It’s August. It’s been August for weeks, and it’s fixing to stay August for weeks. Well, actually, nine days, but who’s counting?
If you call October shoulder season, then surely August is the armpit of the year. This especially rings true of my old hometown. Take a look at the cover photo of Neil Diamond’s double-live “Hot August Night 2,” in all its sweaty, hairy, bare-chested mid-’80s glory. That’s what New York City feels like this month. In fact, permanently ditching August in New York rates third on my list of reasons for moving to Alaska (after the yearly check and the seafood).
However, I traded one extreme for the other. To continue the aging singer-songwriter metaphor, August in Juneau makes me think of Simon and Garfunkel — specifically their contemplative single “April Come She Will,” which includes the line “August, die she must. The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.” Around here, they sure do, often whipping rain, too. It’s almost enough to make me wear pants. Almost. Plus, I’m starting to notice the days shorten, although on the flipside, at least I can return to my hot tub under cover of darkness. Maybe now the neighbors will stop calling animal control with reports of an escaped orangutan.
Anyway, this time of year — especially this year — entails loads of indoor time, with little to do but think…or enter random search terms into Wikipedia. That’s sort of like thinking.
Some gleanings from my recent “thoughts” on August, in no particular order:
Originally the sixth month in the 10-month Roman calendar, August was once named “Sextilis,” meaning “sixth.” It only moved to eighth after Julius Caesar seized emperorship and crammed two extra months into the year: July, named after himself, and August, named after his nephew and successor, Augustus Caesar. See? Any fool with a name can slap it up on the side of a hotel tower. It takes a real authoritarian dictator to co-opt time, itself.
In the Southern Hemisphere, August is the seasonal equivalent of our February. In other words, August is February’s evil twin.
Of course, August observances abound.
For instance, Aug. 7 was International Beer Day — don’t worry if you missed it; we’ve still got International Canned Cocktail Day coming up Sept. 10.
August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month; National Water Quality Month; National Neurosurgery Outreach Month and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an excellent place for neurosurgeons to conduct their outreach.
It’s also National Dippin’ Dots Month. Anyone know where a guy can score some Dippin’ Dots in this town?
August coincides with peak activity for the Perseid meteor shower, as well as optimal viewing conditions for the Messier 30 star cluster. Nerd alert.
August’s birthstone is onyx. Onyx is also a ‘90s hip-hop group… they that did that song “Slam.” You know, “let the boys be boys? Slam? Da duh duh, da duh duh?” And so forth?
Zodiacally speaking, August splits its symbolism between Leo and Virgo, hence the famous maxim: “in like a lion, out like a virgin.”
“August” is the title of a 1996 film adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” starring Anthony Hopkins. Don’t bother Netflixing it — he doesn’t carve off anyone’s face with a pen and wear it, or eat a census taker’s liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti. It’s more of a “Remains of the Day” Anthony Hopkins movie.
“August” is also the name of a super-cheesy mid-’80s Eric Clapton album. How cheesy? It features Phil Collins on drums and vocals. We’re talking “Sussudio”-era Phil Collins.
And, turns out, August, California is a census-designated place in the San Jaoquin Valley. Not a city, or a town, or even a hamlet, but a “census-designated place.” Harsh.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the name August derives from “Augustus,” Latin for awe-inspiring. As a first name, famous Augusts include Swedish playwright, novelist, essayist and philosopher August Strindberg; as a last name, John August, a contemporary American screenwriter for such films as “Charlie’s Angels,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Jurassic Park III” (un-credited). Man, I dove deep down the Wiki hole for that one.
August — just August — is the name of an AVN Award-nominated porn actress, thus proving, yet again, that all internet searches eventually lead to porn. I also discovered that August is the name of a special-edition 2002 Beanie Baby, thus proving, yet again, that all internet searches also eventually lead to an eBay listing from a middle-aged Middle-American woman with a 97% positive rating.
Anyway, fellow August sufferers take heart. September rapidly approaches, and you know what Simon and Garfunkel say about September: “September, remember, a love once new has now grown old.”
We can all look forward to that.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.