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.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

If ever an unmotivated day had crawled out of the unseemly crag of 2020 woodwork, yesterday was it. The menu of celebrations stretched longer than Manute Bol’s arm, yet after setting up my hammock and testing its capabilities for upwards of an hour under a toasty sun, I feel more inclined to nap than write. That lengthy list sneers at me from the calendar beside my desk, but sometimes one’s mental health must supersede a ludicrous writing project. Some celebrations had to stay on the hook. But we were busy enough with these:

National Barbecue Day

Living in what we quaintly refer to as the Arctic tundra, we have found it within ourselves to barbecue all year round, even in the depths of winter. A pan-fried steak can be spectacular, though it’s a lot more work to make it so. A pan-fried burger is tolerable, but can’t compare to the magic the grill bestows upon the meat. One of our favourite recipes, a white-barbecue-sauce-laden Finger Lakes chicken dish, falls to crap if you prepare it any other way.

And we have lived without this glorious device for over a year. Our last barbecue gave way to rust and decay. And so we travelled through the summer of 2019 cooking only indoors. But yesterday that all changed as we set up our brand new grill and broke it in with the greatest food one can prepare upon a grill: some tenderloin steak. Between last night’s dinner and the pizza party on Friday, we can wrap this project up as an absolute success right now as far as I’m concerned.

The word ‘barbecue’ comes to English via the term ‘barbacoa’ from Haiti, referring to a framework of sticks set upon posts. Barbecuing customs range from digging a hole, dumping a lamb upon it and setting it ablaze to cooking food indirectly with smoke. It all traces back to our first methods of cooking, and it delivers a flavour unlike anything else. We will be making great use of this little grill for the remainder of the summer, and for the number of grill-related celebrations that await us. And yes, there are several. Thank goodness.

Oh, and Liberty, our youngest yet tallest canine, also enjoyed the celebration. Prior to the meat’s journey to the grill, she hopped up to check out what was on the counter and snagged herself half of one of the steaks. The jerk.

Honor Our LGBT Elders Day

In the beginning, it was natural. Then it became a sin. Then it was a Sin with a capital ‘S’. In many places – like, almost all the places – it became a crime. Then about 50 years ago, beginning on a little street in Greenwich Village, a movement began. The western world unhinged its jaw and set forth a reckoning. The number of people who lost their lives through violence, neglect, and the low motivation to cure a disease because it was ravaging “that” community, is one of recent history’s greatest tragedies.

But for all those lost, many of those pioneers stuck around. And when they could or would no longer hide themselves, the rest of society had to bend. It took until 1977 for a gay man to be a regular character on network television, and even then many of the avenues they took with that character would be offensive by today’s evolved standards. But the arts kept pushing the message, and gradually that message morphed from ‘tolerance’ to ‘acceptance’ to complete integration. Really, too gradually.

Yesterday was a day to pay tribute to those who carved that rocky path, those who crumbled the façade of shame and secrecy and created a better world. We know a few of these folks, who have been on the front lines through decades of collective societal idiocy and derision. And now that we find ourselves in a world wherein the youngest generation is growing up to be the most accepting, welcoming batch of humans on the planet, it’s easy to sometimes forget just how much ground there remains to be covered. Not just for legal equality, but for a complete societal acceptance of the return to ‘natural’.

Thank you to everyone who brought us this far.

National Do Something Good For Your Neighbour Day

A big ol’ congrats to a man from Buffalo, NY named Starr Valentino. Not only does this guy have a deeply awesome name, but he’s the guy who came up with this particular celebration. He has been spreading the word about it since 2009, and has received official proclamations in everywhere from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta. It’s a day for kindness and patience, and this year it pops in just as our neighbourhood crawled from their homes to kick off the long weekend.

We have a pretty decent batch of neighbours around us. Even the ones with whom we have quarreled we get along with now. Yesterday a package of goodies, including nutty chocolate fudge and some rock-looking jelly beans, was delivered next door. But what’s more, we witnessed a greater sense of community and camaraderie on our block than we’d seen before – and we’re quite sure no one else knew about this day. We’re pretty certain none of our neighbours are following our project.

This day deserves more attention. Of all the days that actually make it to official calendars, too many are either religious, honouring dead people, or are worthy of only a semi-passionate salute (looking at you, Arbor Day). We may be plagued by division and differences for most of the year, but something like this is great for refreshing our perspective. Thank you, Starr Valentino, for creating some brilliance and spreading it around.

National Love A Tree Day

Here I am ragging on Arbor Day, and its oft-neglected twin shows up to make me feel guilty about it. Oft-neglected because it’s just one of several tree-loving days that show up throughout the year. But hey, we’re always happy to play along, even if it’s a summer repeat. So we took some time to pay attention to trees.

Last time we paid attention to trees it was Arbor Day last month, and we took a pic of the little pine tree that nudged its way out of the soil a couple years ago in our front yard. Yesterday we stretched our tree-loving arms a little wider, heading off into the neighbourhood in search of some greater beasts. Next door we used to have a magnificent tree that stretched high above every other on our block, and who shifted into autumn hues after all the others, thus signalling that winter was indeed upon us. Then that neighbour chopped down that glorious tree in order to make way for more inflatable Christmas decorations, of which he displays upwards of 50 or 60 every season. We weren’t happy about it, but what could we do?

Select a different neighbour to receive our fudge ‘n candy gift for the celebration above, that’s what.

So we took our canine research assistants out for their evening sojourn, and along the way we each picked out a few magnificent specimens of photosynthesis magic to appreciate. It was a fine welcome back to that precious little window of life and nature here in the tundra. Thank goodness for spring.

National Sea Monkeys Day

We’ve all been there. Scrolling through our favourite comic book as a kid, following the goings-on of the characters we love, acknowledging the obligatory ad depicting Charles Atlas helping out some geek who got sand kicked in his face to come back to the beach, beat up the bully, and win over the girl who was ready to ditch him as soon as someone stronger came along. The bitch. Then we’d flip over and see this magnificent ad for sea monkeys. They live in a kingdom with a castle and bubbles everywhere. They smile broadly, the females making their gender known with blonde hair and a bow in their antennae. For only $1.25 (plus 50 cents for shipping and handling) we could own this majestic palace and all its residents.

Then they’d show up, and we’d learn what our parents knew along: they’re brine shrimp. They feel no sense of community, none of them has blonde hair, and there is zero resemblance to monkeys. Still, $1.75 is a small price to pay for that thrill of anticipation, right? Maybe?

Inventor Harold von Braunhut, who was also the guy who unleashed X-Ray Specs upon the comic ad landscape, invented these in 1957, one year after the ant farm became a popular fad among baby boomer youths. The secret here is cryptobiosis, a state of apparent lifelessness in which the shrimp eggs exist between factory and counter-top fishbowl. You pour in the packet of Water Purifier, which contains some eggs, then you add the “Instant Life Eggs” mix a day later. This includes more eggs, some yeast, borax, soda, salt and some food for the critters. Just like that, the sea monkeys are born. And just like that, they die not long afterwards.

Sea monkeys have gone to space a few times. Senator John Glenn took them up in 1998 and upon return, they hatched just like normal. They were brought to the moon in the 70s (why, I have no idea), but the cosmic radiation killed most of them off. I guess that’s good info to know, in case it ever comes up.

You can still buy a set of Sea Monkeys through amazon, now in their own little plastic aquarium that reflects the cheapness of the products themselves. Kudos to Harold von Braunhut for making a thoroughly memorable, if unimpressive, long-lasting weird fad item.

National Mimosa Day

One of my early experimentations with employment had me working as a ‘salad boy’ at a local Cajun restaurant. I was responsible for preparing desserts, prepping veggies, and two salads: the Caesar and the Mimosa, which was made with butter lettuce and shrimp. That was the first definition I’d ever ascribed to the word. Then I learned about the plant. Then, when the universe was prepared to open up its finest glories to me, a lowly schmuck from the tundra, I learned about the drink.

It’s so simple: sparkling wine (prosecco or champagne, depending on your inclination) and orange juice. The perfect excuse to get twizzled at brunch, but really it’s a fine drink for any time of the day. And its history doesn’t consist of a myriad of bartenders who all claim they created it; the notion of fruit juice with sparkling wine goes back centuries in Europe.

You can vary up your mimosa game: make a Lemosa with lemonade instead. Try a Soleil with pineapple juice. The Poinsettia is made with cranberry juice. Or just keep it simple and mix up your OJ with sparkling wine because it’s a perfect beverage as-is. Due to sun-baked constraints yesterday afternoon (as well as a necessary supply run), we didn’t get to our mimosas until later in the day. It didn’t matter – perfection is perfection. And then we polished off the entire bottle, so it was very much a win.

World Whisky Day

The third Saturday in May is set aside for whisky lovers (and whiskey lovers) of the world to taste some of that ol’ water of life. Sure, we’ve already had International Whiskey Day, which should be the same thing, but if we’re going to keep rolling reruns into this celebration a toast to whisky is an ideal contender.

We’ve already written of the types of whiskey and their various histories, so yesterday was reserved simply for enjoying the stuff. Jodie likes her whisky mixed with Diet Coke, and even then it’s only rye whiskey. I’m a fan of Scotch, Irish and rye whiskeys, and I happened to have all three of them on hand for yesterday, after our mimosas. Jodie, ever the teetotaler (not really, she was already sufficiently tanked on mimosas), passed on this one.

And that’s fine – more for me. In particular I enjoyed the Northern Harvest Rye from Crown Royal. This whiskey was the first Canadian whisky to win Whisky of the year back in 2016, and it needs no accompaniment, just some ice. Yesterday contained more alcohol-related mirth than we’d anticipated, and for that I am grateful.

Today we will once again do what we can with the weird world before us.

  • National Pack Rat Day. A good day to do a bit of spring cleaning, and maybe get rid of some unnecessary shit.
  • National Cherry Cobbler Day. My plan was to enjoy dessert somewhere out, but most ‘out’ places are still shut down. So we’ll see what we can do.
  • National Walnut Day. See the next entry.
  • National Idaho Day. Found an interesting recipe for smashed potatoes with – you guessed it – walnuts.
  • Take Your Parents to the Playground Day. All of our playgrounds are locked up and taped off, so my mom may only get to visit the backyard, or as we call it, our dogs’ playground.
  • Ride a Unicycle Day. Damn, I wish we could do this. I’m running low on bruises.
  • Stepmother’s Day. Jodie has one of these… sort of. We’ll send her some love.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

As our city pries open its doors from an extensive lock-down we keep ours bolted shut, so to speak. We both need haircuts but are willing to wait. We both want the restaurant experience but we’re sticking with pick-up and delivery. We both want the normalcy of walking side by side with other humans in public, but we’re continuing our plans to weave into the street when strangers approach as we walk our dogs. This re-open only works if those who don’t need to go out and mingle don’t go out and mingle. Besides, we have all this fun to keep us distracted:

National Pizza Party Day

Is there anything more fun than a pizza party?

I mean, probably, but in our current swash of interconnected days on perpetual repeat since March, a pizza party definitely made last night a stand-out. Not that we leaned heavily on the party aspect; there were no guests and no paper hats were donned. But our trio of canine research assistants make every day a party, in particular when Liberty and Rosa get their energy up and proceed to leap all over one another whilst making odd noises. Which they did for every moment of our pizza party when they weren’t begging for food scraps.

So sure, it was a party. And thanks to Tony’s Pizza Palace, makers of the finest pies this side of the city limits, it was a true pizza party. National Pizza Day rolled by on February 9, and we also enjoyed a Deep Dish Pizza on April 5, but we will never complain about having too much pizza. We’ve also got Cheese Pizza Day and Pepperoni Pizza Day showing up in September. Pizza is the perfect food. It was a perfect party.

National Chocolate Chip Day

The mighty chip: a glob of goodness that holds in its being so much potential. Be it in cookies, in banana breads, in croissants, in muffins, or in anything else that stands a chance of being enhanced by a dollop of cocoa, the chip reigns supreme.

It all traces back to an astoundingly awesome woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield. Ruth was a chef, a dietician, and the owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. She also cooked all the meals served at the inn, and became fairly well-known for putting on a great spread. Some time around 1938 Ruth took a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar, cut it into chunks and invented the first ever chocolate chip cookie. I’ve no doubt when Ruth bit into that first sample, still warm from its time in the oven, she knew history had entered a new era.

The cookie was a huge hit, but it exploded in popularity overseas before it took over America. The reason? US military personnel, stationed abroad for WWII, fell in love with them. Ruth was soon inundated with requests for care packages, and more local requests for the recipe. This ballooned into a nation-wide trend and a huge boost in sales for Nestle’s bars. Ruth and Nestle came to an agreement: they would hold the rights to print her recipe wherever they wanted, in exchange for one dollar and a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. Ruth didn’t get rich off this, but her guests were well fed. And because of Ruth, Nestle started selling their chocolate in chip format, printing her recipe on every package up to this day.

Sadly, the Toll House Inn burned down on New Year’s Eve in 1984, and all that’s left are a commemorative plaque and a heap of delicious memories.

We enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies today, in particular from a batch Jodie had made with cannabis butter. Because a chocolate chip cookie is awesome, but one you’re still enjoying hours later is even better. Thanks Ruth!

National Nylon Stocking Day

Once upon a time, stockings served the sole purpose of keeping ladies’ legs warm beneath their dresses. Sure, they could have worn pants but back then doing so would have identified them as an obvious witch, and they’d have been burned for it. Then the 1920s happened. Hemlines got shorter, and women wore flesh-colored (well, white lady flesh-colored, let’s be honest here) silk stockings. They were great, but expensive.

Then along came DuPont, the same company that gave us Styrofoam, weird 70s Lucite furniture, and as we celebrated on April 6, Teflon. In 1939 DuPont came up with nylon, a synthetic fabric that made stockings much more affordable, and presumably less comfortable? I honestly don’t know. I know that there was a huge demand for them right away (like, as many as four million pairs sold in a single day), which was poor timing because the stuff was impossible to get during the war. Then came the riots.

After the war, when DuPont had shifted from making war materials back to making nylon stockings, the nation lost its collective mind. On that first day they hit the shelves, 40,000 women lined up in Pittsburgh for the 13,000 available pairs of stockings. This was worse than Cabbage Patch dolls, Tickle-Me-Elmo and the Nintendo Wii all rolled into one cruel Black Friday. There was violence and bloodshed, and some suspected DuPont may have been shorting production on purpose just to create a fever. We’ll never know.

Given our steadfast commitment to sweatpants and pajamas during our lockdown, wearing stockings for a night out seemed excessive. But Jodie considered trying on a pair, shrugged her shoulders then quickly slipped back into pajamas. The nylon stockings get our salute though, as they were officially released to the public exactly 80 years ago yesterday. Nowadays we can brawl over toilet paper, but back then it was all about the legs.


The National Association for Stock Car Racing, better known as NASC(a)R, has been around since 1948. I know, this sport is seen by many as the ultimate fusion of skills between man (or woman) and machine, and watching those cars loop around the same oval 500 times is nothing short of absolute drama. Tragically, I am not one of those people. I’m not a car guy in any sense, nor can I be drawn to the taut edge of my seat by the subtle skill of watching a bunch of drivers scoot around in a tight pack. I understand the inherent danger, and I have no doubt being in one of those cars whilst racing at top speed mere inches from other vehicles is intense. It just isn’t great television.

So let’s learn a little bit about this sport. Unfortunately the races for 2020 remain cancelled due to the… oh wait, I should amend that. Turns out, being a good ol’ Florida institution, NASCAR is opening up its first race this Sunday at Darlington Raceway. Fans will only be invited to watch on TV though. At least the beer will be cheaper.

Stock car racing in America started in a notoriously bad-ass fashion, with bootleggers building small, fast cars to evade police during Prohibition. After 1933 they kept up the tradition, running moonshine to customers while still having to avoid the cops, since moonshine remained illegal. It took mechanic Bradley France moving to Daytona Beach and realizing people will enjoy watching these races for fun for NASCAR to be invented. His son, Jim France, is the CEO today, so really NASCAR is a family company.

George Carlin once remarked that the only reason people like watching car racing on TV is to see the accidents, and for many he has a point. Jodie and I have tried; her stepfather is a massive NASCAR fan, and I put in a few efforts trying to watch with him. Sure enough, the crashes were spectacular, albeit with a twinge of guilt. The work of the pit crews was more fascinating to me, which begs the question: would it be an entertaining sport to watch teams race against one another to do auto repairs? Someone should get on this.

Shades Day

We venture overseas to the UK for this one. With the UN’s International Day of the Family creeping closer, this is a fundraiser for the Family Holiday Association. From what I can tell, this is a charity that raises money for families in need, and their gimmick for May 15 is for people to wear sunglasses and tag themselves in social media. Which we did.

If you live in the UK you can also text SHADESDAY to 70331 and you’ll donate three pounds. That won’t work in our part of the world, and if it did I’m sure the exchange plus some weird telecommunications donation export levy would jack the donation up to $50 or $60 Canadian. Still, it’s good to raise awareness and donate if you can – I have a feeling every charity on the planet is going to see a surge in people needing to make use of their generosity during this weird and twisted year.

So happy shades day to all. And a shout-out to the earliest versions of sunglasses, which include walrus ivory glasses with little slits cut in them, used by the Inuit peoples, and 12th century China’s invention of smoky quartz shades. Without them we might never have landed at the inherent coolness of the Ray-ban Wayfarers.

Straw Hat Day

Why on earth would the simple straw hat get its own day? I have no earthly idea, but I celebrated it by wearing my straw hat. It was somewhat shy of glorious, but it temporarily hid my ballooning shag from the world (which yesterday meant my wife and dogs) so there’s that. I’m more interested in a search result that tweaked my attention: the Straw Hat Riot of 1922. I mean, we’ve discussed one riot already today, let’s look at another.

In the early part of the last century, when weird traditions and date-anchored obligations still drove our culture, it was unseemly for a man to be seen wearing a straw boater hat after September 15. If your friend (not a stranger) was wearing one past this date, you were fully allowed to smash it. They called it hat bashing. It was weird.

Cut to September 13, 1922, two days before hat bashing was acceptable. A group of teens set out from Mulberry Bend neighbourhood of Manhattan – now technically Chinatown but back then it was close to the notorious Five Points area. They grabbed hats off of factory workers’ heads and stomped on them. Then they went down to the docks. Dock workers are not known for being particularly jovial when someone pulls off their hat and destroys it, so fists started flying. Eventually the Manhattan Bridge had to be closed down due to the massive brawl. The next day it got worse – teens headed out armed with weapons, like boards with nails sticking through them. Hats were destroyed and anyone who protested got a beating. It was quite possibly the most idiotic reason to get arrested in the entire 1920s.

So to those who are ready to pop their straw hats on for the summer, be warned: some foolish schmuck kids may jump the deadline and try to smash your hat early. We all know how kids are in tune with fads of the 1920s, right?

Relive Your Past By Listening To The First Music You Ever Bought No Matter What No Excuses Day

This is a tough celebration to fit onto a lapel pin. A cake for the occasion is out of the question. Alas, here we are.

The first music we ever bought… not received as a gift but actually bought ourselves… this one hurt our brains a little. I’m pretty sure the first piece of music I bought was the 12” extended mix of Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F”. Unfortunately I no longer own that record, nor do I possess a record player upon which to play it if I did. And Spotify features only the original version from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. There is a ‘club mix’ by something called “Crazy Frog”, but it’s awful. I mean awful on an epic scale. So that was a big pass from me.

Jodie’s first bought record was the greatest hits of Three Dog Night, so that rocked our world for the afternoon. Joy to you and me.

Another stupid-crazy Saturday, much of which we will be unable to enjoy.

  • Honor Our LGBT Elders Day. A good tribute, and particularly poignant since we won’t have Pride this year to celebrate them.
  • National Barbecue Day. We own a barbecue now. Steaks will be for dinner.
  • National Do Something Good For Your Neighbours Day. What can we do? Maybe a gift of fudge is in order.
  • National Love A Tree Day. We will each pick our favourite tree in the neighborhood and pay tribute to it.
  • National Piercing Day. I had planned a piercing, but have no desire to do it at home. We might postpone this one.
  • National Sea Monkeys Day. We should buy some sea monkeys!
  • National Coquilles St. Jacques Day. We may have to postpone this one too. It’s BBQ day and that’s more important.
  • National Learn to Swim Day. Full confession: I never learned to swim. I learned to sink, but that’s about it. No pools are open, unfortunately.
  • National Mimosa Day. Now we’re talking.
  • National Wear Purple For Peace Day. Did I already wear my purple shirt and dirty it up this week? I sure did. Dammit.
  • World Whisky Day. We had International Whiskey Day on March 27 – could this be an error? Better drink some whisky, just to be safe.