Every now and then, not often, but every now and then, a celebrity death hits me hard. Phil Hartman, for example. Bob Fosse. And now, Roger Ebert. When I was a kid, we only got 3-4 channels depending on how clear of a day it was, and one of the channels we always could rely on was PBS, channel 24. I became a devotee of several PBS programs - on weekdays, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, The Electric Company, Zoom, and on weekends I liked the cooking shows, but my favorite weekend show was Siskel & Ebert At The Movies. I probably didn't see 2/3ds or more of the movies they reviewed, but I loved seeing the clips and hearing them debate about a movie - and when I was younger and went to the movies more often, it was obligatory that after a movie, we would head out to a diner and have a discussion about it - which sometimes turned into a debate.
As a kid, I fancied myself a bit of intellectual, so I always sided with Siskel, who I thought was more analytical and intellectual, but as an adult, I really began to appreciate Ebert's passion and joy for the fun of movies. He had a generosity of spirit when he reviewed a movie. And in the past 10 years or so, as he dealt with his cancer, losing his jaw and his voice, I was so grateful for all of his writing, on political subjects, on movies, on his memories - that even though he couldn't speak, he could still speak, and boy, did he have some things to say!
I'm blue at the news of his death. Just to cheer myself up, I might read some of his one star reviews - they are always good for a laugh. I especially recommend his one star review of "Freddy Got Fingered".