Hai thar! Remember us? We sure hope so. After some health issues and a death in the family hit all at once, we decided it would be a great idea to step back from the podcast to catch our breath, and ended up taking most of June and all of July off to recharge. We’re back now with our latest episode number 99 (soooooo close to 100!) and lots of ideas for upcoming episodes which will include Shark Week, a Disneyland birthday discussion, and a life hack/recipes episode with our good friend Kim from Tennessee.
In today’s episode, we step into the world of unusual and fun days to celebrate in August. For the record, we’re pretty sure it’s fairly simple to start a “national day” since the lists we found for August (here and here) have some highly questionable topics. Want to celebrate your end-of-July hangover? You’ll have to catch that special day on August 1, 2021. Don’t know what to do with all those zucchinis from your garden? Why don’t you Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch on August 8th? August is also the month to Admit You’re Happy, celebrate clowns (but why though), and be extra glad or extra sad with the mid-year Romance Awareness celebration just in case Valentine’s Day just wasn’t adorable enough.
Kym researched and discussed two particular days she found interesting: National Mahjong Day and National Mustard Day (both on August 1).
Piles and Piles of Lovely Tiles! Ah, elegant, graceful MAHJONG. We had no idea one of our favorite phone game apps was an illegal gambling game in China! Well, it was illegal from the 1940’s through to 1985. Amy Tan wrote about it in her book which was also made into a movie (The Joy Luck Club). And apparently collecting Mahjong tiles is quite the thing to do, which is unsurprising since they are often so exquisitely crafted. According to this website, the most expensive Mahjong set, made of silver, may set you back up to 35,000 Euros/$50,000 USD. You know, just in case you aren’t sure what to do with all that money currently laying about, being used as coasters, and bookmarks and hand-fans, and…uh…other banal stuff we can’t think of words for right now.
Pass That Humble Mustard. If you want to know about all the different kinds of mustards that are in the world, you can research it to your tummy’s delight with this article, A Guide To All the Different Kinds of Mustard. As for the religious significance of the mustard seed pendant such as the one Kris’s grandmother gave her and Kym’s mom used to have, the tiny mustard seed symbolizes faith, God’s Kingdom, humble beginnings, or change for Christians. This lovely blog post by Oh For the Love of Vintage! not only mentions the religious significance, but also has great photos of the different types of jewelry that has been made with a mustard seed encased in that little clear sphere we remember so fondly.
Pomp and Condiments. For an idea of what William Randolph Hearst’s dining room looks like with its dichotomy of ostentatious decor and humble ketchup and mustard bottles, check out kcet.org’s 2012 article by Ken Alpine called, Ketchup, Mustard, and All Things Egalitarian. Alpine deftly describes just how surreal it is to experience the Hearst Castle dining room in person. Pomp, grandeur, French’s mustard, Heinz ketchup…all together like bestest pals forever – D’AW!!! The dining room can be seen on the Grand Rooms Tour – and just to save you the headache of searching…the dining room is called “the Refectory”. Visit https://hearstcastle.org for allllll the details. It’s an 11 out of 10 on the Kym and Kris recommendation scale. Of course, the castle tours are temporarily suspended at the time of this writing, but we’re hoping that it, like the rest of the world, will open up safely once this Covid crap is finally BEATEN!
As for Kris’ topics, she chose to talk about the Perseids Meteor Shower, Vesuvius Day, and Frankenstein Day.
Pre-Dawn Delights. The Perseids Meteor Shower will be most visible in the post-midnight/pre-moonrise hours of August 11, 12, and 13. This article talks specifically about the meteors in 2020 and has some really good detailed information and tips for best viewing.
Silver Lining. Vesuvius Day is 24 August, the anniversary of the deadly eruption that destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae in 79 AD. While talking about Italy and the site of Pompeii, Kris also mentioned Sicily, Mt. Etna, and “Argento” with all the Parthenon-like structure thingies. Oy. To use a much-hated term, let’s unpack this cringey verbal poo and make some necessary clarifications. Argento is rooted in the latin word “argentum” which means silver. Argento is also an Italian surname. Agrigento, on the other hand, is the to-die-for must-see UNESCO World Heritage site near the coast of southern Sicily, where you can visit the Valley of the Temples (you know, with all that Parthenon-y stuff). These things…Kris knows them, but the words. There are so many, and talking is so stumbly sometimes. Anyhoo, Agrigento AND Pompeii should be on any architecture/archeology/history nut’s bucket list.
NERDNOTE: In the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe (rowr), his character Maximus explains to a curious boy the names of the horses on his breastplate: Argento and Scatto, which translate to silver and trigger. Which are the names of the horses ridden by fictitious American western folk hero The Lone Ranger (you know, “Hi-HOOOO SILVER AWAY!!! ) and real-life cowboy/actor Roy Rogers (Trigger’s hooman). Fascinate your friends at your next Zoom party with THAT dose of smarts (did we use that joke in a previous blog post? We think we did. Pretty sure quarantine is melting our brains).
Yep, Ok, Back to Mt. Vesuvius. So when that stratovolcano blows again, there is a 72-hour evacuation plan in place. 72 hours. Almost 2 million people to move many, many….we’re talking vurrrrrrry much of the miles away from the blast. Whew. HOW? How will that work? We hope we do not see that in our lifetime.
RANTNOTE: Dear 2020, HANDS OFF VESUVIUS! You’ve had your mitts all over the globe: burning down Australia, plague, murder hornets, mysterious Chinese seeds, gassing protesters, dead whales in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, The Great Mask Debate (wear your effing’ masks please for the love of God and country!), playing golf and shopping at Walmart is ok but kids attending school isn’t, a mysterious mass discovered at the center of the earth, a Saharan dust cloud crossing continents and oceans to reach America, Bernie dropped out of the race again, and we lost John Lewis, the last good man in Washington. YOU HAVE HAD YOUR TIME you big jerky 2020 jerk jerk, LEAVE VESUVIUS ALONE.
But Wait There’s More. By the way, America’s very own Yellowstone Caldera is classified as a supervolcano, which doesn’t sound as horrible as a stratovolcano, but will actually destroy much of our country, for sure way more effectively than the torturous disaster we’ve endured at the hands of
those dipshits politicians in Washington, DC.
Hey, 2020. Add Yellowstone to your NOOOOOOPE list. Though we’ll not say no over a little shenaniganery in the capitol. That’s not treasonous. NOT (clap emoji) TREASONOUS (clap emoji).
Moving on to Frankenstein Day. Frankenstein Day is 30 August, which is creator Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s birthday (we’re not sure what the other Frankenstein Day is on the last Friday of October…but you won’t hear us argue about celebrating both days). Let’s take a look at some answers to the questions brought up while discussing the August 2018 mentalfloss.com article by Joy Lanzendorfer called, 10 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:
- The dreary but obviously inspirational summer vacation the Shelley’s took with Lord Byron in Switzerland was during what is known as “The Year Without Summer” and, interestingly enough – Kris had no idea there was such a connection in her stories – that drab weather was due to an explosion of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia. Yes. Again, a volcano eruption is the cause of much monstrous history. First Pompeii, then Frankenstein. Ahem.
- Mary Shelley’s husband, famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died by drowning on 8 July 1822, just shy of his 30th birthday, in a boating accident.
- And yes, the heart-on-her-desk story was actually true, as detailed in this other mentalfloss.com article. Who knew. It also goes into why experts believe Percy’s heart may have calcified prior to his death.
- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s other works, including The Last Man (NOT Last Man Standing as stated in the episode), Mathilda, Valperga and others are available for sale at booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon for various prices. Kris was able to buy a digital version of The Collected Works of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley for less than $5.00 USD on iBooks (surely Kindle also has a version) which includes Frankenstein, The Last Man, Mathilda, and Mary Shelley’s notes on the complete poetical works of husband Percy Shelley. These stories are also available on Audible. You can download a pdf of Lodore for free here (donations accepted on the website).
- Here’s some more information on Mary Shelley’s mother (also named Mary). She sounds like she was a kickass woman in her day.
And finally, yes Virginia, Kym and Kris). There is a National Pizza Day. Merry Christmas in February.
Have you ever been to Hearst Castle? Want to go? Do you love or hate mustard? What’s your favorite game? Have you ever seen the Perseids Meteor Shower, visited Pompeii, Yellowstone, or read anything by Mary Shelley? Is there a day in August you’re looking forward to celebrating/observing? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!
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Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox” by Espresso, Inc. through premiumbeats.com.
Featured photo Universe by Raman deep on Pexels.com