Of Gravitas and Cheesiness

I’m not one for recipes, so I’ll keep this simple. If you’ve got some leftover chili and some flour tortillas, mix the two together. Add cheese. Presto! You’re done. Well, you’ll probably need to microwave the whole thing, but otherwise it’s ready to serve.

The picture on the left is what I had for lunch today after seeing John Carter for a second time. Before that, I had breakfast with my friend Andrew, whose blog contains insightful articles and analyses of films and video games.

We ate at Denny’s. It’s become a tradition of ours to have breakfast, a tradition that started while we were at school in Ellensburg. This was Andrew’s second viewing of John Carter as well, and it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re both terribly fond of actress Lynn Collins, who portrays Princess Dejah Thoris in the film. She’s both breathtaking and inspiring. But, lest my train of thought become entirely derailed, let’s move on!

As we usually do, Andrew and I had our round of Star Wars bashing, preceded by bashing each other’s literary endeavors. We’re both writers (and thus egomaniacs) and we both love storytelling. If I were to compare our approaches to our crafts to that of food preparation, it would look something like this:

Andrew envisions a three-course meal (or a trilogy). I see an individual dish (one story). Andrew concerns himself with plotting an evening of fine dining and luxurious presentation, all of which contributes to a triumphant dessert in the end—the ultimate, most satisfying payoff imaginable. I see a single, delicious entrée that whets the guest’s appetite for a wholly unique flavor, a flavor that endears the guest to the chef (writer) for a lifetime. Whatever entrée the chef promises for the future, the guest eagerly awaits it, no matter where or when it may be served (or even if at all).

Meanwhile, the guests at Chef Andrew’s table feel their stomachs rumbling. They have menus in their hands, and from the lofty descriptions of scrumptious feasts listed therein, their lips salivate in anticipation of greatness. And yet, not so much as an appetizer arrives all evening. One night turns into three, and soon a week becomes a year. The guests wither and wilt in their chairs, their flesh turns to mush, and their stomachs are filled only with disappointment and broken promises.

As his guests die, the chef finally arrives. He gleefully carts out trolleys and trays of the finest foods known to man, refined by decades of culinary craft and honed to precision by perfection. In short, he brings his guests the elixir of the gods! Alas, each guest breathes his last and expires. The chef is at a loss. After crumpling to his knees, he whispers through tear-stained lips, “Too much too late! I am a fool.”

At Chef Jon’s table, the situation is equally grim. His guests are lean and gaunt, happy but dangerously thin. They have been sustained these many years by appetizers. Short, wonderful meals worth waiting for, but none more nourishing than the last. In fact, though the chef’s work has no equal, his offerings lack the lasting substance wrought by a full-fledged meal. The guests will never refuse Chef Jon’s offerings, but they may often wander from the dining room into an adjacent hallway, sniffing about for some other chef’s less-impressive sustenance, only so that they may satiate their yearning for visceral satisfaction.

Both chefs are marvelous, and both chefs offer their guests something far greater than anything that has ever been consumed. Their strategies, however, are ultimately insufficient and must be tempered by temperance. Chef Andrew must produce feasible results. Chef Jon must dare to dream bigger.

Together, if not for their burgeoning egos, these chefs could sharpen one another like iron! They could combine their knowledge and experience to develop a winning long-term strategy. No, they may never share the same kitchen, but together they could unlock the secrets of the culinary universe! Together, they could become champions of their respective crafts. Only time will tell if these mighty maestros can make good on their promises and learn from each other, or if they’ll continue tearing each other apart at every available opportunity.

As the wise prepare for the worst, let the rest of us hope for the best!

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