Friday, September 14, 2012

Digital Derangement

Once in a while, I stumble into one of the countless dark corners of the internet where the truly weird reside.

I’m not talking about the conspiracy theory sites preaching about the Illuminati being a mysterious world power, nor am I talking about the Tumblr pages filled with creepy photos posted by teenagers portraying themselves as mysterious and artistic.  Those places are filled with the same old ignorance and lack of grammar that I find pitiful and boring.  What I’m referring to are the dusty old digital storage closets at the end of the virtual hall – tucked behind Google’s deserted boiler room.

These nooks are the stomping grounds for the real lunatics that can’t help but spread their demented wings.  They aren’t ill-informed by their peers, or going through a childish phase, they’re legitimately screwed up.  Something is fundamentally wrong with them and it would take therapy, medication, maybe even institutionalism to get them to stop reciting Macbeth to their least favorite sock.  But thanks to the internet, some searching and a bit of luck… we sometimes get a glimpse of this complete madness.

Dammit, Google image search...

I became aware of these places when I was scrolling through the articles of  For those unaware of this website, I highly recommend you take a look.  You’ll see intriguing titles like: 6 Creepiest Places on Earth, The 7 Most Bizarrely Unlucky People Who Ever Lived, 6 Secret Monopolies You Didn’t Know Run the World, The 5 Most Epic One Man Rampages in the History of War, one of my personal favorites: 6 Massive Secret Operations Hidden All Around You and the article that led me to the edge of the rabbit hole: The 7 Most Unintentionally Creepy Places on the Internet.

Out of the seven “Unintentionally Creepy Places on the Internet”, two of them were creepy enough to make me pause and check to see if there was someone lurking behind me.  First was the story of “jamie_marsters” a member of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer forum called “the Bloody Board”.  Jamie was so obsessed with the show, she wrote close to 40,000 posts over the course of six years.  The story took a hard left into the Realm of Weird when one detail came to light: she was virtually the only member on the forum, which meant she was actually carrying on hundreds of conversations with herself.

I know Buffy is cute, but COME. ON.

The other MVP of the article was jamie_marsters’ hard copy version, Humanbeing151.  “Insomniac”, as he called himself on his YouTube account, was quite the rap fan.  Claiming to have written over 150,000 songs for the rap mogul Diddy, his nickname might not have been a nickname at all, but a warning for the impending eerie obsession.  The high point of the video showing his home filled with thousands upon thousands of notebooks is at the 6 minute mark, when he opens one and in it is the phrase, “Brother P. Diddy please accept” written over and over… and over... and over…

Take a cross of Kevin Spacey in Se7en and Jack Nicholson in The Shining, throw in a need to stand next to Diddy in a shiny suit, and you have Insomniac.  Then again, he might actually want to wear Diddy as the suit…

It puts the lotion in the BASKET!!

Unfortunately, due to the immature fan base of Cracked, these two were harassed so much, they were forced to delete their respective accounts mere days after the article was published.  All that remains are a few traces of their mythology kept alive by random people who were able to download screenshots and videos before they disappeared.  Naturally, this bummed me out because I had only just been exposed to these kinds of things and it was an entire year before I was lucky enough to come across another.

Late one night, I was doing research for a story I was writing on psychological disorders.  Specifically, I was looking for information on brain deformity in relation to psychotic behavior.  After a series of clicks I found myself on a scientist’s blog, and it was exactly what I was looking for, so I started scrolling.  One of his posts was quite short compared to the rest and stood out in a way that caught my attention before I had a chance to finish reading the post before it.  In it, he said he received a mysterious package in the mail, a book called Being or Nothingness by “Joe K.”.

His description of the book’s contents was quite odd and further research revealed even odder circumstances surrounding it.  I found that Being or Nothingness had become somewhat of an ominous Wonka Golden Ticket in certain social & professional circles.  The people who received it were revered by their peers but still, no one had any clue what the book was about, or why it was sent in the first place.  My trail of impromptu research eventually ended with a nonfiction book called The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.  When I finally got around to reading it, I found out that the mysterious “Joe K.” was just a random person with mental health problems and the connection between the recipients was just their involvement in the field of Psychology.  As for the book itself, it was simply filled with nothing more than the incoherent thoughts of someone in dire need of counseling.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.

The discovery of it though, I still enjoyed.  Stumbling upon something genuinely unorthodox and connecting the dots of the story behind it felt like I was in a crime movie during one of those “detective researching library periodicals” montages.  Since then I’ve made one other discovery, and it wasn’t nearly as elaborate or mysterious… but still very weird.

Recently I pulled an all-nighter via a marathon of every Laurel & Hardy movie I could find.  After going through my DVDs, I started searching YouTube & Amazon for any others I could view for free.  On Amazon, I noticed something a little off: an online version of a Laurel & Hardy movie that could be rented for $250 or bought for a whopping $600.  Looking into it revealed that this movie, Ontic Antics Starring Laurel and Hardy: Bye Molly, was actually a reworking of L&H’s Berth Marks, done by a guy named Ken Jacobs.  I checked YouTube and there it was, in its entirety… for free.  Out of the 124 minutes, the first 90 are single frames of the movie being flashed forward and reverse repeatedly.  Even people without epilepsy could get seizures from this film. 

The Tribeca Film Festival deemed it “Experimental”, while I more accurately deem it to be “Fucking Stupid”.  Clicking on back to Amazon, I checked for any reviews on it and found only one.  Now this film may be odd, but that review is a real gem.

Holy padded room, would you look at that paragraph of Batshit Craziness.  If halfway through you got the feeling that this was just some 17 year-old leaving a sarcastic review and overdoing it... you’re not alone.  But then I noticed he has only one other review and it too, is for Laurel & Hardy.  While reading it, I could see this guy is THOUGHROUGHLY versed on the subject, and VERY passionate about it… the kind of passion that leads to a movie star staying up at night, clutching a shotgun and hoping that shadowy figure in the corner is just the dog liking himself.

Oh, and his handle on Amazon is an obscure reference to whom?  Yep, you guess it.  Laurel & Hardy.

All things considered, I was left wondering if this person just felt like leaving a tongue-in-cheek review, or if he really is a couple sandwiches short of a picnic.  Truthfully, I’d rather not find out.  Half of the fun for me is thinking that weirdness might actually be out there, ready for me to raise an eyebrow at whenever I feel the need – even if it might just be someone with an odd sense of humor and a lot of spare time.

Though I guess the same thing could be said about a lot of those little oddities on the World Wide Web:  They may seem messed up, but it’s probably just someone fucking with you.  However if Cracked has taught us anything, it’s that every so often there’s a total nutjob with an internet connection and a lot of free time to fill.  So while they’re still out there, I’ll keep looking for them and reporting back to you.

Who knows… I might be one of ‘em.

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