Saturday, July 4, 2020

Spitting in the face of logic, slapping a tag upon the priceless fresco of reason, we plow forward through an entanglement of a fucktastic year with another batch of weirdly meaningless revelry. Today’s list was long, but aren’t they all getting a bit long? Has this become more a test of finger-plunking endurance than a dip in a perpetual pool of merriment? Has this project morphed from something to savour into something to conquer through sheer will and meandering pontification? These are the questions I try nightly to shut up in my head, mostly through carefully-plotted intoxication. But enough of this haunting speculation. Yesterday we watched Hamilton. We also did this:

National Eat Your Beans Day

Jodie, for those of you have not observed this when I’ve mentioned it before, can’t stand beans. I don’t mind them; I’d stop short of saying I love them, though a fried-up batch of green beans in butter with toasted almonds is a top-tier side dish. Beans are the filler in chili, which makes Texas-style beanless chili something truly magnificent, as we learned earlier this year on National Texas Day. Beans and hot dogs are tasty, but mostly because of the hot dogs that have been soaking in sweet bean-juice.

Beans are, as I understand it, crucial to vegetarians as a source of protein. This is, to me, an argument against vegetarianism as a lifestyle I could adopt unless a medical professional were to deem it absolutely necessary. Let’s face it, between beans and tofu, beans are the clear winner. And a thick, bloody steak will top both. For me, anyhow. Live and let eat, I always say.

So we figured a workaround. Sure, we could have opted for getting some green beans to honour this day, but they would not have gone well with our leftover Chinese food for supper. And nothing says a trip to virtual Broadway (Hamilton on Disney+!) like jelly beans. We stopped by Carol’s Quality Sweets and snagged some of those magnificent jelly beans that resemble small rocks. Celebration accomplished.

National Chocolate Wafer Day

I’m not sure if the purpose of a wafer cookie is to resemble a waffle somehow, but both contain those distinctive raised markings. For the waffle, those are clearly syrup repositories, designed for maximum sweet deliciousness in every bite. For the wafer cookie, the texture provides a fluffy and intriguing mouthfeel. It’s really a confectionary delight that has been vastly underused in terms of its potential.

The only wafer cookies we can find at our local grocer are generic-branded, bulk biscuits wrapped in plastic and intended for inclusion in some sort of baked dish or ice cream treat (or, in the case of our Baked Alaska a few months back, both). As cookies they are somewhat unimpressive. We had a few, and that was probably enough to satisfy anything close to a craving for the next several months or years.

So why hasn’t anyone done something great with the basic wafer? I’ve had stroopwafels before, those little waffle-cookies with a layer of caramel between them, and that’s as close to wafer supremacy that I’ve seen. But there has to be more we can do with the mighty wafer. This is an untapped resource of potential empty calories. Come on, Mr. Christie, come on, Keebler Elves. Someone has to bring the wafer to its true potential.

For now, the ones pictured above will have to do.

National Stay Out of the Sun Day

Ah, a day to give our skin a much-needed break from roasting underneath that big ol’ chemical fire in the sky. That would be lovely if you lived somewhere that isn’t Edmonton, which has been hammered by rain and gloomy overcastness for the last few weeks, and has seen maybe two days worthy of laying in a hammock or lawn chair and basking in warmth. This city pisses me off sometimes.

Yesterday was a moderate 23 degrees with partial cloud-cover; actually not a bad day to lay in the sun. And given that we didn’t need to take a break from any sort of sunning – my tan, which I’d hoped would be at George Hamilton levels by now, has faded back to its pasty hidey-hole – we didn’t feel we needed to honour this celebration. That said, we also had other things to keep us busy indoors throughout the afternoon, so in the absence of a truly glorious warm summer day, we simply stayed inside. The dogs got a walk, that was it.

It’s important to remember the seriousness of skin cancer, and the dangers of laying unprotected beneath a cozy solar swelter. And if you’ve been hitting the back yard lounger hard this year due to COVID-related free time, maybe you should take a breather. That said, if you live in Edmonton, you are welcome to simply shake this one off and hope summer will show up with a kick sometime soon.

So much hope.

Compliment Your Mirror Day

Hey mirror, you are awesome.

Of course, the real idea is to compliment the person looking back at you in the mirror. We did that too. “Damn Marty, you sure know how to pick out a terrific-looking mirror. Your mirror shopping skills are second to none. You should be picking out mirrors for people professionally. Is mirror-shopper an actual vocation? You should look into that. Heh. ‘Look into’. That’s kind of a mirror joke there.”

We’ve got no shortage of feel-good days in 2020, which one might suspect is a good tool with which to fight back against the mental strain of existing through this manic nosedive of a year. That might work for some, but talking myself up in the mirror was never my game. I indulged, but couldn’t help being a smartass about it (see above).

That said, it’s a lovely mirror. I stand behind my statement.

Comic Sans Day

People hate this font. I mean, they hate it in a weird way, one that I would reserve for neo-Nazis, corporate bailouts and the 2007 New England Patriots. But what is it, really? It’s a typeface. It’s a way letters look on a screen. It’s not going to cause bodily harm or do damage to your automobile. It’s not toxic to pets or bad for the environment. So I will spend this little chunk of article defending Comic Sans, in honour of its special day.

Comic Sans is moderately whimsical. It looks something like the printing of someone with half-decent (but not perfect) penmanship. Font designer Vincent Connare was working on the brand new Windows 95 when he noticed speech bubbles in the Microsoft Bob program (remember that? No, no one really does) featured Times New Roman. Where’s the joy in that rigidity? Vincent drew inspiration from the comics he had in his office, specifically The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. So a slam against Comic Sans is a slam against Batman. You want to pick a fight with Batman?

I wrote an entire novel in Comic Sans. I found it easy on the eyes, which is important when you’re staring at the same chunk of computer text for hours at a time. It’s a terrible font for professional signage, or really for anything that isn’t casual, light, and intended to elicit a grin. Webmasters and graphic designers spew venom at this font, but they should – it was never intended for that sort of use.

I won’t switch back to Comic Sans as a daily font. I use Windsor Lt BT for my writing because I find it inspiring and the ampersand features a brilliant theatrical flair to it. I don’t use the ampersand often, but when I do it’s always a pleasant surprise. But I’ll fight for Comic Sans to stay in our world, and to continue to ship with every important OS and word processing program. It’s a dark, grisly world. We need Comic Sans to make it a little less pretentious.

Plastic Bag Free Day

Okay, I’ll admit it: we got a plastic bag from Carol’s Sweets when we bought our jelly beans. They are still operating under COVID restrictions, which means they bagged the bulk product for us, and we were not about to hand them a paper bag and insist they use that instead. They have their procedures, and we don’t want to mess with that. They also have the best candies in this city. You don’t mess with the candy suppliers.

But this is an important day, especially this year. Grocery stores have given the big thumbs-down to bringing in your own canvas bag, or at least they were doing so during the peak of the lockdown. Our stash of plastic bags (which we reuse for garbage bags around the house) had nearly depleted; now it’s overflowing once again. Thankfully stores have reversed this policy, at least in these parts, and so long as we bag our groceries ourselves we can bring in our canvas bags again.

Then again, I’ve heard that the environmental impact of creating a reusable shopping bag can be more devastating than making and disposing of hundreds of plastic single-use bags. I doubt that’s true though, and we’re planning on erring on the side of common sense by not contributing to the heaps of plastic in our landfills. Check with your local grocer and see if you can bring your own bags. If they offer paper bags, those will at the very least decompose or can be recycled.

At the height of this pandemic, these race riots and this moronic political situation in the US, we can’t lose sight of the environmental dangers we face. And when it all gets to be too much, liquor stores are still open. Get yourself a drink. Just don’t let them give you a plastic bag.

Disobedience Day

Disobedience. It’s kind of a recurring theme this year. We’re seeing people disobeying orders to distance and wear a mask, and the anticipated result of higher infections and more deaths. We’re seeing groups of American Republicans who are disobeying the president’s demands for unquestioned loyalty and are actively campaigning for the other side. And most importantly, we’re seeing civil disobedience at a level we’ve never seen in my lifetime, and perhaps not even in my parents’ lifetimes.

We have stated before on this site that, while we will mostly stay away from politics, we will firmly plant our support behind the Black Lives Matter movement. We aren’t happy about the violence and looting going on, as it’s not really progressing us toward a peaceful goal, but we also understand precisely why a peaceful process to this goal may not be possible. Even if it is, the people who are demanding equality are sick of waiting for peaceful protest to work. Colin Kaepernick tried peaceful protest and got drummed out of the NFL for it.

Civil disobedience has played a part in every great revolution. Gandhi used it to rebel against the British grip on India. Germans used it to smash their wall in 1989. China used it by rioting during that same year, and the outrage in Hong Kong is another example of how that revolution has not yet been settled. But it’s necessary. It’s the correct response when no other means of getting one’s voice heard are working. And when the fight is for justice, equality, and setting the world to its correct heading, we should all be behind it.

Fight the powers that be, people. As long as you’re doing it for the right reasons, history will reward you.

National Independent Beer Run Day

It’s Independence Day today, as most of my American friends are already aware. This celebration reminds us to head to our local beer stores (since, I assume, they may be closed down today) the day before the big holiday to stock up on independent, craft-brewed beers. This is a good thing; America should not be defined by an allegiance to Budweiser or Coors. Your nation has so much more to offer, so much more quality that has been crammed into a can or bottle.

We are celebrating Independence Day today with a party of sorts. And yesterday we headed out to pick up a delightful bottle of something made at an independent brewery. What we picked up will end up being our Bonza Bottles this month, so stay tuned on Tuesday..

Support your local independents. Otherwise, the options (and I say this from having grown up at the end of the dark period of corporate beer dominance) are garbage.

Tonight we party. Here’s what we’ll be celebrating:

  • Independence Day. We aren’t American, but I’m descended from Americans and I love that country deeply. We will mourn its present ills and pray for a brighter future.
  • National Barbecued Spareribs Day. We’d planned to do a huge BBQ with friends and family, but we only have a couple friends coming over for a post-dinner drink. But this will be dinner.
  • National Caesar Salad Day. This will also be part of dinner, because the Caesar is among the finest of all possible salads.
  • Hop-A-Park Day. The plan here was to drunkenly stumble from our backyard party to various parks in the neighborhood. Needless to say, we’ll be tweaking.
  • Alice In Wonderland Day. A birthdate for a delightful story. Perhaps some Jefferson Airplane is in order.
  • Invisible Day. Well, then how will we know this day is even there?
  • Independence From Meat Day. Nice try, vegetarians. Not today.
  • National Barbecue Day. We already celebrated this once, but I guess it makes sense for July 4 to feature it once more.
  • National Country Music Day. Ah, fuck.
  • Sidewalk Egg-Frying Day. I don’t think we’re getting that sort of weather, but we can wish.

Friday, July 3, 2020

We chose yesterday as the day to catch up on our self-created holidays, as the list of prescribed merriment was uncharacteristically short. The pause of reflection hit early in the morning as I ventured to the bathroom and learned that the previous day’s embrace of creative ice cream flavors – in particular my black licorice indulgence – somehow emerged from its digestive journey a glorious turquoise. My initial thought was, “Wow, that’s pretty.” Then the reality hit me, that my innards partially invoke a Caribbean travel brochure, and I got a little worried. It was an auspicious start to a Thursday.

Build Your Final Playlist Day

This was my contribution to the notion of celebration creation. I felt it would be beneficial for people to curate the music that would play at their funeral, their celebration of life, their memorial, their pyre-lighting… whatever post-mortem commemoration your loved ones will throw together after your demise. This is your last chance to impose your musical tastes upon the people around you, to demonstrate to them which art you feel best reflects who you are and how you made your way through the world.

It’s a dark concept, I get that. And dark concepts are not overly appreciated in this weird little project. But this was something that always irked me. My wife knows me better than anyone else, but what would she play at my service? She’d be too distraught to care, or so I’d hope. Would my kids throw something together? Perhaps. But they likely have no idea just how much I’ve come to connect with “Groovin’ Is Easy” by the Electric Flag.

This was one Jodie had little interest in joining in, and that’s fine. I told her how to locate my playlist and I trust she’ll be able to figure it out. If she happens to venture into the beyond first, I plan on playing Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away (Ha Ha)” on repeat. That’s what she gets for neglecting the important parts of this project.

As for what is on my playlist, you’ll just have to be fortunate enough to snag an invite when the day comes. Let’s just say I expect all of you to sit still and silently for the entirety of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” the long version. Out of respect.

Midway Day

How does one look back on the first half of a year like this and reflect? The first six months of 2020 have been unprecedented mangles of our expectations, and a moment in history that will likely haunt us all until the end of our days. Millions of people infected with a virus we’d never heard of just a few months earlier. Racial protests and violence that have sustained longer than any America has seen since the 1960s. A complete restructuring of how we live our lives, from where we work to how we walk through a grocery store to how we now obtain food and drink from our favourite eateries.

Everything is different. And some things will never be the same again – see my entry under Global Handshake Day last month to see my hopes for the end of that tradition. And yet for us, it has been a mixed bag.

Jodie’s first six months were a blend of great and awful. She missed her kids fiercely in the last part of the school year, and felt that they were robbed of a quality education, just as Jodie was robbed of what she loves about her profession. But at the same time, she went on a run of probably 30 straight days with an afternoon nap. That’s a huge win. She faces the next half of the year with trepidation and concern. No one knows what school will look like, and her teaching is her passion. Well, one of them. The other – theatre – has also been placed into carbon-freeze. It’s been a roller coaster year so far.

My 2020 has been something else entirely. While watching the world burn outside my window, I have found myself vocationally relocated to the office across the hall from my bedroom, and suddenly in receipt of 3.5 hours of every workday to do as I please. I have found comfort in introversion, and been fascinated watching how artists have created art and how the world has shifted to account for this weird twisting of reality. In short, I’ve been one of the few who have actually benefited from this cluster-fuck of a year.

The second half of the year may bring a rabbit flu, it might bring locusts, or maybe those murder hornets will finally show up and wreak havoc. As long as I can observe it all from my little room, I know I can handle it.

I Forgot Day

Created by a lady named Gaye Anderson, this day is meant to ease the minds of those of us who occasionally deal with bouts of forgetfulness. On this day we are meant to back off from our stress and allow ourselves to forget things.

I forget things all the time, so I’m happy to take a day off worrying about it. Whether it’s forgetting to follow up with a contractor to get a quote on eavestroughs, or forgetting to take food out to thaw for dinner, I’m kind of a champ. Some might say it’s the weed intake, but that’s okay; I’ll just forget they said that a few minutes later anyway. Everybody wins!

The funny thing is, yesterday I didn’t forget much. I mean, both of those things in the previous paragraph, but that’s really about it. At least I think so. If I forget that I forgot, does that cancel itself out? These are the questions for our age.

World UFO Day

Nothing really to say here – last week’s World UFO Day was commemorating the anniversary of the first spotted ‘flying saucer’, and this one commemorates the Roswell crash, both of which occurred in 1947. So if you missed celebrating last week, you can still grab this one, though I’m not sure how to effectively celebrate it. Build a UFO? Wander around the countryside, screaming up at the sky for someone to come abduct you? Enlist a friend to don an alien costume and probe your anus?

However you wish to celebrate, that’s up to you. We observed this one once already, but for fun I did a bit of reading on the Roswell crash. I’m as skeptical as the next skeptic, but it’s hard to read about all the goings-on in 1947 and not think there might be something fishy afoot.

Clean Beaches Week

Remember how cool it was that World Surfing Day was actually all about encouraging surfers to take a moment and tidy up the beaches they love so much? Well, this one is for the rest of us. For the first week of July we are all encouraged to pick a spot of beach and tidy it up so that it’s in its best shape for the next people or animals who stumble upon it.

Naturally, this year is different. Beaches get littered more on July 4 (which is a full-on weekend party this year) than at any other time. Of course, most of the beaches along the American coasts will be abandoned or very sparsely populated this year, so the damage may not be so bad. Will it be enough? That depends on how many people read this article (HA!) or find out some other way that this is Clean Beaches Week, and that the planet has some expectations for us.

We are doing our part by not contributing to any beach mess since we won’t be leaving our house much over the next several days. But if you’re headed to a beach, please do your part and then some. The earth could use a hand.

Due to budget constraints (and other reasons) we may be skipping a few of these. Our hearts will be there even if our stomachs can’t be:

  • National Fried Clam Day. Not sure where in the city to get the best fried clams; they won’t be super-fresh given the lack of wild clams on the prairie. We might skip this one.
  • National Eat Your Beans Day. Jodie hates beans. This one may get skipped for that reason.
  • National Chocolate Wafer Day. On the other hand, we still have some of these unopened from Baked Alaska Day, so we’ll be feasting on this for dessert.
  • National Stay Out of the Sun Day. I was worried this would happen on a day that was too glorious and hot to stay away from my hammock. I didn’t have to worry.
  • Compliment Your Mirror Day. A day for self-positivity. Or, if you own a really bitchin’ mirror, for being grateful for that.
  • Disobedience Day. We might encourage some civil disobedience today. There is some good cause for that right now.
  • Comic Sans Day. I will write in this font, though I don’t think WordPress will let me publish in this font. Thankfully.
  • American Redneck Day. Nope. They get no love from us right now.
  • Drive Your Corvette To Work Day. I wish!
  • Plastic Bag Free Day. We won’t be purchasing anything that will result in us getting a plastic bag.
  • National Independent Beer Run Day. Not a bad plan.