Roger Ebert, who died earlier this year at the age of 70, was never, strictly speaking, a film critic’s film critic. He did not inspire the same cult of personality as a Pauline Kael, nor could he claim the hipster/intellectual credentials of a Jonathan Rosenbaum. Occasionally his reviews came across as slight, chiefly because he refused to nail his focus to the text of a film. Instead, his abiding concern was for the effect of the film on the human person who was likely to be actually watching it. With every review, it was as though he was standing up in the theater and crying out, “Hey! There are people down here, goddammit, and what goes on up there is going directly into the holes in their heads!” More than a film critic, he was a filmgoer’s advocate.
Kitchen disasters always hit me particularly hard because I actually enjoy spending time in my kitchen. It is a place of warmth and security. It is also where the booze is. I like to drink slowly but surely throughout the process of preparing a meal, which typically takes me the better part of an afternoon. Consequently, I tend to be pretty well pickled by the time I actually sit down to eat whatever it is I’ve been fixing. Nevertheless, this does nothing to explain the amateur hour bullshit I pulled the other day; things went to hell nice and early, while my sobriety was still in full flower.