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May 4 is Star Wars Day

star wars day

artwork: starwarz.com

Today is Star Wars Day. Its date is a play on words referencing the line, “May the Force be with you.” “May the fourth be with you” has become a rallying cry for fans.

It was inaugurated on May 4, 2011, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Canada and has quickly spread around the world. Festivities include costume and trivia contests, Internet tributes, mashups and parodies.

Disney purchased Lucasfilm from its owner (and Star Wars creator) George Lucas in late 2012. Since May 4, 2013, the company has observed the holiday with events at Disney World and Disneyland. Today, its Star Wars homepage links to 37 purveyors of officially-licensed merchandise, from New Zealand Mint coins to Pendleton blankets.

If you’ve missed today’s celebrations or want to extend them 24 hours, you’re in luck. There is another. A new Star Wars holiday has arisen, this one from the pun “revenge of the fifth.” (By the way, on May 4, 2015, astronauts on the International Space Station watched Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. That got us thinking: Is there any distance great enough from which Hayden Christensen’s performance looks good?)

But wait, there’s more! In 2007, the Los Angeles City Council declared May 25th Star Wars Day to honor the 30th anniversary of the original movie’s release date. Diehard fans will take any excuse to celebrate. It puts us one day closer to the next installment.

Happy Star Wars Day(s), everybody!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 30 is Bugs Bunny Day

Today is Bugs Bunny Day. On April 30, 1938, Bugs made his debut in a cartoon called “Porky’s Hare Hunt,” entertaining movie theater audiences awaiting the feature presentation.

As a young performer wet behind the floppy ears, much of his film work was uncredited. He sometimes appeared under the stage name “Happy Rabbit.”

Bugs finally shared his true identity in the credits of January 1941’s tour de force, “Elmer’s Pet Rabbit,” perhaps at the urging of his costar, Elmer Fudd.

While his appearance has “evolved” over the years, Bugs has always denied the rumors of plastic surgery, Botox and fillers. He attributes his agelessness to a healthy diet, long hops on the beach and his judicious use of lighthearted ridicule.

bugs bunny day

You go, Bugs! We love you! Happy Bugs Bunny 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