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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Sweetest Day

I believe at some point, I was already aware that there was a holiday called "Sweetest Day". I was reminded of its existence yesterday and offered, "yes, it's called 'Valentine's Day'."

"No," I was told, "it's a separate day - a day to give cards and candy to loved ones..."

"Well, that's fine," I said, "except for the fact that I already do that on Valentine's day mostly..."

"This day is in October," my friend replied.

"And Valentine's Day is in February, I think," I said. It seemed we were at a stalemate. "I don't need two days, strategically planted around my calendar year to remind me to buy cards and candy for my loved ones. I should be able to do it any day I want, without a government mandate. Where are we living, anyhow - in a gulag?" I wasn't certain if a gulag was the correct term for someplace with a heavy dose of government mandate, but it was the first thing that came to mind, so I went with it. It earned me a "harumph" and a haughty dismissal. I pouted for a bit, then dove into the World Wide Web to research this apparent secondary Valentine's Day deemed the Day of the Sweetest. I was shocked at what learned.

Sweetest Day was not meant for loved ones at all, originally. It was planned by a "committee of 12 confectioners chaired by candy maker C.C. Hartzell" as an "opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned." The "Sweetest Day in the Year Committee" distributed over 20,000 boxes of candy to "newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor" in 1922. This from Wikipedia.

The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee - lousy with candy-makers. Coincidence?

I would like to note that I am delighted that the committee included newsboys in their somewhat strategic outburst of confectionery good will - I think newsboys are often given short shrift when it comes to being compensated for their historically somewhat impoverished line of work. Standing on a street corner shouting "EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!" and doling out newspapers for a dime is honorable work with long hours for little pay and we as a people should do more for our newsies. But I digress.

Candy for our newsboys - a  shot in the arm for the morale of our nation.

Whatever the good intentions for providing a sugar-high for the sick, aged, orphans and newsboys, it seems that at some point, in a sly move by the confectioners, "friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness we have enjoyed" were added to the list. Eventually, the elderly, infirm, orphans and newsies were phased out of the program altogether in a move that left these unfortunates to fend for themselves for obtaining sweet relief from their sugar-jones, leaving only loved ones to enjoy the chocolate-covered goodness of what has been deemed by many as a "Hallmark Holiday". I submit that this was the plan all along and that the orphans and newsboys were mere pawns in a calculated candy-money-grab for the pre-Halloween wallet share of our nation. I, for one am ashamed. And I vow that I will never celebrate Sweetest Day, unless it is to drive a U-Haul full of Baby Ruths to the local orphanage or old-folks home. And I plan to deliver my news to the masses via this blog, which is the electronic version of the newsboy from our past. So, EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT! And spread the word.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Russia - Land of Genius

This is called a "Zorb", which I imagine translates to "Rolling Coffin" in another language, probably Russian. Let me begin by reiterating yet once again that I am by no means a thrill-seeker. And by "no means" I mean "no fucking means on Earth or surrounding planets capable of supporting life". I do not mount roller coasters, wild animals, vehicles with tires taller than my children, flying apparatus that rely on the whim of the wind, or women with that crazy gleam in their eye. Thrill-seeking behavior, the mounting of any of these and of which I want no part. That stated, I would like to add "Climbing into an inflatable rubber ball and being pushed down a grassy hill, abandoned mining road or icy slope". This is the purpose of the Zorb. It is made to accommodate human beings for any number of activities, including being placed on a body of water, so that the man or woman inside can walk on the water, much like a hamster propelling one of those hamster balls that hamsters use to walk around in when their human captors do not trust them to move about freely on their carpet. Not only do I consider these giant, inflatable contraptions unsafe at any speed, I would be concerned about suffocation. And claustrophobia. And hamster dander.

Human Hamsters. On water. Two kicks for the price of one.
Now, let's bring Russia into the picture, shall we? While we Americans are busy using these Zorbs to crawl around on water and push each other down golf course fairways, The Russians are putting these rubber man-movers to good use by rolling them down icy mountainsides. Recently, the Russians outdid themselves by running the Zorb not only down a frozen slope, but over a cliff as well, killing one of the occupants of the ball and sending the other to a Russian hospital in critical condition. Well done, Russia. You would have thought that perhaps at least one of the gents climbing into the ball would have looked over the proposed route of travel and asked, "Vait - zat ees cleef?"
And they always seem so smart.
They got to space before us, after all, and I've seen all those movies with Russian spies that are always one step ahead of their overly-cautious American counterparts and everyone got a glimpse of the superior Russian technology  in Rocky IV, when they were training Drago and measuring his punching power power by LBS PSI. Impressive, to say the least, especially with all the clinical lighting and such, which only added to our sense of dread for the beloved pugilistic protagonist. And as Michael Lyon so adroitly pointed out, after reading the story of the Zorb plunging over the edge of the cliff, "This is what happens when you live in a place without injury lawyers".

I cannot think of one other place on the planet that would build their ice-Zorb-track on a mountainside with a cliff on it. Before I read this story, I wouldn't have thought the Russian people capable of that kind of dumb, either. It only shows that you can never tell. . Just remember that the "come hither" look in the lovely lady's eyes at the Stumble Inn might actually be batshit-crazy-dulled-by-alcohol. Some things are simply unpredictable