Saturday, February 1, 2020

With one month in the rear-view, and over 160 celebrations lining the walls of our celebratorium thus far, we can do nothing but look ahead. Well, after we look back at yesterday, I guess.

National Backwards Day

Just a short stint after National Opposite Day we find ourselves winding reality back upon itself once more. We opted not to wear our clothing backwards, nor to walk backwards for the day – Jodie would have looked foolish (and suspicious) going through security in the airport, and I’d have looked out of place at the urinal with my pants around my knees, peeing into the middle of the room.

I opted instead to dig into some backmasking – that classic exploration of rock songs played in reverse, expressing hidden messages. I’d written about this in my previous project, and I still find it fascinating to squint my brain and try to deduce if Robert Plant is imploring me to worship “sad Satan” in “Stairway to Heaven”. Did Paul McCartney die in 1966, only to be replaced by a guy named William Campbell? Of course not, but listen to certain chunks of the White Album backwards and maybe you can talk yourself into it.

One can celebrate backwards day any way they please. But being uncomfortable in one’s clothing or dangerously strolling without seeing where you’re going may not be advisable. Why not get creeped out by backwards Freddie Mercury urging you to smoke marijuana in “Another One Bites The Dust” through backwards messages?

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

If I would admit to one addiction (thereby ignoring my numerous other addictions as nature intended), it would be to art. We seek the art in music, in theatre, in film, in literature, in visual media, and most importantly in the folds of reality we glimpse every day. There is one 10-15 second chunk of my morning commute where I find myself gazing out the bus window at our city’s skyline from the west, bathed in shades of outlaw purple and throaty indigo as the first breaths of the sun puff their orange billows just behind the buildings. It’s often the greatest little moment of my workday.

Jodie’s profession sees her imparting the beauty and necessity of art to her students every day. Both of our children have chosen careers in the arts. Even this wacky little project in which we are embroiled is an act of art. How can you tell? It’s a definitive expression, made for no reason except that we felt it needed to made, and the aim is obviously not profit. I mean, no one was paying us to eat croissants on January 30; we simply did it.

There are many ways to inspire your own heart, but I would argue that inspiration should, if at all possible, be channeled into your own creation. If you’ve got a means to create, just create. Not for money, not for attention – you needn’t show it to a soul. But no art will provide greater inspiration than that which you have birthed.

For those who had asked, the above print, which hangs in our front hallway, was created by Brooklyn-based (now New Mexico-based) finger-painting artist Iris Scott, whom we stumbled across on Instagram. She makes elaborate explosions of colour and light, channeling her muse directly through her fingertips onto the canvas. We’d fill our home with her work if we could; you should really check her out.

Eat Brussels Sprouts Day

Here is the point in the article where my mother will undoubtedly furrow her gaze into a squint, wondering how I’ll approach this once-sensitive topic.

Yes, I grew up hating Brussels sprouts. “But they’re like little cabbages!” my mother would exclaim. Not being a fan of cabbage, this was not the right argument to employ. A smaller version of a food I already disliked is not a selling point. Then one day, as the mid-afternoon sun of grown-updom shone down upon my kitchen, I found myself facing a recipe for these little green turds that would change my life. I learned the Brussels sprout secret: Don’t fucking boil them.

Chop ‘em up, roll ‘em around in oil with salt and pepper, and pop ‘em in the oven to roast to crisp perfection. I’d missed this celebration in my original plans for this week; I was happy to pick up some sprouts on the way home from the airport to celebrate them now. Knowing the secret is everything.

Are you wanting one food to give you 102% of your daily vitamin C needs and 169% of your vitamin K? Look to the sprout. Do you enjoy food that looks like a miniature version of another food (that you hopefully don’t hate)? Head to sprout-town. Do you want to prepare that food in a way that renders them thoroughly unenjoyable? Boil them. Sorry, mom.

Scotch Tape Day

Here’s something you may not know about Scotch tape – it acquired its name via what we today call ‘xenophobia’ or ‘non-wokeness’. It happened back in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Richard Drew was working on a new masking tape. He needed to figure the correct ratio of adhesive. One of his testers was unimpressed by the failing prototype, and instructed Richard to “take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!”. I don’t know if this parable is true, but it’s great – he meant ‘Scotch’ as in ‘cheap’, and what better way to launch a brand than with an ethnic stereotype?

Scotch tape is the prince of the household tape world. When a task is not monumental enough to necessitate duct tape, scotch steps up. Masking tape may try, but who wants to look at that beige evidence? Packing tape is clear, but cumbersome and noisy. Scotch tape is the perfect fix-it.

For our celebration yesterday, Jodie directed her students in what I was told was a hilarious sketch involving scotch tape. Alas, it could not be filmed and transmitted here due to obvious underage participant issues. As for me, I went around the office and found things to fix with scotch tape. It’s always good to use these celebrations to improve the world around us.

Brandy Alexander Day

A little cognac, a little crème de cacao, and a little fresh cream. Shake it, pour it, drink it. The origin of this delightful beverage is as muddy as a mind soaked in an evening’s worth of brandy alexanders. Was it crafted for the royal nuptials of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles? Was it named for drama critic and known raconteur Alexander Woollcott? Maybe someone was paying tribute to Alexander II, the swan-song czar of Russia? Or was named for Troy Alexander, an actual New York bartender who may or may not have invented it?

The simple answer: who cares? The alexander is sweet, seductive, and more than slightly devious, as any good cocktail should aspire to be. I can think of no better way to close out this first month of mayhem, this first chapter in the perpetual party, than with a brilliant winter drink such as this.

Plus, it was John Lennon’s favourite during his 1970s drunkard period, so that’s another bonus. But wait… is it possible I can top it?

National Hot Chocolate Day

Ah, there it is. Winter’s most formidable foe. That which toasts the insides of children and grownups alike when the mercury has dipped into the abyss. People speak of comfort food, but is there any greater comfort drink than hot chocolate?

The Mayans get credit for inventing the chocolate beverage, though theirs was not meant to counteract a frosty afternoon. The Spanish “acquired” it (the quotes are to remind us all of colonialism and what that really means), and hot chocolate became the beverage of the elite. This brings us back to the previous Monday’s Chocolate Cake Day, and the brilliant work of Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten, who developed a method for mechanically extracting cocoa and creating cocoa powder. That opened up chocolate to the common schlubs in Europe, and made the task of living infinitely more joyous for all of us.

I concluded my day with a warm cup of liquid hug. There could be nothing better. Jodie underwent a similar celebration with our daughter out in Vancouver. Today, they get to rest and recreate… I’ve got some cooking to do.

On my own, I must ask myself… what the fuck did I get myself into here? Here’s how I’ll be spending my day:

  • Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. Self-explanatory and extremely delightful. Also, it will set the theme for the day.
  • National Dark Chocolate Day. I purchased some dark chocolate, but rather than simply eat it, I’m going to have some fun with it.
  • National Candy Making Day. I’m making candy! Chocolate covered cherries to be specific. I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ll be going off no recipe. This is a roll of the cosmic dice.
  • National Baked Alaska Day. Sure, I’ll prepare a dish I’ve not only never tried, but I’ve heard is complex and labour-intensive. I started this one last night; I trust it will turn out hilariously unphotogenic.
  • National Texas Day. I will also spend a chunk of this day making chili. What a weird way to savour life as a bachelor. But chili con carne is a Texas classic and I am a slave to my calendar.
  • National Serpent Day. I doubt I’ll spend much time around any actual snakes today, but who knows?
  • Imbolc. A Gaelic festival to mark the beginning of spring. It’s nowhere near spring here, but I’ll look into the interesting history of this tradition, and light some candles to invite warmth into the  home. Sounds like a great, romantic way to eat chili and baked Alaska on my own!

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