It’s true.  Roger Ebert, the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, once awarded me a dime for winning a cartoon-captioning contest, but only after disparaging my character first.  (But to be fair, he did apologize afterward.)

I’ve always enjoyed reading Mr. Ebert’s reviews, and, except for a couple of egregious exceptions, have found his taste in movies to match mine.  And I enjoy his writing style in general, so I have naturally been a regular reader of his blog.

Back in July of 2009, the blog contained a discussion of the cartoon captioning contests held by The New Yorker.  Mr. Ebert invited his readers to submit a caption for the current competition and offered a shiny new dime as the prize.  I put what I thought was the obvious punch line in the blog’s comments, signed it “John B.” and then promptly forgot about it.

The following August, I visited Mr. Ebert’s blog and was surprised to see that the discussion was  Apparently my caption had been voted the funniest by the other readers of the blog (which was nice), but then the conversation took a bit of a dark turn.  It seems that there was another “John B.” who posted regularly to the comments section, but he said the winning caption did not come from him.  So who was this other “John B?”  An impostor?  And didn’t his entry bear a similarity to another cartoon caption on the Internet?  So he’s some sort of plagiarizing impostor! By the time I arrived at the party, the pitchforks were being handed out and the tar was being heated, which is not the time you want to find out that you are the subject of discussion.

To be fair, there were some commenters on the blog who came to my defense.  They pointed out that there were many John Bs in the world and that similarity does not necessarily mean plagiarism.

Unfortunately, the original version of Roger Ebert’s blog entry does not exist any more.  Once I had introduced myself and explained the situation, Mr. Ebert amended the original post and was all-in-all very gracious.  I even got my dime.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well, I know there is some interest out there in what it was like to go to the White House, who we met, and what we saw.  And I will write that all down and share it with you eventually, but things are busy on my end, and I may not get to it for a bit.  For now I thought I would just share a quick anecdote with you, and let you know that more is on the way.