Thursday, October 1, 2020

Part of me is screaming, “We did it! October! We made it this far!” But of course there remains that voice that counts the 93 remaining days as 93 hurdles to leap before I can retire this somewhat repetitive exercise. Those folks who punch through an entire novel in November – I respect their commitment, and feel I should learn something from them. A massive writing project that wraps up in 30 days sounds blissful from where I’m sitting. But that’s no way to tackle a new month. Projections for the final quarter of this project are high in mirth and mayhem, and shockingly low in originality. Not a condemnation of my skills, but rather an acceptance of the limitations of 2020. We won’t be partying in the streets this year, and partying in the streets was something I was looking very forward to. But yesterday we could at least wrap ourselves around this:

Orange Shirt Day

I’m going to get this one out of the way, since there’s really nothing funny about Orange Shirt Day, apart from the fact that the only orange shirt I own is my Von Miller jersey. And Jodie’s orange shirt is more pink than orange… for a couple of NDP supporters we are terrible about wearing that colour. I don’t know if it was a conscious choice, or if that’s simply how our wardrobes happened to have evolved.

Orange Shirt Day is a day to remind us about the horrors of residential schools in Canada. For those who live elsewhere, or who have tuned out any news items that don’t relate directly to hockey over the last few decades, our beloved federal government has a fairly lengthy history of rounding up Indigenous kids, yanking them away from their families and forcing them to “be more white” in strict schools fraught with indoctrination and abuse. It sounds like an excerpt from American Horror Story, and maybe it should be. This is not a relic from ancient history, this was stopped in the 1990s.

Yesterday we wore orange to indicate that we’re still outraged by this. We wore orange so that any Indigenous people we interacted with (which, for me, was zero since I didn’t leave the house) knew that we believe they matter, and their stories matter. Jodie is deep into the Indigenous university course that Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek was promoting (because where most new celebrities promote a company or a product, Dan Levy promotes racial harmony and understanding – he’s that kind of dude). She is working actively on this cause in her Masters program. So we did more than wear a certain hue for awareness… or at least one of us did.

Orange Shirt Day is a day to listen and to read, and to empathize. Not so much a celebration as a commemoration that needs to happen on a grand scale.

National Chewing Gum Day

Now we’re back into fluff country, where I can prattle on about the history of something and indicate that I popped that something into my gullet and therefore honoured the celebration. You understand now what I meant in the intro about this being a repetitive exercise. But, we haven’t yet celebrated chewing gum – or at least I’m pretty sure we haven’t. If we have, there’s no way it was as official as this celebration. Actually, we did celebrate bubble gum, but that’s more specific.

Humans have dealt with their oral fixations for millennia before Freud figured it out. We like to chew stuff, even if that isn’t a prelude to ingesting it. In Finland they have found 6,000-year-old gum made from birch bark tar, and to some people that’s literally as old as they think the world is. The Ancient Greeks chewed gum, also made from tree goop. Tree goop has been the go-to for gum for a long time until those Doublemint twins showed up and invented something better.

Actually our modern version of chewing gum got its start in the 60s – the 1860s, when the former Mexican president gave inventor Thomas Adams some chicle to be used as a rubber substitute. Thomas tried making the chicle into tires, but it didn’t take. Gum was the next likely use for the stuff, and a legend was born. If you’re looking for a reason to chew gum, studies show it may improve your working memory, your episodic memory, and your speed of perception. It might not, but what the hell? It’s worth a shot.

I used to chew gum at work, mostly after lunch to clear my breath and at the end of the day as I walked to the bus stop. These days the dogs always have worse breath than I do, and I don’t take the bus. But I’ll still pop a couple every so often. Life is better with a good chew.

National Love People Day

I was ready to scootch on past this one, as it seemed like another generic feelgoodery celebration, and we’ve blown through a few hundred of those, or so it seems. And that’s kind of what this day is about, but it’s also a way of honouring the founders of the Lifeline Church in Chicago.

“But wait,” you may be saying, “you don’t give two fifths of a crap about any organized religious institution!” And you’d be right, I don’t. I don’t trust organized religion, and I don’t like what it has done to this planet and the people on it. But this is a pretty hip little church, and from what I can tell they have done some groovy stuff. They have worked with Ty Pennington and the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team to change a few lives. They gave away free hugs at the local Pride parade. They have given clothing, food, medical service and even an SUV to people in need.

These are folks who are doing religion right, so they’ll get a shout-out from me. Their message on this day is for us to love one another unconditionally, which is great. I’m not sure I agree, but then maybe I’m not as steeped in the hippie peace-and-love rhetoric as I’d like think I am. Maybe I have a hard time finding love for those who would impose their hatred onto others, or those who would actively or passively support those awful acts. Maybe that’s something I have to overcome, since those fuckers will keep on being those fuckers no matter what I’m feeling inside.

Alright, I fell for this one, and I’ll cop to it. We can all learn a little more about Love with a big ‘L’.

International Translation Day

This is a day created by the United Nations to pay tribute to the folks who make a living translating stuff. For the UN, this is a pretty crucial job. I’m semi-fluent in French, in that I can probably understand a menu at a French restaurant (and isn’t that really the most important thing?). But I’m no translator.

Fortunately, Google is a translator, or at least Google Translate is. So for this day I decided to take one of rock’s most misunderstood songs – “Louie Louie” – and see if I could make it even more incomprehensible than Jack Ely of the Kingsmen did. Below are the lyrics of the song – not the misheard “dirty” lyrics, but the actual lyrics.

A fine little girl, she waits for me

Me catch the ship across the sea

Me sail the ship all alone

Me never think I’ll make it home

Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go. Louie Louie, oh baby me gotta go.

Three night and days I sailed the sea

Me think of girl constantly

On the ship I dream she there

I smell the rose in her hair.

Me see Jamaica, the moon above

It won’t be long, me see me love

Me take her in my arms and then

I tell her I’ll never leave again.

Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go. Yeah yeah yeah yeah baby,

Louie Louie, oh baby, me gotta go.

Now here are the same lyrics, after being put through Google Translate, going from English to French to Spanish to German to Italian to Turkish to Czech to Icelandic to Greek and back to English again:

A beautiful girl is waiting for me

I drive the ship across the ocean

I only go to the ship

I think I will never go home

Louie Louie, oh no, I have to leave. Louie Louie, oh my baby, I have to leave.

I sailed for three nights and three days at sea

I’m still thinking about the girl

It seems to me that he is on the ship

I can feel a rose in your hair

I see Jamaica, the moon

It will not be long before I see love

I take it in my arms and then

I tell him I will never return.

Louie Louie, oh no, I have to leave. Yes, yes, yes, drinking

Louie Louie, oh my baby, I have to leave.

So there you have it. Apart from switching genders midway through the song (hey, it’s all a spectrum!), and misrepresenting the story’s conclusion, Google Translate did a pretty fine job. Though I’m curious at which point “Yeah yeah yeah yeah baby” became “Yes, yes, yes, drinking.”

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day

I cooked with extra virgin olive oil last night, which is generally all I ever do with it. I’m sure it would be great for slicking up the kitchen floor and playing a really clumsy game of fetch with Liberty, or for creating a fragrant slip-and-slide in the back yard, but we tend to lean on conceptual imagination rather than putting those bizarre thoughts into practical application. Does this make us boring? Well, if not being coated head to toe in olive oil is boring, I guess so.

Extra virgin, by the way, means that the olives were only shmushed into oil form using mechanical means, not with any chemicals. That means this is the finest, tastiest, and highest-quality olive oil you can buy. And you can buy it cheap at Costco – don’t pay the grocery store markup. Kirkland comes through with the win.

I suppose this could also refer to Popeye’s girlfriend before she had sex, though the ‘extra’ does raise some questions. Speaking of questions…

Ask A Stupid Question Day

This is a day for teachers to encourage their kids to ask whatever questions they’d like, as there’s allegedly no such thing as a stupid question. I’d disagree. I’ve heard several stupid questions. And I’ll ask one now.

Is there anything on this planet more amazing than dogs? Stupid question. Of course not.

The first of the month is always packed with an unruly mob of celebrations. Here’s what we might get up to today:

  • National Black Dog Day. Rosa is technically a ‘blue’ French Bulldog, but she’s close enough for us. It’s a Rosa day.
  • National Hair Day. We will endeavour to grow our hair at a slightly faster rate than normal.
  • National Homemade Cookies Day. Always a favourite, and our team baker always comes through with amazing stuff.
  • International Day of Older Persons. Hey, I know some older persons!
  • World Vegetarian Day. We’ve done vegetarian this year. We aren’t doing this again.
  • International Coffee Day. Right on. More coffee.
  • National Poetry Day (UK). Perhaps another enjoyable sonnet from Sir Patrick Stewart is in order.
  • CD Player Day. The only one we presently have set up is the one in our vehicle. And we never use it.
  • Bring Your Bible To School Day. Better still… don’t!
  • International Music Day. The only thing better than great music is great international music.
  • International Raccoon Appreciation Day. Anyone want to go hug a raccoon? Just kidding – they’ll bite. Don’t do that.
  • Less Than Perfect Day. Certainly a day for me.
  • Model T Day. I’d have loved to have gone for a ride in one, but of course we couldn’t set up anything fun like this during Covid.

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