Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The inkwell of inspiration never runs dry; it may choke out a cough of stale air from time to time, but it can come down to how you re-angle your quill, and how far down the feather you’re willing to slide. Up here in Party-Central, the ink is perpetually splattered about our face, neck and chests, tempting us onward to the next grand toast:

National Mario Day

No play on words chimes quite as sonorously as a visual play on words. March 10 gets abbreviated to Mar. 10, which gets crunched down to Mar10, which looks a lot like Mario. As Rainier Wolfcastle might say, that’s the joke.

To say that Mario has been an influential character to my generation would be a grotesque understatement. The early superstar of the video game world was Pac-Man, but that would soon change. Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to make a Popeye game, but when Nintendo couldn’t get the licensing, Bluto was replaced by a big gorilla, Olive Oyl by a generic lady, and Popeye by an unnamed little future former plumber dude that would eventually become the star of Donkey Kong, then Mario Brothers, then a heap of other products.

For Mario Day I spent my 15 minute afternoon break at playemulator.com, running through those first few levels of Super Mario Bros that are engrained in my mind like the walk to my childhood bathroom in the dark. Nintendo also joins in the fun every year – yesterday they had some special outfits for Mario and Luigi in Mario Kart Tour, and they released some teaser videos hinting at an upcoming collaboration with LEGO.

If you have a few minutes, drag yourself back to your favourite Mario game and give it a whirl. A great game may get old, but it should still be fun.

National Pack Your Lunch Day

This is another one of those festivities that requires very little explanation. It’s good for the wallet to pack a lunch, and also good for your health, as you can control what foodstuffs get rammed into your gullet throughout your workday.

I almost always bring a lunch – usually leftovers. I nuked the salmon from Saturday (it doesn’t cause quite the stink in the communal kitchen as the crab meatballs would have), and had my usual bag of veggies, some yogurt, a banana, and a couple of peanut clusters because those are the yummiest product of this project in the last little while.

That’s the extent of it. A celebration that involved doing exactly what I would have done anyway. I like those.

National Landline Day

Nintendo games, packing a lunch, now making a phone call on a land-line – this day appears to have been designed with a retro vibe in mind. I can get behind that.

But landlines? I see no upgrade in switching back to the landline. When cell phones spread plague-like through the populace, it made sense to remain tethered to those old wooden poles, just in case the mysterious cellular magic somehow stopped working. That is still a concern, I suppose, but I think we’re all tuned into the reality that this is an unlikely scenario, and if it happens we probably have more to worry about than picking up a phone.

The landlines of my youth (and Jodie’s) had no phone number memory, so you were dialing every number one by one. Eventually we were gifted with a small amount of storage, then the ability to walk around our house cord-free, a massive aluminum antenna stabbing upward from the receiver. Now I can use my phone to do my banking, to order food delivery, and to watch porn. Why would I go back to lifting a cord-laden receiver?

I celebrated National Landline Day by using my work desk phone (which runs through our computer network, but it’s close enough) to call my mom, who has the same phone number from when I was a kid. It was likely the first landline-to-landline call I’ve made in 2020, so certainly a notable celebration of sorts. All things considered, I dig the present.

International Bagpipe Day

My first thought upon seeing this roll over into my today was, “Oh fuck, seriously? We have a kazoo day and a bagpipe day, yet there’s no Hammond B-3 day?”

I think we can all agree (okay, I know we won’t) that bagpipes often sound like cruelty to animals as conveyed through music. I did find this video which features a guy named The BadPiper playing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” on the pipes, and it’s not bad. There’s a comedian we used to go see, Johnny Bagpipes Johnston, and I felt he did a much better job with it. And that’s what the bagpipes need – some modernization, some self-mockery, and… well, small doses. It’s an instrument of tremendous power, and almost no versatility and dynamics.

Jodie finds the bagpipes evoke nostalgic memories for her. Indeed, we are used to hearing them at funerals or memorials. If you want real nostalgia, the first evidence of a sculpture of bagpipes has been dated to 1,000 BC. Somehow the instrument’s technology spread throughout Europe, but how they came to be specifically identified with the Scottish Highlands is a bit of a mystery. Did every other culture along the way eventually reject them? Maybe the Scots were just naturally adept at them, causing other cultures to bow down in deference?

I’m going to guess it’s the former. Bagpipes are cacophonous to many ears, but to me it’s more a question of their limitations. You can’t easily have a singalong with someone blasting the pipes. Apart from novelty performances like the link above, it’s not feasible to integrate bagpipes with modern music (Paul McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre”, sure, but what else?). I respect the skill and breath control needed to rock these bad-boys, but in the end I’ll hold out for the Hammond.

Organize Your Home Office Day

What a great little task for a Tuesday. I’ll be honest – we are less enthused by these celebrations that appear to be chores in disguise. But a well organized office is a glorious thing, so we indulged the calendar this little task.

There wasn’t much to do. Our home office didn’t exist prior to the month or so before this project began, and with no drawers to our desk and very little surface space, we haven’t had the opportunity yet to get truly disorganized. Jodie had some paperwork to pick up from the closet floor (mostly so Liberty, our #3 canine research assistant, wouldn’t eat it), and I had a few electronic wires and adapters to put away. But that was it.

If you’re looking to inject a bit of order and sanity to your domestic workspace, here are a few tips. Use baskets to sort paper. Keep one basket as a to-do basket, then never put anything in there so you’ll never have anything you have to do. Take all those papers that are cluttering your desk and throw them out. Just like that, the mess has vanished! Get a filing cabinet, and use all but one drawer to store your records and such. Use the other drawer as a liquor cabinet – you’ll thank me later. Don’t hang on to paystubs from that summer you worked at Baskin Robbins in the 90s. You probably won’t need them, nor will you likely repurpose them into a craft project. Instead of cluttering your desk with photos of loved ones, get a digital frame. Or just remember them. Hell, they’re probably in the next room, you can just go visit them.

Hopefully your home office will benefit from these ideas. If so, I’ll gladly accept tips.

National Blueberry Popover Day

Popovers, or ‘laplanders’, are a type of bread-ish roll thing, which can best be described as an American equivalent of Yorkshire pudding. You can make them with garlic and herbs and call it a Portland popover pudding. Of course the true American version would consist of butter and possibly Mars bars, but a smack of blueberry sweet also sounds nice.

The problem is, these fuckers are ludicrously tricky to bake, or so I’m told. My mother – this project’s staff baker – advised these must be eaten immediately after they come out of the oven, after which time they lose their shape and consistency. This would have necessitated her arriving at our home at 5:00 yesterday morning to make them for our breakfast, or to come over mid-afternoon. Since Jodie spent yesterday at home sick and grotesque, that wasn’t an appealing idea.

So instead we toast the popover and fake it with a blueberry granola bar. I know, not at all the same, but it was that or blueberry Poptarts, and we only found those in a bulk box that we did not need or want. If you found a popover yesterday, you have our respect and congrats. If not, what the hell – just enjoy something blueberry-ish.

Today we… well, today is a weird mix of stuff:

  • National Johnny Appleseed Day. This celebration is meant to be honoured by eating an apple. So we’ll each eat an apple.
  • National Worship of Tools Day. We pay respect to the tools that enrich our world. Yep. The tools.
  • National Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day. Breakfast for dinner is a regular occurrence in this project. May as well keep that going.
  • National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. Let’s see what we can learn about this profession.
  • Dream Day. Could this mean another nap?
  • Debunking Day. We’ll look at some of the great conspiracies out there, and debunk what we can in 3-4 paragraphs.
  • No Smoking Day (UK). We won’t smoke. Nor will we smoke in the UK, which is several thousand miles away from us. Easy!

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