Thursday, January 30, 2020

The band played a cockeyed tune yesterday, steering us from tasty food to intentional snarl in a confusing off-beat rhythm. Such is the nature of the LP we’ve chosen to accompany 2020 – each groove is laced with its own little quirk.

National Puzzle Day

Were it not for the pokes and nags of each day’s monotonous inconveniences, I (Marty – can’t speak for Jodie here) would giddily spend my waking hours afloat upon a thick sea of puzzles. Jigsaw? Love ‘em. Logic? Great to dig through. Crossword? I’ll bow out of the NY Times Sunday puzzle, but I’ll take a crack at any other. Soduku? Why not?

Search any trove of online gamery and you’ll find yourself sifting through genres, with adventure and puzzle games often topping the charts. A puzzle is cardio for the brain – call it cerebrio if you’d like (though no one will understand you). The key difference comes upon its completion: finish a cardio workout and you’ve done good by your innards, and the clock says you can haul your shiny, sweaty carcass to the showers. Finish a puzzle and your brain is similarly stretched and pumped, plus you’ve finished something. Solved something. Used your wits and savvy to bring about a win.

A professional syndicated newspaper puzzle maker – a calling I am just now realizing I completely missed – named Jodi Jill concocted National Puzzle Day back in 2002. Kudos to Ms. Jill for this one; I’ll take any excuse to wrap my brain snugly around a puzzle and bring it to fruition. This was a true high point of the day.

National Puzzle Month

Ha. Killed two with one. Since I hit up my six favourite puzzle games every day on the way home from work, I’ll allow it.

Kansas Day

Okay, there exists – as I’ve pointed out before – a national “state” day every week, concocted by the good folks at National Day Calendar. These aren’t official, but merely excuses for us to sample the cuisine of America, and maybe learn some goofy facts about the state.

That National Kansas Day shows up on March 15. This particular day is the actual Kansas Day, celebrated within the state in honour of their admission to the nation in 1861. In preparing this year’s festivities, I didn’t catch this duplication. I did, however, come up with two solid-looking recipes that are popular in the Sunflower State, so what the hell – Kansas gets double-billing this year.

Yesterday we made something called bierocks (pronounced BURR-rucks or BEER-rocks, depending on your fancy), which the Wichita Eagle claims is the official food of Kansas in the fall. Technically January 29 is closer to an autumn than March 15, so I’d say this was the right one to make yesterday. And they were terrific – I took this recipe from Pillsbury, with a bit of modification from this one from the aforementioned Eagle. It’s beef. It’s cabbage. It’s cheese. It’s all a hearty treat.

I’ll dig deeper into Kansassian history (definitely not the right term) on the March holiday. I will point out, however, that the first settlement in Kansas was Fort Leavenworth, now best known for its prison. That’s an auspicious start to a state’s existence, but then we also celebrated Australia Day a couple days ago, and a party’s a party.

Will I root for Kansas City this Sunday in the Super Bowl? Well, technically the Chiefs play in Kansas City, Missouri, so this won’t factor into my festivities. I’ll simply be rooting for a great game, and for the time (amid the seven scheduled celebrations that day) to watch it.

National Corn Chip Day

Which way to land on this one? Doritos? Fritos? Tostitos? Make our own from scratch?

That last one was the ideal. We would love nothing more than to spend National Corn Chip Day somewhere in the southern-most quadrant of North America, learning the art of corn chip creation from a true artisan chipsmith. But alas, we are on a budget and tethered to our jobs, so we just bought some damn Old Dutch corn chips and ate ‘em with dinner.

The beautiful thing about corn chips is the resonant crunch. They speak with a louder and more cock-sure voice than potato chips. They make their presence known. They also carry the barbecue flavour with more style and charisma than any brand of potato snack could dream up. Unfortunately, I have yet to try another flavour (apart from regular, which is still potently taste-packed) that rings my bell. Corn chips have a lot to say to the human taste bud, and something as crass as sour cream & onion would dilute its message.

I’m excusing Doritos from the above, as of course Doritos has made fine strides in augmenting the natural state of the corn chip. But being packed with preservatives and geared toward muting the corn flavour in favour of cool ranch or nacho cheese, it’s not the ideal chip for today. That said, it’s interesting to note that Doritos were first made at a place called Casa de Fritos in Disneyland of all places.

Old Dutch makes a fine corn chip, and these actually accompanied our bierocks surprisingly well. If you missed the chance to snack along with us yesterday, grab a bag today and treat yourself. A friend lamented that she’d missed one of our celebrations until our article the next day… there are no strict rules around this perpetual party! Join in when you can, and if you’re a little late getting to something like, say, the peach melba (January 13, but it’s still on our minds), just dive in and enjoy it. This is all about indulgence and appreciation.

Curmudgeon’s Day

For a brief spell I will allow myself to abandon my habitually positive state of being and embrace the snarling curmudgeon who lives caged in my skull. Here is a quick run-down of stuff that has been pissing me off lately:

  • Enough with this starting work in the middle of the night. 9:00am should be a wake-up time, not an I’ve-been-at-work-for-45-minutes time.
  • The five-day work week is outdated. If you don’t need to be on call while you’re on duty, you should be able to cram your workload into four days. Dammit.
  • I’m not going to go full-on-curmudge and bitch about the kids’ music these days, but come on… some brilliant stuff being made out there, and the top 40 is an inconsistent place to find the best of it.
  • You’re at a goddamn movie. We’re all at the goddamn movie. You watch a lot of Netflix at home, but this is not your home. WE’RE AT THE GODDAMN MOVIE TOGETHER, so shut the hell up and put your phone away.
  • Snickers? Yeah, Snickers, I’m talking to you. You’ve shrunk since I was a kid, don’t try to fucking lie to me.
  • If you’re on the bus and it’s below 10 degrees Celsius, you don’t need the window open. If it’s below 0 degrees and you crack a window, you’re just an asshole.
  • While we’re on the bus, if you prefer an aisle seat, you’d better scootch to the window when the bus starts filling up. You’re not more special than the rest of us, dick-donkey.
  • Not every retail establishment or fast food location needs a tip jar.
  • Not to get all January 14th on you here, but why is juicy, fatty pastrami not available for purchase in this city?
  • (turns on the news) Are… are you fucking kidding me? (turns off the news)
  • Just hang ‘em up, Brady. We get it. You’re talented. But you come off as a big ol’ douche-sack and we’re tired of you.
  • People who crank up their music on their phones without headphones in a public place… why not confuse everyone and change it up to some Cat Stevens or something? No one will know what to make of you, AND you’ll be interesting.
  • Back to the bus-people, to those of you who leave behind sunflower seeds or empty plastic packets that once contained crackers, processed cheese and that red spready-stick, just stop trying to fit in with society already. You’re not up for it.
  • I’m pretty sure the last time Edmonton had all escalators working in all bus and train stations was 1986.
  • Lastly, if you have the choice between empathy and disregard, always land on empathy. It’s not that goddamn hard.

There. That felt good. It felt cleansing. We’re all curmudgeons in some corner of our souls; we’d be fools not to embrace it.

Bell: Let’s Talk Day

I posted a Facebook status for this one, advising my friends and family that I care about them, and I’m here for them. Jodie did something similar on her page. Truth is, if you’re reading this and you’ve never heard of me before, reach out through one of our social media channels if you want to chat. We’re all in this party together so we may as well work the room a little. Depression and anxiety are real, and they are sadistic little lying shits. They need a good punting every so often to keep them in check, so if you need to, reach out to a friend or a complete stranger. There’s strength in numbers, right?

An almost-day-off today! It’s a shame it’s a Thursday and not a Saturday.:

  • National Croissant Day. Our bierocks were made with Pilsbury crescent rolls, so this works out perfectly. We made two without meat, cheese & cabbage insides for breakfast today, but wouldn’t the leftovers with all the good stuff be even tastier?
  • National Inane Answering Message Day. Jodie and I create a weird outgoing message for one another’s voicemail. They must remain in place until at least the end of February.

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