Hartley: The preservative power of MSG and special sauce | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: The preservative power of MSG and special sauce

Todd Hartley
I’m with Stupid

When I was a kid, there was this guy who I think lived in my town for a while named Jim Fixx. Some of you old farts might remember the name. In 1977, he wrote a book called "The Complete Book of Running" that turned into a big deal (No. 1 bestseller for 11 weeks) because back in those days we needed entire books to explain to us how to jog. No one had ever thought of doing it before then.

The book told the tale of how Fixx, a 214-pound, two-pack-a-day smoker, lost 60 pounds and quit smoking by taking up jogging. That motivated everyone to get up and start running around, and Fixx, according to Wikipedia, was "credited with helping start America's fitness revolution."

If you've seen "Forrest Gump," basically, when Forrest had the long beard and was running hither and yon with all the people following him, he was Fixx.

Anyway, on July 20, 1984, at the age of 52, Fixx dropped dead of a heart attack while jogging, proving that you can literally write the book on exercising and irony and fate still won't give a crap.

So why am I bringing this up now, all these years later? I'm not really sure. It just seemed like a fitting intro before telling you the news that a couple of weeks ago, within two days of one another, the inventor of the Big Mac and the inventor of General Tso's chicken — who are probably responsible for millions of heart attacks between them — died at the age of 98.

Does this prove anything? Not really, but to me the message is clear: exercise bad. Unhealthy eating good. That makes me feel a lot better because that's pretty much the way I've conducted my entire life.

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No, but seriously, this does reinforce my belief that you never know, so you may as well try to enjoy the time you get instead of always fretting over your weight and your diet. I just can't help but think that vegetarians who end up dying young anyway must go to their graves wishing they'd eaten more bacon. There's no way, in my mind, they could possibly have any other final thought.

But you know what I'm saying: Live it up a little.

Not that Big Macs and General Tso's chicken are living it up, mind you. I'm just saying in general. Actually, I can't even make that statement about Big Macs. Maybe they are living it up. I've never had one.

Right now, a lot of you are probably saying, "No way. You, of all people, have never had a Big Mac?" No. Never in my life have I said to myself, "You know what would be great with some unmelted cheese product, vile onions and two patties of inedible cow byproduct washed with ammonia? Three slices of bread."

On second thought, I take it back. I think I can safely assume that a Big Mac is not living it up.

General Tso's chicken, on the other hand, by mere dint of its being deep fried, can be pretty damn good, and it makes me wonder what it is about the military and fried chicken. Think about it: There's General Tso (he was not the inventor of his eponymous dish, by the way), Colonel Sanders, Popeye.

In fairness, I don't know Popeye's backstory. He could have just been some deck hand on a regular ship. But given the tattoos and the belligerence, I'm going to guess he was in the Navy before the stroke rendered one side of his face immobile.

But I digress. That happens a lot when I get on the subject of fried foods.

The point is, don't deny yourself the things you want, as long as you don't steal them, and don't suffer now just to add a couple of years on the back end. You won't be glad you did.

All that being said, you should still try to be healthy without having to do potentially fatal things like jogging, so do what I do. Don't believe in calories. They're a lie. There's no way a 1-ounce bite of cheesecake will somehow make you fatter than a bushel of salad. Trust me; I've done the math. Calories are nothing but a scam concocted by the vegetable council back in 1982.

So have your Big Macs. Have your fried chicken. And then do your friends and loved ones a favor and don't you dare try to run it off.

Todd Hartley considers unfried chicken a vegetable. To read more or leave a comment, visit http://zerobudget.net.