Saturday, October 24, 2020

Needing only to maintain an average of four celebrations per day to hit our target (as of my last count, which was a while ago), we managed to plow through eight yesterday – nine, if you count the domestic violence day and the month as two. So does that mean we can take today off? Well, mostly it does, yes. But we shan’t – there are parties to party and celebrations to celebrate, and taking a day off is simply not in the cards. Damn cards. Anyhow, here was our Friday – albeit much tamer than our Thursday:

iPod Day

As someone whose love of music has drifted between obsession and unhealthy obsession for all my life, the iPod was a blessing. I bought the first mp3 capable portable CD player as soon as it came out, and I reveled in the fact that I could fit 250 Beatles songs on a single disc, then shuffle through them all on a road trip. Then came the iPod, with its groovy little wheel control and the capability to cram thousands of songs onto a single device. It satisfied my dream of having a radio station that only plays songs I like, and features no DJs and no commercials.

The iPod classic was a fine device, but its hard drive featured moving parts. That was how my last one broke when I dropped it a whopping 12 inches onto the carpet of the lecture hall in my Earth & Atmospheric Sciences class. One foot, and the thing was a brick. I now use my phone as my iPod, and usually I use Spotify for a library. My extensive playlists have allowed me to construct an entire band’s worth of radio stations that only play music I like. Not a bad deal.

The iPod was released exactly 19 years ago, making this a birthday truly worth celebrating. The aesthetic for the device was inspired by the 1958 Braun T3 Transistor Radio, pictured on the left above. Apple’s sense of design around the turn of the century was unparalleled – they just knew how to make tech look cool and interesting. I’ll admit, I kind of miss my iPod classic. For one thing, there was no social media on the thing, and no apps. That meant less distraction and more focused music-listening. The other day I listened to Tom Petty’s latest release, and forced myself to do nothing but sit and listen. It was hard to keep all my attention focused on the music; it never used to be a challenge for me. Could it be the phone has eroded my attention span beyond saving?

Maybe we need the iPod back, if only to remind us that music is quite often enough.

National TV Talk Show Host Day

Why on earth would we celebrate the TV talk show host? Out of all the celebrations we could have hand-picked for today, why land on one that has almost nothing to do with my life? I don’t watch talk shows. Even the hosts I quite enjoy, like Colbert, Kimmel and Fallon, I simply don’t tune in. If I’m up that late, my TV is off and I’m catching up on some quality fiction shows. I’ll dabble in some of the clips that find their way to social media, but that’s about it. Gone are the days when I’d sneak out of bed and downstairs to the TV to watch Dave Letterman’s Thrill-Cam, Dancing Waters and Top 10 lists while my parents slept.

But I respect the institution, and that’s why I felt this deserved a mention. Joe Franklin hosted the first TV talk show in 1951. The Tonight Show dropped onto the scene just three years later. Johnny Carson took over in 1962, and created the template for late night talk shows going forward. It’s for Johnny that we celebrate this day on October 23; yesterday would have been the man’s 95th birthday. As Ed would say, hey-yo!

We can thank Phil Donahue for establishing the standard for daytime talk shows from the 60s through the 00s, and Jerry Springer and Maury for degrading it into a white-trash slug-fest or an unending stream of aspiring non-baby-daddies taking paternity tests. Sunday morning talk shows like Meet The Press are fine for those who want to start a day off with politics and tie-wearing. Now we’ve got daytime shows like The View, which I have tuned into periodically in my dentist’s waiting room, and which serve as terrific prep for having a drill crammed into your face-parts.

I celebrated yesterday not by watching an actual talk show (ugh), but with an episode of The Larry Sanders Show, HBO’s brilliant 1990s sitcom that parodied a Tonight Show type of talk show. It made me miss Garry Shandling and Rip Torn, and reminded me that the best part of a talk show is what you imagine happens behind the curtain.

Happy birthday, Johnny.

International Day of the Nacho

We celebrated this one a couple days late, but we really wanted a plate of nachos for lunch yesterday. Nachos are one of the best sharing foods, and they can be crafted in so many different ways with so many different toppings, it’s hard to get tired of them. Sometimes just cheese and salsa is enough, sometimes you want banana peppers, jalapenos, beef, onion, tomato, guacamole, bacon, pulled pork, chocolate sauce, paprika, Wheat Thins, spicy sausage, fried egg, lemon squares, wombat poop-cubes, and whatever else your brain can conceive. Nachos are a blank canvas, and if you’ve got a stomach for your imagination, you can go nuts.

The legend of the birth of nachos came as a bit of a surprise to me. Apparently they were the brain-child of a man named Ignacio Anaya, who worked at the Old Victory Club in Piedras Negras in northeastern Mexico. One day in 1943 a group of military wives stumbled in right before closing, and Ignacio put together what we now call nachos as an hors d’oeuvre for the ladies, since there wasn’t any other staff and the kitchen was mostly closed up for the night. He named the dish after himself – ‘nacho’ is short for ‘Ignacio’. For those of us who are fans of the show Better Call Saul, which features a prominent character named Ignacio (who is called Nacho by those around him), this was a delight to learn.

That story sounds too good to be true, but another source backed it up. A few details were changed, such as the year being 1940 and the ladies simply asking for something new and original instead of showing up at the end of the day. But Ignacio Anaya is the legit inventor of the nacho, that much we know. We’ll be celebrating National Nacho Day next month because nachos are the kind of food that are absolutely worthy of double-celebrating in a year. Delicious.

Slap Your Annoying Co-worker Day

Do you know who your annoying co-worker is? If not, it might be you.

I know who my annoying co-worker is – and Dwayne, you’re lucky that the pandemic gives you a pass with this one. I’m working remotely, so the only co-workers I have around me are our three canine research assistants. And they all have their annoying traits. Liberty will either hear a noise or remember some noise from her distant past, and let out an unexpected high-pitch bark which makes us jump. Rosa will insist on some scritches, then will continue to paw at our hands until she gets a continuous, unending barrage of those scritches. Trixie only annoys by letting out noisy flatulence, or by picking a fight with Liberty for no discernable reason.

But then there’s me. I only feed them when it’s time to feed them, not when they want to eat (which is always). I have to shoo them away periodically, when work is more urgently important. I think in this household, I am the annoying co-worker. So, I gave Rosa one free smack. It’s all for the sake of the calendar.

A much more tolerable day yesterday, and as we glide into the weekend we once again examine what we can celebrate without leaving the house. Ah, the joys of this year. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Make A Difference Day. Can we make a difference without going out? I guess we’ll see.
  • National Food Day. This certainly narrows down the question of what to eat today. It will most certainly be food.
  • National Bologna Day. I hate bologna. I barely consider it food. But yes, we’ll eat some of this crap today too.
  • 40-Hour Work Week Day. I haven’t had one of those in a while, unless I can add these articles to my ‘work’ time. If I can, then 40 hours would be a treat.
  • Black Thursday. Should we celebrate the beginning of the Great Depression? I’m thinking no.
  • National Good & Plenty Day. Not available except at specialty stores, we might enjoy some of the Canadian equivalent.
  • National Crazy Day. As James Brown once wisely stated, I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy.
  • National Pit Bull Awareness Day. These oft-maligned dogs need some love.
  • World Polio Day. Hooray for polio! Being gone, I mean.
  • Take Back Your Time Day. I’m certainly owed a fair bit at this point.
  • World Tripe Day. Nope. I won’t eat tripe the same day I have to eat bologna.

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