Finkel’s Fast Five E-Mail


Welcome to Finkel’s Fast 5!

Every Friday, I put together an exclusive e-mail of five phenomenal things I came across that week.

Could be a movie, a line from a movie, a book, a quote, a podcast, a blog post, a magazine article, a TV show, a workout, a song, writing tips, dad stuff, inside author info, a sandwich, an instagram post, or even an instagram post about a sandwich. It’s all fair game and it’s all yours first for signing up.

See you Friday!

Sign up for Finkel’s Fast Five


ISSUE #3 – February 16th, 2018

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was this week and I’ve been fascinated with this photo of the items he had in his pockets when he was assassinated courtesy of Michael Beschloss (@beschlossDC). Two pairs of glasses, a pocket knife and all kinds of other regular stuff from 153 years ago. He was carrying the $5 bill around for ID, obviously. (That’s a joke. The first $5 note had Alexander Hamilton on it. Lincoln didn’t make it onto the bill until 1914).

Do you know where the largest casino in the world is? Any guesses? Well, I had the pleasure of playing blackjack and craps there this past weekend and if you guessed it’s in the town of Thackerville, Oklahoma you’d be correct.. It’s called the Winstar and it’s bigger than any casino in Vegas, Atlantic City, Europe or anywhere else with 600,000 square feet of gaming. Who knew? They have a saying regarding going to other casinos after the Winstar: Once you go Thackerville, you never go back-erville. (No, they don’t but if they want to use it they can have it for free.)

My former co-author and 3x NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion, Nate Robinson appeared on one of my favorite podcasts, the FatPacks, this week to talk about the contest this upcoming Saturday night. He also discussed what it was like being Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football as a senior in high school in the state of Washington, what it felt like to throw down over Dwight Howard, block Yao Ming, and of course, inside info on the NBA Dunk Contest. Also, here’s video of 5’7″ Nate blocking 7’2″ Yao.

I love omelettes and I love making omelettes and I came across this write-up of a 10-egg omelette masterpiece called The Maserati.  The article is from and it’s worth a few seconds to check out the near dozen-egg beast that must weigh about 4 pounds. I occasionally make 5-egg omelettes and they’d look like, well, Nate Robinson standing next to Yao Ming (Ming being the Maserati in this analogy).

Once a month or so I like to try the Navy SEAL fitness requirements test as a single workout. I’m not a SEAL and don’t think I could have been, but trying to perform the test is an interesting baseline for where I am compared to some of the best athletes in our military. There are minimum requirements, but those don’t guarantee entry to the SEALS because competition is so tight. Minimum is the following, performed back-to-back: 500-yard swim in 12.5 minutes, 50 push-ups in 2 minutes, 50-curl ups in 2 minutes, 10 pull-ups in two minutes and a 1.5 mile run in 10.5 minutes.

That’s more than doable. The ‘Optimum Standards’ are not: 500 yard swim in 8.5 minutes, 100 push ups in 2 minutes, 100 curl ups in 2 minutes, 20 pull ups in 2 minutes, 1.5 mile run in 8:50…all done back-to-back. Got it? Good. Go for it!

ISSUE #2 – February 9th, 2018

While I’ve always considered myself a matcha man, I took this online tea quiz and it turns out I should be consuming a tea called Iron Goddess of Mercy – Ti Kuan Yin – and I’ve been questioning my masculinity ever since. Not really, but well, yeah…  I’ve been on the tea train for a long time and I’ve mostly stuck with loose leaf green tea, Sencha and sometimes white tea. This quiz on Art of Tea’s website (takes one minute) asks you all kinds of questions about your lifestyle, when you drink tea and why and then spits out the kind of tea that fits your lifestyle best. Evidently, I’m in dire need of the Iron Goddess of Mercy. I’ll let you know how it tastes in a future issue of FF5.

The brilliant director who made O.J.: Made in America is going to do a biopic of Roberto Clemente as his next project and it’s about time someone tackled this. I’ve always been fascinated with the baseball legend/humanitarian/philanthropist/leader that Clemente was and I can’t recommend David Maraniss’ (@davidmaraniss) incredible biography of him enough. You can get it on Amazon here. And for a glimpse of his athletic greatness, check out this absolutely insane throw from right field to third base. Maybe the strongest arm in the history of baseball.

I’m not gonna lie here… This article called A Kingdom from Dust by Mark Arax is a mountain of words (I read it in three parts). But it is a mountain of words worth climbing. If you’ve ever wondered where your POM Wonderful purple pomegranate juice or your mini-orange Cuties or your Wonderful almonds or pistachios or dozens of other wildly popular family-friendly grocery items come from and who grows them, packages them and invents the marketing campaigns behind the brands, then this article is for you (Hint: It’s ONE GUY). If you’ve ever driven up through the interior of California and wondered how there was seemingly hundreds of miles of desert filled with endless green vegetation during a water shortage, this feature is for you. If you simply love tremendous writing and research and storytelling, this is also for you. California Sunday Magazine dedicated almost their whole issue to this piece and it was worth it.

Good Will Hunting is one of my all-time favorite movies andthis episode of The Rewatchables podcast does a deep dive on everything from Will’s lifelong beef with Carmine Scarpaglia to what Skylar might say when Will shows up in California in his beat-up car after the movie ends to whether in the famous bar scene debate with Clark (ponytail guy) Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser would have cold-cocked ponytail in the face before a discussion about Gordon Wood could even take place. The attention to detail in this podcast is great and if you’ve watched this movie or parts of it more than twice you will love it. And if you don’t listen to the podcast, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault… Actually, it is, but you get the joke.

I have a framed poster of Teddy Roosevelt with this famous ‘Man in the Arena” speech on the wall in my gym that I bought from one of my favorite blogs, I don’t read it every day or every week even, but I definitely read it more than once a month. I’m considering my next book/project right now and as a writer, there’s nothing more daunting than staring at the blank page of the first outline of a new project idea…because you know that once you commit, there are thousands of more pages that will need to be filled, edited, thrown away, rewritten and refined. Anyway, I read this quote again this week and it motivated me to get moving. Maybe it’ll do the same for you:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs; who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in the worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”      – Teddy Roosevelt

ISSUE #1 – February 2nd, 2018

This is the best feature I read all week:   Can You Say…Hero? is a sprawling profile of Mr. Rogers written by Tom Junod for Esquire that was originally published in 1998. You may have seen this week that Tom Hanks is going to star in a movie about Mr. Rogers. Perfect, right? America’s favorite neighbor played by America’s favorite actor. Well, this is the article that inspired the movie and it is, plainly put, absolutely brilliant. It’s a profile writing clinic on a fascinating subject that I can’t recommend enough. From Mr. Rogers getting ready for his daily swim to his sleeping habits to his apartment in New York City, this feature zeroes in on what made Mr. Rogers a very special human. Read it.

This was my favorite thing I watched on Netflix: Born Strong is a documentary about four contenders competing to become the Strongest Man on Earth at the Arnold Classic. It stars lifting legends Zydrunas, Eddie Hall, American Brian Shaw and Hafthor, AKA, The Mountain from Game of Thrones, all 6’9”, 400 pounds of him. You don’t have to be a fitness nut or power lifter to get sucked into this doc, which features a healthy dose of Arnold Schwarzenegger geeking out about the athletes, the physiques and the feats of strength. There are a few slow spots you could probably skip, but watching how much time these goliaths spend eating (all the time) training (all the time) and thinking about winning (all the time), is incredible. Even if you just watch the main section about The Mountain in Iceland, it’s worth it.

A runner-up Netflix favorite this week is this exchange from The Office,Season 1, Episode 1, which I decided to re-watch:

Michael Scott brings the camera to Pam’s receptionist desk.

Michael Scott: Everyone, this is Pam. If you think she’s cute now you should have seen her a couple years ago. Reawrrrrrrrr….

Pam (priceless stare into the camera): What???

Perfect moment in a near-perfect pilot. Highly recommend rewatching it.

These are my two favorite things I bought this week for a grand total of $4.17: Cinder blocks. Why? Why not? Actually, I got them for my garage gym so I could remove the lowest part of my deadlift (placing the bar on top), which I’ve been reading is where the greatest chance for injury and overuse is… I’ve read literature on both sides of this and I’m going with feel on this one. I’m not exactly trying to be an inside linebacker for the Patriots anymore so if I can get 90% of the benefits of the deadlift while removing some injury risk that’s fine. SIDE NOTE: There’s no better feeling than rolling up to a register at Home Depot with a cinder block in each hand and nothing else. Pretty sure every other dude in the Depot was jealous of that move. Also, I did a little cinder research and each block weighs about 30-35 pounds, so they’re good for some unbalanced farmer carries and curls too. OK, this meathead moment is over.

I never heard of this popular bottled mineral water until this week so I tried it and I hate mineral water but it’s actually good. It’s called Topo Chico. I came across this article about a guy who drinks five a day and decided I’d try it next time I saw it. As it turns out, I have no idea how I’ve been missing it. Topo Chico is literally everywhere, especially in Texas. It’s one of those things I never noticed because I don’t care about it, but now I see it’s in every restaurant, supermarket and store. Not saying I’m gonna drink 5 a day, but it’s refreshing and worth a shot. Had one with dinner this week and went down smooth.

Best late-night snack sandwich I made this week: Double-decker peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich on whole wheat. On nights I write late I often find myself absolutely starving at about 10pm. This is my “Code Red, I’m crazy hungry and if I don’t eat this I’m driving to McDonald’s in two minutes” sandwich and it always hits the spot with a glass of ice cold milk. The key is to not put the banana slices on the peanut butter, but to put the honey on the peanut butter and the banana slices on their own level. Enjoy!