Roger Ebert on His Illness and Why He Won’t Avoid the Paparazzi

From The Chicago Sun Times:

I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.

So let’s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from “Raging Bull,” I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of “Siskel & Ebert” was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.)

What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding…

…I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what?

I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. I still have my brain and my typing fingers.

Although months in bed after the bleeding episodes caused a lack of strength and coordination, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago restored my ability to walk on my own, climb stairs, etc.

I no longer use a walker much and the wheelchair is more for occasional speed and comfort than need. Just today we went for a long stroll in Lincoln Park.

We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I’m not going to miss my festival.

(via Reddit)

How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran

From Wired:

He was stuck. For about a week, no one in Washington or Ottawa could invent a reason for anyone to be in Tehran. Then Mendez hit upon an unusual but strangely credible plan: He’d become Kevin Costa Harkins, an Irish film producer leading his preproduction crew through Iran to do some location scouting for a big-budget Hollywood epic. Mendez had contacts in Hollywood from past collaborations. (After all, they were in the same business of creating false realities.) And it wouldn’t be surprising, Mendez thought, that a handful of eccentrics from Tinseltown might be oblivious to the political situation in revolutionary Iran. The Iranian government, incredibly, was trying to encourage international business in the country. They needed the hard currency, and a film production could mean millions of US dollars.

Mendez gave his superiors an operations plan, with an analysis of the target, mission, and logistics. The task was so difficult that his bosses had signaled that they’d be reluctant to sign off on anything but an airtight exfiltration mission. But this proposal was detailed enough to be approved by them and the White House. Plausibility, as they say in the espionage business, was good.

(via GeekPress)