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November 20 is National Absurdity Day

national absurdity day National Absurdity Day: is there any occasion that cries out more loudly to be taken seriously while simultaneously laughing at anyone who does? Of course not, silly. Holidays can’t talk.

Grab a copy of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus or just about anything by Samuel Beckett. Add Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to your Netflix queue. Join the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Meanwhile feast on this gem, courtesy of Anti-Joke:

A man walks into a bar and pauses: at the other end of the bar, there’s this guy with a big orange head. Just sitting there, looking into his drink. So the man asks the bartender, “Say, what’s up with the guy with the big orange head?” And the bartender says, “It’s an interesting story. Buy him a drink and maybe he’ll tell it to you.”

So the man walks over and introduces himself and offers to buy a round. The guy with the big orange head says, “Yeah, I’ll bet you want to know the story, huh?” To which the man replies, “Sure, if you don’t mind.”

The man with the big orange head sighs and says, “You know, I’ve gone over it in my mind a million times. Basically, it went like this: I was walking along the beach one day when I stubbed my toe on something. I looked down, and there was an antique brass lamp. I picked it up and dusted it off a little — when all of a sudden this enormous genie pops out!

“The genie thundered, ‘You have released me from my ten-thousand-year imprisonment, and I am in your debt. I will grant you three wishes as a token of my gratitude.'”

The man at the bar is agape. The guy with the big orange head continues: “So I said, ‘Wow, okay. Well, my first wish is to be fantastically wealthy.’

“The genie says, ‘Your wish is granted.’ And all of a sudden I have rings on my fingers and a crown on my head, and my wallet is full of money and a dozen ATM cards and the deed to a mansion in the hills — I mean, I was loaded!

“So I said, ‘Amazing! Okay, for my next wish, I want to be married to the most beautiful woman in the world.’

“The genie says, ‘Your wish is granted.’ And the ocean parts, and out walks this gorgeous woman in this beautiful dress. She takes my hand, and we fall in love and the genie marries us right there. It was incredible.

“The genie booms, ‘You have one wish remaining.'”

The man with the big orange head pauses and sips his beer. He says, “Now, you know, this may be where I went wrong. I wished for a big orange head.”

Happy National Absurdity Day!

Copyright 2020 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day

national hot sauce day

Today is National Hot Sauce Day. It celebrates the birthday in 1865 of Wilbur Scoville, who created a method to determine a pepper’s spiciness that is still in use today.

Scoville, an American chemist, devised the system in 1912. It measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active component that gives chilies their spicy taste, using Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Ratings range from 0 for a bell pepper to 16,000,000 for pure capsaicin.

Capsaicin content, which causes a burning sensation when it comes in contact with any tissue, is measured by dissolving a pepper in alcohol to extract its capsaicin oil, then diluting the oil in sugar water.

If a panel of five testers detects any spiciness, the mixture is diluted again until three of the five cannot discern any hotness. Heat level is measured by how many dilutions are necessary. Every instance increases the SHU, since hotter chilies must be weakened many times for no heat to be detected.

In 2013, The Guinness World Record for hottest chili pepper went to the Carolina Reaper, a cross between a ghost pepper and a red habanero created by Ed Currie of the aptly named PuckerButt Pepper Company. The Reaper’s official heat level is 1,569,300 SHU but ranges up to 2,200,000. (By comparison, Tabasco sauce has a level 0f 2,500 to 5,000.)

The Reaper was bested in 2017 by Dragon’s Breath, which clocked in at 2,480,000 SHU. Currie surged back with Pepper X, a Frankenstein’s monster at 3,180,000 SHU. Unlike Dragon’s Breath, which will only be used for medicinal purposes, Pepper X is available as a sauce dubbed The Last Dab.

Studies have shown that heat levels evoke the same pain response in spice lovers and haters and everyone in between. So why do so many of us like it? Could it predict other risk-taking behaviors? Check out this TED Ed lesson for answers.

Happy National Hot Sauce Day!

Copyright 2020 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 14 is national lowercase day

National Lowercase Day alphabetWhile English majors past, present, and future may grind their teeth in frustration, freewheeling texters will love today’s holiday: national lowercase day! This is the day to turn your back on the rules of capitalization if you were ever facing them at all.

This fun, unofficial holiday has no clear author or point of origin. We could only trace it back to 2011.

Fun fact: Poet E.E. Cummings often wrote and signed his name in lowercase; he also omitted the punctuation. e e cummings was a rebel, bending the language to his own liking.

Fun fact: While trying to find an example of the use of lowercase letters, I remembered the poet E.E. Cummings’ apparent penchant for using lowercase initials. After cursory research that appeared to confirm this, I wrote the now-stricken sentences. My thanks go to John Cowan for pointing out my error. I have no desire to add more misinformation to the internet. Author Norman Friedman writes here about Cummings’ widow’s reaction to his book being published without “E.E.” properly capitalized.

If shunning capitalization is not your cup of tea, you’ll be happy to know it is also National Dessert Day!

Tomorrow, we return to normalcy. If you’re looking for more information about capitalization and just about everything else, you can’t go wrong with The Chicago Manual of Style.

Happy national lowercase day!

Copyright © 2019 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 23 is Talk Like Shakespeare Day

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

William Shakespeare: Bard, babe magnet

Did you miss Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day on January 24th? Do you need to recapture the fun you had on International Talk Like William Shatner Day on March 22nd? Rejoice! Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day, begun in 2009 by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater to celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

Church records confirm that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. Since this was typically performed three days after birth, it’s believed he was born on April 23, 1564. He died on April 23, 1616, according to the Julian calendar in use at that time. Many sources report his birth in the Julian but his death in the Gregorian calendar, which would make it May 3, 1616.

In 2016, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed this day Talk Like Shakespeare Day in honor of Shakespeare400, a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. He prescribed a lot of thees and thous. But if we truly want to talk like Shakespeare, wouldn’t it be helpful to hear how a gentleman born in Stratford-upon-Avon would have spoken?

According to scholar John Barton, Shakespeare’s accent would sound to us like a blend of modern Irish, Yorkshire, and West Country English accents. Recordings compiled by National Public Radio feature pieces performed as Shakespeare probably heard them.

Here’s a recitation of one of his most popular sonnets: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment…”

If you’d rather celebrate the holiday without having to hire a dialect coach, just memorize a few of the greatest insults Shakespeare ever wrote. Here are nine of our favorites:

Thy food is such as hath been belch’d upon by infected lungs.
Pericles

Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it.
Troilus and Cressida

If you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables.
Coriolanus

Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!
Henry IV, part I

Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end.
Hamlet

Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.
All’s Well That Ends Well

Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands.
All’s Well That Ends Well

Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul.
Love’s Labour’s Lost

Want more? Use CNN’s Shakespeare Insult-o-Meter to choose the gender of your intended victim, select the severity of invective you desire and let the generator do the rest.

Happy Talk Like Shakespeare Day! And don’t forget to save some energy for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th. Then cleanse your palate with National Gibberish Day on September 20th.

Copyright © 2019 Worldwide Weird Holidays