Snowflake Day

It’s no surprise how I feel about Christmas. I mean, there’s other reasons besides what I posted in my last blog. I’m not someone who gets attached to tradition. I’m not a fan of routine. Doing the same thing, every year in and every year out isn’t my bag. I’ve been celebrating Christmas every year for decades, people. I’ve been decorating trees, baking treats, cooking turkeys. When it comes to Christmas, I’ve done it all. Time for some new traditions.

Enter Snowflake Day. This isn’t an original idea, it’s lifted from a cartoon that only aired for a season back in the early ‘naughts. We stole the idea, because that’s one tradition we’re keeping. If the early Christians can steal the idea of Christmas from the pagans, then we can certainly steal this holiday from a failed animates series that features most of the cast from Scrubs.

Snowflake Day is the holiday replacing all other holidays during the winter months. By trying to avoid offending anyone, you manage to offend everyone, which is a win in my books. The story of Snowflake Day tells the tale of Snowflake Jake the pirate. In a quest to make the holidays open to anyone, Snowflake Jake captures all the other representatives of the holiday season and threatens to make them walk the plank if they keep up their traditions. They agree, Snowflake Day takes the place of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Instead of gifts, you exchange spices. Instead of turkey, stuffing, and gravy, there’s lamb tacos, cocktail weenies wrapped in pastry, and jerky balls. And instead of a Christmas tree, you light up a non-denominational snowman. So we took it the full nine yards. We decided to throw a party and have lamb tacos, cocktail weenies wrapped in pastry, and jerky balls.

Lamb tacos? Easy peasy. Now, instead of pure lamb, we went with a mixture of lamb, pork, and beef, because the flavor of lamb is a potent beast. I went with a straight up Tex-Mex blend of spice to throw in there, garlic, oregano, cumin, and three different kinds of dried chilies. Threw in a little pico de gallo, some fresh peppers, and some home-made tortillas, and you’ve got a tasty taco feast taking place in your domicile.

Cocktail weenies wrapped in pastry. This was the easiest item on the list because it was the one I cared the least about. I took hot dogs and wrapped them in store-bought pastry, the kind that comes in a can and explodes if not handled properly. There’s actually a warning on the packaging, telling you to point the lid away from people, children, and small dogs. Technically, it was the most dangerous dish to make on the list, but I still managed to pull it off without a hitch. Once the pastry is out, all you’re doing is wrapping the weenies. Feel free to insert your favorite tubed meat joke.

The toughest item on the list, without a doubt, was the jerky balls. Partly because I had no clue what a jerky ball was. I could have gone with beef jerky balls, but this presented two problems. One, jerky is drier than sand, so getting it to stick together in a ball would be a challenge. Two, beef jerky is crazy expensive. What happens to be cheap right now is turkey, so I went with ground turkey mixed with Jamaican jerked spice. I purchased a utility turkey and decided to debone it. I’ve deboned a number chickens in the past, so I figured this would be a cakewalk. Two hours later, and turkey gunk in every corner of the kitchen, I had a bunch of turkey with no bones in it. Two hours after that, I manage to grind the meat and mixed in the spices. Turkey jerky balls are now done.

The rest of the party is straight forward enough. Most of the Snowflake Day songs are simply knockoffs of Christmas tunes, so we decided to play MIDI versions of famous Xmas songs (if you’re unfamiliar with the MIDI audio format, it’s what predated the mp3 format. It’s mostly known for being incredibly crappy). Little pirate hats were made for various objects in the apartment, and snowflakes were hung from the ceiling with care.

People came, we exchanged spices, lamb tacos were noshed, and Snowflake Day Carols were not sung. I put a kibosh on that right away (sorry Kat, I’m only willing to go so far for a joke, and that boundary is singing).

Will we be doing it again? I’m not one for traditions, but I’ll honest, lamb tacos are the bomb and turkey jerky balls, although a hassle to make, are pretty tasty. I might do something a little more extravagant next year, with stewed lamb meat done as a curry. So yeah, we’ll be celebrating Snowflake Day again. If you’re lucky, and you’ve been good all year, maybe you’ll hear the YoHoHo instead of the HoHoHo, and Snowflake Jake will bless your home with a bounty of cumin and basil.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Truthfully, if I have the opportunity, I’m going someplace with a beach for Christmas. Tradition can take a back seat for sunshine and sand.

p.s.s. Holy shit, is it a goddamn pain in the ass to debone a turkey. I swear, the turkey fights back. I could have worn the thing like a cape.

Trouble in Turkey

This week has been a parade of entertainment in the Western world, as we continue to gawk at the spectacle that is the Trump candidacy. Colbert and Stewart are back in full form, Trump’s entrance song at the RNC was written by a gay man while the platform singles out the LGBTQ community, and Melaina Trump decided the best way to give a speech was to give someone else’s speech a go. Right now, everyone is having a bit of a laugh at the whole spectacle, while crossing their fingers that the next president of the most powerful nation on Earth isn’t a reality show celebrity with zero political experience.

At the same time, Turkey has declared a state of emergency.

Recently, the Turkish army staged a coup, an attempt to overthrow the government. If you understand anything about Turkish history, you’ll know this happens somewhat frequently. Turkeys military has often intervened in the governments affairs, in 1960, 1971, 1980, and a half-coup in 1997. This is somewhat to be expected, as the military in Turkey doesn’t have to answer to politicians. In the case of civil unrest, weak civilian leaders, or in a state of emergency, the military is allowed by law to step in and take control of the government, albeit temporarily. It’s written into the Turkish constitution.

There was another attempt at a coup recently, and it failed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has declared a three month state of emergency after the failed coup, and has began a purge of civil service staff and security forces. More troubling is that any member of Academia is barred from leaving the country, and Erdogan has demanded that all the Deans of 1577 Universities resign. Understand that when a country decides to go after everyone who went to University, you know the country is in some serious trouble.

And it’s not just those who oppose Erdogan who are being targeted. A number of his closer staff have been arrested or have been given the boot. These moves are incredibly paranoid, similar to the purges of other regimes such as Russia during the Stalin years, or North Korea every time a new Leader is given the seat of power.

There’s been a lot of talk comparing it to other dictatorships, which is certainly what Turkey is looking like these days. People mention Stalin, the rise of Hilter and the Third Reich, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, the Chinese cultural revolution of Mao Zedung. All of these revolutions have something in common, which is an attempt to control the populace by limiting the knowledge they have access to.

Anytime a mention of science or reason getting pushed aside for a political reasons, I get a little nervous. It’s the first step in having a less educated populace. A less educated populace can be convinced to support¬†a system that doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

The truth is, almost every government in some way wants to limit the amount of information you have access to. The former Conservative government in Canada¬†barred environmental scientists from discussing their findings. The current Liberal government is keeping tight lips regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The battle between Hillary and Trump is the battle of two people who have absolutely no problem lying to the populace, whether it’s about classified emails or the dream of a massive wall with no hope of getting built.

If you’re a regular citizen, you might feel hopeless at the current prospects of the planet. First, I want you to know that things aren’t nearly as bad as the seem. If you’re reading this, then you probably have shoes on your feet, some food in your stomach, and most importantly an internet connection. You have the power to be informed. I don’t want you to get angry, I don’t want you to be upset. Politics already has enough passionate people, and as far as I’m concerned, the only place passion belongs is your trade, your art, and what you do in the bedroom. If you see something that makes you mad, whether it’s a meme, a news article, or a video, understand that someone worked at that to make you feel that way. They manipulated you into feeling something by not giving you all the information.

If you want to make a difference, a real difference, then stop buying into the bullshit. Stop letting your heart make decisions regarding politics. That’s what your brain is for. Start asking questions, start researching what you read, start talking about it. If you’re really worried about what’s going on in the world, start by getting the facts first. The facts are out there, you just have to wade through the bullshit.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. My entrance theme song would be silence. Man, THAT would throw people off.