Friday, May 15, 2020

And to the Ides of May our little celestial trolley rolls up, promising but a modicum of festivity to dazzle a mostly overcast day. We left the house today (I know, shocking) to make a quick trip to the doctor then to my office, and in doing so missed a plumber who had promised to stop by sometime between sun-up and sun-down. Such is the misfortune of timing, which is counter-balanced by the great fortune of being able to swim in the waters of these little mirth-cicles yesterday:

National Decency Day

This day will lead us along the treacherous cliff-face of politics, as it was founded in 2019 as a response to the lack of decency present in political discourse all around us. That hasn’t changed, of course, and it certainly was not being celebrated yesterday in the numerous political debates that raged on the pages I follow on social media – keep in mind these are humor pages, a music page, and a page devoted to disgusting-looking food. Politics, about which we used to possess an unspoken agreement to never discuss in public, is our biggest excuse for picking up cyber-torches and virtual pitchforks and screaming at one another.

We have specific political beliefs like most people do, and we do express them online from time to time. But the lack of civility in so many of these discussions is disheartening. If our society can’t muster up the empathy to not call one another ‘asshats’ and ‘libtards’ then how on earth are we expected to take care of one another? I suppose the saving grace of this virus (apart from allowing me to work from home, which is, as I’ve said before, both awesome and pants-optional) is that we’re focused so much on COVID news, we hardly hear about the impending US election anymore. Unless we watch the news. Which we don’t.

Lisa Cholnoky, a graphic designer from New York, launched this day last year, and with any luck its sentiment will catch on and carry through to the rest of the year. I’m not counting on it – there are still too many loudmouths in the media, screaming at us to fear and hate the other side. Some of those loudmouths have even made it into office, though I won’t name names. Trying to stay neutral, even if it hurts my insides.

But that’s the decent thing to do. I engaged in a few of those discussions yesterday on Facebook, and I did my best to maintain a sense of decency and civility. One person with whom I clearly disagree politically ended up having a 30 Rock-themed laugh with me. The fact is, politics used to be more hidden from public discourse and it sailed along just fine without us shouting about it all the time. It’s time to remember what connects us, and to laugh together, help each other, and cheer together for this virus to subside. Every day should be Decency Day.

National Dance Like a Chicken Day

First and foremost, fuck the chicken dance.

Accordion player Werner Thomas from Davos, Switzerland first unleashed this musical abomination on the world sometime back in the 1950s. I blame the prominence of lead paint in society. The song may have been an Oktoberfest drink-along tune, and had it stayed that way I wouldn’t loathe it so. In 1980 Dutch band De Electronica released a version as a B-side, and it began to spread. I don’t want to bring up a parallel with the current global pandemic situation; I’ll let you connect those dots.

A handful of other versions came to prominence in that gritty, mullet-heavy era of the early 80s, including a version by Edmonton-based band The Emeralds, which went double-platinum in Canada on K-Tel Records. Henry Hadaway ultimately created the version that hit #2 on the charts and condemned us all to this stupid dance being a stain on our culture. We had to do it in elementary school and I’ve hated it ever since. You can’t do those moves without looking like a schmuck. You can’t add a twist or any style of your own to it, because the moves are so moronic.

We celebrated this day by performing each of the chicken impressions featured on Arrested Development, where it was a brilliant running gag for the family to mock one another as a ‘chicken’ by performing a terrible version of a chicken’s sound and movements. That made us laugh, rather than puke. We regret nothing.

National Underground America Day

Nope, I was hoping this would be a day to pay tribute to the great art, music and film made outside of the mainstream. I should know by now that the literal interpretation of the day is most commonly the intended one. This is actually for all the folks in America – some 6,000 or so – who live underground. This doesn’t mean basement suites (though it really should), but more those homes built into hillsides and such that are completely encased by earth.

Malcolm Wells was an American architect who promoted this style of living, and even lived in Cape Cod in an underground palace of his own. He launched this day in 1974 to draw attention to the fad, but sadly it never caught on. I suppose folks are all caught up in that windows and sunshine crap. To be clear, Wells wasn’t just trying to expand our reach to fit more humans in subterranean space – he wanted everyone down there. He felt the surface of the planet should be left to the plants and animals, and that our human goings-on should be taken care of underground.

We had a look at some of the interesting floor plans and architecture that has gone into these sorts of dwellings. Integrating skylights is always key, but to me it doesn’t seem enough. Also, I can’t imagine it being anything less than painfully expensive to build one of these things. Perhaps if you had a crew of hobbits at your disposal they’d know a few work-arounds to save you some money, but overall this seems prohibitive.

But to each their own. Some of those homes are quite exquisite. As for us, our basement is a place where no one but the spiders sleep. It’s cold and packed with a whole heap of stuff. If our freezer and laundry facilities weren’t down there we’d probably only visit the space twice a year, to grab the Christmas decorations then to put them away.

International Dylan Thomas Day

Shortly before he died, on May 14, 1953, Dylan Thomas took part in a staged reading of his play Under Milk Wood at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. It was the first reading, and someone had set up a single microphone to record it. It remains the only recorded audio of Dylan Thomas as a part of this play, and it inspired the creation of this day in his honour.

Dylan Thomas created some of the most fantastic poetry of the early 20th century. You’ve no doubt heard of “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion.” He has a fleet of other thought-provoking dances of language that are a thorough joy to peruse. Perhaps more importantly, Dylan lived the hardcore life of the true poet, which has since been romanticized all out of proportion – but make no mistake, Dylan Thomas is the prototype, and he lived the life. He drank irresponsibly, he supported fringe causes on the far left, and he struggled financially. And of course his life ended tragically at the age of 39.

We spent some time perusing his work yesterday, because what else can you do on a Dylan Thomas Day? Drink irresponsibly? Actually yeah, we could have done that too. We always think of the good ideas too late.

Today we once again dive into more celebrations than we can likely handle. Nice to have such an abundance at hand.

  • National Chocolate Chip Day. At least one chocolate chip cookie will be devoured. Possibly more.
  • National Nylon Stocking Day. Do we both don stockings and strut about our house? What gossip would our dogs pass on to the neighbour dogs?
  • National Pizza Party Day. A great second excuse to eat pizza, now that National Pizza Day has passed!
  • National Bike To Work Day. We own no working bikes, and we also work from home. This one won’t happen.
  • NASCAR Day. We aren’t fans, but we can still learn about that sport where people drive fast and turn left lots.
  • National Slider Day. Don’t know if we’ll have sliders and pizza at the same time – might be too much awesome for one meal.
  • Shades Day. We’ll wear sunglasses.
  • Straw Hat Day. I guess we’ll wear these too.
  • Relive Your Past By Listening To The First Music You Ever Bought No Matter What It Was No Excuses Day. Wow, that’s a long title.
  • O. Henry Pun Off Day. How about an entire day of puns? Or… not?