Thursday, February 27, 2020

We skipped a few yesterday. We had to. Ash Wednesday is sacred, holy, and unrelated to our religious beliefs (which are presently “Jedi” with a splash of “Clapton Is God”). We don’t fake religious celebrations; that’s disrespectful. National Personal Chef Day was out of our price range. Carnival Day is hard to commemorate when there are no carnivals nearby. But we did do this:

National Tell A Fairy Tale Day

Okay, I didn’t do this one. Jodie read Coraline to her class yesterday. I didn’t encounter any fairy tales, though I did re-watch Jackie Brown, and one could argue Tarantino is the Grimm Brothers of our era, complete with all the grisly violence. Come to think of it, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood might have made more sense.

So what is a fairy tale? Is it folklore? Is it just some story with a talking animal or some weird supernatural hoo-ha? Are they simply children’s stories that aren’t likely to be adapted by Disney?

A fairy tale is a genre of folklore. There’s usually some element of magic, and quite often an element of transformation in the story. Talking animals are an indicator, but many fables have talking beasts but don’t fit the mould of a fairy tale. The Germans used to call them Märchen, which translates to “little story”. The early French ones often had fairies involved, which is where the English term ‘fairy tale’ was born.

Before the fantasy genre was a thing, early fantasy works were thrown into the same pile as fairy tales. This includes Baum’s first Oz works, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and even The Hobbit. We know that a lot of the fairy tales we’re familiar with began as early as the Renaissance, but the oral tradition of story-telling goes back as far as the advent of language. Definitely a quality thing to celebrate – I hope people picked out their favourites from their childhood and read them to their kids yesterday (or, as we always encourage, do it today!).

National Pistachio Day

There are, as most would agree, two titans of the mixed nut world. Note that I’d say “most agree”, however I have done no research on this, nor have I even surveyed the folks who follow this madness on social media. By “most” I guess I mean “most of this household”. Even that isn’t true – the dogs have no solid opinions on which mixed nut reigns supreme. So, like many people on the internet I suppose I’m talking out of my ass when I make a blanket, statistic-less statement like the above. I make no apologies. This is the internet, where facts are in the eye of the schmuck beholding them at any given moment.

Anyhow, the two obvious kings of the mixed nut bowl are cashews (November 23) and pistachios. These days you can buy pistachios with the shell popped off and a myriad of flavours sprinkled upon the little green boogers of exquisite goodness. Not long ago you’d have two choices: green (so, normal), or red. I don’t know if the red ones tasted any different, but they didn’t look natural. And you’d always have to face off against the shells, no matter which colour you preferred. That meant encountering those ones that were clamped together so tight you’d either break a nail trying to pry them apart or have to sacrifice the yummy nugget within.

Archaeologists have deduced that people have been munching on pistachios since at least 6,750 BC. The trees grow freely in central Asia, and have been spread to everywhere they can flourish. Right now the two biggest pistachio producers are the US and Iran. Those trees will give off generations of food, living as long as 300 years. That’s a whole lot of nuts – or if you prefer, ice cream. Walnuts need maple to qualify them as an ice cream flavour; pistachios can do it on their own.

We had a great after-dinner snack last night, as Jodie contended with her own plague settling into her system. What a happy, grotesque, sick little house of celebrations we have become!

For Pete’s Sake Day

And we’re back to Thomas and Ruth Roy, the creators of the weirdest holidays-for-holiday-sake celebrations on our calendar. What is this day for? Who knows?

We skipped For The Love Of Mike Day when my illness was at its worst last weekend. So naturally we had to engage with this one. Besides, “For Pete’s Sake” always bugged me. Who is Pete? How did this expression come to be? The answer, unfortunately, is disappointing.

There is no Pete. I thought at first it might have been a reference to St. Peter – as in, “Oh, for the sake of St. Peter”, meaning there were implications of heaven and hell, good and evil, that sort of thing. But it looks like “Pete” is just a substitute for “God”, since invoking His name in one’s kvetching is generally frowned upon.

So let’s have a look at some of the great Petes out there:

Pete Davidson on SNL: funny motherfucker who got famous too young, but didn’t let it destroy him. Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks: chews too much gum, and should have handed the goddamn ball to Marshawn Lynch at the end of Super Bowl 49. Pete Rose, Baseball Hall of Fame… umm, visitor, I guess. Should have bet on football instead. Pete Best, who has outlived both Lennon and Harrison: seems like a nice guy, but Ringo was clearly the better drummer. Pete Townsend, guitarist: the most talented Pete in the group? Probably. Pete Buttigieg, mayor: no comment – no politics here. Pete Seeger, folk singer: deserves lots of love for the love he put out to the working people of the world. Pete Holmes, comedian: his show, Crashing, didn’t last long, but it sure ended beautifully. Pete Postlethwaite, character actor: commanded every scene I saw him in. Pete Tork, Monkee: I always thought he was the funniest of the four. Pete Boyle, actor: could sing “Puttin’ On The Ritz” better than anyone. Pete Bogdanovich, director: he was with Cybill Shepherd throughout the 70s, so well done, dude. Pete Gabriel, singer: a non-stop innovator. Pete Cetera, singer / bass player: sure he wrote a lot of schmaltzy music, but his work on Chicago’s first few albums is legendary. Pete Jackson, director: the guy literally created an entire cinematic world. Pete Frampton, singer / guitarist: damn, there are a lot of fine musical Petes on this list. Pete Noone, singer: I’m not a Herman’s Hermits fan, but lots of folks are, so good on ya, Noone. Pete Tosh, reggae musician: he wrote “Legalize It” and eventually they did. An incredible talent.

For Pete’s sake, I’m impressed with Petes today.

Inconvenience Yourself Day

I’d say I celebrated this one well. At home and still well under the weather, I spent almost the entire day at my computer, working. I designed Jodie’s posters and tickets for her show. I published an article and wrote this one. I meticulously went through Abbey’s essay and edited it with her. I finally got to bed after 10. It wasn’t convenient, but it felt good to be productive. Today’s plan: don’t be productive.

Looks like our calendar has other plans for me. Holy shit.

  • National Retro Day. Retro clothes and retro music all day. I’m not leaving the house, so that should be easy and thoroughly unimpressive.
  • National Chili Day. Good news – we froze some chili from February 1, National Texas Day. So dinner is taken care of.
  • National Toast Day. Here’s to heating up bread until it hardens, then spreading stuff on it! (clinks glasses)
  • National Pokemon Day. I was going to download that Pokemon app and play around with it on the bus, but since I’m not going into work, I’ll just look into the history of this phenomenon.
  • National Protein Day. Protein will be consumed. Easy.
  • Anosmia Awareness Day. Our food will be sampled with noses squeezed tight – anosmia is an inability to taste, so we should try to simulate it a bit.
  • National Kalhua Day. Alcohol! Again – easy.
  • National Strawberry Day. And now I know what my snacks will be. Okay, a busy day but all pretty easy to accomplish.

PS: A happy birthday to star photographer, friend of the project, and all-around great dude Graeme Kennedy yesterday!!!