Friday, January 25, 2013

Will The Real Brady Murphy Please Stand?

I have Fred and Shim to thank for introducing to me the art of thread hijacking.  Without their tutelage I believe that the following transactions would have either ended in a flame out or a filter to the trash can. Instead, what resulted was something just shy of amazing.

In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definition, a thread hijacking is a deliberate off topic comment in a conversation. This is seen most on Facebook comments immediately after the President enacts some executive privilege that may or may not be illegally altering certain amendments to the Bill of Rights. Oh boy, here we go.

Wait wait, **snap **snap** , over here, focus, fo-cus...

A less toxic example of comment hijacking occurred on this very blog's comment section of the blog post The BCM Brand. Let's take a look.

Instead of commenting on the blog post's subject, the BCM Brand, Fred went off topic and commented about how my story reminded him of the time I crashed my bicycle into a steel post and destroyed my shoulder. And then he finishes by trumping himself with an off-off topic comment on the random word verification that has nothing to do with anything. Nicely done, Fred.

Not to be outdone, Shim's comment answered a question Fred never asked, and that was tangentially related to Charlie Burton. Who's Charlie Burton you may ask? Good question. And that's how you hijack a thread.

Confusing, right? How about rude? Allow me to introduce you to Fred and Shim.

Thread hijacking needn't be radically off topic. It needs to be only be slightly so. In refining your approach, you may just get an opportunity to turn what would otherwise result in a hostile reaction to one in which your captive audience accepts the injected disinformation and respects you for doing it.

Here's how it all went down. Be forewarned, this might take a while. So for those of you who are still here -- Shim left us long ago -- I wouldn't be offended if you took a break right now to brew a pot of coffee or visit the toilet or something. Yes, you can even do number two. Take your time. Please, don't strain. Honestly, I won't be hurt by your extended absence. Yes, I want you to be good and comfortable when taking this wholesome goodness in.

Part One: Finding Your Audience
What I've learned from the experience I'm about to share with you is that one aught to consider opening their horizons on selecting an audience to thread hijack.

The obvious choices are Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Yeah, okay, if you want to dabble in the minor leagues, be my guest. Go ahead and try it, but I'd venture to guess that an off topic comment on gun control, global warming, abortion, etc... on your democratic | republican frenemy's recent photo of their pet isn't going to go very far.

Instead, what I'm talking about is looking for new avenues to explore. Why not venture into a heady Newtonian physics forum and lob a comment about how unrealistic the Barbie doll's dimensions are? Ok, so maybe that's a tad trite. Or how about visiting a cooking website and posting a recipe on minced baby seal meat? See where that takes you. Even better: perhaps there's a legitimate thread in your spam folder that's waiting to be explored?  Who knows, there may be a gem or two in there that involves a real conversation that doesn't involve the Nigerian check cashing scam or 78% discounts on Viagra.

I was lucky. I didn't even have to get my hands filthy by digging through spam. It came directly to my inbox.

Part Two: The Hijack
Earlier this week, I received a legitimate email from a group of acting students who were in a class project together. Like you, I was confused why I received the email and nearly deleted it. But before doing so, I glanced at the body and saw that the author mentioned that he hoped he got Brady's email fixed this time.

As you can see, it was a legitimate email with a real purpose. The problem was that Benjamin's fix was for some guy named Brady Morphy, and that second fix erroneously "corrected" the other Brady's email to mine. That's how I got the email in my inbox.

I was busy and chose to ignore it. The thread went quiet for two days and I forgot about it.

Then these appeared in my mailbox:

I have to admit, my reaction to this inflood of unwanted mail was not favorable. I was tempted to reply curtly to have my email address removed from their list. But I rationalized that they were college kids. I was once like them, stuck in a group project that I didn't necessarily want to be in. I decided to give them a break and replied gently:

Contented for the moment, I went back to my work.

A few hours passed before checking for notification of new mail. Suddenly, my inbox was flooding faster than an unattended basement with a broken washing machine hose:


Since my first note fell on apathetic ears, it was now time to act.

Hello? Are you still here? Pay attention! This is where the whole dealy about thread hijacking comes into play. My response:

Hooah. That's a beaut.  A Masterpiece, I tell you.

I'll never forget the titillating feeling I had when I clicked "send" on that message. I wondered, would they ignore me again? Or would they accept my hack as advice? I was besides myself with anticipation. I must have clicked my refresh button a hundred times over the next five minutes. Nothing.

Then this:

And then this:


Then the other Brady again:

To which I replied:

By now, I felt a certain kinship to my doppelganger. Truly, like a brother.

Oh yeah, I really don't know anything about acting, the theater (theatre?), drama, etc... I garnered all of that crap from Wikipedia.

Finally, Casey sent out another note to follow up on the alternate universe Brady's initial one:

Solid? I'll tell you what's solid: that thread hijacking. 

So let's recap what have we learned here. Thread hijacking needn't be radially off-topic. Your audience may be in your spam box, or if you're lucky, they just may come to you. And if they do, and especially if they happen to be college students, cut them some slack. Your (mis)directed but well intended hack might just garner some respect and admiration from your captive audience. They may even name something after you.

To Brady Morphy and company: I wish you all break your legs in the worst way possible. 

Thank you all for being good sports.

Happy thread hijacking, everyone.


  1. Absolutely mind blowing.

  2. I'm partial to the Fugue. On a related note - I know from Shim's one and only blog post ever (that was surprisingly well written) that he hates Pearl Jam. I just entered a lottery to go to a Pearl Jam show in Chicago in July. Wish me luck!

  3. Pearl Jam is one of the three most overrated bands of all time,

  4. I few weeks ago, I was goofing around on the guitar, playing "Yellow Ledbetter" AKA "While we Cry" AKA "Little Wing" and my daughter said, "Hey is that the song where the guy who sings it sounds like he's really old or has a cold or something?"

    I was so proud she recognized it. I was going to play some Doors next, but I couldn't find my casiotone keyboard.

  5. So, Dave Matthews sucks pretty bad too

  6. Last week I had some really awesome chicken wings there. You all should try them next time.

  7. Hey Shim - Zywiec. Delicious. I'm full after one pint, though. Goodnight.

  8. Pearl Jam? Really? The Doors are the WORST most OVER-RATED band ever. The book "No one here gets out Alive" cemented what a dork/loser Jim Morrison was, although he was into poetry and one act drama(s)....

    While it doesn't have the epic scope of the dream sequences filmed for the Led Zeppelin movie "The Song Remains the Same" which were described in the book "Hammer of the Gods", I do believe they scripted some of the choreography from La Ronde

    By the way, "La Ronde" from Plays and Stories, by Arthur. Schnitzler is about a guy who walks to the DOOR (Jim Morrison); then returns and lies down on the sofa. He tries to read again.

    Then this guy blogs about a bicycle race called La Ronde... "Shortly afterwards the welcome 20km Arrivee sign came as a relief but not before another few rolling sections as I really tried to put the HAMMER down arriving into Eaucourt Municipal Stadium, a small sports centre, a little bit sun burnt but delighted with my finish time.

    -Doors/La Ronde. The Doors suck.
    -Hammer/La Ronde. Bike race that ties back to how much better the Hammer of the Gods was over No One here gets out alive.
    AND--Charlie Burton was from Sioux Falls, also the home of Tommy Bolin; who was a guitarist of Deep Purple, whom John Bonhomme of Led Zepplin said was very over rated.

    Brady really knows how to hijack a thread.
    Riders relax at the finish.

  9. I once made the mistake of Googling "Mojo Risin" at work

  10. Hey Shim - I got the Pearl Jam tickets. Are you sure you don't want to go? Road Trip!