Monday, November 26, 2001  [!]

talibansingles small: This is a small version of the Taliban Singles Online image, which you can see by <a href="$2376">going here</a>.    Nope, I didn't create it; but <a href="">I had an email correspondence</a>  with the person who did.

Taliban Singles Online Exclusive!!! When I got back from my Thanksgiving holiday and I checked email, one of the items there had a subject line, "Taliban Singles Creator." I groaned inside, thinking that someone misconstrued my posting of the Taliban Singles Online image with the notion that I was the one who created the image. Oh no, I'll have to set this person straight.

But no! What a pleasant surprise! I opened the email, sent from a person who claimed to be the one who created the image. The person (I'll call him TSO Creator) wishes to remain anonymous. However, as a sign of veracity, he sent along an image showing the steps of distortion and caricaturization that Osama bin Laden went through in order to go into the top left corner of the Taliban Singles Online image.

osamasteps: this is an image of the steps taken in Photoshop to create the caricature of Osama bin Laden as used in the <a href="$2376">Taliban Singles Online</a> image that I posted here on the site.    The image was sent to me by the person who created the image (the creator wishes to remain anonymous); I take the image as a sign of veracity that the person is, in fact, the creator of the Taliban Singles Online image.

Here are some excerpts from the emails I received from TSO Creator (I wrote w/ a follow up question and to ask permission to quote the email without his name/email address)

Hi, I am the person who created the Taliban Singles Online picture on your site. I had to write because of your very nice statement beneath the picture.

"I do not know who created this picture; it was sent to me in e-mail and I was so amused, I had to share. I am thoroughly jealous of the person who put this together and my hat's off to you!"

Well, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it (though I don't think I'm anything to be jealous of).

Actually I never thought it would travel like it has. I was on an Internet singles page when the idea popped into my head. I did a little research on the net (I wanted real names), found some pictures, and put it together in about 5 hours with Photoshop. What's amazing to me is that I only e-mailed it to 6 friends on the 15th and 16th of October just for fun -- they didn't even know I did it -- and maybe only 3, I found out later, had e-mailed it any further. Then near the end of October someone e-mailed it to me, that's when I found out that it had gotten out.

Anyway, I just like staying anonymous, but I just had to say thanks for putting my picture up. Also I thought I'd send you some of the steps the head in the upper left of the picture went through to turn it into a caricature.

. . . .

2nd letter, with responses to my questions...

I wrote: "I think that it'd be interesting to learn a little more about 'the person behind the Taliban Singles Online website.'" and also I asked what it was like when you got the image sent back to you in email?

TSO Creator's reply:
Well not to much to tell, I am a Graphic Artist, who specializes in Photoshop. Most of what I do is photo retouching -- or manipulation, and special effects. I am not someone who has ever posted anything on the internet before. At work we would see all these different 9/11 images that were being sent around and rate them from 1 to 10 in 2 categories: idea and execution (I guess that's what designers do). I remember saying that one of us needs to come up with something, and about a week later that's when I sent it out to those six people. I honestly never thought it would expand like it did.

Like I mentioned earlier when I came up with the idea I was on a singles site and the notion crossed my mind, if they had a singles site in Afghanistan there would be no use for this "only people with photos" check box. After that, as I was putting the piece together, I realized that most of the Q&A wouldn't apply either because the women aren't allowed anything. So basically it's a satire stating that if the Taliban had a singles page it would be pretty pointless. Kind of like a "Taliban Dating Game" where you have a partition up so you couldn't see the burqa clad women on the other side.

Anyway, like you said it was a kick when I had it emailed to me. I asked a friend at work if she had seen it, and she said a coworker had passed it along, and that coworker had gotten it from someone out of state. I called another friend who works for the lnternet division of our local paper and she told me it had gone all over their office about a week ago. She really laughed when I told her I did it.

About a day or two later it got really weird when I found out it had been quoted in the Washington Post. Since then I found it's been mentioned on CNN and the New York Daily News by Rush and Molloy (actually I rushed downtown and got the last copy of that a week after it came out, as I don't live in New York).

Even more bizarre to me was that someone even started marketing the image. I've seen mouse pads, cups, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Yikes! Not to mention people registering domain names based on Taliban Singles.

I also wrote and told him of a couple of emails I'd gotten expressing appreciation for posting the images, as well as told him that since this site has discussion group capabilities, anyone who wanted to post a note that TSO Creator could read could do so by responding to this message.

Content Editor Coool! There's now a thing called a Content Editor. Gotta check that one out. smore. Bryan Bell isn't the only one that's happy about that. But he said that he'd go and fly to various people's cities and do their dishes for a week. Let's see if he makes good, hmmm? ; )