6 April 2013

RIP Roger Ebert


To this kid of the seventies, PBS was exotic. It was chock full of all these black and white movies, aging cartoons with their rubber-hose physics, and ugly men in even uglier jackets sitting and talking in front of eerily cheap-looking sets.  Two of those ugly men had the coolest show going anywhere: Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, a pair of schlubs from Chicago who reviewed movies. 

In that era, nobody just sat and talked about movies... excepts kids and these guys.  This was in the age before movies had been doused with moth-balls loaded with formaldehyde and pinned up for constant viewing, so nothing was more magical and vital ... again to kids and these guys.  Gene and Roger were like secret adult best friends who had the... best... jobs...  ever!

They jumped to syndication and became famous and, loaded down with their new notoriety, they did what two nerds in the same room always end up doing: they endlessly and childishly carped at one another until everyone was uncomfortable.  Still, as they were repeating their shtick regularly on Carson and Letterman, they also became something else: indispensable. 

In this last golden time before DVDs, corporate mergers and the resulting media bombardment, they shepherded everyone through the birth of the indie scene and those endless foreign film Oscar sweeps.  They talked about My Dinner With AndrĂ©, even though it was playing nowhere except New York, and Roger hated on Blue Velvet, and they argued over which trashy popcorn movie was the hidden gem, and it was fun times. 

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