Updated: May 10

Me and the mizriz watched Breaking Bad recently, our second time through the series. I'll leave the well deserved accolades re storytelling, character development, plotting, etc., to the many others who have already done that. All true.

Vince Gilligan, the creator and producer, has said that he pitched the series as a way to break from the traditional TV role of good-guy-in-stasis, which was useful for keeping a storyline running for years or even decades. He envisioned a main character that would evolve "from Mr. Chips to Scarface". And he did that, but not without making it clear, intentionally or not, that Mr. Chips had the Scarface homunculus in him from the get-go, and that the protagonist's family was the catalyzing medium that produced this change of state from Walter White to Heisenberg.

And so I was wondering about the theme of the corruption of "family" in Breaking Bad. Not that family is a good thing that can be corrupted by pride or greed or any of the other evils, but rather: family as the corrupter. There are no good families in the BB story world. You might say that the grasping free spirits of Walter and Jesse become suffocated by the strictures of family. Walter's repeated invocation of family to justify his actions was shown to be both cynical and sentimental, but it was also his way of cursing the very thing that kept him from living life to its fullest.

In the final scene, as he lies dying on the floor of the meth lab, the story ends with a look on his face that says, "I have lived!" His only other option had been to accept his fate as an underachieving high school teacher and unassuming family man and cancer victim, and to die on a hospital bed, knowing he had rejected any chance of saying that.

According to Wickedpedia, Vince Gilligan's parents divorced when he was seven. Did this drive the place of family in BB? Gilligan's mother was named "Gail," as was the only character who epitomized innocence and goodness in the meth business. That character had no family (none worth showing). Jesse murders him.

Seems to me, there are no stories about breaking normal. Maybe there can't be. Normal people, who make up the audience, want to see out to the edge. They want to see and feel the courage of the people who go there.

And yet, without "normal," there is no edge, and more to the point: nobody to go there.

Updated: May 3

This here's my own recipe I mashed up from a variety of cream-sauce recipes I found on YouTube, mostly dealing with chicken dishes.

Coat the tilapia in seasoned flour. I used Kentucky Kernel.

Fry 'em up in a skillet with some butter and a little olive oil til they're golden, and purt much cooked through. Take 'em out and lay 'em on a plate.

Pour some Marsala cooking wine in the skillet. I don't know, maybe a quarter cup or so. Or a third. Whatever floats your boat. More than just a splash. Reduce it til it's just a thin layer in the skillet.

Put maybe a tablespoon of butter in the middle of the skillet. When it melts put right on it a teaspoon or so of chopped garlic. I use the kind that comes in the little jar.

Add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes and some lemon zest. Stir it up and saute it for a minute or two. Not too much, cuz the garlic'll burn, as you know.

Add some heavy cream, maybe a cup, cup and a half. Let 'er come to a boil, lower the heat some so it simmers. Add salt and pepper; I used the grinder kind for both.

Let it simmer for a little bit (don't really have to reduce it much), then add grated or shredded Parmesan cheese. I think I used maybe a half cup. Don't overdo it; the sauce shouldn't be real cheesy-thick if you know what I mean.

Add the cooked tilapia to the simmering sauce. Then add enough baby spinach to fill the skillet, and cover. Let the spinach wilt, and lift the lid to nudge the spinach into the sauce for full wiltiness.

Serve with coconut ginger rice. I used the stuff from Vigo.

After soaking in the accolades for a bit, let your partner clean the kitchen.

Like you, I went through a long period when boiling an egg that was easy to peel was a hit-and-mystery prospect. Intertubular research coughed up several hairballs and only one gem, and here it is:

Thermal shock. Coming and going.

Bring a pot of water to a full boil.

Take the chilled eggs out of the fridge.

Dunk the chilled eggs into the boiling water. (thermal shock going in)

Boil for 10 minutes.

Near the end of the boil, prepare a bowl of ice water.

At the end of the boil, remove the eggs from the pot and dunk in the ice water. (thermal shock coming out)

Let the eggs cool in the ice water bath for 3 minutes.

Remove and peel, easy-peasy.

Works. Every. Time.

Now, there will be the occasional cracked egg, but that's also true of the methods that don't work as well. Also, when I'm boiling a lot of eggs at once I use a fry basket to dunk them all at the same time.