It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. -- Robert Benchley
At least for now, I have written my final film review and dished out my last batch of jalapeños via my hot-or-not movie rating system.
A colleague heard the news and responded that he could understand being out of creative gas after writing thousands of film reviews from 1980 to last week.
That's kind, but not the reason.
In what some will describe as a bold move and others will, I'm sure, dub a dumb one, I'm redirecting my career as a film critic.
While there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in this country calling themselves film critics these days -- and maybe two or three dozen actually qualified -- the fact is the field is more crowded than a stadium overflowing with starry-eyed warblers clamoring to become the next "American Idol."
From this moment on, I'll be concentrating on Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff, my classic movie lecture/presentation series, which has taken off quite nicely but requires much of my time.
Once again, I'm taking the road less traveled. Just like I did in 1980 when I became a film critic in the first place.
Now the good news:
My Movie Review page is not going away.
It's funny how the mind works, or doesn't. I can remember with vivid clarity my first professional movie review. It was published in the Valley Morning Star, a daily newspaper in Harlingen, TX, over the Fourth of July weekend in 1980.
As you can imagine, there were no critic screenings back then in a modest-sized South Texas town. After taking a job in the newspaper's sports department with a semi-hidden agenda to become a film critic, I finally convinced the editor to let me write a movie review after some badgering.
I hurried over to the local movie house to see the big movie debuting that weekend. It turned out to be "Airplane!," the outrageous spoof comedy.
Clear and succinct in my mind, that seems like yesterday. I have reviewed countless movies since, running the gamut from dreadful to soul-stirring brilliant. I was even fortunate enough to win some awards doing a task from the heart that I loved.
The jalapeño jar may be closed with the lid tightened, but I have not sealed it with wax like my mother used to do to preserve her jars of pickles and tomatoes.
A wise man -- I think it was Sean Connery -- once said, "Never say never."
Since I may change my mind at some point, I'm leaving the jalapeño jar slightly ajar, if you'll forgive the pun.
I know you will forgive the pun.
You always have, and I'll be forever grateful for that.
(Jalapeño jar image courtesy: Google.com)