Saturday, October 31, 2020

A glorious Halloween to all you guys and ghouls out there – hey, see how easy it is to sound like a low-budget radio DJ? – but fear not… we shan’t be putting all of our haunted eggs in one basket… or, pillowcase, or whatever. We’ve got plenty to celebrate today that isn’t Halloween, though how important are those things, really? Tonight we’ll have kids coming to our door, and Jodie and I will work out whether we’ll be using barbecue tongs to dispense candy or simply throwing them at children. I’m rooting for the latter. But enough about today – here’s what went down on our All Hallows Eve Eve yesterday:

National Checklist Day

I came up with a pretty quick checklist to hammer through yesterday:

  • Buy my Halloween mask
  • Transfer money between accounts for our mortgage payment
  • Create my bi-weekly spreadsheet report for work
  • Call the doctor to renew my prescription
  • Make fun of at least 3 anti-mask conspiracy nuts and/or racists on social media
  • Watch the first episode of The Mandalorian’s new season

Not a tricky list to cover, and I’d blasted through all but the last one by the end of my workday. I suppose “write this article” should be included, but that’s almost reflexive now. I don’t need the reminder.

This date is not some arbitrary “hey, let’s remember checklists are cool” day. 85 years ago, a man named Major Ployer P. Hill took a fateful flight that changed air travel forever. He was representing Boeing in a pitch to the US military to show off the B-17 Flying Fortress. Boeing needed this to go well, as they were looking to secure the contract that would make them gazillions of dollars. Shortly after takeoff, Ployer stalled and crashed into the field. Everyone on board died, leaving us to forever ponder what kind of a name ‘Ployer’ is.

The ground crew had forgotten to release the flight control gust locks. How do you even forget that? You don’t want your gust locks all… unreleased and stuff. I mean, come on. Anyhow, this led to the development of thorough checklists that must be followed before any aircraft takes off. Who knows? Maybe it was the invention of that checklist that saved Boeing from being shunned by the military for this blundered demonstration. They made their gazillions and we all got safer air travel as a result of Ployer’s sacrifice.

All thanks to the mighty checklist.

Sugar Addiction Awareness Day

Okay, fine. My name is Marty and I’m a sugarholic. I love sugar. Not on its own, of course – that’s socially unacceptable and too sticky. But I embrace my sweet tooth, fully aware that it may someday be my demise. This was encouraged when I was a kid, not by my parents (whom I feel struck a fine balance between indulgence and restraint) but by my genetics. I had zero cavities while I was growing up. I’d eat a large bag of chips and down a 500ml Coke every Tuesday night during Moonlighting and while I was never a scrawny kid, I didn’t gain weight either.

I thought I was invincible.

Then along came adulthood, and its forays into obesity and dental fillings. My appetite for massive snacks abated somewhat, but I still craved that sweet, sweet release of a sugar rush after a meal. Eating a piece of fruit as a snack still seems bland and uninspiring. Every year around this time I pick out the Halloween candy I’d want to eat, and hope against hope we get as few kids as possible in order to maximize leftovers. If there’s sugar in the house, I’ll eat it.

And this year has been particularly bad, with baked goods and candies getting celebrated at the whim of the calendar multiple times every week. Somehow I have lost weight over the course of the year, but I don’t expect that will continue through the winter unless I make a few tweaks to my habits. But those tweaks won’t be happening this weekend. This is the greatest candy holiday of the year. Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate hearts and Easter about chocolate eggs, but Halloween is about Crispy Crunch, Kit Kat, Snickers and all of my other old friends.

Yes, I’m a sugarholic. I accept that, and I will try to get help someday. Just not today.

World Lemur Day

The only thing I knew about lemurs prior to writing this piece was that they have cool tails, they swing with those tails, and… I don’t know, Zaboomafoo? He was the lemur of notoriety back when my daughter was young, and watching those two zoologist brothers talk to their lemur friend on PBS was a much better use of our TV-watching time together than, say, Barney the Assholosaurus.

Lemurs are really cool little creatures, even the ones who don’t communicate with humans to deliver nature-positive messages on public television. For example, they only exist on the island of Madagascar, which sits like a punctuation symbol beside the continent of Africa. Humans didn’t show up on that island until about 2,000 years ago, and back then lemurs were the size of adult gorillas. Some species of lemurs (and there are more than a dozen, just on that one island) can share space with other species due a different diet. I like that. Coexistence.

If you have the ability to throw some support behind this species, you’d best hurry up. A 2013 report suggested that up to 90% of all lemur species might be wiped out in the next two decades without some intervention. The local humans on Madagascar have made many efforts to preserve the lemurs, but they also have to contend with poverty, political instability, and other human-threatening factors.

Lemurs have a small brain-to-body ratio, but let’s not hold that against them. They still do awesome stuff, like wiping their long tails under their armpits and waving them at one another in “stink fights.” Seriously. These things are hilarious. Many species of lemur are also female-dominant, so hooray for the matriarchy. Dwarf lemurs, the only species of primate who hibernate for extended periods, take snoozes of 6 to 8 months at a stretch. I’m a little jealous. All I’m asking for is a couple months of straight sleep.

Lemurs are awesome. I hope they appreciate this day, and I hope they get plenty of candy to celebrate like the rest of us.

National Speak Up For Service Day

Here’s a sweet entry (no sugar pun intended, I promise), courtesy of the Lions Club in Fargo, North Dakota. They decided back in 2003 that there should be some sort of day to acknowledge young people who have stepped up and tried to make the world a better place. We see this every so often in the news, like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who have been actively petitioning for gun control ever since a wacko shot up their school in Florida a few years ago. The other day I gave a shout-out to a kid trying to hand out 100,000 meals, or that kick-ass girl who turned her artificial arm into a glitter-gun.

Young people are often overlooked as game-changers because they often don’t have the power or the voice. When they do find the spotlight – and here I’m thinking of Greta Thunberg, the climate activist from Sweden – they end up in the crosshairs of heartless ass-faces on social media. I’m actually glad Greta isn’t in the news lately; it’s downright heart-crushing reading what some people will write about a passionate young woman with a cause. People suck. But not young people.

Young folks have an easier time tapping into that activist yearning for a few reasons. For one, they don’t have an awareness of all the impediments to change, which allows them to see the world as they feel it should be. And they’re usually right – even with unreasonable steps to reach the ideal, they can shine a light on some very stepable steps we can take to make things a little bit better. They also haven’t yet been crushed by the unfathomable greed that dictates a lot of our society. Unfortunately, that crushing often rolls in by the time they reach voting age, so we lose a strong portion of the progressive vote to shattered dreams and betrayed ideals. This year that may be different, who knows?

Jodie drew attention to a couple of her students whom she felt embodied this day. We had a good talk about these kids, and either she has an unusual excess of empowered, dedicated kids or else we as a society need to shut up and listen more to that generation.

The future is looking bright with the next batch of future grown-ups. Let’s not tell them that their worst peers will probably fuck it up.

National Bandana Day

Actually, this is National Bandanna Day, because apparently Australians spell that word with an extra ‘n’, and they invented this day so they get dibs on its title. Celebrate it with whatever spelling suits you.

This day was created to raise money for cancer research. The official site behind it was selling bandanas (or bandannas) by the box-load for folks to sell as a fund-raiser. Specifically the money is meant to go to young people battling cancer, or to a charity that battles the cancer that affects the young. They have raised over $33 million Australian dollars (which I believe they call dollaridoos) so far with this campaign, and it’s mostly young people who are doing the fund-raising, which ties in neatly with our last entry.

It’s too late to get on board the bandana (or bandanna, or bananarama, or Antonio Banderas) train this year, but we can still toss some funds toward the cause through their website if we feel so inspired.

Liberty did her part by showing off her stunningly attractive bandana when we hit the town (or, more accurately, our block) for our daily stroll.

Oh yes, it’s candy day, it’s spooky day, and it’s all that fun stuff. Plus a full moon and an extra hour as we change our clocks over. So much fun! But there’s also all this:

  • Halloween. Well, of course. We’ll be handing out candy and I’ll be dressing up since Jodie doesn’t want to. I’ll be dressing up and so will Liberty.
  • National Caramel Apple Day. My teeth may not be up for this one, but it’s a holiday tradition.
  • National Doorbell Day. I guess this makes sense, since our doorbell will see more use tonight than the rest of the year combined, probably.
  • National Magic Day. Don’t forget, the great Harry Houdini died on Halloween. Let’s make some magic!
  • National Knock-Knock Joke Day. For those who don’t celebrate this ‘Satanic’ Halloween shit, you can just tell one another crappy jokes.
  • Carve A Pumpkin Day. I don’t know if we are pumpkin carving this year. Neither of us are particularly good at it.
  • Hug A Sheep Day. According to several strangers and robots on social media, I’m a ‘sheep’ for believing that Covid-19 exists, so maybe I’ll get a hug!
  • National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day. I predict that this won’t work at all. And if that comes true then does that mean that… that it did work? I’m confused.
  • Sneak Some Of The Candy Yourself Before The Kids Start Knocking Day. Well this will be an easy one to celebrate.
  • Scare A Friend Day. Of course!

Friday, October 30, 2020

A peculiar serenity washed over my fingertips yesterday afternoon. Was it boredom? Exhaustion? Have I simply aligned my innard-parts with the flow of the cosmos at last and settled into the hungerless complacency I’d been seeking my entire life? Was it merely my heart responding to the knowledge that my acupressurist, whom I haven’t seen in more than a decade and whom I thought had packed up his shingle and left for the mountain-tops is back in town and taking patients? Maybe it was the knowledge that I could fill the hours with whatever, because I knew the next season of The Mandalorian was kicking off today. Who knows? There wasn’t much on the menu to celebrate yesterday, so this is all we managed:

National Massage Therapy Awareness Week

A good massage – and here we are talking the ‘therapy’ kind, not the ‘happy ending’ kind – can change a person’s life. Jodie went in for a massage to help with the scads of pain she’d been experiencing lately, and she left feeling magnificent. Downright buzzed, even. She also, as I alluded to in the intro, learned that the acupressure guy I used to see, and who disappeared during the few months when I felt I didn’t need his help, is back in town and back in business. This guy was incredible. There were days I’d sit and talk with him and get literally no acupressure done, and I’d still leave his office feeling cured. The guy works with some crazy voodoo energy and I love it. I plan on calling to book an appointment for next week.

This week should be a week for those of us with health packages through our workplace to look at what we can get out of them. I think Jodie and I get hundreds of dollars to use for massage and most of the time that money simply goes unused. We work for the province though, and this particular government is currently in hostile negotiations with both of our unions so that should be another tip-off that we need to enjoy these benefits while we can.

Even if you don’t currently suffer from any chronic pain (and I’m sure there must be someone out there who doesn’t), just book yourself for a relaxation massage. Or a scalp massage. Fifteen minutes of quality head-rubbin’ and you’ll start to see colours and shapes and whatnot. Unlike physiotherapy, which targets a specific ill, a great massage can simply be a way of treating yourself to feeling awesome. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to feeling awesome.

National Hermit Day

Anyone feel like cuing up the laugh track for this one? In a year when most of us have been living the hermit lifestyle, at least to some small extent, yesterday was the day to truly embrace it. Maybe it was the day to figure out what you actually liked about being quarantined in 2020 and doing your damnedest to drag that stuff into next year. This has certainly been on my mind a fair bit lately.

Pictured above is the view that haunts most of my daytime hours. I sit beside this window for over 8 hours of a workday, plus however many hours afterwards I devote to these articles, and to playing video games. I hardly ever leave the house, apart from our weekly doughnut runs, supply runs, and to pick up the occasional meal curb-side. And the funny thing is, I don’t want to. I am happy being a hermit. At least, I’m happy being this particular breed of hermit, one who has a wife and numerous friends he communicates with on his phone.

And that’s really the hermit lifestyle, isn’t it? Forsaking all those people and the technology that binds us? A true celebration of hermit culture would involve shutting off those communications and truly isolating myself. That’s more solitude than I’d like to invite into my life right now. I spend plenty of time up in my brain with the wacky characters who populate the sitcom that is my mental state, and I don’t need to binge that anymore than I already do.

So this view, this is the hermit-ness I want to stick with. I will continue to fight to work from home, since leaving the house seems to tie my insides up in knots lately. Thankfully, all is well and good in this little corner of hermit-dom.

National Cat Day

I confess, I did not solicit my friends on social media for another batch of cat pics, as we’ve done that several times this year already and it was starting to feel like a cop-out. This is the big one though, the official National Cat Day. I mean, there’s nothing official about it, but this is the only day we acknowledge as such. So let’s learn a little bit about the cat.

I know they were revered as near-royalty in Egypt, and that they have been part of humankind’s domestic friends-circle for millennia. I didn’t know that the population of abandoned, stray and feral cats around the world has become such a problem, it has led to the premature extinction of several bird, reptile and mammal species. The South Island Piopio, also known as the New Zealand Thrush, no longer flaps its wings in this mortal realm. The Chatham Rail, a flightless bird also from New Zealand, has seen its demise at the hands of too many domestic cats. More than a million reptiles are killed every day in Australia due to cats, though in all fairness I think everything tries to kill everything else in the wilds of Australia.

Cats are the only domestic pet to whom we dispense recreational drugs and it’s socially okay. I don’t know what cat nip feels like, but it looks to me to be one hell of a trip. Cats will also bring home what they’ve killed to their owners, which I always found to be rather amusing. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey human, your murder skills are sorely lacking. See how it’s done?” Kind of sweet, really.

Cats are more standoffish than dogs, and they do not slobber their attention all over their humans in the same way. Some people prefer that. They want to work for that affection, and they respect a cat’s demeanor as an independent being who is allowed to behave like a right prick when it wants to. Cat people are great people, and I totally get the appeal, despite my greater love for dogs. I’ve known several deeply awesome cats in my day, and I wish them all the best on their unofficial official day.

National Oatmeal Day

I don’t think there’s really much to say here. Jodie had some oatmeal with lunch yesterday, and… that’s really the entire point, isn’t it?

I love oatmeal in cookie form, and I’ll eat the stuff in its breakfast variant, but it doesn’t really inspire passion in me. Jodie adores it though, as evidenced by the delicious sampling that was featured here a couple weeks back. Yesterday’s offering was home-made though… well, home-made out of a bag with water and milk added. We didn’t steel-cut the grain stalks ourselves or anything.

The thing I like about oatmeal is that it lends itself to enhancement so wonderfully. It’s a blank canvas, upon which you can add berries, bananas, cinnamon, brown sugar, chocolate syrup, maraschino cherries, pecans, tomatoes, Skittles, flax-seed, sprinkles, honey, peppercorns, Big League Chew, wombat poop-cubes, or anything you want. Okay, maybe not Big League Chew. Put that stuff aside and chew it afterward.

But it’s a food that can be decorated to the diner’s tastes, and I respect that. I just don’t get excited about it. But it was welcome yesterday, since the calendar told us it must be so. This is the way.

Today we plan on bursting through the doors of the weekend like Cosmo Kramer on a sugar-high. Here’s what we can look forward to:

  • National Frankenstein Friday. I guess this is a pre-Halloween monster party? Neat.
  • National Breadstick Day. If this is some seedy way of making me eat at Olive Garden, it won’t work.
  • National Speak Up For Service Day. Not a day to harass waiters and waitresses. This is for recognizing young people who have helped out in their community.
  • National Candy Corn Day. Let the debates begin!
  • National Publicist Day. I don’t have a publicist, which is probably why I only have about three fans (hi, Mom!)
  • National Checklist Day. I’ll make a checklist and hammer through it.
  • National Text Your Ex Day. Or… don’t!
  • Haunted Refrigerator Night. Great. Here I was hoping for a fun weekend, and now I have to contend with Zuul.
  • Buy A Doughnut Day. We will celebrate this one a day late, but damn! I’m glad this exists!
  • Mischief Night. Nah, I’m not the mischief type. I’m more into felonies.
  • Create a Great Funeral Day. Fun?
  • National Bandana Day. Of course it is. Liberty, our #3 canine research assistant, will field this one.
  • Sugar Addiction Awareness Day. Yep, I’m aware. NOW GIVE ME MY DAMN CANDY!!!!
  • World Lemur Day. Cool creatures; I’m glad they get a day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2020

I have now written more than 300 of these intro paragraphs, ranging from the confessional to the esoteric, and occasionally meandering into pitiful whining. Some days, like today for example, I have no grand message or observation to impart, I simply need to fill the requisite number of lines before it’s time to dive into the guts of the article. One thing I know for certain: this final week before the US election, before the countdown to the end of 2020 dips below the two-month mark, has been crawling like molasses. I feel I’ve put in six or seven days since the last weekend, and I have no idea why. These aren’t sour, rotten days. They’re just… days. So many days. So many articles. So many damn celebrations. For example:

International Animation Day

This is fun – I love diving deep into cinematic history, and rarely get to do so in this project. I’d like to introduce you to Emile Reynaud and his Théâtre Optique. Back in the Magic Lantern days, while Edison was sitting in his lab, trying to figure out how to get his employees to invent the movie camera so that he could take credit, Emile was painstakingly building an elaborate animation system in Paris. The zoetrope and praxinoscope were already around – little devices with mirrors that allowed for a looping dozen or so images to give the impression of movement when you spun them. But you can’t charge an audience to gather around a little table-top device for 2.5 seconds of entertainment.

The praxinoscope, by the way, had been invented by Emile, so he was no stranger to this technology. He figured out a way to stitch together up to 50 meters of 6x6cm gelatin plates, each with a hand-painted image, and project those images onto a screen. Just like that, you had a 10-minute animation, which could be stretched out by slowing down the device, or winding it back and forth for a comedic effect, much like how a DJ will scratch a record.

Yesterday marked the 128th anniversary of Emile’s first public demonstration of his Théâtre Optique to a Paris audience at the Musée Grévin. He had three cartoons at the ready, and they were a huge success. People swarmed to see these shows for the equivalent of about $5 in today’s money. So why haven’t we all heard of Emile Reynaud? Well, the Lumière Brothers showed up three years later with their own invention: a projector that showed actual movies. Emile had been eclipsed by the advent of actual motion pictures.

But his legacy lives on, at least in this coveted celebration. I honoured his work by watching this video, a cartoon called Pauvre Pierrot, which was among the first shown on that day back in 1892. I also watched some more modern animation: an episode of Bob’s Burgers and the “Deep Space Homer” episode of The Simpsons. Oh if Emile could have only seen where his technology would lead us.

Ohi Day

Having made the obligatory cinematic reference to The Room in yesterday’s article, I’ll simply move on with the actual purpose of this day.

On October 28, 1940, some 80 long years ago, the Greeks received an ultimatum. Specifically, Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas received one, directly from Benito Mussolini, who was puffing out Italy’s chest in a demonstration of unwarranted cockiness. Benito told Ioannis that he’d better let Italy’s Axis forces move in and take over key positions in Greece, otherwise he’d take it as an act of war. Benito wasn’t fucking around.

Ioannis responded with one word: “Ohi” – which means “No.” Actually, what he said was,”Alors, c’est la guerre”, which means “Alright then, it’s war”, but close enough. No idea why the Prime Minister of Greece was speaking in French. I wasn’t there.

Anyhow, Italian forces stomped across the border and brought Greece into World War II the next day, and having heard the abridged version, Greeks stormed the streets chanting “Ohi” in protest. A couple years later this day was commemorated as a point of inspiration for the resistance. It’s still a big deal in Greece, and it absolutely should be. This was the day they stood up to fascists, fully aware of the consequences. It’s a day to reflect the impressive cojones of Ioannis Metaxas and the Greek people.

We celebrated with a delicious serving of lamb, and a proud salute to Greek fortitude.

Positive Attitude Month

We can do this!

October is a month unlike any other we’ve experienced so far this year, in that it has an unusual abundance of official national month celebrations. Keep in mind, we skip many of these every month (and even this month we’re skipping Rhubarb Month and World Menopause Month, among others), but October seems jam-packed with accessible weirdness. So let’s do a quick run-down of some positive things we should keep in mind:

  • The U.S. election will be over next Tuesday. We might not hear the results until a while later, but whatever happens, we’re coming close to the end of this mess.
  • If Trump wins, we’ll survive. America will survive. It will get shittier, but it will survive.
  • There may be a vaccine for Covid in the works that will drive this entire pandemic into the annals of history in the next few months. Maybe. If not – we’ll figure out a way to move forward with some sense of normalcy. Humanity always does.
  • Once this year ends, this project ends, and I get a whole bunch of free time to pursue other interests, like herring-juggling or inventing laser jai alai.
  • A north Texas 5th grader is looking to donate 100,000 meals to the needy before Thanksgiving, and he’s already 4,000 meals toward his goal.
  • Scientists recently discovered the a massive coral reef for the first time in 120 years, and humankind hasn’t messed it up yet.
  • We all missed the Jerry Lewis telethon over Labour Day weekend, but it still happened. Kevin Hart hosted, and they raised $10.5 million for kids with muscular dystrophy.
  • An 8-year-old in Canada (not sure where) recently received gene therapy to reverse his blindness. He got to see stars for the first time in his little life.
  • Ikea just announced that they will take back used Ikea furniture, provided it’s in decent condition, for up to 50% of its value in store credit for Black Friday. The stuff they can’t resell they’ll recycle.
  • One 14-year-old girl just won a $25,000 prize for a scientific breakthrough that could lead to a cure for Covid. Another 14-year-old girl built herself a prosthetic arm that shoots glitter. So our future generation of adults is looking pretty damn brilliant and fabulous.

I got most of these stories from, a website that features heaps of positive news stories to counteract all the miserable ones filtering in from everywhere else. I strongly recommend bookmarking that site and checking it whenever you need a reminder that there is plenty of greatness on this planet. October’s end shouldn’t mean the end of positivity. We can get through this.

National Chocolate Day

Here it is. We have celebrated nearly 2,000 various foods and objects and people and animals throughout the year, but we have finally come across the big one: chocolate. The pinnacle of life for some, an unconquerable addiction for others, and one of the first words uttered when many people dare to describe their ideal dessert.

The Mokaya people in what we now call Mexico were not only drinking chocolate as long ago as 1950 BC, there is evidence that fermented sugars around the rim of the drinking vessel had turned it into an alcoholic drink. Mayans grew cacao trees, and also downed the stuff in beverage form. The Aztecs wound chocolate into their faith, believing Quetzalcoatl was cast out by the other gods for having introduced humans to chocolate. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs associated chocolate with human sacrifice, which thankfully no longer happens (unless you count the current plague of morbid obesity in our culture, some of which can be attributed to our love of chocolate).

Christopher Columbus learned about chocolate in his fourth voyage to the New World in 1502, and Europeans never looked back. Chocolate has become a mainstay of sweetness all around the world, and it’s likely nothing will ever take its place.

So next we approach the question of which is best: milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. Naturally I’ll provide no conclusive answer because they are all great. I’m no chocolate snob. The only advice I’ll put out there is that milk chocolate lovers should marry dark chocolate lovers. Jodie and I never quarrel over chocolates when both are available, and that is most likely the secret to our 25-year successful relationship.

Yesterday we ate some chocolate, pure and simple. This is the pinnacle of this year of celebration. It can only go downhill from here.

So what awaits us on that downward slope then? Well, we’ve got a handful of possible weirdness to tackle today, such as:

  • National Cat Day. I know numerous cat-lovers who will be celebrating this day with verve and joy.
  • National Oatmeal Day. This is Jodie’s favourite breakfast food so I’ll let her tackle this one.
  • National Hermit Day. At last! A day in 2020 where I can stay inside and not see people…
  • World Internet Day. Finally a day for getting around to checking out this whole internet phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The menu of potential celebrations that greeted us yesterday morning was akin to walking into Denny’s and learning they were sold out of everything except for turkey bacon and Fruit Loops. The options were, to put it mildly, limited. American Beer Day was tempting, as I’d like to hit every beer-related special day in this calendar, but it will have to wait for our next supply run this weekend. The items that remained were far from enthralling, but we greeted them with as much enthusiasm as a Tuesday would allow. Here’s how we waded through the 301st day of this ongoing madness:

Boxer Shorts Day

So this is it… the bottom of the barrel. No pun intended. Or maybe there was a pun intended, I just don’t know anymore. We are now celebrating the most mundane items in our dresser drawers. Are we truly savouring each of these commemorations or merely chugging through them in an effort to speed along this project’s closing credits? If ever there was a moment to reflect upon this, it would be Boxer Shorts Day.

We can actually trace the genius behind these things though, and that’s kind of special. Jacob Golomb, the man who founded Everlast (the sports equipment company, not the 1990s alt-rocker guy), slipped some elastic into a pair of shorts back in 1925 and changed history. And his aim was truly to cater to boxers, who at the time wore shorts held up by a leather belt strap. Boxer shorts became a huge deal among the public underwear-wearers, but those were soon eclipsed by jockey shorts in the early 30s. Boxers or briefs became the dichotomy that defined the insides of men’s pants for decades.

In 1985, tighty-whiteys outsold boxer shorts 4 to 1, and most boxer afficionados were older men who had worn them in the military. A few years later the boxer brief hit the market, striking a perfect balance between the two styles. Some studies have shown that tighter skivvies will hurt fertility or even increase cancer risk, but that has yet to be 100% proven.

Pictured above are my Star Wars boxers, which are in my regular rotation. I felt it appropriate to show the boxers in a non-modeled state, as I’m quite certain I’d lose what’s left of my audience if I started filling this page with boudoir shots of myself. Even I’d tune out at that point. So here’s to the boxer shorts that sparkle our lives so brilliantly. It’s entries like this that have made this entire year worthwhile.

Also, a quick reminder: it’s still Sarcastic Awareness Month.

National Potato Day

Behold, the noble potato. The Irish were bang-on correct to covet this robust little tuber. It can do so much and it asks so little. Well, except during that grisly potato famine; I guess they were asking quite a lot back then. But this is a day to celebrate the potato, not criticize it. You don’t go to someone’s birthday party and bring up that time they peed themselves during their fourth-grade field trip to the planetarium, do you? Please don’t. That’s mean.

National Potato Day, according to most of my sources, showed up on August 19, and I believe we celebrated it. But here it is again – maybe this is some sort of Christian Orthodox thing, like how they celebrate Christmas later than others. I have no idea – my purpose here is not to understand these celebrations. My purpose is to shut up and eat the potato.

The potato chip is not the pinnacle of potato procurement, but it’s a top-notch snack. For me, nothing beats a baked potato, properly doused in butter, sour cream, bacon bits and chives. That said, French fries are a respectable treat, and even respectabler when elevated to poutine status. Mashed potatoes are the most comfortable of comfort foods. Hashbrowns are breakfast royalty. Roasted potatoes are bite-size bounties of bodacious… okay, enough with the damn alliteration here. Potatoes are brilliant. What more needs to be said?

We eat potatoes with our meals 2-3 times per week at least. They have been celebrated alongside numerous other glorious events this year, never asking to take center stage. But like any great supporting actor, it just wouldn’t be the same without them.

National Squirrel Awareness Month

According to The Squirrel Lovers’ Club, an online repository of pro-rodent feel-goodery since 1995, October is the month we should all be aware of the critters patrolling the tree-limbs and fence-tops of our suburban communities. I grew up with a massive enclosure of wooden logs in our backyard, one which we almost never tapped for firewood. That was simply where the squirrels lived. The window overlooking them was also the one beside my TV set, so I spent many hours watching them scamper about in their daily toils.

We have our own little squirrel resident at this home, a guy we arbitrarily called ‘Elton’. Sure, the Elton who resides on our property may be a different Elton than the one who was originally given that name a few years back, but who’s to know? It’s not like squirrels wear nametags or have particularly differentiating features, right? So Elton of the moment is plain old Elton.

Last year, Elton moved from the box of seldom-used logs beside our fence into the shed beside our house. Most people, like our nosey neighbour who suggested we should take care of the matter, would call up an exterminator to deal with this. We are not most people. I regularly leave peanuts out there for Elton to devour throughout the chilly winter months. Jodie cut up an old towel into squirrel-size bedding so that he can tuck himself cozily into his little nest at night. We now store Jodie’s lounger chair and my hammock in the garage so we don’t have to disturb the little guy. He’s a fine tenant, even if he does occasionally perch in our tree and chirp at us like a whiny little bitch.

Squirrels are fascinating companions for our weird little trips around the sun on this rock. We’re happy to share our journey with Elton. He’s a good dude. Or chick. We honestly have no idea.

Cranky Coworkers Day

Okay, Thomas and Ruth Roy, you wacky Pennsylvanians who have contributed more than 80 of the weirdest little tiles into this mural of motivated mirth. I get it. We should all be aware that sometimes we are gifted with a malcontent to help us pass our workdays. Sometimes those coworkers are just sour-faced dicks looking to grind their own unhappiness into a spray they can spew all over the world that has forsaken them. Sometimes they’re just sarcastic cynics who see the world for what it is.

When I was hired to the provincial government’s print shop I was fortunate to be paired with a guy named Ryan, one of the crankiest cranky coworkers I’ve ever known. His crankiness was infectious, but he had a sense of humour about it. There were days when we felt like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets – doing our best to crack one another up with the zingiest complaint about our bosses, our customers, and anyone else in the world. We had a blast. And beneath his crankiness was a huge heart and a sharp mind. Embrace your cranky coworker – they might be the ingredient that keeps your workplace interesting. I mean, don’t actually embrace them; they won’t like that.

I also worked in that print shop with another guy, whose name won’t sully this piece. He was cranky, but in a miserable, ornery twattish kind of way. Don’t be that guy.

In my current office there are a number of people who might classify as ‘cranky’, but I also work in an office that is perilously poised beneath the blade of potential layoffs by government overlords who are aiming to decimate public service in favour of their own profits. So the crankiness is more attributed to a general malaise than a focussed wit or a defect in personality.

Alas, I am still working from home for the moment, so my crankiest in-the-flesh coworker would be Trixie (pictured above). She is rarely cranky with me (I am, after all, the one who knows how to access the food). But she snarls, growls, and occasionally lashes out at Liberty, our beloved golden retriever puppy. Problem is, Liberty doesn’t put up with that crap anymore, and she’s larger and stronger than Trixie, so when Trixie snaps, she ends up pinned on her back with Liberty looking down at her like, “Back off, you crazy broad.”

So yes, a cranky coworker can be a great thing. But it’s also imperative that you have a coworker who can kick that cranky one’s ass if necessary.

Today we crest this frantic week and begin cruising toward a Spooktacular weekend that… hey, cool. Microsoft Word autocorrected ‘spooktacular’ to ‘Spooktacular’. Neat. Anyway, here’s today’s selection:

  • National Chocolate Day. Really? Is this the official one? Who cares – we’ll eat chocolate.
  • Ohi Day. This is a Greek celebration, so some lamb might be in order. Either that, or we’ll watch The Room, which features the immortal line, “O, hi Mark.”
  • International Animation Day. A day to watch some animation. That works for me.
  • Plush Animal Lovers Day. I’m hoping we don’t take this literally and learn about people who have had intimate relationships with their plush animals. Gross.
  • Wild Foods Day. A great opportunity to go pick some berries, mushrooms or whatever else you can find in your neighbourhood and eat them. Hopefully it won’t lead to illness.
  • Separation of Church and State Day. This should be every day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The jackhammer of perpetual impatience whose rhythm rattles my inside-parts may simply be the result of my fingers, ever-tapping on the table, ever-hurrying the days along. With our days on this planet so frustratingly limited in number, it’s counter-intuitive, counter-productive and counter-good-sense to wish them to scurry along quickly. It’s a twisted paradox of humanity: on Monday we pray for a fast-forward button to get us to Friday, yet at the end of the journey we mourn that there wasn’t one more day to spread its hours before us. No matter – 2021 will be for switching to a slow-down savouring mindset; for now we’ve still got all this mess to unpack:

National Mule Day

This is a day for celebrating the mule, an animal I have no experience with (maybe at a petting zoo once?), and one which I will almost certainly never encounter in my daily goings-on. The mule is humankind’s first concrete attempt to fuck with the laws of nature. One day, some 5000+ years ago, possibly in ancient Egypt (where all the fun and weird stuff was going on), some guy thought it would be neat to see what happens when a male donkey boinks a female horse.

Mules were an instant hit. They were ideal for hauling people, weapons, and various other stuffs across tricky terrain. They were more docile and cooperative than donkeys, and much cheaper to maintain than a horse. Most mules are infertile (probably because they are man-made abominations and whatnot), so the horse/donkey copulation thing is still very much necessary. At least it’s necessary as much as mules are still necessary, which in the average urban environment isn’t much. But they still get put to work around the globe.

The strange thing about mules is that in some ways they actually exceed the abilities of their parent creatures. Some say that mules are more cognitively with-it than donkeys or horses. They’re taller than donkeys, that much is proven, and they seem to have better endurance than horses. They can withstand more weight on their backs than horses without kvetching, and their skin is less sensitive, meaning they are less bothered by weather. Their hooves are harder than horses’, and they seem to have a natural resistance to various diseases and insects.

So are mules better than horses for farm-work? You’d have to ask someone who does farm-work. I can’t even grow my own herbs without murdering the plants, so this will never come up in my life. But I do find it fascinating that early humans got a little funky with science. I’m sure the success of the mule led to those same early humans experimenting with other hybrid species (“How do we get this porcupine to copulate with this hawk to create the ultimate animal weapon?”), and the comedic possibilities are endless. Thanks, mules.

Worldwide Howl At The Moon Night

I was hoping this was simply an excuse to go outside last night and make an ass of myself by forcing a pitiful human howl into the night sky. Like that day back in February where I screamed “Hoodie-hoo” like a schmuck while my daughter filmed it for this project. Alas, this was not the case. This is another animal celebration, in particular one to bring attention to wolves and their precarious situation on this planet.

First we must address the question of conservancy, and how worried we should be that wolves will vanish from the globe like so many dolphins soaring into space and thanking us for the fish. Good news – that won’t happen. Wolves are not at all endangered, and unlike mules when they copulate with other canine species like coyotes or jackals, the offspring that gets produced is actually fertile. This suggests there are an untold number of ‘mutt’ creatures out there with multiple components of wild dog in their genes.

Wolves are fascinating creatures, in particular to those of us who own dogs. Wolves are basically dogs in the wild, but competent ones. Our dogs can’t make it through a two-hour period without an essential dose of scritches and love to remind them of their worth; I don’t see them scavenging and surviving on their own. And we all know coyotes are barely able to take care of themselves; they can’t even work a simple anvil-catapult on their own.

The wolf is intertwined with indigenous mythology, and there actually are a number of groups looking to conserve and protect them, in spite of their relatively abundant population. We support groups like Wolf Haven International, who are looking to keep that population bustling and healthy. And yes, I did let a little howl out last night at our moon that I couldn’t see due to clouds. There is no celebration so sacred and revered that we can’t debase ourselves to look a little bit foolish.

National Sarcastic Awareness Month

I don’t know who invented this celebration or whether or not anyone has actually celebrated it (it’s another victim of having only one source, and that source is a 404 Not Found page now), but here it is. A month in which we should be reminded that sarcasm exists and it’s ours to enjoy.

The most important thing to know about sarcasm is how poorly it translates to the written word. Unless your audience knows you, and knows your voice well, they won’t necessarily be able to discern whether or not you’re being sarcastic. The “/s” modifier at the end of a social media comment is always advised.

How did we celebrate? I mean, apart from just being sarcastic whenever we could (which we do anyway)? Just as the picture above indicates – Dorothy Zbornak was our guide. Amazon Prime has every season of Golden Girls and believe me, that show holds up. Maybe not the 3-camera laugh-track format, but Dorothy’s zingers are as funny as they ever were. A simple, and hilarious celebration.

World Pasta Day / National Pasta Month

National Pasta Day was October 17, so by all accounts this is the month in which we are truly meant to embrace pasta. Why October? I suppose it might be because October is the month when the temperatures drop and we shut down our barbecues (some of us – I don’t mind standing outside in January if it means having tastier steaks). Pasta is a warm comfort food for most, and I think most people are fairly confident in their favourite pasta dishes. For some it’s Kraft Mac & Cheese, for others Chef Boy-R-Dee’s canned noodle chemical baths. Jodie swoons over a good carbonara, while I’m realizing it has been decades since my last taste of manicotti, and that’s just tragic.

The etymology of the word ‘pasta’ is fun to trace. The English word “pasta” comes from the Italian word “pasta”, which comes from the Latin word “pasta”, which comes from the Greek word, which I believe is pronounced… “pasta.” In Greek that word meant “barley porridge.” So next time you want to amuse the waiter at your favourite Italian restaurant, ask them for some barley porridge with tomato squeezins. Actually, I recommend you do this at Olive Garden, that way if you get kicked out and banned for that joke it’s not a big loss.

Interesting factoid about pasta, before tomato sauce was introduced to Italian kitchens in the 1700s, pasta was traditionally eaten by hand. Once the gravy showed up, forks were necessary, as was learning the technique of swirling the noodles around the fork to avoid shirt-spillage.

Last night we enjoyed a rigatoni dish with pork meatballs and a creamy pesto sauce. It tasted like autumn and warmed our souls just a little, as good pasta tends to do.

Six years ago on this date I started a new job that eventually led to my proud position as a med-level government office drone. To celebrate that (because believe me, my jobs were worse before that), we’ve got all this to choose from:

  • National American Beer Day. Do I have any in my fridge? Possibly not, but don’t worry – this one will get celebrated this week.
  • World Day For AudioVisual Heritage. No idea what this means, but it means listening to old music or building our own phrenetoscope from scratch, we’re in.
  • Cranky Coworkers Day. Looks like another day to celebrate Trixie, our English bulldog canine research assistant.
  • Boxer Shorts Day. Even as a non-boxer, I still own boxer shorts. Is that weird?
  • National Potato Day. I didn’t know this one was coming up. Potatoes are great.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Never in my life have I been so deeply enamored with utter boredom. Having concluded a weekend that featured as highlights a trip to the doughnut shop, a new Borat movie, and a fairly exciting end to the Detroit/Atlanta game yesterday, I was relieved to have spent most of my time doing practically nothing. I read. I watched stuff. I played some games. I hung out with my wife, my dogs and myself. Sure, there were celebrations in which to indulge, but they scarcely made a dent in the calm waters of my days off. Here’s what we managed to fit in yesterday:

National Mother-In-Law Day

A man named Gene Howe, whom I’m certain was the favourite son-in-law of his wife’s mom, created this day back in 1934 when he was the editor of an Amarillo newspaper. Yes, this is another manufactured holiday to sell greeting cards, flowers and chocolates, but whatever. We’re used to those at this point, aren’t we? In fact, it was the American Society of Florists who ultimately determined that this day should land on the fourth Sunday in October each year. It was inevitable that they’d take charge.

My mother-in-law is not presently a part of our 2020 narrative (her choice, not ours), so it fell to Jodie to fawn all over the wonderful glory that is her mother-in-law, also known to many as our team baker and all-around adorer of our dogs. She came by for dinner last night and we toasted her fondly.

The relationship of mother-in-law to child-in-law can be one fraught with complexity. To your significant other, this is the woman who was (most likely) their first huge attachment, emotionally speaking. If you don’t along with her, it could foretell years of awkward family gatherings. But when the relationship is strong and supportive, a mother-in-law can be an absolute joy. Mine was, at one time in our lives. Hopefully she will be again.

So give a hug to your mom-in-law if you missed out on the opportunity yesterday. Unless she pisses you off, in which case simply scroll down to the next thing. That’s the beauty of this weird project – there’s always a next thing.

Sourest Day

Sweetest Day, which we glossed over seven days ago, is basically a knock-off of Valentine’s Day. Sourest Day, which was invented in 1977 by a guy in Ann Arbor, Michigan who happened to have a friend with the last name “Sauer”, is a curious counterpoint. One of my sources say we’re supposed to celebrate this one by being a grump-ass miserable sonofabitch. I’m fully in favour of that; while I tend to spend most of my days in a relatively congenial and amiable state (the drugs help with this), I am also fully cognizant of the benefits of occasionally embracing one’s grump-ass miserable sonofabitch side. It’s a part of who we are.

Another one of my sources (actually a couple of them) suggest that we should celebrate this one with sour foods. So we did that, with the Sour Patch Kids pictured above. They aren’t my favourite snacks, but they were fine. It was hard to feel tempted to be miserable on purpose yesterday, when the biggest events of the day involved sitting on my ass and watching football, and… that’s pretty much most of my day, actually.

I held off on scowling and oozing unpleasantness unto the world yesterday, and for that decision I hold no regret. The day was sour in flavour only, as any day should be. Besides, we’re trying to have fun with this crap, right?

National I Care About You Day

Yes, this is simply a day to tell people you care about that you care about them. This is a day we have celebrated numerous times throughout the year, but not once in the last couple of weeks. So I thought we’d give it another go. Why not?

We conveyed this sentiment to one another, to my mother (since she was here anyway), and to our dogs. That was enough. This one we kept as simple as possible.

National Greasy Food Day / National Pork Month

This could have comfortably landed on pretty much any day of the year and we’d have accommodated it. I am particularly tickled that this entry happened to plop right after National Food Day, a day that is meant to turn our focus and attention toward healthier food alternatives, in spite of the fact that the same day also honoured bologna and licorice candies. There is no pretense today. Greasy food reigns supreme.

And it should. Not every day – I’m aware that we have to make responsible choices so that we live long, have lots of energy, and blah blah blah… but we are trying to forge a string of celebrations here. A succession of fun-havings. And you don’t have fun with salad. You don’t live life on the edge with celery. Sometimes you just have to swallow up the grease and smile.

With so many options to choose from yesterday, we opted for the classic: bacon. Bacon creates its own grease so magnificently. In fact, most of the jars of collected grease that we acquire throughout our cooking exploits wind up full of nothing more than bacon grease. It is the greatest greasy food, and perhaps the greatest food. It complements a Sunday morning like nothing else.

We were proud to be eating greasy yesterday. At least we had an excuse – next time (which will possibly be today) we won’t be so lucky. And hey, we also got to cram in National Pork Month. Apologies to my fellow Jew-types who may be offended by my wallowing in the delights of grease-soaked pork meat, but what can I say? Tasty is tasty. And pork in all its forms (I think – I haven’t tried pigs’ feet yet) is delicious.

National Seafood Month

Is it National Seafood Month? Or was that a one-time designation for October that has never again be revisited? I only found one source for this month being a thing, and that source led me to a 404-not-found error, so I really can’t be sure. But hey, yes I can! That’s no way to dive into a month like this! If no one else sees this as National Seafood Month, then they will now, because another source – this one you’re reading now – claims it to be so.

To celebrate this we tried a seafood chowder thing we bought from Safeway frozen a couple months ago. It featured haddock, scallops and shrimp, and was a solid 6/10. We were slowed down a bit by the choice of whether to use a fork or a spoon to eat it (the box had a picture of what appeared to be a spork), but overall it was a fine meal.

Seafood is a treat for us, one that we have learned to love again once our daughter moved away. She isn’t a fan of any seafood, a choice that I’m sure she blames us for. But we enjoy most of the goodies that come from the ocean or from lakes, and we certainly enjoy the contents of this feast. I remember hearing as a kid that seafood was brain-food, and whether or not that’s true I don’t really care at this point. My brain is only likely to deteriorate going forward no matter what I eat, so I’ll just call seafood tasty food and eat it for that reason alone.

National Tight End Day

This is such an obscure celebration we only found out about it in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, whilst we vegetated upon our mattress in the midst of seven hours of commercial-free football. A couple years back, shortly before a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle were joking around, and while their stories of how it came to be are somewhat muddled, it’s agreed that they declared it to be National Tight End Day, if only to give Kittle an excuse to catch the game-winning touchdown pass (which he did).

The joke was brought up again last year in the 49ers locker room, with the fourth Sunday in October pitched as the landing pad for the party. Yesterday the NFL jumped on board and declared the day to be official (though really, meaningless), and made sure that every tight end in Sunday’s games was mic’ed up for their broadcasts.

So no, this one hasn’t yet been picked up by Chase’s Calendar of Events as an ‘official’ celebration. But Gentleman George (that’s my nickname for him; I hope it catches on) racked up 5 catches for 55 yards yesterday, and his 49ers handed Bill “Emperor Palpatine” Belichick the worst loss of his New England Patriots coaching career. Enjoy the stank in the league basement, Patriots. I’ve waited a long time for your downfall.

And a happy Tight End Day to Gentleman George and all the rest of ‘em.

Another glorious day in which celebrations pour down like rain and we selectively aim our proverbial umbrella to keep away the ones we’d rather skip. Here’s what’s up:

  • National Tennessee Day. Check out yesterday’s entry on bologna to see why I laughed when I saw this. Due to reasons beyond our control, this one may be pushed back a couple of days.
  • National Mincemeat Day. I actually enjoy mincemeat. But I don’t feel any desire to learn to make it.
  • National Chicken-Fried Steak Day. We had this earlier in the year for one of our state days, and it didn’t inspire us to want it again.
  • National Mule Day. Always fun to celebrate an animal though.
  • Worldwide Howl At The Moon Night. This doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. Does it?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Yesterday my lone outing for the week consisted of a trip to Destination Doughnuts (of course), a stop at Safeway for a single necessary ingredient, and that was it. My hindquarters will remain tethered either to this office chair or our comfy mattress for the next seven days, as I continue to do my part to keep my virus-spreading innards off the streets and away from others. It’s a noble sacrifice, and one I’m happy to make. I have dogs. I have alcohol. I have food. I have celebrations up, down, and out the wazoo. In fact, you’d hardly recognize my wazoo at this point, with how overrun it is with celebrations. These are the ones that commanded our attention yesterday:

National Bologna Day

I don’t care if your bologna has a first name; I probably won’t want to eat it. I was not raised with bologna sandwiches, and I’m pretty sure the only grown-ups who enjoy the stuff do so in part because of the nostalgia. Once my mother bought that bologna-like stuff with the bits of pasta and cheese crammed into it, and I think we both still experience recurring nightmares from that garbage.

Bologna is a finely-ground pork sausage, seasoned with a variety of spices, as well as (and I had no idea about this) myrtle berries. It did originate in Bologna, Italy, but a fine-ground pork fat sausage has taken on various characteristics around the world. Ever hear of rag bologna? Unless you grew up in West Tennessee, probably not. This is a unique kind of bologna, usually wrapped in cloth, and containing more filler than most bolognas. They eat it on white bread with mustard and pickles, which makes me grateful that National Tennessee Day has passed already. I think. Might have to double-check that.

In Newfoundland they thick-cut some wax bologna and fry it, calling it a “Newfie Steak”. I’ll hand it to those folks on the Rock, they do give Canada some personality. England and other countries call it ‘polony’, and it features beef as well as pork. In New Zealand a miniature polony is known as a Cheerio. In southern Australia they call bologna ‘devon’. It’s like an entirely different language in that part of the world.

So why don’t I like bologna? For one thing, it’s often shiny, which is not an attractive look for a meat. It tastes processed, and I find the mouthfeel to be deeply unpleasant. There is nothing I like about it, but here we were, downing some to pay tribute to this little notch on our calendar. At least it’s better than haggis.

National Food Day

Is this the most purely generic celebration we’ve encountered thus far in 2020? I suspect it may be. This is literally a day for celebrating food. Yes, we already did that with bologna (which is a food of the lowest order, or so I feel) and again with candy (see below – some may also question how ‘food’ like that is), but this is for… just food.

Actually, this is the brain-child of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group of so-called academics who are really only ‘so-called’ to the breed of ignorant humans who seem to have a vehement objection to science and reason lately. They devised this celebration back in 2011 as a way of drawing our attention to good, nutritious food. So no, our bologna and candy experiments yesterday would not have properly counted. Our dinner, which you can see above consisted of steak, potatoes and snap peas in a tasty onion-thyme gravy, was a much better choice.

We have drawn attention to proper nutrition and sensible eating numerous times this year, even as we ourselves have flouted these notions because the calendar has told us to. Also, we still get doughnuts every Saturday so really we aren’t paragons of nutritional virtue here. But at least when we eat poorly, we know we’re eating poorly. Isn’t the first step in recovery admitting you have a problem? I have a problem. A candy and sweets and salty snacks problem. And National Food Day didn’t help.

But we did eat healthily, at least for one little chunk of the day. And it was food, which was the point of the day, right? What we may or may not have had for dessert is another matter. But we’ll get to that.

Take Back Your Time Day

Here’s a delightful little snippet of irony for you. The lone responsibility dragging down my Saturday was the research and writing for this article. The point of this day is to focus on the notion of “me-time” – so that would mean any time in which you get to determine how those seconds tick by. I can think of no greater example than the fact that I’d rather be playing a video game right now than writing this paragraph.

Jodie and I are both fortunate to work at jobs where the work/life balance is semi-respected, at least. I’m only chained to my desk for 7.25 hours of my work-day (plus a little extra so I can get every fourth Monday off), and next year I will hit the mark where my vacation days increase from four weeks per year to five. We also get the period around Christmas off, though we suspect our union will sacrifice that in the upcoming talks. Jodie is a teacher, so she gets all those teacher days off. On the flip-side, she also has a tremendous amount of work to do on her own time.

Yesterday was an example of this. She had some tutoring to do, and some reading for her own Masters, as well as some marking to do for school. I did my best to encourage her to cut that last one short and take back some time for herself. Reading for her Masters degree, that is time she took back. The nap she had in the middle of the afternoon, that was her time too. And the fact that I dropped a few celebration contenders and limited this article to a mere four entries so that I could crank up a new game in Civilization VI, that was me taking back my time.

Time is our most precious resource. When choosing between a bonus that gives you more money or one that gives you more time, you should always choose the time. In the end, that’s the one thing we can never get back.

National Good & Plenty Day

Good & Plenty, which is not available in Canada unless you head to a specialty shop, is one of my favourite candies on the planet. When they’re fresh. Only when they’re fresh. Once they go stale they are unpleasant and even painful to the jaw after a few hearty chews. We could have ventured to Carol’s Quality Sweets (as we often do), but our budget was tight this weekend, and we didn’t want to risk losing control and blowing the last of our liquidity on a variety of candy treats. We’ve done that before, and believe me, it’s instant-regret. Followed by delicious sweetness.

Good & Plenty has been around since 1893, so it’s older than just about any other confectionary delight we can still buy today. The Quaker City Chocolate & Confectionary Company came up with the treat in Philadelphia, and some candy historians (another career trajectory I truly missed out on) recognize it as America’s oldest branded candy product. Through a series of corporate buyouts the candy fell under the Hershey umbrella in 1996, but the stuff hasn’t changed much. It’s black licorice surrounded by a candy shell. When they’re fresh, they are soft and chewy and perfectly perfect.

We opted for a bag of Goodies, the Canadian equivalent. The candy coating isn’t quite as sweet, but the blend of flavours is still pretty fantastic. And these were still fresh, so that was a delight. I enjoyed this little celebration. I might have to relive it next weekend with some actual Good & Plenty. You know, for science and whatnot.

Today is Sunday, and as with any Sunday it’s a day I’d rather sit on my tuchus and watch football than get into heavy celebrating. Here’s what we may or may not skip today:

  • National Mother-In-Law Day. While my mother-in-law is presently embroiled in a weird relationship with our household at the moment, Jodie’s is delightfully the third human in our 3-person cohort. We’ll certainly celebrate her.
  • National Greasy Food Day. The best foods are the greasy foods, right? That might run counter to National Food Day, but we’re past that now.
  • Sourest Day. Some sour candies will work, even though the story behind this has nothing to do with sour stuff.
  • Pumpkin Day. I don’t think anyone is surprised that this one lands exactly one week before Halloween.
  • National I Care About You Day. Another day of generic feel-goodery? Why yes, it appears to be.
  • Punk For A Day Day. Have you ever wanted to spend a day as a punk poseur? Today is just for you!
  • World Pasta Day. We may enjoy some actual pasta today to celebrate.
  • World Pizza Makers Day. So many options for delicious dining. And pizza can be greasy, so it might win.
  • Visit A Cemetery Day. This does not sound particularly fun at all.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Needing only to maintain an average of four celebrations per day to hit our target (as of my last count, which was a while ago), we managed to plow through eight yesterday – nine, if you count the domestic violence day and the month as two. So does that mean we can take today off? Well, mostly it does, yes. But we shan’t – there are parties to party and celebrations to celebrate, and taking a day off is simply not in the cards. Damn cards. Anyhow, here was our Friday – albeit much tamer than our Thursday:

iPod Day

As someone whose love of music has drifted between obsession and unhealthy obsession for all my life, the iPod was a blessing. I bought the first mp3 capable portable CD player as soon as it came out, and I reveled in the fact that I could fit 250 Beatles songs on a single disc, then shuffle through them all on a road trip. Then came the iPod, with its groovy little wheel control and the capability to cram thousands of songs onto a single device. It satisfied my dream of having a radio station that only plays songs I like, and features no DJs and no commercials.

The iPod classic was a fine device, but its hard drive featured moving parts. That was how my last one broke when I dropped it a whopping 12 inches onto the carpet of the lecture hall in my Earth & Atmospheric Sciences class. One foot, and the thing was a brick. I now use my phone as my iPod, and usually I use Spotify for a library. My extensive playlists have allowed me to construct an entire band’s worth of radio stations that only play music I like. Not a bad deal.

The iPod was released exactly 19 years ago, making this a birthday truly worth celebrating. The aesthetic for the device was inspired by the 1958 Braun T3 Transistor Radio, pictured on the left above. Apple’s sense of design around the turn of the century was unparalleled – they just knew how to make tech look cool and interesting. I’ll admit, I kind of miss my iPod classic. For one thing, there was no social media on the thing, and no apps. That meant less distraction and more focused music-listening. The other day I listened to Tom Petty’s latest release, and forced myself to do nothing but sit and listen. It was hard to keep all my attention focused on the music; it never used to be a challenge for me. Could it be the phone has eroded my attention span beyond saving?

Maybe we need the iPod back, if only to remind us that music is quite often enough.

National TV Talk Show Host Day

Why on earth would we celebrate the TV talk show host? Out of all the celebrations we could have hand-picked for today, why land on one that has almost nothing to do with my life? I don’t watch talk shows. Even the hosts I quite enjoy, like Colbert, Kimmel and Fallon, I simply don’t tune in. If I’m up that late, my TV is off and I’m catching up on some quality fiction shows. I’ll dabble in some of the clips that find their way to social media, but that’s about it. Gone are the days when I’d sneak out of bed and downstairs to the TV to watch Dave Letterman’s Thrill-Cam, Dancing Waters and Top 10 lists while my parents slept.

But I respect the institution, and that’s why I felt this deserved a mention. Joe Franklin hosted the first TV talk show in 1951. The Tonight Show dropped onto the scene just three years later. Johnny Carson took over in 1962, and created the template for late night talk shows going forward. It’s for Johnny that we celebrate this day on October 23; yesterday would have been the man’s 95th birthday. As Ed would say, hey-yo!

We can thank Phil Donahue for establishing the standard for daytime talk shows from the 60s through the 00s, and Jerry Springer and Maury for degrading it into a white-trash slug-fest or an unending stream of aspiring non-baby-daddies taking paternity tests. Sunday morning talk shows like Meet The Press are fine for those who want to start a day off with politics and tie-wearing. Now we’ve got daytime shows like The View, which I have tuned into periodically in my dentist’s waiting room, and which serve as terrific prep for having a drill crammed into your face-parts.

I celebrated yesterday not by watching an actual talk show (ugh), but with an episode of The Larry Sanders Show, HBO’s brilliant 1990s sitcom that parodied a Tonight Show type of talk show. It made me miss Garry Shandling and Rip Torn, and reminded me that the best part of a talk show is what you imagine happens behind the curtain.

Happy birthday, Johnny.

International Day of the Nacho

We celebrated this one a couple days late, but we really wanted a plate of nachos for lunch yesterday. Nachos are one of the best sharing foods, and they can be crafted in so many different ways with so many different toppings, it’s hard to get tired of them. Sometimes just cheese and salsa is enough, sometimes you want banana peppers, jalapenos, beef, onion, tomato, guacamole, bacon, pulled pork, chocolate sauce, paprika, Wheat Thins, spicy sausage, fried egg, lemon squares, wombat poop-cubes, and whatever else your brain can conceive. Nachos are a blank canvas, and if you’ve got a stomach for your imagination, you can go nuts.

The legend of the birth of nachos came as a bit of a surprise to me. Apparently they were the brain-child of a man named Ignacio Anaya, who worked at the Old Victory Club in Piedras Negras in northeastern Mexico. One day in 1943 a group of military wives stumbled in right before closing, and Ignacio put together what we now call nachos as an hors d’oeuvre for the ladies, since there wasn’t any other staff and the kitchen was mostly closed up for the night. He named the dish after himself – ‘nacho’ is short for ‘Ignacio’. For those of us who are fans of the show Better Call Saul, which features a prominent character named Ignacio (who is called Nacho by those around him), this was a delight to learn.

That story sounds too good to be true, but another source backed it up. A few details were changed, such as the year being 1940 and the ladies simply asking for something new and original instead of showing up at the end of the day. But Ignacio Anaya is the legit inventor of the nacho, that much we know. We’ll be celebrating National Nacho Day next month because nachos are the kind of food that are absolutely worthy of double-celebrating in a year. Delicious.

Slap Your Annoying Co-worker Day

Do you know who your annoying co-worker is? If not, it might be you.

I know who my annoying co-worker is – and Dwayne, you’re lucky that the pandemic gives you a pass with this one. I’m working remotely, so the only co-workers I have around me are our three canine research assistants. And they all have their annoying traits. Liberty will either hear a noise or remember some noise from her distant past, and let out an unexpected high-pitch bark which makes us jump. Rosa will insist on some scritches, then will continue to paw at our hands until she gets a continuous, unending barrage of those scritches. Trixie only annoys by letting out noisy flatulence, or by picking a fight with Liberty for no discernable reason.

But then there’s me. I only feed them when it’s time to feed them, not when they want to eat (which is always). I have to shoo them away periodically, when work is more urgently important. I think in this household, I am the annoying co-worker. So, I gave Rosa one free smack. It’s all for the sake of the calendar.

A much more tolerable day yesterday, and as we glide into the weekend we once again examine what we can celebrate without leaving the house. Ah, the joys of this year. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Make A Difference Day. Can we make a difference without going out? I guess we’ll see.
  • National Food Day. This certainly narrows down the question of what to eat today. It will most certainly be food.
  • National Bologna Day. I hate bologna. I barely consider it food. But yes, we’ll eat some of this crap today too.
  • 40-Hour Work Week Day. I haven’t had one of those in a while, unless I can add these articles to my ‘work’ time. If I can, then 40 hours would be a treat.
  • Black Thursday. Should we celebrate the beginning of the Great Depression? I’m thinking no.
  • National Good & Plenty Day. Not available except at specialty stores, we might enjoy some of the Canadian equivalent.
  • National Crazy Day. As James Brown once wisely stated, I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy.
  • National Pit Bull Awareness Day. These oft-maligned dogs need some love.
  • World Polio Day. Hooray for polio! Being gone, I mean.
  • Take Back Your Time Day. I’m certainly owed a fair bit at this point.
  • World Tripe Day. Nope. I won’t eat tripe the same day I have to eat bologna.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Apart from the rattling snores from dog-town on the couch behind me, the air in this room is thick enough to cut with a putty knife. Inspiration hides under the bed, but doesn’t shy away when I finally blast some light upon it. Today’s celebrations are mostly effortless and quick, which blended sweetly with my desire to poke that inspiration with a jagged stick to see what else might pop out. This project is staring down its glorious finale, and my otherwise idle fingers must remain in motion somehow. When that time rolls up, I’ve got the inklings of a plan. But for now, here’s where the action is:

National Nut Day

A big thanks to a company called Liberation Foods for this one. If you guessed that they sell nuts, then you have clearly been paying attention this year to how these celebrations work. They aren’t simply shameless shills for Big Nut though – they are partnered with nut cooperatives and small-scale producers around the world in an effort to promote fair trade nuts. We’ve heard this term applied to coffee, but given that nuts are produced in most of the same regions as coffee, it only makes sense that a lot of those farms would be exploited as well. Liberation Foods is looking to end that.

So it’s a noble little company, and they created this day to draw attention to the fine work they are doing. Of course, most folks who feel the need to celebrate stuff (who are these insane people???) would see this as National Nut Day and simply down some nuts. Those people should be deeply ashamed; I know I am – that’s all I planned to do. I’m glad I looked a little deeper into the day’s origins. Had I really been planning ahead I’d have ordered some nuts from Liberation Foods and eaten them with a smug, do-goodery pride.

But alas, I only have store-brand peanuts, which were no doubt harvested by the feeble hands of exploited workers who were subsequently caned to death by their sadistic nut overlords. So I felt a pang of guilt as I ate my snack. I suppose I should have known there was something more interesting behind this celebration, as we have already celebrated pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts this year. These generic-sounding all-encompassing celebrations probably all have interesting and socially conscious stories behind them.

It would do me well to remember that, given that National Food Day is coming up on Saturday.

National Color Day

And just like that, my suspicions are proven to be wrong. National Color Day is not a UN celebration meant to draw our attention to the natural beauty of the world or its citizens or its rich textile history or anything so noble. It’s just a day to celebrate color, and how different colors can reflect or affect our moods and feelings.

Color has certainly played into this year’s festivities; even today we find ourselves donning a certain colour (and here I’m consciously switching to the Canadian spelling, just because) for a certain cause. But how do we celebrate colour on its own?

My beloved auntie and our team baker (thanks, Mom!) took care of this one for us. They both spent a chunk of yesterday colouring in an effort to bring some more beauty into the world. Pictured above are a couple of my mother’s creations. I’m still a little fascinated by the recent concept of the adult colouring book. I think it’s wonderful that the notion of colouring is being recognized as a calming exercise, rather than as a children’s pastime. The chronic pain in my hands makes holding a writing (or colouring) implement rather painful after a short while, so I’ve passed on this activity, but I have enjoyed a paint-by-numbers app on my iPad. Not a lot of skill needed for that, but hey, it’s adding colour to something so it counts.

Sometimes the most generic celebrations are hiding something deeper. Sometimes they simply are what they are. Happy Color Day.

Smart Is Cool Day

No really, the point of this day is to put an end to smart kids being called nerds by jocks, thus leading to the nerds plotting some elaborate revenge (which played out as a vulgar rape fantasy in that 80s movie, but we won’t delve any deeper into that mess). I honestly wasn’t aware this was still a thing. When I was a kid (back when that movie was relevant), those of us who used computers were considered to be nerds. Then the 90s happened and everyone started using computers.

Even by the time I got to high school, smart was not necessarily far out of fashion. Kids who openly pursued purely intellectual activities (like the chess club, for example) may have still been teased, but I suspect that was more due to the perceived dullness of those specific activities. No one I knew felt any shame at getting a high grade, or being smart, and I hung out with a swath of characters all over the spectrum of typical high school cliques. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe they were mocking me that entire time.

So yes, Smart is Cool and it’s Hip to be Square and all that. In 2020, you can almost trace a line down the political sand for an easy metaphor to find the smart, but that one might ruffle some primitive feathers and we’re trying to keep politics out of this mirth-fest. Let’s just call it enough to say that anti-intellectualism, which partners with anti-science and anti-academia, is a threat to this world. We need the smart people to be in charge. I want my leaders to be smarter than I am. I’ll sleep better at night in that world. The only trait more crucial than intelligence in power is empathy, and quite often those two go hand in hand.

To celebrate this one we put out a plea to our American friends: don’t vote for dumb in twelve days. Vote for smart. It’s cool. Trust the nerds; they’ll lead us out of this mess.

Wear Purple For Domestic Violence Awareness Day / National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Not even a little bit aware that this day was coming up, I stupidly donned my purple shirt on Wednesday, which you would have seen yesterday in my National Suspenders Day post. But here we are, and I was happy to throw the shirt on once more for this noble cause. Alas, I wasn’t happy with the ensuing photo, so instead you get the above pic, in case you’d forgotten what purple looks like.

All I can really say about this issue is… what the fuck, people? How hard is it to simply not become violent toward a person in your household? Maybe I’m coming from a place of privilege on this one, as my bouts of rage tend to be limited to yelling and/or taking out my fury on inanimate objects, but I simply don’t understand it. I guess I’m not a violent enough person to wrap my head around the motivation behind this. I should count myself lucky.

Domestic violence isn’t just men hitting women or women hitting men or parents hitting children. LGBTQ issues factor in as well, as does teen dating violence. I know some would consider mental abuse to be in a different category, but really it isn’t. It’s all part of the same root problem, and it affects way too many people. Half of all Canadian women have experienced it. A woman is killed by her partner in this country roughly once every six days. And that’s Canada, not that gun-happy game-show-host-electing country down south. We’re supposed to be the sensible ones.

Children who witness violence in their homes wind up with twice as many psychiatric disorders as those who don’t. Keep that in mind the next time someone gets on an anti-video-game rant – this is a much more real and impactful issue. If you know someone who is in an abusive situation, call 911 if you feel they are in imminent danger. If not, just listen without judgment, and don’t try to intervene and be the hero who smites the abuser. That shit won’t work. Build that person’s confidence and remind them they don’t deserve the abuse. Read up on local shelters and other resources, and know your stuff.

And for chrissakes people, this is a fully preventable situation. Just don’t be an asshole, please.

International Caps Lock Day





Wombat Day

I have, I am almost certain, never seen a wombat in the flesh. I honestly had no idea what they looked like until I started writing this entry, and I have to say, they look like quite the charmers. Look at that little critter up there – don’t you just want to pick him or her up and cuddle? Well, if you want to find one to cuddle in the wild (wild cuddles are always the best cuddles), you’ll have to head down to Australia. Yes, the place where it literally rains spiders and everything around you wants to kill you. But not the wombat. They’re too cute for that kind of devious attitude.

Wombats are marsupials, but because they are burrowers their pouch is backwards, thus preventing them from raining dirt upon their offspring in there. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen by anyone. One sign they’ve been in the area are their cube-shaped feces, something for which I am grateful humans have been spared. Can you imagine trying to crap out a pair of oversized fuzzy dice after a big meal? Damn, wombats. You’ve got it rough.

Let’s dig a little deeper into wombat poop, because that’s how we celebrate now. Wombats use their feces to mark off their territory – I’d like to think that means they build little forts out of it, but I can’t be sure. They’ll poop out between 80 and 100 of these poo-cubes every night, which leaves me to wonder where they find time to eat, copulate and roam around. Their feces can also be used to attract a mate, and I’m not sure I really want to know how or why that happens.

Wombats aren’t endangered, and they aren’t much of a threat to humans (though a 59-year-old man claimed to have been mauled by one right before he murdered it with an ax). They do have their own special day though, so we’ll wish a happy one to all the cute little cube-poopers down under.

Eat A Pretzel Day

For those who are wondering if this is different from National Pretzel Day, of course it is. And it totally isn’t. It’s a paradox of celebratory carbs in our calendar this year. And we celebrated this day in precisely the same way we celebrated National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day back on October 7: by enjoying the new candy bar from Oh Henry, the Level Up, which features peanut butter, peanuts, caramel, nougat and chocolate, all wrapped around a pretzel. This is my new favourite candy bar.

And that’s all there is to say about this day. We’ve examined the history of the pretzel; what’s left? Do we get into the cultural significance of the pretzel? Apart from its prominence in that one episode of Seinfeld, I’m really not sure what else there is to say.

It’s Eat A Pretzel Day. We ate pretzels.

National Make A Dog’s Day Day

To be honest, this is a day to encourage folks to head out to their local shelter and adopt a dog, thus giving that dog the greatest day of its life. That’s assuming, of course, that the dog hasn’t already had a day better than that, which for a dog could include a chance meeting with some quality-smelling butts.

We weren’t about to celebrate in this particular fashion, as we have reached our full complement of doggage in our home. My wife might disagree, but I’m going with the law on that one. But we will encourage anyone and everyone to go out and find a best friend at a local shelter. Hasn’t 2020 been crap enough? Do you really need to spend the next two months dogless as well? Just go out and make a dog’s day; it’ll make yours also. Except for the parts of the day where you’re cleaning up after them – most dogs don’t get trained overnight. And last I checked, their poops aren’t all cute and cube-like.

So we went with our old standby for this one, and that means we spoiled our dogs with heaps of scritches, some nice adventurous walks through the encroaching tundra, and of course plenty of treats. Every day is our dogs’ day. Why not this one as well?

Yesterday was a weirdly busy day full of mostly simple celebrations, plus wombats. Today I’m not sure what we’ll dig into, but we’ll have all this to choose from:

  • National Boston Cream Pie Day. We looked for one and didn’t find it. Do we go to Tim Hortons for this kind of doughnut? Probably not.
  • National TV Talk Show Host Day. I guess we’ll celebrate all the Sally Jesse Raphaels out there.
  • iPod Day. Can it still count if we use our phones for the same thing we used to use iPods for? I doubt we still have an old school iPod lying around.
  • Slap Your Annoying Coworker Day. A great sentiment, but since I work at home with three totally not annoying dogs, that would mean I’d be slapping me.
  • National Croc Day. Not about the animals, just the weird rubber footwear.
  • National Canning Day. I have a good friend who cans. Maybe this means I don’t have to.
  • National Pharmacy Buyer Day. I’ve never bought a pharmacy in my life, so this doesn’t apply to me.
  • National Mole Day. Once again, not the animal. This one is all about chemistry, which is far less interesting to me than the animal.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

My cup runneth underwhelmed yesterday. An air of perpetual grump was choking my office, in part due to matters far beyond my control. I can reconcile the fact that Alberta’s government appears just as corrupt and evil as the idiocracy down south, but then I remind myself that I work for this government. In a sense, I’m complicit in its evil. That doesn’t sit well with me, and it doesn’t point me in a celebratory mood. But this is the burden of my perpetual distraction this year, and to the items below I turned to try to block out the self-doubt and the cacophony of creeping malaise. Is that a little dark for an intro? I make no apologies – sometimes truthiness trumps glitzy salesmanship. But on to the fun:

National Apple Day

Something weird has happened to my relationship with apples. The food, I mean, not the products. At some point about 10 or 15 years ago I found myself feeling mildly nauseous after downing a few bites. This happened with numerous apples of various different styles, and I can’t explain it. Nor do I particularly mourn the loss of apples in my life. I liked them, but it’s not like I lost the ability to consume ice cream or beer. There are other fruits in the fruit-sea.

Naturally the apple began its journey around the world in central Asia, and some historians would say it began in the Garden of Eden. I can’t confirm this, as I can’t for the life of me understand what that historian from Iron Butterfly is singing, but sure, that could be right. Apples are wound into paganism, into Greek mythology, and into the texts of pretty much every religion to emerge from that region. In ancient Greece, if you throw an apple at someone it’s a declaration of love for them. If they catch it, it’s a declaration of acceptance of that love. If they aren’t paying attention and you end up knocking them off their horse and killing them, that’s a testament to the fact that love hurts.

“Eat an apple before going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread” is the original Welsh phrase that got reworked to the apple-a-day one we all know. This version seems more tragic to me, as it suggests that either the doctor will not be able to afford to eat, or else that people from 19th century Wales talked like hippies, substituting ‘bread’ for ‘money’. Either way, it’s disturbing. Also, inaccurate. There is no significant health advantage to eating an apple every day.

And I’m glad about that, since I’m mostly unable to eat them now without this weird mild discomfort. But I own an Apple branded phone and I used the hell out of that yesterday, so yes, I celebrated.

Count Your Buttons Day

Does this have some secret meaning, perhaps tied to a charitable cause or some bold moment in human history? Or are we simply meant to count the buttons on our clothing and be done with it?

Strangely, the answer appears to be the latter. In my hunt for the meaning of this day, all I could find were suggestions to gather your kids together and count the buttons on various items of clothing. Either that, or a vague notion that we should repair any buttons that are missing from the shirt / sweater / pants / yarmulke upon which we were counting.

I have five buttons on the sweater that I had to wear because just looking outside makes my entire insides cold. Five buttons. I’d submit that to Count von Count on Sesame Street, but even he’d be a bit flummoxed by the simplicity of this celebration. And what’s his deal, anyway? Is he a Romanian count, or is he an actual vampire? Why would the undead be a part of a children’s show? What was really going on here?

These are the questions that plague me at night. Fortunately, I no longer have to be plagued by wondering how many buttons are on this sweater. Five. That answer should probably comfort me somehow.

Babbling Day

This is another celebration that is exactly what it seems to be. For this, we babble. We can babble like a baby, according to one site, but I’d be embarrassed to do that even in front of my dogs. Alternately, we can babble to ourselves or to others. This means we can yammer on and on about essentially nothing. Rather than torture someone I know in real life with this mess, I’ll pass it on to you, the reader.

It could be that my knife-sharpening technique is not up to snuff because I was never taught properly, or perhaps because we don’t own a top-quality knife sharpener. I learned to sharpen knives at the Cajun restaurant where I worked when I was 20, which is also where I learned to make a decent blackening spice and Caesar salad dressing from scratch. I don’t make a lot of things from scratch. Why do they call it ‘from scratch’? Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is a fine reggae artist, though I’m not sure if I’m really into the dub remixes. ‘Dub’ is another odd word, though somewhat satisfying since it rhymes with both ‘rub’ and ‘schlub’. ‘Schlub’ is, of course, a Yiddish word, and we all know that the Yiddish contributions to the English language are some of the more fun words to say. They also seem to have a tremendous amount of synonyms for ‘penis’ in Yiddish, which brings up a few more questions. And speaking of questions, isn’t the question mark a beautiful little piece of punctuation? So much of punctuation is simple lines, dots and curls, but the question mark really has a lovely swirl to it. Same with the ‘@’ symbol, which had always perplexed me as a kid. Nowadays we use it on Twitter and in email, but what was it originally created for? When I learned to type – long before the age of email – I asked that question to many people (using a pretty little question mark, albeit a verbal one) and never got a solid answer. I only ever wound up using it when I was trying to type out a swear word without actually typing out the swear words. And as far as swear words go, can we say them on TV now? Can we skip the silly censorship on broadcast television at this point, or does that medium have to be mired in the 20th century forever? Swear words are great words, though none of them rhyme with ‘dub’ and ‘rub’ and ‘schlub’, unless you get really creative and call someone a Shit-scrub or something. That might confuse more than offend though, and if you’re calling someone a Shit-scrub you probably have a deliberate reason to wish to offend them.

Is that enough babbling? I’d say I’ve celebrated this one appropriately.

Back To The Future Day

How can I, a genuine Marty, truly celebrate this day? Should I watch the movie again? I saw it six times in the theatre, and countless more times after that. I’m pretty sure I have it mostly memorized at this point, so this would be unnecessary. Instead I opted to listen to the soundtrack, in particular to the two wonderful Huey Lewis & The News tracks. “The Power of Love” is a timeless classic, but “Back In Time” is just as good. Sure, Huey sings “Get back, Marty” in the middle of the song, thus linking it with the film, but if I can listen to McCartney tell both Jo-Jo and Loretta to do the same thing in another song, I can let this one slide too.

This day is celebrated on October 21 because it was on that date in 1985 that Marty flew back to 1955. The film took place in the future, as far as its audience was concerned; it was throughout the summer of ’85 when I saw it six times. Five years ago we all enjoyed the comparison between actual 2015 and the 2015 depicted in the sequel. It turns out flying cars don’t legitimately exist yet, hoverboards don’t hover but instead are little two-wheeled flame-traps, and the Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series. Screenwriter Bob Gale threw that into the second film because it seemed the most preposterous thing he could think of for 2015.

The Cubs, not to be outdone, won the World Series in 2016. Pretty close, Bob.

Now just imagine if Marty had travelled 35 years into the future instead of 30. That would be an interesting premise, to see a 1985 teenager figure out what the hell is going on in this mess of a year. Even we can’t wrap our heads around it, and we’ve been here the entire time.

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Yeah, we surrendered and bought some from Safeway. They weren’t particularly inspiring, but they did the trick. We now have an entry for a daily celebration from last Sunday. What a treat.

Today I meet with my doctor in hopes of securing a lengthier stay in my work-from-home arrangement, mostly because the outside world sucks all the balls at the moment. Here’s what else we’ll be doing:

  • National Make A Dog’s Day Day. As companion to three of the most spoiled dogs in human history, this should be easy.
  • National Nut Day. As in the food or the people?
  • National Color Day. I guess this is a day to avoid black & white films?
  • Smart Is Cool Day. And as Huey would say, it’s hip to be square. Lots of Huey Lewis references this week.
  • Eat A Pretzel Day. Another celebration that is delightfully instructive in its name – I appreciate that.
  • International Caps Lock Day. So I’ll learn about capital letters whilst appearing to shout about them.
  • National Knee Day. I guess just about every part of the body gets its own day.
  • Wear Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Day. And I also love it when days simply tell me what to wear.
  • Wombat Day. This might be the day to introduce my new alt-superhero: Wombatman.