Roger Ebert is an amazing, smart, warm human being, and it pains me that he walked the face of pop culture for decades before I knew it. It's possibly you still don't know, so let me share. The famous movie critic was diagnosed with thyroid cancer some years ago, and the winding course of treatment, recurrence, and complications has left him lacking a lower jaw and unable to speak or eat.
There's an amazing profile of him on Esquire. Here's Ebert's own essay about his medical adventures and the role of conversation in his life. Scratch that: Read his whole blog, man. It's brimming with so much wisdom and evidence of the greatness humanity is capable of -- both on the part of its host and the community of commenters -- that I admit I'm tearing up just writing about it right now.
In the face of disability and death, Roger Ebert has built an edifice of intellect that humbles me. He writes about movies, of course, but movies are a gateway he uses to look at all of the big issues of life: Politics. Love. Death.
Mr. Ebert, for this grace in adversity, you are one of my creative heroes. I salute you. I hope that I, too, will have the strength and will to continue the work that matters to me, even when my body fails.