Friday, November 20, 2020

If there exists the tiniest fissure in space-time which would allow us to slip ahead to a predetermined point in the future, how many folks would take a shortcut to 2021? I feel that most who bemoan the current calendar have an unrealistic expectation that the spectre of doom that has blanketed this year for many will magically vanish when we throw our bread against the wall on New Year’s Eve. There is no logical reason to assume this to be true. That said, I can state with certain that this mandated celebrate-a-thon will come to an end at that time, so I’ll start stretching out my bread-tossing arm now. December may fly by. Meanwhile, here was yesterday:

National Play Monopoly Day

For a slight twist on the guts of this day I opted to play McDonalds Monopoly yesterday, in that I finally went online and entered the various contest pieces we’d collected over the last few weeks into our virtual game board. As luck would have it, we are just one shy of winning a Transat family vacation for 4, so if anyone out there has the Vancouver Airport and wants to join our ‘family’ and take a trip together, hit me up.

Monopoly itself is not our favourite board game, nor would it break the top 20. If played properly the game does not take a marathon session to finish, but everyone has their own slight variants on the rules. And the purpose of this board game was to show how dangerous and economically unhealthy a monopoly is, so by winning the game you are essentially becoming the largest threat to the in-game universe’s national economy. You become the 1%. And still you pay a $75 Luxury Tax, same as us poor schlubs.

The McDonalds version, which has been around since 1987, is more pleasant. First off, most people end up winning some actual prize at some point – though I’d bet most never cash in their free muffin pieces because who thinks of McDonalds if they’re craving a muffin? Just as a person can cheat in the board game, that has also been tried with the McGame. And very successfully. The head of security for the company that operates the contest (by law it has to be a 3rd party company) snagged every top prize from the game between 1995 and 2000. He pilfered the super-rare winning pieces and gave them to family and friends, sold them to strangers, or (and this is where it gets weird) passed them along to a contact he made with the Colombo crime family. It was an impressive fraud, and one that should prompt us all to avoid participating in games like this unless we happened to be headed to the restaurant anyway. No point in clogging up the arteries unnecessarily if the game can be fixed. McDonalds insists the game has been clean since that one gigantic fraud case, but still. The doubt persists.

And now we don’t have to pretend to enjoy playing the actual board game to celebrate this one.

World Toilet Day

The United Nations, crafter of the super-communist New World Order and various other conspiracies your weird aunt is frothing about on social media these days, came up with this celebration to bring attention to toilets. Toilets are grand, and while we’d like to think they are plentiful everywhere around the world, the reality is that they are not. 4.2 billion people on this planet don’t have access to a top-notch sanitation system. That’s more than half the humans.

This year’s theme for World Toilet Day is climate change, and the effects that climate change can have on poorly-maintained sanitations systems around the world. Just imagine the smell when an unexpected flood wreaks havoc on a run-down system.

There are numerous streaming videos and extensive reports available online if you’re interested in learning more about the toilet situation on the planet. I glanced through it, but couldn’t commit to making a day out of it. How did we celebrate? We made a point of deeply appreciating our comfy toilets and their effective poop-removal capabilities. I’d go into more detail, but I’m pretty sure no one wants that.

Have A Bad Day Day

Did I have a bad day yesterday? Not really, but I can certainly find a few things to complain about. This is one of those ultra-weird celebrations concocted by Ruth & Thomas Roy, strictly for the sake of padding the list of holidays with heaps of strangeness. Store owners are encouraged to tell their employees to wish customers a bad day today, something I’m confident roughly zero store owners are doing. Because nobody would be in on the joke.

So to celebrate this one, I thought we should simply try to have a bad day. We didn’t try very hard, as that’s trickier to manage than one would expect, but we did have some issues. First off, Jodie was working until well after 8:00, so we hardly saw one another all day. Secondly, it was cold as all hell and I had to go outside and clear off new snow from our walks. Thirdly, I had to sit through a lengthy training session during the afternoon, one that will have almost no impact on my life.

It wasn’t a bad day, but it was a tedious one.

National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day

We couldn’t find the source for this day, which is deeply generic and remarkably easy to celebrate. We try to keep our carbonated beverage consumption at one per day (not counting frothy, yummy beer or soda water), and Coke Zero is our standard go-to. Yesterday I tried to pretty it up from the usual drink-out-of-the-can tradition.

We once again ramp up to a weekend with a deep hope that we’ll actually get around to counting our progress thus far. This count would determine just how much of our remaining 40-ish days will be devoted to manic celebration and how many we can cruise through. Here’s what’s up today:

  • National Peanut Butter Fudge Day. Our team baker (hi, Mom!) may need to help us out here.
  • National Absurdity Day. Isn’t every day of our lives an absurdity? I’d argue it is, if you’re living your life right.
  • Name Your PC Day. What will we name our computer? So many possibilities! So little drama!
  • Beautiful Day. Literally a day to appreciate all the beautiful stuff in our lives. After acknowledging my wife, what else remains?
  • Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day. Well, our dogs do a lot of running. We could hug them. The other alternative is running.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The strangest irony in this project – and I’m sure with a little digging I can find a few strange ironies amidst this year-long mess – is how much the most celebratory moment of just about every day is the moment when I’ve finished penning that day’s article. That is the moment I am free to wrassle with the dogs, to watch TV, to get on with the business of living. So is my free time the ultimate celebration? Is the final lesson this year going to be that the celebrations were inside of us all along? Somehow that resonates of disappointment. Maybe that’s because I’m still writing the intro paragraph and I’m far away from finishing my daily chore. Hmm. Here was yesterday’s stuff:

Mickey Mouse’s Birthday

The classic Steamboat Willie short was released on this day back in 1928, meaning that our world has been graced by the phenomenon that is Mickey Mouse for 92 years now. In that span of time, this little whistling weirdo has grown to define the very pinnacle of theme parks, and has swallowed up every massive pop culture franchise to create the most powerful media empire the world has ever seen. And it started with this little mouse.

Mickey’s debut is free to watch on Disney+, and that we did. It’s still cute – all those old Disney cartoons hold up as modestly entertaining in a kitschy sort of way. What most folks don’t know is that the short film was actually a parody of one of that year’s biggest box office hits: Steamboat Bill Jr., released in May. The latter feature is quite possibly Buster Keaton’s best feature-length comedy, featuring the classic death-defying stunt in which Buster is almost crushed by the falling wall of a house. So to be clear: the Disney monolith was launched by a Buster Keaton parody.

For seven years, Mickey existed in black and white only, which was fine since he was a black and white mouse. In 1932 Mickey’s Orphans received an Academy Award nomination. His films would go on to gather nine more nominations, and 1942’s Lend A Paw won. In 1978 he was the first cartoon character (predating Donald Trump!) to land a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The term ‘A Mickey Mouse operation’ tends to refer to something that is either small in scale or amateurly-run, which makes absolutely no sense, given the power of the Disney empire or the efficiency with which it operates. Have you ever seen litter laying around just off the trail in a Disney park? No you haven’t, and you probably won’t even notice the person who cleans it up.

Mickey is about as fundamental a cartoon creature as there ever was. And he shares a birthday with other great luminaries too, like W.S. Gilbert (co-writer of the Pirates of Penzance) and this lady:

Minnie Mouse’s Birthday

Yes, Ms. Mouse shares the same birthday, mainly because she first appeared in Steamboat Willie alongside her beau. This was, to be clear, the third short film the pair were featured in, but it was the first to be officially released. We might all be raging about the greatness of Plane Crazy instead, had Walt released the shorts in the order of their creation.

Minnie was created as a flapper. She was an easy plot point, someone for Mickey to try to woo, or occasionally as the damsel in distress whom he had to save. It was Minnie whose dog Rover (later renamed Pluto) became a part of the Disneyverse. Her importance in the animated stories began to fade in the late 30s, as Mickey’s cohorts Goofy, Donald Duck and Pluto became more popular. So instead of a constant will-they-won’t-they thing, we instead got a sausage-fest of crazy dudes doing crazy dude stuff. But Minnie stuck around, and was eventually weaved back into the Mickey world.

She had to wait until 2018 to get her star on the Walk of Fame though, alongside Weird Al and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Voice actress Russi Taylor took over the work as Minnie in 1986. She held that honour until her death last year. And her husband, Wayne Allwine, happened to be the voice of Mickey between 1976 and his death in 2009. So if that isn’t the weirdest Hollywood romance ever, I don’t know what is. Did they dirty-talk in their character voices? We can hope not, but we’ll never know.

Anyhow, we also enjoyed some Minnie on Disney+, our best efforts to wipe out the ideas conceived in that last paragraph. Sorry, folks.

Married To A Scorpio Support Day

I get it, Scorpios are weird. Allegedly. That’s if you believe that people born in the same period of the calendar share the same traits, which I 100% do not. I share a birthday with Wilfred Brimley, Avril Lavigne and Meat Loaf. I don’t know what, if anything, I have in common with any of those people. But okay, I guess Scorpios are pessimistic, and emotional when provoked, which makes them difficult to be married to. Alright.

Goldie Hawn is a Scorpio, but Kurt Russell has stayed with her for 37 years. They aren’t technically married I guess, so maybe that’s the answer? Hillary Clinton is a Scorpio as well, but wasn’t Bill the one who put the strain on the marriage? Am I reaching too much here? Am I really supposed to take this day seriously?

Here are a few other celebrities that would allegedly be difficult to take on as a spouse: Leonardo DiCaprio (I get that – you’d have to continually get younger and younger, and that would be tricky), Cris, Kendall and Caitlyn Jenner (again, anyone who’d marry into this family probably already has something wrong with them, but I guess this lends support to the celebration), Winona Ryder (I don’t suspect she’d be difficult to be married to), Ryan Gosling (I think most everyone I know with even the mildest attraction to men would take a shot with this guy), Adam Driver (well, he was a Sith Lord, that’s tough to live with), and Bjork (again, I can see how this might be trouble, unless her spouse also has a wildly imaginative and eclectic soul).

Is any of this conclusive? I don’t think it’s even vaguely close to anything in the neighborhood of conclusive. But if any of my friends are married to a Scorpio and they’d like someone to talk to, I’ll make myself available. But let’s do it over the phone so you don’t see my eyes rolling.

National Princess Day

This is the day we are supposed to feel like a princess, and dammit, I sure did. I joke of course – I felt mostly like a working serf, schlubbing away at my desk for the day. But I watched some Star Wars as promised, which features the greatest of all Disney princesses, Princess Leia.

For the most part, British royalty didn’t use the term ‘princess’ very often before the 1700s. Daughters of the monarchs were referred to as “Lady”, probably because they didn’t want to suggest the horrific notion that a woman could again take over the throne. I don’t know – misogyny and weirdness seem to permeate the royal traditions throughout history. When King George I took over, the term ‘princess’ became commonly used.

Princesses have really stepped up when it comes to fiction. They have peppered great literature from Princess Pajonia of Pumperdink (in Frank Baum’s Oz stories) to Indian princess Aouda in Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days to Princess Leigh-Cheri in Tom Robbins’ Still Life With Woodpecker, who ultimately learns the mysteries of red hair and true outlawdom.

Ororo Monroe gave up her princessitude to become Storm in the X-Men comics, and Princess Peach loved messing with Mario’s heart in numerous video games. And movies are full of princesses, from Disney’s legion to Princess Buttercup to Vespa, princess of Druidia (who doesn’t even look Druish). I think princesses fared better in fiction than they have in real life. Come to think of it, so have I.

Today we nudge closer and closer to the weekend, and closer and closer to the end of all this madness. Here’s what’s up:

  • Great American Smokeout. Should I quit smoking again? I don’t know how that would be possible.
  • National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day. Very specific. I guess we’ll have a Coke and a Smile.
  • National Play Monopoly Day. With Jodie out of the house until after 8:00 tonight, I’ll either play by myself or we’ll postpone this one.
  • International Men’s Day. A day to do manly things. Don’t I always do manly things?
  • International Camp Day. Like, the kind in tents or the kind depicted in the Rocky Horror Picture Show?
  • World Toilet Day. I will use the toilet. Won’t that be a celebration!
  • Have A Bad Day Day. Sounds like an appropriate celebration, one to specifically invite negativity into our lives.
  • National Blow Bagpipes Day. I don’t own any. Perhaps I should change my name to ‘Bagpipes’?
  • Use Less Stuff Day. I don’t use a lot stuff. Not sure if it’s possible for me to use less.
  • World Philosophy Day. I celebrate therefore I am.