The Power of Brett Keisel’s Beard

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading MuchAdo that very little planning or thought was given to MuchAdo before its launch. In fact, other than a reluctant guest blogging stint on my cousin’s site in 2002, I never thought about blogging at all. As a result, the MuchAdo adventure has come with a number of very pleasant surprises. For example, who know that the fine folks at WordPress provide their bloggers with a number of analytical tools. Now, were MuchAdo a site with advertising revenue, aspirations of advertising revenue, or anything resembling an organized attempt to do something more lofty than simply exist, those analytical tools would probably be pretty darned handy. In the case of MuchAdo, however, they are less a tool than a source of constant entertainment.

One of those tools shows the search terms people use to end up at MuchAdo. What have I learned from that tool? Well, for one, Brett Keisel’s beard should have its own agent. Keisel, as you may know from a previous post, is a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers known for having a beard that looks, at times, as if the bewhiskered Keisel is carrying Troy Polamalu in a Baby Bjorn. What you may not have known is that there are a lot of people with what I can only assume is a very unusual interest in Brett Keisel’s beard. (Or possibly a small number of people with an extremely unhealthy interest in Mr. Keisel’s beard.) At least 59 clicks through to MuchAdo have been as a result of searches related to Mr. Keisel and his beard. FIFTY-NINE! And the number may be as high as 73. (Do I count “steelers beard” or my favorite, “older beard man”?) Now were this Google or The Drudge Report or Beards.org (yeah, that exists), that might not be significant. But given the relative anonymity of MuchAdo, 59 is a large number.

Behold, The Beard!!

Especially when you consider the work those 59 searchers had to do to get to MuchAdo. Let’s look at the most popular search term landing folks (or, again, one really weird dude in Oil City, PA) here: “brett keisel.” Any idea how many pages into that Google search you have to go before you find MuchAdo? Me neither. This is my site, and I’m not even interested enough to figure that out. I made it eight pages in before I was distracted by something more interesting (which is to say, just about everything). The results are decidedly more favorable on Bing, where MuchAdo shows up by Page 6. But here is my question to the readers of MuchAdo. “When was the last time you looked at six or more pages of search results?” I’m guessing your answer is a resounding, “Ummmm . . . never!” In fact, the most recent edition of The Big Book of Internet Statistics sites the following statistic:

The average internet searcher reviews no more than three pages of search terms. One notable exception occurred during the six day period between the introduction of The Internet and the day on which pornography became widely available for free. During that six day period thousands of technology savvy thirteen year old boys would routinely review dozens of pages of search terms. Since that period, it is virtually unheard of for anyone to review more than four pages of search terms.

I have no doubt you read that and think, “There was a six day period of the internet without free porn?” This is why the research staff at MuchAdo takes the time to consult exceptionally scholarly, very credible and highly fictional resources like The Big Book of Internet Statistics. But seriously, how is it possible that people (or that sketchy dude) landed here 38 different times whilst knee deep in a search for information about a hirsute defensive end?

I’m afraid this is where the research staff has come up a bit short. We are left only with a series of questions and very few answers. Questions like, “Why are people so interested in Brett Keisel’s beard?” “Why are we all using Google when Bing is so clearly superior?” And “Why, for the love of God, would a search for ‘older beard man’ land someone on MuchAdo?” And though we do not have the answer to any of these questions, I think we can all agree on one thing: that we will never, ever do a search for the term “older beard man.”

So, in the name of research, I ask that anyone who has landed here because they were searching for information about Brett Keisel, Brett Keisel’s beard or something having to do with older beard man, please do us all a favor and leave a comment with the following information:

  1. What search term you used to get here;
  2. Why you were searching that term;
  3. What search engine you used;
  4. What page of the search results you were on when the link to MuchAdo appeared;
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how disappointed you were to end up on MuchAdo, with 1 being “Man, this is the best Brett Keisel/beard site on the internet” and 10 being “Dude, where are all the naked pictures of Brett Keisel/dudes with beards!?!” and
  6. What is Oil City, PA like?

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Wanted: Inspiration

There comes a time in every hack blogger’s career (i.e., free time) when he must write the obligatory, “I Have Nothing to Write About” post.  This, my friends, is that post for the staff and writers of MuchAdo.  All of MuchAdo’s readers (by which I mean “Both of MuchAdo‘s readers”) have been so kind (which is to say, “have not openly criticized the blog”), that we simply cannot bear to write just any old thing* and risk any (either) of you losing faith in the quality (passable strings of mostly real words) you have come to expect from MuchAdo.  The writers at MuchAdo strive for excellence in every post they write, and we believe that one of them may achieve that goal some day.  Probably accidentally.   Certainly not soon.  But they’ll keep trying.

But Who’s To Blame?

In trying to determine why we’ve found ourselves in the midst of this creative famine (and, yes, I understand that we weren’t exactly awash in creative brilliance before this), it occurs to me that The World is truly to blame here.  First, The World has held no Superbowls for several weeks now.  Second, The World has not caused Joel Stein to send any additional e-mails (other than the one where he thanked me for plugging his book and called me a “condescending ass,” but I think we’ve pretty much ridden that train as far as it will go).  Finally, The World has caused people to pretty much behave at the grocery store.  In other words, what the heckfire is a guy supposed to write about?

Oh, sure, there is all that political stuff, but do we really want MuchAdo to be associated with those clowns?  Exactly.  Not until we get closer to the election and we can write something truly poignant (i.e., something that might get people to arrive here for some reason other than the hope of glimpsing Brett Keisel’s beard).

The Phrase That Pays (But Not Really)!

So, that leads me to the purposes of today’s post.  First, is there is anything you would like to see us writing about?  If so, leave a note in the comments section. (And remember to leave your name so we can thank you!)  Second, are you tired of “us” referring to “ourselves” as a staff of writers and researchers when “we” are, in fact, just a guy in his boxers sitting on the couch? If so, leave a note in the comments section to let us know. (And remember to leave your name and e-mail so “we” can send you a picture!)  Third, would you like to win a valuable prize**?  If so, click on every link in this post and be the first to leave a comment including the phrase “I read every post and each one was better than the last.  I laughed.  I cried.  It was better than cats (the animal, not the Broadway show — nothing is better than Cats).  MuchAdo is the greatest!” (And remember to leave your name and e-mail so we can send you your prize!***)

But What If Someone Beats Me To It?

The editorial staff (ha!) at MuchAdo will verify all entries to determine whether all links were actually clicked.  In the event that the first commenter claiming the grand prize*** failed to meet the requirements of the contest, the next commenter who meets the requirements will be our lucky winner.  That means you should keep trying to win, even if dozens (HA!) of others have already posted the winning phrase.

Good luck!!!

* Items written or posted on New Year’s Eve were not included in this analysis.

** There is no valuable prize.

*** First place is a free lifetime† subscription to MuchAdo!!

(Note: prize is only valid until MuchAdo becomes a subscription-based service, at which time prize winner will be required to pay like everyone else.)

Top Ten Super Bowl 2012 Predictions

Inspired by Senator Jon Kyl’s dogged insistence on accuracy and fact-finding, the research staff at MuchAdo has meticulously combed through 40+ years of data and analysis to compile the following list of predictions for Super Bowl 2012.

1. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will read dozens of promotions for NBC shows like Smash and The Voice and The Biggest Loser with all the enthusiasm of a glossophobic delivering a eulogy.

2. Hardcore fans of both the New York Giants and the New England Patriots will be decidedly more coherent after several cocktails than they were before.  This does not include Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

3. Regardless of which team wins, Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, will spend the next year atoning for making super model wife, Gisele Bundchen, go to Indianapolis.  Millions of men across the planet will still wish they were him.

4. Watching Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end, Brett Keisel, shave his beard will be significantly more entertaining than all but three of the $3.5M+ commercials.

Bearderrific!!!

5. Dozens of viewers will require medical attention after trying to determine whether Madonna’s plastic surgery, the performers from Cirque du Soleil, or Cee Lo Green’s outfit is the most disturbing part of the Super Bowl halftime show.  They will be thankful come Monday morning when they are the only people in America not singing “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!” following LMFAO’s performance.

What? This Old Thing?

6. Neither a Super Bowl win nor a Super Bowl loss will make Rob Gronkowski more intelligent or better at speaking Spanish.  Either one will make him more attractive to porn stars.

7. You will consider, but ultimately resist, force-feeding Cheez Whiz and Buffalo wings to that one annoying party guest who feels compelled to say, “Isn’t there anything healthy to eat at this party?!?”  You will have made the wrong choice.

8. Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Patriots coach Bill Belichick will scowl.  A lot.  [Ed. Note: In all fairness to the research staff at MuchAdo, coming up with ten whole things isn’t as easy as it seems.]

9. Baltimore Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, will spend the entire Super Bowl praying that Patriot’s kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, or Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, shank a gimme worse than his AFC Championship gaff so people will stop referring to boneheaded mistakes as “Cundiffs.”

10. Someone will feel compelled to read this blog post aloud at a critical moment during the Super Bowl, and they will be hoisted on the shoulders of their friends and lauded as a hero.  Seriously.

Community Organizing . . . Kinda Like Obama, but Not Really

When I started MuchAdo, I gave absolutely no thought to a MuchAdo community.  At that time, the only “community” I envisioned  on MuchAdo was sitting across the room from me doing a crossword puzzle.  It turns out that there are a decent number of you reading MuchAdo (well, a decent number compared to one), and the best part of this experience, by far, has been the (mostly) kind words from people reading my silly posts.  Well, that, and reading the search terms that sometimes land people on MuchAdo.  (Suffice it to say I am second guessing my decision to name a post “She Put What Where?!?“)

So, in the name of community building, I’ve added some options for folks who are interested in following MuchAdo.  Just click on the “Instant Happiness” button (you’ll see it if you’re logged in to your WordPress account) or enter your e-mail address on the right side of the page (if you’re not logged in or don’t have a WordPress account).  Plus, if you like what you’ve been reading, I’d love for you to share MuchAdo with others.  It has been somewhat shocking to me how many complete strangers have found MuchAdo and stuck around to read a bunch of posts (especially when they were looking for something MuchAdo clearly isn’t offering).  If you want to refer readers to the site, you can give them the address (http://muchado.me) or click on the Facebook, Twitter or Press This buttons at the end of each post. 

Finally, feel free to leave comments on the site.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback outside of the site, but it would be great to see more comments on MuchAdo.  Something tells me the MuchAdo readers (seriously, I’m pretty sure there’s more than one) will enjoy interacting.  Something also tells me that I may regret encouraging this behavior, but isn’t that what the internet is all about — making regrettable decisions for the whole world to see?

Thanks for reading.  I’ve really enjoyed this whole blogging experience and look forward to hearing more from you, the MuchAdo community!

Joel Stein* Reads This Blog . . .

A Mulletted The Joel Stein

That’s right. Joel Stein, general funny guy and frequent contributor to Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and a number of other A-list publications, reads this blog. The Joel Stein. Or possibly The Guy Who Responds To Joel Stein’s E-mail (let’s call him “TGWRTJSE”). Now, I would love to tell you that TGWRTJSE just happened to hear about MuchAdo while standing around the writer’s workshop (that’s a thing, right?). Or that the internet buzz about MuchAdo has reached a fever pitch. And I would really love to tell you that I did not, in an act of supreme douchery, write to The Joel Stein simply because his e-mail address (or rather TGWRTJSE’s e-mail address) is prominently displayed on his website, www.TheJoelStein.com. Sadly, that is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, not being an e-mail-a-celebrity kind of guy, I had very little that I actually wanted to say to The Joel Stein (or to TGWRTJSE). However, it occurred to me that given his penchant for the funny, The Joel Stein might actually send a funny response to an e-mail from a random stranger (is there any other kind of stranger?). Or that he might be prone to hire someone who would send a funny response to an e-mail from a random stranger. (What is the opposite of a random stranger anyway? A particular stranger?)

I suspect I would feel like far less of a tool had I written what I imagine is the standard fan letter. (“Gee, Mr. Stein, I think you’re super neat.”) Instead, I proceeded to tell The Joel Stein (or TGWRTJSE) that after a week of writing a blog I was prepared to stand in for him should he need a week off from Time Magazine. I may also have implied that doing so would be a major step back in my career (which is to say that I said exactly that). But, TGWRTJSE being the class act that he is, responded with the following message:

I enjoyed your site. It’s full of stuff about art and photography and smart people stuff. Therefore, I will not let my editors know about you in case they want to replace me with something smart.

Joel

Decidedly nicer than, “Dear Condescending Ass, Your writing is amateurish and formulaic. Joel,” wouldn’t you say? I won’t fault TGWRTJSE for not getting past the home page of MuchAdo (let’s just say that the traffic patterns of MuchAdo are not all that hard to divine at this stage of its development). I’m just happy that he stopped by, read a few of the category topics, and sent a nice message. And I choose to believe that The Joel Stein, either as a result of having one too many margaritas or because he lost a bet with TGWRTJSE, will visit MuchAdo (again). So, Joel, if you’re reading this, thanks for the nice message. And the offer still stands, I’d be happy to stand in for you any time. I promise not to write anything smart.

[Note: The Joel Stein’s new book, “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity” comes out May 15th. You might want to buy a copy.]

I Learned It From Watching You!

It occurs to me that some of you may have read my post You’ve Been Warned . . . and thought, “Why on earth would anyone care if he uses parentheses?” If that was your reaction, good for you! You clearly take a healthy approach to grammar and punctation (if you take any approach). And you clearly never served time in a large law firm (what some might, obnoxiously, refer to as “Biglaw“). I, on the other hand, did spend time at a Biglaw firm — two, in fact. I would like to think that the occasional parentheses, or series of ellipses, or just about any punctuation would have largely escaped my notice 13+ years ago. I was an English Lit major and a proponent of “proper English” well before law school, so it is possible that I would have noticed, but I highly doubt it would have bothered me. But, sadly, after more than a decade of practicing law (with most of those years in Biglaw firms), the notion that parentheses might bother someone not only makes perfect sense, it now seems hard to believe someone wouldn’t have an opinion on this.

I was reminded again today of what a monster I’ve become while responding to an e-mail from a friend (a fellow Biglaw refugee himself). That friend had sent a nice note to say that he had enjoyed reading MuchAdo and that he shared my affinity for parentheticals and ellipses (yes, folks, that’s professional nerdery at its finest). I wrote him a note in return to thank him and as a bit of a joke (a term I am using in its absolute loosest sense) mentioned that I also quite enjoyed the use of the en dash. But wait . . . was it the en dash or em dash that I hold so dear? And this, my friends, is where the illness takes over. A quick trip to Wikipedia, and I confirmed that it is, in fact, an en dash. Phew!

As you read this, I can sense the judgment. The derision. I’m with you all the way. I get it. I even agree with it. But guess what, folks, that friend sent me a response to let me know that he, too, likes the en dash. (Ummm . . . yeah, I guess that’s how we roll . . . I wish it weren’t so.) He went on to admit that he . . . wait for it . . . had to go to Wikipedia to confirm that it was, in fact, the en dash, not the em dash, that he uses. And there it is, dear Readers. The Stockholm Syndrome of Biglaw lawyers.

I doubt this particular quirk is unique to Biglaw lawyers (or lawyers generally). I’ve found it almost universal that people dislike certain words. (Disagree? How about “panties” or “slacks” or “moist”? One of those made you cringe.) However, there seems to be an abnormal concentration of a**hole Type A personalities in the Biglaw world. As I said, I wasn’t always like this. It didn’t take long, though, for the various partners and senior associates at Biglaw to make me care deeply about fonts and punctuation and other print miscellany (fear of losing one’s job has a funny way of driving behavior). Of course, not coming by it naturally, I could never care as much as many of my colleagues. One of those colleagues vacillated over the use of the word “utilize” versus “use” (or did she vacillate over the utilization of the word . . . never mind) for a full 15 minutes. While I watched. At 2:30 in the morning. I might have a preference for one of those words at 2:30 in the afternoon. I might have a preference at 6:30 in the evening. At 2:30 in the morning, there is no discussion. No confusion. Certainly no vacillation. But this is what you are up against, and what is expected of you, in that environment.

And, so it is that you find yourself, as a matter of course, proofreading and fact-checking every document and, yes, every e-mail, because the wrong word or, God forbid, the wrong punctuation could land you in a superior’s office listening to a lecture on why “we use the word ‘aggregate’ not ‘total.'” (For what it’s worth, the answer to why we use the word “aggregate” is “because that’s what we use.” Thanks.) Don’t believe me, consider this e-mail string, between a holier-than-thou Biglaw associate (delivering a firm-wide e-mail rant that its successful defense of the Washington Redskins was likely to dishearten Native Americans) and an a**hole Biglaw partner. It’s an entertaining read that nicely illustrates so many of the quirks of Biglaw lawyers, including one lawyer’s strong feelings about, you guessed it, parentheses. Read the partner’s response. While there is ample material in the snarky associate’s e-mail for criticism, the partner simply cannot resist the urge to critique the irksome associate’s punctuation saying, “Note the lack of any parentheses in this email. It makes it much easier to read.” {sigh}

And this is why you can land on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times for being an a**hole without any impact to your career in Biglaw. Because it matters not that you are a jerk, so long as the final product is good. Nay, perfect. All of this makes for good stories once you’re out, but it can be hell while you’re in. Go ahead, ask the Biglaw lawyer in your life for their favorite Biglaw lawyer story. They are bound to have several, many of which are passed around from firm to firm — the oral history of our legal predecessors (and contemporaries). Some are sad, or embarrassing, or funny, or all three. Almost all involve some supreme a**holery.

I, of course, am generalizing here. When all is said and done, I am grateful for the training I received (and the friends I made) in those firms. It made me a better lawyer and a better editor. But there are times I would like to be able to turn it off.

And, if you, like me, bear the scars of Biglaw life, all I ask of you is that you do your best to turn it off while you’re here. Ignore the utilization of parentheses if it bothers you. Appreciate that, in the aggregate, the facts are checked. And most of all, if you notice a typo on this site, please, for the love of God, keep it to yourself. It would be more than I could bear.

By the way, you might want to throw those moist slacks in the dryer.

Please Won’t You Help?!?

On this, a day of new beginnings and hope, I am reaching out to the readers of MuchAdo to appeal to your charitable spirit.  Our lives are busy.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and we often forget to take a moment to consider those in need.  Today, I would like to ask you to consider contributing to a worthy cause that has all but escaped the attention of the mainstream media.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen that SPCA commercial with Sara McLachlan where the one-eyed dog is eaten by some heartless dog-eating Republican (at least I think that’s what happens, but I don’t actually watch that commercial because it’s really, really a bummer).  Well, this is, believe it or not, a much more worthy cause.  No, it’s not starving children.  No, not disaster relief.  NOT UNICEF!  Stop guessing!  I started this post off by saying it “has all but escaped the attention of the mainstream media.”  Why would you think you could just guess.  As I was saying, this one is a doozy.  A real heart stomper.

[Note: this would be a good time to click on that link for the SPCA commercial, and let it play in another window while you read the next bit.  I would embed a stirring song here, but (a) I don’t really know how and (b) I’m pretty sure that would violate some sort of copyright, and who needs that mess.  (Whatever you do, do not watch that commercial, it will totally ruin your day.)]

It turns out, in a country that has everything (well, at least 1% of this country has everything, supposedly the other 99% have nothing but time and hacky sacks, but I must admit I didn’t follow the Occupy [Insert Name of Someplace Here] movement all that closely), there are photographers who lack access to the most basic, high-end technology.  What could be more disheartening than the thought of a photographer without the proper equipment?  I am certain there is a photographer in your life that is struggling to make images with substandard equipment.  I know in my heart that this is true.  Oh sure, he (I strongly suspect the photographer in your life is male) may actually have  an SLR.  And to the outside world, it may seem that his images are perfectly adequate.  But he knows that he is greatly in need of a new camera.  And that knowledge alone is too much for any photographer to bear.

So, what exactly is it that this photographer needs?  What he needs is the Canon 5D Mark III.  (Again, I am positive the needy photographer in your life is a man, and I am positive he is not shooting with Nikon.)  What’s that you say?  You are not familiar with the Canon 5D Mark III?  Well then, my friend, you are not a Canon enthusiast, for there are entire web pages devoted to the Canon 5D Mark III.   Why, the fine folks at Canon Rumors have a whole page with dozens and dozens of posts devoted to this camera.  Same for Keith Cooper over at Northlight Images.

Now, here’s where things get a little dodgy.  Sadly, the Canon 5D Mark III does not exactly, in a literal, non-fictional sort of way, exist.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it very much exists in the way that my four-year-old daughter’s stuffed bunny has been to college, lived in Mexico, Japan, various parts of Europe, California, and Chicago, has run a variety of successful businesses, and has magical powers, despite having been purchased by friends on what I have learned is a very ordinary, non-magical website shortly before my daughter’s birth.  That is to say that the Canon 5D Mark III exists in the minds of all those Canon enthusiasts I mentioned, but not in a physical, mass production sort of way.  And I . . . er, I mean . . . the poor, hard-working, saintly, deprived photographer in your life really, really wants the Canon 5D Mark III to exist — in a, “Hey, I think I’ll head over to my favorite photography shop/website and pick one up” kind of way, not a “Did I tell you about the time Bunny went to China on a flying dragon and ate won ton soup out of the holy grail” kind of way.

I know what you’re thinking. “But, what can I do?”  Let’s be clear, I don’t have all the answers.  I have identified the problem, now I am looking to you for help.  I, for one, plan to continue reading all of the rumor websites so I will know the second the Canon 5D Mark III is just days away from being announced (which, at last count, has happened 468 times in the last twelve months alone).  However, maybe you are close personal friends with Chuck Westfall (not to be confused with this guy) or someone else from the imaging group at Canon U.S.A. If so, for God’s sake, stop reading this right now and implore that person to release the Canon 5D Mark III (or better yet, get me . . . um, I mean your, oh, whatever . . . a test device — I’ll sign an NDA).   In the meantime, please start saving your pennies (by which I mean twenties or hundreds), because I am fairly certain that MuchAdo will be launching a Needy Photographer Fundraiser once this camera is released.  We are really going to need your help.