Monday, November 16, 2020

It struck me yesterday that the next time I round the corner of the middle of a month, it will be on the home stretch toward the completion of this celebratory mission. It also struck me yesterday that I spend an inordinate amount of time recontextualizing this project in order to put its conclusion in a more imminent and impending light. Jodie and I discussed possible next projects for me over the weekend, none of which include a daily 2,000-word check-in or research over the history of the seat belt. The future is bright and inviting. But enough about the future; here’s yesterday’s stuff:

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

I may do a tally at the end of this project (and by “may” I mean “probably won’t”) to calculate how many of these celebrations were food-related, how many were animal-related, how many were generic feelgoodery, and how many were simply chores. This one falls so firmly into that last camp I could clearly hear the thud as I typed out the title of this section. Yes, this is a day to clean the fridge. How wild is that?

It turns out, very. Actually it doesn’t – I just felt that would be a terrific example of a transition sentence into a new paragraph. I’d have loved to follow it up with an interesting revelation or a dynamic experience that befell us as we tidied up the surfaces upon which our chilled food rests to await our inevitable appetite, but I’ve got nothing, folks. We cleaned out the fridge. Our fridge is clean. We live to celebrate another day.

To be clear, we didn’t use this day to sift through old containers and check expiry dates of stuff. We’re pretty good at keeping up with that, especially this year. This is likely because this project has occasionally required us to keep three different kinds of beer, multiple leftovers and two complete pies in our fridge for past and upcoming days. We have had to stay on top of the clutter. So instead we took note of a few spills and stains on the shelves and dealt with those.

Maybe it’s enough for you to simply find a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch with a promotional insignia indicating that Hidden Valley was the official ranch dressing of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the back of your fridge and throw that out. However you need to do it, tidy up your shit. Make room for beer.

National Drummer Day

When planning this one, I thought of setting up our Wii and loading up Beatles Rock Band for the first time in nearly a decade. That was the first gaming system we’d bought for our kids, and we primarily bought it for that game. I have a small amount of drumming talent so I had a blast jamming to Ringo’s parts and keeping the beat steady. Then I remembered that Abbey had absconded to Vancouver with our Wii, so the best I could do was thwack the rubber pads. That would be unsatisfying.

We’ve celebrated National Drumming Month, and truth be told we’ve probably also celebrated another drumming day this year (Hug A Drummer Day). We have celebrated so much I can’t keep track of it all. Is all of this giving me a headache, or is this just the new normal this year? Anyhow, we celebrated before by listening to some of history’s best drummers at work: John Bonham, Keith Moon, Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, Jughead, etc. So do we do exactly the same thing?

Not quite. I thought it might be interesting to devote a few minutes to checking out some of the greatest drum solos of all time. Business Insider, a publication known for its commitment to percussion excellence (probably), posted a list of some of the best drum solos ever put on tape. Or converted into 0s and 1s if it’s from the digital era, I guess. Some of them I know well, like Ginger baker slamming through “Toad” with Cream in 1968 and Bonham raging through “Moby Dick.”

But the one that caught my eye was the 1970 Tanglewood performance of “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana. I know the song, of course, but I hadn’t seen this version. Allow me to summarize: it’s a conga drum solo, followed by a guitar solo, followed by a solo by all four percussionists (and Carlos on cowbell), followed by a drum solo, followed by a guitar solo, then lastly a Hammond solo. Every single moment of the 13:11 performance is through-the-roof incredible. But the drum solo, performed with a manic magnificence by Michael Shrieve, is something else. In fact, in every part of the song where Michael isn’t soloing, he is basically soloing behind the rest of the band. He puts out more energy in that 2.5-minute solo than I have expended in the last three months combined. You can watch a video of the performance here. The drum solo begins at about 4:20 (heh), and it is so deeply worth your time I can’t recommend it enough.

George Spelvin Day

Who, you may be asking yourself if you’re the curious type who doesn’t shy away from inappropriately-timed expletives, the fuck is George Spelvin? I’m glad one or more of us asked, because I just learned this information and it gave me a chuckle.

George Spelvin doesn’t exist. When an actor doesn’t want to be credited for appearing in something, he’ll ask to be listed as George Spelvin. If he’s playing a double-role, and he’d like to keep that quiet (adding to the mystique of theatre is always a cool thing to do), one of the roles will be given to Spelvin. The name can also be given to a role that has no lines, and could be played in any given performance by a member of the crew, like a delivery guy who shows up once, or a person who passes by a window.

Film directors will adopt the name Alan Smithee in the credits when they don’t want their name tied to a project. I wrote all about Mr. Smithee’s weird and lengthy legacy in my last project. Walter Plinge is the British theatrical equivalent to Mr. Spelvin. David Agnew is the British screenwriting pseudonym of choice.

Broadway being Broadway – and you’ll never find a more quirky collective of humans than those in the employ of the theatre world – Mr. Spelvin was given a backstory and even a date of birth – November 15, 1886 – when his name was being passed around the circuit in the 1910’s. So a big ol’ happy birthday to Mr. Spelvin. You don’t look 134 years old to us.

In case you were wondering, yes, there is a Georgina Spelvin. Actress Shelley Graham (which is disturbingly also the name of one of my aunts) adopted that pseudonym for her appearance in The Devil In Miss Jones, a highly popular pornographic film in 1973. Needless to say, the female pseudonym didn’t get used in theatre after it achieved that particular level of infamy.

I Love To Write Day

This is a day to encourage people to write. I do not require this encouragement. Jodie has a 6,000-word essay due in a few weeks, so neither does she.

So allow me to do the encouraging. Fucking write, people. Even if no one reads it, it doesn’t matter. That could actually be the tagline for this particular project, come to think of it. But that’s my point: you can squeeze such immense joy from the language when you craft your own goofy sentences. Use words you never otherwise use. Dig yourself so deeply into convoluted analogies that you lose track of where you started. Pour your heart onto the page, or, if you’d rather not do that, just make shit up.

I conducted my last project, a thousand-day journey of necessary writing, just to become a better writer. It may have worked. No one paid me for it, though it did lead me to a couple of paid writing gigs. But what’s more, I enjoyed it. Certainly more than cleaning out my refrigerator and calling it a celebration. I won’t say writing saved my life, but it gave me a way to interpret and embellish my life and allowed me to drink in the glory of the English language. It’s musical in its wondrousness. And if I’m simply shouting into the void (and believe me, I often am), that’s okay. I’ll re-read this someday and it’ll make future-me chuckle.

To write is to love. To love is to write. Do both.

National Sundae Day

Yes, we enjoyed National Sundae Day, which actually showed up on Wednesday. Some ice cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, and a cherry or two. Whipped cream? Why certainly, that’d be great.

We’d already done National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, National Strawberry Sundae Day and National Build Your Own Sundae Day. I suspect this may be the final ice cream-related celebration of the year, but then I have no idea what weird ideas those southern hemisphere types have concocted. If they demand it, we’ll eat it. This is the way. Whatever happens, we made sure this was our most epic and perfect sundae of the year, because dammit, we want to close this year off right.

Happy Sundae Sunday Day to all.

I have today off, which means I’ll have more time to pour into our celebrations. Or into a nap. Or maybe some Madden. I haven’t decided yet. Anyway, here’s what’s competing for my time today:

  • National Fast Food Day. Hooray. Some grease to ease our beleaguered organs into the week.
  • National Button Day. Today I will push buttons. I’m not sure which buttons, but dammit, I’ll push ‘em.
  • National Indiana Day. We had intended to do breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches for this day, but forgot to grab some from the store. Maybe we’ll watch some Parks & Recreation instead.
  • Icelandic Language Day. Maybe we’ll learn a new language today.
  • Have a Party With Your Bear Day. Perhaps with a Teddy, maybe with Mike Ditka, or possibly with a large, hairy gay man. It’s up to you.

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