The Great Equalizer (aka The Big Mac)

Da, da, da, da, da… I’m in love.

Many have called the new strain of coronavirus “the great equalizer.” Historically, that title has been reserved mostly for death, as the true, ultimate equalizer.

But I’m not here to wax poetic and spew esoteric, philosophical jargon. No, I’m here to argue and advocate nonsense on the Internet.

You know what the real equalizer is?

McDonald’s.

Yes, McDonald’s—the world’s largest fast food chain, a behemoth of an industry and a poster child for capitalism with its nearly universally recognizable golden arches (arches that probably resemble the erratic bleeps on a heart monitor after eating too many of those eternally durable fries).

I know what you’re thinking: “How dare you sir, I would never be caught dead at such a place.” Maybe. It might kill you. But most of us are just deceiving ourselves. Look, the place serves something like 70 million people a day in over 100 countries; they bun up over 75 burgers a second. So… someone is lying. Someone is definitely eating it up at that joint. Some few million someones.

Hey, whatever, it’s ok. Judgment free zone. Like I was saying, Micky D’s is totally “the great equalizer.” It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young, old, foreign, domestic, male, female, big, small, republican, democrat, or imaginary. You probably have a McDonald’s on your block. I have literally witnessed every shape, size, color, affinity, and temperament of humanity imaginable over the years patronize the establishment. The Big Macualizer. They’re even more ubiquitous than memes and political ads.

Seriously, we once inadvertently exited off the interstate near Disney World into one of those high-class, ritzy neighborhoods to discover perfectly manicured shrubs and a pristine, towering yellow “M.” A McDonald’s where you have the choice of having gold dust sprinkled on your fries instead of salt, your soda comes in an exquisite chalice, and your burgers are tenderly swaddled in fine imported silk linen. Contrast this with our McDonald’s around the corner which hasn’t changed out its grease pan since the days of horseback postage, your seasonings are most likely to come from human sweat, and you need to bring your own toilet paper if you want a napkin.

And then there’s the infamous Thailand trip in which when we first landed in Bangkok, and there was some sort of mix-up with our hotel reservation so that our first night was spent in the “red light” district, and the only place we felt safe enough to take a bunch of high school teens was the city square McDonald’s (a run-on sentence I know, but I’m in a hurry so give me a break, and this is obviously not some grammar blog, and who made you the grammar sheriff anyways?).

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and delicious artery-clogging, fried potato sticks that never decompose. When I eat them, I feel like I absorb their preservative powers of longevity and immortality. Or maybe that’s just indigestion.

We may not be able to agree on politics, the economy, or how to handle this global crisis. But there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: the Oreo McFlurry should receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

Maybe we’d all be a little bit nicer to each other if we just got a daily Happy Meal.

The Harrowing Tale of the Horrible Hair

I have recently arrived at this terrifying realization. And no, it has nothing do with the new strain of coronavirus and how the world’s gone mad (or madder than usual I guess… maybe… actually it’s probably all about the same; the world’s always been nuts). No, no, this has to do with beloved anthropomorphized animal characters intended for children. Let me explain.

Our practically three-year-old highness loves to read, and one of her favorites is the Llama Llama Red Pajama series by Anna Dewdney. And look, don’t get me wrong, because they are genuinely great children’s books, and I would recommend them for any family.

But I noticed something, something rather quite disturbing to my constitution the other day (Note: I’m referring to the original books, not the cartoon). If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Llama Llama and Mama Llama both have an exorbitant amount of hair coming out of their ears. It’s like an exploding bouquet of spider legs. The quantity of fur and ear wax is nothing short of alarming. And I’m just thinking: why? What the what? Why in the world was this artistic decision made? At some point, the artist had to ponder this choice and land on the decision to illustrate the spindling threads protruding from the cute llama’s hearing orifices. It’s one of those things that once you see, you can never unsee. Now, every time I read one of these books, I’m constantly distracted by the frightening truth—unable to turn my gaze from the bushy ear brows.

It doesn’t end there either. There’s this other character, one of Llama Llama’s friends (by the way, what if we all had repeating, self-identifying names like Llama Llama? I’d be called, “Hey, you, Guy Guy!), and her name is Nelly Gnu. She’s an adorable little goat character, all except one very specific detail. She has such a prominently, well-groomed and conspicuous goatee that would make Colonel Sanders blush. The thickness of her facial hair makes me embarrassed to pass on my genetics to future generations. Again, I ask, “Why, just why?”

Sometimes, the world is a scary and confusing place. There are life questions too big for our small human minds to comprehend. Answers are elusive. As I muse on existence and my own mortality, I am haunted by the hair; oh, the hair. My only comfort and solace is the knowledge that in death the hair will finally stop growing (yeah, that whole “nails and hair continue to grow after you die” thing is totally a myth). Until then, I sleep with an eye open and a razor under my pillow.

At least the rhymes are catchy and educational.

More Things That Don’t Make Sense To Me

Again, without any effort whatsoever to conduct any research

The world is still a confusing place. So, in no particular order, here are some more things that just don’t make any sense to me:

Pennies

They’re absolutely worthless. Actually, they’re worse than worthless: they’re expensive. We (our country) spend more money making a penny than the penny is actually worth. If you see a penny laying on the ground, it’s not even worth your effort to pick it up. It’s basically expensive trash; some pseudo-copper hot garbage. We’ve gotten rid of plenty of different currencies throughout history once they became irrelevant. So why do we still have pennies? The same reason for most everything else that’s illogical and inefficient about our government: lobbyists. The people that make money off of making the penny lobby the government so that the American people can continue to be ripped off in small and subtle ways that eventually lead to our total bondage and destruction. Not to be overly dramatic or anything.

Daylight Savings

Okay, so this one really gives be a brain wedgie! First of all, what a terrible name. You can’t save daylight! That doesn’t even make any sense. The day is what the day is, and we’re gonna have the light that we’re gonna have. What do you mean “save?” Second, almost no other country in the world follows this nonsense. Third, literally no one wants this thing around. It’s inconvenient, irrational, and dangerous. Millions, if not billions, of dollars in productivity and system transitions are wasted each year because of the time change. The time change was originally meant as a temporary war-time effort during WWII to save money and energy. And guess what, it didn’t even work. We ended up spending more money and energy. Don’t believe that stuff about farmers either because that’s just a myth. Farmers don’t want daylight savings. Why would they? Hey, here’s a little secret: farm animals don’t care about daylight savings time. They still sleep, wake, and function based on the same time frame as before. And as a parent of small children I can tell you this: kids also don’t acknowledge ambiguous time changes. So twice a year, our entire lives and schedules are rattled for seemingly no purpose.

Taxes

No other nation has such an aggressively negative relationship with its citizens in regard to taxes than America. There’s no reason for taxes to be so overly complicated. And it’s a double annoyance because we’re actually having to pay the taxes to support the ridiculously convoluted tax system. It’s an irony of the highest order. A type of tragic self-cannibalism. Think about it like this: what if the credit card companies all sent us these blank bills, told us that we need to go back and fill them out correctly to make our payment, and then if we make a mistake, we’ll be severely penalized for it? That would be stupid. They keep records on everything, so they know what we owe. But this is exactly what the government does to us. Why? You already know: lobbyists.

Dogs Licking Faces

And since we’re on this “frustrated with my government” kick right now: dogs licking faces (totally awesome segue and definitely still on topic). What’s up with that‽ Please, someone explain this to me. I am so grossed out and disgusted. I realize I’m offending some people, but I’m too horrified to care, and I threw up a little bit in my mouth. You realize that dogs eat their own poop and vomit right? Fantastic. Oh, a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s you say? Wrong! That doesn’t make any sense either. Even if it were true, who cares? They still have poop on their tongues! A dog simply has the bacteria in its mouth necessary for it to eat all of those repulsive things and not get terminally ill. Obviously, if a person ate all of those things they’d just die. It gives a whole new meaning to a kiss of death. So why do people allow this? Lobbyists probably.

I blame everything on the lobbyists like a faceless, generic hoard of comic book movie villains that I’m incapable of sympathizing with.

So, what other weird wonders of our world leave you wandering and wondering?

Things That Don’t Make Sense To Me

Get outta the way! I don’t have hands!

Without any effort whatsoever to conduct any research

The world can be a confusing place. I’m perplexed on nearly a daily basis. In no particular order, here are some things that just don’t make any sense to me:

Road Rage

Before there was the Internet. Before virtual trolls. Before there was social media and tweets and the comment section. There was the highway. Road rage like digital rage takes place in this weird space of social limbo where offenders are protected by the anonymity of their vehicle or their computer. People act like absolute idiots toward their fellow humans when behind a wheel—yelling, gesturing, throwing a total toddler tantrum. And why? Seriously, would you act that way if the person was face-to-face? If yes, then surprise: you have no friends. And what does it even matter? None of your cursing or obscenity makes one bit of difference to the other driver. It just makes the roadways a more dangerous and annoying place. So please stop it.

Glitter

And on that note: what is up with glitter? It is by far one of my least favorite things. A bane to torment my soul. It gets everywhere and it never goes away. In your eyes, ears, and esophagus. In just all the orifices. ALL of them. It’s these tiny fragments of sparkly synthetic carcinogen specks. Plastic dust that gives you respiratory issues, itchy eyes, and early onset madness. Just the worse.

Unicorns

Why are they called unicorns; shouldn’t they be called unihorns? It’s not like they have a stalk of corn on their heads. If you ate the magical horn would it taste like corn? If unicorns fart rainbows and poop rainbow sherbet, then does that mean that their horns make rainbow kettle corn? I wonder what unicorn meat tastes like. Now I’m hungry.

Celery

Seriously, what’s the point? Hey, here’s an idea. You know how cardboard is really great for packing things and holding them together. Well, what if we had a tube of green cardboard and called it a vegetable and told people to eat it because it’s maybe healthy or something like that? Wouldn’t that be a hilarious prank? Plus, it can be really stringy like the packing tape so it gets impossibly stuck in between your teeth until your next dentist appointment. Celery basically tastes like dry sarcasm because that’s what it is. You know a vegetable is bad when they just give it away for free as a garnish on plates. Celery definitely wasn’t in the Garden of Eden. It was a part of the thorns and thistles that came with the Fall.

What weird wonders of our world leave you wondering?

To My Son

Ten proverbs for daily living

  1. Safety First: wear your helmet, buckle your seat-belt, tie your shoelaces, and always use a drink coaster before putting a beverage down on mommy’s nice end-table.
  2. Learn to listen before speaking. You have two ears and one mouth which means you need to listen twice as much—especially to me, listen to me. Plus, people will just assume you’re smarter if you stay the strong, stoic type.
  3. Inactivity kills. Get moving. But always use the potty before going on a long trip.
  4. Wash your hands you filthy animal. Ain’t nobody got time to be sick.
  5. Always do the right thing—which is usually the harder thing—and never assume that someone else will do it. Just be the one who does it.
  6. Drink Dunkin’, not Starbucks.
  7. Try not to care too much about what other people think. People are dumb. Except me and your mother. And your grandparents and maybe some of your other relatives. Also, probably the pastor. I guess there’s a handful of people that aren’t total nincompoops, but still.
  8. Write down your goals and plans to accomplish them. Write down thoughts, inspirations, prayers, and checklists. When writing a list for the Internet, be sure to try and include an even 10 things like the “Top Ten List of Top Ten Lists.”
  9. When you grow up and leave home, please remember to call your mother. You don’t have to call me.
  10. Start and end each day with gratitude.

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9)

The Pumpkins Are Coming, The Pumpkins Are Coming

Family Portrait (…sometimes, I wonder if I’m adopted…)

Yes, listen indeed, my itty bitty children and you shall hear… As legendarily proclaimed by Paul Revere during his renowned midnight ride to warn citizens of the impending harvest hayrides and incessant fall festivals with their outrageous apple bobbings and gluttonous blue ribbon pie contests. At least, I think that’s how it went.

Steady yourselves and hold fast. Local cafés around the country will display exorbitant lines of leggings-wearing, post-yoga, pre-brunch patrons salivating for that sweet, hot-gourd-infused nectar. Yes, give me some of that black, boiling bean juice stirred with a creamy, chemical-enhanced syrup. What does “other natural flavors” on the ingredients list mean anyways?

Be still my beating heart. Or maybe run away. Pumpkin-colored, pumpkin-flavored everything is near and already here.

Pumpkin spiced lattes/coffee, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin juice, pumpkin casserole, pumpkin bologna, pumpkin soap, pumpkin deodorant, pumpkin toothpaste, pumpkin hats, pumpkin costumes, pumpkin vitamin water, pumpkin ornaments, pumpkin displays, pumpkin yoga pants, pumpkin candles, pumpkin mugs, pumpkin cigars, pumpkin wine, pumpkin spiced pepper spray, and pumpkin buckets for holding all your pumpkin stuff.

For some, today’s reflection will be exhilarating and ingratiating. For others, shear anxiety and terror. Is there a National Pumpkin Day? More like Indulgence Day. A time when we can truly celebrate what America’s all about: consuming copious amounts of calories in celebratory cause.

And if you’re wondering whether pumpkins are a fruit or a vegetable—well then, they’re definitely a pie.

You know the rest. In the books you have read…,


A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!

– excerpt from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longellow

Shirt Tags Are—Just the Worst

Once a week, I sit down at my home desk and contemplate the cosmos. I make odd observations about life, our world, and society. Usually, these musings turn into me just complaining about random nonsense as I shout into the empty, dark void of the Internet. Anyone unfortunate enough to be exposed to my various virtual ventilations has unbeknownst to them become a small part of my self-medicated, self-therapy sessions.

Do you remember how shirts used to have these really annoying and itchy tags in the back of the collar until someone realized that they could just print the same information directly into the fabric? Yeah, those were awful. But do you know what’s worse than having a hideous tag scratching the back of your neck all day? Having an infuriating tag cutting into the side of your abdomen all day.

Seriously, who thinks that these terrible torso tags are any better than the collar tags of lore? At least before, the aggravation was symmetrical. Now my burden to bear is isolated to one side. It makes me think of what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he bemoaned his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Are these thorns in the side some corporate conspiracy to make consumers constantly anxious and agitated so we’ll waste more money on buying their stuff?

Do you have a prickly, tickly life-tag in your side that just won’t go away? Sometimes we can cut them out without doing any harm. Other times, we just have to carry on and let it make us stronger. Either way, my hope is that we can all find contentment in whatever cotton-picking, irritating circumstances we find ourselves in.

But for real, why do we even need the tags sewn into the shirts? Are they really necessary? A shirt tag, regardless of its size, shape, structure, location, affinity, denomination, etc., would still be a horrible shirt tag. Let’s just get rid of those dreadful things.

For the 2020 presidential election, I’ll be running on the sole campaign platform of abolishing shirt tags. Let the people be free. Let the shirts be tagless! See you at the polls: Finanigans 2020.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl

When YouTube Thinks You’re Depressed

Man, I’ve got a headache… must be a caffeine-ache since I haven’t had my third cup of coffee today.

So, I think the Internet thinks I’m depressed. Or at least YouTube/Google thinks I’m depressed. Lately, I’ve been getting these advertisements on a daily basis telling me that maybe I need to speak with my doctor about an antidepressant. Here are my thoughts about that:

  1. Get out of here! Algorithms need to stop trying to sell me stuff. Ya think you know me with all your profiling and predicting software, but you don’t know me! Just because I searched for videos of funny, fat baby animals doesn’t mean that I subconsciously desire to regress back to an infantile stage of development so that I can nurse and reclaim the soft, succulent baby pudge fat that I so desperately yearn for.
  2. Why does Google think I’m depressed? Recommendations are based on my search activity, but I honestly can’t think of anything that would trigger these ads. Perhaps it’s because I’m a millennial(ish), and we’re all supposedly depressed. Or maybe it’s because I consume copious amounts of caffeine, and anyone who needs that many stimulants must be depressed.
  3. Speaking of caffeine, this particular ad features a guy at a coffee cart, and all I can think about is “That looks delicious! I’d like some coffee please. How can I be depressed when I’m so stoked for some more of that sweet, sweet nectar of heaven, that roasted, brewed black elixir of my transcendent dreams?”

In all seriousness though, depression is nothing to take lightly. If you’re struggling, then please know that it’s ok, and please, please reach out to someone and get help. There are 24/7 hotlines that you can call, and you can even schedule counseling sessions with a professional online. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and everyone needs a little help sometimes. We were never meant to do this life alone. My opinion: we all need counseling. Everyone can benefit from speaking with a counselor at least once in their life. Or you could be an overachiever like me and live fulltime with/marry a counselor.

Also, does anyone know how to unsubscribe from the GoogleTube?

Let not the world’s deceitful cares the rising plant destroy,
But let it yield a hundredfold the fruits of peace and joy. – John Cawood

Words are Weird: Fruit

Can you find the hidden treat?

A frenzied reflection on particular English words with absolutely no regard for history, etymology, or context.

Some health-conscious people recommend eating fruit for dessert to satisfy one’s sweet tooth rather than cake or ice cream. Well, I have news for those people. Fruit is not dessert. And it doesn’t satisfy my voracious sweet tooth.

Sure, fruit can be sweet, and it’s certainly more nutritious than that Twinkie or McFlurry, but let’s not kid ourselves here: it’s not dessert. Being good for you almost defeats the purpose of dessert in my opinion. Dessert is meant to help teach us about the brevity of life—I’m just one fried Oreo away from a heart attack, and that’s what makes life worth living. Life, like dessert, is meant to be savored. I’m not discouraging you from eating fruit. You should do it. Because you know we do need fiber to get rid of all the crap in our lives, both literally and figuratively.

But some fruits are just plain weird. And our names for them are weird. Let’s consider a few select examples.

The new kid on the block says, “Hi, I’m Grapefruit.” Confounded, the kid down the street replies, “No, I’m Grape… and I’m a fruit.” Seriously, who is grapefruit trying to fool? You know it’s not a good sign if you have to put the word fruit in your name. It’s like your overcompensating: “No, seriously, I’m a fruit, I promise! I know I taste like a sour wet rag, but I’m actually really healthy for you. I probably cure cancer or something.” And grape? What part of that nuclear-powered, enlarged, abomination of a citrus fruit communicates grape? Again, this was just grapefruit trying to fool and mislead people into accidently eating it.

Does anyone even like Cantaloupe? It’s like the Smarties of fruit. I have no idea how they stay in business. You know how you know that a fruit is pretty much useless? When a restaurant offers you a complimentary side of fruit salad, and it’s basically 90% cantaloupe. Hey, I wanted mixed fruit; not a bowl of this queasy orange-colored packing foam. The actual fruit rind itself looks hideous. Makes me think of some kind of extra-terrestrial spider egg. Just the worst. Don’t even get me started on that name. It’s gibberish. Sounds like I’m getting a can of antelope meat.

But you know what? Who cares what I think? If you like grapefruit and cantaloupe, then good for you. Don’t let me judge your fruity pebble fancies. Some people even eat fruitcake as if that’s supposed to make any sense. Pretty sure there’s no fruit in there, and it just makes the cake less of a cake. It’s that whole trying-to-convince-people-that-fruit-is-a-dessert thing again. Make dessert great again. But you do you. Be the wild, terrifying frugivore you want to be. Life is short. Make the most of it.

Also, apparently strawberries (no straw?) aren’t really berries (at least in the botanical sense). But watermelons are. Also, also bananas and pineapples don’t grow on trees; they’re more of an herb or grass. And there’s definitely no apple to a pineapple. I should know because I once tried to go bobbing for pineapples… and I’ll just let your imagination fill in the rest of what happened.

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day

The Grrreat Tiger Theory

I recently saw a trailer for the upcoming Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks. So. Super. Stoked. That man was and still is a national treasure. God bless Mister Rogers, his soft-spoken, stoic, cerebrally strange puppets and all those sweaters.

If you haven’t kept up with the man’s legacy, then you’re missing out. In our home, we watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Ya can keep your over-produced, premium-subscription, serialized dramas. Give me big-eyed, silly, anthropomorphized animals in wool cardigans anytime.

And look, here’s the thing: Daniel Tiger is a veritable genius. Throughout history, humanity is gifted these truly remarkable people that change the course of society. Leonardo da Vinci… Galileo Galilei… Isaac Newton… Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart… Albert Einstein… Daniel Tiger (I apologize for only listing white Western men… and one oversized kitty). It’s like the great man (person) theory that proposes most of history can be understood and explained by the significant impact of highly influential individuals—great people.

Not that I give a tremendous amount of credence to that theory but let me just share some tiger wisdom with you today. Allow me to drop some truth bombs into your brain cavity. Keep in mind that these are all meant to be sung with a little jingle:

“Keep trying, you’ll get better! Try, try, try!”

“It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again!”

“When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath—and count to four. One, two, three, four.”

And of course:

“When you have to go potty STOP, and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!”

There’s a little song solution for every life situation. All throughout the day, my family is singing these little melodies to help us get through the grind and struggles.

So, when you’re facing today’s trials and attempting to navigate the winding labyrinth and corridors of life: take a moment, take a breath, and sing a little ditty. It’s not if these things happen; it’s when. Take a lesson from our furry feline friend Daniel Tiger. Keep trying, never quit. Believe in yourself. Learn to regulate your emotions. Don’t poop in your pants—that one’s especially important. And please, would we, could we all just be neighbors?

“Ugga Mugga. – Daniel Tiger”

Finley Walker