In any given year, there’s a day that stands out more than any other, one that you’ll never forget. For this website in 2011, it was June 17th.
Two pieces I had been working on were ready to be posted that day. The first was initially worked out on paper during that same afternoon. It was just a series of questions I felt weren’t being addressed to a very important public figure, questions that had been nagging at me for a while that no American political reporter was brave enough to pose face to face. The other took a few days. It was inspired by a silly TV show I had been watching for years but never felt compelled to write about in any forum before.
Questions For President Obama was posted at 6:27 p.m. and I was bracing myself for some severely negative comments from angry readers. But they never arrived. In the more than six months since it first surfaced, it has only been viewed 14 times. (Corporate Stooge and Quicksand Of Indecency, two critical poems about the 44th President of the United States, haven’t fared much better. Just 18 page views, collectively. As Bob Dole might put it, “Where’s the outrage?”.)
The other piece, however, was a monster and I didn’t know it. A couple of days after researching my hunch, an online draft was completed on June 17th but I needed to read it over a few times and polish it off before giving it a public showcase. As a result, it didn’t get posted until four minutes after midnight. It was the early morning of June 18th.
24 hours later, the story had already been seen 73 times. That was weird and unexpected. The next two days, 73 more hits were recorded. Also a surprise. Then, on day four, it was viewed 107 times. Day five: down a bit to 102 hits. By the end of the month, although page views had dramatically dropped, this piece had already been accessed four hits shy of 600, making it the most popular story I had ever written for this site. I was very happy.
Little did I know, this was just a warm-up. Of the near 5000 hits this website received in July (at that time, a monthly record), 2907 were because of this one entry. So, if you’re keeping track, this one bit of writing had already been seen a little over 3500 times in just six weeks. (To put things in perspective, that was slightly more than the overall hit count I achieved for the entirety of 2006!) What was generating all this interest many weeks after the fact?
About a week before it returned on A&E in June, curious promos started airing for this long-running reality show. A beautiful middle-aged woman was fed up with her longtime love and appeared ready to leave him for good after nearly three decades together. Was there anything he could do to win her back? And furthermore, what was causing this sudden impasse?
At 10 p.m. on June 14th, the sixth season premiere of Gene Simmons Family Jewels aired for the first time. It was a very different episode than the usually frivolous fare. Right from the start, it was obvious this would be a much more serious season than the previous five.
As I watched the show, I was baffled by Shannon Tweed’s anger at her boyfriend. Why did one picture of Simmons with two babes on his arms make her weep? Hadn’t he always been photographed with the ladies? During the first of many on-camera shrink sessions, she noted how she had been crying continuously for three years and had finally reached her breaking point. What happened three years ago, I wondered? And then, it came to me: the sex tape.
That was the hook for What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons?. Apparently, it was a strong one judging by all the hits it was already generating in that first month. Within three days, a reader posted a comment. There would be eleven more by late October, the most for a single posting on here. All of them were thoughtful and deeply appreciated. Some were even addressed to Simmons and Tweed directly.
As the summer wore on and with the show on hiatus for a couple of months, hits went down considerably. But the piece kept generating interest day after day, week after week, month after month. By October, the show returned to either finish up the season or start a new one, I’m still not sure. (In one Twitter posting, while announcing new, future episodes, Simmons wasn’t sure, either.) And that’s when another record was set.
Within the first two days, the piece had immediately accumulated 604 additional hits (Simmons and Tweed would tape their wedding on the first), roughly the same amount of page views for that 13-day period back in June. Amazingly, four months after it first appeared, the story was actually getting more popular. 29 days later, the grand total of October hits was close to 6700, the new monthly record. Almost 4400 had clicked on that Family Jewels piece. Astounding.
In just those ten weeks alone, it had been checked out almost 7900 times. Factor in the 2000 additional hits it received in August, November and December, when the show was off the air (although MuchMoreMusic started airing season six late in the year) and you have nearly 10000 page views altogether for one single bit of writing. (I have no doubt about that milestone being reached within the next week or so. Maybe even earlier.) (December 31 UPDATE: It finally happened just before 9:30 p.m.)
On October 18, the night A&E aired the Tweeds-Simmons wedding and a mostly fluffy, repetitive interview with the family, this website set another personal benchmark. At the time, The Writings Of Dennis Earl received 985 page views (847 of them directed to the original Jewels piece) but WordPress has since amended that to 999. Yes, I was one measly hit away from having a thousand hit day. Although there were numerous days this year when this website achieved a hundred or more hits in a single 24-hour period, sometimes consecutively for several straight days (we’re talking ten in a row more than once here and usually when episodes of the show were fresh in people’s minds) October 18 remains the site’s most popular day ever. Incredible.
There would be five more Family Jewels entries in this space this year. The second one, Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience was the second most popular piece in the history of this blog. As of this writing, it’s generated exactly 1800 hits as well as several more thoughtful reader comments, only one of which was critical. The remaining four have been considerably less popular but add up all the totals and they’ve collectively earned a bit more than 900 hits. The most recent piece, Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels, has been seen exactly 500 times. (By the way, much of the traffic for these entries came from literally thousands of Google searches. At one point, the original posting was linked and praised in a forum for Canadian escorts on a site called Cerb.ca. I kid you not.)
Of the more than 23000 hits recorded this year, all the Jewels stories are collectively responsible for more than half of that overall total. Without them, I’d be having a typical year, just a little over 10000 hits. Who knew there was so much interest in The Demon’s personal life?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 29, 2011
CLARIFICATION & UPDATE: All the new Family Jewels episodes that aired in 2011 make up the entirety of the sixth season. In fact, A&E is releasing them all in two upcoming DVD box sets: Season Six Part One and Season Six Part Two. Look for them both on June 12. Season seven is expected to air sometime this year but no official announcement has been made yet.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 29, 2012