Posts

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day

International Talk Like a Pirate DayToday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

On June 6, 1995, John Baur and Mark Summers were playing racquetball when one decided it would be amusing to shout encouragement to the other using pirate slang. Soon the two were trading pirate-speak with every swing. Afterward, they agreed the game had been especially entertaining and that time had seemed to pass quickly.

On the spot, they created a new national holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day, but needed to choose a new date since June 6 marks the anniversary of World War II’s D-Day. Mark suggested September 19, his ex-wife’s birthday. They agreed that Dave Barry, a world-famous humor columnist, would be the perfect mouthpiece. Then they dropped it.

Each year, they celebrated the holiday only because their buddy Brian Rhodes had added it to his computer calendar and reminded them when it was coming up. In 2002, John stumbled upon Dave Barry’s email address, and the guys decided to ask him to be the spokesperson for the big day.

To their surprise, Barry answered that it was a great idea and wrote a column about it. The response was so strong that within months, the guys had been interviewed on Irish radio and traveled to Sydney, Australia, to discuss it. Talk Like a Pirate Day instantly became an international holiday.

Baur and Summers have turned out a total of five books. Their website includes tips on how to pick up a pirate, talk like a German or Dutch pirate, and mix grog like a, well, you know. It describes a party game called Snapdragon that entails lighting a pan of alcohol-soaked raisins on fire, reaching in, grabbing one and eating it while it’s still burning. (Is the winner the one who requires the most skin grafts or the fewest?)

Visitors will also find links to two Talk Like a Pirate Day songs, a translator, a pirate name generator, the ITLAPD Facebook fan page, as well as information about local participation. Per the site, Krispy Kreme will give a free glazed donut to anyone who talks like a pirate today, a dozen to those who dress like pirates. Long John Silver’s will give a free piece of Alaskan whitefish to customers who talk like pirates while ordering, and a free 2-piece fish or chicken basket to those who dress and talk like pirates.

People planning to take advantage of one of those offers should make sure they have the correct date. Pirate talk and garb may not be so well-received on another day of the year.

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 16 is World Play-Doh Day

world play-doh dayToday is World Play-Doh Day. On September 16, 2006, Hasbro created National Play-Doh Day to honor its 50th anniversary. In 2015, it kicked the unofficial holiday up a notch by going global. Today we celebrate the 61st anniversary of Play-Doh and the third World Play-Doh Day.

Noah McVicker of Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer Kutol Products invented the stuff in 1933 for Kroger Grocery, which requested a non-staining, reusable product to clean coal residue from wallpaper. (He cribbed the putty’s recipe—boric acid, mineral oil, flour, water and salt—from homemakers who had been whipping up their own since some time in the 19th century, but never mind.) Kroger was happy and the company flourished for several years.

During World War II, the production of planes, ships, and motor vehicles increased the demand for fuel. Oilfields in Texas and Oklahoma pumped out so much that very little gasoline or diesel had to be imported. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between in 1945 and 1960, the number of cars on U.S. roads increased by 60 percent.

Why does this matter? With the increased availability of low-cost fuel, gas- and oil-fired forced air furnaces began to replace the dirty, labor-intensive coal furnace. Less soot translated to lower profits for Kutol Products. The introduction of washable vinyl wallpaper in 1947 dealt the business another blow. By the mid-1950s, it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.

Kutol hired Joe McVicker, Noah’s nephew, to save the company from insolvency. Joe’s sister-in-law Kay Zufall mentioned to him that she used the cleaner as a cheap toy for kids in the nursery school she ran. He took her advice to add coloring and remove the detergent, then decided he would call it “Kutol’s Rainbow Modeling Compound.”

Kay talked him out of it; her husband Bob helped her come up with the name “Play-Doh.” They received no credit or payment. Kay said that making children happy was thanks enough. Due to her influence, schools across Cincinnati bought the product but Kutol quickly ran out of new customers. With no money for marketing, Joe convinced Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, to use Play-Doh once a week on his show in exchange for two percent of sales.

Since then, Play-Doh formula has passed through many hands over the years and now belongs to Hasbro. Although it won’t reveal any ingredients other than salt, water and flour, Hasbro’s 2004 U.S. patent for “starch-based modeling compound” shows it contains water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, color, borax and a petroleum additive to make it feel smooth.

Its high salt content reportedly won’t hurt curious children who take a nibble, but it can be toxic and potentially fatal to a pet that eats a stomachful of it.

*****

There is a way to evoke happy childhood memories without carrying a lump in your pocket: Play-Doh cologne. Demeter Fragrance Library, the maker of such classic scents as Lobster and Funeral Home, has distilled the essence of Play-Doh.

Don’t be surprised if the scent inspires an admirer to pull on your pigtails. (Apparently, little boys used to do that to little girls they liked, but we can’t find anyone who’s seen or done it.) Guys, it’s unisex, so if you spritz it on, don’t be surprised if someone pulls on your man-bun.

Happy World Play-Doh Day, everybody!

PS: For a funny look at this holiday, including a PG-13 Captain Kangaroo legend, check out Happy World Play-Doh Day on Magick Sandwich.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 14 is National Cream-Filled Donut Day

Today is National Cream-Filled Donut Day. We don’t know who created this holiday and first celebrated it. We aren’t even certain who invented the cream-filled donut, but who cares? Take a look at this:

national cream-filled donut day

Image & recipe at browneyedbaker.com

It is an edible work of art meant to delight the senses in its fleeting existence. There are millions like it right now in bakeries, cafés and supermarkets.  The ingredients may be in your kitchen right now, waiting to be assembled.

What we’re saying is this: donuts want to be eaten. It is their destiny. Do your part by enjoying one today. (You might as well throw in a couple more to offset the vegans, who aren’t going to do their fair share.)

Happy National Cream-Filled Donut Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 13 is Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl

Today is Roald Dahl Day. September 13, 2017, would have been the beloved children’s book author’s 101st birthday.

Dahl is best known for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda and Fantastic Mr. Fox. His dark, twisted sense of humor has endeared him to generations of young readers.

*****

A lesser-known fact about Dahl is that he was a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II. On September 19, 1940, he ran low on fuel while searching for an airstrip in Egypt. The plane struck a rock as he attempted to land in the desert. His skull and nose were fractured and he was temporarily blinded in the crash. (The RAF’s inquiry found that the directions provided to Dahl had been completely wrong.)

He was rescued and taken to a hospital in Alexandria, where he recuperated for the next four months, then rejoined his squadron. He flew dozens of sorties and shot down several German planes in the next few months until he began having headaches so severe that he blacked out. He was sent home but still hoped to become a flight instructor for the RAF.

In March 1942, while in London, Dahl met Major Harold Balfour, who recruited him to supply intelligence to British Security Coordination, a Stateside arm of MI6, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. (His official title was “assistant air attaché” at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.) He later said,  “My job was to try to help Winston to get on with Roosevelt, and tell Winston what was in the old boy’s mind.”

*****

Dahl also contributed to medicine. In 1960, his four-month-old son Theo’s carriage was hit by a taxicab in New York City. The baby’s skull fracture resulted in hydrocephalus, a condition treated with a shunt to drain excess fluid from the brain. But it often became blocked, causing pain and blindness, necessitating emergency surgery and risking permanent brain damage or death.

After moving his family to England, Dahl entrusted his son’s care to neurosurgeon Kenneth Till, who agreed that the standard shunt in use at the time was flawed. At his insistence, Till met with hydraulic engineer Stanley Wade, and they collaborated to invent the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, which was sturdy and easy to sterilize with negligible risk of blockage.

By the time the valve was perfected in 1962, Theo no longer needed it, but it proved so effective and inexpensive—the three men agreed to take no profit from its invention—that several thousand children benefited from it before technology advanced beyond it.

*****

There are too many tales of triumph and tragedy in the life of Roald Dahl to enumerate here. A great place to find many of them is Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. We choose to share this last one with you and think he would laugh at its surprise ending.

On November 12, 1990, at age 74, Dahl was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England, with complications of a blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. He knew the end was nigh; it would be fair to assume that, as an author and raconteur, he’d given the issue of his last words a bit of thought.

Eleven days later, surrounded by family, Roald Dahl said, “You know, I’m not frightened. It’s just that I will miss you all so much,” then closed his eyes and appeared to fall asleep. As everyone sat quietly around him, a nurse injected him with morphine to ease his passing, and he uttered his last words: “Ow, f*ck!” (He used a vowel; we’ll let you fill it in.)

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays