Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Yesterday Jodie went into work whilst I enjoyed a ‘flex day’. During normal-world times, that means a welcome day of rest every four weeks after putting in a few extra minutes every other work day. Yesterday I spent much of the day sitting at the same desk in the same office as I’m at today. Only I was playing games and getting buzzed instead of the normal workday, when I don’t play games. My bosses don’t read these articles, right? Right. Here’s how we partied yesterday:

4/20

Jodie posed an interesting question: does 4/20 really matter now that it’s legal here? There’s no need to protest in the streets (also, it would be frowned upon this year), and there’s no fight left to fight, unless people are that insistent on raising the amount we’re legally allowed to possess. I countered with the notion that 4/20 can now stand as Cannabis Appreciation Day, given that no such day appears elsewhere on our calendar. We spend numerous days toasting various beers, wines and spirits, why not our herbal friend?

4:20 began as a code among five students at San Rafael High School in 1971. They had stashed a crop of quality bud somewhere, and came up with the code “4:20 Pasteur”, meaning they should meet at 4:20 at the statue of Louis Pasteur on the school grounds to go out hunting for their lost plants. After several tries, they gave up – stoners weren’t known for diligent record-keeping back then. So “4:20” came to refer to the meet-ups, during which they’d smoke whatever they had. One of those five students grew up to become a roadie for Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead (of course), and the expression began to circulate among Deadheads, eventually getting picked up by High Times magazine as an optimal time to begin smoking on any given day. A legend was born.

April 20 – Hitler’s birthday, but we can let that slide – came to be a recognized day for gathering to protest marijuana prohibition in cities all around the world. Road signs that had ‘420’ on them were stolen. Senate bill 420 in the California legislature pushed to legalize the stuff in 2003. 420 has become a part of the language, and I’m sure it escaped no stoners’ minds that yesterday was 4/20 in the month of 4/20.

Still, there was no need for protest here. For some ridiculous reason, America has not turned on to the realization that marijuana is not a dangerous drug. This makes no sense, yet there they are, and Canada is ahead of the curve. We celebrated yesterday, Jodie by taking her half-cookie before bed as usual, and since I had the day off, I partook in a fun-filled, cannabis-soaked day, playing video games on my computer and enjoying the quiet. How perfect it was to have 4/20 arrive during a time when we’re all expected to sit at home on our asses, eating.

National Cheddar Fries Day

There was really no digging into the history of cheddar fries for today’s article. As soon as fries were invented (there’s evidence they go at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson enjoying some at the White House in 1802), I’m sure someone thought to throw cheese on top. The evolution to substituting cheese curds and adding gravy for poutine magic would come later. But plain ol’ cheddar fries? That’ just common sense.

We contemplated which form of fry to use for this. There is significant debate (even within our family) over the best type of fry in the bunch. Potato wedges are at the bottom of the list, unless they have been seasoned brilliantly. Sweet potato fries are often unpleasant, though when done right they can be otherworldly. Steak fries, thick cut and fried until super-crispy the way Red Robin used to do them, is Colton’s pick for accompanying fish ‘n chips. Regular-cut fries are his pick for burgers, though they are a fine standard for any plate in my mind. Abbey is all about the shoestrings, and Colton agrees they work best if you’re making steak frites. Can’t argue with that. Waffle fries can be exquisite if done right, but they get a bit heavy when their temperature cools. Curly fries and smiley-fries  are Abbey’s #2 and #3 picks, but they are a little too cute for us. We opted for the crinkle-cut, since the folds of the fry hold the cheese nicely, and they also work great if you’re scooping up ketchup.

There are a number of ways to churn out cheddar fries. Adding bacon is a good plan, if you’ve got some cooked up and cut into bits. Green onions make sense. Jodie suggested salsa and sour cream for an interesting potato-nacho experience. I was fine with just cheddar and fry – a great food celebration to land on this sacred day (see previous entry).

National Lima Bean Respect Day

We respect the mighty lima bean. We respect it so much, we opted not to desecrate any yesterday by eating them. We had green beans in our leftover North Dakota casserole, and lima beans do not strike us as an optimal side dish to accompany cheddar fries. In fact, Jodie can’t stand them.

Let’s face it, an uncooked lima bean is like biting into a rejected sawdust-flavoured Jelly Belly, with the matching texture to boot. Cook them properly and they can be creamier and much more palatable, but still, Jodie made a solid face of disgust at the thought. So we twisted the meaning of the holiday so we could show respect by not eating them. If this was created by the lima bean industry (and why would anyone else have created it?), then they messed up when they gave us the loophole in the celebration’s name.

Lima beans were discovered in Peru, which really begs the question of why we don’t pronounce their name with a hard E, like the name of that nation’s capital. The mighty lima bean does deserve our respect, however, for being a savvy foe. Their main predators are spider mites (the little fuckers). In order to keep them away, lima beans produce an extrafloral nectar that attracts the carnivorous Phytoseiulus persimilis mite, which munches on the nectar and not the bean itself, and also eats spider mites, so those bastards stay away. Lima beans can also produce hydrogen cyanide on its leaves to keep predators away. It’s a clever little bean.

So we fire off a bold salute to the lima bean for being a hearty plant with a great strategic defense mechanism. One of us hates eating them and the other is wholly indifferent though, so kudos, lil’ beans – you will survive our mastication on this, your most precious day.

National Lookalike Day

Neither of us have ever been told we look a lot like any particular celebrity, at least until recently when a friend commented that I resemble Marc Maron. I don’t see it, but as a fellow cantankerous Jew, I’ll take it as a compliment. Every so often someone says they saw a person who looks just like me, which means I either have “one of those faces”, or to some people all chubby white Jews look the same. Again, I’ll take it as a compliment, even though I’m pretty sure there’s nothing complimentary in there.

I found a few sites that claimed they could pair us with strangers who look similar to us. I was skeptical, but uploaded a picture of both of us to familysearch.org, a site which asked me more than once as I registered if I was a member of the Mormon Church. Not sure why. Perhaps I should have said yes, as both our pictures registered a big ol’ goose-egg on that site. Apparently no one who has used the site looks remotely like either of us. Either that, or only Mormons get matches with them. Whatever.

Then I headed over to twinstrangers.net. My picture seemed to match up with every guy who has a beard, even if their skin tone is 60 or 70 shades darker than mine. The guy on the left below clocked in as my #1 match, at 82%. I don’t see it. Jodie was less successful. The person on the right was her top match, at 69%.

I’ve heard it said we all have a doppelganger out there somewhere. Clearly ours have not tried celebrating this day yet by using either of these sites. The hunt continues.

Chinese Language Day

Once again we tap into the United Nations’ reserve of celebrations, and I swear, they celebrate as often as we do. In yesterday’s article I praised both Chinese languages for their interesting inflections and gorgeous written styles. Turns out there are many more official dialects in China. April 20 was selected as the day to honour Chinese Language out of respect for Cangije, a mythical figure who apparently invented the Chinese written characters about 5,000 years ago. April 20 is when Chinese people celebrate Guyu, a chunk of their year in which they honour Cangije.

Legend has it that when Cangije created the Chinese characters, the deities and ghosts cried, and it rained millet. Why millet? Who knows? In northern China, Mandarin rules supreme. In central China you get into Wu, Gan and Xiang. Down south you’ll hear more Hakka, Yue and Min. The differences between all of these dialects can range from subtle inflection to substantially alternative approaches. Having no time to learn all those differences, we were left with one question: how to celebrate?

Since language can come across most eloquently in song, a musical approach seemed to be best. I tracked down this Youtube playlist, which features numerous popular songs sung in Chinese. The version of “Hotel California” sung around a dinner table by a dude with a guitar was great. The cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” was hauntingly beautiful. The three people singing “I Want It That Way” did a great job nailing the harmonies in the chorus. The ‘Cheatles’ (Chinese Beatles) covering “Let It Be” was interesting, especially since part of the video was shot on a rooftop. At least until the white guy started singing in Chinese. It got a little weird at that point. Once we got to the Chinese Elvis impersonator singing “Don’t Be Cruel” in a realistic Elvis voice, we realized we’d gone far enough.

National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day

This is a very specific day. But, our team baker (hiya, Mom!) did an amazing job putting this together. This was dessert last night, and will probably be dessert for the rest of the week, at least until Chocolate-Covered Cashew Day (today), Jelly Bean Day (Wednesday), and Cherry Cheesecake Day (Thursday). Damn, we are going to need to up the exercise regimen.

An upside-down cake is a cake baked in a pan with all the toppings at the bottom. Then, after you remove the pan from the oven you slap it down onto a plate so that the toppings are beautifully displayed on the top. This results in the toppings being baked onto the cake, rather than simply resting atop it. The flavours seep into the batter, and it makes for a very satisfying 4/20 munchie appeaser.

The pineapple upside down cake, made with pineapple and maraschino cherries, is a truly American concoction. It was sweet and pretty tasty. Nothing exceptional or life-altering, but a nice little cake.

We have plans to have a movie date tonight, so a manageable roster of celebrations is much appreciated.

  • National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day. We will be popping up some corn for the movie, but that should be followed by something sweet. This will do nicely.
  • National Library Workers Day. Some of our favourite people happen to work at libraries, so rather than visit them (which we are not allowed to do) we will sing their praises as the guardians of the world’s knowledge.
  • National Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day. And they are. We will observe this all day long.
  • National Tea Day. Jodie is thrilled about this one. Glorious tea, second only to water in the world’s thirst-hearts, finally gets its day.
  • Big Word Day. We’ll throw down some of our favourite big words and sound all smart-like ‘n stuff.
  • Keep Off The Grass Day. Anyone else think it’s kind of funny this shows up a day after 4/20?
  • Tuna Rights Day. Sorry, Charlie. Your rights are quite limited on this planet.
  • World Creativity and Innovation Day. Today we will create, and help others to do the same.

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