Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Words With Fiends: Solstice

Editor's Note: This is a new blog experiment where various people have sent me random words, and I will try and write a halfway coherent blog about it each day this week. Today's word is: Solstice.

Today is the summer solstice, which marks the longest day of the year. This is the one day of the year where the casual observer could see the sun move in one direction, stop, then start moving in a slightly different direction. Or, presumably, since your retinas would be small shriveled husks of carbon and false dreams.

Unless we are navigating Indiamen in the 17th century, the practical use of the solstice is fairly limited. Aside from the obvious corporate mechanizations of Big Sunblock and Big Watermelon, this particular summer day is slightly longer than the other four weeks on either side of it. For some, of course, the symbolic heralding of summer is important, even though everybody knows that summer started line a month and a half ago and we're all going to make a big deal about fall starting in late September, weeks after school has started and the grill has been wheeled into the garage.

Far be it for a normal natural occurrence to happen without the Wiccans pissing all over everyone's lives. The pagans and the neopagans and the Reformed Church of the Pagans all drag out their Halloween costumes and tambourines and make a Lego-set Stonehenge and use the rising of the sun as an excuse to toke up and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon ironically. I mean, to each their own and all that, but at least pick a day you can consistently trick your employer into letting you schedule a religiously mandated day off on a Friday. "Summer Solstice Observed" kind of defeats the purpose.

The summer solstice is also responsible for that petri dish of modern hipsters, Burning Man. While the actual event has long moved past its humble, vaguely druidic beginnings, one assumes that the arid Nevada atmosphere makes goth makeup harder to maintain and so the Lady Vampire Club transforms itself into a bunch of sweaty, dusty hippies who have a very tenuous grasp of private property rights and carbon footprints.

Of course, this day also marks the inspiration for one of the biggest hits of 2010, Train's "Solsticer."

So this day doesn't mean a whole lot to me, really, and I'm hard-pressed to find how anyone could get remarkably excited about it. It's the longest day of the year, which in my mind ranks up there with the fifth Saturday in one month or Thursday.

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