weird and wacky holidays happening in April

April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day

national stress awareness dayToday is National Stress Awareness Day. It was created in 1992 by Dr. Morton Orman of the Health Resource Network, a nonprofit health education organization.

We’re all aware of stress. Many of us are steeped in it right now. Acute stress can be a positive thing, allowing us to react to upsetting or dangerous situations. But when our lives are filled with seemingly endless problems and anxieties, stress becomes chronic, putting us on constant high alert and exhausting our bodies and minds over time.

Sometimes the most stressful—and inadvertently hilarious—advice doctors, friends and strangers can give is that we must reduce stress. Life is undeniably chaotic. If you can drop everything and move to Bora Bora, by all means, do that.

The rest of us can breathe deeply, look at the sky, take a walk, eat a cookie, hug somebody, draw a bubble bath, watch YouTube clips of kittens. It may not be a permanent fix, but we know what calms us down and makes us happy in the moment.

By the way, if you prefer kale to cookies, be our guest. One thing we don’t recommend right now is picking up a book on stress relief. Maybe tomorrow. Today, have a happy National Stress Awareness Day. Unless you don’t feel like it. No pressure.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 15 is McDonald’s Day

Today is McDonald’s Day. It commemorates the day in 1955 when Ray Kroc put his stamp on a fast-food chain and made it into one of the most successful franchises on Earth.

In 1940, brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened a barbeque joint in San Bernadino, CA. Eight years later, they introduced the “Speedee Service System,” which used assembly-line principles to deliver customer orders as quickly as possible.

They placed restaurants along major roadways so travelers would be able to make quick stops, knowing the burgers would taste the same at every location. The melding of “fast food” with “comfort food” proved enormously popular.

By 1955, the brothers had eight locations and claimed to have sold more than 15 million hamburgers. (McDonald’s signs with tote boards stopped adding after reaching 99 billion in 1993 because there were only two spaces for numbers.)

Kroc opened his first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois, using the ad below. The first day’s sales totaled $366.12.

mcdonald's day

 

Kroc wanted to aggressively expand the chain across the U.S. The brothers had more modest plans for their family business. He forced them out, buying the franchise for $2.7 million in 1961.

The McDonald’s lost the right to use their own name, even on their original burger stand, and left the business soon afterward. Kroc went on to make scads of money and was notorious for his tight-fisted micromanagement.

A recent biopic starring Michael Keaton let its title, The Founder, hint at the irony of Kroc’s role as usurper even as it soft-pedaled his story, perhaps in deference to the famously litigious corporation.

Like the Steve Jobs of fast food, Ray Kroc’s dickish ways still haunt us from beyond the grave. Remember how you used to be able to reach into the bag and find napkins and condiments, even a little extra of whatever that corn syrup/sludge McNugget dipping sauce is?

Now you have to go begging like Oliver Twist: “Please, sir, may I have a packet of ketchup?” Thank Kroc and his imitators for that. God forbid they lose a tiny bit of their 5,000% markup on soda. (We don’t know if that number is right but it feels true.)

So, if you choose to eat at McDonald’s today, raise a burger to Speedee, the cute mascot Kroc replaced with a creepy clown in 1967, and thank (or curse) the brothers who started it all. And ask for an extra packet of ketchup, just because.

Happy McDonald’s Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 13 is Scrabble Day

Today is Scrabble Day. It celebrates the birth in 1899 of Alfred Mosher Butts, inventor of the game the world knows as Scrabble.

scrabble day

Butts lost his job in the early 1930s; there wasn’t much call for an architect during the Great Depression. He worked to develop a board game that would emulate games of chance with its random choice of letters while testing the skill of its players with its elements of anagrams and crossword puzzles.

He called the game Lexiko and attempted to find a buyer, but was rejected by every company he visited. He later changed the name to Criss Cross Words and tried again but still had no luck. It seemed the game would remain a pastime for Butts, his wife—who he admitted was a better player than he—and their friends.

In 1948, he sold the rights to friend James Brunot in exchange for a small royalty on each set sold. Brunot made a couple of minor changes, tweaking the design and simplifying the rules. He renamed it Scrabble, trademarked it and set up a factory in an old schoolhouse.

He lost money until 1952 when, according to legend, a Macy’s executive played the game while on vacation and decided to sell it in the department store. Soon the orders grew too large for Brunot to fill and he sold the game to Selchow & Righter, a company that had passed on it years earlier.

Butts continued to receive royalties of about three cents per set for many years, telling a reporter, “One-third went to taxes. I gave one-third away, and the other third enabled me to have an enjoyable life.” He died on April 4, 1993, at the age of 93.

Happy Scrabble Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

April 11 is International Louie Louie Day

Today is International Louie Louie Day and celebrates the birthday in 1935 of Richard Berry, the composer and singer of one of the most-recorded songs of all time.

Berry took inspiration from the rhythm of  “El Loco Cha Cha” when writing his tune. He and his band, Richard Berry and the Pharoahs recorded “Louie Louie” in April 1957 as a calypso doo-wop B-side to “You Are My Sunshine.”

international louie louie dayThe Kingsmen recorded the version most of us know in 1963. Singer Jack Ely’s unintelligible shouting—crappy microphones and Ely’s braces certainly didn’t help—led many to suspect the lyrics had been altered and must be “dirty.” Imaginations ran wild; teenagers invented ever more titillating interpretations.

It was rumored the record had “off-color lyrics which could be detected when the 45 r.p.m. platter was played at 33⅓ r.p.m.” Attorney General Robert Kennedy and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover received letters from anxious parents. One mother wrote that it didn’t matter what the words were if they were intended to sound obscene.

An investigation was launched in February 1964. Agents played the song for several months before finally giving up and filing the following report, available thanks to the Freedom of Information Act:

Investigations of the record were started by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Post Office and Justice Departments after complaints were received from about a half dozen persons, including Indiana governor Matthew E. Welsh.

All three governmental agencies dropped their investigations because they were unable to determine what the lyrics of the song were even after listening to the records at speeds ranging from 16 rpm to 78 rpm.

Oddly enough, all those ears missed the only actual obscenity. It occurs at about 54 seconds in when Lynn Easton drops a drumstick and yells, “F**k!”

In 2015, VH1 chose its top 11 covers of “Louie Louie,” and gathered the videos, including ones by the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Iggy Pop. John Belushi’s performance in National Lampoon’s Animal House cemented the song’s status as a frat party anthem.

Happy International Louie Louie Day!

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays