Sunday, September 27, 2020

There were eighteen possible celebrations sitting on the fence yesterday, waiting to see which ones I’d pick off my with my celebration-rifle and write about in today’s article. But almost none of them held any appeal for me. We are ahead of schedule in this little dance of mayhem, and I feel I’m entitled to a weekend off. Or at least mostly off. I’m no hunter or fisherman, I’m not going ghost-hunting with a busted hoof, and I wasn’t craving dumplings for dinner last night. So I kept things wildly light, and had a glorious afternoon nap. Note to celebration-creators: we need more napping days. Here’s what made the cut:

National Pancake Day

Yes, we enjoyed National Pancake Day back on March 4, but that was the one created by IHOP to entice people through their doors in order to sell them pancakes. This one is the authentic one, celebrated by our ancestors for centuries, dating back to little-known Holy Roman Empire general Ludwigulus the Insipid, who felt that September 26 should be a day for devouring discs of syrupy delight.

Actually, this one started out as Lumberjack Day, created by someone who felt that a week after Talk Like A Pirate Day we should honour another noble profession. Since lumberjacks don’t have a characteristic way of talking (French-Canadian accent stereotypes aside), that meant dressing in plaid and eating a hearty lumberjack-ish breakfast. Eventually someone thought better of it and just made it into Pancake Day.

Jodie and I visited Barb & Ernie’s Olde Country Inn yesterday for a sampling of the best brunch in the city. She enjoyed the German pancakes, which feature bacon built right into the pancake for easy access. I had their potato pancakes, which are more pancake-ish and less latka-ish than the ones I make at home. Both were exemplary, but then we’ve never eaten a meal there that wasn’t.

On a day when I felt almost no motivation to celebrate, we celebrated this one right.

Sea Otter Awareness Week

Yes, that’s right. I discarded all other seventeen possible celebrations for yesterday in favour of bringing some attention to the noble sea otter. Good ol’ Enhydra lutris is on the endangered list, and it’s so much more interesting to read about their little lives than to pretend my broken-footed self is going to care about Family Fitness Day USA. So let’s give a little written hug to the sea otter.

They’re not just weasels, but they’re the heaviest of the weasel family, both in terms of weight and in terms of however Marty McFly kept using the word. These little creatures use rocks to bust open shells and dig out food, making them one of the only mammal species to use tools. In most of the swath of territory it inhabits, the sea otter is goddamn crucial to the area. They feed on a sea urchin population that would, if left undigested by sea otters, devastate the kelp forest ecosystem. So hooray for the sea otter.

And holy crap for the sea otter while we’re at it. It’s estimated there used to be as many as 300,000 of them roaming about, but humans were so in love with wearing them as clothing, we decimated the species down to about 1,000 to 2,000. Since we realized that way back in 1911, we have altered how we treat them, and they have actually regained a lot of their numbers.

Sea otters spend a lot of their time grooming, and they also only forage and feed at certain times of day, preferring to take an afternoon nap whenever possible. So we honoured the sea otter with our own nap yesterday. I mean, we didn’t know it at the time, but maybe on some cosmic-consciousness level we did. Let’s go with that.

Now the biggest threat to sea otters is oil spills. So the lesson here is that humans will find a way to mess up nature, even when we try not to. Sorry, sea otters.

Cable TV Month

A small tribute to cable TV.

My third parent.

As I grew up a sad and lonely (well, mostly happy and imaginative, but whatever) child, you were a constant companion. Back then you were choosy – only 12 channels you offered, and through that tiny lens you invited me to see the world. Where I was raised by a man with a somewhat misogynistic view of the world, you taught me to praise and exalt women, and to take their side prior to the inevitable sitcom comeuppance for those who do not. You taught me all the races can coexist harmoniously – even a crusty old bigot in Queens and his pre-movin’-on-up black neighbour.

When I needed the comfort of a sensitive and gentle father, you gave me Steven Keaton, Howard Cunningham and Mork from Ork (Jonathan Winters was, as a large man-baby, and quite a handful). When I became curious about the nature of love and romance, you showed me Maddie and David – yet somehow I overcame that and found a normal, stable relationship.

You taught me to laugh, and to want to make others laugh. You taught me that all major issues can be resolved before the closing credits, apart from cliff-hangers. That was wrong, but hey, they can’t all be winners. You taught me patience; when Harry and the gang signed off for the week, I had to wait seven days for the next episode of Night Court. And that was fine. I could balance my life and never know the dangers of the binge.

Now I only tend to visit you on Saturday nights when Lorne Michaels’ show is new, on Sunday mornings for CBS’s old-person news show, and to watch football. Just the nighttime games; I have an app for Sunday afternoons. We don’t see each other much anymore, but please know that I’ll always value the richness you poured into my life, one laugh-track button at a time.

Thanks, cable.

Today I may get up to even less. Why? Well, let’s start with this:

  • My Birthday. Yes, in a year in which I’m celebrating everything under the damn sun I am still celebrating my birthday. I’ll be watching football and not writing much.
  • National Chocolate Milk Day. Well, I might celebrate this too.
  • National Crush A Can Day. Okay, this is on the table as well. It’ll take all of, what, fifteen or twenty seconds to muster up the strength for this?
  • German Sandwich Day. Any sandwich can be German if you try hard enough.
  • National Corned Beef Hash Day. I’m a fan of the stuff, but good corned beef is tough to find around here. Also, I’m not cooking.
  • National Scarf Day. A little later in the year would be nice for this one.
  • Daughter’s Day. Hey, I have one of these! But she doesn’t get the presents, I do.
  • Morning Show Hosts Day. I don’t think so.

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