What’s my wrangle?

Egads, I’ve been staring at this for long enough that I need to start by any means possible. What’s on my brain?

I’ve got this “bit” percolating at the back of my mind, but I haven’t worked out all the beats yet. The set up is probably something like:

“I’ve never been to the rodeo. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
Apparently your first one is quite the doozy.”

But I don’t really know where to take it from there. Mostly I think it’s funny that a rodeo, something of very little consequence to most people, is used as the benchmark of proficiency. “Not my first rodeo” implies some level of skill, but what’s happening at all these rodeos that’s empowering a myriad of people in their varied lives? Also, it’s usually really banal stuff that seems to have very little with roping a steer or riding a bucking bronco. Furthermore, I highly doubt all the people who use the phrase have actually been to one. Why is a rodeo so important? Does it hold a different status in rural communities? I’ve got the phrases “Cowboy Cathedral” and “Draw Pilgrimage” in my head, but I don’t know what to do with them. Do rural folk have an equivalent expression showcasing an activity they rarely take part in? “This ain’t my first pride parade”? Education rally? Abortion clinic? PC party protest? It’s kinda judgemental. What’s some more benign stuff that city slickers do but country folk probably wouldn’t? Traffic jam? Pop up sale? Brunch line? It’s all a bit mediocre.

I dunno. Just ideas at this stage.

So here’s something. I’ve been struggling lately creatively. Honestly, it’s been since I started on the meds. In no small manner, they’ve been a game changer. They’ve given me resolve to get out and do things, and stop me from going flat every time I hit a bump. I wish I started them years ago, they’ve truly been a positive step. The buoyancy they’ve allowed me is a big deal, and I’m thankful to be taking them. I’ve also found it hard to be creative. My brain isn’t making those quick connections it once was. I’m struggling to have answers on hand like I’m used to. It just feels like there’s gum in the works that keeps them fluid, but lacking some of that deeper grind. I don’t know if this is a side effect that will level out with time. I’m sure hoping it is. They say it takes 4-6 weeks for all the effects to settle, and there are definitely potential side effects I haven’t seen sign of yet. I know that while I was in my depressive depths, I had this almost desperate creativity and I’m having trouble accessing it. This is not a full on complaint. I’d much rather have my life back in the way that these meds have enabled. It’s also kind of ironic that while they’re giving me the push to go out and try stand up again, I’m limping along at attempts to write/edit new stuff.

Perhaps I’m missing renewed perspective that could be helpful. I’m reading Chris Gethard’s Lose Well at the moment. I very rarely read self-help books, but Gethard has a familiar voice and his content is generally not patronising. I do find that I need to take it in small bites, to register ideas and consider how they’d fit into my life. The chapter I just read was about finding new comfort zones in grey areas. He shares advice his therapist gave him, which is to never take the same way home twice. I don’t know how literally actionable this is, but the gist was to find new ways to see the world. Try getting off the subway a stop or two earlier. Take side streets and be open to opportunities. Perhaps there’s a cute neighbourhood cafe or bar that you’ve never seen. Maybe you’ll come across graffiti or scenes that challenge you. There’s no telling what’ll spark synaptic connections. Now that the weather has warmed up, it could be easier to venture outside and explore. I could find time to visit subway stops I’ve never taken. I could look at the city from an unintuitive vantage point. Who knows what I’ll find?

I could even figure out what city slickers do but country folk probably wouldn’t.


Back in the saddle for a bumpy ride

Be proud. I went and did an open mic set all on my very own. It went fine.

I guess the meds are doing something, because I woke up on Wednesday wanting to try out some new material. It’s been a while. The last time I did a set was at the insistence of my therapist. I did the set, things went fine. Then I was too depressed for months and found the drive to get back up was beyond me. I knew that while I wanted to really try my hand at improving, it wasn’t gonna happen if I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone and do something about it. So I did nothing. Consistently. I realised that I’d first tried it out maybe 10 years ago, that if I’d kept at it I’d be a lot better by now. But I wouldn’t get better at all without actual practical experience. So while it would be tough to sign up for open mics, stay out late listening to white dudes make shitty rape jokes, and deal with potentially mediocre sets for a while, it’d be a necessary evil.

Last night I had no real plans. My girlfriend was gunning for a burlesque game show, but I wasn’t in a burlesque mood. My friend runs an open mic that’s within walking distance from my home. I’d never been, but I knew that if I did bomb hard, I could very easily run home and cry. Always have an escape plan. I looked up some jokes I’d been considering telling. I worked over some of the wording, and practised one in which specific wording would lift the performance. I weirdly didn’t feel as nervous as I had in the past. This was all low stakes, just a Friday night open mic at a bar. My friend was hosting, and I had every hope she’d put together a pretty friendly room. At worst I had backup plans to go drink with friends afterwards. Plus it was a venue I hadn’t tried before. It’s cool to take the temperature of new places.

I walked in 5 minutes after sign up, and joined a line of white dudes. Assumptions confirmed. The scene hadn’t changed all that much. By the time I got my name on the list, I was 13th. After all the booked spots, and with a show that rightfully pushed non-cis males to the front, it’d be a while. The show started at 9.30pm. Spoilers, but I didn’t get on until around midnight. Once again, the scene hasn’t changed.

It was a mixed bag. I tried to sit up front so that comics would know they had someone listening. For the most part, the bar was filled with dudes just waiting to do their material and leave. Most of them weren’t listening to whoever was onstage. They were just thinking about their own sets. However, as other attentive comics did their sets and left, it was basically just me sitting up the front while a rowdy bar talked over whoever had the mic. Rough. I felt awkward being so close. Still, I tried to give everyone the respect they deserved for getting up and giving it a go.

I felt pretty shitty for the people who got drowned out. They had some great jokes, and probably felt like they were pounding sand talking to a bustling room. One of the female comics got a temporary reprieve by calling out one of the dudes at the back. “Hey ________” she started “should I tell everyone how you’ve been blowing up my Facebook? Maybe shut the fuck up, or I’ll start reading your messages verbatim. I’ve got time.” Hell yeah. People filtered out, the room quietened down. By the time I got on, people were at least half listening.

The set went well enough. I’d had two beers in the two or so hours I’d been sitting there, so I was a little looser than I’d expected. Still, I didn’t step on my own toes or fuck up any punchlines. I naturally fell into a very singsong-y Rhys Darby style delivery. Was it pandering? Some. Did it catch people’s attention? It did. All of my jokes landed, and got somewhere between a chuckle and a laugh. For such a sparse room, I was pretty happy with the reception. I’d written notes on my hand, and this morning I still have the following scrawled but faded:

  • Winter Gloves
  • Video Game Saves
  • Hakuna Matata
  • Ghost Crowd
  • Office
  • Kegels
  • 50 Cent

Maybe I’ll try this again soon. See if it sticks this time.

If a comic shuts down a heckler and it kills, is the heckler diss-eased?

Did you know that they originally called them Sitcoms to differentiate from Stand Up?

Also they’re filmed in front of a live studio audience so you know they’re not dead.

I’m not sure whether we need April Fools these days. We live in a simulation that’s absurd beyond belief. Truth has been relative for years. At this point, every day is April Fools. Did you know that Garfield Phones have been washing up along French beaches for over 30 years? Did you know that Jim Carrey is in a Twitter spat with Benito Mussolini’s granddaughter? Did you know that Toronto City cleared out a prominent homeless encampment under the Gardiner, then further down the road they’re doing a pop up snow globe restaurant experience for a mere $150 per globe plus $100 per person? Also, lest we forget this Garfield Shaped Pizza shitshow.

Life has become an eternal joke to supersede Dante’s Divine Comedy. Global warming is coming to thankfully wipe the slate clean. At this point, I’m not entirely sure why we continue to procreate. Sunken cost fallacy? Evolutionary directive? Vanity? Ten years ago I was very sure I wanted kids. Now I’m not sure I want another ten years. Go figure.

I think I used to be quite into the idea of April Fools. Seriously. I don’t know that I’ve ever successfully done an April Fools prank. It takes preparation and insight. There’s a skill to doing a fun “gotcha” without actually being mean. If your humour comes at the expense of someone else, what’s the point? Life’s beating us all down enough as it is. Also according to angry nerds, there’s a white genocide going on because Star Wars cast a female lead. A bunch of us are fucked no matter what happens. I don’t want to add insult to injury.

Mostly though, oversaturation of shitposting means that April Fools pranks are visible a mile away. The recognition that something’s amiss usually takes the time between clicking on a link and said link loading. Except for old people, who have no internet literacy and have the potential to fuck over the lives of generations who follow. You know, like Brexit?

So what does a “good” April Fools prank look like these days? The equivalent of a knowing wink and a wry smile. A good April Fools joke doesn’t seek to hurt feelings or shit on people for being gullible. A good April Fools joke allows the target to enjoy the joke after falling for it. This one from 2016, declassifying the military history of one James Howlett, was a great joke. If the name James Howlett doesn’t spark something for you, there’s this moment of fascination. You get to marvel at his exploits, then look at photo of Hugh Jackman and smile. Good joke, wouldn’t it be exciting if Wolverine was real? Nobody really believes that he is, but it’s fun to imagine that world.

A footnote. It should be known by now that if your joke is poking fun at a sincere part of someone’s identity, it’s shitty. If revealing it will create excitement and subsequent disappointment once you reveal it’s a joke, you’re shitty. If your joke is some variant of “Hey guise, I’m gay/trans/pregnant/engaged”, then try harder or keep your fucking mouth shut. You’re not funny, take a seat.

Or get yourself a sitcom, as it were.

The best offence is a good defence, right?

Kind of as corollary to yesterday’s post, the discussion with my friend about comedy, punching down and causing offence continued. A bunch of it is too specific to be of use here. One thing that stuck out was my friend saying that in his opinion, being offended is a choice. I disagreed.

“As for “being offended is a choice”. That stance is a luxury that not everyone has. As far as the two of us go, we have enough cultural capital to inoculate ourselves from a ton of stuff. We’re both white dudes from affluent, supportive, loving families. We didn’t have to struggle with issues of inequality in the same way others probably did. We weren’t beaten or relentlessly tormented for who we loved. We never had to fear for being shot because of the colour of our skin. It’s very easy to be unaffected by issues that don’t affect you, y’know?

At the same time, just because I don’t feel personally attacked, insulted or used as a punchline by a lot of comedy that punches down, that doesn’t mean to me that people can’t or shouldn’t be. I’ve got no place to judge how others react to anything based on their life experiences. If someone feels hurt by something, I’ve got no right to say that they’re not allowed to feel that way. I haven’t been in their shoes. For a lot of people it’s not a choice, and I don’t think it’s charitable to judge other people based on our own metrics.

As for being offended, it’s rare that I really am. What does happen though, when I hear lazy, sexist, homophobic, racist, etc etc etc content, is that I get disappointed or disheartened. I feel shitty for the people who feel like their struggles are being mocked by someone who has never lived them. I feel sad that people don’t understand the inherent power structures in our society and care more about trying to get cheap laughs by catering to the uncaring majority than considering how to more adeptly structure what they’re saying. Because that would require too much thinking. That’s lazy.”

The thing is, this is all a learned response. It’s not like most of this would be apparent unless someone pointed it out. Has anyone ever done that to you? Made you aware of something that you then couldn’t ignore? A friend once told me that Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of Muse, inhales sharply while singing. I couldn’t help but notice it every goddamn time after that. I’m not gonna say it ruined their music, but it definitely changed how I experienced it. This desperate gasp at the beginning of every sentence. How could you not?

Look, I’m a big ol’ loudmouth know it all. It sure is fun to spread your opinion all over the world wide web in a feeble attempt to get Internet Points. I’ve also, as I’ve aged (rapidly), learned a lot more about what feels worth speaking up about. Comedy, language, and progress are important to me. I’ve put a ton of effort into recalibrating my views on the world and figuring out where the disparity between my perspective and others’ lies. I know that there’s a heap of animosity between polarised political ideologies and, while I’m generally heavily left leaning, I don’t think anyone is totally right all of the time.

There’s a phenomenon we see in progressive circles quite often, where someone will learn something, then turn around and chastise others for not knowing what they themselves just learned. I don’t know what part of this is tolerance or progress. It directly feeds into the notion of holier than thou, ivory tower academia and it’s serving nobody. Learning isn’t always a one way street. Having conversations enables us to teach one another by sharing perspectives the other may not have considered. For this to work though, we have to be open to our own fallibility and view this as a strength.

The thing is, that’s hard. So much of society teaches us that to succeed, we need to be confident. For many of us, we take that to mean steadfast obstinance. If you don’t believe in yourself, your growth will wane. In reality, confidence includes openness to criticism. If you’re confident, you’ll know not to take it personally. That adaptability is a huge strength. That criticism is not an insult, but an opportunity. It’s difficult to hear that you’re not always right, y’know?

Be pensive, not defensive.

‘Vais the music

One of my friends posted the following Ricky Gervais quote on Facebook:

“Please stop saying “You can’t joke about anything anymore”. You can. You can joke about whatever the fuck you like. And some people won’t like it and they will tell you they don’t like it. And then it’s up to you whether you give a fuck or not. And so on. It’s a good system.”

I have issues with this and I want to try and articulate why. I don’t think everything he’s saying is wrong, and on some fundamental level, I agree with him. There’s just something about how he’s saying it that rubs me the wrong way. Mostly though, because it takes something that’s complicated and nuanced and presents it as simple.

If you’re taking this as a straightforward series of words that follow one another, then yes it makes sense. You can joke about whatever you like. There are often vocal dissenters. You have a choice whether or not to take on criticism. There’s still a lot more to it than that.

It’s 2018 and I have less than zero time for comedy that punches down. It’s been done to death. No matter what stage of comedy you’re at, if you’re standing on a stage and projecting your voice to an assembly, that’s a privileged position. Even if it’s at the back of a loud and crowded bar, the fact that you’ve been given a platform on some level implies that you’re saying things that you believe others deserve to hear. If you’re using this time to shit on people who are vulnerable in any capacity, why the fuck are you wasting your breath? If these people are already marginalised, they’re already being punched down systemically. You’re saying nothing. These things have already been said on some level, and if you’re adding fuel to the fire, you’re part of the problem. You’re also wasting everyone’s time.

Comedy doesn’t live in a vacuum and neither do any of us. Comedy changes over time and so do public opinons, circumstances, etc. Things that are and aren’t acceptable change with them. Whether or not I like Gervais and his comedy, I want to be charitable and assume this is his way of saying “don’t be a dick. Or do and suffer the consequences.” I’m not sure that the base notion of “say what you want and things will even out” is a level playing field, because the effect of saying things is not equivalent for all parties hearing them.

Some things are easier to shrug off than others. If you’ve gone through something traumatic, for instance, hearing about those topics can cause you to relive trauma. That doesn’t mean that they’re not gonna hear about those things over the course of their life, or that these things shouldn’t be talked about. To me though, what this means is that if these things are gonna be talked about, they deserve appropriate consideration. Why are you saying what you’re saying? Do you have a new take that they won’t have heard? How is an audience likely to receive or respond to what you’re saying? Could it dredge up uncomfortable things for them? Or alternatively, are you saying it in a way that subverts expectations and challenges concepts that punch down? Is the humour at the expense of the victim? Or is it empowering them against unjust systems that take away their recourse to personal rights?

If you’re not considering what you’re saying and thinking deeply about what your words mean within a wider societal context, then you’re putting the burden of processing onto your audience. You’re saying “it’s not my fault if you’re offended, you just thought about it wrong.” But you’re the one in the privileged position, the onus should be on you to consider the impact of your words. Not doing so is straight up inconsiderate.

Why I don’t think that this system is as “good” as Gervais proclaims, is that not everyone has the same access to power in our society. You might be saying something that shits on vulnerable people, but the people who are unaffected by what you’re saying won’t see an issue with it. They may not (let’s be real, likely won’t) understand its impact or the nuances of it. It’s also likely that their voice will be louder or come with more societal clout. If they’re repeating your words, that happen to be shitting on others, it’ll probably further punch down on people who are already marginalised. You’re exacerbating the problem and that’s on you.

Say, for example, a comedian did a joke about trans people, and the joke was making fun of the concept of non-standard gender identities. Maybe these people are using non-standard gender identities because they make them feel more accepted or at peace with who they are. Maybe they’ve felt unwelcomed or made to feel like an outsider their entire life, but this makes them hold onto some modicum of pride. But to the comedian, they’re not considering that. They’re just looking for a cheap shot to get some laughs. Maybe in the audience they’re performing to, a couple of people are offended by this and take it personally, but most of the audience doesn’t get the nuance. They just hear a joke, so to them it’s totally acceptable. Then they repeat the jokes, or tell it to their friends, disseminate the punchline. To them, these trans people’s concept of belonging is a joke. To them, trans people are a joke. How do you think these trans people, who’ve likely been torn apart their entire lives, feel about themselves? If say, the comic was someone they looked up to, and they found out that this person they looked up to doesn’t consider them worthy of respect? What if it’s enough to send them into an emotional spiral? Or self-harming behaviours? Or worse? Cool man, that’s on the comic. That is directly their fault. Was that worth getting a couple of laughs? As far as the comic’s concerned, more people liked it than didn’t like it. They probably think it’s fine.

YMMV, of course, but I personally thing that this shit is important. It’s too easy to be lazy and inconsiderate. Being edgy for the sake of it is not clever. Does all this consideration make comedy more difficult? Of course it fucking does. Comedy isn’t meant to be easy. It’s hard to work through your material and figure out if what you’re saying has a point. If it doesn’t, kill it. You can do better. If your comedy comes at the expense of someone else, make better comedy. You’ve lost nothing of value. Punch up or punch out.

Space Odyssey 2100 and one?

It’s funny. I never expected that I’d make it to 21 posts. Over five years ago, when I was younger, sharper (but more blunt), more arrogant, naive and immature, I thought it’d be a good idea to start writing every day. It was not a well-contemplated notion, but after building up momentum I surpassed 21 days. I kept rolling on past 100, 200, 1000, and yesterday I penned (metaphorically. You wouldn’t like my handwriting) my 2100th entry. I used to have this little recap tradition every hundred entries, but I’ve long since forgotten to keep them going. It’s been some time, let’s catch y’all up.

I’m in a rough spot. I’ve stayed in the same routine job for the past four years. I’ve been trying to leave, but it’s hard getting that propulsion behind me. Each time I get rejected (and those hits keep coming) it leaves a crater sized rut I then need to crawl out of. Motivation comes in rare bursts, and the hard part has been latching on to pull myself up. My job is uninspiring, and it’s been detrimental to my mood. Out of desperation, a new kind of creativity has come to the fore. I feel synaptic connections forming that didn’t exist prior. A greater understanding of narrative, storytelling and structure. I know I want to harness this in some fashion, but I’ve yet to find an outlet that comes with compensation. Half my trouble is having vague ideas of what I want to do, but lacking the wherewithal and commitment to pursue any of them boldly. My fingers are perennially crossed, but it feels like I’m reaching out with both hands tied behind my back. I’ll keep treading water, and hopefully it’ll bring me in sight of land.

2018 was a weird year. I fractured my wrist and it’s been slowly recovering. I have most every function back, but I still get mild pain from many activities. It sounds worse than it is, and eventually the bone will grind down back to normal and I won’t even notice. The accident gave me a ton of perspective. Oh, if the wrist wasn’t bad enough, I sprained both ankles at the same time. It involved a ton of hard work and perseverance to build strength and mobility back up. I went from struggling to eat a bowl of cereal, to completing Tough Mudder once more. After the accident, I gave my ankles two weeks off, then slowly built up my running distance and speed. I went from running two days a week to four. I saw athletic therapists to work on safely increasing flexibility. I did all the exercises like a gold star patient. At the hospital, my doctor told me I wouldn’t be ready for Tough Mudder two months later. My physio disagreed. I proved my physio right. The whole ordeal gave me a quiet confidence in my ability to rebound that I know will pay dividends as the years pass.

Concurrently, my mental health has taken several blows this year. I’ve had bouts of depression before, this year they hit harder. I had a couple of panic attacks, dissociated a few times. I had trouble staying tethered to reality and held fast to therapy to try and bring me back. The therapy is helping slowly. It’s giving me tools to unpack and diffuse times of struggle. I’m taking ownership of my needs and control of my symptoms. I’ve been in a vulnerable state, but I know there are lessons to learn here. Things will get better. I’m in an upswing at the moment, and hoping an aerial view will help me see a path forwards.

Oddly enough, my therapist recommended that I get back into stand-up. She said I needed an outlet that also played into healthy narcissism and ego. To get an appreciation for my own creativity and ability, she said stand-up would bolster confidence and recharge a part of myself that’d been lacking. It’s honestly been tough to push myself back into it, but she was right. It’s making gears turn that ground to a halt for some time. I’m thinking from angles I’d never considered, and my perspective is shifting accordingly. There’s a clarity to the world that I haven’t been able to access, and a sense in the murkiness that’s helping me through the mire. I didn’t realise what I’d lost, but I’m excited to find it once more.

My girlfriend and I have been together for four and a half years, and living together for two of them. Things have been comfortable, easy, routine. At least, as routine as a couple of weirdos like us could manage. None of that is meant to come off as undesirable, but it has involved us sinking into patterns. We’ve talked about it, and it feels like there’s change on the horizon that’s trending positive. I know I’ve taken steps to try and look closer into how things work, and how they could work even better. Just because I so often feel in a rut, that doesn’t have to spread to the rest of my life. There’s no reason not to keep things exciting and sometimes that involves work. Relationships are work, and good relationships are so worth it. I’ve got one of them, and I intend to hold onto it.

In terms of poly dating, I’m gonna put more effort into it next year. 2018 was pretty sparse for new dates. My girlfriend has a wonderful partner who seems like they’ll be a positive force for her. I’m ready to find a person(s) that complement(s) who I want to navigate the world as. I feel like there are valid parts of myself that are rarely accessed, and could stand to be shared with others. Will 2019 be that year? I’m here for it.

Pop Culture:
It’s the end of 2018. Disney has entirely taken over the blockbuster market and I find myself slinking back from it. Then again, I just watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and it feels like there’s hope for the relentless super hero onslaught. Also Marvel, please don’t do the Onslaught saga. It’s a mess. 2018 was the year I fell in love with Paddington 2: the cinematic antidote to the venom in our world (and maybe the Venom motion picture Sony released). Paddington 2 is a perfect film, proving that even in darkness, there’s always light.

Then again, we’re still swimming in peak TV. The Killing Eve was phenomenal, I’m holding a candle for the next season of Catastrophe, The Good Place and Atlanta are pushing genre boundaries in exciting new ways. I’ve heard Barry aligns pretty well with most of my tastes. We’re spoiled and nobody should be complaining. Except broadcast television. That industry is sinking year by year. Dare I go down with that ship?

This was a pretty dense info dump. I feel like I’ve just finished catching up with an old friend. Let’s do this more often, y’know? Don’t be a stranger and stuff. I’ll try to check in with y’all in a hundred or two entries from now.

Oh yeah, it’s 2018. I say “y’all” now.

I may have only etched the outline, but it might be some kinda sketch?

I was having brunch with a friend earlier today. She’s a comic, and we were chatting about bits and whatnot. I told her about an idea I’ve been sitting on. It’s something, though I don’t know exactly what it is. She told me to write it down. “Oh” I said, gesturing to my head, “it’s all written down up in here.” She shook her head “Your brain is an Etch A Sketch. Write It Down.”

She’s right. I don’t need to nail it, and the pressure to get it right first time will kill its potential. If I just get it down, I can take and tweak ideas later. So here. I’m getting it down.

It starts with a couple of guys hanging out, watching internet videos on their phones. One guy shows another guy this video of a dude mashing people’s food as they’re trying to take photos for Instagram (excessive link size, I know. You kinda need to watch some of the 55 second clip to get this idea). They chuckle and go back to work. They’re on the set of some kind of high profile food magazine shoot. Think the equivalent of Vogue, but food. They’re crew members working on a massive project. Something like an ornate croquembouche, gilted and everything. It’s almost threatening how magical it looks. Everyone is gathered and they’re just about to get their shots. The talent is in place. The director/DP, etc are all around. They’re gearing up, and the video flashes back into this dude’s head. It’s silly, he shakes it off and looks back to the shoot. He looks at the cake, the video flashes in his brain. He can’t shake it. He’s trying to concentrate, but it’s not going anywhere, it’s just getting more insistent. Everybody else fades into slow motion as he looks back at this cake with the video throbbing in his skull. Everything’s set, and at the last moment before the cameras click, he yells “SMOOSH”, reaches out and squashes the cake. There’s silence. Everyone’s stunned. He’s stunned, looking at his hand, the now ruined exquisite pastry, the director/DP and talent.

The director looks him right in the eyes and lays him out bare. “What are you doing? Why? Why would you do that? Do you know how many people work on this shoot? That cake? That cake was twenty hours work from a team of the world’s most exclusive patisserie. We have been putting this shoot together for DAYS. Have you got any idea of the total hours that went into getting the shot that you just ruined? Have you even thought of the cost? That was real gold. The cost of materials alone runs in the thousands. The wages for everyone on this shoot? There were tens of thousands of dollars involved in getting that one shot. That one shot for the Christmas issue, the biggest issue of the year. It’s printing tomorrow. This all had to be done by 10am, and it’s all gone now. Did you even think of your own family? They needed you to have this job. You have a sick wife and your benefits are the one thing keeping her health above water. How are you supposed to pay the bills now? Can you comprehend the magnitude of what you’ve done here?

It cuts to a wedding. He’s standing with his wife, watching his daughter about to cut the cake with her new loving wife. Everyone is smiling, they look so beautiful and happy. He looks into his wife’s eyes and it’s obvious, no matter how hard the past months have been, this is a bright light in the darkness. Staring right into her teary blue eyes, there’s a flash in his brain. The same video. He gasps, but you know the score. It’s in there and not going anywhere. We know how much this all means to everyone, but some things are inevitable. At the moment just when the photographer’s about to take the shot, he yells “SMOOSH”, reaches out and squashes the cake. Gasps and dead air across the room. We’ve been here before. His daughter dresses him down this time. She talks about the work that went into the cake, how much time it took them to find just the right bakery, especially after that emotionally gruelling experience with the homophobic bakers. All the financial hardships her and her wife had, and how the wedding almost didn’t happen. The guy knows he’s fucked up, but he has nothing and she keeps barrelling into him.

Cut to the hospital. His wife is in bed and he’s sitting by her side. She looks very frail. They’re talking, she says something like “I talked to Jane earlier. They’re struggling, but they do love each other.” He asks “did she ask about me?” His wife shakes her head “she’s not ready for that yet. It’s still too soon.” A doctor walks in with a chart and nurse. The doctor starts explaining how fortunate they were to be living in Canada with the healthcare system. How if they were in America, there’s no way they’d be able to afford this vital medicine. The doctor goes on about all manner of stuff pertaining to treatment, while the guy’s eyes look towards the bag of medicine the nurse is holding. We can hear the doctor going on about how severe the wife’s case is, how they were lucky that they managed to catch it when they did, etc. The guy is still looking straight at the medicine. We all know where this is going, the video flashes back into his head. The nurse plugs the medicine into the IV, the doctor is droning on. We see a shot of the wife’s hand bareknuckling the husband’s own. It’s obvious she’s suffering. She starts talking about how emotionally taxing it’s all been, etc. We get the picture. The dude steps up, yells “SMOOSH”, reaches out and slaps the medicine out of the IV. Silence all around. The medicine bag is just pissing out on the floor, going everywhere. Total shock. The room is stunned. In the background the bag continues spraying everywhere. There’s silence, aside from the sound of the medicine shooting out. The doctor starts talking, laying the dude out. Something like “Why would you do that? Your wife is in a critical condition. This is vital. Do you know how much that medicine was worth? In America, people go bankrupt over life saving medicine like this. I mean, you’re SO lucky we’re in Canada and your wife will be able to survive, but there will be severe consequences. There will be an inquiry. At this level, there is a high chance of jail time. You’ve lost so much, why would you cause yourself to lose even more? There are tears streaming down his wife’s face. Hurt and anger in her eyes.

Cut to a shot of a book cover. The title is “how to build a house out of books” or something. The book is lowered and we can see a house made out of books that looks like the one on the cover. The man inserts the book itself as the last book required to make a workable door. It’s hidden away at the back of library and, from the outside, just looks like a shelf. It’s very silly. The guy has lost everything. He’s been kicked out of home. He’s living in the library in secret, none of the staff or patrons know. He’s exhausted and gaunt. He’s using the computers and secretly masturbating under his track pants. We’ve all taken a Greyhound bus, we know what that looks like. It’s very obvious. He’s scrolling through porn forums, etc. He’s getting there, when suddenly the video pops into his head. As before, he tries to push it away, but it’s not going anywhere. Cue clips of his thoughts flashing between porn and this video, when all of a sudden he sees something, yells “SMOOSH” and cums right on the screen. A librarian sees/hears this and is shocked. Other patrons look. The librarian starts dressing him down, while the whole time he’s also extolling the virtues of the public library system, etc. The point is to really drive home how scummy it was for the dude to do it. As he’s saying all this, the camera cuts to a shot of the cumstain dripping down the screen, directly under something that says “Bread Face”

Cut to a shot of a table. It’s a bright area, well-lit and colourful. A really pleasant vibe. An exotic cake sits in the middle of the table. The dude comes in and sits down. He looks healthy, happy. “Hey guys” he says cheerily “this week we have a Dacquoise. It’s a type of meringue from the French village of Dax. I know ya’ll are big fans of the cream based cakes. Okay, here goes. SMOOSH.” He smooshes his face right into the cake. It’s a live stream. The screen cuts to the comments coming in thick and fast. A bunch of “SMOOSH”es, cheering, smiley faces, “GOOD SQUISH, SIR” and that kind of thing. It’s evident these people adore the guy. There are too many comments to track. The view counter keeps going up, it’s over a million. The guy pulls his face back up, huge grin from ear to ear. “Well that was fun. Remember, if you have suggestions for new cakes or breads, send in your requests via Patreon. I just wanted to say once again how much I love and appreciate you all. You know I had hard times and having your support really pulled me through. This community is amazing, and I’m so proud we managed to pull together and set up that scholarship for underprivileged inner city students. You’re astounding humans. Geez, I’m tearing up here. I need to go, but until next time, “SMOOSH”.”