Saturday, October 3, 2020

If art is the flavour of life, then let celebration be the post-swallow belch that reminds us where we’re at and what we appreciate. And that is the heart of this project: to capture that belch, and every hiccuppy burp or guttural brapp that surrounds it. We’re steering toward 2,000 such belches this year, which begs the question: how often to people actually belch in a year? It has to be more than 2k, right? Perhaps this will be next year’s project: a running tally of all gases leaving my body through whichever orifice they choose. Would anyone follow along with that? I’d certainly get to write shorter articles. Something to consider. For now, here was our Friday:


This is, from what I can gather, a wholly unofficial day devoted to the celebration of plaid. Plaid, as we all know, is a pattern of Gaelic descent, proper regalia for full formal Scottish dress, a symbol of 1990s grunge, and the fastest speed one can travel in the galaxy. If you don’t get that last reference, speak to someone with a knowledge of 1980s cinematic comedy.

In Scotland, a ‘plaid’ is a noun, not simply a description of the tartan pattern. A plaid is the large piece of cloth worn as a kilt, or a blanket you’d throw on a bed. The pattern is technically known as ‘tartan’, and each Scottish family has a specific pattern that is linked to their last name. I looked into this earlier in the year and learned of my own family’s look. It was a nice pattern. Didn’t do much to slim my ass, but maybe I need a better tailor.

Anyhow, Plaidurday, held on the first Friday of October (why not a Saturday? No idea!), is a day for us to wear some plaid (or tartan) and enjoy it. The official website suggests high-fiving folks wearing plaid, or simply saying nice things to people so that you give the impression that people wearing plaid are nice. That’s weird, but weird in a positive way so I’ll take it.

National Denim Day

In case you’re wondering if we already celebrated National Denim Day on April 29, well, that was just Denim Day. This is the National one. I hope that clears things up.

The Denim Day on April 29 is for a good cause: it draws attention to sexual assault – a scourge on humanity that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. This one also has some heart behind it. This one is put on by Lee Jeans (still a thing – who knew?), and it’s a fundraiser for women’s cancer. People are asked to take the cost of a pair of jeans and instead donate that to a cancer charity. Not bad – two denim days, and neither are an arbitrary “hooray for denim” sentiment. There may be hope for this world yet.

This one gets celebrity endorsements though. Christina Applegate has done the honours several times, first because her mom is a survivor and then again because she herself went through it. Other names like Pierce Brosnan, Rob Lowe, Yasmine Bleeth, Patricia Arquette, Felicity Huffman, Mike Rowe, and Charlie Sheen (before he went all weird) have leant their names and faces to this cause.

Fuck cancer. It’s been said many times by many folks in many different ways, but that’s as clear as we need to be. It’s beatable. And when it can’t be outright beaten it’s often treatable. We’ve come light years from where we were 50 or 100 years ago, but we’ve got to keep fighting. And if us wearing denim helps (it probably won’t), we’ll do it.

National Name Your Car Day

This is no more complicated than it sounds. Pick a name for your vehicle.

I am no stranger to named vehicles. My buddy Josh had “the Falcon” – his parents’ Chrysler when we were in high school. The 1969 Oldsmobile I got when I turned 16 (already an antique by then… the car, not me) was named Maggie after the titular character in Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”. This was appropriate, since after a year of constant breakdowns I truly wished I’d never seen her face. I named my next car Janis, and she was about as much of a short-lived partier as the lady she was named for.

But that was it for me. Jodie named her first two Mini Coopers (“Maizie” and “Millie”, I believe), but we have had this Toyota Rav4 for fourteen years now and she has never gotten a name. Is it too late? Probably not.

So I had a look at some recommended names. There is the school of thought that the name should be tied in with the vehicle’s colour, so since it’s red we could go with Elmo, Weasley, Annie or Fireball. We could pick a Japanese name since Toyota is a Japanese company, but that would seem weird, wouldn’t it? I don’t know if I want to name it after a mighty starship: Enterprise seems too haughty, Discovery is too recent, Super Star Destroyer is too lengthy, and Battlestar Galactica seems too dated.

I offered my pick to Jodie yesterday: the Heart of Gold. Not from the Neil Young song (which is fine), but after Zaphod’s ship in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I think it’s infinitely improbable that Jodie will be on board with that name, or that it will stick, but I’m going with it.

World No Alcohol Day

Ugh. I don’t know why I celebrated this one instead of Kids Music Day, but here we are. This one was created by some folks at the World Health Organization back in 2008 as a way to bring attention to the negative effects of alcohol. And really, as a casual drinker who enjoys the occasional buzz and really digs the taste of a lot of alcoholic offerings, there aren’t many negative effects. But I recognize that this is not the case for everyone. Alcohol has decimated lives, ransacked entire cultures, and led to the premature demise of far too many people – most tragically those who hadn’t touched a drop but happened to be in the wrong drunk driver’s path.

So if not drinking for a day in order to remind ourselves of this is what we must do, then we must do it. I have a couple of friends who are struggling with the crutch that alcohol provides, and I worry about them. This is an easy celebration to sluff off with a quick joke, but sometimes a quick joke isn’t enough respect for what the calendar entry really means.

We didn’t have a drink yesterday. That said, we did employ some alcohol in the creation of our main course with dinner, but that shouldn’t count. As an ingredient, alcohol is fine. No one is chugging back fried scallops to satisfy an addiction, unless they have a weird addiction to shellfish. That may be a real thing, I honestly don’t know, nor will I know unless there’s a national day for it. Until then, we’ll roll right along:

National Fried Scallops Day

This is also exactly as simple as it sounds. We had scallops, we fried some scallops. We used fresh parsley, lemon, garlic and white wine. It was terrific, and a fine return to the kitchen for me after being sidelined for over a week with this damn broken foot. Since we had already celebrated the mighty scallop at least once this year, there’s really not much more to say. Scallops are delicious. Fry happily, folks.

And now we’re in our weekend, which should mean a limited stretch of celebrating. We’re trying to enjoy the rest of 2020 or as much of it as we can, and Jodie’s trying not to explode from all the stress. Here’s our potential roster for today:

  • National Techies Day. I guess it’s a day to do something with technology. Does playing video games count?
  • National Boyfriend Day. Today is a day for Jodie to celebrate all her side-pieces. Heh. Just kidding. I hope.
  • Mean Girls Day. Well this sounds like a rather fetch celebration.
  • National Kevin Day. I know some of those! Here’s to the Kevs out there.
  • National Poetry Day. So much poetry in this year of celebration. Maybe tomorrow’s article will be written in verse? Maybe I should shut up.
  • Global Smoothie Day. Jodie has a smoothie every morning, but on weekends we go for brunch. Might postpone this to Monday.
  • International Frugal Fun Day. A day to enjoy some fun that doesn’t cost much.
  • Look At The Leaves Day. This makes sense – we are at peak autumn colours right now.
  • National Family TV Show Day. Any TV show can be a family TV show, can’t it? When the kids were old enough we all watched Prison Break and 24 together.
  • National Virus Appreciation Day. So who wants to make the Trump joke?
  • National Caramel Custard Day. If we can find some, we’ll eat some.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The same vicious gravity beast that prematurely yanked me down the stairs and cracked my foot last week is now wreaking havoc on the leaves outside. The chill is moving in, and with it a new resolve to celebrate. Or, at the very least, to acknowledge the passing of time and trying to do something with it. Were we to surrender to our desire to log off from crazytown and abandon this project, we’d miss out on all the fun. I kid – what we’d miss out on is the knowledge that we saw this madness through to its conclusion, in spite of the convoluted road upon which it has deviated. Plus, we’ve got all this fun to have:

International Coffee Day

Sure, we celebrated National Coffee Day a couple days ago with the exact same method of merriment delivery: we each drank at least one cup of delicious coffee. This is no different than any workday, except that we paused to appreciate the beverage just a little bit more. Twice now.

The celebration on Tuesday was started by someone (no one knows who, or at least no one is telling me), and was used by numerous major coffee chains as a way to lure folks in for promotional deals. It was an advertising gimmick, which is fair, since many of these food celebrations are used in that way by their industries. This one has a bit more meat to it, though.

The International Coffee Organization, which you have likely never heard of unless you are a producer of coffee, represents roughly 98% of the coffee makers on the planet. It’s the industry organization everyone joins. They are the folks behind this celebration, which they are using to launch a campaign to focus on young people in the industry, and to foster the next generation of coffee people. You can get involved at their website, which from what I can see means submitting your ideas on how to promote this campaign. (We can open the Toddler Café! Run exclusively by toddlers!) My only idea (apart from that brilliant one) is that I just wrote about it here, and I’d like some funding for that. Or maybe just some coffee. I can get paid in coffee.

If you missed Tuesday’s party, pour yourself a cup and toast the glory that is coffee.

National Homemade Cookies Day

I’d stashed a couple of our oatmeal lace cookies aside for this one, since the pecan cookies from last Monday didn’t stand a chance of lasting this long. We just want to give another shout-out to our team baker (hi, Mom!) who has come through for us a gazillion times this year with delicious home-made treats. Since she retired she has been full-throttle in her kitchen, baking for us, baking for friends, baking for absolutely no other reason than she seems to really love baking.

And that works out really well for us, because we really love eating baked goods. We’ll be making our own batch next week (more of Jodie’s special medicinal ginger snaps), but the real joy will be in our next delivery from our team baker. Here’s hoping her love of delivering treats to us doesn’t fade when this project reaches its end.

International Day of Older Persons

This is a United Nations day, advising us that we should not discard our older people like so much expired yogurt. I’m not sure who does this, but probably people. People seem to be capable of doing all sorts of heartless and cruel things. So today I’ll give a little love to some of the older people in my life who are special to me.

Mom, you just got a bunch of praise for your awesomeness in the last entry, so don’t get greedy.

Betty White, you played an “old lady” on a show that aired 35 years ago, and you’re still going strong through the year of universal torment. You are an inspiration to everyone who has the good sense to know what an inspiration is.

Our postal carrier – I don’t know your name, but you are clearly at least a decade older than me and in much better shape. I bet you’ve never had difficulty descending a staircase without breaking your foot. Thanks for your service, for delivering the Edmonton Jewish News that I toss in recycle every month, the latest updates from Epcor on how they’re digging up my neighbourhood, and occasionally the cannabis I order online.

To Carrie Brownstein of the show Portlandia and the awesome band Sleater-Kinney, we were born on exactly the same date, but I was born quite close to midnight. So I suspect you are the most famous person who is just the slightest bit older than I am. That means almost nothing, but almost nothing is still something.

Jack Ashford, the percussionist on so many Motown hits, you are a goddamn legend. Thank you for responding to my fan-boy message on Facebook a couple years ago. I regret nothing.

Lastly, to my wife… hey, she’s factually older than me, and she’s feeling tremendously aged by the pressures of this particular school year. You’re my hero, and I’m the luckiest dude this side of the mortal coil.

International Music Day

This day was launched by the International Music Council, which is involved in significantly less music creation than the International Coffee Organization is involved with coffee production. But they mean well, and they have interwoven this celebration with UNESCO, making this the first day this year that we are paying tribute to two United Nations-related celebrations. I know, there are folks out there who hate the UN and believe they are trying to indoctrinate us into a New World Order of communism and evil leprechauns, but let’s shut those people out with some loud, well-selected music.

That’s what I did. To be clear, I wasn’t targeting the leprechaun-believers specifically but I did listen to music throughout the day, and I made sure the music came from various national origins. The heading of ‘world music’ drew my curiosity decades ago, and now I’m in love with music from all cultures, so long as it doesn’t suck.

International Music Day was created back in 1975 to promote the council, and to promote the ability for music to connect cultures together. I invite all of my (now three!) readers to pop onto Spotify or some other such service and find a playlist of South African or Brazilian or Turkish music and crank it up. Reach outside your comfort zone and try something new. Hey, I found some cool stuff on Azerbaijani Music Day last month. Every society has produced incredible music – it’s the easiest way to unite us.

So turn that shit up!

International Raccoon Appreciation Day

Consider if you will the noble raccoon. Nature’s hamburglar. Scavengers, but cute enough to be considered by most to be at least one notch among trash-snatching vermin. They are creatures of the night, and it seems as thought they’ll eat pretty much anything. They can live for more than twenty years, but their average lifespan in the wild is 2-3, mostly because of vehicles and folks who hunt them for crappy coats and gross foodstuffs.

Raccoons are European in origin, having trekked across the Bering Strait back when it was solid ground some twenty million years ago or so.

But enough about their history, let’s talk penises. They average out at about four inches, which doesn’t seem like much until you compare their body size to ours. ‘Coons be packin’, I think that’s the lesson here. Raccoons have it going on upstairs too, with task memory that can reach as far as three years, and a learning speed that puts them in macaque territory. They aren’t solitary creatures – the ladies stick with their female relatives, while the guys go out and form little packs of bros who have one another’s back when they’re defending territory.

Because they can feed pretty well off the stuff we throw out, raccoons do quite well in urban environments. So we aren’t driving them off the planet, which is great, but we’ve also got to share our space with them. This isn’t a problem in Edmonton; we don’t get a lot of raccoons up here. Raccoons have been a part of indigenous mythology and lore for centuries. Western culture has also honoured this magnificent beast with a mediocre animated TV series, a song on the Beatles’ White Album, and as one of the numerous sources of comic relief in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Maybe we’ve got a ways to go before we give the raccoon its proper due. Or maybe I just achieved it with this article. History will tell the tale.

National Black Dog Day

Full disclosure: we had hoped to celebrate this day at a delightful local pub known as the Black Dog. We haven’t been there in years, and it’s one of our city’s great drinking establishments. But we aren’t going to drinking establishments right now, for obvious virus reasons. And that’s okay – we have a much better way of celebrating this one.

Rosa, pictured above, is technically a ‘blue’ French Bulldog. Her fur does show hints of blueness, but let’s face it, she ain’t blue. She is our black dog and she’s wonderful. So why do black dogs need their own special day? There’s actually a valid reason. Black dogs are less likely to be adopted than other dogs. I can think of no reason for this – I’ve known a black poodle who was amazing, a black lab that was delightful and friendly, and little Rosa here is about as perfect a pooch as one could ask for.

So what’s up with black dogs? Is it some sort of weird racism transference that puts them at a disadvantage? Are people frightened of them because they sport the shade of night and shadow? Are people really that messed up? Given what I’ve seen from humanity, yes they are. And that’s silly. If you’re looking for an amazing dog, don’t let blackness deter you. Rosa is special (my mother would say special-needs, but that’s another story) and magnificent. And she got bonus treats yesterday because she deserves it.

We made it through another week, only to find ourselves facing off against a tiny two-day weekend. Here’s how we’ll be spending our Friday:

  • National Body Language Day. I’d planned to exaggerate my body language around my coworkers today. Now my only coworkers are dogs. Let’s see how they respond.
  • National Produce Misting Day. A day to celebrate the misting of produce in a supermarket? Sure, why not?
  • National Custodial Workers Recognition Day. Again, I’m my own custodian, but maybe Jodie can help with this one.
  • National Name Your Car Day. This should be fun. We’ve had the same car for 14 years and she has no name.
  • National Fried Scallops Day. I think the best way to celebrate this might be to fry up some scallops. Unless someone has a better plan.
  • International Day of Non-Violence. No violence today, got it.
  • Kids Music Day. I may listen to a small, tolerable sampling of kids’ music.
  • World Smile Day. Now here’s a day with some substance.
  • National Denim Day. I used to wear jeans to work on casual Friday. Now I wear sweats all through the week and jeans are for ‘dressing up.
  • Plaiderday. Shouldn’t this land on a Saturday?
  • World No Alcohol Day. Some celebrations are fun. Others are specifically aimed at eliminating fun.
  • National Research Maniacs Food Day. I don’t know if this is a day for researching what food maniacs eat or for us research maniacs to eat some food. I’ll find out!