Roger Ebert- lessons in courage and branding

It’s been a sad week. I’ve been watching or reading Roger Ebert for what seems like most of my adult life, first with Siskel and Ebert , then after Gene Siskel’s untimely death from cancer, with Richard Roeper and more recently on Salon. He was one of a kind.  He had character.

About twenty years ago , while I was still living in Hawaii, my friend and I bought tickets to the Honolulu Film Festival.  In what turned out to be a really bad decision, I opted out of one of the evenings and my friend went alone. Being  a gregarious type, he struck up a conversation with the couple next to him, who turned out to be Roger Ebert and his gorgeous stewardess girlfriend. They invited him to a party after the film,  with the kind of friendliness that is so typical of Chicago people.

Years later, it was hard to watch the cancer take its toll but Roger Ebert didn’t let a little thing like losing his voicebox deter him from his purpose in life. He carried on with artificial voices and surrogates.  He never quit working.  He retained the rights to the “thumbs up, thumbs down” routine and few of us will ever hear those words without thinking of this extraordinary man.  Roger Ebert, dead at 70. May he rest in peace.

Hiatus- I have to spend a couple of weeks in Florida for family reasons. If the gators, sinkholes and pythons don’t get me, I will see you in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the rest of April!