Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Story That NEVER Goes Away: Zack Vank Creator Interview

I am tentatively promising that this is the last Zack Vank-related post for quite a while, unless something REALLY intense goes down, like Kerri Strug being forced to issue a press release about her supposed love affair with the Omaha Royals centerfielder. That is rather unlikely, although I'm sure Kerri would love to be reunited with the spotlight that callously abandoned her after a guest spot on an aged 90210 in 1997. This time around, we managed to get the ACTUAL creator to take some time out of his Wikipedia molestation fun to explain where Zack Vank came from, digress on the moral implications of said molestation, and give me more reasons to go back to San Francisco and marry him.

For further understanding:
MyDadIsAWeenie: E.E. Grimshaw
BRags 753: Bobbie Ragsdale
lawrencetognotti: Chris
angelfisheyny: Michelle

You have just entered room "chat27800601403452302574."
lawrencetognotti has entered the room.
lawrencetognotti: Hey.
MyDadIsAWeenie: perhaps others will join
MyDadIsAWeenie: drunk erin and ingrid are in atlantic city, so you have an advantage in that all of the questions will be coherent
MyDadIsAWeenie: we shall start
MyDadIsAWeenie: introduce yourself and your significance to weenie enema readers
lawrencetognotti: Well, my name is Chris, and I was the creator of the Zack Vank character.
MyDadIsAWeenie: so the seth guy that we talked to
MyDadIsAWeenie: was really more of an assistant
lawrencetognotti: Later in the process, I collaborated with Seth on a lot of it, and he's a very crucial member of it, but the genesis of it was me.
MyDadIsAWeenie: i'm going to have to ask the obvious.
MyDadIsAWeenie: why?
MyDadIsAWeenie: who just decides to create a fictional wikipedia character
BRags753: I was gonna ask that
lawrencetognotti: Well, I was trying to start writing more. I'm an actor and an writer, but I'm not productive enough. So I started writing a story about a character named Zack Vank.
MyDadIsAWeenie: so before this went on wikipedia
MyDadIsAWeenie: it was just a screenwriting-esque project
lawrencetognotti: In the story, I knew he was displaced in Minnesota, and I knew he was a baseball player, but I was having some trouble with it... yeah, this was before.
BRags753: So Minnesota Malt is real?
lawrencetognotti: It's real insofar as there are a few pages of questionable quality.
lawrencetognotti: I need to rethink how I'm writing it. I was writing as a third person, but I might change it...
angelfisheyny has entered the room.
MyDadIsAWeenie: do you actually have a story on microsoft word or something with zack vank as the main character
BRags753: My origional hypothesis was that this was a weird underground viral marketing type of deal or a real book...
MyDadIsAWeenie: i thought it was a good theory
lawrencetognotti: Well, the thing is, I didn't set up the wikipedia page with promoting this story in mind, it was just sort of a fun hobby that evolved out of my thoughts on the character.
angelfisheyny: oh is this the other guy!
MyDadIsAWeenie: hahaha yes
MyDadIsAWeenie: disregarding the wikipedia article for a second
MyDadIsAWeenie: what does the actual story of zack vank entail
angelfisheyny: wanking
lawrencetognotti: I'm unsure as of yet, which you kind of see in the description.
lawrencetognotti: Thusfar, all I have is he's stuck in minnesota.
lawrencetognotti: And he's staying in the spare bedroom of a strip club owner.
MyDadIsAWeenie: so it's just a minor league ballplayer in minnesota with a grudge against paul verhoeven?
lawrencetognotti: Heh. Well...

BRags753: ok, so he's gay then he's not gay... explain
MyDadIsAWeenie: i think that was totally understandable
MyDadIsAWeenie: he was only gay because some guy tried to vandalize their page
lawrencetognotti: Well, it all goes back a few years... many years, for me, actually.
lawrencetognotti: There was a guy I went to elementary school with named Rob.
lawrencetognotti: He was always kind of a jerk.
angelfisheyny: is lawrence tognotti your real name
lawrencetognotti: Actually, lawrence is my middle name, after my father. My real name is Chris Tognotti.
angelfisheyny: do you say it Tog-notti
angelfisheyny: or Tonnnyyyooottti
MyDadIsAWeenie: i feel like these questions
MyDadIsAWeenie: not so important
lawrencetognotti: I do the former, even though the latter is correct.
MyDadIsAWeenie: seth sort of alluded to this in our last interview
MyDadIsAWeenie: and basically just told me to ask you
MyDadIsAWeenie: why did you pick kerri strug as zack vank's love interest
lawrencetognotti: Well, when the whole Kerri Strug thing went down, I was... eight or nine years old.
MyDadIsAWeenie: as was i
lawrencetognotti: And I remember having a crush on her at the time.
MyDadIsAWeenie: YES
MyDadIsAWeenie: so this was vicarious celebrity love
lawrencetognotti: Not exactly...
MyDadIsAWeenie: you know, she was 19 and hadn't reached puberty yet
MyDadIsAWeenie: that to me is damaged goods
lawrencetognotti: Hmm... that's, ah didn't know that...
lawrencetognotti: I guess it wasn't meant to be.
MyDadIsAWeenie: dude. her voice was higher than jonathan lipnicki's
angelfisheyny: she looked like the same age as him
lawrencetognotti: But, anyways, it wasn't a vicarious thing really, I just kind of thought it was a funny pairing, since you never hear about gymnasts after they compete.
MyDadIsAWeenie: i heard about shannon miller after the olympics
MyDadIsAWeenie: she cheated on her eye doctor husband with a married gymnast
lawrencetognotti: Gymnasts are a sultry bunch.
MyDadIsAWeenie: that's...totally not the word i would use
MyDadIsAWeenie: but why paul verhoeven
lawrencetognotti: Paul Verhoeven...
lawrencetognotti: I wrote about Verhoeven because I had the misfortune of seeing the Hollow Man twice.
lawrencetognotti: Once in theaters, then once on DVD.
MyDadIsAWeenie: i'm getting the feeling that everything vank likes or doesn't like is a direct replication of your own feelings
lawrencetognotti: Not entirely, actually. Zack Vank hates the Borat movie, which I found somewhat entertaining.
MyDadIsAWeenie: why did he hate it
lawrencetognotti: Cause he doesn't find awkward situations funny if they're because the offender is oblivious to it.

MyDadIsAWeenie: okay, where does zack vank go from here? does he just stay on wikipedia, or what
lawrencetognotti: Well, I add things now and then. The wiki page now has a link to an interview I wrote, and I'm still working on the story.
MyDadIsAWeenie: can we see the link? i think you or seth sent it to me earlier this week
lawrencetognotti: The info about Vank has also leaked out onto other websites that gather their info from wikipedia, as well.
MyDadIsAWeenie: i've noticed that
MyDadIsAWeenie: i think on, they included zack vank on the roster for the omaha royals
lawrencetognotti: Yeah.
lawrencetognotti: The history of us trying to keep the wiki people from deleting the page is kind of interesting, just because...
lawrencetognotti: There's no conceivable excuse for them not to have flagged it.
lawrencetognotti: When I added his name, I didn't remove an existing name, so the roster mysteriously has 26 players, one of whom's bio contains extraneous, remarkable claims..
MyDadIsAWeenie: from what i gather
MyDadIsAWeenie: after that guy put the wanking for vank shizzle in the article, wikipedia got more suspicious and flagged it
MyDadIsAWeenie: but every time something like that happened
MyDadIsAWeenie: you magically created and/or found another outside source.
lawrencetognotti: Yeah, the Jason Whitlock article was what saved it.
lawrencetognotti: I was lucky that they had an insider article about the royals.
lawrencetognotti: Cause I figured anybody who spends their time trying to keep a system as insane as wikipedia functioning properly likely won't have the time or motivation to register to see it.
MyDadIsAWeenie: for those of our readers who don't remember, the jason whitlock article was this article on that you needed to register for to see
MyDadIsAWeenie: but i'm just thinking that somewhere down the line, another lame person like me is going to find this article
MyDadIsAWeenie: and they won't be nice enough to keep it a secret found only on their pop culture niche blog
lawrencetognotti: Well, if that happens, I'll slip something else through... as long as there's somebody dedicated to keep a user input encyclopedia, there'll be jerks like me tampering with it.

MyDadIsAWeenie: morally, how do you feel about all of this? there are a lot of, i guess strict constructionists out there who think someone deliberately messing with wikipedia is a felony
BRags753: felonious, no. Reprehensible, perhaps. Annoying, certainly. No offense
BRags753: people do use wikipedia for information. False information harms society, in general
lawrencetognotti: I think it's a touchy issue, obviously...
lawrencetognotti: My mindset has always been, if me editing something involves tech savvy, it's a no go.
lawrencetognotti: If they're going to open up a massive database that can be edited by anyone, though, I'll have fun with that.
lawrencetognotti: It is worth noting that to this point, I've never edited anything that would be deemed of massive importance or relevance.
lawrencetognotti: It's pretty much been this, and for a while the page for Ron Livingston said he was supposed to play Goro in the mortal kombat movie. They took that down, though.
MyDadIsAWeenie: but brags, are we actually at the point where most people look at wikipedia as the be all, end all for information?
BRags753: well, no, but wouldn't it be great if we could?
BRags753: It bases itself on the good intentions of humanity
MyDadIsAWeenie: it would, but chris has a point - wikipedia does invite this sort of abuse to take place by letting anyone edit or create articles
BRags753: and is, generally speaking, a success. That's true. I'm not saying you're the bane of societies informational growth, but it is misleading in some small capacities. And thousands of people out there doing the same thing hurt the national knowledge base
lawrencetognotti: I guess we come to an impasse here...
MyDadIsAWeenie: i mean, chris is right that zack vank is pretty insignificant when you compare him to my bff hillary, but i have to agree with brags that if you start tinkering with the little things, the big things can crumble too
lawrencetognotti: I suppose that on a philosophical level, I would agree.
MyDadIsAWeenie: how far are you willing to go with this?
lawrencetognotti: The manner in which that translates into what's going on here is somewhat silly, but... how far? I don't really know that it CAN go much farther.
MyDadIsAWeenie: well, we've already discussed the fact that other websites are carrying this information
lawrencetognotti: Yes, there are info sites that gather their information from wikipedia.
lawrencetognotti: The knowledge that anybody involved in professional baseball had the name Zack Vank spoken to them is still a little beyond my belief.
MyDadIsAWeenie: hahaha i never heard back from the omaha royals beat writer about zack vank after he said he was going to look into it
lawrencetognotti: Maybe he got distracted watching him hit all those home runs.
MyDadIsAWeenie: i think you guys should seriously get a picture of him up on wikipedia
lawrencetognotti: We were thinking about that.
lawrencetognotti: It depends on if we can get a decent looking outfit, I guess.
BRags753: Are you going to try and keep writing the rest of Minnesota Malt?
lawrencetognotti: I am, yeah, I'm probably going to go back and restart it as a first person narrative, though.
lawrencetognotti: I find that it's more interesting to read that way.
BRags753: You should. And then you should use the pseudonym Zack Vank
lawrencetognotti: That'd be the plan, yeah.
BRags753: Viral Marketing. It's where it's at.

MyDadIsAWeenie: how many other people do you think are out there doing the exact same thing?
lawrencetognotti: People doing what? tampering with "the man?"
MyDadIsAWeenie: yes, creating fake wikipedia people
lawrencetognotti: Oh, probably loads. The wiki folks are pretty good at maintaining their stuff, though.
MyDadIsAWeenie: they really were not shown in their best light here though
BRags753: I dunno. I was impressed they were as vigilent as they were
MyDadIsAWeenie: please. they followed protocol but didn't even bother to stray outside the lines and make an extra effort
lawrencetognotti: That's true, but hey, everybody has bad days. They hand out medals, you know, for catching wikivandals.
BRags753: Emma should get a medal
MyDadIsAWeenie: blush
MyDadIsAWeenie: should not
lawrencetognotti: When I found that out, I naturally assumed, "well, there's clearly a give and take here, because they're taking a sort of geeky enjoyment in trying to stop me as I am in fooling with them."
MyDadIsAWeenie: i have a question about the zack vank vandal
MyDadIsAWeenie: he knows zack vank isn't real, correct?
lawrencetognotti: I guess Rob could somehow not know it's fake.
lawrencetognotti: He doesn't know that we created him, though, that's the fun thing. He has no idea he's antagonizing guys who he knew in high school.
lawrencetognotti: Yeah. To call Rob a bully is a joke, too. He's more of a pest.
MyDadIsAWeenie: are you basically just stalking your high school nemesis like i do with MY arch-enemy looby?
lawrencetognotti: No, actually, we didn't realize until after we changed his page who it was.
lawrencetognotti: We found it while checking the alumni page for redwood high school.
MyDadIsAWeenie: is there anything else we should know about zack vank, his future, et cetera
lawrencetognotti: Well, I am writing more, and I may tinker with the page as long as it exists... but, outside of that, nothing much. Oh, there is one thing.
MyDadIsAWeenie: ears perked
lawrencetognotti: Zack Vank appears in some other things I'm writing as a reference point.
MyDadIsAWeenie: brags, anything else?
BRags753: I got nothing
lawrencetognotti: I must say, I greatly appreciate you guys deeming this all interesting enough to chat with me for a while. Quite a delight.
MyDadIsAWeenie: oh, no, it was an absolute pleasure
MyDadIsAWeenie: i assume that if there are some developments, you will let us know?
lawrencetognotti: Of course I will. You've got my facebook, so I can stay in touch.
MyDadIsAWeenie: for the record, although we may have given you a bit of a hard time for the morality issue, i thought this whole zack vank thing was astoundingly clever and amazing
MyDadIsAWeenie: and if/when i go back to san fran, we'll have to get cow or za
lawrencetognotti: Sounds like a plan, you'll have to let me know.
MyDadIsAWeenie: <3. excellent. thank you very much for dropping by.
lawrencetognotti: My pleasure. I'll talk to you guys later. Cheers!
lawrencetognotti has left the room.
MyDadIsAWeenie: we're marrying him
BRags753: you. Singular.

Of course I'm going to conclude by lauding my own detective skills. The Hardy Boys quake at my mad deductive reasoning. Nancy Drew wants to be me. I don't know any real detectives, or else I'd definitely mention their inability to match wits with me. I would also like to take this time to thank both Chris and Seth for talking with us and solving a mystery that had my head spinning for almost a month. They both came off as extremely articulate and creative, and we're all about people like that. The Zack Vank Mystery is right up there with Hardy Boys #4 The Missing Chums and BSC #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.


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