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The Ebert List

R.I.P. Roger Ebert. I’m not a big fan of list-writing but in this case it seems appropriate. Ebert will be missed for the following five reasons, and more.

1) He was an excellent and prolific writer who never over-wrote. Ebert’s ideas and interest in his subjects were paramount but his prose was accessible. If you could read and think, you could gain from whatever he had to say. Even if you disagreed with him you had to admire how he put it.

2) He had passion. I’ve been going to the movies since I was six years old but long ago developed a sense of cynicism for the experience. I can recall seeing The Poseidon Adventure and Dog Day Afternoon as a kid (despite being too young for the latter) and feeling transformed, like I’d been taken to another place. Ebert watched five hundred movies a year, many of them crap, yet never lost touch with this magic potential. His passion wasn’t limited in scope; he wrote with equal enthusiasm about everything ranging from life and death to Steak N Shake burgers. Which leads me to #3:

3) He was a good fat guy. Ebert had the kind of self-confidence that transcended physical appearance and actually allowed him to make his weight work for him – no small feat considering modern society’s contempt for the corpulent. He had that rare combination of humor and practicality when it came to his size, allowing himself to be weighed on The Howard Stern radio show yet never being overly-compliant about it. He was unapologetic about his physicality and owned it. When he became thin in later years due to a cruelly ironic condition preventing him from eating solid food, he still retained his life-long fat guy sensibility. His memoir is filled with countless references to the meals he’d eaten in his lifetime.

4) He adapted and excelled with the times. Ebert began his career in the print industry applying inked words to pulp with a manual typewriter about movies that originated on celluloid. As those mediums evolved he wrote intelligently about what was being lost at the same time as he embraced change. He knew instinctively that content trumps all and that his own skill – an ability with words – never grows old. A good movie transcends both film and digital and good writing presents on both page and screen. His most prolific output came later via blog posts and tweets and the quality never suffered.

5) He faced age, illness and death bravely. This was a man of substantial ego, and yet when it came to the subject of the cessation of Self he never flinched. His writing about death has a matter of fact eloquence to it and stresses his enjoyment of being present and gifted with the ability to communicate. He could neither eat nor speak yet maintained not only the will to live but a genuine excitement for the world around him. He was an enthusiastic intellectual, which is a rare and potent combination.

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  1. cookie rojas wrote:

    Your piece on Ebert is a nice dove tail to the previous contemplation on life and death….At the end of the day a life well lived is probably the best you can hope for

    Friday, April 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Agreed .. this and having the tune to “Green Onions” running through your head at all times.

    Friday, April 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

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