Saturday, April 25, 2020

And as the sun stretched its sinewy limbs into the weekend, we enjoyed a pleasantly light Friday schedule. There was not a lot staring us down from our calendar today – in fact, this was the first day since March 24 when we only had two items listed. Fortunately, a bit more digging gave us some new stuff to add to the revelry. Unfortunately, that included this:

New Kids on the Block Day

This is a day in which you are encouraged to visit any neighbours who are new to your community, and to welcome them in a kind and gregarious way. Bring them a basket of goodies. Let them know they moved into a welcoming place, full of… oh shit no. It’s not about that at all.

On this day 31 years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (led by Michael Dukakis) declared it to be New Kids on the Block Day. The band members all come from Dorchester, so that would be why. They were also tearing up the charts in 1989. I was given a bootleg cassette of Hangin’ Tough at the time, and I listened to it a couple of times. Then, about a week later I discovered the Beatles in a big way and I left all this crap behind.

NKOTB was created by impresario Maurice Starr, who was looking for a white-kid equivalent to his other hit group, New Edition. He recruited Donnie Wahlberg (yeah, the guy in Blue Bloods on CBS), who put the group together. Donnie’s younger brother (Marky) Mark was in the group for a while, but he left right away, possibly due to his stint in prison for a hate-crime. I wish I was making that up.

Look, the New Kids were a phenomenon. There were no boy bands quite like them beforehand, and an entire genre of pop music afterwards. So… good for them. I’m celebrating this day by giving Hangin’ Tough another listen. I’ll be honest, it’s painful. The production slathered onto R&B music in the 80s was excessive, and none of these songs are particularly well-written in any way. But this is the vow we have made, to celebrate all these weird holidays. So I’ll take the bullet for the team and let Jodie continue her nap undisturbed. In short, I’ll hang tough.

National Arbor Day

To be perfectly clear, this is an American holiday. The Canadian equivalent is celebrated on various days in May, since Canadian trees in April are barely awake. That said, I will give praise to Arbor Day and to trees in general today, if only to drown out yet another garbage pop-ballad from the New Kids with the tapping of my keys on the keyboard.

Arbor Day was first birthed in Nebraska City, Nebraska in 1872. Newspaperman J. Sterling Morgan challenged people around the country to plant more trees. The day is still a holiday in Nebraska – like, a real holiday, not one of our arbitrary ones – on the last Friday of April. The day became official in 1972, a century after Mr. and Mrs. Morgan’s bold challenge. On that day, roughly one million new trees were thrown into the soil just in Nebraska.

The Canadian version also stretches back to the 1800s, and we can thank Ontario Premier (then the Minister of Education) Sir George W. Ross for this one. Calgary celebrates theirs on the first Thursday of May, and I’m sure Edmonton does something right around that time as well. I remember we used to get little evergreen saplings in a Styrofoam cup to take home and plant. Every year I’d plant mine, then forget about it until it died. In retrospect, it’s wise I avoided having kids until later. Also, I was like 10.

To commemorate the joys of arbor this year, I present our new little tree above. This one popped up on its own. There used to be a dead tree in this spot when we moved in, and it was yanked down in 2006. A seed must have found the right conditions last year, because this little dude just showed up. We decided to let it grow.

To be accurate, the conversation went something like this. ME: “Hey look, our little tree is getting bigger!” JODIE: “I hate pine trees.” ME: “Then we’ll call this one Hitler and you can hate it all you want.” So, I present to the world, our little Hitler. Ain’t he cute?

Day of Silence

I’ll say it straight away – we weren’t silent. I had two meetings, one by phone and one by webcam, and Jodie had to go into school to work with a colleague. Also, the dogs needed our conversational skills to know how groovy we think they are. We were silent for a portion of the afternoon though. Here’s what this day is about.

This day is actually rather important. Launched by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), this is a day to spread awareness about the bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ community. Students have been encouraged to spend the entire day in silence in order to represent the symbolic silencing of these bullied youth. It was first held at the University of Virginia in 1996, and it spread to over 100 campuses the next year.

There is a section of this day’s Wikipedia page devoted to the opposition this day has faced from various groups, but I’m not giving those assholes any attention. If you have a problem with standing up to LGBTQ bullying, you are literally the problem with society and you should immediately remove yourself from it.

I wonder if LGBTQ youth are having a remarkably easier time this year, what with bullies locked into quarantine, far away from the bullied. Cyberbullying is very much a thing these days of course, and I have no doubt that’s still going on. But maybe this hellish lockdown is a bit of a respite for some. Next year, I hope students jump on board this day. The young generation right now seems to be the most accepting and inclusive bunch of kids we’ve ever seen, but there’s a long way to go. In silent solidarity, everyone with common sense is standing with the LGBTQ community.

National Pigs In A Blanket Day

And from the serious and solemn into something completely different. And it just occurred to me that we almost cheated with this day by using 100% beef hotdogs. We would have been eating cows in a blanket. Not the same.

Fortunately we celebrated the spirit of the day, hog-anus and all, which is pretty much taking wieners, either of the cocktail variety or the more fully-realized full-size ones, and wrapping them in some sort of pastry. Yesterday we went with Pillsbury crescent rolls because we’ve used those a few times in recent celebrations, and they’re always fluffy and fantastic. This was dinner last night, and it was terrific.

In the UK, this dish actually consists of little sausages wrapped in bacon. The Brits use a much more awesome blanket, in other words. Here we call that a whistle-dog (with cheese, of course). Now there’s a food that needs its own day. They also serve their blanketed piggies with roast turkey dinner at Christmas. Very nice.

There are a number of other global varieties of this food. Israelis roll kosher hot dogs in a ketchup-covered sheet of puff pastry. This is inherently wrong however, as it implies that ketchup belongs on hot dogs. In China the ‘lap cheong bao’ is steamed instead of baked. In Denmark they’ve adopted the British version, which they call sausage in a blanket. The American version also shows up, but those are called sausage horns.

These were a fine feast – the crescent rolls are much tastier than a plain ol’ bun. The only down side was that, while we dipped them in mustard, we couldn’t load up the dog with all the fixin’s. That’s alright, it was still a delight. Also, I’m done writing now, so I can stop listening to this garbage 80s boy-band pop, so there’s another celebration right there.

Another wild Saturday to keep us entertained:

  • National Hug A Plumber Day. We don’t live with one, and we’ve still got quarantine rules here. So maybe I’ll do something really minor (plunge the toilet?) and get a hug for it.
  • National Kiss of Hope Day. A day for volunteering. We need to stay away from other people, but we can look into some ways we can volunteer from home.
  • National Sense of Smell Day. We will be appreciating everything we smell, from fresh coffee to beer to our doughnuts to our dog’s farts.
  • National Zucchini Bread Day. We won’t have any of this, as our team baker (hi, Mom!) didn’t want to make it. I can’t stand zucchini so I’m happy to skip this one.
  • Independent Bookstore Day. We will drive by our favourite in town. Can’t browse the shelves though.
  • National Dance Day. We do the dance of joy!
  • World Penguin Day. We were supposed to go visit penguins at our local mall today. Unfortunately (and this REALLY sucks) we can’t do that.
  • Bob Wills Day. We will learn who Bob Wills is, and why he has a day.
  • International Marconi Day. A day to celebrate the man who gave us radio. No, not Dick Clark, the other guy.
  • Eeyore’s Birthday. Happy birthday!
  • National Telephone Day. We’ll enjoy our telephones. Like we do every day, only more so.

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