The Dumbest Thing I Ever Bought.

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Since 2002, CDP Headquarters has been at the forefront of Cat-Related Technology (hereby known as CAT TECH for the remainder of this essay). From complicated water bowls, to robotic litter boxes, to food more expensive and delicious than my own, never let it be said that we spare expense for the sake of our feline companions.

Our spoiled, entitled, Millennial feline companions who have never once said thank you.

I have a vivid memory of a litter box the Missus purchased in 2007. It had a motorized rake inside of it that (when working properly) would gently collect waste into a side reservoir for simple, hands-off disposal. It was on a timer and had a motion sensor that kept it from going off when the cats where inside of it, which would have permanently broke their tiny cat brains and ensured they never whizzed in a litter box again for the rest of their lives.

Problem was that no part of this box worked correctly. The rake would begin its slow, sifting journey through the minefield of turds, only to inevitably get caught on a large piece of detritus. Instead of shutting off, the rake would just dig harder into the clump, shaking and building kinetic energy until FWIP! A scone-sized rock of shit would catapult itself completely out of the box, sometimes landing halfway across the basement floor. It took weeks before we pieced together what was happening. It was a sight to behold, I can assure you.

Around the same time, we bought a Bubbler-style (or Water Fountain for non-Wisconsinites) water bowl. The Internet told us that oxygenated water was better for a cat’s kidneys and BLEE BLAH BLOO, so we busted out the debit card and made it happen. The next morning, this is exactly what happened to me–

Broken. Water all over the kitchen floor. I think we’re on our 10th water bowl, because they continue to break. You know what usually doesn’t break? A bowl-style bowl with nothing attached and no humming motor that needs to be plugged in. You know. A bowl.

But hey, whatever. I want to do right by my pets and wife, so onward we trudge, endlessly looking for smarter ways to keep the cats healthy and to keep our hands from touching feces. It’s a battle worth fighting.

But there are limits. There is a line of sanity that can be crossed when it comes to CAT TECH. An Uncanny Valley where Futurism and Logic blur into a steamy gumbo of confusion. A 4th Dimension of blind devotion where reality begins to fade, leaving us only with questions and regret. “How did we get here? I only wanted to do the right thing.”

This brings me to the Cat Genie, the single dumbest thing I have ever bought.

Now, it’s unkind to throw the Missus under the bus here, but I need to state for the record that it was her idea to order the Cat Genie. Not specifically apropos to CAT TECH, the Missus has a long and storied history with purchasing stupid things on the Internet. I do, too, but from the moment the Cat Genie was drone-delivered to my doorstep by Amazon (I assume), the Gold Standard had been set. We had a winner. From that point forward, if a more ridiculous thing was to be brought into our home, it would have to be done on purpose, solely for the occasion of usurping the Cat Genie from its Throne of Preposterousness.

The Cat Genie is what happens when an ordinary litter box has sex with a Japanese Billionaire’s toilet. Its primary function is to dispose of waste in a neat, efficient manner, but in the most complicated, exorbitant way possible. Here’s how it works:

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After the cat craps, the entire thing whirs, heats up and starts rotating. Water and a cleaning solution saturate the bowl as the waste is raked out and sent into a reservoir where it is then flushed out through your water supply. The litter is actually tiny plastic granules that are cleaned during these cycles, which of course is the only litter you can use inside of Cat Genie. The cleaning solution is also proprietary, as you would assume. The machine (above) is enormous; larger than a Human Being Toilet and almost half the size of a washing machine.

Not only do you have to plug this into a power outlet, you need to hook it up to your water supply, which means it has to be next to a sink, toilet or washing machine. My wife did not know this until it was too late. Here were my live tweets from that evening:

11:02PM My wife, sight unseen, just bought a cat toilet. Like, one that flushes with water and stuff.
11:11PM Oh God, now she’s rooting through my toolbox. I’m having an anxiety attack. This dumbass toilet is going to be the downfall of our home.
11:14PM If I find that monstrosity next to the toilet in my bathroom, I’m moving out. I’m not making eye contact with my cat while we both poop.
11:14PM I’m afraid to go upstairs. Halp.
11:15PM Alright, I’m going up.
11:20PM Good news. She’s hooking it up to her toilet in the master bath…right next to our bed. I can already see me stepping into it one night.
11:21PM I love this woman with all my heart.

That’s right. This thing currently sits between the bed and bathroom in the master bedroom, latched onto our plumbing like some sort of leech-like tumor. Ever want a toilet next to your bed? A toilet that you couldn’t use? Well, sleep easy. I’ve got just what you need.

Well, that’s your fault,” you may say. “You should have known that your house wasn’t equipped for a product as futuristic and advanced as Cat Genie.” And you’d be right, which is why I say that this is the dumbest thing I have ever bought, not the worst product on the market*. I’m sure this meets the needs of millions of cat owners in America who are so fearful of litter and feline urine that a fuse blows out in their tender brains and they willfully plop down almost $600 to pretend none of this shit exists. I salute those people and hope they get the help they sincerely need.

So anyway, let’s recap. It needs a power supply. It needs a water supply. The litter is plastic, mandatory and costs $25 a box. The cleaning solution also costs $25 a box. By the way, the cleaning solution smells like jet fuel, and when heated up with the granules and cat shit, is about as palatable as a hoarder’s crawlspace. For about five minutes during the Salad Spinner-esque cleaning cycle, it’s louder than any appliance in your home. The plastic pellets are tracked everywhere. Oh, and the cats refuse to use it because it scares them, which is the only thing that really matters.

For me, it seemed like an open-and-shut case. This isn’t for us. Let’s return it. But the Missus does not give up. This is why I married her. You know what they say: “Never make fun of your wife’s choices, because you were one of them.” To this day, the Cat Genie sits in the Master Bedroom. The cats sometimes sleep inside of it. It’s never once been used for its intended purpose, although I’m personally becoming more and more tempted each day.

I like Technology. I like new devices and I like anything that will make my life easier. The Cat Genie did none of those things. But I like my wife and cats, so rest assured that this CAT TECH journey will never stop.

Maybe they’d use a bidet.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever bought? Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

 

(*Please do not sue me. I have so little.)

MST3K Power Rankings (Season 11).

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PART I – THE ESSAY.

The above photo is of the television that currently resides in my home office. I inherited the cabinet from a great-grandmother. I have no idea how old it is, and I don’t care to find out, but it’s old. The smaller TV I stuffed inside of it is the first TV I ever owned. I watched Woodstock ’94 on it, and it miraculously still works. I spent an entire day retrofitting the cabinet, buying the antenna, setting up the Digital Conversion Kit and rediscovering how shitty it was to have lived in the tail-end of the Analog Era.

But I did it. It’s done. Amongst a home overflowing with 21st Century technology, I made a specific, calculated effort to resurrect an ancient technology from the grave, and make it my chief (or at least occasional) source of entertainment. But why?

First, the aesthetic is killer. Secondly (and most importantly), for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

A friend had told me that classic episodes of MST3K were airing on Comet TV, an analog channel that does not exist on DirecTV. My viewing options were to check out their online stream, or do all the wacky shit I described in the paragraph above. Admittedly, the first option was the more logical of the two, but my relationship with this show has never been logical.

The first time I saw MST3K, I was spending a Summer weekend at my cousin’s house, and I woke up to a rerun of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. It was 1992, and I was 10 years old. I did not grow up with cable at my own home, so this was the first opportunity I had to take it in. I remember where I was sitting in the living room. I remember where exactly in the episode I had tuned in. I remember all the jokes. I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on, but I knew it was the best thing I had ever seen on TV.

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(I can assure you that I had a great day; I just wasn’t comfortable smiling. This, to me, was like sitting on the Simpson’s couch. I’ll tell you anything you want about the tour if you wish to know.)

It’s become pleasant to me how many people’s first experiences with MST3K were the same. Something to remember about TV at the time was that you just sort of dropped in to whatever was showing on the channel you landed on. No Internet, no instant episode descriptions, not even a show title. For shows not blatantly obvious, you sometimes had to watch for a few minutes to even figure out what it was that you were seeing.

This seemed to work in MST3K‘s favor when it comes to nostalgia. So many people have told me the same story: They were flipping around, landed on MST3K, had no idea what was going on and instantly fell in love with it. I make the conscious decision to watch MST3K on a fuzzy analog TV now because it reminds me of how I used to watch it, and I like that feeling, even if I like the show on any conceivable medium presented to me. It’s like insisting on listening to your favorite band on vinyl when Spotify is irrefutably easier. This is all one of those rare instances where the element of certain surprise, anonymity and unexplainable surrealness benefited a television show. Well…sort of. To be more descriptive, it’s the kind of memory that creates a small, devoted cult of fans, but nowhere near enough to make the show as popular as it could have (or should have) been.

But hey, we have nothing to be sad about. It was this devoted cult of fans that saved the show from a post-Season 7 cancellation from Comedy Central and got 3 more seasons on the new (at the time) Sci-Fi Channel. We also got a feature film. It’s not unlike the audience response we saw with Community and Arrested Development years later.

Oh, and then just one other thing happened.

In 2016, the same devoted cult of fans pulled off the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the history of the Internet, raising nearly $7 million dollars and dragging MST3K back onto the air for an 11th Season, a full 18 years after it’s second cancellation.

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(Here’s another cool shot of the Satellite of Love from the side. I took this. I was there.)

Of the myriad reasons why an 11th Season of MST3K was enough to blow my brain clear out of my butthole, there was just as much curiosity to see how it would do after being gone from the airwaves for so long. I mean, this is a show that went off the air without a single episode airing in HD. Never mind the new host and litany of new writers and performers, how would the films look? Is this a show that could decline in quality of enjoyment as a direct result of improved quality of presentation? Would the streaming, on-demand, bingeable, commercial-free world of Netflix actually make MST3K less palatable as a result? Is that even possible?

In short, not really. By all accounts, MST3K came back with a near-perfect 11th Season, and in a twist not predicted by even its biggest fans, the show appears to be more popular in 2017 than at any point in its history. I cannot overstate how crazy that is. This was set up beautifully to fail, and it succeeded and evolved in nearly every possible facet.

I’d be honest. I’d admit that a show I loved has lost its mojo. But it didn’t happen, even though my relationship with it has changed so much. I watch the new episodes on an HD screen in my living room whenever I want. I keep Wikipedia open on my phone in case I want to reference a joke that went over my head in real time. But it’s still as fun as when I watch the reruns on the ancient office TV and remember what it was like when there was so much more…mystery.

It’s just good, and it doesn’t matter how.

PART II – THE COLLECTION.

I don’t have the largest collection of MST3K memorabilia by any stretch; it was never my intent. But I did amass some weird merch over the years, and I would hold my collection up to anyone else’s in terms of randomness. Consider this my excuse to finally show it off, and you’re more than welcome to skip this section if you’d like. I just really want people to know I have MST3K stationary.

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This is an enormous theatrical poster from MST3K: The Movie. I purchased this directly from the wonderful folks at Best Brains during my set tour in 1998.

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Servo magnet. If you were a subscriber to Satellite News, you’d get a catalog in the mail every few months when stuff like this was available.

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Logo magnet. For the record, I don’t mind the updated, Season 11 logo. They’re both fine.

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Here’s a (dusty, sorry) Crow figurine that came with the 20th Anniversary Box Set. I keep it by my phone at work.

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Mug (front).

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Mug (butt).

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Gypsy, Crow and logo pins. Super punk rock.

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Mousepad. I use this mousepad; I’m using it right now. Which explains why it’s so worn.

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This is a life-size, fully-working Tom Servo replica. It sits atop the retro TV, and over the years it’s become a place to hang my work credentials. It’s the only ‘unauthorized’ piece in the collection, as I bought it from a guy who makes replicas for a living. It’s a nice conversation starter.

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Various books written by MST3K folk, including the much-revered Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. When the Internet was in its infancy, the ACEG was the MST3K Bible for fans. When you would quiz another MSTie in a chat room, you had to specify that they weren’t allowed to used the ACEG. I’m old; screw you.

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Mike Nelson-signed copy of Death Rat! I’m unaware of anyone who purchased this book but me.

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Tin 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Box Set. The DVDs are stuffed tight into this thing, and it’s a bitch to take them out without damaging the cardboard and artwork. So I basically just bought it and never watched it.

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Static decal. Put it on your car or pet; it’s fun!

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Stationary. Yeah, it’s MST3K stationary. Never used, of course. To be more specific, it’s a pack of Post-It notes with the graphics on it.

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You want music? How about both editions of Clowns In The Sky?

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It’s really all worth it for the moon logo on the CD. I hadn’t opened these in years until I snapped this photo, and I was like, “Wow, that looks really cool.” I have no idea when I bought these; I assumed I ordered them directly through the studio, like with everything else.

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You want VHS tapes? I got VHS tapes. Here’s a truncated example of the Rhino VHS releases. I purchased nearly all of them from Suncoast Video back in the day, with the exception of a few rare ones that I got directly through Rhino. And yeah, that’s a copy of Jack Frost in the lower right-hand corner.

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Here are a handful of rare, yet still ‘official’ MST3K releases. Assignment: Venezuela, Mr. B’s Lost Shorts, Poopie II, The Last Dance: Raw and the MST Scrapbook. I have no idea if these were ever available at stores; I bought them directly through the studio, and there are no bar codes or artwork.

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Finally, a small piece of the shows I recorded directly from TV. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I have nearly every episode dubbed directly from television, most with the original commercials still intact. The above photo is just a handful of the entire storage bin I have full of VHS tapes that represent the entirely of the series through Season 10. Labels printed by me, of course.

I could collect more stuff. A lot more. Especially now. But- and this sounds incredibly contradictory- I don’t consider myself a collector. I don’t go on eBay and I’m not interested in what you have. I just buy what I want when I want to. Anyway, thanks for humoring me.

PART III – THE COUNTDOWN.

And now, here are my Top 10 episodes of Season 11. There are 14 total S11 episodes, but since I didn’t have a definitive ‘worst’ episode (they were all enjoyable), I just set the cut at 10 and went from there.

10. Starcrash (1106)
9. Yongary (1109)
8. Time Travelers (1103)
7. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1113)
6. At the Earth’s Core (1114)
5. The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1105)
4. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1110)
3. Carnival Magic (1112)
2. Avalanche (1104)
1. Cry Wilderness (1102)

I’ll say no more, except for this. If you have never seen MST3K, or were a casual fan that hasn’t checked out the reboot yet, do me a favor and just watch Cry Wilderness. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about whether the show is for you or not. I’d sincerely place it in the Top 5 best episodes of the entire series, hands-down.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Garbage Day!

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. So is Garbage Day.

It might sound weird, but I kinda like Garbage Day. First off, my anxiety surrounding all things Cleanliness is quelled as a week’s worth of detritus is purged from my bins. There’s also considerably more dog shit in said bins as there was before we owned a dog, so the quicker it can get to the end of my driveway, the better.

I remember watching an episode of Obsessed on the Discovery Channel, where they profiled people suffering from various types of OCD-related behavior and Anxiety. There was this one dude who refused to sleep in his bed, because he made it so perfectly that he didn’t want to disrupt it (to be fair, it was a perfectly-made bed). He also threw every piece of garbage directly into the dumpster, so nothing sat in his (in-house) garbage cans.

Damn,” I said to myself while watching this guy tiptoe around his house, “this is exactly what I do.” I never watched Obsessed after that episode, but I still take most of my stuff straight to the dumpster instead of throwing it into the kitchen trash. It’s like, 10 feet away. It’s all good. Don’t worry about me.

The second reason I like Garbage Day is more ego-driven. Makes me feel good. I like dragging my garbage to the end of my driveway. It reminds me that I own a house, live in a cul-de-sac, and I’m living the American Dream to the best of my fiscal and intelligence-based abilities. It’s one of those little moments that remind me that I might be doing this Life thing right after all. I’m on the grid, homie! I pay city taxes!

One time I saw the garbage truck drive down my street, pick up each individual bin, and toss it entirely- bin and all– into the back of the truck. He collected every bin on the street, compacted them, and drove off. Must have been a new guy. I can only imagine the conversation when they got back to the dump. I laughed for nearly an hour straight. It was one of the most beautifully comedic examples of workplace incompetence I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, let’s get to the story, here. A few days ago, I had the day off of work, and I was sort of false-starting my way out of the bedroom. I knew I had to get up for some reason, but I kept forgetting and falling back asleep. Then I heard the garbage truck turn onto my block, and I realized that I hadn’t taken the bin out yet.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. The Missus and I don’t generate that much trash over the course of a week, and if push came to shove, it could wait until next week. But not this week’s garbage.

It was a special blend of early-Spring Cleaning trash that contained no less than 10 pounds of dog feces collected from the lawn and deck following an early snow melt. It was unfathomably repugnant, and the mere thought of leaving it in my garage for another week was simply not an option. It would have probably violated the lease on my car. I knew that I had less than 30 seconds to get dressed, sprint downstairs, open the garage door and drag this bin to the street. I’d dump it into the back of the truck myself if I had to; anything to ensure that it was emptied today.

Important sidebar: I don’t have a set routine as to what I wear to bed. Sometimes I sleep in only boxer shorts. Sometimes pajama bottoms. I even wear socks if it’s cold enough. Once I wore a hoodie, and goddamn was that luxurious. Anyway, today I just had boxers and a t-shirt on, and with the garbage truck only a few houses away, I knew I didn’t have time to put anything else on.

This presented me with a quandary, specifically regarding the Social Contract between me and the fellow residents of the Wyndham Hills neighborhood in Sun Prairie. I’m not that kind of a neighbor. I’m extremely low-key. I’ve only ventured outside of the house twice in eight years wearing something other than jeans, and both times it was pajama bottoms in a bleary-eyed attempt to get the mail. And even that felt akin to treason for yours truly. There was no way in Hell that I was going to drag this bin to the curb in nothing but boxer shorts.

The truck was one house away. Son of a bitch.

There was no time for Social Contract. No time for shame, no time for modesty. I would deal with the repercussions later. For the time being, I had a dumpster full of feces that needed- beyond a shadow of a doubt- to vacate the premises post-haste. I was not proud of what I was about to do, but I knew that such sacrifices came with being a responsible homeowner and husband.

I bit down on my lip and started running for the door.

I skidded down the steps, slipped my shoes on in the garage while hitting the button for the door. Shoes, no socks, boxers and a ratty shirt. There was the truck; I was going to make it if I hurried. The bin was heavy; heavier than usual because of all the turds. I struggled and strained to get it onto its wheels to push it down the driveway. I stumbled around a bit, but I did what I needed to do. I got the bin to the end of the street in just enough time to watch it get emptied…and drag it directly back inside. It was touch-and-go, but I pulled it off and nobody was the wiser. I nailed it. I was proud.

Until I saw my neighbor. Standing in his driveway no more than a few feet from me, walking his dog. He saw the whole thing. I stood up straight, flattened down my hair and attempted to look presentable as I swaggered back into the garage. “Good morning,” I said with all the dignity of a man who looked like he just yanked out his IV and leapt out the window of a mental institution. He did not say hello back to me, instead turning away quickly and fleeing with his dog.

Jeez. I knew what I did wasn’t optimal, but I mean, it wasn’t that bad, right? Okay, so I was in my boxers, but big deal. I had a shirt on. And shoes! I was overthinking this; it’s not even in the Top 100 of egregious errors a neighbor can make. I think my unblemished eight years of quality neighboring would have allowed me a mulligan on the whole ordeal, right? I mean, surely I wasn’t the first person in history to hastily drag his garbage out while wearing night clothes, right? Right?

Then I looked down at my boxers.

And saw my penis.

It was out. It had been out the whole time.

Neighbor saw it. Neighbor’s dog saw it. When the garbage truck drove away, I gave the man a wave with my hand on my hip, quietly basking in the glory of a job well done. In reality, I was standing on the sidewalk of a residential area, exposing my batch like a lunatic to all passerby.

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. But I’ll be laying low for a while, especially on Garbage Day.

Top CDP Essays (2015-2016).

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Here are the Top 10 CDP Essays from 2015 to 2016, in bite-sized form. Click at will and enjoy in moderation.

10. Please Don’t Let Me Forget How To Read And Write. (2/1/16)

9. 2015-2016 Fall TV Preview. (8/31/15)

8. 2016-2017 Fall TV Preview. (9/5/16)

7. The 11 Most Popular CDP Posts Of All-Time. (9/12/16)

6. I Got A Dog! (2/15/16)

5. I’m The Best In The World At What I Do. (2/29/16)

4. My Anxiety Year. (2/8/16)

3. I Lost Over $500 By Joining Draft Kings! (3/7/16)

2. Fuller House – Season 1. (3/4/16-4/1/16)
Episode 1
Episode 2/3
Episode 4/5
Episode 6/7
Episode 8/9
Episode 10/11
Episode 12/13

1. TV Month 2016. (5/2/16-5/31/16)
Channel 0 – The Series Primer
Channel 1 – The Series Premiere
Channel 2 – The Big Ugly Dish
Channel 3 – The Premium
Channel 4 – The UHF Dial
Channel 5 – The Programming Block
Channel 6 – The Skeptic
Channel 7 – The Obscurity
Channel 8 – The Commercials
Channel 9 – The Doomsday
Channel 10 – The Unsolved
Channel 11 – The 100 Greatest (100-76)
Channel 12 – The 100 Greatest (75-51)
Channel 13 – The 100 Greatest (50-31)
Channel 14 – The 100 Greatest (30-11)
Channel 15 – The 100 Greatest (10-1)
Channel 16 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 1)
Channel 17 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 2)
Channel 18 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 3)
Channel 19 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 4)
Channel 20 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 5)
Channel 21 – The Series Finale
Channel 22 – The Sign Off

Thank you. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week.

The Berenstain Bears Ruined My Life.

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There was a point in my life when I wanted nothing more than to be an Internet Phenomenon. Time has proven this to be somewhat antithetical to the way I go about my business; I don’t even like taking the garbage out in the same 15-second window as my neighbor in the event I will be forced to make small talk.

Over the years, I never wrote essays to strictly capitalize on traffic (or tried particularly hard to bolster my popularity), but I do admit that I silently wondered what it would be like to write something, someday, that resonated with a million people at once. As a writer, you want to maintain some sort of control over your words and their intent, but it’s also silly to never want something you write to explode and essentially venture into the Public Domain. To create something so universal that it no longer has an author. It…just sort of belongs to the Internet. That seemed like a fun thing to aspire toward.

I now know what that feels like, and I’ll tell you all about it.

In July of 2011, I wrote an essay titled ‘Somebody Must Have Stepped On A Butterfly.‘ It was about the Berenstain Bears and their popular series of books, specifically about how almost everyone from a certain generation remembered them as the ‘Berenstein’ Bears, and how that false remembrance may cause us to rethink everything we know about Time Travel and Alternate Realities. I also touched upon how this may be the first ‘Glitch in the Matrix’ that we’ve noticed so far, and we may discover more as blah BLAH BLOO BLEE BLAH…you get it. Read it if you want to.

You heard about this. You probably read about this sometime last year on some other website or message board. You sure as shit didn’t read about it when I originally wrote it in 2011, because nobody read that essay at the time. I thought it was interesting and funny, and I workshopped it to nearly everyone I knew at the time, but nobody seemed to be as interested in the theory as I was. Eventually I gave up on it. I walked away from the 2011 essay and decided that it was just another of the thousand dumb things I’ve said on the Internet that more or less amount to nothing. I’ve been blogging for 13 years as of this very day; I can tell you that most stuff on the Internet is read by no one. That’s how this works more often than not.

Then, a few years later…something happened.

It was slow at first. A few sci-fi and Physics-based websites took the (spooky) skeleton of my idea and reshaped it into new theories. Parallel Dimensions were discussed. People started making YouTube clips discussing the false memory (or nefarious explanation thereof). Mostly, a lot of people at once began to realize that, heeeeyyyyy….I remembered it as ‘Berenstein’ too! Weird! I personally noticed the slight spike in interest, and quietly fistpumped over a job well done. I managed to get a little satisfaction and redemption over something I had relegated to the mothballs years ago. It was all good.

Then all hell broke loose.

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It literally happened overnight. An editor at Vice wrote about it, and was kind enough to link back to my 2011 essay. It became one of the most popular posts in the history of the page. Reddit then followed suit in conversation. MTV, Yahoo! and The AV Club wrote articles about the theory. Nerdist devoted a podcast episode to it. The idea hit a bunch of mainstream pages within hours of each other, and that was all she wrote. A bazillion minds were blown in unison. Even Seventeen Magazine wrote about it, which bizarrely fulfilled my lifelong fantasy of being mentioned in Seventeen Magazine, although not in a heartthrob-related fashion as I had hoped.

By the end of the week, it had invaded every aspect of online discussion. There were Facebook groups devoted to the theory. Subreddits such as The Mandella Effect and Glitch In The Matrix exploded. There was a Kickstarter page for a documentary someone wanted to make. T-shirts were printed. Twitter was fragmented into #TeamBerenstain and #TeamBerenstein. It was a theory that had legs and enough vagueness for people to pick it up and turn it into whatever they wanted. The result of the Presidential Election played into it, too, in that we wanted more than ever to believe there was a better version of Earth somewhere out there, and perhaps we could visit if we found a way to wormhole ourselves over to the opposite side of the mirror.

Let me know if you figure it out, by the way. My bags are already packed.

Over the last year, I’ve completely and utterly lost track of where the story has gone. The Angry Video Game Nerd did an episode inspired by the theory. Some of my favorite podcasts such as How Stuff Works have taken the time to discuss it. There’s even a reference to a ‘Project Berenstain‘ on Mr Robot, for Christ’s sake. And these are just the things I’ve noticed without trying. Just a cursory Internet search went from a handful of hits in 2011 (prior to my essay), to millions in 2017.

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Something very important I want to articulate, here. The Berenstain Bears Theory of Everything is not, in my opinion, a CDP essay or Ryan Zeinert brainchild. It’s an idea that took root thanks (only in part) to something funny I wrote a long time ago and bloomed in a million different directions. I’m extremely happy as a writer to be part of something that entered any semblance of mainstream discussion, but I’m also glad my name isn’t attached to it all that much. I don’t really want to be known as ‘The Time Travel Guy,’ I just like writing stuff, and the fact that I got to see the story evolve through the web without being hitched to it was the perfect outcome for me. It’s kind of a goofy thing to be proud of; it’s just been fun to watch.

People are probably making money off of it. I am not. I do not care (my wife absolutely cares). This worked out exactly how I wanted it to, but couldn’t have ever predicted. Furthermore, there are hundreds of people who put far more work into this theory than I have. Watch some YouTube clips; it’s friggin’ insanity out there. I’m perfectly content peering through the boarded-up windows of my tar paper shack and pissing into old soup cans. Don’t tell them where I am!

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As it stands, the original essay from 2011 brings in over 20,000 unique hits a month. It has been viewed well over a million times, all stats considered. There’s a personal beauty for me in having the Berenstain bears, such a huge reading influence for me as a kid, be the reason so many people read something I wrote almost 30 years later. Even if my theory is false (and it definitely is), they definitely changed the future for me in one way or another. And if this also means that someone new shows up to the CDP and sticks around because they like my other stuff, then hey, all the better.

Today is the 13th Anniversary of the Communist Dance Party, today is our first post on WordPress and today represents the finale of the ‘Most Popular Posts In CDP History‘ list started way back in September of 2016 (sorry it took so long). If there’s anything valuable I can take away from this experience, it’s that humorous personal essays are all fine and good, but if you want to hit that next-level traffic, you gotta get clickbaity with a list or keyword. Or you just gotta stumble upon some dumb luck and propose an idea so ridiculous that the Internet explodes for an entire week. I prefer the latter to the former.

I’m also being cynical and obviously joking. I will continue to write stupid shit that amuses me, probably for another 13 years, with no endgame or logical goal in site. It’s what I do.

Two quick things before we’re done. First, I recorded my first (and so far, only) podcast with the wonderful folks over at the Mark & Toddcast a few months ago. We talked about this very Berenstain/Berenstein phenomenon, and I strongly encourage you to check it out and comment on my buttery-smooth voice. This ain’t no Skype shit, either; I literally flew out to Portland and sat down with them. It was dope; check it out!

Finally, I wanted to do something I’ve never done before and dedicate today’s post to Bruce Daniel Kiesling, AKA Wallrock, who passed away on February 10 following a battle with pneumonia. Wallrock was a frequent CDP commenter and Mix-Tape Trade participant over the years (you may have received a Mix from him at some point in the last decade), and I was lucky enough to share a beer and good conversation with him in person on a few occasions. He will be missed, and I offer my sincere condolences to his friends and family.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week.

15 Photos Of Chicago.

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NOTE: I’m not done with the ‘Most Popular Post In CDP History’ essay, so please accept my apologies and enjoy these selected photos from my 2016 vacation to Chicago.

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Disrupt.

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Skeleton.

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Media Wall.

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Dummy (right).

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Debate Camera.

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Letters To Cleo.

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Weatherman.

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Missus and Kay.

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“The dead have risen and are currently walking the Earth.”

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Beercade.

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Happy Good Day.

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I’m moderating this bitch.

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Adult.

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Deuces, Stinktown. It’s been real.

See you again soon. I’m writing, I promise.

10 Photos Of Des Moines.

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NOTE: I’m not done with the ‘Most Popular Post In CDP History’ essay, so please accept my apologies and enjoy these selected photos from my 2016 vacation to Des Moines.

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Graffiti.

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Arcade.

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Up/Down.

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Bike.

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Static pillow.

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Fong’s Pizza.

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Punch-Out.

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Picturesque.

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Laika (mirror) tattoo. The reason for the season.

See you Monday.