02/11/2013 02:06 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

On Criticism: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, a Random New Yorker and Me

Life is all about generating good stories to tell. Here is how I learned the appropriate attitude to have as a critic.

In 1989, I was in Manhattan on a date. At a movie theatre just as the show was about to start, actors Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis walked in. They were married at the time. Everyone turned to gawk at the celebrities heading down the aisle searching for seats.

I said to the woman I was with, "Yeah, he hasn't made a good movie since The Fly."

To which the gentlemen next to me, a stranger, remarked in response, with a tone that only native New Yorkers could articulate properly in its perfect contempt, "Yeah, and how many good movies have you made?"

Since then, even though I have managed to become a professional writer -- as Samuel Johnson once declared, "nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for any reason other than the money" -- I've tried to remember how difficult it is to create.