Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Each day carries with it mere subtle vibrations to distinguish it from the day before. Our locale seldom varies, same with our company. The imminent thunder of a new dawn reverberates meekly as we unceremoniously pass the two-month mark in our lockdown. Were it not for the mixed bag of this mercurial mash-up of mirth, we might succumb to tedium. But no tedium marches past the gates here. Well, it does, it just doesn’t get to lay claim on calling the shots. We reserve that for the magnificence of stuff like this:

Abbey’s Birthday

Twenty-three years ago, we had a kid. She was one hell of a kid too, fuelled by fire and forged from the planetary core. She challenged us every day growing up – not in an adversarial way but in a way that inspired us to be better parents and better people. She took our best traits – and yes, our worst traits – tried out each one, then forged a human greater than the sum of its genetic parts. She could feel on a universal scale, with enough compassion and empathy to blanket every atom in existence and then some.

Raising Abbey was a profound gift, one of the greatest I suspect this Tilt-A-Whirl thrill ride will ever throw at us. Now she’s a full-grown adult, and the culmination of everything we’d hoped for her. She has the brains to solve any crisis. She has the discipline to conquer any challenge – though she continues to test herself with that one on a regular basis. She has the humour to survive this manic planet. She’s one of the only people who can make me laugh on a consistent basis, and I can’t stress enough how spectacular that is.

Abbey moved away from us three years ago for school, and given her chosen profession we don’t ever expect to see her locking in on an Edmonton postal code again. But she remains a crucial and consistent facet of our lives, and for that we are profoundly grateful. Thanks for 23 years of immeasurable greatness, Abbey. And remember, when I was your age, I had a 4-month-old. That should freak you out more than a little.

International Brown Bag It Day

Were we attending our places of work, this would be a day for which we would require some preparation. This is intended to be a day to celebrate the cost savings and time savings of bringing one’s own lunch from home, rather than purchasing a lunch over the noon hour. Jodie has nowhere within walking distance of her work to buy a lunch, and while I do enjoy some of the offerings from the food courts and food trucks downtown, I usually bring my food from home.

Yesterday we were both working from home, so brown-bagging it was inevitable. And, as it turns out, delicious. We’d enjoyed some pizza from Tony’s the night before, so yesterday’s lunch was simply a matter of heating up some of the sausage & peppers we’d had as an appetizer and enjoying our remaining slices of pizza cold. Tony’s doesn’t need re-warming – it’s a fine cold pizza.

The reality is, buying lunch every day is cost-prohibitive. It’s also lazy, and even with a multitude of options, you’re going to get bored by them eventually. These days a brown bag isn’t necessarily the right way to go – reusable lunch bags have been immensely popular since they stopped manufacturing my A-Team lunchbox. Of course, given that our need to transport our leftovers only necessitated covering the space between the fridge and the table, no brown bag was necessary. Nor was it possible – we haven’t owned brown bags or used them as a lunch conduit service in 15 years.

But we celebrated the spirit of the day, and that’s all that matters. Our project, our rules.

Towel Day

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

“More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit, etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

These are the words of Douglas Adams, and if it all seems thoroughly vague and weird to you, then you must head out right now and purchase a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or borrow one from your library in e-book format – that’s still a think libraries can do. This is the root of Towel Day, a day to pay tribute to the greatest five-part trilogy of all time, and one that still hasn’t seen a perfect adaptation into movie form. This is likely because the brilliance of Adams’ universe is best observed by the imagination.

Towel Day was first observed on this day in 2001, about two weeks after Douglas Adams’ death. We proudly hoisted our towels with us everywhere yesterday, and even brought them with to Liberty’s puppy training class last night. When we explained to everyone that it was Towel Day, I’m pretty sure they all got it. If they didn’t, then we never really needed those strags anyway.

Geek Pride Day

In 1998 the first Geek Pride Festival was held in Albany, New York. It was the dawn of a new era in geek-dom; where once the geeks were the source of mockery, derision, bullying by the jocks, and getting tossed into a high school history class taught by Dr. Johnny Fever, suddenly they were taking over. Being a geek in the late 90s meant you knew your way around the Internet, and that was suddenly cool. What made it cool? Was it the fact that the geeks had access to tons of free pornography that the jocks didn’t? Was it the reality that those who refused to embrace technology were being left behind culturally? Was it… actually, it was probably the porn thing.

Geek culture has since been re-defined numerous times. Comic-Con, which in its origins was a destination for the social outcasts and lonely types who held firm to their love of comic books and other geek materials, is now a coveted mecca of the mainstream. Those who followed their geekly pursuits into a career in computers or IT probably still have a job during this lockdown, and probably make more money than the national average. The geeks have inherited the earth, and yesterday was a fine day to celebrate those of us who have embraced the handle since before it was advisable.

Of course, everyone claims to be a geek now. Jodie, who in the 80s was proudly lacking geektitude as one of the popular crowd, is a self-proclaimed theatre geek, and she can back that up. I used to be an all-around geek type, then became more of a music and movie geek. To be a geek is to possess a love for something, be it cultural or technology-based, to know a lot about the topic, and to flaunt that love and knowledge all over the place. Under that definition many folks are geeks of many different colours.

To celebrate Geek Pride I played a bit of prog rock whilst surfing the True Film subreddit to read some lengthy, over-analysis of camera angles and lighting. These days it seems that being a geek isn’t just trendy, it’s obligatory. A big thanks to those of you (of us) who paved the way for this reality.

National Tap Dance Day

National Tap Dance Day was signed into being a thing by president George Bush (the first one) back in 1989. Tap dancing, like the jazz music we celebrated on Sunday, is an American art form. Sure, it has roots in clog dancing, Irish jigs and African Juba dancing, but the clickity-clack rhythmic tap style was born on American stages. One of the pioneers of this style was William Henry Lane, a.k.a. Master Juba, one of the rare black performers who was allowed to appear in a white minstrel show back in the 1840s.

Tap dancing became a phenomenon once sound was introduced to the movies, in particular as MGM ramped up its 1930s roster of musicals. Quite often the dancing was a meld between tap and the lindy hop, which we’ll be celebrating tomorrow. It’s one of the most fun styles of dance to watch, and for one as enamoured by percussion as I am, it adds an extra element of musicality that other forms of dance can’t match. In fact, Omaha-based indie pop band Tilly and the Wall has forsaken the notion of a drummer, and instead employs Jamie Pressnall’s tap dancing feet as the percussive part of their rhythm section.

May 25 was chosen as National Tap Dance Day because it is the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who was one of the preeminent tap dancers of the Vaudeville/Hollywood era. Bill took a lot of flak for upholding black stereotypes at a time when Hollywood’s treatment of African-Americans was thoroughly and without exception dismal. But he also pushed the Dallas police department to hire its first black officer, he championed for fair treatment of black soldiers in WWII, and he changed the face of his art form. The man was a damn legend. To celebrate the day, we enjoyed this classic video of Bill dancing with Shirley Temple, as well as a few other tap standouts we dug out on Youtube. And I had to check out that drummer-less band.

We are deeply grateful for tap dancing and this day to celebrate it. We don’t stand a chance of learning it ourselves, but damn can we enjoy it.

Be Kind To Animals Month

There’s no great textured message here: just be kind to animals. I read a story on social media yesterday about someone who swerved to purposely run over a turtle on the road. I have repeatedly blocked stories of beaten and abused dogs and cats because those stories do nothing but turn my stomach. I don’t need persuasion to know abusing animals is wrong, nor am I in a position to do anything to stop it.

Unless, that is, you’re reading this and you’re not totally sold on whether you should be kind to animals. Just be kind – it’s no big reveal here.

A surprising number of these days are devoted to loving our fur-lined (or scale-lined or feather-lined) friends. We are softies for animals, and we hope that most or all of our readers (or both – still think ‘both’ is the right word) are animal lovers too. Don’t be a dick – be good to the entirety of the animal kingdom. Except spiders. Fuck those ugly fuckers.

The week rolls on with at least two past-due celebrations we can catch up on (Wyoming Day and Wine Day), and all of this glorious stuff:

  • National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. We have no access to blueberry cheesecake today unfortunately. This one won’t happen.
  • National Paper Airplane Day. I haven’t made one of these in a while. We’ll see who can build the better one.
  • World Lindy Hop Day. Do we stand a chance of learning this? Or should we just enjoy the talents of those who already know how?
  • Sally Ride Day. Sally Ride is pretty awesome, and not just because she’s mentioned in a Billy Joel song.
  • World Dracula Day. Sure, why not?
  • World Redhead Day. I didn’t even know this was a thing. We can certainly salute our ginger brothers and sisters.