Part I - The Setup
It all began back on July 20, 2001, when I received an e-mail from someone named Angela. In her e-mail, she told me a local morning radio show she worked for had mentioned my Star Wars Wedding page, and no one could top it. This peaked my interest, and I asked her where the show was broadcast and what was said. I received no response, so I just wrote the whole thing off and forgot about it. A few months went by with no further word.
And then one day I noticed something when I was checking my website's access logs. (For you non-webmaster types, access logs record every visit to a website and list the page that the user just came from. In other words, they can show who's linking to your pages and images.) Since I'm familiar with many of the pages that have links to my site, I was surprised to see one I didn't recognize. When I checked the link, I saw it was an archive page for a radio show known as Ace & TJ, which is based in Charlotte, NC. I scrolled to the bottom of their Archives page (it's now located at the bottom of the "Cool Websites and Pictures" page), and this is what I saw:
Wow! They had a picture from my website, and the words "perhaps the most embarrassing wedding of all time"?! I didn't have to think too hard to figure out what their opinion was, and it didn't seem too flattering. So I did a little looking around on their site, and discovered that one of the cast of the show is named Angie. Putting 2 and 2 together (that equals 4, for you morons out there - you know who you are), I figured this must have been the same Angela that e-mailed me a few months back. Mystery solved.
I realized that these Ace & TJ characters probably weren't evil people. It was simply their job to incite people on the air to build listener interest. I was just amazed that they had nothing better to talk about than my wedding. On top of that, I wondered how my page was found. The person must have been a Star Wars geek like me, looking for Star Wars stuff, and when they found my wedding page, they passed it on to Ace & TJ so they could make fun of it. Or maybe someone from the cast of Ace & TJ is the Star Wars geek who found it. Ah, the irony.
On September 9, I added a paragraph on my wedding page, stating that it had been discussed on the Ace & TJ show, and I was interested in hearing from people who heard the broadcast. I did this because I wanted to know what had actually been said on the air. I was trying to see if the comments on their website were representative of what they said, or if the comments were just put on the page to make it seem more interesting.
About a week went by, and I didn't hear anything (not very surprising considering the September 11 tragedies). I checked my access logs once again and saw that my wedding page was still getting a good number of hits from the Ace & TJ website. I also happened to notice something weird about the little thumbnail image from my wedding (seen above). I went to the Ace & TJ website once again, viewed their source code, and I discovered that they were "deep linking" to my image. That means they did not have a copy of my image on their server; instead, they were calling it directly from my server. (FYI, the practice of deep linking is of questionable legality. Check out here for more information.)
Anyway, this deep link was like a back door to their page. If I changed the picture on my site, it would automatically change on their site. I could make anything I wanted appear in that little space, as long as the new image had the same filename as the old image. It may seem like hacking, but it's not hacking in any way. It's just a way for me to exploit their poor linking skills. This got me to thinking.
I decided this would be the perfect way to have a little fun with Ace & TJ, since they'd had a little fun with me. A friend of mine (hey, Mark) suggested I change the image to 2 dogs having *** (you figure it out), with Ace & TJ's heads on the dogs. Truly inspiring, but I wanted to keep it "playful". So on September 17, I changed the image, with Ace & TJ's heads on the body of the 2-headed podrace announcer from the Phantom Menace. I also added the words "blah blah" to the image. When I was done changing the image on my site, I went back to their page and hit reload. This is what I saw:
Perfect - a very mild way of poking fun at them, while letting them know that I knew what they were up to. The opportunity to make fun of them on their own website was golden. At the least, I might eventually find out what was said on the radio. So I sat and waited for a week, wondering if anyone had noticed this new picture on their site. Nothing.
Part II - The Response: Where things really started to get fun
Suddenly on September 24, I started getting all these e-mails about my Star Wars wedding page. People were e-mailing me saying that Ace & TJ were talking about me and my wedding again, and they were apparently a little miffed that I had put their heads in the picture. Some people were downright rude, calling me a freak and telling me to get a life. One poor fool asked me if I took a holiday on George Hamilton's birthday (apparently a country singer has been the secret creator of Star Wars for all these years).
People attacked me for overreacting without actually hearing what Ace & TJ said. I repeatedly asked how I had overreacted, but sadly many of these poor troglodytes didn't know how to click on the reply button. However, they sure did know a lot about misspelling, poor grammar, and using multiple exclamation points to prove their point!!!!!!!!! And none of these people had actually been at my wedding or reception, so who's overreacting here? Ah, the SUPREME irony.
The most entertaining variation of this hate mail consisted of people telling me I shouldn't have put pictures of my "stupid" wedding up if I couldn't handle the opinion of others. Apparently, Ace & TJ (and their listeners) had a right to say what they wanted about my wedding, but I didn't have the right to say anything about Ace & TJ. Again I say, the SUPREME irony.
Some disturbed soul even tried to send me a virtual voodoo doll at http://www.pinstruck.com/box.php3?HEX=2061175651365. Not being from New Orleans like me, this person failed to realize that voodoo is an exact science. This attempt was a sad failure, since my name was misspelled as "Eric" (a common error for the illiterate simpletons who fail to correctly read my name on every single page of this website). You know, those voodoo spirits will turn around and attack you if you give them a false lead.
I also received e-mail from people who were actually complimentary, saying they thought my wedding looked fun. The "nice" people gave me brief accounts of what Ace & TJ had been saying all along: they mocked my wedding, but probably didn't mean anything personal. In the end, the "mean to nice" ratio of e-mail I received was about 50/50. Still, it amazed me that the "mean" people went out of their way to sit at their keyboards and send me all these (sometimes long) nasty e-mails.
Ryan, one of the cast of the Ace & TJ show, actually e-mailed me saying that they wanted to make sure I wasn't upset. They wanted me to call in to the show so they could clear things up on the air. Well, I smelled something funny, and I definitely didn't have the time, so I politely declined. I did relay that I would be happy to discuss it over e-mail, but - SURPRISE SURPRISE - no reply. Afterwards, I received an e-mail from a listener explaining that Ace & TJ have a habit of playing nice to the caller's face, but it's a different story after they hang up. Hmm.
I checked the Ace & TJ website again, and the bit about my wedding page had not changed. In two weeks, their webmaster had still not removed the link to the "2 headed announcer" picture, and the words still referred to "perhaps the most embarrassing wedding of all time". Made me wonder how sincere Ryan was. To kick over the antpile once more, I decided it was time for another picture switcheroo. Here's how it appeared on their site on September 28:
With this new picture, I turned the mockery back on them, making it look like Ace & TJ were the ones getting married in the "most embarrassing wedding of all time". Unless you're a complete idiot, you'll see the humorous and playful tone in "wookiee nookie". It's obvious I was having fun with it but didn't mean any real harm.
A few days later on October 2, I got a few e-mails from people saying that Ace & TJ had mentioned the new picture, and they seemed to enjoy it. I checked their page again, and I noticed they made a change, finally:
Ace & TJ had toned down the insulting description of my wedding, which I appreciated. I'm guessing their perception of me as a raving lunatic may have changed as well. It seems we've struck a balance, and I'm happy to leave it at that. However, I continue to get e-mail from people with nothing better to do than be asses to a total stranger.
No problem though, because there are few things more satisfying than using people's own ignorance against them.
So as always, please e-mail me with your thoughts. :-)
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