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From Esquire’s “Roger Ebert: The Essential Man” about the critic’s battles with cancer and losing his ability to both speak and eat.

Roger Ebert can’t remember the last thing he ate. He can’t remember the last thing he drank, either, or the last thing he said. Of course, those things existed; those lasts happened. They just didn’t happen with enough warning for him to have bothered committing them to memory — it wasn’t as though he sat down, knowingly, to his last supper or last cup of coffee or to whisper a last word into Chaz’s ear. The doctors told him they were going to give him back his ability to eat, drink, and talk. But the doctors were wrong, weren’t they? On some morning or afternoon or evening, sometime in 2006, Ebert took his last bite and sip, and he spoke his last word.


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As I suspected

Gallup released their 2009 index of American wellbeing. The states that are doing the best seem to be the kind with lots of wide open spaces (as well as states that don’t have a ton of industry). I’ve been missing Maine and dying to go hiking lately. But, luckily for me, Washington DC ranks near the top of large metropolitan areas in wellbeing.

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So much has been written about the cultural implications of Twilight. Most of this has been written by intellectuals, culture aficionados, who often admit that they just don’t really get it.

Some of it is incredibly pointed and interesting, enlightening perhaps:

Indeed, Twilight’s wild popularity is a testament to the power of fairytale stories—to the “true-loveism” that Salon’s Laura Miller has called “the secular religion of America.” It’s more than a little depressing that after decades of novels for girls in which authors have used magic as a powerful tool to expand the scope of fairytale heroines’ adventures beyond mere romance fantasies, it is Bella Swann—a modified princess in a tower – that’s succeeded in thoroughly captivating a generation of teenagers.

I agree with a lot of what’s been said. I find it borderline off-putting that this incredibly popular example of pop culture subscribes to such traditional gender values. As Girls’ Camp Director at camp last summer, I found myself constantly trying to navigate around the belief that many tween girls seem to hold as true—that their value as a human being is tied to the value that men place upon them, loving oneself means being loved by another—in trying to teach girl power and independence and self-reliance.

However, this doesn’t explain the Twilight phenomenon as experienced by my friends toward the end of our senior year. It was like everyone had caught some weird disease.

I wouldn’t say my friends and I are culture snobs, but we sure do come close. As far as Colby College goes, we were pretty close to Bohemia. Our late night dance parties featured Sly and the Family Stone and the Velvet Underground. We were the kids in bands (or good friends with them). We were music and art  majors.

We loved Twilight.

How did it happen? I don’t know. But I soon found myself lying around on couches and watching showing after showing of the first Twilight movie. We anticipated our favorite lines—”You’re my own personal brand of heroin.” “Hang on, spider monkey.” “Sex, money, sex, money…cat.”— and then quoted them back to each other with delight.

Something about Twilight was forbidden…it innately wasn’t cool. So to revel in it, to publicly declare our love for such a guilty pleasure was perhaps perversely hip. You could be so confident in your taste that to enjoy Twilight for what it is maybe wasn’t the end of the world.

I know I have good taste in music. But my running playlist lately looks more like that of a 14-year old teenybopper and not a 22-year old NPR employee (in the broad sense of the word). I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to “Party in the USA.”

I still can’t get enough.

I’m buying tickets for tomorrow.

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