Thursday, September 10, 2020

As we surreptitiously hoist our goods across the 1/3rd mark of September, we take a moment to marvel at our success. And to do a little math. We have achieved 1,600 celebrations so far in 2020, a year in which most people have opted to save up their partying for that glorious moment when the year comes to an end. With 113 days remaining in this clusterfrump of a year, we’ll need to average fewer than four celebrations per day in order to hit the goal I’d set out for us: the magical 2,000. Our last few months have exceeded an average of more than seven per day, so gearing down will be nice. And we won’t be leaving all the good stuff behind. We’ve still got all this:

National Teddy Bear Day

It’s a day to celebrate the mighty Teddy Bear, named (as we probably all know by now) for Teddy Roosevelt. The stuffed toys are still insanely popular gifts for kids, for first girlfriends, or people who are sick. That said, if I’m ever in the hospital (which I don’t plan to be – my aim is to remain perfectly healthy then simply explode one day when I’m 106), please don’t bring me a Teddy Bear. It would not help my spirits or my health.

Morris Michtom, a Russian immigrant, saw a political cartoon that depicted a bear-hunting trip the president had been on, and was inspired to create a toy he called Teddy’s Bear. He had first sent a bear to Roosevelt and asked permission to use the name, which was smart since if Teddy hadn’t liked the tribute he may have exacted revenge with a big stick. Teddy was a big fan of the big stick.

Abbey had a few stuffed bears when she was young, notably a delightful little dude named Clancy. But her prized pet (not counting the actual living, breathing ones in our home) was a bulldog named Buckley. Buckley may look healthy and vibrant in the above photo, but that’s actually a second Buckley she had received as a gift a few years later. Abbey gifted this Buckley to me when she went away to school, no doubt in an effort to get me to start sobbing uncontrollably in the airport. It didn’t work – I waited until the drive home. But this Buckley still watches over our house, while the original still has a spot on her pillow.

The spirit of the Teddy Bear, that intimate connection a child feels with their most beloved stuffed pet, is no longer limited to bears. The Teddy Bear launched the stuffed animal craze that has warmed the heart of most kids in our little chunk of the world. So a big ol’ happy day to everyone’s favourites, whatever species they may be.

National Sudoku Day

Sudoku is not, in spite of its starring cast of numerical favourites, a math game. It’s like Tetris with numbers, with each digit requiring its own cozy little space, free from any of its lookalikes in the same row, column or little 3×3 box. It’s a great strategy game, one that requires logically examining the play area from a number of different perspectives to solve.

I play a puzzle game on my phone called ‘Puzzle Page’. I’ve talked about it before; it includes word searches, picture crosses, and a bevy of puzzles with new ones added every day. Sudoku must be one of their most popular varieties, as they post a new one almost every day. Sometimes it’s Killer Sudoku, which is like regular sudoku but with math.

Despite its name suggesting a possible Japanese origin, these puzzles originated in France. A similar puzzle was published in Le Siècle, a Paris daily newspaper, on November 19, 1892. It wasn’t quite a sudoku (it used math and double-digit numbers), but something closer to the sudoku we know and love showed up less than three years later in the same paper. The puzzle form disappeared around the start of World War I, but made a comeback in 1979 in Dell Magazines, a magazine devoted to puzzles. Back then it was called ‘Number Place’. They showed up in Japan five years later, where they got their fancy name.

These will never be my favourite puzzles, and I find them rather repetitive, especially if I’m playing the daily puzzles on that app. But I did my part and enjoyed the process yesterday. It’s a good thing to exercise one’s brain, ideally in a way that will allow for cranking up some music at the same time. Sudoku is great, but yesterday was also the 40th anniversary of Heart Attack & Vine by Tom Waits. Celebrations need to be spread out sometimes.

National Wiener Schnitzel Day

Schnitzel. What a fun word to say, and dropping ‘wiener’ in front of it just makes it chuckle-worthy. A schnitzel is, in case you’ve been subsisting on boring, non-German foods all your life, a flattened piece of meat, breaded and fried in fat. How could that not be fantastic? I mean, unless you’re a vegetarian, but I think we have established quite conclusively this year that we are not.

You can call it escalope in France, tonkatsu in Japan, milanesa in Italy, or chicken-fried steak (which we have already enjoyed this year) in the southern US. Nearly every culture around the globe has their own take on this, but we went for the O.G. ‘Schnitzel’ is a derivative word from the German word for ‘slice’. Why ‘wiener’? I have no idea – the traditional meat substance in a wiener schnitzel is veal, and to my knowledge no one is making veal wieners.

The trick to the schnitzel is to not press the breadcrumbs into the meat, and to ensure it cooks evenly in the fat. This will prevent the exterior from getting all moist and unsatisfying – a schnitzel needs some crispiness to it. Pictured above is the eggs benedict I ordered last weekend from Barb & Ernie’s Old Country Inn, the finest brunch establishment inside our city limits. They offer an entire page of their menu to their eggs benny options, and the schnitzel was an easy win. Sometimes I do plan ahead.

It was a terrific reminder to appreciate every variant of the foods we love. Definitely in the intended spirit of this celebration.

Wonderful Weirdos Day

No origin story: just get out and be weird.

I’d like to think there is an inherent weirdness to most of my life, which I appreciate. To approach life any other way would be tedious, right? So sure, that can count.

But I’d like to give a little love to the true purveyors of weird in my world: the three canine assistants pictured above. We have celebrated our dogs more often than probably anything else this year, but in the spirit of this particular slice of mayhem I’d like to focus specifically on the weird shit they do. I’m sure some of this is normal dog behavior.

Trixie, our alpha-dog, is a cornucopia of quirks. She’ll sit on the bed and lick the air for 15-20 minutes on end. She’ll savagely attack my mother’s earlobes with kisses, despite giving almost no kisses at any other time to anyone. She distracts herself with her loud flatulence. And when something startles her, she’ll swing her big ol’ metaphorical dick around and bully her younger sisters – including the one that’s twice her size.

And speaking of Liberty, our youngest, she has a few weirdisms too. When it’s dinner time she leaps up and down like she’s just won a new set of golf clubs. She’ll chew toilet paper off the roll, but only in one of our three bathrooms. We have no idea why. And while Trixie has a favourite toy (which she suckles – another quirk of hers), Liberty will try to steal it whenever she can, probably just to piss Trixie off.

Then there’s Rosa, our little Frenchy. Of all the weirdos, she is by far the weirdoiest. From her single flopped-over ear to her manic style of play, she has the largest personality in the house. She makes noises that no reasonable creature outside of science fiction should make, and she makes them often. She’ll squelch and yodel whenever someone’s walking a dog down our street, or in those undoubtedly painful moments between when we pull into the garage and get inside the house. She’ll take all the scritches and love she can get, and if she doesn’t feel you’re done yet, she’ll paw at your hand to keep going. She’s truly as weird as they come.

They all are. And they’re wonderful. So yes, this was another dog celebration. No regrets.

Is this the day we skip this project because it’s the kickoff of the long-awaited NFL season? No, that might be Sunday though. Here’s today’s stuff:

  • National School Picture Day. This would be ideal if Jodie was getting her school pictures on this day. She is not.
  • National TV Dinner Day. Hooray. We ate these for another celebration this year and they were gross as hell.
  • National Swap Ideas Day. I’ll give you two ideas for TJ Hooker episodes in exchange for an idea of where I left my keys.
  • Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day. Well, now I’ve got my excuse for being late to work.
  • International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day. That’s rather specific.
  • International Makeup Day. At least one of us will wear makeup today.
  • Sew Be It Day. Cute. Will we sew? We probably won’t sew.
  • World Suicide Prevention Day. Not so much a celebration, but something to give some attention to.

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