Valentine (2014)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My library books
Are all overdue.

Roses are red
Violets are too
Rose-colored glasses
Are what I see through.

Roses are red
Goulash is stew
Have a nice meal
And don’t get the flu.

Roses are red
Some cheese is bleu
But not the kind
That’s good in fondue.

Roses are red
Kittens say “mew”
My cats are cuter
Than your kangaroo.


Yes, Virginia, There Is An Apple Core

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that apples don’t really have cores. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; do apple cores exist?

Virginia H.
New York, New York

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the gullibility of a gullible age. They believe anything they see on YouTube. Seriously, Virginia, these friends of yours? You could do better. Did you know that Stevie wets his bed at least once a week? And Johnny picks his nose and eats the boogers when he thinks no one is looking? Do you have any idea what Sally and Jane have been saying about you behind your back? But you didn’t ask about your so-called friends; you asked about apple cores, and you deserve an answer.

State-of-the-art apple core removal technology
So many cores, so little time.

Yes, Virginia, there are apple cores. They exist as surely as the Farberware Classic Apple Corer exists, or the OXO Good Grips Apple Corer and Divider, and you know these gadgets are real because of the joy they bring on those rare and wondrous occasions when someone uses one to make a pie. Imagine how dreary the world would be without apple cores. There would be no Norpro 5103 Stainless Steel Apple Corer with Plunger, no Amco Dial-A-Slice Adjustable Apple Corer and Slicer, no R & M Industries 5920 Apple Peeler / Corer / Slicer. There would be no Apple Core Removal Technology industry at all. Do you have any idea, Virginia, how many factory workers and engineers would be out of work if there were no apple cores? Or, for that matter, if people stopped believing in apple cores? Is that something you want on your conscience?

Not believe in apple cores! You might as well not believe in Santa Claus. You might slice an apple crosswise and see no evidence of a core, but what would that prove? Have you ever seen the Tooth Fairy? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t exist. How else would you explain the fact that every time you leave a baby tooth under your pillow at night, it’s gone the next morning, replaced by a shiny new coin? This could only be the work of the Tooth Fairy. Or possibly the Tooth Alchemist, who transformed the tooth into a coin and then just left it there, possibly in an attempt to free the Tooth Fairy from her crippling addiction to human teeth. We’ll probably never know the details, Virginia, but the point is that even though no one has ever seen either of these entities, we can be confident in the knowledge that they exist and that they skulk around your room at night, searching for body parts.

Apple cores exist, Virginia, and they always will. Rejoice in the knowledge that you were right and your friends were wrong. You should celebrate! Eat an apple! But watch out for the core — you wouldn’t want to chip a tooth.


Today Is National Ice Cream Day — Or Is It?

We have always celebrated National Ice Cream Day on the third Sunday of July.

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

In 1984, Ronald Reagan signed a presidential proclamation naming the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day — or so the dairy-industrial complex would have us believe. But the actual text of that proclamation refers only to dates in 1984 — so where did the recurring Ice Cream Days and Ice Cream Months come from?

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 1984 as National Ice Cream Month and July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.

And why did Reagan wait until July 9 — almost a third of the way into the month — to sign this proclamation? The obvious answer, of course, is that he didn’t want to detract from National Duck Stamp Week, which ran from July 1 through July 8. But wait! Look at this:

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of July 1 through July 8, 1984, as National Duck Stamp Week and 1984 as the Golden Anniversary Year of the Duck Stamp. I urge all Americans to observe these occasions with appropriate ceremonies and events, including participating in this program.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth.

Do you see? National Duck Stamp Week was July 1-8, but he waited until July 3 — when the week was almost half over — to issue that proclamation. Was this a passive-aggressive means of asserting a deep-seated hostility towards commemorative dates in general? Or was the government engaged in secret ice-cream- and duck-stamp-related ceremonies and activities that the general public has no knowledge of even today?

And why do we have a National Ice Cream Day and a National Ice Cream Month, but no National Ice Cream Week? Why has there never been a National Year of Ice Cream? If there’s an entire month devoted to ice cream, why isn’t there even a single day set aside to honor hot fudge?

These are deeply troubling questions. I have, however, decided to set aside my misgivings and celebrate National Ice Cream Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities just as President Reagan may or may not have intended. If you’re in the United States today, I urge you to do the same. And if you’re not, then of course you’re not bound by our national customs, so you’ll just have to celebrate with ceremonies and activities that are inappropriate. I’m sure you’ll find a way to rise to the occasion.

Who is Astrid Volpert? And Other Questions for the Butterball Turkey Hotline

Not the actual turkey hotline (image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives)

I’ve just heard some exciting news — just in time for Thanksgiving, Butterball has launched a turkey recipe app. At just $4.99, Butterball Cookbook Plus sounds like a real godsend for anyone who owns an iPhone and doesn’t know how to cook a turkey or look things up on Google.

If you have turkey-related questions and don’t own an iPhone, don’t despair. You can still call the Butterball turkey hotline, which “employs more than 50 professionally trained, college-educated home economists and nutritionists” to answer questions — which is exactly what I need, because I don’t have an iPhone, and I do have some questions. Like these:

1. Who is Astrid Volpert? She’s listed as a Butterball turkey expert, but when I click on her link, I get an error message. Some independent research led me to her website, which offers no evidence of any formal turkey-related training whatsoever. I don’t think she even speaks English.

2. The wish I made on last year’s Butterball turkey wishbone didn’t come true. When can I expect my refund?

3. What’s the capital of Turkey?

4. Remember that story about the woman who kills her husband by hitting him over the head with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooks it and serves it to the detectives who come out to investigate the murder? Do you think that would work with a turkey? Asking for a friend.

5. A turkey, a giraffe, and an otter walk into a bar. Who gets served first?

6. Help! I have a dog, a cat, a baby, a roasted turkey, and a bottle of wine in the kitchen, and I need to move them all to the dining room. I can’t leave the cat alone with the dog, I can’t leave the cat or the dog alone with the turkey, I can’t leave the baby alone at all, and it’s probably best not to leave me alone with the wine. The cat and the dog can walk. The dog will go where I tell him to, but the cat just does whatever he wants. I can carry any two items at a time except for the cat, who won’t let me pick him up. What should I do?

7. If I drop an 18-pound turkey and a 2-pound Cornish game hen off the top of the Empire State Building at the same time, what crime will I be charged with? Does it matter if the turkey is frozen?

8. If someone calls the hotline and asks a question about a turducken, do you hang up 1/3 of the way through the call?

9. Can I come work for you? Answering turkey questions seems like it could be fun, at least until the novelty wears off, at which point I’d probably just start making stuff up. That wouldn’t be a problem, would it?

10. Does this stuffing make my drumsticks look fat?

Do you have any turkey- or holiday-related questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer.

National Barbecue Day

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to break with the culinary traditions which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the superior cooking methodology to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all meats are created uncooked, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain undeniable Characteristics, that among these are Flavour, Texture and the potential for Deliciousness.–That to attain this potential, Procedures are performed by Men, deriving their results from the application of heat, –That whenever any new Procedure for Cooking becomes more likely to achieve these ends, it is the Right of the People to adopt it.
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A Brief History of the War on Groundhog Day

Timeline showing events in the War on Groundhog Day.
Timeline showing events in the War on Groundhog Day.
Significant events in the War on Groundhog Day.

What do Copernicus, Bill Murray, PETA, and Sarah Palin all have in common? They’re unlikely allies in the War on Groundhog Day. While the War on Christmas has received a fair amount of media attention in the last few years, the equally troubling War on Groundhog Day has gone almost unnoticed.
Continue reading “A Brief History of the War on Groundhog Day”