Recently, I realized that the anniversary had passed. Then, when I did the math, I realized this had been a real anniversary. The actual date was December 18th, 1997. That means that this would be fifteen years. The internet was not quite advanced or as prevelant as it is today. Now, you hear about some one famous drying practically before they die. Everyone is trying to get the jump. It seems unthinkable that you would not realize that a celebrity is dead until after they are already buried. So, it was actually nine days afetr a celebrity died. People tend to think of me as being a guy that is pretty up on things. But, honestly, I did not know that Chris Farley had died for nine days. The circumstances of me finding out was pretty unusual as well. Ole Miss had gone to a bowl game that year. They were playing Marshall University (featuring quarterback Chad Pennington and wide receiver Randy Moss.) It was called the Motor City Bowl. I was visiting a friend of mine in North Little Rock named James Bodine.
The next day, the Minnesota Vikings were facing the New York Giants in a playoff game. I received the call in the middle of the game. The plane was leaving Detroit for Memphis. I would practically have to leave immeadiately and try to get to Memphis in a few hours to pick up my wife from the airport. It was a really good game so I started listen to it on radio driving essentially the straight shot from Little Rock to Memphis. That was when they started talking about the shock of the news. Chris Farley had died and been buried. I was kind of on a Christmas break. Literally, the news struck me so hard that I had to pull over on the side of a freeway for about ten minutes to absorb it. Seemingly by a miracle, the Giants ended up beating the heavily favored Vikings by one point in those playoffs. I had a myriad of thoughts about the death. I remembered reading a piece he had done for Sports Illustrated talking about growing up going to Badgers games in the University of Wisconsin. I remember him talking about how big his Dad was and how much trouble they had lifting the casket. I remember an especially sad Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in which Merv Griffin asked Fraley “Are you alright young man?” The lgitimate concern on the face of Griffin was heart breaking.
I remember I had read about a project that Farley was attached to. I only really remembered it because the name was so odd. The name of the movie was called Shrek. I remembering wondering what a movie called Shrek could possibly be about. I remember thinking that an animated movie with Chris Farley would be kind of a kick. The project that I was really sad about was one that I read about in Entertainment Weekly. Chris Farley wanted to do a serious biopic of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. He described it as a dream project. I remember that as being a movie I wanted to see. I had high hopes for Farley. I was hoping that he would escape a seemingly inevitable fate. Later on, I would see a Saturday Night Live skit in which Farley would put his head on Phil Hartman’s shoulder. Later on, that clip would be nearly impossible to watch because it was so sad to me.
I often think of when I was growing up. I had two favorite shows (for lack of a better word). I loved Saturday Night Live and I loved WWF wrestling. I really wanted to grow up to either be a wrestler or to be on Saturday Night Live. It is one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ things. WWF wrestlers in the 1980s and Saturday Night Live performers are some of the most high risk and cursed in their respective industries. Many don’t live to be fifty. My dream was always to sat “live from New York..” I learned when I studied the lives of wrestlers and SNL performers that I wasn’t able to devote my life completely to those pursuits. It is people like Farley who gave their lives to those dreams. Farley loved Saturday Night Live more than anyone. Farley loved the era that I loved. Farley loved the original raw 1970s crowd. The not ready for prime time players that I saw only on reruns on MTV and cherished and imitated. Now, there are people that would call me a humorist. There are people that read my words and see them as funny. I have spent my life studying comedy. I had spent my life studying lives. I can run with a joke. I also know that comedy comes from a deep place that can occassionally destroy you like it did with Farley or Belushi. I also know that I do not have it in me to give completely on that level. There are times in which I did.
In this world of the internet, I am allowed to have a daily audience. I am allowed to write for humor sites and make people laugh. My nearly constant stream of ideas that I always seemed to have in me now has an outlet. I like to think of it as being part of the Comedy rebels back in the seventies trying to master the new medium and the comedy outlets they provide. I have a real dedication to writing and real dedication to comedy. It comes from a place I cannot describe. It comes from a need. I just hope that it does not overtake me. I can’t really stop it in any way. I don’t know where it is all going but it is anniversaries like this that really make me think, in a good way.
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, there is a voiceover quote that goes ” Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time.” I have thought long and hard about that. I have thought about how Andy would dig a tunnell a little each night. I have thought about how he would deposit the minor bits of dirt for his tunnell in the yeard every morning. As long as you make slow daily progress till something, you can accomplish it. Tell me something will take ten years, that is fine as long as it will actually happen and I will be here to see it. I have found that quite a bit can be accomplished with “pressure and time.” The following are a few examples.
1. 1oo Handwritten Letters
In 2010, I spoke up in the middle of an evening and said the following “This year and I am going to hand write and send at least a hundred letters through the mail.” It was an odd inspiration. My dad said that people never really wrote letters anymore. He talked about how at on point people would study letters that people had written and copy them. You can stuill read the letters of Benjamin Franklin. So, I started with buying paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. I started a Facebook group asking friends if they wanted a letter. Isent them in the order that I got the request. The letters averaged about 7-10 pages. I had some people already in mind that would get letters regardless. Each letter took a couple to a few hours to write. I mailed the letters once a week and numbered them. The whole project took roughly six months of faily work. Just a few hours a day. My kids got used to the sight of me sitting down and writing letters. I went past a hundred letters all the way to about 120. When I was done, I was done. People still comment on how much they treasure them. People still comment on sleeping with the letters as a reminder or putting them in a special drawer. I feel like after I am gone, those letters in some form will remain.
2. Tweeting Genesis
A couple of years ago, I started a Twitter account @onetrueciscell . I was told by one of my friends that with all of the other projects that I did, I would never have time to keep up a twitter account as well. It was about that time that I read about a man in England who was trying to tweet the Bible. Then, I saw what he was doing. He would write something like “Gen 1:1” and then paraphrase the Bible. He was also updating it several times a day. This thing had thousands of followers. Personally, I thought that it was rather disingenuous, So, I decided to use my twitter account to actually somewhat deliver on the promise that he had made. It has been a couple of years now. I have done over 800 tweets. I update it once a day usually around midnight. At the moment, I am up to Genesis Chapter 21. There are fifty some chapters in Genesis so I figure that it will take me around five years to just complete the first book. It will be interesting to see how far I do end up getting on it until my life time is complete or until twitter is gone. There is the interesting speculation of what mhy eventual ‘death verse’ might be. Of course, I am willing to stay on Earth until the whole thing is done.
3. Meet My Friends
A few years back, a friend of mine named Jeremy Justice dared me to tag all of my friends in a post. I got to thinking about the challenge and how people had remarked that they did not believe that I actually knew a thousand plus people. The insinuation was that I was merely adding for the sake of adding because I wanted to make it seem like I had a lot of friends or people that knew me or that the friends weren’t ‘real.’ So, every night I started tagging a person before I went to bed. I did it in alphabetical order so I would not lose my place. I never firgured that it would be read by anyone other than the person that was targeted. I found that people were really reading them. I found that people started to look forward to the nightly post. That was roughly three years ago. People have come and gone. I have just continued down the list. At the moment, I am less than a month away from actually completing what has really become a quest.
4. Mafia Wars Nest Egg
The Mafia Wars Nest Egg achievement is achieved when you have ten trillion dollars in your bank account in the area of New York. In order to do that, I worked building up properties to the point at which I would get one billion dollars an hour from the properties. You have to actually go onto the game to deposit the money or it will stop collecting. On January 1st 2012, I started depositing daily with the intention of not taking any out or using any until I had gotten to the 10 trillion mark in the game. After daily work and depositing for nearly a year, I have almost five trillion in the bank. I anticipate that the achievement will be done around the time that 2014 starts. Again, it is done about twice a day or so.
5. 100,000 views on CRACKED Topic Pages
I have three goals going into the CRACKED forums. My first goal was to get an article published on the site. My second goal was to become what was known as a “veteran writer” which means that you have five articles published on the website. My third goal was a little more difficult. CRACKED.COM has what is known as ‘topic pages.’ A topic page is when you claim a topic and make a page out of it. Now, the topic pages (with few exceptions) are not put on the front page. People actually have to search for them and click on them. That means that a topic page will succeed or fail completly on their merits as well as a pre-existing level of interest in the topic. As my number of paid sites started to increase, every idea became a potential article and topics were generally frree. The challenge is that I wanted to see if I could get a hundred thousand views merely on CRACKED topic… because that is just how I roll. I stopped really putting out topic pages at the number 52. I figured the number of weeks in a year sounded about right. Currently, there are over 96 thousand views on those 52 pages. My anticipation is that I should have over a hundred thousand views on those pages by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
6. The Highest Level on SoulXChange
In 2008, the source of nearly every ridiculous online game I play as well as my descension into Fantasy Football ( Alex Dawley) was chatting with me on Yahoo Instant Messenger. He said that he was playing a game called SoulXChange in which you ascend through Dante’s levels of Hell. Dawley asked if I would play the game. I said “Sure, whatever..” I had no real intention of playing in but the point is to create a buyable soul. So, I started playing just so that he would have another soul to buy. Eventually, he actually stopped playing the game for all intents and purposes and I had decided to see if I could make it all the way to the highest level. After a few…years.. I finally had descended to level 9. At that point, the creator of the game said that there would be a level 10 and 11. The level 10 materialized but the requirements for level 11 were never actually released in game. So, I figured I would fullfill my vow and go for level 11, A soul’s value in the game is determined by what is known as soulbux. Level 10 took 50 million soulbux. To get to level 10 on the game? I played steadily for over four years.
7. Watching All of The Original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits Episodes With My Children
I decided in the way that I generally do that it was important for my children to have a working knowledge of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. So for Christmas of 2010, I purchased all the episodes to both shows on DVD. At the beginning of January 2011, I started watching the episodes with my children on my days off. We would watch two hours a day, twice a week. To clear through all of them in both DVD sets took the whole year (almost exactly). In 2012, they started to have their own activities and it was harder to schedule the viewings. It was simply a new year and everything had moved on. However, we did make it through both sets and the children now have a working knowledge of both,
I have now taken to putting my list of things that I want to do in an email that I send to myself. I will then delete one when it is done. I start each year with fifty things on the list. Sometimes, there will be something that simply loses its meaning at the end of year. Sometimes, it will be time sensitive and I will have missed it. At the beginning of the year, I try to move the list back up to fifty things to do. Many of them fall under the auspice of ridiculously long projects. These are but seven that I am proud to share with you.