Wednesday, September 30, 2020

As we breach the threshold of 75% of this project in the can, we can confidently begin plotting how we’re going to drive this thing home. It won’t be with a frantic reach toward quantity; yes, we may see another day with 10 or 12 celebrations, but that will only happen when those celebrations are particularly interesting, or else if I feel a quirky penchant for listening to my fingers tap senselessly on my keyboard while I write about nothing. That won’t be often. We still want to embrace the delicious, but my hope is that in the last three months we can embrace a bit more of the weird. There wasn’t much weird happening today, but we stumbled through a few celebrations with wit and aplomb, and the calm grin of folks who know we’re fewer than 100 days from the finish line.

National Coffee Day

Apparently International Coffee Day (which makes more sense, since we never partake in Canadian-grown coffee beans) is on Thursday. Do we celebrate both? I mean, we’ll both be drinking coffee on Thursday, so why not? Tim Hortons was giving away coffees yesterday for this event, but since their swill barely counts as coffee anymore, we’ll ignore that and simply enjoy the stuff we brewed ourselves.

We are not coffee snobs, but we can tell a half-decent brew from heated gutter water. Jodie would pick Credo as her favourite in town. I’d lean more toward this guy we call “Mr. Wizard” who sells $10 bags of delicious beans from a storefront on the south side. Usually we fall back on Starbucks from the grocery store during the week because it’s easier. This also makes our Saturday coffee adventures to get coffee from somewhere outside the house that much more special.

Coffee is an invention of the Arabic world, and it may be the greatest they have gifted to humanity (though hummus is also quite awesome). I still believe coffee is best enjoyed without any cream or sugar to muck up the beans’ original intent, but I have accepted that not everyone will agree. Some people will insist on being wrong. That’s cool – it’s part of the glorious tapestry of humanity.

Coffee is a massive spectrum of possibilities. Some prefer espresso, though I feel weird sipping from a cup that small. The latte or cappuccino is a great alternative go-to, and I’ve got a friend who tried that coffee whose beans had been pooped out by a cat (a civet, to be exact). Having a palette that can appreciate flavours but which falls short of super-taster status, I’m okay with the regular stuff. Which brings us neatly to:

National Starbucks Day

I can find absolutely nothing to indicate why this is National Starbucks Day. The first Starbucks store opened in March of 1971. Starbucks itself is advertising that they’ve got deals in place for National Coffee Day. If they aren’t even boasting about this day, does it count? Can I rightfully include this in my grand 2020 tally?

Of course I can. The entry clearly shows up on one of the National Days resources I used for my research, so someone somewhere must have celebrated it. And given that March is long gone and Starbucks itself isn’t boasting of any day by this title, I’m giving it to them.

Starbucks coffee is not the greatest coffee on the planet. But I find them to be the tastiest coffee of all the major chains. When they first arrived in Edmonton (much later than they’d arrived everywhere else, it seemed), their lattes were magnificent. And they first set up shop inside a bookstore, which added to the vibe.

The story of Starbucks, which I shan’t repeat here, is an interesting one, and worth a read. Of note, the original owners sold the company in 1987 to Howard Schultz, a former manager. They had six stores in Seattle at the time, that’s it. Howard then turned them into a global corporate monster, but seemingly the good kind of monster, as they do make an effort to be ethical in their global dealings. Or at least that’s what they’re telling us. I’m sure some grumpy soul has a damning dossier on them somewhere.

But for our purposes, they make fine coffee. We enjoyed some yesterday morning as we usually do.

World Heart Day

In association with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and other companies who want to make billions of dollars as we take care of our tickers, we’ve got World Heart Day. According to the official World Heart Federation website, we’re supposed to pay attention to heart health today, as we join the WHF in trying to reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

I’ve got a slightly bumped-up blood pressure situation these days, I’m sure totally unrelated to this mandate of celebrating a bunch of stuff every day and writing about it. So I can appreciate the importance of taking care of this crucial part of my anatomy. I have started exercising regularly, and though I have also stopped doing this over the past week, I have the good sense to miss it tremendously. It will take everything I’ve got not to rush this broken foot along so I can get out there and trek through the neighbourhood with the puppies again.

I don’t always eat what’s best for my heart health, but I tend not to add too much salt to my meals, and I try to make a good choice every now and then. We’re not at the turkey-bacon level of deprivation yet, and I hope we never get there. But instead of having French Fries with a meal, we’ll occasionally have poutine. That’s healthier because of… of the gravy… right?

Okay, we might need to do some more research on what makes a good healthy heart choice. I have heard that flossing regularly is actually very good for the heart so maybe that’s the habit to focus on?

Cardiovascular disease claims 17.9 million lives every year, so it’s getting its job done in culling the population. The least we can do is try to slow that fucker down. Yesterday I furthered my resolve to do so, all from the comfort of sitting on my ass because my broken foot won’t let me do much else. But hey, I can floss.

Broadway Musicals Day

This… this isn’t a thing. The concept of Broadway Musicals Day only popped up on that one website I missed in my extensive research for this year, and the only link it provides as evidence of the day’s existence is to a blog that is giving me a 404 error. So no, there is no Broadway Musicals Day.

But Broadway has had  a rough year. I’m reviving the day myself because I can’t believe the thunderous toll this year has taken on the theatre industry. The theatres have been dark since March, and they will be through the end of the year. At least. This isn’t about a dozen folks on stage having to find other jobs – this is thousands upon thousands of people whose industry has collapsed. Lighting people, sound people, ticket takers, liquor sellers, propmasters, set painters, ushers, techs, theatre ghost-wranglers… and you can add a few thousand directors, producers and musicians to the mix. There has been a race to open up pretty much every other industry, but not theatre.

Theatre is not the cultural beast with the widest reach. Our culture connects over TV and movies, and even music on a grander scale. But there’s a reason the Tonys are still a much-viewed award broadcast, despite relatively few people in the audience having been to New York to see the nominated plays. Theatre is essential art. And its somewhat less broad reach means it doesn’t have to pander to fit the parameters of mass popularity. It simply has to be great. And ideally, it will be great art, with something worthwhile to say.

One of the highlights of this crap-ridden year has been the appearance of Hamilton on Disney+ over the summer. This is the most popular musical in decades, and it became a phenomenon long before it ever played outside of the Richard Rogers Theatre on West 46th Street. It speaks to so much that’s going on now, and so much that has unfolded since Lin-Manuel Miranda popped it onto the stage five years ago.

For this day, we ask that you reach out to support local theatre, even if they aren’t providing anything in return at the moment. The Fringe, Catalyst, and the Freewill Shakespeare Festival will all accept donations to help keep them afloat until things get back to normal. Art is essential to making life tolerable, and art needs our help right now. If you know someone who is unemployed due to the shuttering of theatre, take them out to lunch or buy their father a Playstation. Every little bit helps.

And if you’re looking for something glorious to watch, you could do a lot worse than Hamilton.

We’ll wrap up September in style, or at the very least, in pants. Can we ask much more of ourselves in this year of perpetual weirdness? I think not. Here’s our menu:

  • National Women’s Health & Fitness Day. Jodie can do some exercise. She’ll be thrilled. This is sarcasm. But seriously, Liberty is a dog-woman, and she has her final heeling class tonight, so that’s all about fitness.
  • Maple Leaf Day. This is about planting trees. Trees are nice.
  • National Mud Pack Day. A chance for us to smear dirt on our faces?
  • National Hot Mulled Cider Day. It’s still a little warm outside to make this logical.
  • National Love People Day. Ew. Gross. People are the worst.
  • International Podcast Day. I’ve been looking for an excuse to listen to a podcast. Maybe this will be it.
  • Orange Shirt Day. This is for reconciliation, a cause we care about quite deeply. Unfortunately I don’t own much orange…
  • International Translation Day. The entirety of this section will be written, then translated into a few languages and back to English. Let’s see how Google does.
  • Ask A Stupid Question Day. I’m good at that.
  • Chewing Gum Day. I’m also good at that.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day. Okay, a day for a fine ingredient.
  • International Thunderbirds Day. A day to celebrate the British TV show, or I could mention that my high school mascot was the Thunderbird. Whatever the hell that is.