Friday, June 12, 2020

With the passing of each day we see a gradual erosion of expectation. Where once the days were imprisoned by the rigidity of routine, we find ourselves liberated and with an abundance of time. Time which is immediately claimed by other requirements – in my case those requirements are generally tied to this project and these articles. When I stumbled inside from mowing the lawn at 9:00 the other evening, there were still drinks to make, and celebrations to embrace. This is who we are now, and who we shall be for the next 203 days. Shit, there are still 203 days to go. At least we’ve got this fun to tackle:

National Corn on the Cob Day

It hadn’t been our intention to celebrate this on a day when we were having leftover spaghetti for dinner, but here we are. The two don’t pair well together, but much like our pasta-n-egg-roll feast on Wednesday, does that really matter? They are both beloved foods; we have the capacity to enjoy them both at once, weird as that may be.

Honestly, I have little use for corn that is has been removed from the cob, unless it has been squished into chips, tortillas, or if it’s been popped and buttered. Here’s a fun fact: that ear of corn on the cob you’re enjoying was picked when the endosperm was in the milk stage. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Oh, and leaving the corn to sit (as we did; this was part of a grocery run about 10 days ago) is not a good plan. Corn can lose up to 25% of its sweetness within a day of being plucked, so you want that endosperm in your mouth right away.

We compensated with butter and salt, as people do.

Apparently corn on the cob has been a quandary for etiquette-woke folks throughout snooty history. In a 1921 etiquette guide it is advised that the ideal way to consume corn in this fashion is to provide each diner with a knife they can use to scrape the corn off the cob before eating it. That strikes me as thoroughly weird, and defeats the purpose of enjoying corn this way, as opposed to cracking open a can of niblets. If you’re looking for variety, you can try the Mexican method of eating corn on the cob with chili powder, lemon juice and salt. Sometimes they’ll serve it with grated cheese or liquid cheese. Other options include mayo, ketchup, mustard, lime juice, and sweet and sour sauce. Hungry yet? I don’t think anyone has tried dipping corn on the cob into gravy. Maybe we should give that a go.

Or, just stick with butter and salt and be all pure and unadventurous about it. That works just fine.

National Making Life Beautiful Day

Launched by a cosmetics company in 2015, this is a day to focus on building relationships or helping other people find success, thus making life beautiful for the world and the people around you. In other words, this is a vague suggestion of a celebration, with very little we can grasp hold of to bring it to life. We’re used to this conundrum.

Jodie did her part in helping her students find success yesterday, as her perpetual task of marking assignments she has scantly been able to adequately explain to the kids continued. I’m sure the cosmetics company had other ideas for this day, to promote outer beauty by perhaps recommending a few friends try out that particular brand of eyeshadow or lipstick, but we opted not to follow through with the outward stuff.

Now that I think about it, that’s not true. I celebrated the hell out of this day by making myself look beautiful (or at least less non-beautiful) by getting my first actual haircut of 2020. I went from looking like a hippie who might hit up a stranger for a couple bucks to buy roach clips to looking like a guy who can afford his own roach clips (but probably still uses them, the dirty hippie bastard). This had the effect of making life beautiful for those around me who cared. Which would be Jodie. The dogs didn’t find me more beautiful until I was holding a treat in my hand. Then I was whatever the dog equivalent of Cindy Crawford would be.

To those who will no doubt pile on and say I make their lives beautiful every day by posting these articles, thank you. I expect I’ll hear that from at least six of you, even if I’ve invented all six of you in my head. Life is beautiful. Insanity from excessive quarantine perhaps less so, but maybe the haircut will help.

National German Chocolate Cake Day

So how does one create a German Chocolate Cake for this day? Do we have to import special German chocolate? Prepare the batter whilst listening to electronic pioneering band Kraftwerk? Do we adjust the lighting in the kitchen so as to create stark, angular shadows akin to what you’d find in a 1920s German expressionist silent film?

As it turns out, no. The German chocolate cake has zilch to do with Deutschland and everything to do with the U.S. of A. It goes back to 1852 when a man named Samuel German (aha!) created a new kind of dark baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. His chocolate was used in a recipe 105 years later, presented on the Dallas Morning News by homemaker Mrs. George Clay. This was back when women apparently dropped their first names when they got married, rendering her Mrs. George for life. It was a weird time.

Mrs. George named the cake German’s Chocolate Cake, as Baker’s had been kind enough to name this new strain of dark baking chocolate after its creator. So in the end, it’s just a chocolate cake. Well hell, we had one of those just last week. It came from our beloved favourite haunt (destined not to open, likely until the entirety of the COVID crisis has passed, due to its narrow footprint), Da-De-O. They make a divine chocolate cake on their regular menu, and offer for pickup an impressive version of it. I’d say it wasn’t the same without their exclusive chili-pepper lager, but they’re also offering growlers of that for pickup, so I was well satisfied.

If you want to make your own German Chocolate Cake, it’s an elaborate concoction with layers and possibly cherries on top. But any chocolate cake, whether or not it’s actually made with German’s patented brand of chocolate, is worth the effort.

Cousteau Day

A bit of housekeeping on this one. According to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Cousteau Day was launched on June 25, 2010, to commemorate his life on the 13th anniversary of his passing. Then, according to Jacques’ son, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, a campaign has been underway (by Pierre-Yves himself) since June 11, 2010, the 100th anniversary of Jacques’ birth, to declare Cousteau Day on that day. So we’ve got one official organization’s special day competing with his son’s special day, a battle that has been raging for ten years. Here at Celebrate366 we are siding with Pierre-Yves, as we feel that celebrating someone’s birthday is always better than celebrating their death-day. Besides, it’s family. Pierre-Yves gets dibs.

So what do we know about ocean conservationist and researcher Jacques Cousteau? Growing up I saw a few of his specials, usually airing on Saturday afternoons after the fun-filled batch of animated programs had finished its run. The man knew his ocean wildlife.

Jacques had planned to be a navy pilot, because in 1930 that was about the most bad-ass profession available to a French man, apart from full-contact sword-mime. Then a car crash shattered both his arms and he turned to ocean exploration instead. Jacques was a team with his wife, Simone. They made a film in 1943 that showed off the newly-invented aqua-lung. Here’s a fun fact: Jacques’ brother, Pierre-Antoine, was an anti-Semite who wrote a collaborationist journal in the war and received a death-penalty sentence in 1946. This was reduced to a life sentence, which lasted only eight years until he was released. So fuck that guy.

Jacques is truly the father of scuba tech – he didn’t invent the stuff but he helped to refine it, and worked often with the masters of technology. He published his first book in 1953 and won the Palme d’Or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival for The Silent World, which he made with future My Dinner With Andre director Louis Malle. When he found out about a plan to dump radioactive waste off the coast of the French Riviera, he turned it into a cause. Protestors sitting on the railroad tracks actually stopped this environmental catastrophe.

Cousteau’s widest exposure came through his TV series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which ran from 1966 to 1976, and its follow-up, The Cousteau Odyssey, which aired from 1977 to 1982, and was probably the one I saw as a kid. John Denver wrote a tribute song to Jacques, which hit #2 on the charts.

Jacques Cousteau’s legacy lives on, and the oceans might live a little better thanks to his work. Happy 110th birthday Jacques, wherever you may be diving today.

Pet Appreciation Week

I found only one source that claims this to be Pet Appreciation Week, and even it doesn’t seem too sure of itself. But that’s fine; we’ve indulged in many celebrations in honour of our canine research assistants, so what’s one more? The only thing I think we’ve done more often in this project is eat. In that sense, this project truly reflects our every day life perfectly. Food and dogs.

There’s really not much to add here. We’ve boasted of the magnificence of our canine friends, and we’ve posted pictures of them numerous times. So we’re just going to post a few more. Because dammit, they are appreciated.

National Shampoo Week

Another wild celebration with nary a definitive source in sight. To state that we’ll be celebrating the week by using shampoo every day, that would not be accurate. I use shampoo every day anyway, so that wouldn’t be a celebration. Jodie uses it whenever she washes her hair, which is not every day. Were she to switch up for this week it might damage her hair, and for what? That’s hardly a celebration.

Changing up brands is not an option either; Jodie gets some special stuff for whatever weird chemical pH her hair is tuned to, and I use Costco-size bulk Head & Shoulders because it’s cheap and it seems to work. I suppose I did use less shampoo for the last couple days of this week, due to my haircut. So if we consider conservation and rationing shampoo a way of appreciating and celebrating it, then we’re on board. How about a little learnin’?

Long ago in the Indian subcontinent, sapindus trees were boiled with Indian gooseberry, and the extract was used to scrub hair clean. An Indian traveller named Sake Dean Mahomed showed up in Britain in 1814 and introduced the concept there. The methodology at that point was to boil some shaved soap and mix the shaved-soap soup with some herbs. Prior to Mr. Mahomed’s arrival, European hair was not as lustrous and sheen-packed as the movies might have us believe.

They had things figured out in old-timey South America. Before you can eat quinoa you have to wash out the saponin from the grain. That by-product, which was sudsy and had a unique fragrance, would then be used as shampoo. Then again, if you’re the type who would join the ‘No Poo Movement’, which has to do with rejecting shampoo expectations and nothing to do with excrement, you might forsake all sorts of hair rinse, even quinoa suds. These folks recommend using baking soda or vinegar to wash your hair instead.

Let me know how that goes. I’ll stick with the Head & Shoulders.

National Rivers Month

In honour of National Rivers Month, let’s go over some of our favourite Rivers, pausing to reflect on how they have each enriched our lives.

Rivers Cuomo has been fronting the band Weezer for more than 25 years now, and their unique blend of crunchy, distorted and cranked-up guitar-driven, highly melodic pop songs packed with singable harmonies, is just awesome. We saw Weezer live in 2001 and while the band was partly obscured by the thick fog of marijuana smoke hovering above the first few rows of the audience, they sounded terrific.

Phillip Rivers played quarterback for the San Diego (and eventually Los Angeles) Chargers for a number of years, and hasn’t yet found his way to the big game. He was a rival for Manning and Brady for a good chunk of time, but he never quite had the oomph to make it. Now he’s got an automatic starting job for the Indianapolis Colts, which I’m not totally convinced is a great idea. Oh well, thanks for years of quality entertainment, Mr. Rivers.

Johnny Rivers had a few great tunes, like “Poor Side of Town,” “Summer Rain” and “Secret Agent Man”, which my daughter once pointed out sounds like he’s singing “Secret Asian Man” and now I can’t hear it any other way. Johnny also sang what we called the ‘white guy version’ of classic tunes like Chuck Berry’s “Memphis” and the Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Lovin”. He was a staple of AM Oldies, so very much a part of my teenage years.

Joan Rivers was a ground-breaking comedienne whom I never got to see in person. She had so much plastic surgery that she looked as though she was in her late 20s when in fact she was in her late 70s. That’s a fifty-year span of surgically altered distortion. Impressive. A lot of Joan’s edgier comedy wouldn’t fly in this Woke world, but damn she was quick. She was a master of self-deprecation, which likely made it easier for audiences to accept her blue material. Joan was a gem.

And lastly a bit of love to Captain Mitchell, who had the absolutely forgettable line, “Rivers! Rodriguez! Report!” in Die Hard, shortly before his failed attempt to “send in the car” to foil the terrorists in Nakatomi Plaza. So many Rivers to celebrate this month. So much joy.

Today the magic continues, as it always seems to. The halfway point is lurking around the corner, but for now there’s this:

  • National Red Rose Day. Are the roses that are just starting to bloom outside our house red? No, they’re pink. But maybe we’ll have some Red Rose tea.
  • National Jerky Day. Hooray for jerky – chewy as all hell, and tasty as can be.
  • National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. Our team baker (hi, Mom!) has crafted some of the finest peanut butter cookies we’ve ever tasted. I love this project.
  • National Loving Day. Hey cool, a celebration for us to take time to appreciate and love the good things in our lives. It’s been, like, ten minutes since the last one.
  • National Flip-Flop Day. We’ll either wear flip-flops or change our mind often. Maybe both! Maybe we’ll start by doing one then flip-flop to do the other!
  • Russia Day. A good day for vodka.
  • Ghost In The Machine Day. No idea what this is about, but there are a lot of songs with this title, so we’ll check some out.
  • Crowded Nest Awareness Day. A day of awareness for the situation wherein empty nesters find their children moving back home and crowding things up. Yikes.
  • Magic Day. A good day for magic. Like there’s a bad one.
  • Superman Day. We celebrated Batman, I guess the Man of Steel deserves a day too.

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