If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, they say. Then try 58 more times and maybe write some songs about it too, they say.
At least that's what they do if you're Logan Square's Sam Zelitch, who bombarded Patton Oswalt's Twitter account with tweet after tweet inviting him to attend 826 Chicago's Promi-con this weekend. Zelitch, 26, volunteers for 826Chi, a non-profit writing and tutoring center, and once the staff found out Oswalt was in town for the C2E2 convention, they set their sites on getting him to their prom, an annual event that always has a differnet theme.
"I thought the best way to get in touch with him was through Twitter, and the best way to do it through Twitter was to tweet the shit out of him," he said. "On the other hand, I don't want him to block me or think I'm a crazy person, so if I could tweet him some actual substance, he might look at it."
His solution of substance? Songs, lots of them. Zelitch tweeted 59 different minute-long songs at Oswalt, all composed on his Yamaha piano synthesizer and ranging from "Patton Rap" to a harp-driven ballad begging for a prom date. Even the word ballad is probably a stretch, though, because Zelitch said "it's an insult to music, musicians and the lively arts to call me a musician. I make them dead arts."
But after a day of incessant nagging, Oswalt replied with a polite direct message: "Thanks for the kind invite. I'm only in Chicago that afternoon. I fly out at 5pm. Sorry! Have a fun Prom thingie!"
At that point, several things happened: Zelitch thanked Oswalt via Twitter, mailed the story to the AV Club (which they picked up), and forgot to delete a tweet schedule for Oswalt with one more song. He then replied, ""Again, I'm only there for the afternoon. Sorry!" and blocked him.
"I looked like a crazy person on the AV Club," he said, and the Internet agreed, with Twitter user @dotn calling him the "new Randy Newman of celebrity dick polishing" and one AV commenter more eloquently assessing: "Those were fucking horrible."
Altogether it was one of the most ambitious promotional ideas they've had at 826Chi, said Zelitch, from the Comic-Con theme to the attempts to bag Oswalt. It even wound up OK, as Oswalt got back in touch to say he didn't meant to block him. Zelitch even packaged the songs together and made them available for $8.26, all of which would go to 826Chi.
Even though he couldn't get Oswalt as a date, Zelitch made the extravagant comparison to the Gilgamesh epic, saying he learned more from the journey than any result
"In the end it's super cool to get rejected by an awesome celebrity. I've never felt happier having someone turn down an invite."
To see all the AV Club comments, go here, and to see Zelitch's Twitter feed with all the songs, go here. Tickets for the Promi-con are still available, despite the near-appearance of Oswalt. They are $40 and available here.