Crossing the Stream: Dawn of Hustle

Welcome to the newest feature article that no one asked for, where Diet, Exercise, and Binge Television come crashing together in an underdeveloped game plan for our portly protagonist to get physically smaller.

I'm a man of insatiable appetites. I like to eat, and I like to consume media. Obviously. This is why I've inadvertently chosen a big sandwich with the word "Media" in it as my family's de facto coat of arms. When I was a mere lad of twelve, my older brother Adam, cousin Ben, and I were recruited to help move some heavy stuff for our grandfather, and were paid in the standard fee of Western Family generic brand soda pop and pizza (beer was off the table for a few years yet). Now, sure, sixteen-year-old boys seem designed to kill a medium pizza singlehandedly. And they both did, one pie each. But me? The tween? Well, much like Walter White Jr. and his ill-advised shots of tequila in that one uncomfortable "Breaking Bad" episode, I kept up the pace with my more experienced binge artists, and I regretted it.

I still do.

I regret eating every meal like it was performance art. I don't regret eating! Not even in the slightest. I just regret the relationship with food that I've cultivated. It's therapy, it's entertainment. It's a quick fix for every problem. Headache? I must need something to eat. Sleepy at work, can't focus? It's time for lunch. Or a trip to 7-11. Have I grown distant from someone in my life due to unresolved conflict and feelings of resentment? You know, I think the proper prescription for that is a double-bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on it, with a side of sweet potato fries and a big-ass marionberry milkshake.

Damn it all, I made myself hungry.

So what really happened? Why start a public self-improvement writing piece, as well as an exercise and diet regimen? I've done it a few times before, and those never worked out. Why now? Well, one of my personal heroes almost died. I'm a big Kevin Smith fan, and his heart attack last month gave me a bad jolt. He's only 47, and in the best shape of his adult life with a recent huge weight loss. He probably exercises more than I do at this point. And he's famous! Famous people are supposed to be impervious to the type of medical stuff that kills someone at 47. You know, except for guys like John Candy (died at 43), Ralphie May (died at 45), John Pinette (died at 50), Patrice O'Neal (died at 41), and so on and so forth. Judging by the way I feel lately, a life-threatening medical thing is probably not right on my doorstep, but the thought that it could be just up the block ten to fifteen years from now really sucks.

So, I'm jumping on the stationary bike. I'm going to walk the dog. I don't have a dog. I'll get a frapping dog! I'll quit drinking beer, and pop. I'll drop MacDonald's out of my life, those jackasses never appreciated me enough anyway! And I'll let any of you fine people come along if you feel like reading "I'm hungry" and "I can't feel my legs anymore" and "I miss pizza" in a few hundred words on a regular basis. But it just wouldn't feel right if I weren't tying together this need to not die with my other insatiable appetite: consuming media content. Here at Media Sandwich, there are movie reviews, there are some game reviews, and there is plenty of random pop culture sprinkled on in smaller doses. But you know what we need? Television. Perfect. I'm going to trade binge eating for binge streaming. And now, if I want to watch an episode of something in order to write about it, I'll have to watch that episode during my gym time.

So, here's the plan: a television review, an exercise diary, and maybe even some recipe stuff. I always wanted a cooking show involving lots of pop culture, and this might be the way to go with that idea. I know, this might read a lot like someone trying to bargain and trick and weasel their way out of just growing up and performing standard maintenance on a machine that has been in dire need of a tune-up since the Bush administration. That's because it is. If I found exercise and proper diet in any way pleasing, believe me I would have jumped down the deepest rabbit hole and never come back. But I don't. I don't enjoy it. So, I'm going to treat myself like a toddler. Rewards, binary choices, concrete consequences, and empathy. These are the ways to get a three-year-old to take a dump in a porcelain bowl, which sounds like a relatively simple task (much like exercise and proper diet) but is often met with a supernatural amount of mental and physical resistance not typically displayed.

Unappetizing for so many reasons...

Because I've watched myself fail this before, not just the weight loss but also the writing projects documenting it, I feel vaguely like I have more empathy for Zack Snyder and the Warner Bros folks who were tasked with creating a big cinematic universe out of thin air, with a little bit of rope from Man of Steel. We are at a period of years now with fans hollering, "See what Marvel did? Do it that way! Do it the same way as Marvel! It works! We swear!" Myself included. But I realize now that Snyder and Geoff Johns and all those other folks had a different beast entirely. We knew what a superhero cinematic universe looked like. Back in 2008, we didn't. There was no example weighing them down. With Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was a bracing of too many purposes at once: sequel to Man of Steel, introduce the other heroes, address the fan outcry over the collateral damage and General Zod killing from the previous film, stage an homage to The Dark Knight Returns, ease fans into the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman and reintroduce the character, comment on the "real world" reactions to alien superbeings, update characters like Lex Luthor and Clark Kent to a more twenty-first century setting, and (most importantly) lay a foundation for an endless series of sequels, spin-offs, reboots, and side projects that all take place in the same timeline.

I feel that way about this new attempt to lose weight and feel better. I feel like it's too many purposes that might trip each other: improve my physical health, reassure myself that I'm still young and it isn't too late to reverse the damage I've done to my body, improve my day-to-day mental health, give me a great framing device for yet another review writing project, jumpstart me back into regular posts here on the blog, give me something to talk about besides whatever movie I saw recently, enable me to play with my kids without running out of breath...the list goes on and on and on. I'm tasked with starting my own personal cinematic universe, and up until now I've been releasing nothing but Schumacher Batman films and the occasional Superman Returns. Healthy people are getting ready to release their Captain America: Civil War, and I don't even know if I'll make it to Flashpoint!

I just had a thought, actually: this metaphor sucks. Someone give me permission to bail on this metaphor! But no one give me permission to bail on this plan.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be hitting the gym with my best new pal, Hulu. Since I might die if I go any longer than 25 minutes, I think we'll start things out with a nice, chill sitcom.

Consider this Day 1. My name is Kyle Martinak, and the whole time I was writing this, I was thinking about a two-egg omlette loaded with bacon and cheese. 


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