A staple in my life was Siskel & Ebert. It became an outlet (or input) for me in my small home town. There wasn't much for the film obsessed geek in rural Canada. I didn't always agree with them but I always valued their well expressed opinions. I lost faith momentarily when they hated Blade Runner but I came back the next week. It was mostly a one way discussion of film geekdom that I cherished.
Then Gene Siskel passed away.
I was devastated. At least as much as I rationally could be for a person whom I had never met. But there was a definite change in my life. The rhythm of my life had been altered. Subtly but not insubstantially. I lost contact with the other part of my group when Roger Ebert was off the air for a time. When he returned with Richard Roeper it was a relief to see him again but it wasn't the same. Gene's presence was missing and it left a vacuum that Mr. Roeper had a hard time filling and it wasn't his fault.
When Roger Ebert took to the internet, I frequented his sites every day. Read the back catalogue of reviews. Brought his RSS feed into Google Reader, even though GR could never format it properly.
I was heartbroken for him when he lost his jaw to cancer. But elated when his voice rang out louder than ever.
Yesterday, or the day before, I read a short note on a film blog about his having to stop working due to the return of his cancer. To myself, I wished him well, thinking I would have to catch up with the whole story as soon as it was possible.
Shock would be an understatement to the news that Mr. Ebert passed away so ...quickly after hearing that news. This morning, another not insubstantial change has occurred. And the fact that the death of one man, one I've never met, could have such an impact on my daily routine, should only speak to the power of that man's voice.
Mr. Ebert, you've made a mark on me and you will be missed.