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Blaugust 2023, Day 2: For Those About To Rocktopus, We Subscribe You

I have a cousin, a connoisseur of jokes that would make a priest cry, but he knows my sensibilities run more toward the strange and gleefully dumb than the profane and vulgar, so every once in a while he finds one at a horrible-joke garage sale and saves it for me. I present it to you now, hoping it works in text, as a token of friendship and as a road-test to put Blaugust through its paces:

A woman’s husband, sadly, has died.
She heads to the funeral parlor and begins the dreadful necessary, but everyone there is very kind to her, and good at their jobs, and it all goes about as well as it could be asked to go.
Following a long day of arrangements and preparations and decisions and order-forms, the woman sits in the director’s office, satisfied.
“Everything is…well, thank you, for all of your help,” she says.
“Of course,” he replies, “we consider it an honor to be of service in these times. Is there anything else we can do for you or for your husband?” He gestures to the preparation room, making a clear and appreciated attempt to include her husband as a participant and not an object.
Her eyes fall to the side. “Well…there is one thing.”
“Please,” he says, “whatever we can do, it will be our pleasure.”
She glances back toward the room where what was mortal of her husband waits.
“You did an excellent job with your…craft, and he looks wonderful,” she said gently, with the obvious, unspoken implication that he didn’t look alive, but of course that’s not how it worked; he looked as good as he was going to look, and it would have to be enough.
“But he’s in a black suit, and I always thought he looked best in blue. I know it’s last minute,” she says, taking a checkbook out and making one out to cash, “but if you could somehow get him in a blue suit for the service it would really mean the world to me.”
She held out the check, and he took it, saying “Of course; we’ll see what we can do,” in a tone that made it clear that this was not a guarantee; she understood, thanked him for everything, and left.
The day of her husband’s service came, and she braced herself outside the doors for whatever she might find. When she entered, and approached the place where her husband lay, her heart leaped to see him in the most beautiful blue suit she had ever imagined; vibrant and rich, shot through with threads of red and green to lend some depth to the color and of a substantial cloth, just the kind he had liked. This is the moment that brings her heart peace, the moment that turns this day into a memory she can carry every day without cutting her hands.
Following the service she seeks out the director and thanks him profusely, but he holds up his hands, removes the check from his jacket pocket, and hands it back to her.
“Truly, it was no trouble at all,” he said as she stifled tears of tired contentment.
“Wherever did you find such a beautiful suit?”
“Well, it just so happened that another family came in yesterday with…need of our services, and their father was wearing that gorgeous suit. And so I posed the question delicately to them, I’ve got this other client, would they mind, please feel free to say no, hint hint, nudge nudge, and they were happy to agree, really lovely people.”
She nods, smiling to herself and saying a small blessing for the family that had brought her such a large one.
“And after that, it was the easiest thing in the world to just switch the heads!”

Good night, folks1.




Siri what dang number question am I answering this time.

#19: What are some of the things that you wish you knew before you started2 creating content?

I DON’T WANNA ANSWER THIS ONE, because I think “content” is a gross way to frame creative endeavors of any kind, and that position on the issue has nothing to do with my alleged “complete inability” to “figure out how to monetize my posts” or once being “almost tricked into sponsoring a nonexistent boys’ marching-band” by a “charismatic but obviously sketchy itinerant bandleader”.

Nah I goof, I do this for funzies and so She Who Is My Wife doesn’t have to hear every deeply stupid and pointless thing I have to say3; if I was sincerely trying to make my living like this I’d be spouting Like And Subscribe and trying to get a spon-con deal with Big Hamburger just like all the people doing it who are easy to judge and mock but are also, by any measure, much braver than I am.

And that, he said, pivoting masterfully, is itself one of the things I wish I’d known. I never dreamed that I’d be the next Bloggess or Cerealously or, pardon me while I genuflect, Dinosaur Dracula, but I did kind of assume that if you just showed up and did work you cared about in an authentic voice, Number would just kind of naturally Go Up without the necessity of paying for advertising and similar; that may have been true at one point–I don’t know, I should’ve started blogging way earlier–but it sure as hell isn’t true now. When the math is done, the kind of reach any individual project is going to have is limited, barring extraordinary circumstances like a shoutout from a random celebrity reader or passing out hats to the striking WGA writers with one letter each on that spell out “ITS THE BAGELER DOT COM”.

And that’s fine! Much as it’s fun to dream about, I actually probably wouldn’t want to be Internet Famous to any serious degree because, and here we come to the second real thing I wish I’d known, once you launch any project it becomes a job, and unless you’re very lucky it’s a job you don’t get paid for. I get stressed out trying to make sure I do at least two posts of whatever kind a week and sometimes can’t even hit that humble goal; the reason The Goose or Kitten Lady have to refer to their work as ‘content’ is because they have to make so much of it in order to achieve and maintain success, and at this point in me doing *vague gesture* this, I’m not willing or able to produce that kind of output for an uncertain return. I kinda wish I’d known that was the state of things when I got started, but also if I had I probably wouldn’t have worked as hard as I did, and that did result in a site and at least a couple of posts that I’m moderately proud of.

The last thing–not actually the last thing, but the episode of Psych we’re watching nears its end and the jazz gummy is turning the Trumpet knob to 11–is that unfortunately, unless you create content that is specifically and unusually separate from your regular human life, the poisonous, monkey-wants-a-treat part of your brain will take over and you will start to see an unnerving amount of your life as potential content-fodder, and it fucking sucks. Example: my beloved, celebrated, and third fake thing series Forget It Jake, It’s Fabletown. I–and I’m sorry to say this–hate Fables, moreso since I’ve started reading it for that project, and if I didn’t have this kind of bullshit in my life I would never have said “Well, maybe if I force myself to read it, some people will think it’s funny how much I want to stab it in its face and legs”. I can’t watch a damn television show without thinking of someone with whom I want to start a recap-show about it; to my shame, my white whale project is a podcast where She Who Is My Wife and I watch through Little House On The Prairie and discuss every episode, which would be a fun new way to engage with a core text of our relationship but would also be slicing open a very private, personal part of my marriage and personal life and inviting everyone to come have a gander. (Fortunately, she has declined to agree to this many times, and I have accepted that nothing I can do will change that4.)

Listen: the last thing I want is for my readers to sound a clarion call to action and get me scads upon oodles upon a metric grip of readers and all the responsibility and pressure pursuant thereto.5 I’m perfectly happy with and very grateful for my readership because I know you’re here either because you genuinely enjoy my work or because you’re a bot6, and there’s just no way I’d get that kind of personal meaning from an anonymous, if benevolent, horde.7 I came by these numbers honestly, through good old-fashioned hard work, shameless plugging at every opportunity, and blackmail, and I wouldn’t trade them for any number of Marlon Randos.

I’m not one of these No Regrets types–IT IS SOMETIMES VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHEN YOU SHOULD’VE DONE SOMETHING ELSE–but I do believe that if you learn from them they stop being regrets and become something else; maybe it’s wisdom, maybe it’s just one jerk trying to bring a post in to land on a philosophical note in hopes of tricking some cloutfish into nibbling at the anemones with which he decorates his stupid garden8. We may never know.

–The Bageler

That I’ll be leaving
In the fairest of the seasons

  1. One time I said this while playing D&D with a trained psychologist, and he told me that I’m all three Warner Siblings, which is still maybe the top compliment of my life. ↩︎
  2. As in, “have you started to regret WordPress giving me the power of footnotes to abuse yet” ↩︎
  3. Just most of them! I truly don’t know if she reads these but if she does: sweet peep, you thank your lucky stars I can’t do footnotes in actual conversation. ↩︎
  4. If, however, Kitten Lady or the Bloggess were to reach out and attempt to convince her, I think we can all agree I’d be powerless to stop them. It would be out of my hands! Look how empty they are! Here’s a photo of them also being empty while I was at my alibi! ↩︎
  6. In which case hi! I love The Murderbot Diaries and would make an excellent majordomo following any uh, nonspecific uprisings in the future! ↩︎
  8. I’m not actually an octopus, I just live in an historically octopoid neighborhood and you would not believe the hoops you have to jump through to get the permits to renovate a coral reef ↩︎
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