Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

From soup to nuts

January 10, 2014

A few weeks ago, I made some homemade soup; homemade being a relative term. I cut up onions, garlic and celery, added canned crushed tomatoes, water and frozen vegetables. It was delicious. Recently, I tried to replicate the recipe.

Someone suggested, “You should throw the discarded ends of the asparagus in your soup.” I did. They neglected to tell me that the asparagus ends were only to be added for extra flavor. I was chomping on asparagus bark. They were woody and stringy (twiggy?).

Once I took the asparagus ends out, I decided the broth was too thin. I added another can of crushed tomatoes. Now the soup was too soupy. The veggies looked lost at sea. I like veggies to look like Settlers Cabin Wave Pool in July, floating around bumping into each other. Overcrowded.

The next day, I added more vegetables and some alphabet pasta. The soup was too thick again. I needed a bigger pot. I had consumed a bunch of it after a few days, but it was growing, not shrinking. I added more crushed tomatoes. Then, more water. Then, I added more veggies. I’ve been eating this soup since the first of the year. I don’t think it’s ever going to go away.

Just yesterday, I added a can of string beans. This morning I added a can of garbanzo beans. It’s going to be with me for life. I have to eat it, though, because I don’t think it’s good enough to offer to friends and neighbors.

It was the Goldilocks of soups. I couldn’t get it just right. It was slowly making me crazy. I went from soup to nuts.

I am half tempted to throw it all out and start again, but, frankly, I’m getting sick of soup. I’ve decided to keep at it. I’m too stubborn to admit defeat. That slurping sound you hear? That’s me trying to regain my equilibrium, my sanity, my soup.

A few minutes ago, I had an epiphany. This soup is a lot like life. Sometimes we are trying to capture an old experience with a new one. Sometimes we have to take something bad out, and put more good stuff in. We want more of the good flavors, but sometimes we need to balance everything out. Temper it. Sometimes we’re sick of it and want new flavors. And, sometimes, you have to give up and start over. Personally, I am too thick-headed for that.

I think it will be a long while before I make soup again. It may be a while before I even open a can of Campbell’s. In the meantime, I am gazing into my soup bowl, looking for more answers to life’s mysteries. I’m hoping the alphabet letters will spell out something. So far, all they spelled out is “seek help.” I don’t think that means anything, right?



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