Thursday, July 9, 2020

And once again I find myself staring down another introductory paragraph. This was not a significant day in the guts of this project, yet it was another day to add to our count. What are we up to? Is it even possible to know now? Yesterday was a fairly light day in terms of mandated merriment, and it included a visit from our team baker (hi, Mom!) to prepare some cookies with Abbey for today’s celebrations. And through a full day of work and the typical daily joys of owning three needy (and deeply weird) dogs, we still found it in our hearts to make time for all this:

National Chocolate With Almonds Day

We have celebrated almonds, and we have celebrated chocolate (see yesterday’s entry), and now we get to fuse the two together. Chocolate and almonds go together brilliantly – almost as brilliantly as chocolate and peanuts. I’d like to try some smoked almonds coated in chocolate. I’m not sure if that would be delicious or grotesque, but I’d certainly toss down a couple bucks to find out.

Yesterday we kept it simple and enjoyed some M&Ms with almonds. I’d like to say we had this as our dessert, but given that Abbey had already devoured half the bag before our intended celebration, it was instead simply a brief snack in an otherwise non-food-heavy day.

Non-food-heavy. That’s actually quite unusual this year, given how many of these celebrations are food-based. But it was nice, in that it gave us more time to pay our attention to stuff like this:

National Video Game Day

Grand Theft Auto V_20141115005433

When this day was first introduced into Chase’s Calendar of Events back in 1991, it was designated on this date. Why? I don’t know – the guy who first plopped the holiday into that book, David Earle, never specified. Maybe it was his birthday. Maybe he wanted to pay tribute to Nan Jane Aspinwall, the first woman to cross the US on a horse, who completed that endeavour on July 8, 1911. Perhaps he wanted to honour the birthday of Ferdinand Zeppelin.

But we do know that at some point in the late 1990s, the day got moved to September, though some places still publicize it as being on this date. So now we have two celebrations with the same intent. This one is the singular, while National Video Games Day will be honoured on September 12. That’s fine – we’ll have new games to play by then.

Video games are a divisive concern in our home. Jodie was raised in the world of Pong, and has little use for video games in general, apart from the brick-breaker game of which she has played nearly 3,000 levels on her phone. I grew up in the era of Intellivision, Atari and Nintendo. Arcades were a noisy, stimulation-filled haven for me in my youth. I still enjoy games, whether it’s Madden on my Xbox or Civilization VI on my PC. Yesterday I also played a bit of Inside, a creepy atmospheric puzzle/adventure game, as well as some GTA V because driving over pedestrians and blowing up cop cars never goes out of style.

Apart from the obvious hand-eye coordination skills video games can exercise, the most interesting ones are great for thinking strategically. They can be an escape from the real world, but they are not a passive escape. I’d much rather spend an evening plunking away on my computer, trying to elevate my German Empire above the competing empires on my screen than watching reality TV, or simply having the set on in the background.

For me, games are best when I can multi-task. If I can listen to music at the same time, great. If not, that’s okay too, but I need to be able to step away whenever something else requires my attention. This is why head-to-head online gaming isn’t my speed. But there’s a game out there for everyone, and with the average gamer age increasing all the time, the variety of game styles will be forever evolving with our culture.

It was a fun day. I can’t wait to do it again in September.

SCUD Day

In what must be the 600th celebration devoted to blind feelgoodery, we tuned in yesterday to Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama Day. It’s a day created by author/lawyer Stephanie West Allen, intended to remind us to embrace what makes us laugh and let go of what’s stressing us.

Given that “what’s stressing us” is pretty much everything going on in the news these days, there was only one way to unplug from it. But that would mean missing out on the dark comedy of it all as well, so we couldn’t avoid the news. I suppose the correct response to this day would then be to laugh at what’s going on, at the absurdity of it all, and not to let it stress us. That’s kind of my default approach to the news these days, though Jodie took some convincing.

Look, it might seem as though the world is melting down right now, but that’s only because the world is melting down right now. We can only do what we can do, which these days means staying at home where possible, wearing a mask in public out of a basic notion of courtesy, and being kind to one another. And when an idiot public figure does something you despise, or something that will potentially lead to the deaths of innocents, either find the dark comedy in it or tune it out for now. For me, I just put it into my quiver of knowledge until it becomes useful. If your issue is with an American president and you happen to live in that country, simply be aware of what’s going on and let it inform your vote in November.

No matter what the issue, there is usually some sort of comedy to be found within it. If there isn’t, I suppose the thing to do would be to leave it until SCUD Day has run its course, then we can all get back to embracing the drama once more. We made sure our entertainment last night was pure comedy. It’s our favorite thing to savour.

Be A Kid Again Day

So while we’re diving deep into the comic yesterday, whilst playing video games, baking cookies and eating chocolate and stuff, we have to squeeze some childlike behaviour into our lives. Seriously? Every other entry on this day – well, at least the ones above this one – are directed specifically toward kid-friendly joys. As a kid I loved to play and eat junk food. Mission accomplished.

In fact, I’d say this mission gets accomplished almost every day in this project. It’s the one uniting theme: we focus not on our responsibilities and duties, but rather on the celebration of everything we love in this world: fried foods, candy, and weirdness. 2020 is all about being a kid again, especially if you were the type of kid who preferred to stay in the house.

So I embraced my inner kid while I played video games and ate snacks yesterday. Some of these holidays come naturally to me. This was definitely one of them.

Math 2.0 Day

I wasn’t going to indulge in this one. I mean – it’s math. Why celebrate math?

Okay, I can answer that one. Math is crucial, and yes, I use it every day. Math is integral to music. It can factor into movies and TV. I use math when cooking, or when portioning out the grotesque frozen salmon-based raw food our dogs somehow devour ravenously every morning. Math is essential in creating the video games I played yesterday, and in building all the websites I wasted my time on when I should have been working.

Math is everywhere. I consider it a tremendous privilege that I rarely have to use it in my day-to-day work. I regularly plow through a series of word puzzles on my phone (in part to keep my brain razor-sharp, in part to pass the time while Jodie plays her brick-breaker game), and that app also features some math-based puzzles, like Cross-Sums and Kakuros. I consider it a source of weird pride that I can down a couple drinks, smoke a hearty and fulfilling bowl, and still punch through those math puzzles. My brain isn’t used up quite yet.

So here’s to math, and to all those who do it every day so that we non-math-loving schlubs don’t have to. I still did my math puzzles yesterday for fun. But otherwise, I sluffed off my math homework, just as I did when I was a kid (see previous entry). Celebration successfully celebrated.

Be Nice To New Jersey Week

Back in 1997 a New York Times article tuned us in to a celebration started by Lauren Barnett, publisher of Lone Star Publications of Humor. Apparently Lauren was concerned that there were more jokes made at the expense of New Jersey than any other state. This was a week for us to put those gags on hold, and say some nice things about the Garden State and its residents.

Well, sure. We’ll actually be celebrating National New Jersey Day in our culinary voyage around America a little later this month, and I trust that the recipe I found for Chicken Savoy will be tasty, and leave warm thoughts of Jersey in our hearts. I’m not really one for poking fun at the state, but then I don’t live anywhere near it. Up here it’s Newfoundland that becomes the butt of regional jokes, and from what I’ve seen, they’re the ones usually making the jokes to poke fun at themselves.

So this week I pledge to purge all negative New Jersey statements from my articles, should they pop up. And I’ll even take a moment right now to list some of the wonderful things about this state:

  • They have great beaches that are not littered with syringes or populated by the douchebags on that Jersey-based reality show.
  • They have a really neat-looking hot air balloon festival that has been bumped to October in hopes the virus will be completely gone by then.
  • Lots of optimists in New Jersey, as evidenced by the previous point.
  • You get some great views of New York City from New Jersey – is it really a reason to visit a place if it’s because you can see a much more interesting place? Yes!
  • Kevin Smith, Bruce Springsteen, and Southside Johnny. So much brilliance came from here.
  • Six Flags Great Adventure is the world’s largest theme park, and the roller coasters look incredible.

So there you go. Be nice to New Jersey this week, then you can go back to mocking them mercilessly. Meanwhile I’ll be busy trying to figure out how many Newfies it takes to change a light bulb.

Another day of weirdness and acting like a kid, even though we already did that day. Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • National Sugar Cookie Day. Baked fresh yesterday afternoon, we’ll be digging deep into these today.
  • Nunavut Day. A little love for Canada’s most recent addition.
  • Fashion Day. I have none. I will demonstrate that.
  • National No Bra Day. I can do this. Can Jodie? In quarantine on summer vacation? Yep.
  • National Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Omelet Day. If we don’t even make an omelet, does that count as celebrating this one doubly?
  • Call of the Horizon Day. A day to wonder what’s beyond the horizon. Sure, that sounds like something we can do from home.

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