Olympic fever / Stuff I Read

An embarassment of riches

While hanging out in my office today, noting the lack of balance between the time I spent taking breaks and the time I spent working, I noticed that what was standing between me and my work was a lot of good stuff to read on the internet.  Some days, nothing comes through the tubes.  Today, well, I couldn’t decide which one thing to post about, so I decided to mention some of the best.

First, Chris Jones’s profile of Roger Ebert, “Roger Ebert: The Essential Man” in Esquire has received some good press today.  And the praise for the profile is well-earned; it draws a compelling picture of Ebert’s life since he lost the ability to speak, eat, and drink in 2006.  The article touches on Ebert’s life with his wife, his home, his day-to-day adaptations to living with the results of the surgeries he underwent to treat his thyroid cancer, his professional life, and his new existence that takes place in writing.  I found the profile’s discussion of Ebert’s relationship with Gene Siskel and Siskel’s death and the new, more important role writing has taken in Ebert’s life to be the most moving parts of a long piece that never lagged.  All in all, Jones’s article was a fitting writerly tribute to another writer.

Also worth reading/checking out is Roger Ebert’s blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal, which is much, much more than a film blog.  In fact, it’s not really easy to categorize the blog because of the breadth of topics Ebert writes about.  As the profile of Ebert in Esquire points out – and as many people knew already – Ebert has been an even more prolific writer in recent years (since he lost the ability to speak) and some of his best, most interesting, and most accessible work is on his blog.  You should check it out.  You’ll be surprised at what you find.

Now, since I’m coming to you live from my couch as I watch Women’s Snowboard Cross, I think it’s only appropriate to note that a good deal of the writing that caught my attention today related to coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  First, since watching coverage of the Olympics means watching a variety of human interest stories about the athletes’ journeys to the Games, Slate has re-introduced their “Olympics Sap-O-Meter,” an interactive feature that allows you to see how many times certain sappy phrases are uttered during the each day’s broadcast.  There are 35 words being tracked during these Games, and the interactive feature allows you to see how much each word has been used each day and how many times all the sappy words in total.  Slate also ran a story today by Edward McClelland, “He Shoots.  He Skis: A would-be biathlete tries winter’s weirdest sport,” in which the author tries his hand at the biathlon.  Finally, in response to the strange conditions and mishaps in Vancouver and Bob Costas’s hair, Salon ran a piece by Steve Almond, “Nice try Canada.  But you’re fired.”   Salon is asking some of their favorite writers to comment on the games, and in this piece, Almond talks a little bit about the athletes but mostly about the misfires and general strangeness of these particular Winter Games.

On an Olympics-related note, does anyone know how old Bob Costas is?  Because it appears as though he is not visibly aging.

And now, the English teacher inside of me thinks I’ve given you enough homework.  Happy reading!


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