While Leap Year is a fun rom-com (which I recommend for anyone who’s a fan of rom-coms, Ireland, or Matthew Goode) and a great way to wrap up February-the-month-of-love…this post is only tangentially about it. In my last post, I talked a bit about the Lunar New Year, and it would be remiss of me if I didn’t also talk about our solar calendar and it’s fun quirk: the leap year.
What is a leap year, why is a leap year, and what does it do besides give February an extra day? Well, I did some digging and it turns out the leap year exists partly because of the sun, partly because of Julius Caesar, and partly because of a Pope.
In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar decided to reform the Roman Calendar, because their year was about 10 days shorter than ours. In order to keep the seasons happening at a regular time, they would simply add a new month to the year whenever it was needed. Inspired by the Egyptians’ more regular solar calendar, Caesar decided to make the year 365 days long instead, to match the time it takes the Earth to orbit the sun. The new Julian calendar sounded like a simple fix, but implementing it took a bit of finagling. To make the transition from the old Roman calendar to the new one flow well, Caesar made that first new year 445 days long and then adjusted the next to our familiar 365 days.
Mike Birbiglia’s latest comedy special on Netflix is entitled The Old Man and the Pool. The Hemmingway reference did not go unnoticed by this library worker, that’s for sure. I was drawn to see this latest offering based on a vaguely pleasant recollection of his film, Sleepwalk with Me, which was released in 2012. The film was based on his one-man show of the same name and a corresponding book. All three tell the true story of Birbiglia’s troubles with somnambulism (otherwise known as sleepwalking). Apologies, somnambulism is one of my favourite words — rarely do I find an opportunity to use it. I’ve always seen Birbiglia as someone on the forefront of what is possible in the medium. He seemed to be one of the first to incorporate extended, personal narratives in his comedy. In doing so, he creates an impression of extreme honesty and self-deprecation. Since his specials have often originated as one-man shows, they have a hybrid tone. He combines the earnestness and gravity of drama, with the rhythms of traditional stand-up. The set-ups and punchlines are all there — the pauses that indicate the audience should react to something that was said. All the artifice of the artform is present, but it’s balanced by the perilous reality of movement while unconscious.
It’s that time of year again. The time when algorithms — and the multinational corporations who employ them — encourage us to look back. At the pictures we’ve taken, the music we’ve listened to, and the digital lives we’ve led over the past year. We inevitably start to draw conclusions. What kind of year has it been? ‘Have I listened to a lot of emotional music this year?’ Or, ‘Should I start taking more pictures of my friends?’ It feels as if we’re being prepped to make our new year’s resolutions starting from the end of November, and resolutions have never been my friends. I don’t find it helpful to try to start new habits at the beginning of the calendar year, when we’re all getting over the indulgences and excesses of the winter holiday season. If there’s a habit I want to start, I try to start it when the motivation and momentum are there. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t have much motivation or momentum at the beginning of January. Nevertheless, it is the end of the year, so here at VPL we’re looking back at the most popular books and films borrowed by our customers in 2023. Here are my recommendations from the top ten lists this year. I share them in the hopes that they may bring a little joy to the last part of your 2023. Don’t worry about your new year’s resolutions yet. To paraphrase Ina Garten:
Don’t worry about the future. If you’re in a stream, and you find yourself knocking against the riverbanks, you’re in the wrong stream. Find a stream that carries you along.1