Cake With Make-Up


Cake With Make-Up
by Justin Shapiro

In bygone, yore-based, Middle Englishabethan Times, baking was such an intrinsic foundational act of life that the word “baker” became an occupational surname that went on to define generations of families. My family took its name from what was once believed to be a Hebrew word for heroic sailors, or “ship heroes,” but actually translates from anti-semitic Enlightenment-era texts as “vagrant rapists.”

Nevertheless, I believe I imbue this baking spirit even beyond a patronymic naming system. In April of 2015 in a brazen act I entered an annual cake-decorating contest held by the Pittsburgh Midwife Center as a fundraiser for its ongoing midwife crisis. Please hold your applause.

The contest’s prompt was as follows: “We’re asking bakers to bring the big screen to the cake stand for the theme: Lights, Camera, CAKE! For both the Decorated and Taste categories, this could include cakes inspired by a movie, film genres, an actor/actress, going to the theater, or film production.”


My goal, in so much as we can pinpoint and verbalize our unconscious dreams, was to have my own stupid cake displaying at this fancy event next to all the real cakes everyone worked on. My corresponding goal in lockstep was to strike the harmonious balance of the optimum idea with the minimum amount of effort.

I also resented the idea that the decorated cakes did not have to be made of edible ingredients, essentially making them arts & crafts projects made out of garbage and not, by most biological classifications, cake. Fondant? More like fondon’t. Wait, actually that zing belongs exclusively to the word “fondu.” Alright, fondant, more like fraud-dant. Thus I made a promise to myself to only utilize natural-occurring food-based ingredients, ultimately electing to work with the Pillsbury company’s “Funfetti” mix.

After consulting with a leading team of scientists in the field of oven entropy, these were the results.

Note: The raisins pictured were not used in the cake; they originate from my personal collection.


When push-time came to shove-time and the public revelation of this concept was imminent, I started to feel highly self-conscious about showing up in front of Iron City aristocracy at this high society gala with this, let’s face it, blatant undermining of everyone else’s hard and, above all else, earnest work.

Still, clad warmly in a protective mystical cloak of ironic invulnerability, I marched quasi-proudly into an honest to goodness opera house carrying my Bad News Bearclaw of a confection. I literally faced a tall order ahead of me.


If you’ve read Gamechange, the story of the 2008 Obama/Hillary/McCain presidential campaigns, and I have not, you’ll understand how political campaigns are precariously contested, won and lost on the slimmest, most arbitrary of margins. I believe Julianne Moore played Sarah Palin in the book according to one Daily Show interview. Allegedly, my electoral base was the dispassionate husbands who’d been dragged along to the event, assorted men and dudes acceding bemused nods of recognition as they perused the gallery of confection creation. A “Jason Bateman in Juno” type cool husband told me it was his favorite cake in all 10 years and it “had to win.” Not bragging, not mythopoeticizing myself in hyperbolic first-person narration. Just journalism. This is what occurred.

I’d braced myself all evening, but there were never any scandalized gasps. People were generally … nice. By the end of it, the professional photographer for the event had frightened me into thinking I was going to win the People’s Choice Award, a rarefied air heretofore only attainable by the television programs and films of Melissa McCarthy.

For a fleeting, pipe-dreamt moment, unlike the cakes themselves, I could taste it. But I did not win. That was a disappointing relief. On the one hand, like … obviously. But, still. So tantalizing.

And in the back of my mind, I’m left to wonder — did the inner circle of central midwives put their finger on the scale for the people, fabricating the whole ordeal as if it were some sort of the United States’ discovery and assassination of Osama bin Laden? Did they stuff the ballot box (cake box!) against me to crown a more traditional champion, one that would look better and proper when they put the event photos up on socialized media? More photogenic, more enticing for the? Where better to orchestrate something, after all, than the Pittsburgh Opera House?

Presumably not. At all. Like, even a little bit. But even accepting a second-place at second-face value, I choose to consider myself a champion. Correction: not me. The cake. The synthesis of a vision, catalyzed by science and magic — that magic known as imagination.

A $2 eBay investment and $3 cake mix.

A glowing tribute to Tinseltown and its stars of stage and screen.

A cumulative 35 minutes of work.

A night among Pittsburgh’s most fertile and elite.

A cake.

Of the people, by the people, and for the people. A champion.


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JUSTIN SHAPIRSHOW Episode 15 – Jumping Bomb Angles


On this episode of the thing, Alan Counihan (F4W, DKP) and Todd Martin (PWT, TBD) convene with J. Shapiro to cast a pod no different than and completely the same as any other they’ve done previously. In light of Samoa Joe’s appearance on NXT and only that, they discuss their favorite promotional jumps PART ONE, covering an assortment of Rics, Ricks, and Rickys from 1988 to 1995 as they depart, defect, debut, and delight from hither to thither, Crockett to Vince, Atlanta to Stamford, and vices versa. Then, as a bonus, Todd closes the book on the pages and the text with Wrestling Observor: The Lost Levols, the missing/final(?) edition of this popular feature recapping the Observer newsletter through the lense of the fall of the Berlin Wall. If you want to be a star in this business, you have to go to New York and you have to download and listen to this mp3. A show so check it out.

Note: Comprehensible version of the episode begins in earnest at 14:55.

To listen to this show, right click to download the mp3 file here. You can add the show to your music player of choice via it’s RSS feed: . You can also find the show on iTunes.

Alan and our own Matt Feuerstein’s career retrospective of Bryan Danielson can be found here.

You can get $5 off of a PWTorch VIP membership by using the offer code iwanttodd

You can find Justin, Alan and Todd on Twitter

Previous Episodes
15: Jumping Bomb Angles
14: Booyaka Booyaka 519
13: Thirtysomething
12: Assed Reigns
11: E! BOLA
10: Shoots and Ladders
9: Dean Dogless
8: 30 Talk
7: Royal Pains with Matt Feuerstein
6: Survivor Queries
5: The Biggest Parody of the Summer
4: New York Meets
3: Dwarf Tosser
2: State of the Union of People You Oughta Respect, Shane
1: Survivors Guilt

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