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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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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Missus and Kay.

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

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Happy Good Day.

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I’m moderating this bitch.

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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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Static pillow.

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Fong’s Pizza.

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

See you Monday.

10 Photos Of Portland.

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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 Portland.

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Liquor wall.

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Dope kicks.

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Voodoo Doughnuts.

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I unfortunately had to travel alone.

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CDP alumni Levi Greenacres tattooed me! Also met Pointless Banter’s Kevin Palmer and the Mark and Toddcast’s Todd Werkoven. Great, great people.

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Technically Utah.

See you Friday.

15 Photos Of Las Vegas.

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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 Las Vegas.

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Palm trees. 116 degrees that day.

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The wire.

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The ponies.

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Top Golf.

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Bellagio peek.

See you Wednesday.

The 11 Most Popular CDP Posts Of All-Time.

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As of today’s post, I have been blogging here at the CDP for 12-and-a-half years. Since February of 2004, to be specific. Nearly 1500 individual entries, too.

That’s a long time to have done anything, and since the inception, I’ve managed to keep a side-eye on what seems to resonate on the web and what does not, traffic-wise. Now, this information has never shaped what I do here, and the CDP has never been popular enough to move the needle in any significant cultural sense, but that’s just the way I like it. It’s 2016. If you suddenly find yourself receiving a ton of attention on the Internet, it’s probably because a bunch of lunatics are forcing you to apologize about something. It’s never been worth it to me. I write what I want to write for the people who want to read it, I release a book every decade or so, and life is good.

I realized a long time ago that you cannot predict what will catch fire and what will languish in the archives and be read by nobody. It’ll drive you insane. It’s just best to do what you want and see what shakes out. When I think about my biggest, most ambitious projects that I’m the most proud of (Decade In Review, Loves The 90’s, TV25 Tournament, TV Month, etc.), statistics say that they weren’t all that massive. This isn’t even speaking to the hundreds of personal essays over the years that comprised both of my books. Some of those have been read by literally nobody.

But today isn’t about any of that. Today is an analysis of the Most Popular Posts In CDP History. Not my ‘best,’ not the most well-received. Just a straight-up look at the entries that have been viewed by the most people. The reason I’m doing this is because…well, we’ll get to that later. It’s worth your while.

Again, is this indicative of my best work? Nope; not even close. In fact, a couple of these are downright embarrassing in the light of 2016. Like I said, you cannot predict these things, but a few patterns did emerge once I started crunching the numbers. For example, 7 of the Top 11 entries are lists, which proves the Internet adage that if you’re just looking for traffic, clickbait always trumps quality.

Here we go. I’ll add personal thoughts as we venture along.

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11. Top 50 3rd Wave Ska Albums Of All-Time

Published – 09/24/10
Unique Hits – 10,000+

I had a lot of fun writing my list of the 50 Greatest 3rd Wave Ska Albums Of All-Time, but I thought it was just a selfish labor of love. I remember putting a fair amount of work into it with clips and photos and whatnot, along with personal remembrances of my time as a hardcore Ska fan. Frankly, the only reason I did it was because I wanted to read a list like this, but nothing existed on the Internet that I thought was worthy. So I made one myself, and it seemed to resonate with those who remember the era as fondly as I did. I also really like that logo.

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10. 10 Stupid Jobs

Published – 01/17/06
Unique Hits – 12,000+

This isn’t a list of 10 jobs that I find ‘stupid.’ This was literally a list of the first 10 jobs I’ve ever had; totally personal and autobiographical in nature. I like the essay and had fun with it, but the real reason it got bigger than average was because it shows up extremely high on search engines when you type in ‘stupid jobs.’ I’ll take it, if only because I want as many people as possible to read about the time I crashed that golf course mower through a fence and onto the highway.

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9. The Worst Album Covers Of All-Time

Published – 03/20/06
Unique Hits – 15,000+

This was a lucky example of striking while the iron was hot. Long before clickbait was a word and BuzzFeed carved an empire off of shit like this, I sifted through a bunch of terrible album covers and made fun of them. Now, I think I did a good job with this, but it was more of a ‘right time, right place’ thing. I still get e-mails about this original album cover list (I did a few of them). In fact, one album in particular makes its own appearance later on in the countdown.

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8. Everything Went Exactly As Planned

Published – 01/18/11
Unique Hits – 15,000+

This is a funny story. I created the above image and scanned it. The idea was to make it look like something from my childhood, and specifically to make it look like I got everything I ‘wished’ for. It was a self-deprecating, un-serious way to poke fun at how you think things will go, versus how things end up going. You either think it’s clever or it’s not, right?

Well, BuzzFeed either didn’t get the joke, or the tween they had writing their list didn’t look close enough at my image. The above ‘MASH’ creation was used (without permission, although I was cited) on one of their nostalgia lists. This lead to some hilariously misguided comments (“This idiot wanted a Mercury Sable?”) as nobody checked the source material to fully understand the joke. It was just a random, dumb luck set of circumstances that confused a lot of people who didn’t know me.

However, the best part was the spike in web traffic for my wife’s maiden name. Thousands of people on BuzzFeed wanted to know who this unknown woman was who shared a MASH category with Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley. It was a fun few weeks to sit back and watch it all play out. Internet’s weird, man.

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7. The Conspiracy Starts Now

Published – 06/24/06
Unique Hits – 16,000+

Many years ago, I found myself stuck in the middle of a UFO convention. Not a fun one. A serious, terrified group of people in the sweltering middle of nowhere talking about probes and mind control and personal tales of punching aliens in the face (not kidding). Instead of fleeing for my life, I stuck around and rolled tape until I thought I’d be outed as a skinwalker and got the hell out of dodge. 

I still think about that day sometimes. There was a moment during the festivities where the speaker wanted to go around the room and have people say out loud what their personal experiences had been with aliens. That was my cue to throw the car keys to Celia and start running.

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6. Top 20 Scary Movie Moments

Published – 10/28/04
Unique Hits – 20,000+

From a strictly search engine, clickbaity standpoint, I totally understand why this entry is so popular, especially around Halloween. I, however, sort of hate it. I was 22 years old, couldn’t write for shit, and basically blew it. I should really update this list. Not gonna hurt my feelings if you don’t go back and check it out.

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5. Top 30 TV Shows Of The 90’s

Published – 07/14/10
Unique Hits – 40,000+

I spent an entire month in 2010 counting back my favorite Films, TV Shows and Albums of the 1990’s, and I feel like I really put the work in. Lots of research, lots of re-watching and re-listening to stuff. Basically just an excuse to wallow in my favorite decade for the purposes of entertainment. But one entry in particular (Top TV Shows) seems to continue to generate traffic over the years. Hey, if you like that, I did a dozen more 90’s lists that month! Click around, homies!

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4. Ken-By Request Only – The Complete Story

Published – 09/25/07
Unique Hits – 50,000+

For a while in the mid-2000’s, Ken was a myth. A legend. An polyester enigma shrouded in mystery. With the help of Snopes and a crazy person willing to call a stranger on the telephone, I was one of the first people to shed more light on the mystery surrounding one of the ‘worst’ album covers of all-time. For that reason, this entry continues to draw people in. A new Ken fan is made every day, and I’d like to think I have a little something to do with that.

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3. 10 Hard-Hitting Questions

Published – 08/18/08
Unique Hits – 60,000+

Inspired by Chuck Klosterman’s set of ‘HyperTheticals,’ I attempted to create bizarre scenario questions and see how the Internet decided to answer them. It eventually took off, although I couldn’t really tell you why. I thought they were funny though, so it’s all good. 

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2. Twenty-Six Things That Suck About Turning 26

Published – 02/01/08
Unique Hits – 100,000+

Who knew that ‘Turning 26’ was searched by so many people? Chances are, if you turned (or are turning) 26 and wanted to see what people had to say about it, you found my essay right off the bat. To this day, I receive new comments and e-mails on a monthly basis as 20-somethings lament about this most mediocre of birthdays. Hang in there! It gets better! Or something! And yes, that is a childhood photo of me with a broken nose and two black eyes.


We’ve reached the top of our list. Number 1. The single most popular entry in CDP history.

Out of anything I’ve ever written, this is the only one I can legit say went ‘viral.’ It has already amassed well over a million unique hits and averages an additional 25,000 new hits per month. It has been viewed by more people than anything I have ever written in my entire life combined. It generates the most e-mail, has been featured on more news sites than I can keep up with, and has spawned an Internet community bigger than anything I could have ever imagined.

I’ve been waiting over five years to talk about this, and we’ll get into all of it, every granular detail, next time.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.