Wednesday, June 17, 2020

While we praise the vibrations of the cosmic lung-skin as it ripples and quivers in coughing fits, we remember to keep our focus on gratitude. Gratitude for the ability to clamber hungrily out of bed to discipline the day. Gratitude for the boundless crackle of goofery that spews from the wild, untamed eyes of our canine assistants. Gratitude for the calendar, which offers every day a bounty of weirdness so as to differentiate it from the day before. Monotony chimes its ominous clang in lives all throughout this city; we can practically hear it as we walk through our neighbourhood. But we get to grab each day by a different scruffy shirt-collar and face stuff like this:

National Fudge Day

Oh sweet, yummy fudge, you snuck up on us again. We had Nutty Fudge Day on May 12, we Yelled “Fudge” at the Cobras in North America on June 2, now we get to simply enjoy the glories of plain ol’ nut-less fudge. We still have a Peanut Butter Fudge Day, a Hot Fudge Sundae Day and something called a Penuche Fudge Day coming later this year, but this one is set aside for pure creamy sweetness.

And the best part is, I’ve got almost nothing to write about. I dabbled with the history of fudge back in May, so yesterday’s celebration was aimed straight at our taste buds, inviting us to smile and savour, rather than read and research.

Our team baker (thanks, Mom!) came through for us in a big way, and with relatively little notice. She hadn’t planned on making fudge for us this week, but when she saw the other options for dessert creation this week were cherry tarts or apple strudel, she happily threw some fudge together instead. Ever the experimenter, she tried popping some instant coffee into the mix, creating a mocha flavour. This tempered the fudge’s innate sweetness a little, and added a dynamic new taste sensation. She should be selling this stuff for some extra cash; it’s damn phenomenal.

So happy National Fudge Day to all you who joined in, or to those of you who can still grab some and celebrate a day late. It’s what we need to get us through to next month, when we’ll learn what the hell Penuche is.

Bloomsday

If you grew up in this part of the world, you knew Bloomsday as an annual race held somewhere near Spokane, Washington, the town where our feed originates for our American TV networks. Fortunately, this celebration has nothing to do with exercise of any kind. Even fortunatelier, it has to do with whiskey.

Now if you happen to be of a more literary persuasion you probably know this as being a celebration tied to the novel Ulysses by James Joyce. The 1922 novel takes place in 1904, and June 16 is the day that the protagonist, Leopold Bloom, heads out for the first time with his wife-to-be. I haven’t read this novel, but I feel this is a charming excuse for a celebration.

James Joyce was actually present for the first Bloomsday celebrations, remarking to a friend about one of them in 1924. Irish communities all over the world celebrate this day, usually with some readings from the novel, and consistently with the consumption of alcohol. Even in Hungary, in the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom’s father, they have been celebrating Bloomsday since 1994. The first part of the novel was written in Italy, so they celebrate it there. They celebrate it in Australia and New Zealand, and there’s a five-day festival commemorating Bloomsday in Montreal. This year it’s all online, of course.

Not being too aware of this piece of celebrated fiction, we simply read a few excerpts from the novel while sipping back some Irish whiskey. It was a tasty and happy way to celebrate. The quality of the prose is almost magical – and it makes me feel like just a bit of a schmuck for not having actually cracked this book yet. Am I waiting until they make it into a movie, possibly starring Mark Wahlberg? No – it’s on my someday-list to actually read. At least I’ve already raised a toast to Mr. Bloom.

Fresh Veggies Day / National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month

I have a theory about this one. Some kid was trying to do a prototype to this project, to celebrate everything he could possibly get away with. He did this because he saw stuff like National Strawberry Shortcake Day and National Fudge Day, and he figured it would be an easy way to talk his parents into letting him gorge out on junk food. So his crafty mother (and I choose mothers here, because few fathers could be this crafty) invented Fresh Veggies Day.

I hope that’s the origin story. I can’t find one online, so I’m going go with yes – who’s to argue?

With really no backstory to propel the narrative forward, I suppose that just leaves us eating vegetables and posting about it to social media. Yep, we are officially the lamest people on social media now. Here’s our asparagus. Woohoo!

Let’s learn some interesting veggie facts, if only so this day isn’t a complete wash. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1893 that the tomato was a vegetable, despite science insisting that it’s a fruit. You can use a cucumber as an eraser for a ballpoint pen. Apparently sticking a slice of bread in your mouth and leaving it there will prevent crying whilst cutting up an onion. Potatoes were the first food to be grown in space. The ancient Egyptian laborers who built the pyramids were paid in radishes.

Okay, that’s enough facts for today. We also factually ate veggies, and that’s what matters most. Thanks, mom.

National Vinegar Day

Every source I used in preparation for this project indicates that National Vinegar Day is on November 1. That’s the day I’d planned to celebrate it, which will mix very strangely with National Calzone Day. But then this popped up in my research this week. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised.

Vinegar apparently occurs when ethanol mixes with oxygen to create acetic acid. But does this really matter? Are any of us home-brewing vinegar in our basement? And if so… why? You can buy all sorts of vinegar all over the place. Stop wasting your time and start making some beer instead.

Vinegar dates back to 3000 BC and those hearty Ancient Babylonians. The Egyptians used it, as did the Chinese, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spartans… pretty much every old-timey civilization made use of the stuff. I’m going to focus on the stuff we had sprinkled on our asparagus last night before tossing it onto the barbecue: balsamic.

Balsamic vinegar originates in Italy, and it’s made from the concentrated juice of white Trebbiano grapes. I have never tasted a white vinegar that has stood out from other white vinegars, but I have explored some exquisite balsamics. I suppose this is the sort of vinegar it would make some sense to brew as a hobby, as it is aged and crafted differently by different producers. And it’s damn tasty. This was a tasty treat, even if we’ll be repeating it in a few months.

No Orange Clothes Day

You know how Olympic athletes and soccer fans and really every international sporting person to emerge from and represent the Netherlands is wearing orange? There’s actually an interesting story about that, and it ties in with this bizarre, yet strikingly simple to celebrate day.

William of Orange became Prince of Orange when he was just 11. That was an area of France, but through events that probably involved a bunch of anonymous (and therefore unimportant) people dying, it came under his control in 1544. Fast-forward 24 years and William led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish, which created the Dutch Republic, whose flag was orange, blue and white.

Unfortunately, William died, as great leaders have a tendency to do. The power in the Dutch Republic filtered down to the provincial estates, and the orange stripe in the flag was eventually replaced with red. No longer a colour representing the entire country, orange came a colour of rebellion against oppressive leadership, which led to the colour being banned in clothing on June 16, 1784. Orange made a resurgence in 1813, when the Orange monarchy was established in the Netherlands.

So I’m not exactly sure of the right way to celebrate this one. The orange-wearers were the oppressed, and the order not to wear orange was an act of suppression by the folks in charge at the time. So while we could have honoured the day literally, it actually felt more important to show our solidarity with the Dutch by wearing that forbidden colour on this day. We’re kind of bad-ass that way.

World Sea Turtle Day

The WWF – that’s the World Wildlife Federation, not the 80s and 90s wrestling people – have designated this day to celebrate the undeniably awesome sea turtle, and to make us all feel like awful shits for how we have desecrated this planet to the point where their future is in jeopardy. Seriously, 8 tonnes (and that’s the larger, metric kind of tonne) of plastic gets dumped into the ocean every year. Six out of seven species of sea turtles are dangling off the cliff of existence, perilously close to extinction.

So let’s learn about them and why they seem so… for want of a better word, fucked. Discarded fishing line gets wrapped around their necks. Sometimes it’ll get wrapped around their flippers, causing infection or leading to amputation. 91% of sea turtles who collide with boats don’t survive. And that happens often, especially where they nest just off the coast of Florida. Microplastics get jammed up in their digestive tracts.

If all that isn’t disgusting enough, these creatures get poached for their shells, eggs, and meat. Honestly, whoever is out there eating sea turtles, just hit up an Arby’s instead. If you’re that much of an asshole, you deserve to suffer through Arby’s.

Sea Turtles are just beautiful creatures. They have no teeth – their jaws are made from keratin, just like our fingernails. They can be up to almost six feet long and weigh 500kg. They’re spectacular. And yet one out of every two is estimated to have swallowed plastic, thinking it was food. That’s a really lousy number. We can do better. We owe it to these dudes.

Wish Fulfillment Day

I’m not sure what to do with this one. Not even a little.

I can find only one source for this holiday, and it comes from a June 16, 2001 entry on a blog written entirely from the perspective of two housecats. This is what the internet was back in 2001: plenty of Geocities Third Eye Blind fanpages and cat blogs. The entry for that day calls it Wish Fulfillment Day and claims the cats were particularly happy because the Red Sox won.

Well, the Red Sox didn’t win yesterday. They did what we all did – spent much of their day at home. So if this celebration has barely enough backstory to even qualify it as a celebration, do we still do it? I mean… sure, why not?

It seems highly implausible that we’d come up with a wish to fulfill on the same day. And picking some esoteric wish for the future goes against the nature of the celebration: it’s fulfillment day, dammit. So what classic wishes can we fulfill? What did we want for in the past that might have come true yesterday? Well, I got to hear my wife comment (without the sarcasm one might expect) that I may have lost weight. She hasn’t said that to me in years. And for Jodie, she got to see the end of this weird teleconference teaching crap that has defined the last chunk of her school year. Next week the kids show up and return their books and stuff, and after that: summer.

I know, those are fairly weak wishes, but this is a fairly weak holiday. We could have set up some wishes earlier in the year so they’d pay off today, but this celebration didn’t make my radar until the day before yesterday. Besides, we don’t do everything cats tell us to in their blogs. We’re grown-ups.

Do I get my wish fulfilled with an easy day of celebration today? Sure! Except for all this:

  • Global Garbage Man Day. This might be a good day to pick out something to do to thank our waste collection professionals. Who, unfortunately, came to collect a day before this day.
  • National Eat Your Vegetables Day. OKAY MOM, WE GET IT! WE EAT TOO MANY DESSERTS!
  • National Stewart’s Root Beer Day. A very specific celebration, but one in which we are happy to partake.
  • National Apple Strudel Day. This one might be trickier to source.
  • National Cherry Tart Day. Wait… really? Maybe that mom has a point.
  • National Take Your Cat To Work Day. Hopefully my cat-owning friends will come through for us.
  • World Crocodile Day. Another great creature to learn about. Neat.

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