Sunday, November 22, 2020

Yesterday unearthed in me a downturn in my outlook on humanity. It happens from time to time and often flitters by, but I still must acknowledge it. Maybe this occurred because I went out into the world for the first time in seven days, but more likely it was brewing before that. This year has been the strangest spiral into hermit-dom I could have imagined. The pandemic forced me to spend most of my days indoors, and then listening to people on social media has increased my desire to follow the isolation rules. People who can’t even follow arrows in a supermarket think they have cornered the market on scientific comprehension. It’s a weird world. Fortunately, we have plenty of distractions:

National Red Mittens Day

For more than a decade, our nation’s founder – better known now as a country-wide retail outlet we simply call “The Bay” – has been promoting this day to raise money for our national athletes. We hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and in hopes that we could put together a decent performance (which we absolutely did), the Hudson’s Bay Company came up with this promotional idea. Sell the mittens, give the proceeds to our athletes, win some medals.

We bought a couple pairs back when this was a thing, because when a fad has some altruistic motivation behind it, we’re more likely to jump on board. I suppose the real way to celebrate this would have been to buy more mittens, but we simply don’t need them. We have mittens. And I never wear the damn things; I’ll wear gloves to shovel the walks and otherwise I stay inside.

But we believe in the cause. The Olympics, assuming everything goes to plan and nothing gets pushed further back, will be a back-to-back affair next year. We’ll get the Summer Games in August and the Winter Games the following February – the first time they have been that close together since they were split to alternating two-year schedules in the early 90s. And as much as national pride grinds our gears for the most part, we love the games. They’re fun to watch, and they’re a time when the headlines are swallowed up by pole vaulting and snowboard cross instead of politics and economics.

Go Canada. We’ll be wearing our mittens.

World Television Day

I know for a fact that we have celebrated television a few times this year. I also know that I have taken time to celebrate it literally every day. Even if it’s only to watch a half-hour sitcom or a pre-recorded, skip-the-commercials football game, we tend to watch some sort of television every day.

This celebration is one of those United Nations observances, where we are supposed to reflect upon the greater impact of the technology on the world as a whole. So it’s not simply an entry to ramble on about The Mandalorian and how brilliant it is that TV now provides us with blockbuster-level production values to go along with its Platinum Age story-telling abilities. We should look at what TV has done everywhere.

There are not a lot of folks in developing nations debating the merits and failings of the eighth season of Game of Thrones. But there are a lot of folks in those countries who have TV in their homes, and who use that as their source of news and information. America just suffered through an election cycle where social media misinformation was a key tool to manipulate the masses. To counter that, we had comments sections, better news sources, and friends and family who could try to reach out to those who have wandered down the false-info path and try to drag them back. TV viewers in developing nations do not have those benefits. They absorb what they see, and must make sense of it themselves.

This is the danger of TV in the modern age. It is a device that can influence and manipulate millions, and a nefarious regime can do wonders to tilt it in their favour. That said, I’m not here to speak ill of television. We have a long intertwined history, and while it may not be the healthiest influence in a struggling nation, it is a trusted member of the family here. We celebrated the glory of TV yesterday by watching some. And it was grand.

False Confession Day

I eat ice cream for breakfast twice every week. At a party in high school I vomited eggnog into a potted plant and abruptly left the house without telling anyone. In the last federal election I spoiled my ballot by drawing a Metallica logo in each circle. I’ve never actually seen Citizen Kane, and have based all of my opinions on the film on that episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns is looking for his childhood bear.

I believe that waterskiing was invented by communists to undermine our way of life. I talk a big game about loving music, but for me it doesn’t get any better than the extended 12” remix of “Axel F”. When receiving acupuncture, I pass gas as often as possible, just so the person poking me with needles thinks it’s my blood-stank seeping out. I believe (and plan to prove) that if you were to pluck a pigeon completely of its feathers, it would be hilarious to draw nipples on them and release them back into the wild.

I once had sex inside of a hollowed-out arcade game in an alley. I think it was a Mappy, but it might have been a Joust. I am deeply afraid of marching bands. I think The Love Boat is the greatest television show in history. If I spill some food on the floor, I won’t pick it up and eat it, but I will yell at it for a good five minutes. All of my underwear is made from the fur of animals I’ve run over and then salvaged.

This was fun. It’s a shame this day only comes once a year.

Alascattalo Day

I’m only including this one because of its brazen non-celebratory nature, which I find refreshing. A writer from Anchorage, Alaska named Steven C. Levi created this creature back in the early 90s, plucked from a weird corner of his imagination that felt that the Alaskan wilderness required a half moose / half walrus beast injected into its mythology. Obviously this one doesn’t exist, nor does anyone even pretend it might be real. It’s a gag, and Anchorage residents are in on it.

There is a parade held every year. Is it happening in 2020? There’s no way of knowing. One of the most important facets of the Alascattalo Day parade is that it is not to be promoted in any way, and residents are specifically discouraged from attending. As such, people show up in disguises ranging from Groucho Marx glasses to full-on costumes. The parade route runs for one block in an alley behind a comedy club.

This is such an anti-celebration I just want to reach out and hug it. If we were afforded an unlimited budget for this project (and if Covid had never happened) we would absolutely be in Alaska to celebrate this one. They give out a prize for the smallest and ugliest float every year.

This is everything I want in a celebration right now. After about 2,000 celebrations this year, I’ve finally found one that fits my groove perfectly.

World Hello Day

Is this merely a stupid day in which we’re supposed to reflect upon the nature of ‘hello’ and how it fits in with society? No, that’s just my jaded, over-celebrated cynicism talking. The motivation behind this one is weirdly sweet.

Say hello to ten people.

That’s it. That’s the celebration. After the war between Egypt and Israel in 1973, people around the world have been using this day to push pleasant greetings to others in an effort to foster peace. 31 Nobel Peace Prize winners have endorsed this day. In fact, a weird number of celebrated humans have submitted letters to lend their support.

Jacques Cousteau wrote a World Hello Day letter in 1993. Ravi Shankar’s letter is undated, but he also believes in a ‘hello’ to foster peace. Brian Wilson, writing on official Beach Boys stationary (this was back in 1981 before Mike Love’s insipid coup), supports this day. Former presidents Carter, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, and… well, Barbara Bush have also written letters. Looking for cooler people to be on board? How about Desmond Tutu? Elie Wiesel? Linus Pauling?

Gene Roddenberry, whose official letterhead was so cool I had to use it as the photo for this celebration, supports this day. Whoopi Goldberg signed on in 1992. Lawrence Welk wrote a longer letter, even using a fancy cursive typewriter in 1981. The Dalai Lama is on board. Stevie Wonder’s lawyer even vouched for Stevie’s support in 1987.

So we did our part. Between the people at the doughnut place, the grocery store and the A&W where we dined yesterday, we said hello to at least 10 people. It’s a small word and a small gesture, but it’s nice to think of how important that tiny effort is to encourage peace and togetherness.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day

Okay, technically these are ginger snaps, but they are pretty similar in flavour, and close enough to count. Besides, they contain the delightful secret ingredient of cannabis, so they made the evening truly an event of celebration. Thumbs-up for this one.

Like we have for the previous ten Sundays, we shall be spending this one mostly horizontal, fixated on football and on resetting our insides for another long week. Here’s what’s up:

  • National Cranberry Relish Day. Once we might have had the gumption to create this. Not so much at this point.
  • Go For A Ride Day. Our original plans for the day involved going to our nearby indoor amusement park for some rides. Thanks, virus.
  • Start Your Own Country Day. Sounds like a lot of paperwork, but it’s tempting.

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