Saturday, January 6, 2018

Weird And Bizarre January Holidays

Every month has its share of weird, bizarre and unusual holidays and January is no exception.  Those are the only ones I'll be sharing with you.  After all, we all know the legal holidays…they're the ones with no mail delivery and the banks are closed.  :)

January has its month long celebrations, some serious and others more toward the frivolous: National Bath Safety Month, National Blood Donor Month, National Braille Literacy Month, National Hobby Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Soup Month, and Hot Tea Month.  And in addition to the month long celebrations, the second week of January is designated as Letter Writing Week.

Jan. 2:        Run Up The Flagpole And See If Anyone Salutes Day

Jan. 3:        Festival Of Sleep Day
Jan. 3:        Fruitcake Toss Day
This the day you can finally get rid of all that old fruitcake leftover from the holidays.  Rather than simply tossing them in the trash, invite some friends over and go out to an empty lot to make a game of it.  Who can toss it the farthest?  Or for a less strenuous method, re-gift it next year.
Jan. 3:        Humiliation Day

Jan. 4:        Trivia Day
This is a fun day, a chance for us to share those little nuggets of knowledge with our friends and family.

Jan. 5:        National Bird Day

Jan. 6:        Bean Day
Jan. 6:        Cuddle Up Day
This day provides the opportunity to snuggle up to someone on a cold winter's day…or night.  This holiday is enjoyed by both young and old.

Jan. 7:        Old Rock Day

Jan. 8:        Bubble Bath Day
Jan. 8:        Male Watcher's Day
Here's a day for the ladies, we can officially, openly, and blatantly watch the guys.  The guys are always watching us, so now it's our turn to hoot and holler.

Jan. 10:      Houseplant Appreciation Day
Jan. 10:      Peculiar People Day
This day honors uniquely different people—un-ordinary, extraordinary, unusual, strange, odd, uncommon, intriguing, different, abnormal, and quirky.  Today is the day to look for the good in your peculiar acquaintances.

Jan. 11:      Step In A Puddle And Splash Your Friends' Day

Jan. 12:      Feast Of Fabulous Wild Men Day
Apparently this day suggests you feast your eyes on some fabulous wild men.  Perhaps a companion holiday to the Jan. 8 Male Watcher's Day?  Maybe it's a request for us to check out the top 10 sexiest men?  A list should be readily available on the internet.
Jan. 12:      National Pharmacist Day

Jan. 13:      International Skeptics Day
Jan. 13:      Make Your Dream Come True Day

Jan. 14:      Dress Up Your Pet Day

Jan. 15:      National Hat Day

Jan. 16:      National Nothing Day
This is a day for…well…a day for nothing!  It's an un-event.

Jan. 17:      Ditch New Year's Resolutions Day
Since there's a day to celebrate the New Year and make resolutions for the upcoming year (see last week's blog), then there should be a day to discard those resolutions.  If you haven't already broken those resolutions you're doing better than most of us.

Jan. 18:      Thesaurus Day

Jan. 19:      National Popcorn Day

Jan. 20:      National Buttercrunch Day
Jan. 20:      Penguin Awareness Day
Although this is celebrated on January 20, World Penguin Day is always on April 25th.  This is a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate one of the few natives of Antarctica.  It's also a day to wear black and white…penguin colors.

Jan. 21:      National Hugging Day
Jan. 21:      Squirrel Appreciation Day

Jan. 22:      National Blonde Brownie Day

Jan. 23:      National Pie Day
Jan. 23:      National Handwriting Day
Jan. 23:      Measure Your Feet Day

Jan. 24:      Beer Can Appreciation Day
Perhaps it's what's inside the beer can that is being appreciated?  This day actually celebrates the day in 1935 when beer was first sold in cans.  There's a collector's market for old beer cans.  Check out collector's catalogues and eBay before throwing away an unusual or old beer can.
Jan. 24:      Compliment Day

Jan. 25:      Opposite Day

Jan. 26:      Spouse's Day

Jan. 27:      Chocolate Cake Day
Jan. 27:      Punch The Clock Day

Jan. 28:      Fun At Work Day
Jan. 28:      National Kazoo Day
The first kazoo was made in 1840 in Macon, Georgia, but commercial production didn't happening until 1912.  The kazoo is easy to play.  All you do is hum a tune into the kazoo.

Jan. 29:      National Puzzle Day
Jan. 29:      National Cornchip Day

Jan. 30:      National Inane Answering Message Day

Jan. 31:      Backward Day
This is a day to do everything backwards.  It's especially popular with school aged kids.

Wishing you a terrific 2018

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Resolutions You'll Be Able To Keep…and other miscellaneous end of year stuff

New Year's resolutions have basically become an annual joke.  Every first of January we make resolutions for the upcoming year and if we're lucky, they remain valid for the rest of the month.

So, this year how about making some resolutions you'll actually be able to keep during 2018?  Here's a list of several such resolutions.  I hope you accept these suggestions in the spirit of humor in which they are offered.  If I've offended anyone, I apologize in advance.

1.  Gain Weight.  Let's face it, you already have a start on this one with all the holiday meals, candy, beverages, and snacks.

2.  Go Deeper Into Debt.  You probably have a head start on this one, too, from holiday gift shopping.  After all, even buying new things for yourself…well, it was probably stuff you needed and with all the great sales this year who could resist?

3.  Spend More Money.  This goes hand-in-hand with the second item on the list.  Spend it now while you're still physically able to get out to do it.

4.  Don't Get A Better Job.  Since having any job is better than not having one, be happy with status quo.

5.  Whatever Shape You're In Is Fine.  Seriously…round is a perfectly acceptable shape.

6.  Don't Go Back To School.  Look at your current life and time schedule.  Now add a part time college schedule to that plus the cost of tuition (probably the same amount as that new curved 80-inch 3D HDTV home theater with Dolby Surround Sound you bought in item two on the list) and the cost of expensive college textbooks.  Hmmm…a fine bottle of rare vintage wine or a bottle of aged single malt scotch vs. Concepts of Economics Vol. 1.

7.  Drink More Alcohol.  Open that fine bottle of wine or scotch and watch your new 80-inch TV.

8.  Smoke Like A Chimney.  When someone chastises you for putting second hand smoke out there, ask them if they've traded in their gas-guzzling car for a bicycle.

9.  Stay At Home for your vacation.  If, however, you prefer to find toilet paper that's hard enough to scrape paint, really weird television, and even weirder food…then travel out of the country.

And last but not least…

10.  Don't Volunteer!

And now for something completely different (with apologies to Monty Python for stealing…uh, I mean borrowing…their catch phrase).

As a follow up to Christmas, a few words about that much maligned holiday treat, the butt of so many jokes, that humble yet seemingly inedible concoction—fruitcake.
Food historians theorize that fruitcake (any cake in which dried fruits and nuts try to coexist with cake batter) is older than Moses.  Ancient Egyptians entombed fruitcake and Romans carried it into battle, probably for the same reason.  Fruitcake was built to last and it did, well into medieval times.

It was in the 18th century that fruitcake achieved totemic status.  At that time nut-harvesting farmers encased fruits and nuts in a cakelike substance to save for the next harvest as a sort of good luck charm.

And thus the problem.  Any cake that is not meant to be eaten doesn't deserve to be classified as food.

Our love/hate relationship with fruitcake began in the early 20th century when the first mail-order fruitcakes became fashionable gifts.  It ended up as a mass-produced product using barely recognizable fruits and packed into cans as heavy as barbell weights.

And another something different…
While celebrating the arrival of the New Year, there's one thing you should keep in mind—the darker the liquor, the bigger the hangover.  According to a new study that compares the after effects of drinking bourbon vs. vodka, what sounds like an old wives' tale is true…to a point.

Brownish colored spirits such as whiskey and rum contain greater amounts of congeners than clear liquors such as vodka and gin.  And what are congeners, you might ask?  They are substances that occur naturally or are added to alcohol during the production and aging process, many of which are toxic.  They contribute to the alcohol's color, odor, and taste.  They also interfere with cell function, and I'm NOT talking about your mobile phone. :)  And they viciously punish your head and tummy the next morning.  According to the study, bourbon is aged in oak barrels and has thirty-seven times as many congeners as vodka, which is heavily filtered to remove impurities.

Drinking in the study was relatively moderate compared to some New Year's Eve binges.  The average blood-alcohol content of the survey participants was 0.1 percent, somewhere between 0.09 ("mildly intoxicated" and considered legally over the limit in most states), and 0.15 ("visibly drunk" and definitely on your way to jail if you're driving a vehicle).  The study's findings may not translate to your holiday party.

The bottom line, however, is that congeners are not the primary culprit in the dreaded hangover.  The credit goes to the alcohol itself

Wishing everyone a happy AND SAFE New Year's Eve and a marvelous New Year.  May 2018 bring you happiness and health.

And Peace On Earth for everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Joyous Holiday

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday and a merry Christmas.  And for those traveling this week, a safe journey. I'll see you next week with my first blog of the new year.

My wish for everyone is PEACE ON EARTH.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

'Twas The Night Before Christmas…

Although many believe this to be the title of the popular Christmas poem, the actual title is An Account Of A Visit From St. Nicholas.  The long poem, written by Clement Moore in 1822 as a present for his three daughters, has become a Christmas staple.  Moore, an Episcopal minister, was initially hesitant about publishing his poem due to its frivolous content.

The poem, first published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, had been submitted by a friend of Moore's.  It was first attributed to Moore in 1837 and finally publically acknowledged by Moore himself in 1844.

Four handwritten copies of the poem are known to exist, three in museums and the fourth (written and signed by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to a friend in 1860) was sold by one private collector to another in December 2006 for a reported $280,000.

Moore's poem is largely responsible for today's image of Santa Claus as a "right jolly old elf" who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer.  A rotund fellow who entered via the chimney and left toys for good boys and girls.

In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast used Moore's poem as the basis to create a likeness of Santa Claus that matches today's image.  The cartoon, which appeared in Harper's Weekly, depicted Santa with a full white beard, a red suit trimmed in white fur, and a large bag filled with toys.  He also gave Santa his North Pole workshop, elves, and Mrs. Claus.

Over the years, there has been some controversy about the authorship of the poem.  There are those who contend that Henry Livingston, Jr., was the true author.  Livingston was distantly related to Moore's wife.  But the general consensus continues to be that Clement Clarke Moore is the true author.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season and PEACE ON EARTH.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL

We all know Charles Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from the three ghosts on Christmas Eve (four if you count the initial visit from his former partner, Marley).  A story of redemption—a miserly man whose concept of the Christmas spirit is "Bah, Humbug!"  Then his life is turned around after Marley tells him about his upcoming visits from the Christmas ghosts. The first one from his past to remind him of what was and the promise of what could have been, the second from his present to open his eyes to what he had become and how others felt about him, and the final visit from the ghost of the future to show him where he was headed if he didn't change his ways.

From a writer's perspective, it was the first time a story had been told from the point-of-view of a character within that story rather than an omniscient point-of-view of an unidentified narrator.  Point-of-view—something vital for today's writer of fiction.

The novella, first published in London on December 9, 1843, has been a staple of the Christmas season as a movie, television show, or play for well over a century.

This year, Hallmark's two cable movie channels started showing non-stop Christmas movies the first of November.  I wondered how many different versions of Dickens' story there were.  So, I did what I usually do when I want a quick answer to something…I Googled it.

And the results came as quite a surprise.  Things I knew, things I had known but forgotten, and things I never knew.  Twenty-eight films, twenty-three television productions, plus other miscellaneous offerings such as staged plays.  Live action, animation, a 3D computer generated images version from Disney in 2009, one set in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and even a couple where the character of Scrooge was portrayed as being female.

The first filming of A CHRISTMAS CAROL was a fifteen minute silent movie made in 1908 followed by two other silent versions made in 1910 and 1913.  There have been the straight theatrical films, musical versions, and animated versions with favorite and very familiar cartoon characters taking on the roles of Dickens' famous characters.  Of the twenty-eight movies, ten were released under Dickens' exact original title of A CHRISTMAS CAROL as were six of the twenty-three television productions.

Even though all the various productions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL tell Dickens' story of Scrooge and the visits from the Christmas ghosts, many had their own unique twist and flavor on the original.  I think my favorite is a 1970 theatrical musical version titled SCROOGE which stars Albert Finney as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the lessons of the spirit of the Christmas season.

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season, happy new year, and most of all—Peace On Earth.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH—a conversation with Chance and Marcie

In honor of the season, I'd like to introduce you to Chance Fowler and Marcie Roper and tell you a bit about their Christmas story.

Good morning Chance and Marcie.  I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

Chance:  Thank you, Shawna.  It was nice of you to invite us.  So…what would you like to know?

My first question is for whichever of you wants to answer it.  How did the two of you meet?

Chance:  (Winks at Marcie) Do you want to take that one?

Marcie:  My pleasure.  I was minding my own business, doing a little window shopping on my way back to my car from the book store, when he came along and accosted me in broad daylight.  He grabbed me against my will then proceeded to kiss me.  I was truly shocked and also a little frightened.  I had no idea who he was or why he had forced himself on me.

Chance:  Wait a minute…in my defense that wasn't quite the way it happened.

Marcie:  (grins) My way sounds more mysterious…and more interesting.

Did he literally grab you on the street, a total stranger, and kiss you for no reason?

Marcie:  Oh, yes…that's exactly what he did.

Chance:  Well…not really…not like that.

Ah, ha!  What's the true story?

Chance:  I was being followed by another one of those tabloid photographers who were always trying to get candid pictures of me that they can exploit, things taken out of context and blown up into something they aren't.

As sole heir to the Fowler Industries fortune, an eligible bachelor leading a very high profile life including yacht racing and making the rounds of the club scene always with a beautiful woman on your arm, I can see where there would be an interest in your activities.

Chance:  Since I was on my way to one of my special projects, I had to lose the guy following me.  I was looking for a place to duck away from him…hide in plain sight, so to speak.  As soon as I rounded a corner and was out of his sight for a few seconds, I turned my reversible jacket inside out to a different color, but there wasn't any place for me to hide.  I spotted her standing in front of the store window. My intention was to put my arm around her shoulder so it would look like we were a couple window shopping together, but for some strange reason she objected.  So I did what I had to do.  The photographer ran on down the street without paying any attention to a couple kissing in front of a store window.  I tried to apologize, explain to her, but she ran off without giving me an opportunity.

Marcie:  It was later that I discovered who he was…Take-A-Chance Fowler, as the media referred to him.  Major playboy, always being photographed with different women, yacht racing, seen at all the trendy clubs.  In other words, a spoiled rich guy living off the family wealth who had never done an honest day's work in his life.

Chance:  Definitely not a very flattering assessment of someone she didn't even know.  I was determined to set her straight and change that erroneous assumption.

Take-A-Chance?  Where did that come from?

Chance:  One of those stupid tags the press pinned on me.  "Always willing to take a chance on some wild stunt."

Marcie:  I can't begin to tell you how embarrassed I was when he told me Chance was his legal first name, not some cute little nickname.  It was his mother's maiden name.  And the more I found out about the real person behind all those tabloid headlines, the more impressed I was and the more I liked him.

You mentioned your special projects.  What did you mean by that?

Chance:  I have several projects I finance and am actively, hand's on involved with, things I don't want the media to know about.  I don't want the other people involved to find their pictures and names on the front page of some tabloid newspaper.

What type of projects?

Chance:  (flashes a sly grin) You can find out all about them in the book.

Marcie, did you encounter any unusual problems when you began dating someone of Chance's…uh…notoriety?

Marcie:  (furrows her brow in a moment of concentration) Well, there were some uncomfortable moments with his family, such as the Christmas dinner at his father's house—

Chance:  (laughs) Merely uncomfortable?  That's an understatement!

Is there more to the family story than you're saying?

Marcie:  You mean other than his father being responsible for driving a wedge between us that nearly destroyed our relationship?

Chance:  My family is synonymous with the word dysfunctional.  They're the personification of that old joke…look up the word dysfunctional in the dictionary and you find their picture.  You'll find out all about them when you read the book.

I'd ask you to explain, but I already know what you're going to say.

Marcie:  (laughs) You have to read the book!

Thank you, Marcie and Chance.
Blurb:
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…
When millionaire Chance Fowler first kissed the pretty stranger in his arms, he'd only meant to dodge the photographers who'd tailed him. Then she ran off—but he couldn't forget her tempting taste on his lips. So he sought out the tantalizing woman who'd ignited his long-dormant desire….

Lovely Marcie Roper was the first woman to close her eyes to Chance's fortune. And though she'd captivated the jaded tycoon, Marcie yearned for what his wealth couldn't buy—a man who would say "I do" and mean it forever. Could Marcie convince Chance that love—for the right woman—would last a lifetime?

Inside Front Cover Excerpt:
She was certainly different from the type of women he usually encountered. Her eyes sparked with the fire of emotion and her stance declared a very appealing independence. Yes, indeed. Marcie Roper was quite different—a breath of fresh air. He recalled the way she felt in his arms, the taste of her delicious mouth. He fought the almost overwhelming desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her again.

He watched her walk away from him—for the second time since he first encountered her. She had turned out to be a very intriguing woman. He already knew about the golden flecks in her hazel eyes, her soft pliable lips, her addictive taste and how good she felt in his arms. And now he knew she was certainly a challenge—and Chance had never been one to back down from a challenge.
****
Harlequin has reissued 17 of my backlist titles.  THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH was originally released by Harlequin in print and is currently available in ebook.

THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook and available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com.  Also available from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, and other online vendors.  Additional information and excerpts available on my website  www.shawnadelacorte.com  Information and excerpts from my other books also available on my website.

WISHING EVERYONE A JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON AND PEACE ON EARTH

Saturday, November 25, 2017

December Bizarre And Unique Holidays

Like every month, December has its share of bizarre, wacky, unique, and unusual holidays in addition to the legal ones with no mail delivery, banks closed, etc..  Here are just a few of these bizarre offerings.

National Fritters Day—perhaps apple fritters, a way of using the left over apples from Eat A Red Apply Day?
Santa's List Day—hopefully you're on the "Nice" list
Fill the bath tub with warm water, add some bath oil beads, hop in, and soak—soothing and relaxing! Don't let anything disturb the peace, quiet, and serenity of your bath. Turn off your cell phone and play your favorite CDs.
Christmas Card Day honors Sir Henry Cole (1818 - 1874) of England who created the first commercial Christmas Card in 1843. Just a few decades ago, sending Christmas cards through the mail was a holiday must and it continues to be very popular. However, in today's society the cost and time involved to write and send cards has caused many people to stop mailing them. As a result, free ecards have surged in popularity.
National Ding-a-Ling Day—a very special day to "Ring your Bell". On this day you need to brace yourself for bizarre and crazy behavior from all of the people you encounter. Even normally refined and quiet people have been known to go a little crazy on this day. Some people say this is a day for wackos, lunatics, and others who are off their rocker. Maybe it's simply a day to cut loose and act a little weird. For the record: Ding-a-Lings and Ding Bats are not quite the same thing.
Its a great day to indulge, binge, pig out, and consume your favorite food to excess—chocolate. The timing of this day, during the holiday season, couldn't be better. Today, we get to enjoy our beloved chocolate by covering something—just about anything—in a generous amount of chocolate. Pour, spread, or drizzle chocolate over cakes, cupcakes, pies, pancakes or waffles, nuts, raisins, even ants (yes, some people actually eat chocolate covered ants!). It's up to you to decide what's too extreme and how much is too much. Does anyone really need any added incentive to enjoy chocolate?
This is the holiday that allows everyone preparing for Christmas to vent their frustrations. Venting frustration over the stress of Christmas is appropriate for this day, but Humbug Day is much more. It brings out the Scrooge in all of us. Many Scrooges are negative towards Christmas in general, and can put a real damper on your Christmas spirit. Use Bah Humbug Day to release the stress of the holiday season, but avoid becoming a real Christmas Scrooge.
23  Festivus—for the rest of us
Are you feeling a little left out!? Then experience the joy and the miracle of Festivus. It's non-denominational so everyone can participate. The Festivus slogan is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" And, that means you. Festivus came into being as the direct result of a Jerry Seinfeld television show episode that first aired on December 18, 1997.
Hopeful you haven't had your fill of chocolate with National Chocolate Covered Anything Day on December 16th. Why are there two practically identical holidays so close together? The reason doesn't matter. What's important is that a celebration of chocolate exists!
30  Bacon Day
In addition to December 30th Bacon Day, the Saturday before Labor Day is International Bacon Day. Bacon Day and International Bacon Day celebrates crispy strips of salted pork--bacon! This is a day to thoroughly enjoy bacon at every meal. Snack time, too. It is recommend that you enjoy bacon today in social gatherings. So, go ahead. Have a bacon party!! It appears that Bacon Day in December and International Bacon Day evolved separately. Remember—everything tastes better with bacon!
Hopefully December 31st is not unlucky for you, although it will be unlucky for some people. It seems fitting that Unlucky Day is the last day of the year. You get the chance to get all the bad things out of the way so next year will be happy, healthy and prosperous.

Have you noticed?  As with the bizarre holidays for each month, there are more holidays dedicated to food than anything else.  For December, this list shows 15 of the days connected to food.  The complete list (multiple holiday celebrations for a specific date) shows even more food holidays.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. And Peace On Earth.