Friday, October 16, 2020

If this page ultimately serves as a diary of how I spent the strangest calendar year in the history of my time on this planet, then how will it find me on the middle day of the tenth month of that year? I watched arborists chop down a 30-foot tree across the street in the morning. I found myself weirdly celebrating the lack of football last night, thus allowing me time to play a pretend version on my computer (which is much more fun). And I stared down a lengthy list of potential celebrations to complement my unusually perky mood, and trimmed it down to all this:

National Aesthetician Day

This may come as a shock to those who know me, but I don’t employ the services of an aesthetician on even on occasional basis. All of this? <he indicates his splotchy and dishevelled face> This is natural. Pure Marty. All I do to keep it up is wash my face, trim my beard region, and occasionally fix my eyebrows when they threaten to make me look too swarthy.

But Jodie is, of course, different. She takes actual care of her physical self, which I find fascinating and foreign. She doesn’t get to visit the spa as often as she’d like, mostly due to Covid and the fact that we spend the bulk of our disposable income on Civil War miniatures which we grind up and blend with old Quaaludes to sell as an herbal love potion from our roadside kiosk. But when she can, she gets a facial.

An aesthetician can, of course, do more than rub lotions into your face-parts. Our niece Antonia has developed a fairly impressive skill at tattooing eyebrows, which I was surprised to learn is something people will actually do. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the process, and Jodie refuses to allow me to shave her eyebrows to see if they’d still remain visible, like greasepaint above her eyes. But Antonia does a fine job, and after those first couple of days where her eyebrows look dark and weirdly intense, Jodie loves the end result. It all seems very weird to me, but it works.

But for the purposes of this celebration, I’ll happily plug my niece’s small business, and encourage anyone in our general area to reach out with an email if they’d like her contact info. Life’s too short to walk around with shitty-looking eyebrows, right? I’ll let her use that as a slogan if she ever makes a TV commercial.

I Love Lucy Day

Here’s an interesting thing I learned yesterday: it’s easier to find full episodes of The Lucy Show on Youtube than to find good quality full episodes of I Love Lucy. Given that the show is not streaming on any service I subscribe to (and I subscribe to enough of them), I found myself instead looking for clips. Of course the first one I searched for is this classic, the infamous chocolate factory scene in which Lucy and Ethel try to keep up with wrapping individual chocolates on an ever-quickening conveyor belt.

This is the actual anniversary of this landmark sitcom. It launched remarkably near the birth of television itself, back in 1951. And if you watch the clip above (and you absolutely should, even if you’ve seen it before), you’ll see that the comedy still holds up. The show ran for only six seasons, and it was off the air in 1957. Still, they managed to chalk up 180 episodes in those six years, because people in TV worked their butts off to deliver a lot of content back then. This is the sitcom that set the table for all ensuing family sitcoms. Without Lucy you’d have no Goldbergs, no Modern Family, no Cosby Show. Lucy was the prototype.

This is one of only three shows who wrapped up its run while at the very top of the Nielsen ratings, meaning they walked away at the height of its success in order to ensure a quality legacy. The other two are The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 and Seinfeld thirty years later. It was the first show with an ensemble cast. The first to be shot on 35mm film in front of a live studio audience. A 2012 poll called it the best show in TV history.

Some interesting trivia about the show: Lucy wanted a career in movies alongside her sitcom, but sponsor Phillip Morris nixed the notion of airing an episode every two weeks, so she had to let the film career go. Karl Freund was the series’ cinematographer. His other work includes Fritz Lang’s brilliant Metropolis (1927) and the Universal horror Dracula from 1931, so it’s kind of a wonder that Lucy didn’t end up with a darkly noir feel. I Love Lucy invented the three-camera format, which remains the standard for sitcoms shot in front of an audience. And when Lucy got pregnant in season 2, they aired reruns when she couldn’t create new episodes. No one had ever aired reruns before, so this show invented that concept too. The episode “Lucy Goes To The Hospital”, in which she gives birth to Little Ricky, was the most watched episode of any show ever at that point. It also aired the day before Eisenhower’s inauguration.

It’s a classic, and a classic that deserves its status. Happy birthday, Lucy. Today, you’ve got no splainin’ to do.

Global Handwashing Day

Hey, has anyone mentioned this to you lately? Wash your damn hands! There have been evolving notions of what can keep Covid at bay (including some notions that suggest Covid doesn’t actually exist, and that it’s a conspiracy among world leaders to control us… if you know people who believe this, it’s best to distance yourself from them). Some say masks work, and even the experts have changed positions on that. Some say groups should stay below 50 people, others say below 15, and still others are sticking to the people in their home and that’s it.

But hand-washing has been touted as a great way to kill off this virus since the beginning. The rule to go by was to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head two times; that’s how long your hands should be involved in the washing process. I’d expand that to suggest that there’s no reason to keep that song in your head – sing it out loud as you wash! It’s somebody’s birthday somewhere; you’d simply be pouring more good vibes into a world that could really use them.

The Global Handwashing Partnership is behind this day. Yes, there exists an organization that has partnered with academic institutions, government agencies and private sector big-wigs to attempt to talk us all into being a little less janky with our hygiene habits. It may seem silly to us, but then we’re living in a very developed nation, with public hand-washing stations located everywhere, and most of us were raised with hand-washing before meals and/or after pooping exploits as a natural part of taking care of ourselves. That isn’t the case around the world, despite the fact that handwashing will help to subdue this virus no matter where you live.

So take a little extra pride in scrubbing your mitts today. That’s what we did yesterday, and while it will sit near the bottom of ‘visceral celebrations’ this year (watching Lucy and Ethel was much more fun), it’s still an important commemoration.

World Students Day

If you guessed that World Students Day was created to honour the birthday of Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, then get the hell out of my head and stop reading my thoughts! Mr. Kalam was the president of India from 2002 through 2007, and one of his biggest focuses was on education and growing India as a brain-hive for the planet. He studied aerospace and physics, and devoted his life to science and knowledge. Imagine that, a national leader who embraces science. Remember to vote on November 3, my American friends.

Anyhow, President Kalam was a teacher first and foremost, and he always considered that his true calling. That’s why the UN initiated this day in his honour back in 2010. President Kalam only served one term, but that was his choice. He backed out about a month before the election, returning to his work as a professor. He was fairly beloved, and considered by many to be “the people’s president”. You hear that, American friends? A president can serve just one term and honourably step out of the role. You don’t have much chance of securing the latter, but the former is up for grabs. Remember to vote.

So how does one celebrate World Students Day? I’m sure there are meetups and conferences which have been cancelled and replaced with boring online speeches. But for us, we had access (well, one of us) to a bunch of people who fit the designation this day is meant to celebrate. Jodie wished her students a happy World Students Day, and that was about it. There’s no present-buying, no traditional feast or anything associated with this day. She simply acknowledged how much she likes many of her students (though some, as she’d remind me, are assholes) and wished them a happy day.

And she got to enjoy a happy day-wishing too, given that it’s also this:

My Mom Is A Student Day

I guess I’m supposed to wish a happy day to my kids then? After all, my mother isn’t a student; theirs is. And Jodie doesn’t get to celebrate this one either, since she is the actual student and not the one indicated by the day’s title. This is all very confusing.

Jodie went back to school as a mom when she was around 30 to become a teacher. It wasn’t easy, but she pulled it off. Then it was my turn to go back to school so that I could become a well-educated government office drone who can regale his coworkers with clips from the great Buster Keaton movies he saw in school (I have a film studies degree – it doesn’t come in handy very often). She went back last year to get her Masters degree, and it has done wonders for her passion and commitment to a better world. I couldn’t be more proud.

But yesterday was all about being proud of my kids, at least for this celebration. Congrats to all student-mom-babies out there.

National Pug Day

Okay, full confession: we do not have a pug to show off for this day. Nor will we be indulging in the kind of madness we brought upon ourselves for National Golden Retriever Day by acquiring a new canine research assistant – three is sufficient. But we love pugs. They are similar in a lot of respects to bulldogs, and in particular to French bulldogs, who have an equally intense face.

Pugs come from China, but they gained massive European popularity thanks to the House of Orange in the Netherlands back in the 1500s. Queen Victoria was quite the fan as well. My favourite description of pugs is in Latin: multum in parvo, which means a whole lotta dog crammed into a small space. They are strong-willed, but friendly as hell, and great for kids. They’re playful, they love their humans, and they love to nap. Often their owners will find them underfoot. Come to think of it, there appears to be almost no difference between a pug and our French bulldog Rosa, apart from the ears and tail.

The secret behind their popularity with the Dutch was when the Prince of Orange was allegedly tipped off to approaching assassins by an astute pug named Pompey in 1572. Over the years the breed has become more compact, and more clearly bred with families in mind. They’re a magnificent batch o’ beasts, and if you are lucky enough to see one today you should give it a hug and wish it a happy belated day.

This party will not stop rolling, certainly not as we cruise into a weekend. Well, we do actually tend to tone down our celebrating on the weekends, but here’s what should keep us busy today:

  • National Hug Your Boss Day. My boss will be very happy I’m still working from home today.
  • National Liqueur Day. So many to choose from.
  • National Dictionary Day. It’s Noah Webster’s birthday. Will I read a dictionary to celebrate? Maybe! But no, probably not.
  • Global Cat Day. I will not be reaching out to friends and family for cat photo submissions again – that has been done enough for the year.
  • World Food Day. Hooray for food!
  • Boss’s Day. I guess it is their special day, especially if they get a lot of hugs.
  • Department Store Day. This was going to involve a visit to The Bay or something, but screw that – I’m not leaving the house.
  • National Cut Up Your Credit Card Day. This sounds violent. Also, we don’t have any credit cards at present so we can’t celebrate this one.
  • National Learn A Word Day. This sounds fun.
  • World Spine Day. Gotta love them spines.

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