Thursday, March 5, 2020

The petulant chime of real life invades my virtual eardrums with a cacophonous wheeze. So often called away from this feverish devotion to revelry, I find the minutes of each day all too eager to flee my fingertips and slither under the door. Work calls. Housework knocks. Our new puppy swats our doorknob bells with her protruding nose and demands our constant attention to her digestive needs. Oh real life, if off you could fuck we would graciously welcome the additional time for what’s important. For example:

National Pound Cake Day

When National Baked Alaska Day came a-callin’ last month, I acquired pound cake from our local Sobey’s – and the only form it came in was a massive sheet, ideal for frosting and decorating and feeding 20-30 people. Once again we scoured our nearby bakeries and found no pound cake offerings – so we settled for angel food cake, pound cake’s fluffier and less-cumbersome cousin.

But dining upon something other than the prescribed foodstuff o’ the day felt somewhat hollow to me. Sure, this is ‘close’ to pound cake, inasmuch as the flavour is similar and it’s technically cake. But it’s a different beast. Pound cake is made with flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Angel food cake uses no butter and uses whipped egg whites to give it that spongy texture. This would not do.

Fortunately, ‘pound cake’ can take on two meanings. So in order to safeguard the purity and sincerity of our celebratory indulgences, I covered the other meaning instead.

Marching Music Day

Marching music always struck me as music for people who loved America, but hated music. I couldn’t find the artistic wow in marching music, though its stomp-beats and familiar refrains often evoke a strange fog of nostalgia. When did we first hear “Stars and Stripes Forever”? What about “The Army Goes Rolling Along”? These melodies have become somehow engrained – and this is even for us Canadians – yet it’s hard to pin them to a specific memory.

Marching band is a nationwide school staple in the US – I don’t think we even have one in this town, outside the army base. Yet every year as we watch the Tournament of Roses Parade, we see band after band in sharp, Sgt. Pepper-ish uniforms, blasting “Yellow Rose Of Texas” through dozens of trumpets and tubas. Sometimes the clever ones mix it up and cover a song like “My Sharona” in marching band style. But more often than not, it’s those same old tired march-tunes.

John Phillip Sousa put in his time in the Marine Band – it made sense for him to become the Elvis Presley of marching music as it fit his lifestyle. In fact, he only hooked up with the USMC band because his father was worried Johnny would take his musical chops to join a circus band. Sousa could have been the master of calliope music instead of marching music had his dad not made that move.

But we can’t give Sousa credit for inventing the genre (just as Elvis didn’t invent rock ‘n roll). His impact remains the most powerful, but marches date back more than 400 years, albeit mostly as showcases for percussion. Mozart and Beethoven composed marches. But it was the fact that the rhythm of the march fits in neatly with military stomping that led to this genre becoming synonymous with patriotism in so many nations.

I found a playlist which I listened to while walking to the bus after work. As a former amateur percussionist, I focused on the drums, which are always ultra-tight and fancy, albeit in a regimented fashion. It wasn’t bad, but after a few bars of  “The Washington Post” I was ready to trade up for something with a groove. I’m a little picky about my music.

National Grammar Day

Every day is grammar day in my little wing of the world. My fingers thump their percussive little dance upon these painted-on squiggles, twisting and testing my use of language, but always trying to remain within the confines of proper grammar. But do I always succeed?

It depends on with who you are taking to. For example, I know what words I can and can’t end a sentence on. And that’s part of why grammar is important. Grammar is different to spelling – to plainly explain, people often just sometimes miss this stuff. Grammar. I had a teacher that said bad grammar is more of a societal problem then spelling. And there right. Try and check it yourself all over social media, i.e. Facebook and Twitter. Its to common to see these mistakes; your lucky if you’re friends can form a proper sentence. I could care less – it doesn’t define you as a human (at least I don’t think so.) But good grammar can really indicate where your education level is at.

If that last paragraph kicked your brain in the metaphorical crotch, then good – you’re a stickler. And while it may not be a demonstrably accurate rule, the use of proper grammar lends weight to an argument and shows an ability to organize one’s thoughts. Learn the language of the music of grammar and your ideas will take flight. This is definitely worth celebrating.

Discover What Your Name Means Day

Apart from ‘not confrontational’, pretty much everything about this is inaccurate.

Celebrate Your Name Week roars onward, depositing us today upon the viewing platform into the mystery of our own history. What’s in a name? Specifically, what’s in our names? We’ve already discussed why we were given these labels at birth – for me, that’s the real meaning of our names. If some deeper meaning lies beneath those few letters, it meant nothing to our parents and therefore will say nothing about who we are. But for the sake of fun we’ll turn to and see what they have to say about our identifiers.

The site gives us a fair bit of information about Jodie’s name. It was fairly equally a boy or girl’s name until about 1950 when it became much more popular for girls, peaking in strength around 1970. The name is most popular in the UK and Australia, but in the USA there are more Jodies born in Utah, Iowa and Hawaii than anywhere else. 111 people have Jodie as a last name. But what does it mean? All I’m seeing is that it’s a pet form of Judith. Judith means worship or praise of God in Hebrew. That’s lovely.

As for Marty, there were 4,848 Martys in the 2010 US Census. My name is most popular in Russia and Argentina (who knew?), and in the US the bulk of Martys can be found in South Dakota, Arkansas and Tennessee. My name peaked in popularity in 1961, long before I was born. Let’s look at Martin (technically my actual name). It may be of Greek origin and it might mean “warrior”, “God of war” or “war like one”. Not exactly a perfect fit. Martin also peaked in popularity in the early 60s, but unlike Marty, which was also a girl’s name between 1940 and 1980, Martin is all boy. Martin is also much bigger in Norway.

Lastly, let’s look at Schwartz. Obviously our surname is of German origin, meaning black. Interesting, as I’m not German. Nor am I black, for that matter. Schwartz is biggest in the US and Canada, and tends to show up way more frequently in New York than in any other state. I’ll try to contain my surprise.

National Snack Day

I wasn’t aware this was a thing until I saw a few posts about it on social media. It may surprise you (but probably shouldn’t) that we follow a few accounts belonging to folks who are also celebrating as many national days as possible. Well, I’ve really only seen people doing one party per day, but that just means no one else is willing to be quite as feverishly devoted to this sort of weirdness.

For National Snack Day, we both enjoyed some Whippits (marshmallow-filled cookies – always best in the Black Forest flavour) and a few leftover York mini peppermint patties. We snack on most days so this isn’t really a deviation from our normal lives, but it’s good to pause and appreciate the beauty of the snack, in particular how well it goes with watching TV. Happy snacking, everyone.

Today we’re mostly apart, with Jodie’s school hosting their annual open house tonight. But the party continues:

  • National Cheese Doodle Day. In praise of the mighty doodle, we’ll be sampling some cheese snacks tonight.
  • National Absinthe Day. Unfortunately this stuff is tough to come by. We couldn’t track any down last weekend, so I’ll have to write from memory. With absinthe that doesn’t usually work out too well.
  • National Hospitalist Day. For people who work in hospitals. We’ll give them a good shout-out.
  • Nametag Day. Jodie will literally be wearing a nametag for her open house, so this works out swimmingly.
  • National Poutine Day. A good Canadian does not let this day pass them by.

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