April 24, 2008 -- On Wednesday morning I became seduced by the idea that I would, after all, somehow turn up at the festival. I would get there by ambulance, limo, MediVan, who knows what? But at the present I can't take a step with my fractured hip, so it would have taken two physical therapists to essentially haul me around. Thinking about it overnight, I decided it would be a great gesture to turn up and wave to my friends, but at what cost of pain and medical risk? The logistics just didn't add up. So while the festival unwinds in Urbana-Champaign, I will continue therapy at this end.
Chaz told me lots of people with experience of hip injuries advised her a six-hour round trip by whatever means would likely be very painful. (Flashback to old Trevor Howard story: "Right you are, old chap! Bloody difficult! Damned painful! No sense in my going!")
Photos and blog entries are pouring in to the Ebertfest in Exile. Apologies to Peter Sobczynski, by the way, for making him a blogger without his knowledge. Chaz calls this morning with a long report on opening night, during which she found Timothy Spall a really nice guy, to which we all agree. I heard both he and Rufus Sewell were distinguished on the "Hamlet" panel, led by critical giant David Bordwell and military historian Ed Tracy, and I hope someone remembered to mention Sewell in the masterpiece "Dark City," which was honored in the festival's earliest days.
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You know time has passed... when they want to put up a sign in front of the Childhood Home of Roger Ebert, 410 E. Washington St., Urbana. So voted the Urbana City Council on Wednesday. I was touched by the gesture, but said I would agree only if they included signs for other famous Urbana natives like George Will, Mark Van Doren, etc. One of London's charms for me is the Blue Plaque program, in which little plaques inform us, "George Orwell lived here," or "From this house Samuel Pepys observed the London Fire." They could include signs indicating where people worked as well as where they were born. That would widen the net to Dave Eggers, Tagore, William Maxwell, Stravinsky, Harry Partch, Hugh Hefner, Red Grange, Larry Woiwode, many Nobel winners, etc.
For me, the most notable thing about 410 E. Washington is that a young married couple, Walter and Annabel Ebert, brought their new son home to it. I remember with more emotion now (than then) that my mother made the final payment on the house in 1961, and tore up the mortgage.