Patelling It Like It Is


My name is Samir Patel. Last week I resigned from my job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s student newspaper in the midst of a shameful and embarrassing scandal. I’ve been called a plagiarist in the media, and I suppose that is technically fair, in the sense that I have plagiarized a lot of things. But does that make me a “plagiarist”? Or simply “someone who has plagiarized”? Those are questions for philosophers, not humble college newspaper writers.

Over the past year, I have stolen nearly 100 reviews from 19 different film critics, people with names like Brian Orndorf and Scott Weinberg and Eric D. Snider. I’d say “prolific” applies more than “plagiarist”!

Sorry. I shouldn’t make jokes about this. Especially not when the reason I’m here today is to clear up a few things. With the movie review plagiarisms having been discovered — and I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky critics and their Google! — I’d like to come clean about some other issues as well. Better to be up front than to be caught after the fact, you know?

So here goes.

Despite what I implied in my column of Feb. 1, “Here’s What It’s Like on the Moon,” I have never been to the moon. Most of the article was from Neil Armstrong’s autobiography, with certain key phrases lifted from David Bowie’s “Major Tom.” I regret the misappropriation of Mr. Armstrong’s and Mr. Bowie’s material.

A feature I published last December had some information that, viewed in a certain context, may be considered erroneous as well. In it, I described a winter’s evening — “the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” I wrote — in which I was awakened from my bed by the arrival of Kris Kringle and his eight tiny reindeer. It turns out this event did not happen to me, but to the writer of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” whose name is Samuel Clemens.

A few sharp-eyed readers noticed similarities between a story I wrote called “In the Beginning” — in which an all-powerful “God” figure creates the world and interacts with its first inhabitants — and the Bible. This similarity is more than coincidental. My apologies to the author of Genesis. (Mr. Genesis? Note to self: Look this up.)

Earlier in this column, I said the author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was Samuel Clemens. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should tell you that that was a lie. The real author was Clement Clarke Moore. Samuel Clemens was the given name of author Mark Twain. I apologize for the flagrant deception.

You should also know that I’m not actually even a writer. Unedited, my prose is indecipherably bad. It is only after hours and hours of excruciating line-by-line work with a team of editors assisted by computers that my output reaches the point where it’s publishable — and even then, it’s still pretty bad, as you know if you’ve read any of my non-plagiarized work. (Hint: You haven’t.)

To give you an idea of how lousy a writer I am, the following is what I wrote on my own, without any editing or guidance whatsoever, on the new film “The Benchwarmers”:

me likey bench wooormers make laugh when nopoleon dynamiate gets hit in groins everyone have good time go see this muvie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that took me an hour.

Finally, as long as we’re getting things out in the open, let me also say that biologically speaking, I am a woman. I was born with ovaries, a uterus, and the other accouterments of femininity. Though everyone knows me as a man, I actually have no male parts whatsoever. If you come visit me in Hobbiton, where I live among hobbits and elves and where I have the gifts of flight and x-ray vision, I will be glad to prove it to you.

I am sorry for my many lies and thefts, and not just for the ones that were discovered, but for the dozens of others that no one has spotted yet. I am also sorry for the wrong-doings that I am going to commit in the future. Not to give anything away, but I’m thinking of writing my memoirs.

Samir Patel
First-class tool

I tried to write this so that even if you didn't know the backstory, you'd get the idea that someone named Samir Patel plagiarized my work. I discussed it in my blog last week, if you'd care to read the appalling details. And I figured that if he loved putting his own name on my work so much, I'd go ahead and write something and put his name on it for him.