the advice of humorist George Waters, who researched and discovered
his work was being plagiarized by a Canadian would-be, I occasionally
Google phrases I've used in my own columns, just out of curiousity,
to find out if a wordnapper had ripped off my work. I never expected
to hit pay dirt, and certainly not anything connected to the iconic
movie, "It's A Wonderful Life." After all, I'd already connected
to that movie when, in real life, at a fundraiser for the L.A. Zoo,
I once danced with James Stewart.
My current Googling-for-Plagiarists mission netted mysterious results.
In the late 90s, when I lived in Mexico, I'd been a columnist for
an English-language publication. An old column from 1997 popped
up on my computer monitor, and it wasn't just the phrase I'd entered
in Google - by gum, it was the entire column, only the name under
the title was no longer mine, it was someone else's, someone named
Kate Karns. The column, recently published online, still carried
the 1997 date, so, um - what's this all about??
I dashed off an email to the then-and-now editor of the publication
and he swore he had no idea about it, or how it could have happened,
or why, but that he would launch an investigation maņana.
O.k. but here's the thing: In Mexico, maņana does not mean
"tomorrow," as I've always thought, it really means "not today."
That's way different and that's why I haven't got around to telling
you what happened until now. Back to Kate.
Kate Karns is not a pseudonym, it's the real name of a real person,
now almost 100 years old but still alive, who lives in a rest home.
Kate Karns was married to the late Todd Karns, who played the Naval
hero, Harry Bailey, brother of George Bailey, played by James Stewart,
in "It's A Wonderful Life." Without the character of Harry Bailey,
there'd be no movie, ergo my six degrees:
1. The writer, Maggie Van Ostrand
2. The humorist George Waters
3. The editor Alejandro Grattan
4. The Widow Kate Karns
5. The actor Todd Karns
6. The movie, "It's A Wonderful Life"
It all started with a connection to a George (Waters) and ended
with a connection to another George (Bailey).
I'm not going after the Widow Karns, having decided that the fact
she ripped off my writing was more a compliment than some kind of
I live for days like this.
"A Balloon In Cactus"
- January 5, 2018 column