Father’s Day

#838.5: Father’s Day 2020

Father’s Day 2020 was one of the strangest yet, but we celebrated my dad outdoors with steaks and social distancing.

The day started quietly with an espresso at dawn, but I couldn’t wait to get cooking.  Jen bought steaks and corn.  I love cooking and I especially love barbecuing.  Cooking for my mom and dad is one of the best hobbies I have.

The morning was spent relaxing by myself on the patio, reading Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack.  I spoke about this book a bit on Saturday’s live stream.  To say reading this book was an intense undertaking is to sell the experience short.  I had to stop twice to catch my breath.  This powerful, true story is made so clear, so intense and spiritual thanks to the words of Gord and the images of Jeff.  A book/album review is absolutely forthcoming.  (Even though the book comes with a download of the Gord Downie album, I still bought the CD individually as well.)

It was a hot afternoon but at least my parents have a back deck with some shade.  I lit the gas and let the flames do their work.  I incorporated some new techniques that I picked up watching YouTube videos over the winter.  I let the steaks get up to room temperature, then patted them dry and seasoned with just salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Nothing fancy and no marinate was necessary.   I overcooked mine a bit for my liking.  Everybody else likes them a bit more done than me.  I forgot how hot my dad’s barbecue can get.  But they were still juicy and flavourful, I just prefer them a little more red.

We chatted current events, the cottage, and Uncle Don Don.  My mom saved for me what was left of his CD collection (I gave my sister first dibs and she took Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats.)  Mom asked me to sort through the music, but I decided to take them home to do that here.  The CD covers have the telltale yellowing of a smoker’s home and I didn’t want to handle them and have to prepare dinner too.

There are a few CDs here that I’ll have to keep.  I’m missing several Tragically Hip.  I don’t have that Lee Aaron (her debut).  I could probably use some Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Garbage, and Jane’s Addiction.  A few of these are duplicates; I have all the Deep Purple and Alice Cooper albums.  But those are two bands that Uncle Don influenced me to get into.  “Child In Time”, he said.  That was the song he praised.  He has two versions of “Child In Time” in this cardboard box.

Looks like I’m going to be owning Jackyl, Haywire and Collective Soul too.  Cool.  I’ll go through the box in detail in the coming days.

My dad enjoyed his Father’s Day meal, and we had a nice visit.  The first one in many months.  It wasn’t hard to stay sanitised and distant, but it was different.  Just something we have to live with for a while.  Hopefully not too much longer.  I’m starting to get tired of the same old scenery from my little patio at home.  I want to get back to the lake.  Because of various health concerns and vulnerabilities, we’ve all agreed that we can’t all be at the same cottage at the same time, so we’ll have to take turns.  I’ll have to wait a little while longer to cook my dad a nice barbecue chicken dinner (skin on, of course). It’ll happen though — eventually.

I hope all the fathers had as nice a Father’s Day as my dad did.




REVIEW: cameo.com (Father’s Day gift idea)


Have you heard of Cameo?  Services like Cameo have become popular during Covid, when we can’t just reach out and hug each other.  I have used it twice this year (more on that below) when I couldn’t be with my family directly.

Cameo is a website where celebrities will record a brief personal message for a fee.  My first reaction was, “As if celebrities need more money,” but some of the fees are quite reasonable.  Gary Holt from Exodus is only asking $25 for a personal video greeting.  That’s a steal, considering the video is yours forever.  Mike Portnoy?  Only $50.  Bruce Kulick is $100.  Work your way up to Caitlyn Jenner and you’ll be dropping $2500.  The range for your budget is huge, and you can choose form thousands of people in sports, movies, music, wrestling, and TV (reality and otherwise).

Each celebrity has a time frame during which they will make your video.  If you forgot your dad’s birthday today, it is too late to get Chevy Chase ($250) to record a video for him.  But if it’s not until next week, Danny Trejo ($100) can have a video to you in five days.

I struggled with a way to treat my mom right on Mother’s Day. I happened to be scrolling Facebook when I noticed a friend had received a Cameo video as a birthday gift.  It was Michael Rapaport ($175) and I thought it was a cool idea in a time when we couldn’t just give somebody a gift.  I started searching and came upon Jann Arden.  My mom loves Jann Arden.  She’s seen her live at least twice (only once for me).  Jann was asking only $65 with a three day turnaround.  I was just in time so I booked her.  Best of all, 100% of her proceeds went to various animal charities.  No celebrity greed there!

In two days (one less than expected!) I received a personal video from Jann Arden to my mom.  Jann sang “Good Mother” and I think my mom must have just about fallen out of her chair!  It was everything I hoped for and more.

Two weeks later I had another quandary.  My dad’s birthday.  He hates it when I spend money on him, but I don’t pay any attention to that!  I decided that I would do another Cameo.  But who?  My dad knows so very few celebrities.  It’s not like John Wayne is around to make videos.  Then I thought, “Star Trek”!  Who’s available?  A small number of people.  Marina Sirtis (The Next Generation), Garrett Wang (Voyager), Mary Chieffo (Discovery) and Evan Evagora (Picard) were some of the notable names, but I needed someone really special to him personally.  Then I found him:  Number One!  Jonathan Frakes!  Riker himself.  My dad is a huge fan of Captain William Riker.  Within three days, and $200 later, my dad received a personal message from Number One.

Dad was over the moon. He still thinks I shouldn’t have spent the money, but who cares?  I think it’s the best birthday gift I’ve ever given him.  And I’ve given him a Lego Sopwith Camel.  (Added bonus:  Frakes was wearing a Picard Season 2 jacket, confirming his involvement in the second season.)

The only drawback to Cameo is that you only have 250 characters to communicate what you want from the celebrity.  It’s enough to tell them who it’s for, who it’s from, and a little bit about the occasion.  Not much else.  Celebrities don’t need to read an essay, but what harm could another 100 characters do?

Whether Cameo still remains popular when the world returns to a semblance of normal, I cannot say.  Most of these actors, sportsmen and musicians will be back at work.  I’ll be able to go and gift my dad a real Father’s Day gift.  And some of these people are asking way, way, way too much money for a short video.  Is Tommy Lee worth $400 when you can get Mike Portnoy for $50?  I’d go with Portnoy, on Cameo or in a drum battle.

Consider a Cameo for your next socially distant gift.

Cameo 4/5 stars
Jonathan Frakes 5/5 stars
Jann Arden 5/5 stars