Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The great potato of life keeps rotating in this little cosmic microwave we call 2020. For most this means it will emerge into 2021 flavourless and cooked to a grotesque mush. For us, we’re just waiting for that fucker to explode. This has been a year unlike any other – which we’d expected, though we’d hoped it would only be because of this celebration nonsense. But here we are, the shrapnel of insanity skirting close to our arm hairs as it flies by, and all we can do is dig into the weirdness. At least yesterday was a more tolerable level of manic, by which I mean we only had to worry about this stuff:

National Sons & Daughters Day

This one appears to have stemmed from Nanaimo, BC, though the exact creator has been lost to the ages. I’m pleased to report that the primary purpose of this event is to tell your sons and daughters how much you care about them. So no gifts, right? No gifts are necessary? Good.

There have been numerous attempts at pushing forward a day devoted to sons and daughters, which surprises me because when I’d ask my parents why there was a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but nothing for the kids, I got the same worn-out schlock I’m sure every curious kid received: every day is kid’s day. Well, this year has proven that to be patently false. Also, if every day is kid’s day, where is my daily Hallmark message? Why can’t we do brunch every day? Why then is every day not Sunday?

These are the probing questions I never thought to ask my parents, and fortunately my kids never thought to ask me when I gave them the same response to that question. And now it’s too late, and they can simply be happy with the warm ‘n fuzzy text messages they received from us yesterday. Damn, if all of these celebrations required accompanying cards we’d be even more broke than we already are.

So happy day to sons and daughters everywhere. Your gift is in the mail, I promise.

National Presidential Joke Day

Given that we are doing everything in our power to keep this site as free from current politics as possible, I will simply point out that there is little funny about a mentally and socially stunted narcissist in the White House, but once he’s gone we will look back on this era and find a never-ending trove of hilarity. Tragedy + time = comedy, the saying goes. We just need to wait for the time.

But this day isn’t about the present schmuck-in-chief. It dates back to 1984 when Ronald Reagan was doing a sound-check before addressing the nation for his Saturday evening radio broadcast. Yes, it was not that long ago that presidents used radio to communicate. Isn’t that charming? Anyhow, in setting the audio levels for the broadcast, Reagan quipped, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Everyone listening – the audio guys and the rest of the tech crew behind the broadcast – knew Reagan was having a laugh. But someone leaked it to the public. His critics called the joke ‘unpresidential’ (remember when that was a metric for anything?), but come on – it’s funny shit. Reagan probably got a lot of laughs from Democrats with that one.

I’ll be honest, I miss the days when the president could be funny. I wasn’t a fan of George W., but he did deliver some charming moments when he was procuring a chuckle or two. Clinton and Obama had a sense of humour about themselves, and Bush senior made a point of telling Dana Carvey how hilarious his impersonation was. Unfortunately the current president couldn’t even be funny as host of Saturday Night Live a few years back, and he was surrounded by a lot of talent. That isn’t a statement on politics, but rather one on comedy. I know comedy. The current president is very bad at it.

So let’s look forward to sunnier days with more guffaws emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue. Until then, I guess we just laugh *at* the president, which isn’t nearly as much fun.

Annual Medical Checkup Day

Apparently this is the day in which we’re supposed to be reminded that if we’re not getting a checkup at least once every year, we may be dooming ourselves to being flattened by medical boulders. I’m coming up on one year since my last physical so I did the righteous thing and called up my doctor to book one.

The phone rang, I pushed ‘0’ to get to the operator, and was advised there was no one who could take my call at this time. Goodbye.

Okay, well I tried. And I’ll try again tomorrow, since this is something I really shouldn’t put off. A medical checkup is never a pleasant experience, though I’m hopeful there may be a smidgen of good news about my blood pressure or my weight (at least if she compares it to a different species, like an elephant or a particularly pudgy ocelot). At the very least I’m hopeful she doesn’t feel the need for the ol’ finger test. 2020 has been enough; I don’t need that on top of it.

Ingersoll Day

Yesterday was the 187th birthday of the Great Agnostic, a revered writer and orator by the name of Robert G. Ingersoll. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of him; I hadn’t either, until the calendar told me it was time that I did.

Bob Ingersoll’s dad was a preacher who supported the abolitionist movement in the early 1800s, long before it was hip to do so. As a result, the family moved around a lot. Bob became a lawyer, and eventually got married and had two daughters. After the Civil War, Bob became Attorney General of Illinois, and dipped deep into politics, but he never ran for office – his thing was to perform as an orator. This was a vastly different time, when theatre and live music were relatively scant and people would venture out for an evening just to hear someone smart talk at them.

Bob could speak about a lot of topics. He could deliver a lecture on Shakespeare or the process of rebuilding the nation, but his favourite topics were agnosticism, the notion of free thought, and the sanctity of family. He was a humanist who openly questioned devout religious faith, and this netted him a bunch of bad press. But he was a superstar, and people would pay $1 (which is about $20 today) to hear him prattle on about whatever. He was close friends with Walt Whitman, who called him the embodiment of the individuality Whitman preached in Leaves of Grass.

So a happy Ingersoll Day to all free thinkers, humanists, and aspiring orators out there. These days you’ll have to get a TED Talk or a book deal to bring in money doing what Bob did, but if you’ve got the chops, go for it. The world needs more great voices.

National Face Mask Day / World Mask Week

This was originally a day promoted by Lush Cosmetics as a day for everyone to try a medicinal face mask to see how supple and magnificent it would leave their skin. That’s great, and I encourage everyone to give that a shot sometime.

But we decided to use this day as a reminder to all: wear a damn mask. It’s literally the least you can do for others, and not wearing one doesn’t make you look like anything but an ass. It’s not fun, but it’s not forever. Probably. Just wear it.

National Connecticut Day

The Constitution State, which sits as a buffer between Long Island and the bulk of New England, is the fourth most densely populated state in the nation. It was founded on a rich maritime history, though it doesn’t actually touch the ocean. Instead it rests against Long Island Sound, which is, I suppose, close enough. The name is adapted from a Mohegan-Pequot word that means ‘long tidal river’, but what I can’t understand is why it contains a silent ‘c’ in the middle. If you’re adapting from a word in another language, couldn’t that be done phonetically, without making it so damn confusing for school children?

Yale was established in Connecticut in 1701. The state was a key player in the American Revolution, and it thrived in the decades that followed. In 1875 they got the first telephone exchange on the planet. Igor Sikorsky flew the first experimental helicopter in the state in 1940. In 1992 Foxwoods Casino became the largest in the western hemisphere. Anyone who has strolled through the MGM Grand in Las Vegas should be impressed by this statistic.

And which wondrous humans have come from this state? You’ve got Robert Mitchum from Bridgeport, Gene Pitney from Hartford, Norman Lear from New Haven, Seth MacFarlane from Kent, Ron “Horshack” Palillo from New Haven, Ted Knight from Terryville, John Ratzenberger from Bridgeport, Katharine Hepburn from Hartford, Meg Ryan from Fairfield, Paul Giamatti from New Haven, Glenn Close from Greenwich, Ernest Borgnine from Hamden and of course Gary Burghoff from Bristol.

The cuisine of Connecticut is very similar to the cuisine everywhere else in New England, which may pose some problems as we continue to strive for originality. But we are covering the lobster roll with this one. Unfortunately we were using pre-frozen meat which wasn’t nearly as delicious as fresh lobster might have been, but the number of fresh lobsters swimming around in the North Saskatchewan River is surprisingly low. It was a fine meal, and our team baker (hi, Mom!) whipped up some terrific coleslaw to accompany it.

There is no official state day next week, and after next week we may lose access to our team baker in person, as both Jodie and I become cesspools of disease and mayhem in the so-called ‘real world’. Let’s keep our hopes high that this won’t be the case. And let’s wish we had some leftovers.

Today we bask in yet another quiet day – though after having hammered through 20 celebrations a couple days back, they’ll all seem quiet by comparison:

  • National Julienne Fries Day. Most fries are cut julienne style, aren’t they? No worries – this can be done.
  • National Vinyl Record Day. I have no working record player, but I do have some vinyl I can flip through.
  • National Middle Child Day. I could have sworn I skipped this one over the last weekend. Whatever, we’ll skip it again; neither of us fit the description.
  • World Elephant Day. A day we may have gone to visit Lucy, our city zoo’s elephant. But alas, we are still hiding out at home, so this will be a learning adventure.
  • Baseball Fans Day. A day to celebrate – not the game, not the players, but the fans.
  • IBM PC Day. Would they still call a typical Windows machine an “IBM Compatible”? Probably not.

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