Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mark Your Calenders for (Journée) Louis Riel Day

Huh? What? Oh! Sorry. As per my previous entry, I'm just now starting to emerge from within the pile of music I'm working through; I'm still (!) not done, but the recent joyous call from all about the town caught my attention.

The declaration has now been made! Monday, February 18th, 2008 -- and the third Monday of every February hence -- will be known in Manitoba as Journée Louis Riel Day.

Well, okay, no it won't, not entirely. The first word is an entirely optional nod to bilinguilism; the full name is completely redundant, I have to rack my brain for the right alt-number code whenever I need the acute over that first E, and I can only type "Journée" so many times before I start itching to make Steve Perry jokes.

Louis Riel's message for the future generations of Metis people was "Don't Stop Believing"

Manitobans have embraced the new holiday with Open Arms

John A. Macdonald may have placed higher on CBC's Greatest Canadian list, but Who's Cryin' Now

I won't, though. I have far too much willpower for that.

Tony Soprano shall hang though every dog in New Jersey bark in his favour

So setting Journée aside for now, our new February holiday shall be recognized as Louis Riel Day. It's a good name, and I for one am quite pleased with it; I challenge you to name me one figure more uniquely significant to Manitoba's historical heritage than Louis Riel. (And if you tell me "Burton Cummings" I will smack you upside the head, in an attempt to knock some excess facetiousness out of your brain.) The general consensus seems to be that nobody really cares too much about what it's called so long as we actually get to have it; hell, I think this might even be the happiest that we've ever seen Tom Brodbeck. (Off day, or oncoming apocalypse? Place your bets now!)

Mind you, when the reports say that this was the best name suggested by the schoolchildren of our province, I believe it -- especially after seeing the other suggestions. Despite my own better judgement, my curiosity led me to look at the provincial government's list of names that each school suggested (a 16KB PDF file) -- and, well, we should all be dearly thankful that Louis Riel Day was the name we ended up with.

For example -- as you may have already read elsewhere -- the kids at Earl Oxford School suggested... they put forward the suggestion that... they tried to...

"Chil-Lax Day"? Are you kidding me? Oh my god you are serious. You seriously--Chil-Lax Day? Are you all out of your minds?



Some other suggestions made by schools from around the province:

The Alhijra Islamic School suggested "Manisnowba Day", which is admittedly a little demeaning but still kind of cute. Emerson Elementary suggested "Hudson Bay Holiday", which rolls off the tongue quite nicely and would probably be a great name for a third-wave ska band. And Anola School (in Anola, naturally) suggested Manitoba Outdoor Family Fitness (or O.F.F.) Day, which would be a really keen idea if the holiday weren't in February. We live in Manitoba; we can never rule out the possibility that any given February here is cold enough to kill somebody outright.

Some schools were on the right track, but went a little long with their ideas. Elkhorn School (in Elkhorn, naturally) offered "Family Winter Wellness and Fun Day"; similarly, St. Maurice School came up with "February Family Fitness & Fun Day". I'm as big a fan of alliteration as the next overindulgent writer, but can you imagine dropping that one in conversation?

"Hey, Kyle, wanna chip in for beer? We're going to watch the game and then get good and drunk on February Family Fitness and Fun Day."

Alas, I think the novelty would wear off on that one after a while.

Ditto for the suggestion from St. Paul's Collegiate in Saint-Francois-Xavier, which was "Celebration of Lord Selkirk and the Settlers"; I'd definitely be down for that one as a longer event, though. It's a long title for a single day, but if you stretched it into a whole weekend's worth of renaissance fairs and feasting I think it'd fly pretty well.

Arthur A. Leach School suggested "Bison Break", which I am totally stealing as the name of my finishing move if I ever become a professional wrestler. (It'll be a Fire Thunder Driver. If you were wondering.) Oakenwald School suggested "The Polar Pause", which sounds less like a holiday and more like something you'd die of if you had an Outdoor Family Fitness Day in February. And Grant Park High School suggested "Bring on the Bison", which is a couple DNA substitutions away from being an awesome Echo & the Bunnymen reference.

The Henderson Elementary School in Dauphin, for reasons I don't really want to think about for too long, suggested "Purification Day"; the New Hope Christian School in Kleefeld suggested "Prime Rose Day". I don't even know what these mean. I'm sure they're well-intentioned, though.

The Wanipigow School, up in Wanipigow, suggested "Family First Friday"; I think what must have happened is that everybody liked the name but nobody had the heart to tell them that the holiday is a Monday. Sorry, guys. Keep that one handy for next time, though.

The Crystal City Early Years School, down in Crystal City, suggested "Crocus Day"; admittedly the Crocus is still our provincial flower, but they really have to have known that this was a doomed suggestion right from the beginning. Nice try, Crystal City Early Years School! Good luck getting our governing NDP to blurt that holiday name out! You'd have had just as much luck suggesting they name it "Gage Guimond Day", "Hallway Medicine Monday", or "Lake Winnipeg is Rapidly Dissolving into a Toxic Cesspool and Our Elected Leaders Remain Frighteningly Inactive But Never Mind All That Because Here is a Brief Respite From Work Day".

(Okay, so that last one might be a bit long too. "Hey, Kyle, wanna chip in for beer? We're having a party on...")

I may poke fun, a bit, but I appreciate the effort that went into all of these ideas; it's nice to get students active in, or at least thinking about, the kind of decisions that will be remembered and relevent decades from now.

But then, there are some things -- like, say, "Chil-Lax" -- that will never cease to irk me. And when I say that I am thinking specifically of Balmoral Hall School and of Gray Academy, because both Balmoral Hall School and Gray Academy put forward the idea that our newly-minted and much-anticipated February holiday should be called -- wait for it, this one is going to hurt -- "Spirited Energy Day".







oh god these children are our leaders of tomorrow noooooooooooo

Ah, well. I'll get over it. Thanks for your input, schools!

Regardless of what we're now calling it, we all finally have something to look forward to in February -- besides the commercialisation-induced anxiety or the crippling loneliness of each Valentine's Day, I mean -- and we're making at least the minimum effort to maintain the legacy of one of our own homegrown legends.

(Which one of you just blurted out "Burton Cummings"? Don't make me come back there!)

So to commemorate the establishment of a new day off, and since I'm digging through my catalogs anyway, here are a couple of fittingly titled ska songs from years past:

The Planet Smashers - Holiday (Life of the Party, 1999)
[buy | site | myspace]

Fighting Gravity - All I Need is a Holiday (Shishskabob, 1992)
[buy | site | myspace]

And if you're concerned that the two songs above sound kind of same-y, or that all ska bands basically sound alike, then the Cheapskates have you covered:

The Cheapskates - All Our Songs Sound the Same (Nobody's Prefect EP, 2001)
[buy | holy crap it is hard to find anything about these guys online]

Well, I think that covers that topic pretty thoroughly. And if any fine readers out there harbour any misgivings about the new holiday's name, don't fret; take a breath, think about how happy you'll be to have that statutory off, and remember -- it's not the destination, it's the Journée!

Yeah, I know. I caved. I'm sorry.

Here it is. God, I'm so weak.

Of Montreal with Jason NeSmith - Don't Stop Believing (Journey Cover) (Live at the 40 Watt, 2007)
[video | site | myspace]

Back into my pile of CDs I go! If nobody hears from me in the next few days, send a rescue team!


Danielle said...

Really enjoying your blog John. I'm not really political but you have a wicked sense of humour! I'm a fellow Winnipeger so it's great to discover you.

James Howard said...

It's James, actually. Thanks, though! Good to hear from fellow bloggers!