The Most Important Meal?

Sometimes I think about food. Okay, so oftentimes I think about food. Anyways, sometimes I wonder to myself, “How did we get away with this? Fried dough for breakfast?” It’s called a doughnut, but I really don’t think there are any nuts in it. You might be nuts to think it’s a nutritious way to start your day. Come on, it’s basically dessert. I might as well eat ice cream. Sometimes I do.

But usually, I don’t eat breakfast at all. I know they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But seriously, who is “they” anyway? I’ll tell you who: the sugar industry—BIG Sugar. I’m pretty much convinced that pastry and cereal companies invented breakfast. The cereal cartel. Oh yes, yes, breakfast is so important, that’s why we gorge ourselves on sweet glazed carb puffs and high fructose corn syrup flakes.

Breakfast is obviously important. That must be why I always want to take a nap after eating it. I thought it was supposed to give you energy, but it always feels like it required maximum effort just to consume it. Let’s just consider a few other “breakfast” items:

Biscuits and gravy. Let’s take this bleached, refined cinder block and pour the remnants of the grease trap on top. What in the world is gravy? Can we really consider this food? I imagine that gravy is the gelatinous innards of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Like if you stabbed the Doughboy in the gut, then gooey, gummy guts and viscous viscera would pour out. But hey, if you like a little extra jelly in your belly then that’s fine. Go for it.

Pancakes and waffles. More fried batter. At a carnival, they call it funnel cake. Maybe we just want to pretend that every day is our birthday. Deep down inside, we’re singing that comforting, nostalgic tune to ourselves, reassuring ourselves that “I deserve this. It was a long, tiresome night of sleeping.”

French toast. No, just no. Just because you dipped that Texas toast into an egg doesn’t mean that it’s now all sophisticated and healthy. That’s like dipping an apple into caramel or chocolate at the fair and pretending like it’s not basically candy now. Or putting a bowtie on a strip of bacon and calling it hors d’oeuvre. Also, French. That’s like taking a cowboy’s hat away and giving him a beret instead. Just wrong.

Other assorted pastries. Hey, you know what would be really great with all these carb cakes? What if we filled them with like 10,000 calories worth of jam, frosting, and custard? It all turns to cement in your stomach five minutes later.

The only thing that makes breakfast more indulgent is eating it in bed. That’s the American dream. Breakfast is so important for starting your day that you shouldn’t even get out of bed until you’ve eaten. Also, that way I just go ahead and take my post-breakfast nap with minimal exertion. Man, getting a good start to the day is hard work. But you know what “they” say: the early bird gets the worm. That’s disgusting. I don’t want a worm. Give me a dozen more doughnuts, hold the nuts.

So, however you choose to start your day, I do recommend taking some time to breathe and reflect. Meditate. Pray. Fill your mind and soul before you fill your gut. You may just find it to be the most important part of your day.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Homage to My Mom

My mother visited us this past Christmas. It’s great, I love it when she visits because she’s always so incredibly helpful at pointing out all the things that I can improve. It’s like having a permanent free life coach. You know, like one year I’m too skinny, another year I’m too fat; last year I needed to change my hairstyle, this year I need to shave. Like many, I would be totally lost without my mom’s constant advice and “constructive” criticism. Now I’m the perfect weight with flawless hair and skin, just ask my wife.

Besides her impeccable tastes, however, I love when my mom visits us because she is famous for bringing exotic gifts.

For example, a few Decembers ago, my mom brought a super useful set of items that I didn’t realize we so desperately needed. When I picked up her luggage I was taken aback and sarcastically asked, “Mom, what do you have in these bags, rocks‽” Well, I came home from work the next day to find the floor in our largest room completely covered with chestnuts. So, not rocks this time. It looked like some kind of weird Home Alone booby-trap scenario. My mom said that she was drying them out. Of course, how foolish of me to be confused. It makes perfect sense to fill an entire suitcase with 50 pounds worth of chestnuts, fly them across the country, and then lay them out to dry in your son’s sunroom.

Back to this last visit. This time…

It was rocks.

My mom brought a valise filled with rocks, ceramics, and bamboo. Because, as you know, we don’t have rocks here in Florida so it’s only natural that she would think it prudent to pack enough rocks for us to complete our interior home garden.

When I was a kid, I was sort of annoyed/embarrassed by these eccentric gifts. Shocking I know. But now: I love it. And I can hardly wait to see what she brings next.

So, thank you, mom. You’re the best, and I love you. I only hope that one day I can repay you in some small measure with equally pragmatic portmanteau products.

Also, remember children, never leave your mothers at home alone unless you want your entire living area turned into a makeshift hydroponics system.

Why Nebula is the Best Character in “Avengers: Endgame”

*SPOILERS*

Well, at least one of the best characters but that doesn’t make as good of a headline. Does anyone read anything online that doesn’t use extreme, absolute terms like “best,” “worst,” or “Trump?” Maybe I should title this blog post: “What Trump Really Thinks About the New Nebula-Russian Oil Hack Deal in North Korea.” Would that get more views?

Obviously, there’s a lot of great character work in Avengers Endgame. Each main hero has their shining moments. But by the end of the movie, Nebula was surprisingly the character that I found most compelling. About the only thing I could have asked is that Nebula should have been used more in the final battle. A video essayist who goes by the moniker Nando v Movies has done a fantastic job of exploring that concept so I’ll leave it him to tell you more about Nebula needing a closing confrontation with Thanos.

Nevertheless, I believe she has perhaps the most meaningful and powerful story arc of all the characters. And this is why:

Where is Nebula?

When we first meet Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy she appears to be a fairly simple villain as a henchperson of her adoptive and abusive father Thanos. She seems more machine than woman—cold, calculating, compassionless. But throughout the movies, we learn about the suffering she’s endured. Thanos would horrifically replace a part of Nebula with advanced biomachinery every time she failed in some way. All this, in his warped mind, to improve her—make her stronger, faster, better. In spite of all the trauma, Nebula, like most children, was willing to do anything to please her father, desperate for his approval. So this is where we first find Nebula, a person torn apart and reassembled, constantly reminded of how she’s not good enough.

Who is Nebula?

But: by the time Endgame rolls around we’ve seen tremendous growth from Nebula. We get to learn who she truly is. Like everyone else, she yearns for connection, belonging, and purpose; for a family. I loved all of the smaller, quieter character moments in Endgame like towards the beginning when Nebula is playing paper football with Tony Stark. As with all of Thanos’ children, we see how her life, childhood, and innocence were all stolen. She’s never really had fun. But she has grown and is growing past her past.

This newer Nebula taking shape is clearly juxtaposed in the movie against the former version of herself. Her past self, both literally and metaphorically, comes back to haunt her—tormenting her, torturing her, and even cannibalizing herself for parts. Reminding her of who she was: nobody. The two Nebula’s, old and new, struggle against each other. The stakes: her very identity.

I’ll do you one better, why is Nebula?

We see even more clearly how far Nebula has come when presented face to face with her old self. It’s like when I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror: not a pretty sight, sometimes I frighten myself. The old Nebula is still a prisoner to an abusive cycle. The new Nebula, despite being captured and imprisoned by Thanos, is actually free. This is why Nebula is so great.

Her life was stolen, her body objectified, and her humanity stripped. But the whole time her limbs were being replaced, it seems, she was slowly replacing the parts of her that really matter: her heart and her soul. Through the friendships she’d make and the purpose she’d find, Nebula became far greater than Thanos’ intent. She became better—not a better machine or warrior—but a better person, eventually even a hero. An Avenger. It was the relationships she formed with others like her sister Gamora that helped bring healing and redemption.

And at the end, the endgame of Nebula’s arc, to complete her transformation, she must kill her past self (again, both figuratively and literally). Dead to the old self. Alive to the new. It’s a powerful image and an even more powerful concept. Just like an actual astronomical nebula—a beautiful, shining, colorful space cloud—Nebula becomes truly radiant. Like a gallant parade of unicorn flatulence stretching out across the vast expanse of reality after interstellar taco night.

Here’s the lesson we can learn from Nebula: we are not just our past pains or past mistakes; we are who we choose to be. Neither trauma nor failure have to define us, control us, enslave us. We can grow. We can be better. It is the voice of lies that tells us we’ll never be good enough as we are. But the truth is, who we are is breathtaking, and who we can be is even more. We need not be prisoners to the past any longer. We can become new. My, oh my, look at your fine nimbus and blush. Your light is brilliant, so shine. You too can be a massive, gorgeous unicorn fart floating among the heavens.

“…[she] is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jack and Jill (as retold by Dr. Fin)

Equality at its Most Consistent

This one hypothetical day…

Two degenerate ruffians named Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Now immediately, I have questions about this story. How are these characters related, and how old are they? I assume they’re siblings and that their parents have instructed them to go retrieve some water from a well on top of a hill. But they’re clearly not responsible or coordinated enough to accomplish this task. So, who do we blame: the five-year-old for crashing the car into the house or the parent who left the keys in the ignition? In America, we blame the car manufacturer and sue them for millions.

Also, why are the watering holes always located in such inconvenient places? Why don’t people just build their homes closer to the water source? Like, water’s important, right? I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before. I think I learned in class once before that water is essential for a couple of things like coffee, and I drink that all the time. So, if it’s so important, you’d think people would make it easier to get to. Also, conserve water. Don’t brush your teeth.

Then Jack fell down and broke his crown. I’m assuming this refers to his head. If he had a royal crown he wouldn’t be fetching his own water that’s for sure. Alas, if he broketh his head, dost not that imply perchance he’s dead? Oh look, I made a rhyme. This is a nursery rhyme after all. And then Jill, not to be outdone by her brother came tumbling after. Because girls can do anything boys can do but better. Equality across the board, even in massive head traumas.

The End

The morals of the story:

  1. When life gives you a watering hole at the top of a hill, make an epic slip-n-slide.
  2. Life is about who we are, not just what we do. What I do is write nonsensical hot garbage on the Internet. But that hardly makes me special. Legacy is about the lives we touch. Just watch Coco. It’s about the memories that we shared and leave with those we loved—like that time when my sibling and I slipped on a slippery slope (because lots of water) and busted our head making us fall into a coma—so a double fall. Except, I guess I don’t remember cause coma… but someone told me about it later… maybe?

Humpty Dumpty (as retold by Dr. Fin)

Lessons on why you can’t make affordable health omelets without breaking a few eggs

On a particular occurrence…

There was one rotund and portly gentleman by the name of Sir Humpty Dumpty Esquire the Fifth who had a particular fondness of sitting atop certain ramparts and parapets. Basically, like planking before planking—extreme parkour wall siting. Now, given his stocky nature, it is a mystery to me how exactly he ascended these structures in the first place. He must have been uniquely agile and deft for his stout stature. Or maybe he used a ladder.

Now that I think about it, if your name is Humpty Dumpty, you probably shouldn’t be participating in high-adrenaline, high-octane sports. Like you’re just asking for an accident to happen. Also, was this his given name by his parents, or did he choose this name?

Nevertheless, one day, our plump protagonist sat on a wall, and lo indeed, he had a great fall. So tremendous was the fall that our dear Dumpty was torn asunder and fragmented into pieces. Because apparently, he was a giant anthropomorphic egg or something like that. So then, the king’s posse of ponies and paladins were called in. Why didn’t they just call a doctor or a surgeon? I don’t know. Seriously, horses have hooves—not the greatest combination when placed near a fragile egg. Government efficiency at its finest. Predictably and dreadfully, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Sir Humpty Dumpty back together again because he was not covered by the in-network health insurance, and eggs do not have a basic right to receive medical care, even when it’s a common, curable ailment. Also, they were terrible at solving puzzles. So, then everyone had omelets.

The End

The morals of the story:

  1. The American health care system is terrible, but you already knew that. So, take care of your body because the king’s horses and men won’t. Maybe consider a medical sharing or health savings plan.
  2. If your bodily constitution is made up of essentially an eggshell, don’t sit on walls.
  3. If you feel certain body parts are a little too round or little too squishy, don’t fret too much. You just do you, you gorgeous specimen of humanity.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider (as retold by Dr. Fin)

Philosophical Ponderings of the Perennial Parable

On one occasion atop the temporal dimension…

There was an itsy bitsy spider. Or maybe it was incy wincy? What’s the difference? Probably has to do with those Brits across the Big Pond trying to colonialize more of our culture just like with their pop star singers and BBC television series. It’s a Second Revolutionary War, but this time, they cast an English actor as Superman.

So, this itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot spider wore a bikini for the first time today because she was feeling rather confident and sassy. But her poise would become a slippery slope indeed. For as she began to ascend one desirable waterspout, the most magnificent and beautiful of all gutter drains, that is when the floodgates opened up and a torrential, watery vengeance descended upon our fair heroine. Alas, she was swept away by the wave and with it her aspirations to climb the socio-economic ladder—giving new meaning to the term “trickle-down economics.”

But then! Arise the sun did, and the floods were evaporated as if nothing but a shadowy memory. Then the vertically challenged arachnid traversed and climbed up the spout again to stand triumphantly with her dignity intact and her eyes (all eight of them) gleaming in the soft glow of sun beams.

Now, one might be tempted to deconstruct this nursery rhyme as merely a more child-friendly retelling of the tragic Greek myth of Sisyphus who was condemned to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a hill just to watch it roll back down again and again. But I believe there is more optimism warranted of our eight-legged legend.

You see, in life, there will be storms. When it rains, it pours, and when you’re stuck in a drain pipe, you’re probably confused about the purpose of pipes (I’ll give you a hint: they’re not for climbing). But it’s not about avoiding the rains. It’s about what you choose to do in the midst of them, and what you choose to continue to do after them. Falling down gives us the opportunity to learn how to stand back up. And getting caught in the rain gives us the opportunity to eat lemon drops and gum drops that taste like smog and soot.

The sun will come out again.

The End

The morals of the story:

  1. Keeping faith that the sun will rise gives us the strength to endure and the courage to face the rains.
  2. Next time, just take the stairs. Or at least bring an umbrella/galoshes/raincoat. No one likes wet socks.

The Three Little Pigs (as retold by Dr. Fin)

aka: What the curly tale of the three little pigs can teach us about the 2008 housing market crisis

Once upon a time…

There were three little pigs (not those miniature-pigs, mind you—those don’t actually exist; they’re a scam so don’t buy one online—no these were just prepubescent piggies, runts of the litter if you will). Their names were Ham, Bacon, and Prosciutto because they had cynical, millennial pig parents who had prescribed themselves to a life of pessimism and vanity after a financial crisis struck in which a parade of wolves on wall street huffed and puffed and blew down many houses of swine. But that’s another story.

Well, anyways, let’s just skip a bit here on the whole character development thing. So, yeah, one day, the three brother pigs (or sister pigs, I don’t know, whichever or neither, I’m not a sexist pig after all) decided to build them each a home. Because living in a pit of mud had become dull and they said to their old folks that they were too good to stay in that pigsty any longer. What pretentious little piggies.

Now at this juncture, I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, these animals walk and talk?” Yes, animals in these tales are always anthropomorphized for some reason. Don’t ask me why. I suppose because it would be a rather dull story to hear otherwise.

But anyways, Ham, always the shrewd one, decided to build his home out of straw—you know, the stuff many animals like horses and I’m pretty sure pigs will eat. Not the drinking straws due to a global shortage since coffee shops have decided that those plastic tubes of death suck—literally and figuratively. Obviously, he finished first. As they say, if you want a job done fast, just assign the laziest person in the office to do it because they’ll find the quickest way to get it done.

Bacon, however, opted to build his home out of sticks because there’s hardly anything better smelling than some hickory smoked bacon, and this guy was oinking for the ladies (or vice versa; again, not a chauvinist here).

And then there was Prosciutto, a more refined swine. A sophisticated gourmand with a cane, monocle, and British accent for some reason. He built his home out of bricks—you know, like what many normal houses are made of. Actually, he probably didn’t build anything. He probably outsourced and hired a general contractor.

Well one inevitably plot-convenient day, the Big Bad Wolf (I guess that’s his [or her, wait no, it’s a bad guy so definitely a he] proper first, middle, and last name) was prowling around to find another sucker to commit fraud against. He then came upon the three pigs’ homes.

Mr. Big B. Wolf then proceeded to knock on little Ham’s door and proclaimed, “Little pig, little pig, won’t you let me come in? I promise that these interest rates won’t change for the first three years!” The wee little pig then proceeded in a rather rough, rash, and rudely manner to shout, “Not by one hair follicle upon either of my double chin!” “Well, I never!” responded Mr. Wolf. “Then I suppose I’ll just have to huff and puff and blow your house down!” Because I guess that’s a normal emotional reaction from a door-to-door salesman who’s been turned away? And so, he did just that, and the house of straw came crashing down. This event would become known as the Second Great Housing Market Crash of the 2000s.

Now, if this were a melancholier and purist rendition of the classic fable, then Ham’s story would end in the gullet of the beast. However, since we want to remain family friendly in our tale, we won’t even insinuate that the piglets were devoured alive by the blood-thirsty scoundrel. Won’t mention it at all. Instead, somehow, by deus ex machina, the little pig got away and ran to his sibling Bacon’s house.

Lather, rinse, repeat. You know the story. Sticks are also terrible for building livable structures. So, let’s just skip to the next bit.

The Big Bad Wolf was now quite irate at the lack of hospitality shown by the locals. Where he came from, you invited visitors in for a nice brunch—something simple like eggs and bac… never mind. Ham, Bacon, and Prosciutto all hunkered down in the house made of bricks. The Wolf demanded to be let in. Obviously, “not by the hair on their chinny, chin, chins.” Whatever that means. Like does that mean that strangers are normally allowed in if they acquire a piglet whisker to pay a door toll? Is it a triple chin? Either way, the Wolf began to huff and puff and put on another pathetically desperate show but this time to no avail. Prosciutto announced, “We’ll have no huffing and puffing here my good man. This democratic state has not yet legalized use of such substances, and I’m sure all that dramatic Lamaze of yours isn’t for medicinal purposes either.” Nevertheless, Mr. Wolf blew again and again until he passed out due to lack of oxygen to the brain, at which point the three little pigs called animal control and the Federal Trade Commission.

Then they helped themselves to a nice bowl of slop, and they all lived happily ever after. Except for Prosciutto. Because his nice, new home was now overrun and overcrowded with his frustratingly loud and ignorant brothers.

The End

So, now boys and girls, the moral(s) of the story are:

  1. Avoid taking out a second mortgage, and definitely not any subprime loans on a home that you can’t realistically afford.
  2. Also, invest in homeowners and wolf disaster insurance.
  3. Also, also, don’t let strange, hairy people in your house.
  4. Oh, yeah, and something about the foolish pig builds his/her house out of straws and sticks that can break my bones but words will never hurt me as much as a brick to the face, but the wise pig builds his/her house out of actual building materials. Duh.