June 23, 2004

Plainly Surreal

She was a 26 year old infowaif from Northern Minnesota with a romantic past that'd make J-Lo blanche, the work ethic of a sled dog, a wandering sexual orientation, and a style of writing that she parlayed into a blog that, sources tell me, was drawing 10,000 visitors a day.

And it was fake.

Plain Layne, which disappeared two weeks ago after a three-year run, was the best soap opera on the internet.

And a large community of people is busily digging away, trying to figure out the story.

I have it. I just can't tell it.

After a little digging and a little dot-connecting - some of the information is public, some known only to me - I figured out who "Layne" was. We spent about four hours talking yesterday.

I learned the whole genesis of Plain Layne. More than that, I learned the story behind the story - which, in the end, is a much more interesting tale than the whole "Layne" phenomenon itself.

The conversation itself was fascinating on a whooole lot of levels, worthy of a couple of blog posts on their own.

The bad news? I'm going to sit on the story for now. Lots of reasons, all of them good.

Stay tuned, though.

Is that teasing? Probably. Such is life.

Posted by Mitch at June 23, 2004 01:53 PM


Romantic past that would make J-Lo blanche
Work ethic of a sled dog
Wandering sexual orientation
Readable and entertaining style of writing

Was it Hugh? That sled crash could have really mess the poor guy up. Who knows how many other blog personalities he has out there.

Posted by: ccwbass at June 23, 2004 02:36 PM

Wow. I am not up to speed on this story at all - but now - after reading only 2 paragraphs here ( I am hooked, and I must read it all. And there goes my afternoon.

You tease!

Posted by: red at June 23, 2004 02:48 PM

Well, so long as you can tell the story at SOME point. If the truth is even more surreal than the fiction and the ensuing wild twists taken by her comment box devotees, that has to be some amazing story you're sitting on. I hate to wait, but I'll gladly wait to hear it.

Posted by: Ryan at June 23, 2004 02:49 PM

So, can we at least assume the resurrecting of "her" blog archives is NOT going to leave someone out of a job? Can we go ahead and re-create the entire thing without worry of hurting someone? I guess I'm asking if the bolg dissappeared to protect someone.

Oh, and what Ryan said. You MUST tell us at some point, or else what's the point of the tease?

Posted by: LT at June 23, 2004 03:13 PM

Wow, Mitch. Well, good for you for knowing the whys and hows of it all. I'm sure it's a sense of ... closure, perhaps?

Posted by: Wendy at June 23, 2004 03:25 PM

Now this will be interesting...

Posted by: Jay Reding at June 23, 2004 03:37 PM

You dreadful tease! :) But I am glad to read that there is a chance this mystery will be solved...sooner rather than later??

Posted by: nisi at June 23, 2004 03:54 PM

Oh, you motherfucker. 'Fess, damn you. Hell, e-mail me a draft, for god's sake.

Posted by: Joshua at June 23, 2004 03:57 PM

The whole "all female sexual discrimiation lawyers" struck me as an oxymoron. How could a California company specializing in sexual discrimination limit it's employees to all women and one token penis... that alone sent me wondering... but still reading.... Looking forward to your update Mitch. But why do we have to wait?

Posted by: leah at June 23, 2004 03:59 PM

Ahh, Mitchy, you insufferable tease. You rapacious, vulpine clue-dropper! You, you drama queen!

I think this is just a hook, a way of keeping us visiting your little shrine to Mitch's POV. You'll trickle out dribbles and bits over time, and we, the sorry sycophants that we are, will lap up every last tidbit that comes our way, until the final truth is known and the new Shot in the Dark T-Shirts (Plain Layne Lives!) are sold out.

OOH! Sly little vixen.......

Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 23, 2004 04:26 PM

i don't want to know the truth, really. layne could have been a mole for some rogue gov't that was testing tolerances of our society, she could have been a recreational construct or a research tool used by a sociological experiment. for me, i'd like to keep the bi-sexual, infowaif with a hankering for video gaming and excessive libations just as she was.

don't wreck my fantasy.

Posted by: seed at June 23, 2004 04:52 PM

Dammit, now I'll never get my grilled cheese sammich.

Posted by: David Grenier at June 23, 2004 05:09 PM

Blogumentary is ready when you are, Mitch. :-)

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at June 23, 2004 05:09 PM


Well....I guess if we've waited this long....

Posted by: Lily at June 23, 2004 05:12 PM

Oh...and please tell me that we will finally know who the heck that girl is!

Posted by: Lily at June 23, 2004 05:14 PM

Hell, we all know that Santa Claus isn't real - but we still look forward to presents under the tree.

Posted by: 100% at June 23, 2004 05:21 PM

Santa Claus isn't real?

Posted by: Lily at June 23, 2004 05:24 PM

I repeat what I had posted late yesterday, during the long discussion over copyright issues:

"You know, you couldn't make this sort of story up even up if you tried; reality is way, way stranger than fiction. And the story behind Plain Layne is way, way stranger than what went on in the blog itself—and that's saying a lot."

Mitch, please do three things for me:

1. Smack him upside the head for the con job;
2. Shake his hand for writing so well;
3. Tell him that, if he wants the plainlayne and sedaline domain names back, I'm quite willing to give them back to him :-)

--Ryan (who posted as "Quiplash" on Plain Layne).

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 23, 2004 05:24 PM

and Mitch? THANK YOU.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 23, 2004 05:26 PM

Hmmm...Perhaps, just perhaps, the identity will be revealed on a future episode of the Northern Alliance Radio Network? Way to keep 'em hanging Mitch.

Posted by: the elder at June 23, 2004 05:48 PM

Whoa, Jimmo, remind me never to give you a reason to track me down.

Posted by: Ryan at June 23, 2004 05:54 PM

Yeah, and Eagen is right next to Woodbury, and it was a Lutheran service as well.

An A+ for connecting those dots. I actually read that obit last week, but unfortunately never cross-referenced against layne's blog entry at that time.

Posted by: The Oracle at June 23, 2004 06:03 PM

I hope you're getting proof of ownership of the domains at least. It would be pretty easy for anyone who wanted 15 minutes of fame to claim to be Layne at this point.

I don't really mind the fake blog, though I really prefer to think that Laynes exist in the real world, but the personal IM conversations that some of us had with "her" are pretty fucking creepy in retrospect.

Posted by: dubious at June 23, 2004 07:47 PM

Oh! Come on! I just have to know who I had those email conversations with! Some of them were kind of touching. I thought she was real.

Posted by: Dinky Chickenshorts at June 23, 2004 08:02 PM

I think Amilynne was pointing out her own anagram -- min layne.

Posted by: anon at June 23, 2004 09:26 PM

And if Odin's Layne, then I'm Loki.

Posted by: anon at June 23, 2004 09:27 PM

The "girl" in the pictures has to be a close relative (girlfriend, wife, sister or something). The women looks older than 26, that's what always made me suspicious....

Posted by: The Oracle at June 23, 2004 10:34 PM

Intersting. The thing I wonder about now is the identity of the woman in the photos... I live in the Twin Cities and usually keep my eyes open for other bloggers when I'm out... I figured I'd run into "Layne" at one point or another since "she" went to some of the same places I frequented from time to time. No wonder I never saw her!

Posted by: ryan at June 23, 2004 10:52 PM

Yeah, there's a striking resemblence, a little difference in the hair color, but lighting can affect that.

The fondness of her being in his presence seems to denote a romantic connection.

All of the photos of "Layne" seem to be taken by a romantic partner, given the intimate locations of these photos (bedrooms, vacations, etc.) and the affectionate gaze she portrays.


Posted by: The Oracle at June 23, 2004 11:26 PM

Layne sent me an email the weekend they 'buried Aunt Inga'. She described Inga as her mother's only sibling. In the Irene Thompson obit it says survivors include her ". . .sister and brother-in-law, Evelyn and Paul Soli, Cottage Grove". Damn. I have to go punch this Soli fella. Or kiss him. I can't decide.

Posted by: mopsa at June 24, 2004 12:23 AM


Posted by: Chuck Olsen at June 24, 2004 03:18 AM

I had much the same thoughts as Jimmo had. I've written it up in my journal:

It's Odin Soli, in my opinion.

Posted by: Dave Van at June 24, 2004 03:27 AM

I think the "whodunit" part of the mystery is over. Taking together the Aptura connection, the Aunt Inga/Irene connection, the Mitch Berg connection (Integrity Solutions), the UCSD connection, Soli's Latin American studies background and his dabbling as a novelist, there is little doubt that "Layne" (and "Acanit") are the brainchildren of Odin frickin' Soli.

Now, who's the chick.

Posted by: Yosef Trumpeldor at June 24, 2004 04:37 AM

Layne unmasked... how cool is that?

Great detective work, guys. I kowtow to y'all awesomeness -- now can we invite Mr Soli to pen Layne's swan song and give us the closure we need?

And let us know who the girl in the photos is!

Posted by: peebrain at June 24, 2004 06:18 AM

"Footprints in the ether" was the final Plain Layne post. I doubt the author could have forseen the full significance of that title.

Posted by: X at June 24, 2004 07:52 AM

So now that you have lost your scoop, Mitch, are you going to confirm that Layne was written by Odin Soli and tell the story behind the story? What sleuths all you various people are!

Posted by: amelia at June 24, 2004 08:36 AM

I took a good look at both photos mentioned by Ryan Anderson earlier (post by "ryan" June 23, 2004 11:12 PM, above).

There is absolutely no douobt in my mind that these are two pictures of the same man.

So Layne's brother-in-law Brent = Odin Soli.

Congratulations to all of you for such amazingly diligent detective work.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 24, 2004 09:09 AM

The Cray Research angle:

When I first wrote to "Layne" - back in Sep 2002 - I mentioned that my only connection to Minnesota was through Cray Research, where I visited several times during the 1990s (I worked with them). And "she" wrote me back and I still have the email:

"Ready for a small world moment? I've actually been in that Cray complex, in a building that was leased to a training firm (I took an Oracle class there). That place is utterly posh! And one of the instructors told me that it used to be even grander, back when Wagon somebody (?) was the CEO and used to have a bazillion dollars of art hanging on the walls. Must have been something back in the proverbial day."

Of course Soli has been in that Cray complex! He worked there, "back in the proverbial day!" (From his bio

In the immortal words of Bart Simpson: Well I'll be jiggered!

Posted by: Dogtownboy at June 24, 2004 09:16 AM

No wonder why the "startup" went belly up, this guy was too busy creating fiction. :)

Posted by: The Oracle at June 24, 2004 09:45 AM

That was inconsistent with Layne too, one time she said she had the Women's studies degree, at others a history degree "perfunctory BA in history." History degree it is.

Let me guess, this guy's sister's birthday is the same as Layne's: something 1977. The exact date was removed.

Posted by: The Oracle at June 24, 2004 09:55 AM

My 2 cents ...

I wrote in my blog about liking John Sandford a while back (
and "Layne" left this comment in it:

"Hey, I happen to know John Sanford! Nom de plume of John Camp, a local journalist here who won a Pulitzer (or even several) while writing for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. I've even been to his house, actually. Unfortunately his wife is suffering from cancer and undergoing chemo right now. It's so sad :-(
Anyway, since you mentioned you dig his stuff, I just thought I'd share. One degree of separation in the blogosphere!"

Being as "he" is a novelist, seems plausible he met John Sandford. At the time I couldn't figure how Layne could know him personally. Now is explained.

Posted by: Adriana at June 24, 2004 10:32 AM

i think he's a tranny dying to get out

Posted by: love at June 24, 2004 11:08 AM

wow, I haven't been keeping up with all this detective work for the last week or so, but WOW; you guys are, well, kinda scary! This would make such a great book. If this guy really is who you all seem to think he is; I would hope he publishes. Imagine the ending....

Anyhow, good job on the detective work, all of you. I'll be back in lurking mode. Oh, being that I live in Southern California, how about a little detective work on the USCD front, hey?

...looking forward to the outcome! ~ddc

Posted by: ddc at June 24, 2004 11:10 AM

ddc - Where is So. Cal?

Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 11:21 AM

I think the most difficult thing to believe here is that there's a guy out in the world named "Odin Soli." How is that name even possible? I keep thinking of Odie on Garfield. Or a really lonely Norse god.

Posted by: Ryan at June 24, 2004 11:24 AM

Anagram - Solo in id


Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 11:31 AM

Ryan - Limerick with Odin Soli....huh?

Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 11:32 AM

Lily - it's wedged in between Nevada and the Pacific Ocean. You can't miss it.

Posted by: David Grenier at June 24, 2004 11:35 AM


"Or a really lonely Norse god"


Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 24, 2004 11:37 AM

Great detective work. (That's a story in itself.) Some thoughts:

The writing was outstanding. It was clear to me that the story wasn't true, but I loved reading it anyway. Confirming that the story was indeed a work of fiction wasn't really that disappointing. To me, it was like reading a novel. I suspected that the person writing it was practicing his writing skills for future work. I suspect that it was a little challenging for the author to churn out so much drama almost daily -- that keeps the audience coming back, but that gives up the fact that it is a work of fiction. Real lives don't have drama at that rate. Therefore the story is difficult to keep running using a blog -- would definitely fit better in a book.
With the quality of the writing and his resume, it's pretty clear that the author is a very sharp person. He must have known that he was a bit loose in hiding his identity along the way. Probably didn't expect this thing to get this big. When he realized that his days were numbered before being identified, he just bailed.
Very good stuff. Hope he shares his writing talent more in the future.

Posted by: JohnnyC at June 24, 2004 11:39 AM

I want to know if my anagram theory is just a coincidence.

Rearrange the letters in Odin Soli, you get Sidolino = Sedalina

Posted by: Jason at June 24, 2004 11:45 AM

A major Israeli newspaper (Ha'aretz) is carrying the Layne story. Check it out.


Posted by: Yosef Trumpeldor at June 24, 2004 11:48 AM

David - Jerk. Now I really want my mojito. :)

Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 11:58 AM

A pen like a lonely Greek God
Transformed to a lightening rod
Odin Soli, you tart!
You're breakin' my heart!
My whole day at work, now does plod...

Posted by: klo at June 24, 2004 12:45 PM

I must say, I'm super disappointed. I wanna know who the hell I had conversations over IM with then?? Mitch please tell us what the truth is.

Posted by: Heather at June 24, 2004 01:09 PM

Very nice...

Oh good golly!
We've been had by a Soli
But what's in a name
There should be no shame
His first name could'a been Ollie.

Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 01:34 PM

A frustrated pen, with a gift for exaggeration
wrote dubious tomes for self-affirmation
And while anything but Plain
was the Faux Lady Layne
It turns out she's naught but mis-information

Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 24, 2004 01:35 PM

Odin Soli, the man behind Layne
Has an imaginative and quick little brain
His next blogging trick
Will be a bi-sexual chick
Who works as a clerk somewhere in Bahrain.

Posted by: Ryan at June 24, 2004 01:45 PM

There was a man named Odin Soli
Who, though a good writer, felt low-li
he thought up a plot,
to blog what was not,
and in the end left us all feeling woe-li

Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 24, 2004 02:19 PM

Our suspect is in the phonebook. I dare you to call his number and ask for Layne! Heh.

Posted by: anony at June 24, 2004 02:21 PM

>>>>Rearrange the letters in Odin Soli, you get Sidolino

Bingo! And for the silver bullet, we turn to a favorite Layne theme:

Rearrange the letters in "dildo in ass"
and we get "Oddin Ssali"!

Coincidence? I think not!

Posted by: Yosef Trumpeldor at June 24, 2004 02:34 PM

i said yesterday that i thought there was at least a 50-50 chance that layne was a guy. now after seeing that photo i think there's at least a 50-50 chance that Odin Soli is a woman.

Posted by: leblanc at June 24, 2004 02:38 PM

The name of Odin Sol-i
Is more tainted than E-coli (spelling??)
I almost feel bad
For the creative cad
Who rivited with areol-i

hmmm...I've done better...don't call him. Please.

Posted by: klo at June 24, 2004 02:52 PM

Yosef: ROFL

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 24, 2004 02:58 PM

The Layne story has travelled quite far
Who knew she had become such a star?
Of the man behind the curtain
Only one thing's for certain
Ford Odin Soli would be a great name for a car.

Posted by: Ryan at June 24, 2004 03:28 PM

Odin created a girl named Layne
But what did he have to gain?
Unless writing as a girl
Was a change to give a whirl
To the identity he seeks to obtain.

Posted by: Lily at June 24, 2004 03:44 PM

Plain Layne was a fairly apt con
Which I admire and I still will clap on
Yet it's odd that I find
Layne still exists in my mind
As a chick wielding her trusty strap-on

Posted by: Ryan at June 24, 2004 03:55 PM

who is the girl "layne" in the picture? i was looking for porn when i found the layne site and thought she was cute. who is she?

Posted by: lurker at June 24, 2004 03:56 PM

As to the question "why", that is so easy; because he can. What could be the greater literary challange than to inhabit completely another personality? To create with completeness a persona from raw clay?

Nothing I think.

And think that that is was teh big thrill for whomever wrote of the story.

Posted by: lürker at June 24, 2004 04:00 PM

I don't think it is his sister, more like his wife or girlfriend, I mean look at the way she looks at the camera, and in a bubble bath? There is no way my bro gets a pic of me in the bath!!

Posted by: nisi at June 24, 2004 05:54 PM
is a family picture somebody found and posted to the Orkut site.
It has Layne, Drew and bad-dad cousin DJ front and centre. I don't think Odin is in the picture unless he's lost some hair and is the fuzzy guy with the light refecting off his glasses in the back row ... but I agree with TinaMc that Odin and Layne share a strong resemblance. I think he's using his own extended family pics.

Posted by: Frances at June 24, 2004 09:12 PM

Now that we know "Layne" is Odin Soli, the real question is: What is the nature of Odin's ties to Hussein, and what information does Odin have on the locations of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ?

Posted by: wes at June 24, 2004 10:15 PM

the picture frances posted clearly has the mom and dad in it. i bet the girl is odins sister.
i wonder what her real name is and if she was in on it.

Posted by: e. at June 24, 2004 10:29 PM

hey Mitch... you had the original scoop and now most of the info seems pretty much out there for public consumption. Are you ready to deliver the why and the who (in the pictures)? You know and seem to be perversely (sp?) quiet. I would love to hear your thoughts. You're the only one that has spoken to Odin (although I'm sure others have tried).

Posted by: leah at June 24, 2004 11:26 PM

THAT time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late our sweet Layne sang.

Posted by: e at June 24, 2004 11:42 PM

bravo, e, for raising the tone of the conversation. methinks i should turn off the flickering screen and go read the bard.

Posted by: Frances at June 25, 2004 12:06 AM

It kind of makes me wonder if part of the reason "Layne" took the site down was because of the photos - maybe the woman in the photos was starting to worry about having her face all over a blog with so much sexual content.

I don't doubt that "Layne" is following some of these threads. C'mon "Layne," fill us in. Give everyone closure.

Posted by: ryan a. at June 25, 2004 01:30 AM

Oh, so vastly amusing, I'm bouncing around in my bed laughing uncontrollably!

Posted by: badgerbag at June 25, 2004 01:31 AM

P.S. I still can't get over how people think that dildos/strapons are so strange and exotic. Hello. They are a basic necessity of life, get over it! Anyone who says different probably has a very suspicious hairbrush handle.

Posted by: badgerbag at June 25, 2004 01:34 AM

Here's the story from "Layne" her/himself.

Wow. I'm speechless.

Posted by: Kevin at June 25, 2004 08:35 AM

still hasn't figured the gender out yet though

Posted by: larry at June 25, 2004 09:18 AM


Posted by: Lily at June 25, 2004 09:22 AM

I'm new to all this - unfortunately never read a word of Plain Layne and only stumbled onto this today through - but why is anyone here ready to accept the explanation at as genuine?

Posted by: Mb. at June 25, 2004 10:27 AM

O.K. so I wondering why everyone is suddenly so quiet on this now.

And I feel the desire to be the first to call Bull S&*T.

So this guy read about Kasey Nicole and decided to fraud his readers. Knowing full well that a lot of people felt betrayed and hurt by the Kasey Nicole hoax he proceded with the intention of betraying and hurting others, and now he wants our sympathy because he is sick. Ohhhhh pobrecito! Where are the two years of my life wasted on this, and now he has the gall to pull the cease and desist thing on his own writing. Well, I want my comments back. Their mine and I want them back. I'm pulling a cease and desist on you ODIN SOLI.

I mean really, what a di*k.

Posted by: Griffin at June 25, 2004 10:58 AM

Larry - is not that he hasn't figured out who he is, he is already plotting to start the whole thing again with a different name.

Griffin - I totally agree with you.

And I wrotte some other thoughts here ...

Posted by: Adriana at June 25, 2004 11:27 AM

Adriana - Thanks.

And another thing - Now he has Ryan S. taking down the full portion of the email asking for the creators of the the tribute blog to take down the full portion of his original email telling them to cease and desist their copyright infringment.

WTF? This guy WAITED until those guys had put in DAYS of work recreating "Laynes" blog before he asked them to take it down. Ryan S. had already invested a chunk of money in the domain names. While he sat around an redesigned his response blog. He couldn't have done this last week and saved a lot of people money and time. I am overwhelmed by what a selfish jerk this guy is. OVERWHELMED.

Posted by: Griffin at June 25, 2004 12:04 PM

I too was unimpressed by his "tell all"
it answered a few things but left MANY questions unanswered.

"I could bore you with additional details about Plain Layne -- who Layne was modeled after, ditto for Mark her ex-boyfriend, all their experiences in Minnesota and California and Mexico, her family and friends and lovers too -- but what's the point? " <---HELLO isn't this all exactly
the information that we REALLY want.

Anyways, I'm sorry if he is ill. I wouldn't wish that on anyone but I find this hard to swallow whole.

Posted by: Lisa at June 25, 2004 12:06 PM

So this guy read about Kasey Nicole and decided to fraud his readers.


What - you were swindled? He took money from you?

I don't recall "Plain Layne" ever accepting money - no Paypal, no nothing.

What's thwe fraud? It's interactive fiction. Caveat Emptor.

Posted by: Borschtface at June 25, 2004 12:23 PM

Well said Borschtface.

Maybe emotional fraud would be more appropriate since a lot of people invested time in an online relationship that turned out to be fake. Aside from that, I'd be hard pressed to find any fraud in my "relationship" with Layne.

Posted by: Kevin at June 25, 2004 12:38 PM

According to

fraud ( P ) Pronunciation Key (frôd)
1- A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
2- A piece of trickery; a trick.

a-One that defrauds; a cheat.
b-One who assumes a false pose; an impostor.

Pay attention to #2 and letter B.

Posted by: Griffin at June 25, 2004 12:57 PM

Oh, tough shit, people. Fake stories? On the internet?

If this is the worst you ever get defrauded, and I'm using "defrauded" in the most liberal way I possibly can, then you have led a charmed life and should be thanking Jesus H. Christ for your good fortune.

Posted by: Dylan at June 25, 2004 01:24 PM

Well, I agree with Griffin. The first thing I thought as I started to read the stuff at emitter was, "Yeah. Sure. I believe you." Whatever. If he's looking for sympathy, I can't imagine he's going to find a lot around here, but maybe I have less faith in people than I should.

However, Odin sure seems to have more faith in people than he should. After suckering people for 4 years, holding "personal" conversations and, essentially, electronic relationships with people, and then thinking they're going to buy any of this seems naive at best.

He should have taken

Posted by: Hal at June 25, 2004 01:59 PM

Griffin, thank you for coming to our defence, but it's not necessary, at least in my case. The person who did most of the archives recovery work (and who will likely be most upset when he finds out) is Gudy. I'm O.K.

I also want to share with all of you four brief video clips which I had done over the previous two days (*BEFORE* I got Odin's email this morning). They were made in response to Chuck Olsen of Blogumentary, who wanted to interview me and emailed me a list of questions: (AVI videofile, 26MB) (57MB) (46MB) (58 MB)

Posted by: Ryan Schultz at June 25, 2004 02:03 PM

First: I diced about a dozen comments that contained information about Odin Soli's family. While detective work is interesting, and reporting it is fun, there has been some harassment going on. In all honesty, I would urge any blog owners who are "covering" this story to do the same. While playing detective can be fun, I urge you to remember that:
1. People have been named in this and other
spaces who have nothing to do with the story,
2. When you do that, you are one nutjob
away from causing a lot of problems.

Whatever it is you think about the whole Layne thing - interactive fiction, dirty trick, emotional fraud, classic internet story or anything else - that is a risk I'm really not up for.

Someone - and I'm hoping it's not someone in my audience - desperately needs to examine their priorities. It was a story.

Posted by: Mitch at June 25, 2004 02:03 PM

I agree with Griffin that Odin Soli could have timed things better. As soon as he saw things spinning out of his control he could have stepped in and claimed his intellectual property. Instead he waits days while Plain Layne fans put in hours of work to honor the Plain Layne blog. So when he could have stopped some of the adulation he didn't... but when it is convenient for him 9and most if not all of the work is done) he sends the seize and desist email. my take: Odin Soli is incredibly self-centered and where he claims to care about his Plain Layne audience he certainly did not show it in the timing of his coming out.

Posted by: amelia at June 25, 2004 02:19 PM

I was typing fast at work.... I meant cease and desist....

Posted by: amelia at June 25, 2004 02:21 PM

Thanks amelia :-)

Posted by: Ryan Schultz at June 25, 2004 02:55 PM

although I realise that this is your blog, I must say that your sanctimonious attitude is unjustified. Many readers feel swindled (if not defrauded) and surely it is in their right to vilify Odin Soli for his deceit.

Posted by: edoardo at June 25, 2004 03:10 PM

There's a difference between vilification and giving some quasi-psycho with an axe to grind information that could lead to someone in Odin' family being stalked or worse. Grow up!

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 03:14 PM

O.K. I was a bit harsh, Edoardo. But Mitch is well within his rights to pull comments from his own blog.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 03:17 PM

Thanks, Ryan. Note that none of the comments added especially to the facts at hand anyway.

Eduardo - you can feel as swindled and defrauded as you want; it's your choice. However, people were posting information that could be used to harm or harass people, especially (and I cite privileged information here) people who were in no way involved in the story *at all*. You call it sanctimony; I call it common sense.

Posted by: mitch at June 25, 2004 03:26 PM

I agree with Mitch. Putting the comments about personal information was going over the edge. I was wondering about that too, and thought it was right for him to remove that.

My sincere apology for personally mentioning anything of this nature, I didn't think people would ACTUALLY go further than mention names. We got a bit out of control with the detective work, and it should stop there.

From here on out, I'm just reading and nothing more...

Posted by: The Oracle at June 25, 2004 03:36 PM

Thanks. I feel better now. I've calmed down a bit. I just keep thinking about all of those women out there that I KNOW OF that shared personal information with this person regarding sexual violations that occured to them personally because they identified with Layne's rape. What.. am I supposed to believe now that this dude wasn't sitting on the other end laughing at their pain? Or getting off on it? I don't know this guy. I knew a girl named Layne once, but she lied to me. She lied to everyone,

Posted by: Griffin at June 25, 2004 04:03 PM

Griffin: point well made.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 04:12 PM

Well I only followed "Layne" for about one month when all this stuff fell apart. So I wasn't all that emotionally invested like some of you were (considering I'm a lurker and all ;)). Anyway I don't believe a word this guy is saying about his illnes. (if it is true then I'm sorry for not believing)

Also as a couple have pointed out with the title image of this new site:

He was already planing to do it again but probably couldn't because you all found him out. So now he took his sweet ass time to invent this new story to feel sorry for him. Give him a while and surely he'll pop up again on some other site. For someone that wrote so much on a daily basis I doubt he can really give it up. His latest story is nothing more than a fancy version of his polish error page.


Posted by: lurker at June 25, 2004 04:14 PM

" I just keep thinking about all of those women out there that I KNOW OF that shared personal information with this person regarding sexual violations that occured to them personally because they identified with Layne's rape. What.. am I supposed to believe now that this dude wasn't sitting on the other end laughing at their pain?"

Dude. Caveat surfor. I mean, if you can't trust an anonymous stranger from a website with your deepest, darkest secrets, who can you trust?

This guy put out a story. He backed up his story with some convincing offline sidestory. If you fell for it, I can see where you might be torked, but it was *you* that put your personal life out there in front of a total stranger.

Do you tell the inner details of all your life's traumas to strangers you meet in bus stations? To random phone callers? To people in the elevator? Get real, of course not. So why is the 'net any different?

People *chose* to share, to spill their guts, even to become *emotionally attached* to this character. If you wanna be angry, go for it - but save a little ire for yourself.

Posted by: Insensitive Bastard at June 25, 2004 04:48 PM

Whatever. Mitch can pull all the comments he wants (as I said it's his blog). Nonetheless, I was just surprised that he felt in the position to define people commenting as needing to examine their priorities. Having read comments mostly about "detective work" results and people venting their frustration, I imagined he referred to them. I guess Ryan/Quiplash understood. I obviously did not.

Posted by: Edoardo at June 25, 2004 04:56 PM

I have several reactions to this, but one of them is—

I'm sorry people but we are still, kind of, talking about Layne here.

Since this seems to have slipped your mind, let me remind you of a few salient facts about Layne's personality:

1) Immature
2) Selfish
3) Elitist bitch

So what's the surprise here?

Layne Johnson was an imaginary girl who had nothing but contempt for regular people. She never entered into any relationship that she couldn't control with money or power. Whatever Odin Soli may say about caring "about the friends she [Layne] made, her connections in the electron flow," the fact that he never saw fit to contact any of us and tell us the truth about this until he'd been hunted down by his readers is hardly a surprise. "Layne" always needed to be in control. That's clearly something that Odin and Layne have in common.

Also, I for one think there's some other bullshit here. Because as soon as it was publicly suggested that Layne was a fake, he literally tucked tail and ran. And the first thing he sent to any of Layne's "connections in the electron flow" was a threat of litigation.

I sent "Layne" an e-mail six months ago, after "she" kick/banned me from the site, saying that I'd be happy to never mention the fiction thing again if "Layne" would just come clean and tell me what the real story was. Odin chose to stick to his guns, and I ended up negotiating my return to Plain Layne with "Layne" (and don't think I didn't feel like a fucking tool, apologizing to an obviously-fake woman for having said she was fake).

So I think Odin's full of shit about this being just a writing project. I think he started Layne for another set of reasons entirely. My conjecture is that this was Odin's private project. That his friends and family didn't know about it. And when the project was blown, he pulled the plug because he was horribly embarrassed about the potential consequences. And I think he would have let it lie, if his readers hadn't been so unbelievably resourceful in tracking him down.

I mean, I could be wrong here, but somehow I don't think Odin's wife read that entry about Layne getting fucked in the ass with a dildo. I could be wrong— plenty of straight couples go in for pegging. But the fact that Layne was clearly operating as a surrogate for things Odin wanted and couldn't have (like running), suggests to me that Odin was doing some fantasy exploration with all this.

And, to be clear— I think that's fine. I'm not one of those people who thinks Odin's a pervert for wanting to get pegged, or who thinks he's a less of a man because he obviously gets off on imagining girl sex. Comic book shops are full of anthropomorphized animals with big tits and cat ears. Advertising uses erotic imagery of young girls to convince people to buy stuff they don't need (or go see the Olsen Twins movie). The actual phsychosexual landscape of human civilization is much weirder than most people want to believe. Just watch some Japanese cartoons, and you'll see what I'm talking about. So Odin's kink is pretty low on my list of weird shit.

But that's clearly not how Odin feels. And I bet that's why he ran off as soon as he thought it might become common knowledge that he was, among other things, a he.

Only that didn't work. And now that he understands the scope of the problem— now that it's clear that he's been totally exposed —he's trying to get a handle on the situation by coming (partly) clean, and taking control of the property. Like jumping to his feet and saying, "I'm fine! I'm fine! I did that on purpose!" is going to fool anyone.

Whatever. As before, I'd've been happy to let all this pass without comment if he wasn't being such an asshole about it— refusing to answer letters and then hitting Ryan with a cease and desist order. None of that shit is necessary. He got caught writing lesbian soft-core. What's the big fucking deal? He should just cop to it and go on about his business. If he really feels like he had a connection with Layne's readers he should contact them and let them know what's going on.

In other words, I have the same message for Odin I had for Layne: grow the fuck up already. Jesus.

Posted by: Joshua at June 25, 2004 05:28 PM

Layne was no stranger in the bus station. Unless that stranger wrote a book about her life, which you read. Then you began exchanging letters back and forth with her, maybe talking on the phone a few times, giving advice and sharing experiences. Maybe she sends you a birthday card. In other words, something like a friendship.

Trust is always a risk, online doubly so. It's perfectly understandable to feel burned after making an emotional investment. But I do think there was some truth in Layne, and some truth in these relationships. Vicarious and half-fictionalized truth - whatever you call that. :-)

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at June 25, 2004 05:31 PM

PS- I think the fact of the emitter logo with the gender mix-up makes it pretty clear that Odin was planning to do the Internet Girl thing again. In fact, I'm wouldn't be surprised to learn he's doing it somewhere else, at the same time.

Posted by: Joshua at June 25, 2004 05:35 PM

Joshua just finished my sentence/thougth process for me.

I'm done here.

Posted by: Griffin at June 25, 2004 05:45 PM

Good, I'm not the only one who finds this latest "teaser" bullshitty and lame.

Am I pissed about being duped by a bored guy? Sure but I did start blogging because of "Layne" and I like to think that my blogging is a good thing so I can't be too pissed off about it.

What I can be pissed about is how "Layne" (there's no way I'm referring to anyone as Odin, sorry, that's just a pathetic SCREAM for attention and its just another pseudonym anyway) has handled this since the end came crashing down.

I'm not overly upset that the PL Archive is gone, I really had no idea how or why it would get used. It was an interesting project but that was about it for me.

And if a Plain Layne expose book comes out then I'm going to the book signing to punch "Layne" in the face.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at June 25, 2004 06:08 PM

Careful Johnny. Because I actually think Odin exists and I actually think he's a lawyer. You know what I mean?

Posted by: Joshua at June 25, 2004 06:15 PM


You all need to get a grip. Why are you a blogger anyway? Because throughout human history everyone has had the need to express themselves, museums and libraries are full of examples.

On the net, it's writing. Some people feel the need to share all of their opinions about... god knows what... Hummel figurines or the fine art of scrapbooking or the cute girl they worship from afar who sits in the front row of the lecture hall. Or you are interested in sharing your thoughts on Ryan-gate or the 9/11 commissions report or why Colin Powell chose to wear that tie or why the hell Jennifer Lopez got married AGAIN.

There are plenty of administrative assistants out there who are closet poets, lawyers who want desperately to appear in the New Yorker fiction issue, people who amuse themselves creating witty limericks.

I would imagine that there are plenty of really talented writers out there who are tired of having their work just sit on their hard drive or in the bottom drawer after it's been sent back with a "thanks but no thanks" letter. Before the Internet, that's where it all remained, in the drawer, on the hard drive - but now that there is a forum to put it out there and receive feedback, why wouldn't someone use it? If all of the conjecture is accurate, what would you have preferred? How could this author have presented this "character" in a more real/truthful way? I personally thought it was brilliantly written and it ABSOLUTELY would not have been what it was if it was presented as fiction, and you would not have read it. It is like virtual performance art, and we all participated to create it.

Let me suggest a hypothetical to any of you who are writers: what if you decided to start a blog as a completely different persona as a writing exercise, to stretch your creative juices, to try a new point of view? What if you got good helpful feedback on what you were writing? What if you found it to be a good creative outlet? Would you give it up, despite the popularity, despite the friendships, or "friendships" (depending on how you view it) you developed? Would your thoughts and feelings be truthful even though you are assumed to be someone else by others?

Why are we not viewing this as creative expression that I think it is? Do we cast aspersions on Philip Roth, or Ann Rice, or Danielle Steele (who I'm sure has described a few raunchy encounters in her time)? Get over it, you got caught up in the drama and now feel a little stupid - but you enjoyed it!!!!

Posted by: lurkergrrl at June 25, 2004 07:05 PM

Because he was talking about anal sex with dildo's and pretty girls....and it was all a lie!! Is nothing sacred??? ;)

Posted by: lurker at June 25, 2004 07:20 PM

I've been folowing this conversation (and the comments to my blog) with great interest.

First: just because I wept over the beauty of someone's writing DOES NOT mean that I trust the writer. In fact, Odin has amply given us enough evidence that he is not to be trusted.

Second: Odin did NOT "threaten litigation". The team of people who were reconstructing the archives had all agreed that if the author asked us to stop, we would. He very nicely asked us to stop, and we did.

Lurker said earlier about the image here:

"He was already planing to do it again but probably couldn't because you all found him out. So now he took his sweet ass time to invent this new story to feel sorry for him."

Joshua said essentially the same thing on one of my comments, and on here: "PS- I think the fact of the emitter logo with the gender mix-up makes it pretty clear that Odin was planning to do the Internet Girl thing again."

I've been thinking all this over carefully and I believe that it's a good possibility that they are correct. Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. And I think it is indeed possible that Odin was planning an Acanit-to-Layne-type jump and then realized that he couldn't pull it off. Why else would he create the image that says: "A Single Sideband Girl in the Ether"? It's certainly suspicious.

By the way, Odin is an Enneagram Three. As they become more unhealthy they begin to invest more on the image they present. Image becomes everything, image becomes an empty shell.

And the cardinal sin of the Enneagram Three?


Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 07:40 PM

And also:

I didn't give the domain names back to Odin. He didn't want them. But I left the redirect to the emitter site because, well, that's all there is left now, isn't there? (*evil grin*)

I'll leave things the way they are, for now.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 08:00 PM

So....I'm gonna take a stab at this too. Mainly to extrapolate the meaning out of what I think some of the commenters here have meant without the emotive language.

Griffin - I'm thinkin' you were not angry previous to Odin's little post this morning. What I'm gathering without you saying it is that in his post today Odin refer's to how he began to care about the commenters through Layne, but his behavior after the "discovery" was anything but caring...and this pissed you off...with good reason mind you, but I think you need to gain a little perspective and perhaps join Johnny huh? in a little round of "punch the Soli" if he ever publishes and let it go for now.

Posted by: Lily at June 25, 2004 08:38 PM

All of this really, the group dynamic here and the denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance phases that different people are going through in public on this comment thread, is truly amazing and astonishing to watch. This has brought all sorts of people out of the woodwork.

Somebody's "Anthropology and Electronic Community in the 21st Century" doctorate thesis is right here waiting to be deconstructed.

Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 25, 2004 10:12 PM

It's hard exactly to say how I feel about this, but I think overall I'm just going to move on and try and ignore it all - I have no respect or trust for the writer, whether or not it is Odin, and I'm sorry but I don't believe the new post either. There was a blatant disregard for the other people who interacted with "Layne" on his part and an obvious self-absorption.

Basically I'm just working on not caring, and letting it slide, however if he ever comes out and gloats I will be one pissed off B****.

He's pretty pathetic, that's all there is to it.

Posted by: Onyx at June 25, 2004 10:21 PM

Who was it waaaayyy up there in the thread who said, "tranny?" Now look at the law firm photo. Now consider this:

Odin was planning to do the Internet Girl thing again.

I mean, connect the dots.

The fellow's not embarrassed about writing softcore lesbian porn; that's nothing these days. He's embarrassed about wanting to be a girl. Enneagram this, enneagram that--whatever. Send him a gift certificate to Victoria's Secret and be done with it, huh?

Posted by: ilyka at June 25, 2004 10:51 PM

Like I said on another blog earlier today, EMITTER was a site template I created for the character who turned out to be Layne. Gotta dig the old school handcoding, hey? I totally loved the theme, but didn't use it because it wasn't girly enough. So it rotted on my hard drive all these years -- until I dug it out of storage at 2 AM last night and used it myself. That's probably irony or something.

Posted by: Calling Frequency at June 25, 2004 11:19 PM

Calling Frequency = the author of Plain Layne, Odin. In case you hadn't figured that out by his post LOL

Using an old design meant for Layne would explain the "A Single Sideband Girl in the Ether" picture.
Well, OK that is an explanation that I can buy :-)

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 11:25 PM

"Well, OK that is an explanation that I can buy"

Ryan, the guy could sell you lesbian buttsex and you'd buy it.

Oh, wait. You already did.

Posted by: ilyka at June 25, 2004 11:53 PM

LOL yes as a matter of fact, he did.
And I did buy it.

Hey, I was never the skeptical sort.... I left that job to my friends.

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 25, 2004 11:56 PM

Yes, "Calling frequency" I will repeat what I said somewhere before, please just write, ignore the negative drama queens (you are better at that than them anyway) and write whatever you want...and I have to admit I am pissed the archives are gone, because I hadn't read them all yet! So if/when you publish, please let me know.

Posted by: nisi at June 26, 2004 07:26 AM

Hey Calling Frequency - I was wondering, exactly why should we believe anything you say. Ever.

Posted by: Lurker2 at June 26, 2004 07:33 AM

I'm unimpressed by what Calling Frequency has written by way of an explanation. If he so cared about the people "Layne" met on the net, why hasn't he answered their questions, like e.g. who all those characters, and especially Layne, really were? It's not boring your readers when you're answering precisely the questions they have asked, you know.

As far as the C&D is concerned, Ryan already explained our position rather well, and no, I am not really upset that we had to pull the plug on the archive. Yes, a lot of work and energy was put into this, primarily by me, but also by Heather, who has done a great job of finding broken links and similar stuff, as well as several other people. But we were clear that we would pull the plug on the author's request, he requested, and we pulled. End of story.

Right now, what upsets me most about this is how poorly Calling Frequency is handling this. If his story is basically true, which I have no reason to doubt, he has gone through some shitty times and will go through more of it in the future, but the way he's handling things now doesn't really speak of a lot of caring for the people who were caring about "Layne".

Posted by: Gudy at June 26, 2004 07:35 AM

Posted in my comments this morning by Donna:

Ryan, I got this in my email. It's a little scary.

Fri, 25 Jun 2004 23:16:50 -0700
From: "Michael Bazeley"
Subject: Query from the San Jose Mercury News


I'm curious if you'd be willing to chat about the Plain Layne drama and
the appeal of her blog, etc.

Michael Bazeley
Internet reporter
San Jose Mercury News

Posted by: Ryan/Quiplash at June 26, 2004 08:30 AM

Calling Frequency: I'm appalled by your nerve -- do you think you can just swagger in, toss off a flippant remark and pretend nothing happened?

Gosh - you're just so full of yourself, aren't you?

And now that you've finally decided to make an appearance, would you like to tell us why you left all those comments in Layne's name? Or coresponded with people who found themselves in similar situations with Layne, and offered unconditional support?

I'm interested in knowing what makes your twisted, shifty mind tick. Go on - blow me (away).

Posted by: peebrain at June 26, 2004 11:12 AM

I could bore you with additional details about Plain Layne -- -- but what's the point?

someone else said it.

dude, for me, that's totally the point. she's hot. I liked her and was equally annoyed by her.

also? speaking as someone who lived through sept 11 New York City; i had an epiphany about my politics, too. I didn't sublimate anything.

Posted by: jennie at June 26, 2004 12:15 PM

How do I feel?

Well, it doesn't bother me that I spent several hours working on the archive, I always knew it might be for nothing. I went through every entry and as we all know, it was good reading. It was very interesting for me read with a different point a view, i.e., Layne's a guy. So much time was spent to convince us otherwise, so obvious after the fact.

Next, I would have preferred SILENCE to the "story" we got from whatshisface. What a bunch of blatent b.s. His arrogance definately came through in Layne's writing. I'm a long time reader but never developed a personal relationship with Layne. It's a good thing, too, because I think I would be rather pissed at this point.

The only think I can say is that through "Layne's" blog, i've met some great bloggers and cool people, so thanks, whatsyourface, for that.

Posted by: Heather at June 26, 2004 06:24 PM

This whole thread is the subject for a long, involved post later.

I can say this much: Those of you who thought "emitter"'s post was "bs" are...well, wrong. From my perspective, I can tell you that it's neither BS nor in the least arrogant.

More later.

Posted by: mitch at June 26, 2004 06:36 PM

Does anyone else just enjoy the novelty of the whole thing? I think it's just fun. And I was a constant reader and sometimes email correspondent. You were lied to. That's the feckin' breaks when you form "relationships" over the internet. So keep up the "I hate you layne makerupperguy you lied to us!!!!!11!1oneone!" shit, people. You're making it all even better.

Remember when everyone told "layne" to stop dating and get a dog for companionship?

Any of you think you should drop by the animal shelter this weekend? That dog probably won't IM you under an assumed name, if that helps your decision, babies.

Posted by: Dylan at June 27, 2004 12:51 AM


I didn't mean that the post itself was arrogant, the guy himself just is.

Posted by: Heather at June 27, 2004 01:35 AM

I haven't screwed up my wee ham-fists with white-hot anger because I was duped by some random guy's blog.

I haven't wiped hot, wet, streaming, watery, wet, salty-wet tears from my cheeky-cheeks as I read this dude's rationalization for blogging as the other sex. (Please, if I had a fucking wooden nickel for every time I collapsed on the fucking sidewalk with a broken heart, I'd build myself a fucking house. Made of wooden nickels, Einstein. You see the connection? Jesus.)

I certainly don't want to know who the dental care-impaired unfortunate in all the pictures is.

But what I can't believe is that I agreed to meet "Layne" at a highway rest stop and fucked "her" in the ass with a huge black dildo ("she" was packing) and I STILL couldn't figure out it was a guy.

Damn you, Odin Soze!

Posted by: moglia at June 27, 2004 03:44 PM

Is comment spamming defined as two posts in a row, or three?


Posted by: moglia at June 27, 2004 04:07 PM

I dunno about the definition of Spam, but I'm not allowing posting of links to pictures of alleged participants.

Largely because most of the links posted have been wrong, and partly because it's just not worth it.

Posted by: mitch at June 27, 2004 06:20 PM

Huh. Just getting back from a long weekend, and it appears I missed out on a whole lot more than just harmless limerick fun.

My two cents: enjoy the laugh, people, because this was largely just a totally harmless project. I now know the most important pieces of the puzzle, so I'm content to move on to other things. Whatever the author's intent was, I guess I could care less.

A.) I now know Layne was fake, and was a guy.

B.) The guy did it because he could.

Now, if the planet would just start focusing on me and my brilliance, and my preoccupation with my own ass, all would be right with the world.

Posted by: Ryan at June 27, 2004 10:03 PM

`Plain Layne' and Odin Soli: an Internet hoax

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at June 28, 2004 12:53 PM

Hee. I saw the story about this is the Saint Paul, MN paper today, the whole, true story from the guy himself. I got burned by someone pretending once, and ended up being great friends with him anyway. I play characters online myself, and in fact keep journals for them, but they are clearly labeled as fake people, duh, Jeri Ryan and Jonny Lang for their faces. I think it's cool the someone got up the nerve to pretend fo rmany years, and so long as no one actually got lead on to fall "in love" and made promises to, I don't see a problem with a writing exercise. That's all.

Posted by: Anne at June 28, 2004 10:59 PM

It's official....the 15 minutes of whatever are over.

-Lurker signing out!

Posted by: lurker at July 3, 2004 01:31 PM