Monday, May 25, 2020

So when a day dawns, promising such a small pittance of partying, do we consider it a bummer or a blessing? Of the few celebrations in the starting lineup yesterday, Scavenger Hunt Day would have to be shelved for a future non-COVID time, Escargot Day would be tossed in the nope-bin due to a lack of availability, Wyoming Day was to be put on hold until tomorrow, Asparagus Day until after our next grocery supply run, Sunscreen Day is actually not until Wednesday the 27th, and even Tiara Day was a no-go, given that Jodie’s tiaras (and yes, she owns several) are all in her costume closet at school. So what does that leave us with?

National Brothers Day

Virus or no, Jodie still has brothers. So, much like on Siblings Day and National Brothers & Sisters Day, both of which have already gone by, Jodie reached out with some warm words to her brothers. She received a response from two of them. The other isn’t really a “warm words” kind of guy. We had initially planned to invite Jodie’s brothers (well, two of them) to a trial run of the scavenger hunt we typically prepare for Jodie’s ninth grade class in June. That would have been a riot. This was… nice.

I have no brothers to speak of, so this wasn’t much of a celebration for me. I do have a few friends who were like brothers to me growing up, inasmuch as they hung out with me, laughed with me, played Ice Hockey with me for hours on the NES, and busted my proverbial balls when necessary. Again, hanging out and scavenger-hunting with them would have been a blast, but that wasn’t meant to be.

I hope this pandemic has taught a few folks that life is fleeting, and that any grudges held between those who possess a connection as powerful as the fraternal bond, should be let go. Unfortunately there are still those who feel that bitterness and resentment over the ancient past are more precious than humanity. For those who have shut out their brothers this way, or for those brothers who have shut out their sisters in this way, it’s never too late to reach out. Don’t wait for National Brothers Day next year.

International Tiara Day

Yeah, we’re celebrating this anyway.

Behold the tiara. Not quite a crown, and not even close to being a hat, the tiara is a statement. What sort of statement it makes depends on who you are. It might suggest you are royalty. Maybe you just won a beauty contest, in which case you are probably wearing a sash as well. If there’s a floppy penis hanging off the front of it, you might be stuck at an unfortunate bridal shower. It might mean you wander through the park, knighting squirrels and flaunting the fact that you didn’t take your medications that day. Or, as in the photo above, it might mean you’re just being goofy with friends.

Jodie and her teacher buddy, Jo, took that shot whilst on a school trip to Europe a few years back. With her stash of tiaras safely tucked away at school, we were fortunate to have this photo to give us an excuse to honour Tiara Day, which one site declares is International and not National. That makes it more important, right?

You can trace the history of the tiara right back through the history of civilization. Ever since we elevated a select few to positions of power and prestige, we felt the need to identify these people with weird and elaborate things stuck onto their heads. The tiara shares its roots with the wreaths worn by Ancient Greeks and Romans, with the big pointy headdresses of Persian kings, and with whatever any culture strung together to indicate who was the boss by messing up their hair with some elaborate object.

Tiaras fell out of favour when the Roman Empire tap-danced off the world stage, but they rose to prominence once more in 18th century Europe, this time solely as a female accessory. This was largely thanks to Napoleon, who wanted his Josephine to look more ornate and exquisite than any of those other skanky first ladies on the continent. This day to honour the tiara isn’t linked to Napoleon but rather to Queen Victoria, whose birthday lands on May 24. Yesterday was a day for women everywhere to wear tiaras without shame. And since most women (and men) are still hanging out at home for the most part, I’d say everyone can sport a tiara without shame, really whenever they want.

Perhaps next year. Oh well, stay regal everyone.

National Escargot Day

We’re really short on stuff to celebrate today, and I’d feel I wasn’t doing my job (for which I do not get paid) if I only turned in two items. So instead of honouring the escargot as a food – which we’re not too fond of anyway – we’ll honour the escargot for what it does while it’s still alive. There’s a Snail Appreciation Day in October, but screw it, we’ve got National Greasy Food Day to deal with then so we’ll give some love to the snail community today instead. Maybe we’ll eat some escargot in October, good and greased up. That’s a hurdle for another day.

If you know your gastropods (and really, why wouldn’t you?), then you know that if they have a shell they can hide in, they’re snails. If not, they’re slugs. If they’ve got a shell but it’s too small to hide in, they’re semi-slugs. You probably also know they keep a low-sodium diet, and they are not pleasant to fondle. They’re well-known butchers of gardens, but a batch of concentrated garlic will keep them away. This also works for preventing vampires from ransacking your radishes in the middle of the night.

One study suggests that the secretions (the slime to us laypeople) beneath one species of snail may help with skin regeneration after an injury. There are snail-based skin creams to treat acne, scars, dry skin and wrinkles, so that’s something fun for a late Mother’s Day gift if you’re still looking.

Jeremy (pictured above) may be the only snail who has his own Wikipedia page, an honour even I have yet to achieve. He was born with a rare genetic mutation that caused his shell to coil to the left and not the right. Only about one in a million snails get this weird configuration, and it became the mission of biologists to find another one for Jeremy to mate with, just to see if the trait would be passed down. Two such snails were sent to Jeremy’s lab, but they wound up boinking one another, leaving Jeremy out of the picture. They had an impressive 170 kids, none of whom had that rare left swirl. Then one of those snails threw Jeremy a pity-screw (some snails are hermaphrodites so don’t get caught up on the sex logic here), and they had 56 offspring. No left swirls. The genetic mutation remains a mystery.

So here’s to the snails – may you live long and avoid French chefs.

International Drum Month

Hey, here’s something we can do on a slow day. I don’t know who decided this should be International Drum Month – a similar claim is made for November – but why not? I used to play the drums, and I love it when drummers step up (so to speak) and do something magnificent with the drums. So yesterday I enlivened my quiet afternoon with a dollop of Gene Krupa, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and Ringo. Yes, Ringo. I’m a fan.

And this begs the question – what drops a drummer into the discussion for the best drummer ever? I’d say there is no such title, and a great drummer should meld into the music they’re playing and bring something new and refreshing to it. Some of the most intricate jazz drummers can coordinate their four limbs in ways we mere mortals can’t even conceive. I think of Vinny Colaiuta, who introduced a 7/8 rhythm to a Sting song with an accompanying ride-cymbal hit on every other measure, so that it alternated where it landed in each bar. Fucking brilliant.

Then there’s Ringo. He gets derided by drum-lovers for being simplistic and easy to replicate, but he was the perfect drummer for what the Beatles were putting out. When he needed to be fancy and inventive, we got “A Day In The Life” or “Rain”. When he just needed to be solid, he was solid. The Who made Keith Moon into a lead instrumentalist – check out the drum part toward the end of “My Generation”, which could easily be substituted with a manic guitar solo. Neil Peart made listening to Rush a musician’s manic dream, adding a texture that, without it, we’d just be listening to Getty Lee’s screeching vocals, and that’s no fun. Then there’s Bonham. It’s impossible to overstate what he brought.

So crank up your favourite drummers for what remains of May – and hey, bring ‘em out again for November. You can never have too much brilliant drumming in your life.

Today we return to the work-week, and we do it with all this fun stuff:

  • National Tap Dance Day. I was hoping to rent some shoes and try this out, but it looks like today will be all about celebrating the tap dance – one of the greatest twists on dancing to ever pour out of a human’s feet.
  • National Brown-Bag It Day. We shan’t be purchasing our lunch from a food court or restaurant. Of course we’ll be staying at home, so do we really need a brown bag?
  • Towel Day. Never forget your towel – the first rule of hitchhiking.
  • Geek Pride Day. We are both geeks, in a sense. Jodie loves her theatre, and hey – happy birthday, Star Wars!
  • National Wine Day. Hell yes it is. No need to get fancy here, just pour and enjoy.

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