Posted: 6:31 a.m. Friday, April 5, 2013
By Bill C.
If you only knew the Movie Critic version of Roger Ebert, you might have been a little thrown with the rather deep mourning that hit a lot of people on Twitter yesterday when they found out that Roger Ebert had passed away. The general response in my wife's office, for example, was basically, "The movie guy? Didn't he die a long time ago?"
But if you are a writer/blogger type, and if you stumbled across Ebert's blog when he started writing a few years ago, you probably fell in love with a different Roger Ebert.
Now, make no mistake: Movie Critic Roger Ebert was enough. The man was a star in a field that doesn't exactly produce many stars. He made art out of criticism, if you will. For more than a decade now, when his new reviews were released, I checked to see if there were any one-star reviews in the batch because there was nothing -- nothing -- in the world more entertaining than Roger Ebert reviewing a bad movie. (For evidence, go here.) Ebert was smart and immensely talented, and I grew to enjoy his reviews so much even though a) I've always been more of a TV guy, and b) I frequently disagreed with him. He was a writer first, critic second, and he was just fun to read no matter what he was writing about.
And in recent years, he started writing prolifically about things other than movies. Blogging fit him like a glove, and once he started -- once he discovered that you can build a strange, wonderful community online and interact with it (don't I know it) -- he embraced it entirely. Those following his blog read his thoughts about death, and politics, and literature, and Gene Siskel, and his wife, and his family, and his faith. Sometimes his views mirrored mine exactly, and sometimes they very much did not. But his writing either taught or verified certain things for me that I feel and reflect on nearly every day.
1. If you love what you do, people can tell. And if you love what you do, share that love. Communicate that love as much as possible.
2. Try to learn as much as possible about everything. Don't be ashamed of things you know. And don't ever stop asking questions, of both yourself and others.
3. Demand as much as possible from others.
4. When you realize you're wrong, admit it. Have strong opinions and challenge people to change them. And never, ever be afraid to make fun of yourself.
5. Pride, confidence, and humility are infinitely more important than appearance.
It's not like I didn't know these things before Ebert came around. But he embodied those beliefs as well as any public figure I can remember. He served as a role model for me and so many other young writer/bloggers. Cancer is an asshole, as The Champaign Room says below, and we always knew this day was going to come (even though, after what he posted on his journal earlier this week, we all thought we would get at least a few more months of him with us). But he lived a full, and surely very satisfying 70 years. And we should all hope that both our lives and our passing can so deeply impact so many.
This is a really odd transition to links, now, but since I included so many Ebert pieces in this links space through the years, I wanted to share my thoughts about him here, too.
As usual, there will be a standalone post about the most recent football practice ... but here are a couple of other football links. Including a challenge to be meaner from Senator Blutarsky. I know that's a challenge we can live up to...