I received this great photo of me with Roger Ebert, taken with Omar Moore's camera, after I got back from EbertFest 2010. Here's the story of the photo.
I arrived early at the Ebert Club Meet n Greet at the Illini Union. Before Roger arrived I mingled with the small group and met a few folks whose names I recognized from participating in Roger Ebert's Journal. Sean, Paul, Brett and I were standing together when Roger came into the room. I jokingly said to Chaz and Roger that we were "holding up the blogger corner". (meaning, commenters on Roger's Journal, rather than bloggers ourselves like the Far Flung Correspondents - who were also present).
Roger recognized me as he approached our small group for handshakes. He wagged his finger at me, as if to say "there you are". Or "you!". A positive greeting at any rate.
Eventually, Roger sat down on a couch in the middle of the room and held court for a while, as people sat with him to talk and have their picture taken with him. I was hoping to get over there myself.
I was standing over near the coffee bar, making small talk. Tom Dark and director Charlie Kaufmann were chatting next to me. I wanted to meet both, but couldn't find a moment to break in to their animated conversation. About that time Roger's wife, Chaz, came over next to me to get coffee.
"Chaz, I have a question for you. Do I ever get Roger agitated when we are disagreeing over politics on his Journal?"
Chaz looked at my name tag, which just said "Randy - Ebert Club". "Randy", she said - puzzling it out. "What is your last name?" When I told her, she lit up. "Randy, you're that brave conservative on the site! Oh, you have got to meet Roger!"
Chaz took my hand and raced me over to the couch where Roger was, and introduced me. Again, I was honored and thrilled. Meeting one of my heroes, Roger Ebert, in person after a year and a half of virtual conversation on his excellent Journal.
Roger patted the couch beside him, and I gladly sat down. A quick picture, from someone using Omar's camera. A chance for me to thank Roger again for his grace and civility and generosity with me on his blog. And then I was up to let someone else have their chance to meet this great man.
Thank you Omar, for sending me this special photo of my moment with Roger Ebert. I will not forget it. Such a gracious man.
And what a week it was at EbertFest 2010.