Saturday, October 30, 2010

So You Want to Go to Law School -- The Series!

Short Version of This Blog Post

Thanks to everyone for making Law School such a huge hit. Here's a link to the first "episode" in a new series starring Carrie-Ann as she heads off to law school. Enjoy.

Long Version of This Blog Post

Every unpublished writer dreams of getting a response like the one I got to the video. It's been the most exciting moment of my writing career, and I have all of you to thank for it. Every person that forwarded it on Facebook (almost 80,000), every person that watched it, every person that commented on it, and every person that visited The Corner since seeing the video -- I cannot thank you enough.

That said, I think my job as a writer is to keep improving and to keep entertaining readers (or 5-minute video watchers), and so I think the time has come to move forward and hopefully build on "So You Want to Go to Law School."

To that end, I present you with the first episode of a weekly series following our law student that could, Carrie-Ann Fox, as she enrolls in Hunter University Law School. Click here for the link to the new video.

Today we catch up with Carrie-Ann as she meets with Will Graham, her law student advisor and a battle-hardened but friendly 2L (hey, they can't all be jackasses like Oscar, right?).

I hope you like it. All I ask is that if you do like it, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, by e-mail, Digg, Reddit, and any other format you can think of. This video was created using Xtranormal.com's brilliant animation website and is presented on YouTube.

Thanks,
David

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How a Video Goes Viral...

On October 3, I posted a column called "This Used to Be My Rock-and-Roll Fantasy", a column about fantasy sports. It generated about 175 hits, a fairly low hit count for a blog that was already struggling to draw new readership and was starting to lose its regular readership. I was sort of at a loss about the direction of the blog and even considered dialing things back a bit, if not shutting the blog down entirely, to focus again on fiction.

On October 10, I tried something somewhat different, wrote the 5-minute script for So You Want to Go to Law School, and posted it to the Xtranormal website, where it drew a few hundred hits over the next few days. All in all, it was shaping up to be a normal week. Then on October 14, the traffic started climbing rapidly on the xtranormal website, hitting about 1100 by Thursday night. Honestly, at first, I thought it was because I kept clicking on the video myself.

By Friday morning, October 15, the hits had climbed to about 3,000 (and I knew it wasn't me, because I was asleep for most of that time). Whatever the reason, I was happy to see something I had created was finally making some waves. I then posted the video on YouTube, and again, the hit count started to grow.

Over the weekend, the video picked up some speed. By Monday, it had gotten picked up by the Above The Law legal blog (which I only learned about from a friend). Over the next couple of days, the hit count went from 17,000 to 100,000, and then things got weird.

Friends of mine were finding out about it without realizing I had written it. I've had some interesting discussions to try some new things (but none are set in stone yet, and none are of the "quit my day job" variety - maybe someday).

On Friday night, the video broke 500,000 hits, and I even had garnered some official YouTube rankings. Things have started to slow down a little, as to be expected, but I can always hope that it will continue to make its way through the law profession until the Internet is no more.

Biggest lesson learned -- when it comes to the Internet, people like funny videos.

So, for the time being, I am going to work on these animated films -- with the same goal I had when I started this blog -- to try and make people laugh.

So look for a new video later tonight or tomorrow morning starring Oscar Truman and Carrie-Ann Fox, The Corner's two little knights in shining armor.

Thanks for all the support and especially for turning this video into the Sarcastic Little Video that Could.

CURRENT YOUTUBE COUNT: 553,418

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So You Want to Go to Law School...

OK, I lied. I said I was taking a break this week, but here I am. I am a lawyer, after all, a fact that allows me to transition seamlessly into next week's Very Special Event, which I have moved up a week.

I graduated from law school 11 years ago. I'd say the results have been mixed. On the plus side, I met my future wife and made a good group of friends that I still hang out with. We discuss weighty topics, like how much grilled meat we can consume during a trip to a Brazilian steakhouse. We also quote Eastbound and Down and Stepbrothers.

On the down side...

Well, I wrote this short movie using the addictive xtranormal animation website.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Used To Be My Rock and Roll Fantasy

The other day, I did a Google search for the loneliest job in the world and came across a list sporting some interesting career choices, including a few that don’t seem very lonely at all (bartender, waiter), and some that seem inappropriately lonely (ship’s captain -- hey, maybe that Titanic captain should’ve been doing a little less lonely tea-drinking and a little more social boat-drivin’, but whatever). Then again, this list could’ve been prepared by some college kid who’s all hopped up on his dad’s Vicodin. You just never know with the Internet.

Putting aside the list’s authoritativeness (let’s not get into the Internet’s accuracy – did you hear that U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell used to be a witch?), at the very least, it gave me a good transition into this week’s column, in which we address what I’ve concluded, unequivocally, to be the loneliest job in the world. I know it’s the loneliest job because I perform it alone (take it easy, you sickos), and literally, no one else on Earth cares what happens.

I’m talking about my job as owner and general manager of the Mustache Farts (derived from a joke on Family Guy) fantasy sports franchise. Mustache Farts, LLP, currently owns and operates three franchises, participating in three different fantasy sports leagues. You may have a similar job, and you may similarly annoy the ever-living crap out of your friends and loved ones with tales of bad beats.

For those of you not familiar, fantasy sports play like this. A group of people get together before a season starts, and, in one manner or another (usually auction or draft), divvy up the players from a professional sports league according to the particular league’s roster requirements. Once the season starts, teams accumulate points based on their players’ real-life statistical performances. There is some strategy involved (moreso in baseball, whereas football seems to be much more of a crapshoot), but it’s more or less a form of gambling. Basically, you’re rooting for an individualized group of statistics over which you have absolutely no control.

A brief rundown of my company’s assets, you know, before you become so dizzyingly bored with my story that you start looking for a bottle of scotch and a handful of Ambien:

1. Mr. Chow (currently 2-1 in the Prime Pigskin Football League): Named after the villain in The Hangover

2. South Beach Talents (struggling at 1-2 in the AMB Fantasy Football League V -- Must Be Some Kind of Hot Tub Time Machine). Named after Lebron’s famous quote, “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach…” quote from The Decision.

3. Mr. Chow (2010 season of the Prime Baseball League now complete). Still named after the villain in The Hangover.

My condolences to the 98 percent of people I’ve already bored to death. The rest of you, before you seek the sweet release of death so you don’t have to hear a single millisecond more about my team’s fates, bear with me. I’m not going to regale you with stories about how if it hadn’t been for Matt Forte (RB - Chicago) fumbling and costing me two points, and I lost by 1.6 points, I would’ve made the playoffs last season.

No, today my interest is in the lifecycle of fantasy sports. Let’s start with the first unassailable truth, the bedrock principle of fantasy sports. Although millions of people play, no one on this planet cares about your team but you. Even if another fantasy player in another league in Iowa or has the same exact roster as Mr. Chow, he doesn’t care about my team -- he only cares about his team. Has there ever been another hobby like this? For example, if we were both rock climbers, we’d be talking equipment, cool climbs, that kind of thing. But his fantasy league is different than mine, with a different scoring system, different opponents; he may have won this week, where I might have lost, and each of us couldn’t give a crap about the other’s team.

The first time you play fantasy sports, you invariably think that it’s the greatest thing ever, up on Life’s Medal Stand with sex and Sam Adams’ fall variety pack. First, you get together with a bunch of your buddies to draft, drink a bunch of beer and eat giant sandwiches. Second, every NFL game instantly becomes interesting. You immediately conclude that you’re a virtuoso at the draft, and that it’s simply not possible that any of the other 7, 9 or 11 teams in the league have a team that can carry your team’s statistical jockstrap. It’s not like you think your team is going to go undefeated, but you wouldn’t be surprised. You love Greg Gumbel’s cut-in from the studio to see what just happened in the Cincinnati-Kansas City game.

Then reality sets in. The early games are ending, and your running back has rushed for 26 yards and lost a fumble. Your two wide receivers have caught a combined total of one pass for 12 yards, and your tight end didn't even play. You start muttering, and your mood darkens considerably. For the first and only time in the history of your fantasy managerial career, the spouse asks what’s wrong, and you unleash a profanity-laden diatribe about the West Coast offense and how the Rams’ coach deliberately sabotaged your team -- you’re not sure how -- but he did, because did you see how many times that guy was open and he never threw to him once? Your spouse’s eyelids start twitching like she’s having a seizure, and in fact, she might be, triggered by an almost inhuman level of disinterest, the kind of dissociation that’s typically only experienced once you’ve spent several years in a supermax prison like the Unabomber.

Yet somehow, venting doesn’t make the fantasy owner feel better. You just get more revved up because there is no escape valve, no one to commiserate with. If the Washington Redskins lose today, there are literally millions of fans I can share the misery with, and hundreds of inches of copy that columnists will pump out, wondering if the Redskins are any better with Mike Shanahan at the wheel than they were with Jim Zorn. But when Mr. Chow loses, I stand a lonely vigil. And you’ll do just about anything to make the vigil worthwhile.

A few years in, and you realize fantasy sports’ spot on the medal stand is in jeopardy. Other things in your life are vying for the spot, like finding a quiet hour to watch Mad Men, or maybe the changing-jersey girl from the NFL Red Zone Channel commercial. Even the draft, which was once a sacred holiday, gets squeezed in on a Tuesday night via the ESPN Draft Room and you’re reading Goodnight Moon to your kids in between draft picks while the commissioner threatens, via instant chat, to kill everyone in the league for not understanding the unilateral rule change he implemented two hours before the draft.

And then you’ll hit bottom. You’ll root against your own team, the team you’ve rooted for since you were seven years old, the one you watched win three Super Bowls growing up, because you own Tony Romo. It’s like that scene in Heathers, when Heather No. 1 is staring at the mirror in the bathroom of the Remington University party and spits water on her reflection (incidentally, I thought that was the strangest scene in the whole movie, clumsily stuck in as a way to develop Heather No. 1’s character). You’re disgusted with yourself, but you do it again and again, and it gets easier and easier because just once, you want to lift the Cup just one time, maybe even order Mr. Chow championship hats. Well, just one hat, because no one else cares. You know you’ve finally hit bottom when you find yourself yelling at the television during the Bills-Chiefs game, which has fewer television viewers than game announcers.

So what do you do then? Is it possible to keep fantasy sports fun? Strangely enough, I think they can, as long as you don’t care. This year I had a fellow league owner who recently moved to town over for one of my drafts this year, and it was the first time I’d seen a living soul during a draft in probably six years. We ate chicken wings and drank beer, and finally, fantasy sports were fun again. Mainly because I don’t care.

I finally realized that for fantasy sports to be fun, you have to stop caring. You have, at best, a 10 percent chance of winning the title in your league (12.5 percent in one of those sad little 8-team leagues). That means there’s a 90 percent chance you’re going to lose. It’s important to keep these stats in mind, but here’s the most important stat of all: a 100 percent chance that win or lose, no one else is going to care.

Now, all that being said, if I ever win a fantasy championship, I am totally sleeping with the league trophy.