Tuesday, October 6, 2020

I have raked the proverbial forest floor of my brain, scraping for a fresh perspective on this, the next entry in this hallowed (hollowed?) project, and came up empty. It’s another day, peppered with a few celebrations we will tackle and several we will allow to scoot by. I feel less and less pressure to fill the gaps with fluff and smiles, especially since hitting 2,000 (or 2,020, which is more appropriate) celebrations this year becomes more and more likely. I haven’t done a proper count in over a month – it might be time to get on that. We’ll see – we still had all this to indulge in yesterday:

World Teachers Day

Let’s take a quick look into the life of a teacher right now. Teachers have a very different set-up to their year, with the only “benefit” being a lack of extra-curricular commitments. For folks who put on band shows, theatre performances or sports competitions this likely means their favourite part of their job, the one where they get to dive deep into their passion, is gone for now. They still have to prepare lessons, but now they have to have a big ol’ stash of lessons on hand in case they’re out sick or told to quarantine.

Classroom management is still a thing, as kids haven’t suddenly become perfect angels in light of the pandemic. In fact, the honeymoon period of September is gone, and the kids who are dicks are increasingly showing their cards. Class sizes may have dropped for some due to online learning, but not much. In some cases, not at all.

Teachers still have marking at night, but they now have to stay on top of emails a lot more closely, because new information is pouring in from above at all times, and parents are loaded with questions. One-on-one time, either for academic or personal struggle reasons, is pretty much non-existent, meaning teachers will be watching the kids who are having a hard time without being able to help them. They have to pay attention to mask use, social distancing, cohort coherence, and all sorts of new challenges.

Jodie came home exhausted on Friday, which is normal, but in a deeper, more profound way. She slept for 12 hours Friday night, nearly 12 hours Saturday night, and had a nap Sunday afternoon. That was just survival. Teachers are juggling an apocalyptic hellscape on top of their normally over-burdened schedules this year, so please, if you know one, give ‘em a virtual hug. This is likely (hopefully) the toughest year they’ll ever have to face in their careers. And if you can offer a discount or a freebie to teachers, that generosity won’t be forgotten. Freebies for teachers’ spouses are also appreciated, just sayin’.

International Day of No Prostitution

I’m going to stir up some controversy with this one. First off, we celebrated this day because celebrating a negative is fairly easy to do. Neither Jodie nor myself employed a prostitute yesterday, nor did we hire ourselves out as prostitutes, even though we could have used the cash. So in the most literal sense of this celebration, we can tick it off the list as a successful celebration.

But I’ve got a problem with the fundamental make-up of this one. This is a day for people to actively fight against prostitution, and I think that might be the wrong way to frame the issue. The fact is, a frighteningly huge percentage of prostitutes (I have no idea what that percentage is, but I’m sure it’s frighteningly huge) are in that line of work because of human trafficking, drug addiction, or some combination of shitty factors. Why is that? Mainly because it’s an underground, illegal, and unregulated industry. If you’re trafficking in humans, you don’t have a wealth of opportunities to profit off that act, apart from using them as prostitutes.

That is absolutely, 100% something we need to fight against. And to me – and I am hardly an expert in the field – it seems the most logical way to do this would be to legalize and regulate the industry. That begins with acknowledging that the “world’s oldest profession” has that slogan for a reason, and the market for sex work is not going to magically go away. If sex workers were licensed, regulated, protected, and routinely medically thumbsed-up, it would make it a lot more difficult for the illicit scumbags to dominate the street corners.

So I propose that instead of a day of no prostitution, let’s have a day of sensible, regulated prostitution, staffed with people who actually want to do it. I’ve met a few (casually, never as a business associate) who genuinely love the job. Let’s let them do it safely, and not treat them like criminals.

There you go. Edgy controversy in the midst of celebrations. Let’s hope the next one on the list is a little fluffier.

Blue Shirt Day

Here we go – a nice, fluffy issue, inasmuch as bullying may be perceived as fluffier than prostitution. Well, it is. At least most of us are on the same side of the issue with bullying, in that we don’t like it. Even bullies don’t like it. Bullies tend to have been victims of bullying themselves, or some sort of mental abuse by someone. I’m even they’d be on board with ending the cycle of meanness.

But how to do it? Does wearing a blue shirt on October 5 really send a message to bullies everywhere to knock it off? What if the first lady were to launch a powerful six-letter campaign encouraging bullies to “be best” and not bully anymore? Nah, that probably wouldn’t even work on her husband. Education appears to be the only route we have to stopping this, and even that is a tough nut to sell.

I’m not sure if that’s the right expression – did a nut seller come up with that? Are there certain nuts that are questionable to include in a street cart because they are particularly difficult to move? I’d imagine filberts. Who wants a bag of hot roasted filberts?

Anyhow, bullying is the sack of hot roasted filberts in this unabashedly convoluted metaphor. No wait, stopping bullying is… let’s scrap this mess and move on.

Bullying is a lot trickier to get a handle on now. Teachers can break up fights, and they tend to know which kids are utter douchebags to which kids in the school setting. But parents aren’t usually clued in to whether their kids are massive dick-holes to others, and from what I’ve heard a substantial amount of bullying is happening on social media, which is a realm wholly separate from adult supervision. It may be that the best solution to prevent bullying is to not allow your kids on social media until high school.

Of course, that isn’t always feasible. So we can add this to the pile of responsibilities for our over-worked teachers, and we can wear blue as a way of announcing that we care, and we’re willing to do what we can to ensure folks are being best.

National Kiss A Wrestler Day

Now we’re waist-deep into the fluff I was looking for. No more serious topics, no more heady ethical positions. Today we kiss a wrestler. And I volunteered Rosa, our #2 canine research assistant (#1 in our hearts), because she loves to wrestle more than anyone. Well, maybe except for Liberty, who is still burdened with a puppy brain. But Rosa, when called to battle, displays a swift agility that is second to none, at least in this household. So she got a kiss.

Then there’s the question of how this day came to be a thing. Was Hulk Hogan feeling a little unloved one day, and decided to make a holiday to garner some affection? Is this the wedding anniversary of two well-known wrestlers who dipped their pens in company ink and found love in the ring? Can we blame Thomas and Ruth Roy, those Pennsylvania kooks who invented dozens of weird, seemingly arbitrary celebrations?

No. This one is allegedly linked to a 2000 deal that would have seen the WCW (World Championship of Wrestling – no idea how much more ‘official’ that is than the WWE) team up with rock band Kiss for a promotional appearance. That deal fell through, but someone was astute enough to record this day online so that we can still raise its banner high some twenty years down the road.

Not all of these celebrations are life-changing. In fact, almost none of them have been. But at least we’re having fun!

Global James Bond Day

If you were fortunate enough to have been in central London on this day in 2018 you would have likely seen a fleet of Aston Martins scooting through the streets, parading past significant filming locations for James Bond films in celebration of this day. It was 58 years ago today (well, yesterday) when Dr. No, the first of the 25 (and counting) James Bond films, premiered in theatres.

I became a fan of James Bond when my parents took me to see A View To A Kill upon its release in 1985. I know, not the best Bond movie, but it featured a climactic battle on the Golden Gate Bridge beside a friggin’ zeppelin. As a ten-year-old kid there was nothing I needed in my cinematic universe to make that movie any better. Bond movies are often misogynist, the protagonist makes foolish, seemingly selfish decisions, and the trail of bodies is routinely massive.

But ethical and political considerations should, in my mind, be put aside for these movies. The spy genre is classically male-dominated, though there have been some interesting exceptions to that. But in the 60s it was guy territory, and Bond has kept that up ever since. If the next James Bond happens to be a woman there would be an outcry, because as soon as some semblance of equality pops into a film franchise there’s always an outcry. Screw that outcry, I’d love to see a female James Bond (though I’d suggest tweaking the first name). Mostly, I’d just like to see a new James Bond movie, though I guess that isn’t happening until next year now.

To celebrate this one I re-watched one of my favourite Bond scenes, the ski chase from The Spy Who Loved Me, in which Roger Moore wraps up the sequence with a flight off a cliff, with a Union Jack parachute tucked conveniently on his back. Bond is pure fun.

National Get Funky Day

Would you have guessed this day is related to a hurricane disaster? Nope, me neither. Yet here we are.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew claimed a whopping 603 lives, practically obliterated Haiti, and caused immense damage to the southeastern United States. And a group of people from Funkytown Fitness in St. Augustine, Florida, decided this would be a good time to create National Get Funky Day to “help people break free of their comfort zones.” I don’t know much about how people operate in Florida (as the news reminds me on a daily basis), but I wouldn’t think the monotony of a comfort zone would be top priority in the wake of a hurricane.

To celebrate this one, I took it literally. There was no donating to help rebuild after Matthew, given that America (and various other places on the planet) has suffered numerous tragedies since then. I also wasn’t about to engage in anything ‘fitness’ related, given that a single jumping jack with this boot-cast on my foot would likely cause me to fall over and hurt myself even more. But I happen to have a wealth of deeply funky grooves in my playlists, and I got down with many of them. For those looking for some brilliant suggestions to get their funk on, I’ll offer up the following quick list of albums to sample:

  • Parliament: Mothership Connection
  • Herbie Hancock: Headhunters
  • Funkadelic: Maggot Brain
  • Curtis Mayfield: Superfly
  • James Brown: The Payback
  • Stevie Wonder: any of his brilliant 5 1970s masterpieces
  • Sly & The Family Stone: Stand
  • The Meters: Cabbage Alley
  • Prince: Musicology
  • Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different
  • Ann Peebles: I Can’t Stand The Rain

There are so many more. Funk is king. It’s the bomb. There is truly nothing better.

And now, everyone’s least-favourite chunk of the week: Tuesday. Here’s what the calendar gods have slated for us today:

  • National Eat Fruit At Work Day. I love celebrations with very specific, easy to follow instructions.
  • National Orange Wine Day. I looked. I could find no orange wine this past weekend.
  • National Plus Size Appreciation Day. As the great Taj Mahal said, them big-legged mamas are back in style again.
  • National Mad Hatter Day. It’s 10/6, just like the number in the Mad Hatter’s hat band. So we wear hats maybe?
  • National Noodle Day. We’ll either eat pasta or use our brains. We shan’t do both.
  • National Coaches Day. We don’t know any coaches. Well, we know a life coach, but that doesn’t really count, does it?
  • National Transfer Money To Your Daughter Day. I have already been reminded about this. By our daughter.
  • Come And Take It Day. I guess this is a day to go take stuff from people.
  • Garlic Lovers Day. We will be eating something with garlic in it, most likely. Doesn’t all the good stuff (minus ice cream) have garlic?
  • National Badger Day. We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers.

Monday, October 5, 2020

With our eyes tilted ever precariously toward the glories of shedding this project and moving on to a career in our Canadian classic rock cover band (we call ourselves Honeymoon & The Suites), we remain ever-tethered to the perpetual present. This is where the magic lies, where the secrets of the universe are stitched into the lining, where the horizon meets our eyeline and introduces itself as Raoul. Our great lesson of 2020 has been to hold this present close and cherish it, since the future is not guaranteed and the past is subject to rampant subjectivity. This project has, I begrudgingly admit, helped. Here was yesterday’s offering:

National Taco Day

The history of the taco is immense. It predates the arrival of the Spaniards on Mexican soil, and it is ubiquitously interwoven with Latin cultures all up and down Central America. There are so many ways to prepare a taco I couldn’t possibly list them all here, and if I did, I would blame absolutely no one for not reading it.

The best tacos we’ve had in the city are from Tres Carnales downtown, but I’ve been advised the taco game in Edmonton is surprisingly good. There was no leaving the house yesterday for us, so I seasoned some beef and made my own. I prefer steak or chorizo tacos myself, but it’s really hard to do a bad taco.

That’s not to say I haven’t sampled some mediocrity in the taco game before. Taco Bell makes tacos I have yet to enjoy without a bit of an alcohol or cannabis buzz going on (and at that point they are fucking amazing), and I’ve also had some vegetarian tacos that I’d just as soon never think of again.

But it’s easy to stroll through the minefield of tacos without getting your meal blown up by a sub-par packed tortilla shell. Tacos are divine, and it’s about time they had their day.

Country Inn, Bed & Breakfast Day

Is this cheating? Nah, it’s not cheating.

We celebrated this one just over a week early. For brunch we like to dine at a few places, but none are more exceptional than Barb & Ernie’s Old Country Inn. It’s not technically an ‘inn’, as you can’t stay overnight there. Actually I’m kind of curious why they put that word in the name of the restaurant. Neither Barb nor Ernie are still involved with the business (their astoundingly capable and talented son and daughter-in-law took over a few years back), so they can’t help me with this nugget of info.

So this will have to count for our celebration – the same brunch that enabled us to celebrate National Pancake Day last month. Staying at a bed & breakfast sounds like a delightful way to holiday, and I hope the world shifts back into a somewhat normal state of being in the near future so that we can try it out, but for now we’ll have to settle for the kind you eat at, not the kind you sleep at.

But when the pancakes are this good – or the eggs benedict, which is our usual go-to – it’s most certainly a celebration. Even a double one, when necessary.

International Toot Your Flute Day

This is a day for people to boast about their accomplishments. Because apparently pride is at such a premium in this world with so much humility taking up all the space, we’re supposed to make a special day for it.

Well fine. For the purposes of notching this celebration into the wall (which is threatening to topple over from having so many notches carved into it), here we go. I consider myself a passably decent writer, with moments of exquisiteness. Calling racoons “nature’s Hamburglar” was a high point for me last week. I know that if my quality slips below what I’d like it to be, I can make up for it with readable quantity. I don’t know if that’s a prominent button on my flute (do they call those things buttons?), but there it is. I have learned the secret to eliminating writer’s block: create a stupid project that forces you to never have writer’s block.

I’m also a pretty decent cook. I’m an even better eater. I’m obviously fairly decent at raising children as I’m two for two on having awesome adults carved from my various teachings and poor examples. I have better taste in music and movies than anyone else I know, at least according to me. And since this is my flute I’m tootin’, that’s the only measure I need to go by. I also have a great memory, at least for things with almost no relevance like every episode of WKRP In Cincinnati, and the words to “One Night In Bangkok”, neither of which come up in conversation very often.

Most of all, I have great taste in women. I picked an absolute gem a quarter-century ago, and I had the good sense to hang on to her, and to keep her happy by occasionally saying really nice things about her in these articles. Not bad for a flute.

Improve Your Office Day

This was an easy win for the day. Before this project we had no offices in our home – Jodie had a sort-of office in the corner of her classroom and I had a beige cubicle downtown within which I learned the careful art of falling asleep while actually clicking my way through a spreadsheet. I kid, of course. I learned that skill years earlier in a different beige cubicle, but the skill has served me well ever since.

Now we each have an office in our home, having banished our children’s bedrooms into the pit of distant memory. Both of our offices are works in progress, with a particular need for window coverings, in particular as the sun sets earlier and earlier and we’d rather our neighbours not see what we’re up to. I mean, sometimes a guy has to play video games naked, right? No? Well, you’ll all be singing a different tune on National Play Video Games Naked Day, which is probably right around the corner.

So yesterday, in spite of having little time to specifically devote to celebration, I dove in and made a little tweak to improve my office. Specifically, I adjusted the position of my one colourful light so that it’s visible in my webcam. So now I can amaze and impress my coworkers with the 18 inches of the room that look “funky”.

National Vodka Day

This one needs no lengthy missive. Vodka is the water of existence herself, and intimately intertwined with numerous European cultures. It’s the most straightforward drink there is: it looks like water, and apparently it’s the drink you’ll want to consume when you aren’t looking for any traces of said drink on your lingering breath.

Vodka is a blank canvass, with so many different ways to savour it. Our method of delivery these days is mixed with soda and a splash of lime. There’s really nothing else that needs adding to the mix – that’s a perfect beverage.

And there was no way we’d let this day go by without a healthy nod. It was a Sunday, so indulging with any sense of excess was out of the question. But we enjoyed some with soda water and lime, and Jodie did her best to try to store the drink’s numbing effects in some sort of corporeal reserve to help her get through the next week.

Vodka is magnificence in a bottle. This was a perfect little party.

And here we go, on another carousel ride around the same 24-hour scenery, with a new menu of celebrations awaiting us to indulge or skip right over:

  • National Consignment Day. Are we going to a consignment store to buy used clothing today? Probably not.
  • National Get Funky Day. I literally do this every day, so celebrating this won’t be a problem.
  • National Rhode Island Day. This one might be tricky. We’re falling behind on our states again.
  • National Do Something Nice Day. Just one nice thing? I can probably handle that. Or get Jodie to do it.
  • National Apple Betty Day. I don’t think our team baker is on board with this one, and that means we probably won’t eat it.
  • World Teachers Day. I definitely feel that teachers deserve a massive shout-out of praise right now, and not even because I’m married to one.
  • National Kiss A Wrestler Day. Looks like I’ve got only a few hours left to learn how to wrestle.
  • International Day of No Prostitution. I will not prostitute myself at all today. Jodie won’t either, or so she tells me.
  • Blue Shirt Day. Bullying prevention. Okay, we can do this.
  • Chic Spy Day. Who wants to spy on a 1970s disco band?
  • Global James Bond Day. I guess we’ll see if this has something to do with the former entry.
  • World Architecture Day. I love architecture, so this might be worth a visit.
  • National Storytelling Day. And who doesn’t love a good story?