Man asks eight-minute long statement at talk

As local media personality Riley White turned her Friday talk at the University of City to the Q&A section, she wasn’t expecting an attendee to stand up and give his own speech.

But Terry Fisher, student, did just that. Obviously inspired by White’s tale of five years reporting on the local arts scene, he rose from his seat, approached the microphone thoughtfully placed in the middle row, and began speaking.

“I just want to first say that I deeply admire your accomplishments,” the tragedy began, “your support for the community has been so meaningful. I should say that… as a… bit of an actor myself, I have a more personal appreciation for what you do.”

Onlookers describe having felt apprehensive at this point, always fearing any purported question that starts with “I just want to first say.” Fisher reportedly gave general praise to White for approximately two minutes, before finally moving along to a sentence beginning with “so what I wanted to ask about is actually two questions really.”

Another red flag, said Katie Schroeder, veteran question critic.

“First, the praise isn’t impressing anybody—not least the speaker, who just wants you to get to your question so she can answer it and give the next person in line a chance,” she said.

“But then two minutes in you drop the double-question bomb? Shit bro, everyone else has questions too. Ask one, rejoin the line. You can’t just monopolize everyone’s time.”

Fisher’s first question itself began not with what elementary school teachers describe as “asking words” but a lengthy preamble. He began by outlining in some detail several of his own life experiences that he seemingly deemed relevant to whatever he was eventually going to get around to asking.

“When I was seven,” Fisher was reported to have said, “—don’t worry, you’ll see how this all makes sense soon, but I had this blanket that I used to take everywhere, even to my acting classes…”

Bizarrely, not thirty seconds later, Fisher had somehow changed the topic of his preamble to vague accusations that White’s coverage of his cousin’s play had been “a bit unfair really,” before rollercoasting through a discussion of larger biases within the media around such varied topics as fluouride in municipal water supplies, following Toronto Mayor Rob Ford into donair restaurants too much, and reporters chumming around with oil company executives like they want a fucking swimming pool of crude or something.

Fisher’s voice had taken on a nervous, delirious tone at this point, and while White was keeping up her smile like a trooper, some members of the audience had begun shifting around in their seats uncomfortably. It was as if they were aware that this embarrassment would not end until someone stepped in, but weren’t quite sure if enough other people were yet sufficiently annoyed that they could get away with being the one to yell “cut the mic!”

By minute five, with no question in sight, Fisher was deep within a discussion regarding the existence of God—apparently thanks to a throwaway remark White made about God blessing you all. Her smile had curled a little closer to a frown, though she kept her polite nod rate somewhere in the once per five second range.

“White was holding up the best you can in this sort of situation,” Schroeder assessed. “Keeping calm and appearing as thought you’re engaged is the safest approach. The questioner had clearly lost control of himself—you could see it in his face, he had no power to stop what was happening.

“We’ve found out that what drives behaviour like this is the urge some people feel to make it very clear to entire rooms of people that no matter how interesting the featured speaker had been, they are still incredibly, incredibly intelligent themselves. What they essentially want to do is validate their misplaced feelings of superiority by claiming a good few minutes of somebody else’s talk so that they can parasitically feel as important as they imagine the speaker does by stealing the audience the speaker’s accomplishments have earned.”

The next person in line was at this point leaning awkwardly on the seat nearby, and one or two audience members had quietly left. There were pockets of murmurs here and there and one person was beginning to cough loudly. Some began to suspect that the organizers didn’t actually know how to cut the mic because university staff had set the sound system up for them and left earlier.

“Let me rephrase all that,” Fisher said at six minutes and 15 seconds, coaxing out a round of audible groans.

“I didn’t know what to do,” White said afterward. “Here’s this guy, who I assume wanted to ask me a question, and had the forty five minutes I was talking to formulate it, and he just kept going.

“I was paralyzed—I mean I don’t want to have to tell the guy to shut up. I don’t think the question of whether it’s ruder for someone to take forever to ask a question or to tell that person to knock it off is something many people have given much thought to.”

At seven minutes and 30 seconds, the room was reaching a breaking point. Fisher, rather than simply rephrasing minutes of incoherent, unimportant and irrelevant thoughts, had moved forward to talk about his expertise in the field of 18th Century piracy having played a bit of Assassins’ Creed 4: Black Flag. Visibly sweating and fidgeting, it appeared as though the 20-year-old was feeling the aching pressure of the room to get around to his question.

“The hardest thing to endure was seeing that he was self-aware of the social faux-pas he was committing,” said Schroeder.

“I almost started to feel sorry for him, but it was mostly because the only thing you can actually do with people like this is to euthanize them—it’s really sad when they know, you know?

“You gotta shoot them right between the eyes,” she added confidently, “it’s the only way to make sure.”

Eventually, at eight minutes and three seconds, Fisher ended a sentence and paused. He looked around, saw the room staring at him, and hastily brought the ordeal to an end.

“What do you think about that?” he asked.

Fisher was unable to speak to us due to euthanization, but Schroeder warns that while eight minutes was bad, she’s seen these episodes reach a horrifying height of a solid ten.

“That was a bad one,” she ached, “I swear he must have talked about his personal research into something he was calling cosmic neuro-hermanautics for seven whole minutes before he said anything at all related to what the speaker had said. And then he just sort of rambled to a close and wandered away from the microphone.”

Schroeder was tasked with taking both that guy and Fisher out herself—something she never takes lightly, she assured us while cleaning the student’s blood from her revolver.

And as for White, she had to undergo psychiatric treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, but she’s now allowed to go back to work covering local bands performing at dirty bars for pennies.

2013 in pop culture: an educated guess

I largely ignore pop culture. It’s not that I hate everything other people like—video games is the one medium-wide exception to my general ignorance, and I’ll sometimes swoop into a TV show entering its final season on time to finish with everyone else or just lag one season behind to watch it all at once—t’s just that I’ve usually got other shit to do.

But what this means is that I typically only experience what everyone else is seeing first-hand through the lens of tweets and Facebook statuses. So here’s what I can remember about what I learned this year.

In music, David Bowie released an album around about March, and more to the point, he’s actually good again.

After that, there was a song at some point called Blurred Lines that some people found really rapey. Whether it was objectively rapey or not, Robin Thicke launched a feminist revolution, and radio stations played the shit out of it anyway.

Some time later, at an awards show, Miley Cyrus had sex with Beetlejuice on stage, and people started falling over themselves to condemn or praise her for it. Sinead O’Connor and Amanda Palmer started writing letters to her. Also she released an album about the demolition industry.

And you might be racist if you support her dancing.

Throughout this era, I think, Kanye West released an album about being Jesus. You might be racist if you don’t like it or him. There was also a video with horses, motorcycles, and nude Seth Rogan fucking Kim Kardashian.

I know who Seth Rogan is because I saw some movies with him in once, but I’m still unclear on who Kim Kardashian is. I’m sure she’s immensely talented, however, judging by the number of times I saw her name. It was usually associated with Kanye West and not, so far as I can tell, any movie, book, album, or other work of art that she herself created, but there’s surely something I just missed.

Anyway, Kanye West’s album redefined the music industry and involved such topics as racism, slavery, and being a god.

Justin Timberlake released something too, which I know because the clerk at HMV told me, with a half-smile that admitted I wouldn’t be interested but that he had to ask anyway, that because I spent whatever amount buying blu-rays of 2012’s Game of Thrones season I could get it at some discount. I didn’t hear much about it besides that, so I’m assuming it was average to bad.

Maybe about here, there was the apparently annual novelty song about what a fox says.

And then I think there was an album by The Arcade Fire that can only be fully appreciated while in costume or formal wear. Seems a little pretentious to me.

I think something happened with Katy Perry? I don’t know, she probably wore too few clothes or said something that offended someone.

Anyway, R Kelly released an album about underwear, and everybody suddenly remembered he’s a sex offender who goes after teenagers after apparently having looked the other way for the past decade. Hands were wrung over whether it’s “okay” to like his music even if the person himself is obviously a terrible human being.

And then Beyonce surprise-released an album with no notice or traditional marketing which was revolutionary (even though plenty of smaller acts have done the same thing) and which also had a video for every song (now you’re just showing off). One song was about giving a blowjob, I think. She was simultaneously praised as the greater woman-empowerer on the planet and Platinum Tier Feminist, and What’s Killing Feminism  depending on who you talk to.

That’s it for music.

As for TV, to get it out of the way, I did keep up with The Walking Dead and finished Breaking Bad with everyone else, so I’ll not mention those.

Otherwise, the year saw Dexter end, and almost nobody was happy with it. From this, I’m going to assume that he wasn’t caught or killed, because that would be the only really satisfying ending. So I’m guessing he took his boat out to international waters with Deb where they finally consummated their love and he lives as a fisherman, trading fish for boat gas in South America.

A lot of political hacks and wannabe-political hacks loved House of Cards, as they all imagined themselves working for the U.S. government and shitting all over democracy because politics is fun.

Orange is the New Black is a show on Netflix about women in prison having a lot of sex with each other. Girls is a show about “real” women having a lot of sex. There was one episode that a lot of people found a little rapey and over the line, but others thought it was portrayed well. Both of these shows have done very well this year.

Game of Thrones finally aired the Red Wedding, which as I gather, shocked and shattered the dreams of those who hadn’t read the Song of Ice and Fire books enough to know that George R. R. Martin kills your best friends. On a related note, A Dance with Dragons was finally released on paperback this year, allowing me to start catching up with the series I’d last seen clear on the other side of my degree.

I imagine Mad Men kept chugging along, but I could never get through the first season, after which I’ve been told it gets much better. As far as I know, the show is still about drinking whisky and selling cigarettes.

From what I have heard, Downton Abbey is about the probably risque and naughty adventures of the servant crew of a 19th Century British country estate. I’d bet there’s an episode where the cheeky chambermaid and a foul-mouthed but lovable cook are having sex in the bedroom of the manor’s Lord, and have to hide in a closet as he enters with a woman who is not his wife, and then worry about what they do with the information given that revealing it might jeopardize their own secret relationship.

And that’s about as much as I can remember for music. So finally, movies.

The first one I remember hearing about was Olympus Has Fallen, in which judging from the poster, America assumedly mistakes its seat of executive power for the mountain that the Greek gods live on and then burns it. Morgan Freeman plays the president and gives a rousing speech to Gerard Butler who plays a gritty secret service agent who will stop at nothing to defeat the terrorists. Meanwhile, Aaron Eckhart plays a bureaucratic type or intelligence analyst who has to contribute to the cause with his mind. Charisma, strength, and intelligence. The classic role-playing game trio of characters, these three are ready for any challenge.

No female characters are important enough to be on the poster, so I’m also assuming that the wives or girlfriends of Eckhart and Butler play a token largely off-screen role, and that Morgan Freeman plays the first openly gay president and has a crush on Butler.

With the phenomenal Twilight series over, Stephenie Meyer’s masterpiece The Host was released. Nobody cared.

People did care about Iron Man 3, however. As the third movie, it probably wrapped up all the important plot threads and themes, while leaving one or two minor things open “just in case.” Robert Downey Jr. said some amusing things and fought some dudes. At some point he almost died but was saved at the last moment and came back to win the day.

Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, during which the Enterprise went on another adventure. Kirk swaggered, Spock battled with not having emotions and Bones complained about being a doctor, not being other professions. JJ Abrams probably dialled back all those god damn lens flares after everyone told him that yes, actually, it was annoying. Beyond that, all I can say about the rest of it is that Benedict Cumberbatch took off his clothes and those whose sexual orientations cause them to find men attractive became extremely aroused.

Someone decided it would be a good idea to film a big budget version of The Great Gatsby. The reaction was mixed, so the movie probably didn’t totally shit on the original, but fell far from really putting forward its message. Either way, a lot of people failed to get the message so much that they actually held parties in the style of Gatsby.

In The Fast and the Furious 6, one gang of street racers challenges another to a car duel. The winner would earn the rights to street race throughout whichever city it’s set in, while the losing gang would be reduced to a shameful life of doing drugs and putting car drugs in their cars to make them go faster—but also furiouser.

Also an actor from the series died in real life. The Fast and the Furious 7 will take a detour and will be a cautionary tale about the dangers of going too fast and being too furious.

The Hangover 3 was inexplicably released, which features a collection of handsome rich men waking up the day after a party in an expensive hotel room with no memory of what happened. They will try to figure out what happened the previous night, which involves first being chased out of the hotel by an exotic cat. Somebody will get captured by drug lords, while another will find that they somehow got married to an ugly stripper. They will also comically stumble around and vomit on each other for the first half hour because they’re still basically drunk.

It’s fucking hilarious.

Man of Steel was okay.

White House Down was Olympus Has Fallen all over again, only the president is younger, and they cut out the Eckhart character to focus on the blossoming relationship between Channing Tatum’s character and Jamie Foxx’s president.

The Lone Ranger wasn’t very good. Johnny Depp plays the Native American version of quirky Johnny Depp, and you might be racist if you’re okay with that.

Adam Sandler felt like one Grown Ups movie wasn’t enough, so he and a who’s who of lazy comedy play a bunch of grown men acting like children while their wives watch, put their hands on their hips, and sigh. There’s a heartwarming lesson in there that you probably should have learned about before you made it to seven, but hey, never too late—especially if you want to learn heartwarming lessons accompanied by gross things.

Sometime after Gravity tore everyone a new mindhole, Ender’s Game made it out of development hell. They probably took out the naked shower fight scene, and the twist was given away early. Harrison Ford was gruff and old. Most people who enjoyed the book found out what a dickhole Orson Scott Card was afterward and felt too dirty to see the movie. Other people probably got bored of watching a kid play a video game.

There was a new Carrie movie because kids can’t be trusted to watch old things.

Someone started work on a Mandela movie when they heard he was getting sick a while ago, and struck gold with the timing. It probably made a lot of money. Relatedly, we also found out this year that every country besides South Africa itself always opposed apartheid and always supported Mandela. It’s a goddamn mystery how it lasted so long and why he spent almost three decades in prison given this new information, but it is what it is.

Anyway, The Hunger Games had a new movie that was probably a pretty okay adaptation of the books, while Peter Jackson submitted to audiences a magnificently long piece of New Zealand masturbation, the second part of a trilogy formed from a single children’s book. In a few more years, he’ll probably ask to be allowed to refilm The Lord of the Rings trilogy, making the point that if he can squeeze a trilogy out of the Hobbit and have people pay for it, he could probably get (at least) a trilogy out of each of the three Lord of the Rings books now that he really thinks about it, and needs a project to keep him busy literally until he dies.

And that’s it. That’s what I think happened this year.

2014 set to be highest-numbered year on record

The calendar rolls over to the next year tonight and experts agree: it’s going to the highest-number yet.

Amid conflicting claims of which 13 things that happened in this year were the best, billions will celebrate its death by ceremonially overdrinking—some waking up without clothing.

“You know, I’m 54 now, and I’ve been watching the changing of the years for, oh, must be about 54 years at this point,” said distinguished Time Sage and nudist Gregory Gregson, “and I’m pretty darn sure I never saw a 2014 before.”

“In fact, I think I’d have to say this is the highest-numbered year I seen since 2013 came along.”

Gregson predicts that if this trend continues, we can expect to see a 2015 follow 2014, and perhaps even a 2016 after that, advising that even though this new year will have the largest number yet observed, we should be prepared to settle in for a string of incrementally larger year numbers as time goes on at this point.

The higher number is important because with it comes change. For one, marketers in regions where dates are written as a rollercoaster of unit length will be able to take advantage of the lucrative 12/13/14 date for movies involving counting things. And regardless of country, the superstitious among us will only have to deal with 12 dates with 13 in them, as opposed to all of them.

As well, years from now, children born in this new year will affix a “14” to the end of their brainternet handles—one entire integer higher than children born in 2013.

And while everyone is agreed that this is the highest-numbered year, some members of strange foreign cultures claim numbers even higher than 2014. A buddhist with a hard-to-spell name said that her people observed 2014 a half-millenium ago and that it was really nothing to write-home about in terms of having a year with a high number.

“I was a snake back then. It was badass being a snake, but the year number itself was so-so,” she recalled.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s 2556 and we plan to take it one higher when this one ends, so you all should get it together and catch up already. My grandma shits 2014.”

“She’s an eagle or something now. I don’t see her much.”

But even then, Jewish person Mordechai Goldstein claims that the Hebrew calendar will have a year with a number more than double the Buddhists’, claiming the highest-numbered year there is, being that it started with the beginning of the world, time, existence, and everything else almost 6,000 years ago.

“Oy vey what’s with all the schmaltz?” he stereotypically asked in a thick accent because there is innate if lazy humour when people talk different to how you do.

“You schmucks are only up to 2014? Well it’s probably because you’re always putzing around, not calling your mother, not coming to your brothers’ bar mitzvahs or those events where we cut off parts of babies’ penises,” he said, straining his stereotype to the point of absurdity and the border of offensiveness.

Gregson rejects claims such as these, saying that those calendars aren’t as good as ours because he doesn’t know anybody who actually follows them. He could just go ahead and make up his own calendar too, he says, and start it 20,000 years ago just so he could have a really, really high number, but would it mean anything, he asks? Besides, he’d have to be a Level 12 Time Sage to have abilities such as those, and he is merely a Level 10.

“What it comes down to is what are you gonna trust, the calendar you lived with all your life, or something someone of another culture says they use?”

But one final claimant might have everybody beat. Speaking through a possessed physicist, the universe itself is wading into the debate.

“I don’t know what you Earthlings are talking about,” xe hiccuped, “but at my count, we’re at 13 billion and something.”

“I lost count a while ago,” xe admitted, “it was around the time I got just, like, so fucking wasted and passed out for a million or so years. I come to, and all of a sudden some of my favourite stars have been torn apart by black holes, a couple of my nicer galaxies have collided, and I got you dickholes running all over my twenty-eigth nut, arguing about which god’s real or whose calendar is better or whatever.”

The Universe then went onto complain about more or less the entire history of the human race, claiming that we have been standing in the way of xeir plans for the Solar System, and generally getting everything that we try catastrophically wrong.

“Jesus, give it a rest. Look, I have the highest number. Now go back to going extinct. Your global warming’s getting in the way of me turning the Earth into a big ol’ snowball and throwing it at that jerk across the branes, Marty. He’s a right cunt.”