Saturday, April 4, 2020

Another week stumbles and fumbles its way across the finish line, and we find ourselves once again faced with a weekend of quiet quarantine and responsible celebration – at least mostly. Last night allowed us to get slightly irresponsible for the sake of our sacred calendar, and a groovy time was had by all. Things got a little fluffy and funky:

National Chocolate Mousse Day

Having endured five brutal days with no dessert celebrations, at long last we emerged into the light once more. I have never whipped together a chocolate mousse, but this recipe appeared conquerable. It was. The mousse was fluffy and perfect – or so it appeared. We had to let it refrigerate for 5 hours before digging in, and it was 10:00 at night, so we’ll be sampling the fruits of our labour today. And we still have some black forest cake and lemon chiffon pie left over. I think if there’s any question left as to how healthy this project is, we can probably answer it with a large-gutted chortle.

Aside from being a beloved character in the film Top Secret, chocolate mousse is a fluffy blend of chocolate, whipped egg whites and cream. Egg yolks are incorporated as well, mainly to enhance the mouthfeel. We here at Celebrate366 are all about enhancing the mouthfeel.

There is no definitive history of chocolate mousse – fluffy desserts have been in fashion for as long as humans have been making food fluffy. This means at least 250 years, probably more. Of course if you’re not a fan of chocolate (why???), you can opt for a lemon mousse, a strawberry mousse, or you could go full-on savoury with salmon, liver, shrimp, cheese or veggies. You can mousse up pretty much anything – I suppose that’s the disturbing take-away from this celebration. Fortunately, the day is officially designated as Chocolate Mousse Day, so we weren’t tempted to whip up some scallops just to see what happens.

If you’re looking for an easy dessert to mix things up, this mousse recipe comes highly recommended and duly celebrated. It will be a genuine treat once we get around to eating it.

National Tweed Day

We are not significant imbibers of tweed – there, I said it. I own nothing made from the stuff, and Jodie has a jacket which she wasn’t completely sure was tweed until we checked. It was not. To be perfectly honest, I’ve probably never owned anything tweed. Why is that? What is wrong with me? These are the questions that haunt me.

Tweed used to be the fabric of the upper-classes. Fancy shooting jackets were all the rage in the 19th century, back before we all started shooting in regular jackets. The middle class glommed onto the tweed fad, as it was attainable snippet of upper-class life. Mr. Toad, the character whose wild ride shows up in The Wind In The Willows, was known for driving his vehicle while wearing a Harris tweed suit. This associated the fabric with the new upper-and-eventually-middle-class pastime of driving. Tweed garments have good staying power, which is why people still have hand-me-downs made from the stuff going back nearly a century. Hipsters have now adopted the trend, which is something to consider if you’re thinking about being a tweed person. What will people think of you?

Tweed will keep you cozy, and it’s not likely it will ever appear to be unfashionable. It’s even a material in musical instrument construction, from the cloth backing on Danemann pianos to the classic Fender Tweed Deluxe guitar amp. Some folks have even made bagpipes from the stuff, but let’s not hold that against the fabric. We had considered finding a second-hand tweed jacket for me for spring (which is rumored to arrive in Edmonton sometime in the next few years), but shopping for fun is an activity we’ll have to save for later this year. Still, we have Jodie’s coat (or the memory of when we thought Jodie’s coat might be tweed), and a suitable way to say happy day, tweed.

National Find A Rainbow Day

Finding a rainbow when the weather outside is 20 degrees too cold to allow rain isn’t easy. We turned on the taps and tried to get some refraction, that didn’t work. We hoped to reflect something off the sun to (a) provide a splitting of the light and a rainbow-like effect, and (b) freak our dogs out with mysterious lights scooting about our kitchen floor. Alas, it was overcast for much of the day.

I was actually hoping I’d look this day up and find that it is a metaphor – find the rainbow of light and positivity in the midst of the dark clouds of grim reality – something like that. Nope, this day is actually intended to get us all outside, looking for rainbows. Seems a bit arbitrary – a rainbow is not an every day occurrence. And creating one artificially without actual beams of bright sunlight, that’s particularly tricky. I did have a look at my copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but a drawn rainbow probably doesn’t count.

So in lieu of actual refracted light dancing about our home, we instead looked to celebrate the made-up metaphorical interpretation of this little holiday. A rainbow in nature is something that draws our attention and gives us pause for just a moment. In the midst of such global madness, we took a moment to find a bit of tranquility. Some natural beauty to brighten up our view. For Jodie it was dogs, of course. Pets have no clue that the natural order of the world is in disarray, and to our dogs this is just a heavenly respite from being left alone while we venture off to work. Their simple magnificence was Jodie’s rainbow yesterday. My rainbow I was able to blend with another one of yesterday’s festivities:

National Film Score Day

For those of us who find working to lyric-heavy music to be difficult and disorienting, there is nothing so fine as the film score to fill the air and drive our fingertips to thumping our message onto our keyboards. Since yesterday was the day to do it, I tracked down a great 35-hour Spotify playlist of a variety of scores. Some were epic, some were flowery, others added a majestic drama to my writing. Well, to the act of writing, not so much to the finished result, as you can tell by the words you’re reading right now.

The film score found its way into movies before the advent of talkies. Originally, silent films would be accompanied by a live pianist who would do their own thing, and try to make the music match up with the vibe on the screen. Soon scores were being specifically written – Charlie Chaplin wrote a bunch of his own for the movies he produced, wrote, directed and starred in. He was a bit of an overachiever.

When movies introduced synchronized sound, the addition of specific music became crucial. This took a leap forward with King Kong in 1931, where music reflected the strange foreign land that served as the setting for the early part of the film. Moving through the 30s and into the 50s Hollywood films were heavy on flowery scores, with lush music often seeping into almost every scene. This was the golden age of film scores. Once popular music started dropping into movie backgrounds (notably Simon & Garfunkel showing up in The Graduate in 1968), the role of the film score changed.

Some of the greatest composers of the 20th century made their marks composing film scores. Here I’m speaking of Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, Alan Sylvestri and Hans Zimmer. For the masters of the score we bid a hearty thanks – it’s still the best music to study, to read, and to work to.

World Party Day

Did you party? We partied. We partied hard. By which I mean I wrote this in-depth handful of paragraphs about World Party Day, then I proceeded to down a bunch of rum and a large joint last night. If we can’t get down and funky with a crowd of fellow partyers we can at least embrace the spirit of inebriation, right? Well, there was no one to tell me I couldn’t, so I did. Jodie wasn’t on board, but that’s not really her thing. She actually goes to parties to socialize. I don’t get it.

Author Vanna Bonta apparently came up with this day. How manically the populace has latched onto it I have no idea. I’d never heard of World Party Day before this year, and all I can find about it is that it showed up in this woman’s book, and… it exists. I can see no photo collages of past World Party Days, nor can I see any trace of an event taking place in my city for the occasion. Should we blame COVID-19? Or just chalk this up to being an obscure day, meant to be celebrated only by people crazily trying to celebrate everything all year and die-hard Vanna Bonta fans? That sounds more on the mark.

Parties are, for the time being, meant to be held in a virtual space. That said, it’s always a party with three feisty dogs, so I guess we nudged a little closer to the true spirit of the day (right, Vanna Bonta? What say you?). Just to solidify the celebration I also listened to the album Bang! by British band World Party, which was a thing in the 90s. They were a great little unit, fronted by former Waterboys keyboardist Karl Wallinger. “Is It Like Today,” the big single from that album, is a wonderful throwback to Beatle-era songwriting with a modern (for 1993) aesthetic. It added to the party.

I’d say we safely celebrated this one, and it was inevitable – every day in 2020 is a party for us, even with the world melting into terrified goop all around us. This is what we signed up for. May the party keep rocking for another 9 months.

National Walk To Work Day

From 2004 to 2012 the first Friday in April in the US was National Walk To Work Day. That went away for some reason, but was brought back in an article last year, as a suggestion for people to take advantage of the health benefits of walking. Remember National Walking Day? That was three days ago. Yesterday we were expected to do it again. I mean, what the hell? It’s not like we got two Peach Melba days.

Alas, walking to work would be unrealistic for Jodie and I most of the time. Her drive is 15-20 minutes, my bus commute is 45-60 minutes, and while we could both walk instead, we would have had to arise at an ungodly hour to do so. Also, we’d have had to face the snarl of winter, which appears to have settled in for the next few days / eternity. Fortunately, all of this has been rendered moot by current events.

We both work from home – Jodie twice a week, me every day. So walking to work meant all of 2-3 seconds as we wandered from our bedroom to the office across the hall. Sure, it’s cheating but we’re being true to the day. And yes, we did walk in a more exercise-friendly context, having headed out for supplies later in the day. But the point was to walk to work. That was the easiest celebration since eating Rolos for National Chocolate Caramel Day back on March 19. Mission accomplished.

National Don’t Go To Work Unless It’s Fun Day

Always a good rule, as long as you have a job that’s consistently fun or you don’t mind being unemployed. Actually, you should always be able to inject a bit of fun into work. Your job may not be fun – and let’s face it, it probably isn’t – but you can bring some laughs. Tell a joke, or if that isn’t your thing then set up someone else to deliver a good joke. Someone in your work community has a decent sense of humor.

Maybe you can make a game out of your work. Try to finish compiling the mail-merge in Microsoft Excel before the song you’re listening to (perhaps something by 90s Brit-pop band World Party) finishes. If you’re a long-distance trucker, take a shot (of coffee of course) every time you see a red car. If you work in a dreary office and for some reason have to actually be there right now, start up a game with some co-workers on your break – maybe some three-card monte or that thing where you stab a hunting knife between each of your fingers really quickly. Better still, find someone around you who has a better idea of fun than I do and get some suggestions from them!

We both worked from home yesterday, and it’s safe to say we had fun. I was chasing a swarm of government communications, but I also listened to some dramatic film scores at the same time. Updating a tracking spreadsheet can actually border on modestly fun while John Williams’ Imperial March is playing. Jodie also enjoyed the dogs wrestling manically while she tried to avoid being distracted.

One should always be looking to bring some fun into work, especially now.

Today another wild weekend day will keep us hopping busy:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. For the fourth time this year we each enjoy a bottle of something special today.
  • National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day. Looks like this is what’s for dinner.
  • National Hug A Newsperson Day. Hugs are something no stranger should be imparting to another, so we’ll do some virtual hugs today, and send out some big thank-yous to some of our most revered newspeople.
  • National School Librarian Day. An odd day to appear on a Saturday. Given that support staff in schools here in Alberta are fortunate if they still have jobs, we will extol the benefits of a school librarian, and think back to some of the ones we’ve known.
  • National Vitamin C Day. We will eat some foods rich in Vitamin C and watch our health explode in goodness.
  • National Walking Around Things Day. No going through, over or under. Only around. Who comes up with these days?

International Pillow Fight Day. Hell yes