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Chaos Never Dies Day: Part Two

In Which I Inadvertently Prove that Chaos Never Dies

Chaos Never Dies Day proved all too true for me today, November 9, 2017,  when I was briefly interviewed by Michael S. Robinson on Microbin Radio. I had been invited to be a guest on the radio show only the day before so I dutifully spent a day cramming the online equivalent of Chaos Theory for Dummies to prepare.

I’d been told I’d be quizzed on how I came to write about weird holidays and asked about holidays taking place before the end of the year. I gathered information on two of the wackiest: Start Your Own Country Day and Tió de Nadal, which involves a Christmas log that craps out presents. I’ve never been on the radio before and was wargaming it all out until three minutes before I went on-air.

What I didn’t know ahead of time was that the guests on the docket before me were scheduled to talk about the mass shooting in Texas and the difficulties of parenting. The theme for the day was “Are we Stuck in a Bad News Hell?”

The Michael S Robinson Show banner

When Mr. Robinson introduced me, I launched into a description of the beauty of the order that dwells in chaos even though we can’t perceive it.

I gave the example of football, which can’t be predicted in strictly linear terms by the sum of the players’ and team’s rankings because of variables like team chemistry, whether it’s a home or away game, the quarterback’s attitude, etc. Since I’m confident that you’ll never hear this, I’m going to say it was brilliant.

But Mr. Robinson wanted to talk about the chaos we deal with every day. Of course. I have a lot to say about the unprecedented amount of chaos we’re experiencing nowadays, but I ended up being woefully unprepared. I should have known that was what he would want to discuss.

How did I make such a mistake and overshoot what should have been an interesting and informative conversation? I didn’t just strike out. I left my bat in the dugout and brought a cello to the plate. I’d like to credit chaos in some artful way, say it created a perfect trajectory I can’t identify. That’s hogwash, of course—or is it? (It is.)

Also, I had feedback blasting my words back at me, making it almost impossible to speak normally. There’s nothing worse than hearing your own voice faltering in near-real time. Again, chaos. I don’t think I’ll get invited back. It’s probably just as well that they spelled my name Kathlene Zaya.

$99,000 Answer The Honeymooners Ralph KramdenAll this reminds me of the $99,000 Answer, an episode of The Honeymooners in which Ralph Kramden prepares to go on a game show where he’ll be required to identify songs by the first few bars.

He rents a piano and has Ed Norton play musical selections all week to prepare for the event. Ed always warms up by playing the first few bars of “Swanee River,” which never fails to annoy Ralph.

The night of the show, the first tune played is “Swanee River,” which he can’t name. He loses in spite of all his preparation. I laughed but felt bad for Ralph, perpetual loser.

It also reminds me of every Curb Your Enthusiasm episode when Larry David does something stupid or thoughtless by misunderstanding the context of a situation—or just because he’s a jerk. (That’s every episode.)

Fictional chaos theorist David Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” So do laughs but not always the ones you want or on the schedule you’d prefer.

CHAOS NEVER DIES, PART THREE:

November 9. 2018: I have not been invited for a return engagement by Michael S. Robinson. Perhaps my invitation was lost in the (e)mail. There certainly is quite a bit of chaos to discuss: the midterm elections, Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions, the discovery that the Mayans invented television. (In honor of Chaos Never Dies Day, I invite you to Google that last one.)

Correction: In Part Two, I misidentified fictional character Ian Malcolm as fictional character David Malcom. I regret the error and know that my use of flawed web research one year ago has introduced another tiny bit of chaos to the Internet. So, I guess you could say I’m doing my part.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 24 is World Tripe Day

World Trip Day Tripe Clubworld tripe day 2015If dedication and effort are any indication, the holiday known as World Tripe Day is as real as it gets. Since 2012, the Tripe Marketing Board (TMB) has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the hidden virtues of consuming, or at least discussing, the stomachs of ruminant mammals.

The TMB was set up in 1992 to replace the Tripe Council which in turn traced its lineage back to 1926, when the Association for the Legal Disposal of Unwanted Cow Products began a concerted effort to market tripe.

world tripe day marketing-boardVisitors to TMB’s website will find everything tripe from recipes to job opportunities. Chairman Sir Norman Wrassle oversees the site as well as its book publishing and merchandising arms. It’s entirely likely that Sir Wrassle does not exist, but the site is so entertaining, we’re willing to suspend disbelief.

Here are some answers to everyone’s burning questions about tripe:

Does tripe taste as good as it looks?
Yes.

Is tripe kosher?
It depends on the religion of the cow.

Is tripe safe to eat?
That depends. Tripe has to be cleaned meticulously before it is fit for human consumption.

Where is my nearest tripe retailer?
It depends where you live. Visit Tripe Adviser for your local stockist.

Can I buy a CHOOSE TRIPE t-shirt?
Yes. Literally dozens of people already have.

Is the Tripe Marketing Board publishing a 2016 Diary?
Yes – and it’s more than just a diary. It’s chock full of dates and fascinating tripe facts, articles on tripe and lots, lots more.  It’s on Amazon.

Is the Tripe Marketing Board on Twitter?
Of course.  We’re @TripeUK.

When is Tripe Tuesday?
The first Tuesday in December.

Bon appetit!

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

La Tomatina

la tomatinaToday is La Tomatina, a legendary festival held on the last Wednesday of August in the Spanish town of Buñol.

Thousands come from around the world to participate in what is billed as the World’s Biggest Food Fight.

The tradition is only 72 years old, relatively new in European terms, but no one can seem to agree about how it got its start.

Some say two boys picked a fight during a parade and began hurling tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stand at each other, inspiring others to join in.

Others maintain it was a practical joke played on a bad musician or a spontaneous act after a cart spilled tomatoes onto the street.

Many townsfolk claim it originated when residents expressed their displeasure with local government by pelting councilmen with tomatoes.

At some point, the practice came to the attention of dictator Francisco Franco, who banned it because of its lack of religious significance. By all accounts, it didn’t put a stop to the fun. After his death in 1975, the celebration came out of the shadows and began to attract revelers from near and far.

In 2002, La Tomatina was declared an official festival in 2002 by the Spanish Department of Tourism. By 2012, an estimated 50,000 people descended upon the town of 9,000. Since then, the town has instituted an official ticketing system, charging $12 each and limiting the total admission to 20,000. Tickets sell quickly and lodgings in Buñol and nearby Valencia fill up well in advance.

At around 11 am, several dump trucks haul approximately 150,000 tomatoes into Plaza del Pueblo, the center of town. According to tradition, someone must climb the Palojabón (“hamstick”), a two-story high greased wooden pole, and retrieve the ham perched on top before the festival can begin. It’s a time-consuming contest and, more often than not, no one reaches the ham. So it is also traditional that, after fueling impatience and heightening anticipation, the food fight starts anyway.

Water cannon fire signals the beginning. The only rules of battle are that tomatoes must be squished before throwing to avoid injury and tomatoes are the only weapons allowed. Before long, thousands are drenched in juice and covered in pulp, gleefully lobbing tomatoes at everyone in sight.

Exactly one hour later the fighting is stopped and no more tomatoes can be thrown. Fire trucks spray the streets with water from a Roman aqueduct. The acid from the tomatoes scours surfaces, leaving them cleaner than they had been an hour before. Shop owners take down the plastic covers they used to shield their businesses. Some people walk to the Buñol River to clean themselves up. Everyone starts planning for next year.

Feliz La Tomatina!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays