Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The culmination of untold trillions of poor decisions and flukes of nature sees us careening together on this wobbly rock, destined for whatever will be revealed by the next few trillion. Propelled by the flippers of good fortune, bouncing off the bumpers of what the hopeful among us call fate, we steer clear of the gutters and point ourselves toward the multi-ball of magnificence. And so we welcome another Monday, bathed in mirth and steeped in revelry. Does it get better than this?

National Prime Rib Day

As every butcher knows, there are nine “primal” cuts of beef. The rib is the only one that anatomically describes the bovine section from whence it originates, and it is one of the most coveted. It’s better known as a standing rib roast, as the customary way to prepare it is to “stand” it on the bones so that the meat doesn’t touch the pan. We made ours yesterday smothered in rosemary, garlic, onion powder and olive oil, with little chunks of garlic stuffed inside the meat. To say it was phenomenal would be to state the obvious.

This cut is not known as ‘prime’ because it follows the USDA designation of Prime Beef. We don’t even have the USDA up here. It refers to the primal rib section, or the specific portion of the ribcage where the meat comes from. The marbling is always impressive, which means plenty o’ fat to keep the meat tender. Slice off some of the meat from the prime rib (before cooking) and you’ve got a ribeye steak. Both are delicious cuts, but the prime rib has more bones and fat so you might get a bit more flavour from it.

The aim for a rib roast – at least our aim for a rib roast – is to achieve that perfect rare-to-medium-rare level. It’s a delicate procedure, and one that takes some practice. But it’s worth it. That said, if you’re a vegetarian and are thoroughly repulsed by how we began this article, we understand. We make no apologies for our carnivorism, but we certainly get it if you want to skip past this one and get to something a little less murder-ish. Such as:

National Little Pampered Dog Day

This celebration comes to us courtesy of Little Pampered Dog magazine, published by Lourdes and Bella (she’d be the dog) Welhaven. It’s also a podcast and a blog, all dedicated to creating spoiled, entitled dogs. And given all they do for us, shouldn’t they be spoiled and entitled?

Yes, we over-indulge our dogs. We feed them people food (only the stuff we’ve researched to confirm won’t be bad for them of course). They get scritches and belly-rubs whenever they ask. They sleep in our bed – this one is understandably contentious, and it plows through any hopes of a healthy sex life like a semi truck into a fruit stand, but this is how it is. And lately our dogs hardly ever… wait, what was I going to say? I was distracted by Rosa whining at me because she needed attention. I have no idea where I was going with that sentence, because of course I complied. Such is my life, and why most of my greatest writing doesn’t make it to the final draft.

Some people opt for doing their dogs’ nails, taking them to the spa, and various other first-world luxuries that most humans can’t afford for themselves. I get it – dogs are family and most of us owners feel an innate urge to bring them joy as a thank-you for the joy they bring us. I can’t approach this day with a caustic eye and a sarcastic lilt – if you want to pamper your dog with heaps of love, treats, and bountiful outings, I say do it. You will never go wrong bringing joy to your dog.

National Babe Ruth Day

On this day in 1947, Happy Chandler (not a running gag on Friends, but the commissioner of baseball at the time) proclaimed the day to be Babe Ruth Day across the league. Babe had been diagnosed with a malignant tumor, and in about 16 months he’d be dead from it. But that day in April was all about celebrating his life – he was the biggest star in baseball’s history at a time when there were no stars from other sports, apart from a handful of Olympians.

The thing about Babe Ruth is that he wasn’t just the best at his game. He was a character unlike anything we have seen in sports in the modern era. Sure, Dennis Rodman might have been more whacko, but the Babe was a consecutive string of legends.

In the 1918 World Series, he pitched 29 and two-thirds consecutive scoreless innings, a Series record which would stand until long after his death. He was the first player to hit home runs in all eight stadiums in his league. Then he was sold to the Yankees, it launched a curse on the Boston Red Sox that lasted into this millennium. It took him two months in New York to set the record for most home runs in a single month (11). He broke it one month later. He broke the record for most career home runs with his 138th in early 1921. He would end up stretching that record to almost 600. He hit the first home run at the new Yankee Stadium in 1923, earning its reputation as the House that Ruth Built.

Of course, the Babe’s most fantastical legends came from off the field. He liked to eat, and there are stories that he had quite the appetite for alcohol as well. In early 1925 he was 260 pounds, and that wasn’t 260 pounds of mighty muscle. Remember, John Goodman played him in a film, back when John Goodman was a very large man. He was hospitalized from eating too many hot dogs and drinking too much soda that year – though it may have actually been from booze. In 1926 he promised to hit a home run for sick little Johnny Sylvester, and followed through. In 1932 he may or may not have pointed at centerfield just before hitting the ball over the fence there. He got into loud altercations with other players, and made headlines on a consistent basis.

The world will never know anyone quite like the Babe, and our diversification of celebrity will likely never elevate a single person to such a level of cultural significance in any given sport. Today was Babe Ruth Day in 1947, and it should be every year.

National Devil Dog Day

A day devoted to the Drake’s Devil Dog, a dessert treat found mostly in the American northeast, and to a lesser extent down the eastern coast. Up here in the western Canadian tundra, we’ve never seen this food. Our closest equivalent would be the Jos Louis, the Ring Ding or the Yodel. Basically we’re talking about a chocolate cake with a white creamy filling. The Devil Dog specifically looks like the non-frozen equivalent of an ice cream sandwich.

The actual birthday of this snack is in June, so why it showed up today we can only speculate. I’m guessing someone was craving one, and decided to create a good excuse to indulge by commemorating an official day. The treats are 94 years old this year, so we can call them one of the most successful and enduring American junk foods on the shelves.

McKee Foods now owns the Drake’s brand, and they’re the ones putting out devil dogs for consumption. They also own the Little Debbie brand, so if you’re looking for some preservative-rich, high-calorie, low-health treats with which to contaminate your innards, these are the folks who will help you out. The Devil Dog is the one to enjoy today – and why not indulge? A lot of people seem to be over-indulging during this lockdown, and this seems as good a way to do it as any. Have one for us, as we can only dream of them.

National Tell a Story Day

Libraries – none of which are presently open in this part of the world – make use of this day for read-out-loud activities for kids, and to encourage people to get lost in the possibilities of telling and hearing stories. Since we’re not able to go read something out loud to strangers’ children at a library, we’ll tell a little story here.

Here’s the story of why I’m hesitant to harass celebrities for their autographs. Once upon a time, let’s say in December of 1985, my parents and I were enjoying lunch at a deli in Las Vegas. Suddenly my parents noticed that Jerry Lewis was sitting just a few tables away. They sent me to get an autograph. To be clear, I had no idea who Jerry Lewis was, except for the bizarre impression of the Nutty Professor Joe Piscopo had done on a prime time special. I got the autograph from a rather put-out star I didn’t know, and my parents escaped the embarrassment.

Skip ahead to 1989. I’m staying in LA with my dad at a great little hotel which was frequented by celebrities. A few months later he’d be there when McCartney would book the entire top floor for his tour. When we were there, the passing star was Natalie Merchant. I love Natalie Merchant’s music now, but I had almost no idea who she was at the time. She was the lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, that was all I knew. And I wasn’t even remotely a fan. Still, my dad dragged me to the rooftop pool for a photo op. I remember she turned to me and asked if I knew who she was. I mumbled the name of her band, as clearly I did not, and my dad snapped the awkward pic. Neither of us left the frame feeling particularly good about ourselves.

When I met Ben Folds about 8 years ago, I thanked him for his beautiful music (and it was at a meet-n-greet after a show, not over lunch). When I met filmmaker Kevin Smith I told him I didn’t want an autograph, I only wanted to thank him for inspiring me to do stupid crazy projects like this one. He gave me a warm hug. If you’ve never been hugged by Kevin Smith, you are missing out. I have learned that I want no photos, no scribbles, and nothing to do with celebrities unless I truly appreciate their work and I’m getting the opportunity to tell them so. All these years later, I threw out that Jerry Lewis scribble, tossed the Natalie Merchant photo, and learned my lesson. Jodie even snapped a pic of the hug.

Next I’ll see if Jodie wants to contribute her own story, ideally the one about when a bird fell through the sunroof of her Mini Cooper and scarred her for life. It’s a much better story.

Matanzas Mule Day

Flash back to 1898, 122 years ago today. Well, yesterday. The Spanish-American War was breaking out. Why? I don’t know – we were never taught a thing about it in school, and they have yet to turn it into a riveting film or TV series. The Spanish folks and the American folks didn’t care for one another, let’s leave it at that.

Okay, short version: The USS Maine was blown up in Havana’s harbor, possibly because of the Spanish, possibly not. The US then stepped in as Cuba was fighting for freedom, and they took over a bunch of Spanish assets in the Caribbean. Spain wasn’t happy about this, and a ten-week war broke out, the end result of which was Spanish surrender, and the US acquiring Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

One of the first naval maneuvers of the war involved an attack by US ships on the Cuban town of Matanzas. There were explosions sufficient to whet Michael Bay’s appetite, yet there was only one casualty. A mule. A single mule paid the price as thousands of dollars worth of American incendiary devices blew up all over town. So today we celebrate that mule’s memory – probably the most interesting tale to have come from that war. Hopefully the one they turn into a movie.

World Tapir Day

If you’re like me, and I have every reason in the world to assume that you are exactly like me, you have probably never seen a tapir in the flesh, apart from maybe in a zoo. There are four types who wander the wilds of Central and South America, as well as Southeast Asia. They’re related to horses, zebras, donkeys, and yes, probably in a long and convoluted way to the Matanzas Mule.

These creatures are about two meters long, or six feet for those of us who still picture things better that way. They have neat little noses which can move in all directions, making it kind of goofy to watch them eat. Females have one pair of mammary glands, and males have long penises to their body size. How long? That will take more research, which I am more than happy to do. Here you go: 19 inches. Remember, these creatures are about as long as a human male is tall, so 19 inches is an impressive average. The term “hung like a tapir” should really catch on because it is quite a statement.

Moving on. The tapirs have few natural predators, and they have really thick skin on their backs to protect them. They can also scamper along pretty quickly, which makes them really solid adapters to their environment. It should surprise no one then that their primary natural foe is the human, who has hunted them into absolute vulnerability (one species is vulnerable, the other three are endangered) for their meat and their hides. We have also taken over a lot of their environment.

You haven’t seen many show up in movies, though the prehistoric humans in Africa in 2001: A Space Odyssey were seen cavorting with tapirs. There is no evidence that tapirs ever existed in Africa, but let’s cut Kubrick some slack. They added to the ambience of the sequence. They are really cool little critters. Just take a closer look at that snout!

World Design Day

The International Council of Design (yes, there is an International Council or International Association of pretty much everything) has designated this day to be World Design Day. This year’s theme is Be Professional! This means a focus on how those in the business have a responsibility on a global and humanitarian scale. I might have titled it Think Global! or You’re More Important Than You Realize! but that’s just me.

Graphic design surrounds everything we do, whether it be the fonts we prefer (Windsor all the way!), the logos we stare at blankly, the webpages we live on, and the ads we try to avoid paying attention to on those webpages. It’s important to give some love to the quality design out there, and to shun the mediocre efforts with as little of our attention as possible.

The activities for World Design Day are tailored to those in the industry. It wouldn’t make much sense for Jodie and I to discuss aspects of advocacy in design work, or to create a conference on design ethics. So instead we checked out some award-winning designs from last year on this site, and let the professionals figure out their own ethics. Fortunately, graphic design can generally be done from home, so hopefully that industry isn’t getting beaten up too badly right now. Some of this work is mind-meltingly brilliant.

Today our menu is lighter, which is great. That will leave me lots of time to read poetry. Why?

  • National Great Poetry Reading Day. Lots of great poetry out there. We’ll read some.
  • National Blueberry Pie Day. Hopefully we’ll be able to find one of these to devour.
  • National South Dakota Day. We missed this on Sunday. We shan’t miss it again.
  • National Superhero Day. Hopefully one of us will get bitten by a radioactive spider at some point today.
  • Clean Comedy Day. There is such a thing. Hey, have you ever heard the one about the aristocrats?
  • National Kiss Your Mate Day. With pleasure!

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