I have as much faith in the newspaper’s daily horoscopes as I do in a Chinese factory worker’s ability to pen prophetic words and stuff them into my fortune cookie. This raises the question…Why aren’t there more psychic lottery winners?
I do, however, find it interesting that cartoon characters and puppets have birthdays. Not because I think that everyone born on November 2 will share Cookie Monster’s unhealthy relationship with food or that those born on February 22 will suffer from Pebbles Flintstone’s speech impediment. It is simply fun. Unless, of course, you are like me and learn that not a single one of your beloved childhood characters shares your birthday.
Here is a list of assorted talking ducks, dogs, and other creatures and their dates of birth (according to various websites).
Many years ago, when my parents were still dating, my father wrote love letters to my mom. I know. Cute. Even cuter, he would always signed them with a hand-drawn ookpik by his name. Ookpik?
As a kid, I always loved the seal-fur ookpik in my mother’s curio. I know. What the heck’s an ookpik?
And when I was eight years old, my dad bought me a royal blue, felt covered, ookpik that I fell in love with immediately and named it “Ernie.” He was best friends with a little bear, “Herbert.” Yes, I did watch a lot of Sesame Street. And yes, Bert and Ernie were my favourites. The budding young writer that I was, I instinctively knew that blatantly hijacking these Muppet monikers was wrong. Herbert and Ernie were close–but not the same. Anyway, back to my ookpik. I quickly learned that running down the community ski hill behind our house with a bear in one hand and an ookpik in another was a danger-fraught activity. One false step and I found myself tumbling down what felt like an endless mini-mountain. I broke my pinky finger. And my ookpik bent his beak. Permanently. I know, I know–what the hell is an ookpik, once and for all?
My fellow Canadians know. Especially those born prior to the 1980s. Those from outside the Great White North, however, likely don’t have a clue. Perhaps, you have become frustrated and googled the word “ookpik.” If you are my friend at http://motherhoodisanart.com/, you are already “in” on the secret.
Well, here it is. “Ookpik” is an Inuit word for “owl.” In the 1960s and early 70s, they became all the rage up here–sort of morphing into a breed of owl of its very own. The ookpik is usually wingless–it’s only features being eyes, a beak, and toes.
Here are some examples:
Unfortunately, when I was in highschool, an errant mouse ate a hole through Ernie. Such is the life of a felt ookpik. And, yes, I still miss him.
Now, back to these two adorable Sesame Street roommates. When I was in high school, I decided to conduct a survey relating to their names (I’m a survey junkie). And now, I am going to conduct it again.
1) Japan’s strange inventions have often been featured in my blog, so I thought it only fair that I poke fun at the oddball ideas that have come to fruition thanks to Canadian minds.
One of the strangest, and perhaps, most lethal from a cardiologist’s point-of-view is Poutine (pronounced poo-tinn). This dish originated in nearby Quebec, but is now sold at mainstream fast-food restaurants like Wendy’s and A&W throughout Canada. But anyone who really knows Canada, knows that we LOVE our chip trucks. And no one does better poutine than one of those.
Poutine is simply a pile of french fries covered (or rather smothered) in dark gravy and cheese curds. Mm. Cheese curds. It is sinfully delicious, but will probably clog an artery or two.
If you think that’s weird. There was a chip truck in Eastern Ontario that sold fries smothered in butter. Greasy french fries with butter? Really?
We Canucks are a hearty lot. Or so we like to tell ourselves. Maybe we’re just all nuts. Here’s a typical chip truck, Canuck-style:
2) This is my all-time favourite Canadian treat. First of all, it originates in my hometown, Ottawa. All good things come from Ottawa. Except politicians.
And, most importantly, they are delicious. BeaverTails–not politicians. No, we do not hunt down buck-toothed rodents and lop off their tails. We are, in fact, quite kind to our beavers. We even put them on our nickels.
The “BeaverTail” is a flattened lump of whole wheat dough, deep-fried, and smothered in various mouth-watering toppings. The traditional one is covered in cinnamon and sugar. If you add a twist of lemon, you have the Killaloe Sunrise. But, for the true sweet-tooth, you can smother yours in chocolate hazelnut, maple butter, apples with cinnamon, banana chocolate, chocolate & vanilla, chocolate & peanut butter & Reese’s Pieces, or cream cheese with Skor pieces and chocolate drizzle. Damn, now I’m hungry. I think I’ll head down to the park and get me one of these. Blogging is not good for the waistline.
Oh, yeah. Did I mention that BeaverTails, just like Poutine, are sold in small chip-truck-sized, cabin-like buildings. Here is a typical BeaverTail vendor:
So far we have learned that Canadians like strange-looking, furry owls; have a penchant for heart-stopping, curd-covered, deep-fried potatoes; and regularly nibble on cinnamon-covered beaver appendages. Quite simply put, we make the Japanese look normal. But wait. I still haven’t reached number 3. There’s always a number three.
3) Americans love to make fun of us. According to them, we talk funny. Yes, according to the nation that produced the southern twang and drawl, the Boston accent, and whatever those people in the movie Fargo were speaking, WE talk funny. So, here’s a tip for those who really want to mimic us well–here are some uniquely Canadian words. Ours are the ones in BOLD print.
Eh? Replaces “Huh?” or “Do you agree?”
Pop=Soda. We do say Club Soda and Cream Soda though. Everything else is Pop.
Chocolate bar=Candy bar
Chesterfield=sofa or couch
Double Double=two creams, two sugars in coffee.
Pencil Crayon=coloured pencil
Rad=radiator. We don’t say “rad” for radical.
Hydro=electrical service. Paying our hydro bill is the same as paying the Power Company in the US.
Bachelor=small type of apartment. “Bachelor for rent” does not cause confusion up here.
My head hurts. I don’t know if anyone else gets this, but I have an eye that from time-to-time decides it no longer want to sit alongside my other eye. It chooses, rather, to align itself with my left nostril. Seriously. The eyebrow always does what the eye tells it to, so it ventures downwards also. Needless to say, I look like a freak. On days like this, it is very difficult to apply eye make-up. (I admit that I am a “girly” girl and venturing out amongst the humans with naked eyes is not something I do on a regular basis). I have fare eyelashes. Without my mascara, I have pig eyes. Honestly. Have you ever looked at a pig’s eyes? I know that pigs are cute, but they’re cute despite their eyes. And pig eyes really don’t work on a person.
So, now I look doubly freakish. Not only do I have pig eyes, but they are asymmetrical too. I look like a Picasso painting in the flesh. Don’t even bring up the possibility of hiding behind my sunglasses. For one thing, I misplaced those a couple of days ago, so I have been reduced to wearing a pair of old ones. And they have green frames. I think they’ve been kicking around since the early 90’s, but that’s no excuse. Forest green frames. What was I thinking? Plus, due to the recent migration of my left eyebrow, I now only have one furry caterpillar sitting over my frames. Sunglasses look weird when you can only see one eyebrow. And drawing one over the left frame is not an option. Imagine taking my sunglasses off and showing the world that I now have three eyebrows. Okay, one is down around my nose. More like a moustache to one side, but still.
Sorry for the whinefest, but I really needed to vent. Does anyone else have this problem? Seriously, my eye professionals are stumped. I will now focus on the task at hand–my three facts of the day.
1) Speaking of Picasso, I haven’t actually delved into the world of Art for any strange new facts yet. So, here it goes. The name “Pablo Picasso” is a good name. Has a nice ring to it. It flows.
Unfortunately, for Mr. Picasso–his real name is not quite so simple. In fact, his full name has 23 words. His complete moniker is: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.
Apparently, he was named for several relations and some Saints. And everyone his mother had ever met.
I bet he never signed a cheque. Who could blame him?
Van Gogh lopped off an ear. Picasso whacked off 21 names or so.
Which brings me to this freaky little car. This is a re-designed Citroen dedicated to and inspired by Picasso. A British mechanic spent six months creating this masterpiece he calls “Picasso’s Citroen.”
Ironically, Citroen does have a model called the “Picasso” (pictured here).
Not quite sure how it got this name–it is rather staid for something inspired by the legendary artist who created humans out of cubes. There is a Grand Picasso as well and it is rather mini-van-ish. Picasso was known as a great Playboy–hardly the mini-van type. I rather imagine him driving a giant phallic symbol like a 1970s Stingray or a modern-day Dodge Challenger.
Maybe it’s just me.
2) Like I said, pigs have small blank eyes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This little pooch pictured here, however, does not have that problem. He has the antithesis to pig eyes. The Marty Feldman of the dog world, one could say.
This dog’s penetrating stare has earned him the Guinness World Record for the dog with the largest eyes. Not bad for a little lad that was once a pound puppy. Bruschi the Boston Terrier‘s owner, Victoria Reed, says she didn’t notice her dogs large eyes until her friends commented on them. Really? Is she blind? Is this her first time seeing a dog?
It was these comments that led her to contact the Guinness World Records people and the rest is history.
Not only are his eyes big, but they seem to point in different directions. She didn’t notice? Really? I think she deserves some sort of award.
3) When I think of a unibrow, Sesame’s Street’s Bert comes to mind. Let’s face it. Bert pulls off the unibrow look with style and finesse. Maybe it’s the lemon yellow skin. Or his tuft of black hair. Whatever it is, it works. On him.
Outside the Muppet world, sporting one large, unending eyebrow is not exactly going to win you dates. Unless you are in Tajikistan. According to Wikipedia, the women there are wild about the unibrow. Apparently, it is a sign of virility. Personally, I think it is a sign of not owning tweezers.
It turns out that George W. Bush also has a proclivity for synophrys (the official medical term for this condition. Yes, it is a condition). During his tenure as President of the U.S.A., George Double-Ya’s unibrow was divided in to two. But in his early shots, like this one here on vacation with his wife, he clearly sports a Bert brow.
According to a Victorian criminologist by the name of “Cesare Lombroso“, people who are genetically inclined to having one giant eyebrow are also more likely to engage in criminal activity. Hm. Not only does George W. prove this theory, but many of TV’s not-so-nice characters possess unibrows (Bert, of course, is the exception. If I were a Muppet, I’d marry Bert). But here are just a few of TV’s un-friendly unibrows:
The Simpsons , Maggie, may be young, but not too young to have an arch nemesis. This is him. Notice that this evil baby sports a unibrow.
Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Count Olaf dons a handlebar-style unibrow.
And, of course, The Men Show’s Mr. Stubborn and Mr. Grumpy (the ones with the negative traits) also have eyebrows that meet in the middle.
If I had a unibrow, would it stay in place or would I have one giant lopsided eyebrow? Thanks to my Tweezerman pointed tweezers, I’ll never have to find out.
Photo Credits: Picasso’s Citroen (neatorama.com), Citroen Picasso, (carautoportal.com), Big-eyed dog (Guinness World Records.com), George W. Bush (unibrowclub.com), Simpsons baby (tvtropes.org). Count Olaf (fanpop.com),