking out of a residential Chicago alley, eyeing a group of playing children. It glances at the sign. The audience’s breathing rhythm skips for a split second as it knows what will happen. The beast springs into a sprint. The typically obese American rollie pollies scramble and scream. The chase takes two seconds because the kids are slow. Cut to a shot of the cat’s bloody face simultaneously munching on flesh and a spilled bag of cheese puffs.
I teach children, by the way.
Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.
Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at email@example.com. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.