Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's today? Ask a stupid question...

No, wait. Don't take offense. According to Usual Suspects American Greetings and Holidays for Everyday, today is Ask a Stupid Question Day.

(For those who claim there's 'no such thing' as a stupid question, we suspect that none of them has ever watched a presidential debate.)

Wikipedia reports that Ask a Stupid Question Day was created by teachers in the 1980s to encourage students to ask more questions in the classroom. Today is Sunday; school is not in session.

Wikipedia explains that, ordinarily, Ask a Stupid Question Day would be on the last school day of September. (And, yes, if you were paying attention, we did mention Ask a Stupid Question Day in Friday's post). So, with all due respect to our cited Usual Suspects, we don't think today should be Ask a Stupid Question Day.

So what else is there?

There's some support for today being Chewing Gum Day, but we can't say for sure that this will stick. (Nor can we say whether the chewing gum will lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight.)

We are obliged to report that today has also been designated Blasphemy Day, a day set aside, according to Wikipedia, for individuals or groups "to openly express their criticism of, or even disdain for, religion."

The Blog of Days is not going to recommend this as something to celebrate. In fact, on this subject, we'd rather remember what Thomas Jefferson said, namely, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." We'd also cite this quote from Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho: "In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else's path is wrong."


No, if you want something to really celebrate today, today is the 85th anniversary of the day on which a former Boston Red Sox hurler turned right fielder, George Herman Ruth, hit his 60th home run of the season. Also on this day 40 years ago, another right fielder, Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente his his 3,000th (and last) hit.

Both of these feats are worth remembering.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lots more in October besides Halloween

Civil War Adm. David Farragut
Farragut's father was a native of Minorca, Spain.
(Image obtained from Wikipedia.)
Yeah, we all know Halloween comes in October. And that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But what else is observed in the month to come?

Well, National Hispanic Heritage Month continues through October 15 (it began on September 15).

And lots of other ethnic groups celebrate in October as well: It's German-American Heritage Month (even though most "Oktoberfests" are already over by the time October starts), Italian-American Heritage Month (oh, yeah, Columbus Day, right?), and Polish American Heritage Month. Thinking about all these ethnic observances makes it easy to understand why October has been designated Global Diversity Awareness Month.

Sure, October is National Pumpkin Month -- that's an obvious Halloween tie-in. But there are some tie-ins that are more subtle: October is National Dental Hygiene Month and National Orthodontic Month.

OK, not that much more subtle.

And there's lots more to celebrate in October. It's Country Music Month and Family History Month. It's National Bullying Prevention Month and National Cyber Security Month.

October is also International Dinosaur Month. Pick a different dinosaur to celebrate every day this month.

They won't mind.

Have you ever wondered what Michaelmas was?

Well, we have heard for years that there was such a day -- but never quite figured out what it was.

Turns out that Michaelmas is another name for the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel a/k/a the Feast of the Archangels.

Michael and Gabriel are the archangels most people have heard of, and Wikipedia says that no more than three or four are usually mentioned. However, according to very old tradition there may be as many as seven: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel (or Anael), Simiel, Oriphiel and Zachariel. At least that's what our crack research staff has concluded.

Usual Suspect Punchbowl says today is also National Coffee Day. But (like Drink a Beer Day yesterday) isn't every day Coffee Day?

Usual Suspect Hallmark says today is Confucius Day -- but Wikipedia says that Confucius was born on September 28 in the year 551 B.C. We don't claim to have authoritative proof on either side of that one.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Drink a Beer Day? Need we say more?


Hallmark says today is Drink a Beer Day.

It's also Ask a Stupid Question Day.

These were tied together by our crack research staff as follows: We asked why we should drink beer today -- and our crack research staff said that was a stupid question to ask, especially on a Friday.

Today is also the Feast Day of St. Wenceslas. According to Wikipedia, Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia, assassinated on this date in 931, purportedly by his own brother, Boleslav the Cruel.

Wenceslas received a posthumous promotion to King -- and he is acclaimed as the patron saint of the Czechs -- and, of course, he is the "Good King Wenceslas" of the familiar Christmas carol.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27: World Tourism Day and Ancestor Appreciation Day

Today is one of those UN-sponsored observances, World Tourism Day. A look at this year's official logo will probably cause some head scratching.

Is that plug to remind you to take along the proper current converter when traveling around the world?

No (although that's good advice), the reason there's a plug in the logo has to do with the official theme of this year's observance:
This year’s theme aims to highlight tourism’s role in a brighter energy future; a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services.

Tourism today is at the forefront of some of the world’s most ambitious and innovative clean energy solutions: the aviation industry is implementing cutting-edge technologies to make aircraft lighter than ever before; commercial flights are beginning to use biofuels in their fuel mix; key card systems and energy saving light bulbs are increasingly being implemented in hotel rooms worldwide; and tour operators are asking for energy efficiency throughout their supply chains.
Yeah, it sounds like kind of a stretch to us, too.

Today is also Ancestor Appreciation Day. Halloween is next month, so presumably, if you fail to give your ancestors their props today, you probably won't have to worry... much... about them haunting you tonight.

But do you really want to take the chance?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Johnny Appleseed's birthday

You may recall hearing about John Chapman, known even in his lifetime as Johnny Appleseed, a strange galoot who went about barefoot (even in winter) sowing apple orchards across the expanding American frontier.

Well, Johnny Appleseed really existed, and he was born on this day in 1774. Unsurprising, then, that most of the Usual Suspects acknowledge today as Johnny Appleseed Day. Cecil Adams, the host and proprietor of "The Straight Dope," has a great article on the late Mr. Chapman -- chock full of stuff you probably didn't know when you first heard the legend of Johnny Appleseed:
In the 1700s and 1800s, most apples were grown not for eating but for making hard cider. Johnny Appleseed didn't just bring fresh fruit to the frontier, he brought the alcoholic drink of choice.

Cider was safer, tastier, and easier to make than corn liquor. You pressed the apples to produce juice, let the juice ferment in a barrel for a few weeks, and presto! you had a mildly alcoholic beverage, about half the strength of wine. For something stronger, the cider could be distilled into brandy or frozen into applejack (about 66 proof). In rural areas, cider took the place not only of wine and beer but also of coffee, juice, even water.
Adams writes that it wasn't until the Temperance Movement really got rolling that we stopped drinking apples and started drinking them.

So it really would be appropriate to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day at your local this evening. Order a bottle of cider. It might be easier than going out to pick apples this year anyway. Yes, we are in apple picking time in much of the United States -- but, in many places, this has been a tough year for apples.

Today is also National Food Service Employees Day. Tell the kids to be nice to the poor cafeteria ladies for a change.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25: One Hit Wonder Day

The Usual Suspects are in near-unanimous accord that today is One Hit Wonder Day, a day to commemorate the recording artists who hit the charts once -- and never again.

This September 23, 2011 piece, by David Moyer, on the Huffington Post calls to mind all sorts of one-hit wonders -- and some of them we'd wish would stay uncalled.

Terry Jacks' "Seasons In The Sun," for example. Ick.

On the other hand, we liked Starland Vocal Group's "Afternoon Delight." We even liked "Funkytown," by Lipps Inc.

As the article makes clear, "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)," by the Looking Glass, really shouldn't be considered a one-hit wonder: The follow up, "Jimmy Loves Mary Anne," did chart.

It just wasn't played to death.

A very interesting fact from Mr. Moyer's article: There are a few who made more than one one-hit-wonder. This guy may be the record holder:
British singer Tony Burrows sang lead on five early 1970s pop classics: Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)," White Plains' "My Baby Loves Lovin'," The Pipkins' novelty song "Gimme Dat Ding," The First Class' "Beach Baby" and The Brotherhood of Man's "United We Stand."

How does one celebrate One-Hit Wonder Day? Well, after you've played all the one-hit wonders on the jukebox at the tavern, you may want to go home and put on Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do!, a sweet little movie about the making of a one-hit wonder and the breaking of the bank that made it.

Or, perhaps, you could dance the Macarena just one more time.

Pull down the shades first, though. You don't want the neighbors to see that.

On a far less frivolous note, Yom Kippur begins tonight at sundown.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bullwinkle goes primetime and Jim Henson's birthday

Some of you will insist on celebrating National Cherries Jubilee Day no matter what we suggest, but for the more sophisticated among you, it was on this day in 1961 that The Bullwinkle Show premiered, in prime time, on NBC. (According to Wikipedia, Rocky and Bullwinkle moved to NBC in 1961 after a two-year, twice-weekly run on ABC's afternoon schedule.)

Never a solid 'hit' in the ratings, Rocky and Bullwinkle have never disappeared from the airwaves either.

Today is also the anniversary of the birth of the late, great Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. He left us far too soon.

Everybody remembers Kermit T. Frog. Everybody remembers Frank Sinatra. But how many people remember Frank Sinatra singing Kermit's signature song, "Bein' Green?" National Cherries Jubilee Day? Fooey!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Checkers Day... and Dogs in Politics Day?

A clear majority of the Usual Suspects declare today to be Checkers Day, that is, a day to commemorate the board game that pretty near everyone has played at one time or another.

And while Hallmark agrees with the others about Checkers Day, Hallmark also claims that today is National Dogs in Politics Day, a day to recognize "the famous dogs owned by famous politicians."

You see right away where this is going, don't you?

You don't?

Well, don't feel bad. We had to explain it to our crack research staff, too.

The most famous political dog of all time was Richard Nixon's dog, Checkers.

And today just happens to be the 60th anniversary of Nixon's Checkers speech.

California Sen. Richard Nixon the Republican nominee for Vice President in 1952 (Dwight D. Eisenhower was the presidential nominee). A controversy erupted in September of that year when it was disclosed that Nixon supporters had established a fund which reimbursed Nixon for travel expenses, telephone bills, postage for political mailings, and similar expenses. The Wikipedia article on the subject stresses that the fund was not illegal under the law at that time "but it exposed Senator Nixon, who had made a point of attacking government corruption, to charges he might be giving special favors to the contributors."

There was serious talk about dumping Nixon from the national ticket. Eisenhower expected Nixon to resign.

Nixon flew home to California and bought radio and TV time to address the nation. He talked about the fund, and about his family finances, and about his wife not having a mink coat (only 'an honest Republican cloth coat') and then he wheeled out the big gun:
One other thing I probably should tell you because if we don't they'll probably be saying this about me too, we did get something —- a gift -— after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?

It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he'd sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it.
Nixon closed with a request for viewers to tell the Republican National Committee whether he should stay on the ticket. The resulting support persuaded Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket. You should know the story from there.

But well played, Hallmark. Well played.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is 150 years old today

September 22 is American Business Women's Day, celebrated annually on the anniversary of the founding of the American Business Women's Association in 1949.

But we can wait to celebrate that until next year.

We can also postpone observation of Hobbit Day, that being the translated date of the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Instead, today, we wish to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the issuance of President Abraham Lincoln's preliminary emancipation declaration. Lincoln had been toying with the notion of issuing such a proclamation during the Summer of 1862 but his cabinet had dissuaded him from doing so, pointing out that, in light of the Union's bleak military situation, it might look like a futile act of desperation.

A battle that took place exactly 150 years ago this past Monday -- at Antietam -- gave Lincoln the opportunity to act. And he did.

The document issued 150 years ago today freed no one -- it merely threatened to release all slaves in those states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863. No state returned to the Union because of this threat. And the final Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, purported to free all the slaves only in those areas where the President had limited or no practical authority.

While some critical historians have criticized this as a slick, cynical maneuver, in the eyes of the world, the Emancipation Proclamation turned the Civil War into a war against the institution of slavery. Great Britain, which depended on Southern cotton for its factories, had been considering intervention on the side of the Confederacy or offering to mediate the dispute (which would almost certainly have resulted in a permanent separation) -- but the preliminary emancipation declaration made that politically impossible. This may not be the day on which Lincoln saved the Union, but it was surely one of the most important in that effort.

Friday, September 21, 2012

International Day of Peace and a Christmas surprise

September 21 is the International Day of Peace, organized and sponsored by the Culture of Peace Initiative, "a UN-designated 'Peace Messenger Initiative' with participants in all the world's regions."

In other words, today is a UN-promoted observance. Even though the United Nations has done a pretty poor job of preserving or establishing world peace, the idea that someday all of us passengers on Planet Earth might get along is a really good one and we can't help but endorse it.

But we also promised you a Christmas surprise.

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men would be the best surprise, of course -- and, sorry, we can't provide it.

Nor is it a surprise, of course, that malls around America are already festooned with Christmas decorations. It seems like Christmas gets pushed up the calendar earlier and earlier every year, doesn't it?

Well, maybe not!

Seriously (and, we would argue, surprisingly), it was on September 21, 1897 that the New York Sun published the famous editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

An excerpt (quoted from the Newseum website):
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.
Not enough for you? Well, we didn't forget: Today is also World Alzheimer's Day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20 is Farm Safety Day or Punch Day

The "punch" in National Punch Day refers to a beverage served in a punch bowl, not to fisticuffs or pugilism.

Such beverages are often spiked with stimulating spirits -- so quaffing a few cups of that sort of punch would not be recommended before operating farm equipment.

There.

That was your official Blog of Days tip for National Farm Safety Day.

Our crack research staff has found evidence that this is also National Farm Safety Week. Having both a day and week for farm safety turns out to be very appropriate since ranching and farming turn out to be number 4 on the list of the 10 most hazardous occupations.*

In other news, Usual Suspect brownielocks.com actually makes no recommendation for today. That hardly ever happens.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Maybe we're being smug; we'd like to think we're cross-promoting. But the June 4, 2012 Yahoo! Finance article linked above doesn't seem to cite any statistics newer than those cited in this February 25, 2011 post on Second Effort. Apparently the most recent BLS statistics available date from 2010.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Searcing for an alternative to Talk Like a Pirate Day

Aaaarrrrgggghh.

No, that wasn't our attempt at pirate talk; it was our frustration in finding a ready alternative to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

President James A. Garfield
Shiver me timbers, mate! Not only do all the Usual Suspects line up on this Pirate Talk bilge water, the alternative pickings are mighty slim.

President James A. Garfield died on this day in 1881 from gunshot wounds received on July 2. Modern medicine would have saved him, most likely, but there is a question as to whether the medical treatment provided him in 1881 met the standard of care for that comparatively primitive era. Debate among medical historians on this point is likely to go on forever.

But that's not something to really celebrate.

Some would call today National Butterscotch Pudding Day, but that's not much to work with.

Our crack research department did come up with one possible alternative... but we are hesitant.

This may not be that much of an improvement over Pirate Day: However, today is also reckoned as Holy Batman! Day by some because today is the birthday of Adam West. For Baby Boomers, Adam West is, and always will be, the definitive Batman -- and a far different Batman from any of his cinematic successors. Mr. West is 84 today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18: Cheeseburgers and ADHD

Usual Suspect brownielocks.com has a zillion suggestions today. According to brownielocks, today is:
  • The birthday of the United States Air Force (the Air Force was officially separated from the Army on this date in 1947 by the National Security Act);
  • Chiropractic Founders Day (oh, my aching back....);
  • Hug a Greeting Card Writer Day (which sure as heck sounds safer than American Greetings' suggestion that September 14 was Hug a Crabby Stranger Day);
  • National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day;
  • National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day;
  • National Respect Day; and
  • World Water Monitoring Day.
Whew!

We here at The Blog of Days have a limited attention span, whether or not it is medically caused, so we'll support ADHD Awareness Day on this exhaustive, and exhausting list.

Many of the other Usual Suspects proclaim today National Cheeseburger Day.

That sounds good to us.

Better, we think, than commemorating the capture of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, although that also happened on this date, in 1975.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Constitution Day

On this day in 1787 -- exactly 225 years ago -- the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution of the United States.

This Constituion Day website has a number of interesting features, including brief biographies of the signers. The Bill of Rights Institute offers this resources page for Constitution Day.

Wikipedia, of course, traces the growth and development of Constitution Day (formerly Citizenship Day).

We asked our crack research staff what their favorite part of the Constitution was. The answer was unanimous -- the 21st Amendment.

It just figures, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wile E. Coyote did not arrive on the Mayflower

But today is both Wile E. Coyote Day (according to Holidays for Everyday) and Mayflower Day (according to darn near all of the Usual Suspects).

Today is Mayflower Day because it was on this day in 1620 that the Mayflower set sail from England.

None of our ancestors were aboard. More than likely, none of yours were either.

That's why we here at The Blog of Days are more inclined to celebrate the birthday of that self-proclaimed Super Genius Wile E. Coyote today.

But there is a potential problem. The Wikipedia article on Wile E. Coyote (from whence the accompanying image was obtained) says that Wile E. Coyote and his nemesis, Road Runner, made their cartoon debut on September 17, 1949 in the Warner Brothers short "Fast and Furry-ous." On the other hand, tomorrow is Constitution Day, and that would have preempted Messrs. Coyote and Runner anyway.

Gone-ta-pott suggests that today is Wife Appreciation Day -- but, as every married man (in his right mind) knows, every day is Wife Appreciation Day. (Quickly, men, nod in agreement....)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Something about hats today -- and more

The Usual Suspects refer to today variously as Hat Day, Felt Hat Day, Make a Felt Hat Day or some combination thereof.

Not the most exciting concept, but there you have it.

A company making educational products, FableVision, promotes today as International Dot Day. This is done by teachers "making time to encourage their students’ creativity." Because today is Saturday, most schools will not be in session and students will be creating all by themselves.

Or, perhaps more likely, still celebrating Video Day (September 12).

Today is also the 155th birthday of William Howard Taft. Taft was the only person to serve both as President of the United States and as Chief Justice of the United States. But jokes about his legendary girth -- e.g., he was the only man big enough to hold both jobs -- are totally out of bounds here at The Blog of Days.

Rosh Hashana begins tonight at sundown. Happy 5773 to our Jewish readers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14: Cream-filled Donut Day?

Hallmark asserts that today is National Cream-filled Donut Day. Mmmmmmm, donuts.

Your inner Homer Simpson may be satisfied with this alone.

American Greetings suggests that today is Hug a Crabby Stranger Day.

The Blog of Days can not endorse this one; we certainly can not be responsible for a microminiholidayette that seems to be a plot inspired by the American Dental Association.

Just to confuse matters, Wikipedia says today is the anniversary of the day on which Francis Scott Key penned "The Defence of Fort McHenry," not yesterday. So, if you got too busy yesterday to sing "To Anacreon in Heaven" at your favorite watering hole, or if you weren't brave enough, you can try again today.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The 198th birthday of "The Star Spangled Banner"

As This Day in History teaches us, it was on this day in 1814 that Maryland attorney Francis Scott Key wrote his famous poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry."

Never heard of it, eh? Oh, yes, you have.

After burning Washington, D.C. (even setting fire to the White House, although not before eating the dinner which President Madison had to abandon when the Redcoats hit town), the British fleet moved on to Baltimore. Usual Suspect This Day in History picks up the story from there:
After one of Key's friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren't allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.

The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931.
You know the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" (the last two of which are really not "play ball") -- but tonight, consider singing the original words at your local:
To Anacreon in heaven where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice, fiddle aud flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot!
And besides I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.
There's a few more stanzas, if you can stand it, at this site. While John Stafford Smith is usually credited with the melody (as in the This Day in History post above), Ralph Tomlinson is the one who should be blamed for these lyrics. Both were members of the Anacreontic Society of London. The song was first published in 1778, some years before this YouTube video:

If you need something else, however, today is also International Chocolate Day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Today is Video Game Day

Oh, my aching thumbs! The Usual Suspects align again: Today is Video Game Day.

Oh, sure, some of you haven't seen your kid in ages, up in his bedroom or down in the basement with the latest edition of Madden or some shoot-'em-up game, or maybe you've got an avatar of your own in the World of Warcraft and your significant other is worried about your allocation of time between reality and the game world.

Well, everybody chill: Video games may not be all bad. A May 2012 post on Science Blog (from whence the accompanying image was obtained) cites an Iowa State University study that claims that "pro-social" video games can promote good behavior in teens -- and discourage bad behavior.

Hat tip to Captain Obvious: None of the Grand Theft Auto games are included in the good, "pro-social" category.

If you can't stomach video games, today is also National Chocolate Milkshake Day. Now, that's easy on the stomach... in the short term. There may be, um, inflationary effects in the longer term....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11: Remember

No commentary today. Just thoughts and
prayers for all those innocent lives lost,
both in New York City and Washington D.C..
Prayers too for the brave first responders who
raced into danger and tried to help, and
especially for those who did not return.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sew Be It Day!

Gone-ta-pott.com starts the week off with a terrible pun: Sew Be It Day commemorates September 10, 1846, the day on which Elias Howe was awarded the first American patent on a sewing machine. Hallmark, a little more sensitive to our tolerance of puns on a Monday morning, merely characterizes today as Sewing Machine Day.

The anniversary of the award of a patent to Elias Howe for the sewing machine does not strike you as a particular apt occasion for celebration? Obviously you have forgotten (or have never seen) the end of the Beatles' movie, Help!

Actually, if you don't recall the end of Help! you may not be nostalgic for another candidate for your attention today, TV Dinner Day. In those dark days before home microwaves, TV dinners were a quick way to get a quasi-nutritious meal in a relative hurry -- and who can forget that distinctive aluminum tang that permeated every entree?

Not you?

Maybe you'd prefer Swap Ideas Day instead. Today you can brainstorm it up with friends and colleagues and perhaps change the world for the better. All it takes is having an idea -- and then finding someone else who also has an idea -- and then not coming to blows should your ideas prove incompatible. (Maybe this is why Swap Ideas Day has not caught on....)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 9: Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day is observed annually in September on the first Sunday after Labor Day. That would be today.

The moving force behind Grandparents Day was the late Marian McQuade; that's her picture, at left. Long an advocate for senior citizens, McQuade started working in earnest for the recognition of Grandparents Day in 1970. The first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in McQuade's native West Virginia in 1973. By the time McQuade passed away in 2008, her idea had become federal law (you could look it up -- and our crack research staff actually did -- it's at 36 U.S.C. §125). McQuade was survived by her 15 children, 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

It is therefore inappropriate to characterize Grandparents Day as a mere microminiholidayette. If you're looking for one of those, today is also Hot Dog Day. We have no idea why. Our crack research staff was unable to figure this out at all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

International Literacy Day and the launch of Star Trek

James Tiberius Kirk started
boldly going on this day in 1966
International Literacy Day is an annual United Nations observance; this year, the theme is "literacy and peace." The U.N. uses this occasion to promote literacy as "a human right and the foundation of all learning."

Hard to argue with that one.

Today also marks the 46th anniversary of the start of the five year mission of the Star Ship Enterprise's: The original Star Trek series premiered on NBC on this date in 1966.

The show was a flop in the ratings -- but it went into warp drive in reruns and syndication and spawned whole new generations of Star Trek afficiondaos.

And -- here's the tie-in to Literacy Day -- Star Trek sold a heck of a lot of books, too (Wikipedia list, Memory Alpha list).

And it was on September 8, 1974 that President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Go postal day!

No, wait, that's not right. Most of the Usual Suspects call today National Neither Rain Nor Snow Day, although Holidays for Everyday comes right out and calls today Postal Workers Day.

American postal workers get a lot of grief from their customers (such as the snide headline on this post), but they're getting even more grief from cutbacks and layoffs and the threatened bankruptcy of the U.S. Postal Service. (If Miracle on 34th Street were remade today, the ending would have to be rewritten.)

Hoist one tonight, then, for the endangered letter carrier, and greet yours civilly today, even though he or she is just bringing you more bills and catalogs.

1969 commemorative stamp
obtained from Wikipedia
As an alternative, consider Grandma Moses Day. Grandma Moses was a farmer's widow, in her 70s, when she took up painting. She gave away early efforts, then offered others for sale. The linked Wikipedia article picks up the tale:
In 1938 a New York engineer and art collector, Louis J. Caldor, who was driving through Hoosick Falls, [New York], saw some of her paintings displayed in a drug store window. They were priced from $3 to $5, depending on size. He bought them all, drove to the artist's home at Eagle Bridge and bought ten others she had there. The next year, three Grandma Moses paintings were included in "Contemporary Unknown American Painters" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She did not remain unknown for long. Her first solo exhibition, "What a Farm Wife Painted", opened October 1940 at Otto Kallir's New York City gallery Galerie St. Etienne, followed by a meet-and-greet with the artist and an exhibition of 50 paintings at Gimbel's Department Store November 15, followed by a third solo show in as many months, at the Whyte Gallery, Washington, D.C.
On her 100th birthday, September 7, 1960, then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed it Grandma Moses Day in her honor. Grandma Moses died in 1961, aged 101 but, thanks to the proliferation of sites like this one, Grandma Moses Day lives on.

And what better way to tie these two observances together than to reproduce the Grandma Moses commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Post Office in 1969?

But wait a minute? Was first class postage really only six cents in 1969? You betcha.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is today Barbie Doll Day?

Pop Star Barbie image obtained
from Mattel website
A site called Those Were the Days claims that the first Barbie doll was sold on this day in 1959. Several of the Usual Suspects proclaim today Barbie Doll Day in honor thereof.

Except that Barbie appears to have made her actual debut at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959 (so says Wikipedia; so too says History.com).

Of course, Barbie could have been first announced at the toy fair and not made available in stores until September 6.

Usually, we here at The Blog of Days tend to shy away from these sorts of controversies. (OK, we admit it: We're cowards.)

But we wade into the confusion over Barbie Doll Day because the alternatives are pretty slim. Punchbowl.com says today is National Coffee Ice Cream Day -- and that's alright; we like coffee ice cream. But American Greetings suggests that today is Back Hair Appreciation Day.

We feel we must draw a line somewhere. If you must celebrate Back Hair Appreciation Day, please do so in private.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

National Be Late for Something Day

The Usual Suspects are in near unanimous accord that today is Be Late for Something Day.

Meanwhile, regular visitors to The Blog of Days should notice that our daily posts go up here at 12:30am Chicago time (Central time in the U.S.). Regular visitors would notice that, if there were any.

The idea is that people all across America can wake up in the morning and decide what to celebrate today, or this evening, simply by consulting this webpage. Even folks in Europe can check this post out early enough in the morning that they, too, can plan their daily revels.

But, today, in honor of Be Late for Something Day, this post is going up at 12:45am.

See, we were late for something -- right? Get it?

No, we didn't think it was much of a hook either.

But there aren't a lot of alternatives today, anyway. It is Cheese Pizza Day and National Shrink Day. However, with regard to the latter, our crack research department was unable to ascertain whether "shrink" in this usage refers to psychiatrists or to shrink wrap packaging. With microminiholidayettes, one never can tell. Perhaps you can mummify yourself in plastic wrap and make an appointment with a mental health professional. If you think that's a good idea, you probably need one anyway.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4: Newspaper Carrier Day

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Newspaper business in death spiral! Extra!
On The Blog of Days so far we've had a microminiholidayette for a mostly dead technology (Typewriter Day) and a seemingly-dead-but-perhaps-rebounding technology (Vinyl Record Day).

Today is Newspaper Carrier Day, a day set aside to honor the front-line troops of a rapidly declining industry.

The kid hawking papers at the corner has been a relic of the past for ages already, but in the gray pre-dawn light one can still see vans and trucks moving up and down the residential streets of most major cities, tossing newspapers onto fewer and fewer porches.

Depressed yet?

For those of us who grew up addicted to newspapers, this is kind of a downer.

If you're looking for something better, consider National Wildlife Day as a possible alternative. "Wildlife" in this context refers to the beasts of the field, however, not to the social life lived mainly in your fevered imagination.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yes, of course today is Labor Day... but it's also

Home Run Pitcher Day.

Why today is deemed Home Run Pitcher Day is, of course, beyond the grasp of our crack research staff.

So we've tried puzzling this one out ourselves.

A pitcher who gives up a lot of home runs will shortly become an ex-pitcher. That doesn't sound like a very nice thing to celebrate, even if you're rooting for the team that's teeing off against the overmatched hurler.

Gaylord Perry in 1977. Photo by twm1340,
obtained from Wikipedia
We did, however, find an interesting story about Gaylord Perry, the Wizard of Ooze, the Hall of Fame pitcher who won 314 games in his 22 year career, also winning Cy Young awards while toiling for the Cleveland Indians (in 1972) and the San Diego Padres (in 1978). Everybody knew, or thought they knew, that Perry was doctoring the baseball. There are stories of him marinating in Vaseline so that his sweat could be greasy. His autobiography was entitled Me and the Spitter.

But this is a story about Perry's hitting, not about his pitching.

It seems he wasn't the worst-hitting pitcher (before 1973 all major league pitchers had to take their turn at the plate, not just those in the National League) but he never hit for power. In fact, supposedly, in 1964 San Francisco manager Alvin Dark said of Perry, "They'll put a man on the Moon before he hits a home run."

Fast forward now to July 20, 1969. Buzz Aldrin and the late Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon at 1:40pm PDT ("Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed"). Minutes later, Gaylord Perry hit the first home run of his career (he would hit five more -- six in total before he retired).

Skeptical? We'll let no less an authority than Snopes.com explain in detail:
Gaylord Perry, while playing for the San Francisco Giants, did indeed swat the first home run of his career on 20 July 1969, in the third inning of a day game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. * * * Although the exact time of Perry's first homer was not recorded, it came in the bottom of the third inning of a two-hour, twenty-minute game that began at 1:00 PM PDT, so it probably occurred between 1:45 PM and 2:00 PM, which would place it within minutes of Apollo 11's historic touchdown on the lunar surface at 1:40 PM that afternoon. (Neil Armstrong did not become the first man to set foot on the moon until several hours later, stepping off the lunar module at 7:56 PM that evening.)
Mind you, Scopes does not vouch for the veracity of this tale -- but neither could Snopes authoritatively refute it either.

Nor does The Blog of Days claim that Gaylord Perry's first moon shot on the first Moon Day is the reason behind Home Run Pitcher Day. But it's a heck of a lot nicer explanation than celebrating some poor schmoe getting shelled, isn't it?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

V-J Day

On this day in 1945 a Japanese delegation boarded the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the Instrument of Surrender. Thus, September 2 became Victory over Japan Day according to President Harry Truman -- but, by this point, America had been celebrating since August 14 (August 15 in Japan) when Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's surrender over the radio.

V-J Day is a legal holiday (called Victory Day) in the State of Rhode Island.

If you're looking for something else to celebrate today, you have to look pretty hard. You might try National Blueberry Popsicle Day -- but a better alternative may be Bowling Shirt Day. Wear the loudest one you can and take the kids on a family outing this afternoon -- they'll be embarrassed for weeks.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Emma M. Nutt Day



On this day in 1878, Emma M. Nutt became the first female telephone operator. Thus, today is Emma M. Nutt Day.

Interestingly enough, particularly for those of you who remember the old Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, today is also the birthday of Lily Tomlin.






And among the memorable characters created by Ms. Tomlin for Laugh In was Ernestine, the telephone operator.

Coincidence? We think not.

Now repeat after us: "One ringy-dingy... two ringy-dingies...."