strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in January

American Fancy Rat and Mouse Show 2016

January 30th is the 2016 American Fancy Rat and Mouse Show, sponsored by the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA). AFRMA was founded in 1983 to promote breeding and exhibition of fancy rats and mice, to educate the public about their positive attributes as intelligent, affectionate pets, and provide information on their proper care.

Like the canines in the Westminster Dog Show, the rats and mice that compete today at Woodcrest Community Center in Riverside, CA, must meet high standards of physiology and temperament. See the process in video footage taken at the 2013 show.

A developmental problem such as “square butt” is grounds for disqualification from the show. It can usually be detected at a young age, which is why AFRMA judges advise breeders, called ratteries, to present their rats and mice for evaluation when they are still kittens. (Babies under nine weeks old are called kittens. Adult females are known as does; males, bucks.)

fancy rat and mouse show

You’ve probably never considered a rodent–other than the hamster you had as a kid–as a potential pet. Someone we know had a rat named Sid and took him everywhere, including spring break. She insisted we share with you the following fun facts.

  • Rats are not dirty animals by choice, only by circumstance. They clean themselves many times a day, much like a cat.
  • Rats are social and affectionate, taking care of sick or injured rats in their group. They become lonely and depressed if they’re left alone and make laughing noises when they’re having fun. (It doesn’t sound like human laughter. That would be so creepy.)
  • Rats have excellent memories. They can learn tricks and come when they’re called, recognizing their own names. (We’re talking about the names humans give them, of course. We have no idea what they call themselves.)

Learn more at AFRMARat Assistance & Teaching Society (RATS), The Rat Fan Club, RatChatter and many other sites. Yahoo group ratlist is accepting applications for membership. No rat haters need apply. Take a moment to see rats anew. Start your own club and start making plans to go to next year’s show!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 1 is First Day of Shakespeare400

shakespeare400Shakespeare400 is an umbrella term for dozens of events in the United Kingdom scheduled throughout 2016 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and his (mostly) posthumous effect on world culture.

The year’s activities will highlight the many art forms the Bard has influenced by sponsoring theatre, music, opera, dance and educational programs to reach new audiences outside the limiting “heritage industry framework” organizers say is too often imposed on Shakespeare.

It would seem to us that Shakespeare might find the derogatory talk of “heritage industry” to be a fusty nut with no kernel. He is arguably the most famous playwright in the world. His work has entertained us for more than 400 years. There would be no quaternary honor of William Shakespeare if he needed the marketing efforts of the organizers to “get his name out.”

May we suggest to the organizers–in their zeal to reach new audiences–something that young and old alike will enjoy? Why not have the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) mount a production of the Klingon translation of Hamlet? The Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project (KSRP) was created in 1995 by the nonprofit Klingon Language Institute (KLI).

KSRP took its inspiratioshakespeare400n from two Klingon characters in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. General Chang barks, “To be or not to be?” (taH pagh taHbe’). Chancellor Gorkon says, “You haven’t experienced Shakespeare until you’ve read it in the original Klingon.”

The “restored” texts of  Hamlet (Hamlet) and Much Ado about Nothing (paghmo’ tIn mIS–lit. the confusion is great because of nothing) have been published. Midsummer Night’s Dream (bov tuj botlh naj) has been completed but not yet released.

So what do you say, Shakespeare400 organizers? According to the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, there are more than 80 spellings of his name. There is no evidence he ever spelled it “Shakespeare.” Why not add one more to the mix: Wil’yam Sheq’spir?