Wednesday, March 4, 2020

When the echoes of this project are swept off the walls and the sweet release of daily monotony once again returns to the throne of our lives, people may ask… how did you do all this stuff? When they see that some celebrations are mere entries in our written tome and not features in our visceral presence, will they question the authenticity of those celebrations? I put it to you thusly: if I devote 15-30 minutes of my day to learning about and interpreting what I know about mulled wine, I feel that is a fair tribute to the beverage. Yes, we would have liked to have had some on hand, but we did not. We can’t imbibe ‘em all, I’m afraid.

Bonza Bottler Day

For those who are just tuning in, on every day this year when the month’s number and the day match up (it’s 3-3!) we celebrate Bonza Bottler Day by cracking open a fresh bottle of something interesting.

Jodie opted for a Stewart’s Root Beer, which originated at Stewart’s Restaurants. These were drive-in root beer and popcorn stands, first opened in Mansfield, Ohio in 1924. There are still 30 Stewart’s locations open – they’re retro 50’s diners now – and most of those are in New Jersey. But we can enjoy their greatest legacy.

I had to try the new Quebec Maple Coca-Cola. Made with actual cane sugar (it’s like they’re starting to get the idea), this isn’t horrible. I mean, it’s weird – it’s Coke with a splash of maple flavouring – but it’s not bad. I don’t see myself craving another, but April 4 is only a month and a day away, so who knows?

National Anthem Day

Look, I’d rather live in this country than any other on the planet right now, but that has nothing to do with the quality of our national anthem. The American anthem is fine, but it’s just a patriotic chest-pounder like most of the rest of them.

I found a list ranking the best anthems, compiled by Classic FM, a British classical music station. They turned the world over to critic David Mellor, and these are his favorites and my impressions of them:

  • Wales: Sounds like it’d go well with a raised stein of something boozy.
  • Italy: Peppy, upbeat number. Heavy on the snappy snare, that’s nice.
  • France: Works in a Beatles song and kicked ass in Casablanca.
  • Germany: They should ditch this old number and get Kraftwerk to create something modern.
  • USA: Fine song, but is it necessary before every sporting event?
  • Japan: Like something from an Ozu film. A bit of a downer.
  • Switzerland: Sounds like chamber music. Like… a sad pride in who they are.
  • Russia: Now this is an anthem you can kick some ass to. So far, this one is my favourite.
  • Poland: Another one with some cajones in the melody. Not bad.
  • Uruguay: Not bad, but it’s not inspiring me, at least until the last verse.

This is where nationalism leaves me at a loss. None of these songs are particularly wonderful, and none of them are even a little bit fun. Should patriotism involve some sort of joy? I’m happy about living in Canada, no need to be all solemn about it. We need something that really rocks to usurp “O Canada”. I propose “Happy Hour” by the Tragically Hip.

National I Want You To Be Happy Day

This is a vague and altogether generic little commemoration. I could find no origin for the holiday, and the suggested ways of celebrating it are to leave someone a chipper note, or draw a happy face in the snow. Really? Need we stray so far from direction as to wind up aimlessly spreading fuzzy emotions in an outward motion? Of course I want people to be happy. Numerous days in this year are set with that purpose.

But how much say do we really have in anyone else’s happiness? We each took a turn dishing out treats and meals to Liberty, our #3 canine research assistant, and she seemed happy to the point of utter goofery. In fact, that’s her up there, happy as shit after sticking her face into Jodie’s shower and biting the water. We smiled at strangers, though we aren’t certain how many were lifted up by our bouncy grins, and how many thought we were creeps.

That said, we will deviate from the cynical path. If people were to adopt the spirit of this holiday every day, imagine the karmic shift from our cosmic muck-water. If people casting ballots in yesterday’s Super-Sized Tuesday might have based their selection upon which candidate could make the most people happy, how might things have landed differently? This is the important lesson for handling the political mire of 2020: remember that most folks on the other side want the most possible happiness for the most possible people – they just see different paths on the way to that destination.

We’ll take this as a somewhat tepid call for celebration, but with a glorious life philosophy at its root. Definitely a well-directed squeeze of spirit.

National Cold Cuts Day

A day devoted to that resident of so many sandwiches, those cured sheets of prepared perfection. Cold cuts were bred for lunchtime, though the charcuterie platter welcomes them to any meal. Some cold cuts are alternate ways to dish out old favourites: roast beef, ham, turkey, etc. Others are disappointing shadows of their best selves, like the shiny thin pastrami we get up here. Others are products of a weird piece of culinary culture – crazed techno-bastards like the ham and cheese loaf, or that stuff with all the pimentos.

Cold cuts are among my least favourite main course items. A cold black forest ham sandwich on multigrain holds no room for spark or sensation. This is why I opt for leftovers for lunch – I want a main course I’ll remember an hour later. But with the right blend of sharp cheese, crispy crackers and juicy fruits, the charcuterie is a thing of beauty. That was our dinner last night – a mix of salamis, capicola, and a bit of prosciutto to complement the last of our English cave-cheese.

I suspect many of our readers will have celebrated this day without even knowing it yesterday. And that’s great – but if you’re sitting down with a sandwich of deli cuts today, take a moment and behold the mastery of the design. It’s a simple protein delivery system, always aptly cooked, smoked or prepared, and dependably consistent.

One question though… if those are cold cuts, why is it when they prepare a hot pastrami or corned beef sandwich, no one refers to those as hot cuts?

National Mulled Wine Day

We’re honestly a little surprised this day didn’t wander into the calendar a little closer to Christmas. Mulled wine is made from red wine, mixed with sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, etc. It’s often served warm, which makes it a genuinely winter beverage.

The Germans have something called Glühwein, which is similar but occasionally served with a shot of rum or something else. The Nordic glögg is right along the same lines – but the common thread here is that these are all Christmas drinks. What the hell are the mulled wine people thinking dropping this day onto March 3? We’re into spring drinks here – this just won’t cut it.

The Brazilians have their take on mulled wine called vinho quente, and it’s quite popular during Festa Junina in June, so that’s closer. In Chile, they also drink their mulled beverage (called candola or vino navega’o, depending on where in the country you happen to be) in June, but that’s when the winter solstice happens there; it just makes sense.

If mulled wine is your idea of a great March beverage, please raise a glass for us. We can appreciate the stuff, but it just complements a different wing of the calendar.

Soup It Forward Day

Full disclosure – we did not partake in Soup It Forward Day, and of all the days we have let slide by, this is the one for which we are kicking ourselves the most. Last month we made – okay, I made – a delicious and simple sausage soup for National Homemade Soup Day. It was quick and zesty, and we had leftovers that we never got to. Had my mind been operating at full capacity, I might have spotted this day on the horizon and frozen the rest of our soup.

Soup it Forward Day is all about delivering some soup to someone who could use it. This is not some weird and arbitrary concept (like Give A Pretzel to A Croatian Day, which isn’t a thing but at this point it wouldn’t surprise me if it was). The Soup Sisters, who started the event, is a not-for-profit organization that holds events where its members gather together to make heaps of soup for women’s and youth shelters. They operate in 27 cities around the continent, including here in Edmonton.

You simply need to contact them, and for a reasonable fee you can take part in a soup cooking class, with the bulk of your creation being delivered to a local shelter. This is the kind of celebration origin we can get behind – not a corporate attempt to lure us into buying more Oreos (that’s on Friday), but a charity who’s aiming to make the world a better place through delicious soups. Definitely a worthy cause.

International Ear Care Day

So much of the world’s most exquisite inspiration drifts into our spirits through our ear-holes, yet we devote so little of our attention to their upkeep. Is it enough to squonch a pinkie fingertip in there and scoop out the gunk? Should we make use of Q-Tips? What if I penetrate my eardrum and damage my brain, thus leaving me unable to perform long division? What if I already can’t do long division? Is there a chance a Q-Tip will help?

So many questions, and I’ve got no one but the internet here to give me answers. Most reputable websites (meaning the ones I looked at first) recommend against cramming a swabbed stick into your ear to clean it out. First off, don’t sweat the earwax. You need that stuff – it keeps bacteria from dancing the two-step into your bloodstream. Earwax gathers the grit, then maneuvers to the ear’s perimeter where you can just sweep it away. It’s a self-cleaning system, the magnificent ear.

Use a cotton swab in there and you’ll just be cramming more earwax into the deeper recesses of your hear-holes. That can mess with your hearing and give you a wicked headache. And what if the thing breaks? Look, just keep your ears clean and don’t worry about poking and prodding at them. And tweak down the volume on your headphones – you’ve got to take care of the entire ear, not just the goopy part.

Unique Names Day

If you want to give your kid a unique name, that’s up to you. But keep in mind, you will be subjecting your child to having to spell their name to everyone, and while the mixups at Starbucks (or whatever coffee shop will rule the future) will be hilarious, it’s still an extra chore that will grow old for them early in life.

Either that or you can just point your bat to right field and take a swing with all you’ve got. Name your kid Adolf – that may not be unique but he won’t have a lot of company at this time in history. Some of the strangest names of 2019? How about Kingmessiah – that’s not setting your kid up for a superiority complex. One family named their kid Manson, possibly because Adolf didn’t cross their minds.

Some people go for the weird spellings of names. Xxayvier made the list last year. While Khaleesi has been quite popular for the last few years (likely up until the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones), how about Chardonnay? Sure, she’ll likely be a drunk (and possibly a stripper!), but it’ll be a good story. Five girls last year were named Awesome.

Now I’m wishing I’d thought of that in 1997 when my kid was born. Chardonnay Awesome Schwartz. Sounds nice.

Today we’ve got a bit of an easier schedule:

  • National Pound Cake Day. We may not have pound cake on hand, but we have cake and I can shmush it really good.
  • Marching Music Day. Wow, after National Anthem Day I’m wondering if this is Shitty Music Week.
  • National Grammar Day. <looking two lines up> “WELL”. I can shmush it really well. Sorry.
  • Discover What Your Name Means Day. Sounds like fun.

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