Friday, June 26, 2020

Today we tweak the toaster knob from ‘speculative’ to ‘visceral’. The roster of scheduled events is long today and through the weekend, yet our time will be forcibly limited by our desire to focus our attention elsewhere. Yes, the sanctity of National Coconut Day and National Paul Bunyan Day will be maintained and cherished, but the time I’d need to invest in scrawling lengthy articles will be offset by the extremely limited window in which we can hang out with both our kids. Abbey arrived yesterday, but her three week stay towers over the two days we get with Colton and his girlfriend, Daria. We will be immersing ourselves in the tangible, experience-focused celebrations (so yeah, the food), but hitting the brakes on research and writing. At least a little. For example:

National Bomb Pop Day

We weren’t going to let this one slip by. Invented on July 30, 1955 by James S. Merritt and D.S. Abernathy. I don’t know what happened between these two ice-treat Edisons, but somehow they were struck with luminous inspiration that day in Kansas. No doubt directed by notions of patriotism, they crafted the perfect stick-lined frozen treat, consisting of cherry, lime and raspberry flavours crammed into a noble red, white and blue experience.

We’ve known them under other names – I’m pretty sure I bought them as Rocket Pops from a travelling ice cream vendor as a kid. What I didn’t know is that there are numerous flavours of Bomb Pops on the market. Anyone else think that the Banana Fudge flavour would be outstanding?

Again – we focus on the visceral here. We enjoyed some Bomb Pops on an ideal summer day, once again surrounded by half of our children. It was a great start to what we hope will be an unforgettable weekend.

National Leon Day

That’s right kids. We are now precisely halfway between Christmases. It’s time to start working on being less of an asshole, lest you find yourself on that dreaded of all dockets: Santa’s Naughty List. National Leon Day reminds us that ‘Leon’ is just ‘Noel’ backwards.

There are a few options for celebrating this one. If you miss the joy of winter celebrations, you can reenact one with your loved ones. If you live up here in the tundra you probably don’t miss winter that much (I think I’ve only mowed my lawn three or four times this year so far). So we opted for something different.

For crafty people (and we may be many things, but we are not crafty people), it’s time to start planning your decorations and your homemade crafts for the Christmas season. I hate that idea, but I do appreciate the qualities of a top-notch ugly Christmas sweater. And as luck would have it, December 18 is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. So we took a few minutes on the way to the airport yesterday and started planning what we’d do for our own sweaters. This is a project I’d like to undertake: building our own ugly-ass sweater to reflect the holidays in the tackiest possible way.

Also, if your name happens to be Leon, I say use this as an excuse to enjoy some extra dessert or something. I mean, the day has nothing to do with you, but who else is going to know that? Rock on, Leons.

World Handshake Day

I brought it up to my barber during my sanity-saving trim a couple weeks back: if the Coronavirus has one lasting effect on the world, I hope it’s the elimination of the handshake as a thing. I hate it. Why do people feel the need to grasp one another’s extremities in greeting? I know what people touch in a day. People ride escalators and hold on to the railing out of habit, not for balance. They use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands. Even if they do, they touch the same door handle to leave the bathroom as the last schmuck, who didn’t wash up.

We have all become more aware of germs and their potential to fuck up daily life. Why not crank up that awareness and simply switch to the fist-bump full-time after all of this?

My barber disagreed. He likes the handshake. He sees it as a way to measure a person through a sense separate from sight, sound and smell. If you get a limp noodle, you’ve got a limp human on the other end of it. If you get a bone-crunching squeeze you’re probably dealing with an over-compensating douche. If it’s clammy and slimy with palm-sweat, then WHY THE HELL ARE WE STILL DOING THIS???

I offer no love for the handshake on this day. I hope that on June 25 – maybe it’ll happen next year – we finally decide as a society to shelve this antiquated greeting mechanism. Long live the fist-bump.

Color TV Day

Yesterday was the 69th birthday of colour television. Companies had been at work on color tech since 1940, so it was just a matter of time. Then, on June 25, 1951 CBS showed a variety special called Premiere in full, glorious colour. The broadcast began with Patricia Stinnette, a professional model who had been posing for CBS’s colour tests for ages. She must have had one hell of a skin hue.

The rest of the show included Arthur Godfrey, a bunch of paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a bunch of commercials (of course), Ed Sullivan, and a couple of Broadway performers (one of whom was Robert Alda, Alan’s dad) singing a song from Call Me Madam. The show was broadcast all over the east coast and it was world-changing. Of course you needed a colour set to watch it, which almost no one had. And those who did were a little put off by the way people’s faces splotched in different shades. The technology wasn’t perfect yet.

It took a few more developments before colour TV became a regular thing. Cuba was the second country to adopt colour broadcasts, surprisingly enough. This was in 1958, and they came to an immediate halt the following year when Castro took over the country. They wouldn’t see colour broadcasts again in Cuba until 1975. In Canada we could get American colour feeds, but all Canadian programming remained black & white until September 1, 1966. This was fine, as fewer than 1% of Canadian households even owned a colour set at that time.

To celebrate this day, we simply watched some TV in colour. Not a lot of choices in black & white these days anyway.

Mitch Lane Day

According to the World Cube Association, which I’m sure you recognize as the foremost authority on Rubik’s Cube solving on the planet, Mitch Lane has one hell of a record. He holds 258 medals (81 of them gold) in cube solving competitions, which is really something they should start airing on ESPN now that professional sports is on an extended hiatus. Mitch, who looks about 14 in his official WCA photo, is a bona fide legend.

It was the Berkeley Summer 2013 competition. The best in the world had gathered to solve a puzzle that took most of us the entire 1980s to realize we’d never finish it. Mitch finished 11th in the 3×3 (that’s a normal Rubik’s cube) competition, with an average solve time of 11.49 seconds in the final round. That’s right, solving a jumbled-up cube in 11.49 seconds was only good enough for 11th place. But Mitch walked out of Berkeley as a winner: he set a new record by solving the cube in 6.25 seconds.

6.25 seconds. I’ve had sneezes that have lasted longer than that. Just watch this video of his accomplishment – it seems almost unreal that a human could move a Rubik’s cube that many times in such short order, let alone to solve a pain in the ass puzzle of utter chaos. Yesterday was our day to celebrate this accomplishment – 6.25 = June 25. Very clever. So we raised a glass to toast this athlete, even though his score has been beaten since.

So let’s get him on TV already. In full colour, of course.

Global Beatles Day

Can it be done? Can we listen to every official Beatles release in a single day? Well, at the time of writing this (which is around 4:15pm) “Revolution 9” was playing. That’s encouraging, as we have worked through the catalog chronologically. After the official 60s releases we’ll tackle the Hollywood Bowl concert and the Anthology collections. If there’s time we’ll plow through the BBC releases, the Love soundtrack, and maybe the bonus tracks that came out on the recent re-releases. If we fail, it will be a question of time, not desire. It’s a fun challenge.

The only significant event to have occurred on June 25 in Beatles history was their participation in the first worldwide satellite TV broadcast, Our World, in 1967. It was on this program (in fabulous full colour, of course) that they debuted “All You Need Is Love”.

The truth is, we celebrate the Beatles almost every day. It’s rare for a day to go by when they don’t pop into our radio or Spotify playlists. The photo above is a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle we finished last week, containing 100 Beatles songs. We named our kid Abbey for chrissakes… they’re the greatest band that ever was.

I know, not everyone will agree. But looking at their impact on popular music, popular culture, and their incredible composition skills, there’s simply no other way we can see it. Not every song is flawless (“Good Night”, now playing through my speakers, is sappy and over-flowery for my tastes). But there is simply no other band that has created this much perfection. And no other band will ever have a similar dominant effect on a multitude of generations.

That said, if we get the chance to try the same feat with the Rolling Stones’ catalog, we’d absolutely be up for it. How did we end up doing? Well, the later albums take a lot longer to get through. After the Past Masters collection I put Anthology 1 on, and it lasted for a song and a half before our wireless speaker died. It was a valiant effort.

And in the end, the love we took was indeed equal to the love we made.

Today our house gets packed full of humans, and we’ll choose to live in the moment more than in our research. Here’s what we could tackle:

  • National Coconut Day. Maybe we can find something around the house with some coconut in it.
  • National Beauticians Day. Abbey’s going for a haircut, so that will have to count.
  • National Chocolate Pudding Day. Easy. There’s always time for chocolate pudding, or so goes the text I’m considering for a neck tattoo.
  • Take Your Dog To Work Day. One or more of our canine research assistants will help me out with today’s article.
  • National Eat At A Food Truck Day. If we don’t get to this today, we’ll make up for it next week.
  • Tropical Cocktails Day. This is a thing? This… this is a thing? Hell yes.
  • National Canoe Day. Not likely – we don’t own one, nor will we be acquiring one today.

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