Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The sun yawns loudest right before Magic Hour, casting sonorous shadows of cacophonic distortion & holding a mic to places that otherwise seldom get their fame: sides of houses, low-set windows & the lateral profile of cedar trees explode with intense light. It’s a fleeting moment of inspiration to propel us under the stars, & it serves as a tremendous distraction as I contemplate whether or not to abandon National Ants on a Log Day because I simply don’t want any. I feel that particular snack deserves the full light of day; it does not belong among the acoustic harmonics of dusk. So off it goes. & here’s to what managed to make the cut yesterday:

Telephone Tuesday

It could be that I’ve spent the bulk of my life in vocations & interpersonal relationships that have all been out of the ordinary, but I had absolutely zero idea that the Tuesday after Labour Day is one of the busiest days of the year for phone calls. This is, apparently, a thing.

A few possible explanations: school usually starts after Labour Day so you’ll get lots of parents calling their kids’ schools. Sure, I suppose. Support desks & company sales staff often take the long weekend off, so there’s a flood of those calls. Apparently organized people tend to tackle their to-do lists on this day, which tells me that I am not nearly as organized as I should be. People have to-do lists?

Anyhow, for whatever reason or reasons, Telephone Tuesday is apparently a legitimate cultural observance. & I observed the day by calling my boss & talking for about 20 minutes. Admittedly, this was an obligation, as this is how we have to have meetings now, but it still counts.

National Another Look Unlimited Day

A day for fall cleaning! I didn’t even know fall cleaning was something people undertook – we’ve already shat upon one of our four glorious seasons by insisting it has its own brand of extensive cleaning, now we’ve got to do that to another?

Okay, I’m sounding a little kvetchy for someone whose biggest event so far has been using the damn telephone nine hours ago. National Another Look Unlimited Day is a day for us to wander through our homes & have a look at something that could gain a second life with somebody else. As luck would have it, we have a stash of furniture & stuff that is earmarked for the Find Centre, which would make it available for folks who need it. I have no desire to have a garage sale, nor am I particularly interested in hawking my used goods through kijiji or anything else. I’d rather simply give it to someone who could use it.

I’m also notoriously bad with money – maybe this is a symptom. Maybe I should be prizing profit over everything else. Maybe I should rewire literally every wire in my instinct box (which is full of wires because I kind of dropped the ball mid-metaphor & I’m not backing out now). Or maybe that goes against the spirit of the day.

No, I will hold my weird, wiry instinct box close & do the right thing. Our TV just found a new home on the wall so this TV stand is in the donate pile, along with a number of other things. Don’t throw stuff out if someone else could use it. & unless it’s something that could actually bring in some good bucks on the used market, just give it away. It’s stuff.

Listen to your own wire-box.

National Ampersand Day

I am a huge fan of the ampersand. As far as punctuation goes, it has a flair that is simply unmatched. Sure, the ‘@’ has a gorgeous swoosh to it, & the asterisk can look dapper & trendy when it’s wearing the right font. Honourable mention to the schwa, which bears the appearance of a drunken lowercase-e, & to the pound-sign which has also excelled as the number sign, the hashtag & the tic-tac-toe board. But the ampersand is the only real artist in the punctuation bunch.

She (& I’m going with a she to emphasize her strength & agility) can offer all variants of swirl as her crown, & boasts a squiggle, a straight dash, or whatever one’s pen feels like adding on as the final embellishment on her right side. That appendage is the open hand, the inviting gesture that indicates that she is joining two things together: this & that, us & them, light & dark. The one constant is the stern & determined diagonal slash across her frame – her reminder to us to take her seriously.

As an artist she fits the form brilliantly. She offers addition without condition. She encourages teamwork, togetherness, true connection. Like the true greats, she is the fusion of styles: she is rock & roll. She was an outcast – once letter #27 in our alphabet before being relegated to the upper wing of the number seven on our keyboards. But make no mistake, she has roots as deep as any of those consonants & vowels, even deeper than the squiggly line that poses our questions or the straight, stabby line that exclaims our exclamations. She is ancient, modern, & eternal.

& that’s about all.

National Actors Day

Once again, a day I had no idea existed until this project. I suppose that would be the case for most of these 1,600 (so far) celebrations, but this is one you don’t even see pop up in the most obscure corners of social media. It was started by Helen McCready, who is a casting director. She’s a successful one too, with an actual IMDb resume. I’m not going to go so far as to say I’m familiar with much of her work, but she was on the casting team for Away We Go, that 2009 film with Maya Rudolph & John Krasinski. That was a great movie. Helen was part of that experience, so I’ll give her case a listen for National Actors Day.

She started this day in 2011 as a way of giving thanks to the great actors & actresses (really, we can just say ‘actors’) who have made so much brilliant art for us to enjoy.

& why shouldn’t actors get a day of love? Sure, they have awards for actors & that’s lovely, but there are roughly (& this is a complete estimate here) a gazillion actors who will never win one of those big awards we all pretend mean so much. Look at Peter Lorre, pictured above. The man was never nominated for an award for stage acting or screen acting. He just showed up & did the work. & he left behind a legacy that will live on for as long as humans care about movies.

This day is for the aspiring Peter Lorres out there. The guy who played the Falafel Delivery Man on an episode in season six of Law & Order: SVU. The lady in that commercial whom I believed really was satisfied once she switched her long-distance carrier. That guy who had a few lines in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest then went on to play the creepy mortician in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This one’s for you, Vincent Schiavelli, & all the rest of you who put in the work. Thanks!

Star Trek Day

When I told my mother that it was 54 years ago yesterday that the first episode of Star Trek popped onto NBC, she made a face that I will never forget. It was a reckoning of time, of one’s space in the universe & one’s connection to dreams of the past. I had a similar feeling the night before when I watched an episode of Greatest American Hero on Amazon Prime & realized it had aired 39 years ago.

Star Trek is the ultimate underdog story. It started as a sci-fi prime-time show that achieved a modicum of success, then was cruelly axed by its parent network. It went into hiding, into the true underground of culture. An animated show tried to keep the fires going, but it took a decade for a legitimate cinematic appearance… & that film didn’t fare much better. It’s a fine movie, & the special effects no doubt melted a few cosmically-enhanced brains in the crowd, but the timing was off & the script was not the epic it should have been.

But Trek persevered. Geekdom knows no limitations when the content is worth pursuing. The movies improved & the second, third & fourth series were all big hits. Star Trek helped to normalize geekdom by bringing science fiction to the masses. It has hit some low points, but what hasn’t?

What has impressed me the most about Trek is its most recent cultural playbook. After lying dormant for a few years after Enterprise was cancelled, it followed the recipe for the Hollywood Reboot: younger cast, a few well-known faces, play up the old content for some laughs, & insert a Beastie Boys song for some reason. & it was great. But in the decade or so since that reboot, Trek made a return to where it belonged: television. Everyone has their series of choice, but I’m really digging the three active Trek shows right now – four if you count The Orville, which you absolutely shouldn’t, though it is the true spiritual successor of The Next Generation.

Some people believe “Star Trek or Star Wars” is a legitimate either/or. These are probably the same folks who believe one has to pick between the Beatles & the Rolling Stones. You don’t. It’s all great. Last night I enjoyed a classic first-season episode of Picard’s Trek (he is, after all, the greatest captain), as well as an episode of Lower Decks, which is absolutely worth the time investment for some laughs.

May Trek continue for another 54 years at least. & may we all live long & prosper.

What glorious adventures await me on this next leg of my journey into mirth-marbled madness?:

  • Bonza Bottler Day. & this is a fine time to remember that we didn’t do our necessary supply run last weekend.
  • National Teddy Bear Day. We have something that will work, & he’ll be joining me at my desk.
  • National Wiener Schnitzel Day. I love this stuff.
  • National Sudoku Day. Not my favourite puzzles – I’m never in the mood for too much math & numbers – but I’ll have some fun with this.
  • Chrysanthemum Day. Sure, those are lovely.
  • Wonderful Weirdos Day. What a terrific opportunity to spend the day studying my dogs.
  • International Buy A Priest A Beer Day. What do you want to bet this was started by a priest?
  • Testers Day. Let’s see if this will apply to our lives.

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