Sayonara Breaking Bad

Sunday night was bittersweet for everybody.

For the many fans of Breaking Bad, it represented the end of an era. Already hailed as one of the best television shows of all time, it came to an end in its fifth season, after 62 episodes. The show was just reaching the pinnacle of its success, obtaining a whopping 10+ million viewers for the finale, but was predetermined to end when it did.

Undoubtedly, the show’s producers did not want it to go stale. Television executives have a tendency to stick with things as long as they possibly can, long after it’s already lost its public appeal. But Breaking Bad did not do that. Instead, the show went out on top.

For the people who did not watch Breaking Bad, and who made a very terrible life choice, they’re probably just glad they don’t have to hear about it anymore. If there’s anything that fans of Breaking Bad like to do, it’s… talk about Breaking Bad. We can talk for hours about this show.

For men, sitting down and watching an episode a Breaking Bad is what women experience when they get a manicure and pedicure. In the same day.

And I don’t mean to pinpoint the show as some macho, mindless drama. Because it’s the furthest thing from that. It had its share of action and violence, no doubt, but it was cool and calculated. Every death, every confrontation was deeply strategized and served a purpose.

It’s always interesting to me what shows truly capture the nation’s appeal to the utmost extent. Breaking Bad has been good from the beginning. I began watching the show in the summer of 2011, right before season four was about to begin. But I only knew select friends who watched it as well. However, I was pretty confident that within a year or two, it would become must watch television. And it did.

The world became obsessed with Breaking Bad over the last few months, when the show returned for the second half of its fifth and final season. It already had a plethora of awards under its belt, but then Conan O’Brien devoted an entire episode of his show to Breaking Bad. Major news websites like the New York Times and CNN began writing articles about the show. The network that airs it, AMC, created a one hour block just to talk about each episode after it aired.

And in the end, it culminated with 10 million viewers. And that’s pretty damn impressive for a non-cable show in the DVR era.

The show’s success speaks for itself, and I didn’t need to spend an entire blog talking about it. But I really wanted to take the time to appreciate the significance that it had, and will continue to have, on pop culture.

For those who still haven’t seen it — and you’re still really idiotic for choosing to do so — there’s still time. Breaking Bad will never get old. It will never ceased to be spoken about. It will always be relevant.

I didn’t mean to peg it as purely a man’s show earlier. It bears the characteristics that generally appeal to males, yes, but it’s so good from every aspect of filmmaking — the acting, directing, cinematography, writing, music, etc. — that it can undoubtedly be appreciated by everyone.

This show has only been a part of my life for two and a half years, so I can’t exactly pretend that I’m losing a major piece of it. However, I can safely say that Sunday nights will never be the same. And now I’ll have to get my masculinity fix by watching Sunday Night Football instead.

And maybe I should try getting a manicure and pedicure to see if it’s equally as enjoyable as Breaking Bad.

The first person ever to accidentally win a marathon

There have been times in my life when I embarked on a run, intending to go two three or four miles, and instead ran four or five.

It’s not unusual to get a burst of adrenaline mid-run that helps push you those extra two miles. The hardest part is willing yourself to do it; once you’re out there on the pavement, it’s easy.

However, I can safely say that never in my life have I planned to run 13.1 miles, only to run 26.2 instead. But that is exactly what happened to Meredith Fitzmaurice, a Canadian women who entered a Toronto half-marathon to prepare for her first full marathon she was planning to run in Detroit next month. Her goal in the Detroit race was to finish in a time that qualified her for the Boston Marathon.

Instead, she took a wrong turn in the Toronto race, and ended up running the full marathon course. Not only did she finish — but she won. And to top it off, she finished in a time that qualified her for next year’s Boston Marathon.

You might be asking yourself how a woman could end up running a 26.2 mile race when she was planning to do half of that distance. Well, apparently she realized something was awry when she hadn’t reached a finish line after an hour and thirty minutes, her estimated time of finish. So she asked a race director, who was biking alongside her, and learned she was on the wrong course.

At that point, she went for it. And won.

It’s a pretty amazing story when you think about it because this is thirteen extra miles that she ran that she wasn’t planning to do. That’s a lot. I’m proud of myself when I force myself to run one extra mile when I exercise. But 13?

It’s so bad ass because people train for months and months for full marathons, and Fitzmaurice, 34, won despite the fact that she had zero intention of doing it. Granted, she was planning to run a full marathon next month, so she clearly was training beyond a half marathon. However, she did say she had never exceeded 20 miles in her life.

Had she just finished the marathon in a respectable time, that would have been a story in itself. But she freaking won. And that’s amazing.

A lot of people, after learning that they were on the wrong course, would have stopped. Maybe they would’ve thought they did something against the rules, or doubted their capabilities, and ran off of the track. But this woman kept going, and now she’ll be running in the Boston Marathon next year. We can all learn a lot from her.

When you are planning to do something — double it. If you’re going to read a book, read two. If you’re going to eat a sandwich, make it a double-decker. If you’re at a bar and you learn that there’s a 2 for 1 special, then, by golly, get four!

Also, I blogged on Tuesday about my distaste for people who regularly run 5ks, because they tend to be way too self-promotional. They’ll tell anybody who will listen that they are participating in a 5k-race, which only takes like 22 minutes to complete.

Meanwhile, Meredith Fitzmaurice ran a full marathon, and she didn’t even tell herself that she was doing it.

That is a true baller if there ever was one.

How Green Eggs and Ham ruined a filibuster

Filibusters are so six months ago.

We all remember Rand Paul’s 13-hour theatrics in March, but he was one-upped this year by Ted Cruz, by a fellow Republican, and Representative from Texas. Cruz spoke for 21 straight hours, beginning at about 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, and concluding at around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The whole purpose of filibustering is to gain attention. What you say during your time on the Senate floor is pretty much irrelevant. All you have to do is make clear right away what you are against, and then you can talk about whatever the hell you want. As long as you never stop talking, the floor is yours.

Normally, a 21-hour speech might be met with some admiration by the general public.  People might say, “Wow, he believed in this cause so strongly that he droned on for 21 straight hours? That is determination.” In this instance, Cruz’s motivation for his filibuster was to take on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

However, Ted Cruz made one giant mistake.

When I said you can talk about whatever the hell you want while you’re filibustering, I meant it. That was evidenced when Cruz read none other than Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

The fact that he read a children’s book is probably enough for him to no longer be taken seriously. With it, we got awesome headlines like CNN’s “Ted Cruz does not, will not like Obamacare.”

But the main source of hilarity was Cruz’s choice of book that he read.

Everybody has read Green Eggs and Ham. Whether you’re 5 or 75, you’ve read it. The book is incorporated into curricula in classrooms across the world. And for good reason.

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, is an icon for a reason. And not just because he created zany characters, invented words, or had a gift of prose, but because all of his books had meaning. Embedded in each of his stories was a life lesson that applies to not only kids, but everyone. In Green Eggs and Ham, the story is about Sam I Am, who refuses to try the food the book is named after. He ignorantly disregards it, and decided that he doesn’t like it, even though he’s never tried it.

But in the end, he does finally try it, and he likes it. And the lesson that Sam I Am learns is to not oppose something based on ignorance.

Which is exactly what Ted Cruz was doing.

So in the end, the joke is on him. He tried to build nationwide contempt for Obamacare, but, in the end, because he opened up Green Eggs and Ham instead of the Lorax, all people are doing is making fun of him.

Yes I know he is a high-ranking and influential Senator with presidential aspirations, so I’m sure his feelings aren’t going to be too hurt. But it’s funny to me that he essentially wasted 21 hours of his life, and, if anything, made his party look even worse than it did before.

In the end, it just helps us realize how stupid filibustering is. It was cool when Bernie Sanders did it in 2010, mildly entertaining when Paul did it, and now it’s just old.

But, if anything good came out of it, it was that it got Dr. Seuss back in the news.

That is not, will not ever be a bad thing.

I’d rather be hungover than ever run a 5k race

In the summer of 2007, I made a drastic lifestyle change. I started running.

And it’s not one of those things where I ran for three days and then start telling people, “I run now. It’s my thing.”

I say it’s a drastic lifestyle change because I never stopped. Since 2007, I’ve run an average of five days per week. And I never run less than 2.5 miles at a time. I enjoy it. It’s an escape from reality, and I just plug in my ear plugs and go. I don’t enjoy running with other people — I prefer being by myself, going at my own pace, and being alone with my thoughts and whatever artist is blasting into my ear drums.

Six years after I began, running is second nature for me at this point. I now make a point to expand my distance, often running four or five miles at a time with relative ease.

However, over the course of these six years — while I’ve laced up my running sneakers some 1,200 times — it’s never been for an official, organized race. In other words, I’ve never run a 5k or a 10k.

The short explanation is because I don’t need to. If I have no problem running three to five miles on my own, then why do I need to do it with a group of people at a designated start time? I have nothing to prove by running a race. I already know I can do it.

But the real reason why I’ve never run a 5k is something that is slightly more telling about the type of person that I am. And not in a good way. Nearly all organized races occur early on weekend mornings. Like at 8 or 9 a.m.

I like to go out on weekends. I enjoy meeting up with friends, going to bars, indulging in alcoholic beverages, and stumbling in my front door at 3 a.m. When that happens, I tend to wake up the following morning with any one — or all — of these symptoms: exhaustion, headache, dehydration, nausea, dizziness. That doesn’t exactly put me in tip-top shape for a 5k.

And you know what? I prefer it that way.

There’s no reason why I can’t have my cake and eat it too. And by that, I mean going out drinking, coming home at 3 a.m., eating leftover cake that was in the refrigerator, waking up with an epic hangover, waiting it out for several hours and then going for a lengthy run outside. I got to go out, have a fun night, and still got my exercise the next day.

When the thought ever enters my brain to run a 5k, I actually dissuade myself because I don’t want to sacrifice a Friday or Saturday night just so I can go running at 8 a.m. the next day.

There’s also some kind of a 5k culture that exists now that rubs me the wrong way. I tell people that I ran five miles after I got home from work the other day, and nobody cares. Another person posts on Facebook about how they are doing a 5k in three weeks, and they get 25 likes.

And there’s always some absurd name for these races. The “14th Annual Potato Sack Wild River Mud Crawl 5K Dash.” It’s like people think that running these races will give them double the health benefits than running on their own would.

Or perhaps it’s the atmosphere that people enjoy during a 5k. It’s a gathering of hundreds of others who are jubilant, energetic, and ready to run. Ninety percent of them probably posted a “before” picture on Facebook, and are already thinking of the glorious after shot when they cross the finish line.

People who run marathons and half marathons are true warriors. Such races require exhaustive training, unparalleled commitment and determination. And finishing one is a real accomplishment.

A 5k, and a 10k for that matter, is not a race. It’s a social event. It’s a collection of people who like to say that they do things. That they have a zest for life. That like to be involved.

When people are touting a 5k as an accomplishment, that’s when we know that standards in our society have sunk pretty low.

This Sunday, I will wake up about four hours after thousands of people in our country have finished a 5k. I’ll be deathly tired, severely parched and popping aspirin the moment I regain my ability so stand. And then, several hours later, I’ll double a 5k.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Grand Theft Auto V made a billion dollars in three days

On my way to work today, I killed seven civilians, three hookers, eluded a police chase and blew up a mall.

No, this is not what I did in my real life (at least not today), but rather, this is a typical five-minute stretch in the universe of Grand Theft Auto. In the epic Rockstar video game, killing people is as trivial as breathing.

Given the opportunity to roleplay and live vicariously through a character in an expansive world that tries to emulate the one we GTA Vlive in, there are no rules. Okay, fine, if you kill someone, you get a star, which means the police are after you. But then you just kill the police. Problem solved.

In Grand Theft Auto, nobody is watching you. No one is judging. So why wouldn’t you commit murder, arson and thievery? It’s as harmless as stepping on one of those walking mushrooms in Super Mario. Except in this game, you’re killing people who more closely resemble actual people.

Even the older classic games, like Asteroids, involved the act of harming other entities. Just because the graphics were shitty doesn’t mean there weren’t little people or aliens in those triangular shaped flying saucers.

I no longer play video games. The last console I owned was Playstation 2. I was mostly a sports gamer, but I played the prior GTA installments, Vice City and San Andreas, and for hours at a time. Rockstar spends years creating these impressively large worlds, and it’s a lot of fun to go to all four corners and explore them.

When I wasn’t doing missions, I did what everyone else did — create as much mischief as possible so that not only is the police coming after you, but the freaking military.

It’s always impossible to predict what we will do in our lives. We live a long time and anything can happen. However, I can safely say with the utmost certainty that I will never go on a killing spree. So why not do it for fun on Grand Theft Auto?

And yes. It is fun. You’re killing fake people. Again, it’s no different that overcoming villains in any other video games.

People look at the game and see the violence, and they say that it’ll have an adverse effect on our society. They say that some will get ideas from it, and transfer it to real life.

My belief, though, is if someone is that easy to manipulate — that they could play a video game and be inspired to commit crime — than they were probably bad news to begin with. If it wasn’t Grand Theft Auto, then it would have been something else. Any sane, stable-minded person knows the difference between video games and reality.

There will inevitably be at least one story that comes out in the next month about a 16-year-old boy who committed a crime, and, to mask the fact that her kid is a psychopath, his mother will say to the media that she believes it was Grand Theft Auto that influenced him. And the media will run with it. I’m just telling you to be prepared, because it’s going to happen, and it’s a load of crap.

In fact, I think one can even make the argument that these games prevent crime. I say this because who knows what sick and twisted fantasies are in people’s heads, and maybe this game gives people an outlet for that. I’m not hailing Grand Theft Auto as a crime stopper just yet, but I think that argument has just as much validity as saying the game causes crime.

But anyway, the point is that these games are awesome. Rockstar spent so much time working on this game, that the map in Grand Theft Auto V is bigger than the maps of three previous games combined. And considering how large the worlds were in the previous games, that’s pretty amazing.

So it doesn’t surprise me at all that the game made (cue Dr. Evil) one billion dollars in three days, the fastest video game to do so.

It just shows that people like having a respite, an escape, an outlet for their stressful day-to-day lives. There’s already plenty of mediums out there to fulfill that need, but when a popular, acclaimed video game company gives people the opportunity to wreak havoc and cause mayhem in a shockingly realistic world to the one that pisses us so often, well, you’d be stupid not to participate.

And, I don’t know… just talking about Grand Theft Auto gave me the sudden urge to go for a walk outside. With a baseball bat. And brass knuckles.

We’ll see how this goes.

Can we stop calling Wednesday “hump day” once and for all?

Wednesday falls in the middle of the work week. When it comes around, it means the week is more than halfway done, and thus, all of the laborers in the world are getting over the metaphorical hump.

Somewhere in time, people thought it would be clever to begin calling Wednesday “hump day.” And according to Wikipedia, the terminology is only used in North America. Figures.

I find it amusing that people always wish one another a happy hump day with a positive connotation. Whenever somebody approaches me and says, “happy hump day!”, I notice that they are always grinning from ear to ear. Why?

To me, it shows that people essentially live for the weekend. All everyone wants is for it to be Friday and Saturday all of the time, and by acknowledging that the week is halfway over, they’re expressing their excitement that the weekend is near.

It’s quite unnecessary. If I am the recipient of a greeting, it should be something that I am truly happy about. If I’m told “happy birthday,” or “Merry Christmas,” then that’s awesome. Because that means it is either my birthday or it is Christmas.

But when I am being wished a happy Wednesday, all it does is remind me that it is not a day of actual significance. And then when a corny nickname is used to describe the day, it just makes it that much worse. I don’t try to be a downer, and I never respond negatively to such a greeting, but anytime someone wishes me a “happy hump day” I end up being slightly less happier than I was a second before.

“Happy Friday” is appropriate.

Even “Good night” is too. Because it means the workday is over.

Happy hump day means nothing. And the people who say it are probably the same ones who say other stupid things like “somebody has a case of the Mondays!”

And then there’s the immature people who can’t handle the use of the word “hump” without breaking into a giggle, or saying something inappropriate, and it just makes everything worse. So what started out as an unnecessary greeting to begin with, just turned into a whole cluster of stupidity that I now have to pretend to be a part of.

Whatever happened to simple greetings that can be said regardless of the day? Like “Hi.” What’s wrong with hi? No one has ever said hi to me and made me mad by doing so. I’ve never looked at somebody and said: “Hi? Did you just say hi? What the hell is the matter with you?”

I say hi back, flash a quick smile, and that’s that. Simple and expressive. It’s all you need.

But when someone says “happy hump day!”, there’s now an expectation that I have to say something witty and goofy back that involves a sexual innuendo or a reference to either a camel or Humpty Dumpty. And that just makes me hate myself.

Henceforth, I think I am going to start pretending like I don’t hear people when they wish me a happy hump day. That way, I’m not being anti-social, and I’m maintaining my principles.

Because without principles, our lives are humpless.

Fast food places need to stop one-upping each other, because everybody loses

A year and a half ago, Taco Bell introduced the Doritos Taco. Earlier this summer, Krispy Kreme began selling a sloppy joe sandwich inside of a donut.

Those two alone are enough to be bad. That’s enough for us to say, “OK, I see what you’re doing there. Now stop.”

But apparently it wasn’t enough. Not to be outdone, KFC invented a cheese donut.

You know how food sometimes just sounds good? Like, hearing somebody describe a hot fudge covered brownie or an egg and cheese sandwich makes my mouth water. This is not one of those times. Hearing the words “cheese donut” is as appetizing to me as hearing the words “Ross Perot.”

Okay, so this is only being sold in KFC restaurants located in Indonesia. In fact, KFC doesn’t even offer donuts in its American stores. But still, it is something that actual chefs are making somewhere in the world.

I think what we as a population fail to realize is that when people decide to make these treats, they are essentially handing out death sentences. Places like McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell are already responsible for so much heart failure in the world, and that’s just when they stick to the things that they are known for.

Trying to think outside of the box benefits nobody. It’s essentially coming up with ways to kill people. Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction, when Bruce Willis’ character is picking up weapon after weapon, deciding what the most creatively violent way would be to kill the guy who is torturing Ving Rhames?

Well, that is pretty much exactly what these fast food chains are doing. If it’s not a cheeseburger, it’s a chicken club. Or a burrito. Or a Frosty. But apparently those options weren’t good enough. And so we now have Doritos tacos and cheese donuts.

And I understand that Danish pastries are somewhat similar, since it’s essentially sweetened dough that is sometimes filled with cheese. But Danishes are elegant. They’ve been eaten all over the world for breakfast for centuries. And nobody goes to their local fast food drive-through and orders a Danish. It’s even named after people from another country.

Do you see the cheese donut? It’s a donut, basically sprinkled with melted cheese. It looks like it’s made the same way a pizza bagel is made. Except I like to at least pretend that pizza bagels aren’t bad for you.

I know people still have to make the voluntary choice to eat this food, but another part of me feels that these fast food industries have a moral obligation to stop what they’re doing. If Burger King wants to sell burgers, KFC wants to sell chicken, and Taco Bell wants to sell tacos, that’s fine. That’s what they should be doing.

But please stop it with the cheese donuts. What’s next? The cotton candy chicken breast? The cream cheese enchilada? The chicken nutella nuggets?

Holy shit, those all sound good.

You know how servers in certain industries are given certain names? Like Starbucks staff are called “baristas,” and Subway employees are known as “sandwich artists?” I feel like people at these generic fast food chains should be called something too. Like heart killers.

If you pulled up at a drive-through, and the voice in the intercom said, “Hi, my name is Dina, I’ll be your heart killer today. What can I get you?” Don’t you think that at least one out of 10 people might turn around and go somewhere else instead?

I shouldn’t talk, though. The other day, I was with a friend who suggested we stop at Wendy’s for food. I declined, and instead walked to the Subway next door. What do I order? A chicken and bacon ranch foot-long sandwich. I’m basically the asshole who eats something that is one notch healthier and then stands on a soapbox and declares himself fitter than everyone else.

I need a cheese donut.