Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Last Czar

I came across a news article…actually, it was a couple of years ago…about the Russian government's desire to reunite the remains of their last imperial family in one place—the czar, czarina, and their five children. However, the mission was not without roadblocks, namely the need to satisfy skeptics about the validity of all the remains.

On September 23, 2015, Russian investigators exhumed the body of Czar Nicholas Romanov II and his wife, Alexandra, as part of an investigation into the family's death one hundred years ago—in 1918. It's part of the ongoing attempt to confirm the remains really belong to Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children. Some of the family's remains were tested in the early 1990s (the early days of DNA testing) with the results being that the scientists were pretty confident that it's really them. The remains exhumed at that time included the czar, his wife, three of their children, and several servants. Two of the children, Alexei and Maria, were unaccounted for at that time. But the officials weren't able to convince the Russian Orthodox Church about the authenticity of the remains.

The church officials have not come out with their exact reasons for doubt. There had been some discussion about the Romanov family having been canonized in 2000 which made the remains holy relics which required a different way of treating them. In general, church leaders say they just aren't convinced. The church's approval is important for bringing the family's remains together.

The church did, somewhat reluctantly, allow the family's remains to be interred in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg where most of Russia's other czars are buried. But the church still had not accepted the family's identities in spite of the fact that several rounds of DNA testing had occurred.

In 2007 another burial site was located containing the remains of a young man and a young woman. More DNA testing confirmed they were Alexei and Maria. Those remains, however, were left sitting on a shelf because the Russian Orthodox Church balked at the idea of adding them to the family tomb. The church says it believes the family's remains were destroyed and won't change their position until they are 100 percent sure in spite of the DNA confirmation.

In February 2016 the church once again blocked the reuniting of the remains. Currently, the most prevalent explanation is that the church hierarchy wants to avoid the decision because either choice would alienate key factions. Rejecting the bones will anger some Orthodox adherents, particularly those outside Russia, while accepting them will incense a conservative domestic faction that believes the Soviet government somehow faked the original burial at the time they died and those aren't the real remains of Czar Nicholas II and his family.

And the entire effort remains in limbo.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hollywood's Oscar® Moments—Oscar® By The Numbers

Even though Hollywood is a real place (a neighborhood that is part of the city of Los Angeles), that piece of real estate has attained almost mythical status world-wide. It conjures up images of make believe and magic. Or, to be more specific, it represents the home of the film industry even though Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, and MGM as well as many other major film production companies are not physically in Hollywood. In fact, Disney Studios, Warner Bros., and MGM aren't even in the city of Los Angeles. MGM is in Culver City (south of Los Angeles). Disney Studios and Warner Bros. are in the city of Burbank (north of Los Angeles).

For those of us old enough to remember Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, they burst that all of show business is centered in Hollywood bubble by letting everyone know their NBC show was coming to you from Beautiful Downtown Burbank rather than legendary Hollywood.

The Oscar®—Hollywood's annual award for achievement in the film industry. The statuettes for this year's 90th annual awards show are handed out Sunday, March 4, 2018. So, this seemed like a good time to review some statistics connected to the American film industry's highest award.

The first awards ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (yes, it is actually in Hollywood) in 1929 to honor films released in 1927 and 1928. The first Best Picture award went to the 1927 film Wings. It was the only silent film to receive the honor as the talking picture age was ushered in with the release of Warner Bros. The Jazz Singer in 1927, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences.

Although, The Artist, a black and white silent French film paying homage to the silent movie era, won for Best Picture in 2012.

As the award tradition continued, the ceremony settled into a pattern that has stayed relatively consistent to this day. The following statistics were in an article I read that covered the first 85 years of the award ceremonies.

ZERO is the
Number of competitive Oscars® won by a long list of high-profile legendary actors, actresses, and filmmakers. These include Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Richard Burton, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford among many others. Alfred Hitchcock did finally receive an honorary Oscar® in 1968 and Cary Grant received an honorary Oscar® in 1970, both for their body of work over the span of their careers.

ONE is the
Number of dollars for which a winner or his estate must offer to sell his statuette back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before attempting to sell the statuette anywhere else. Statuettes awarded after 1950 are bound by this agreement as they are considered property of the Academy unless it specifically waives ownership. Orson Welles' 1941 Oscar (therefore not subject to the 1950 agreement) for Citizen Kane was sold at a 2011 auction for over $800,000.

TWO is the
Number of words in the shortest acceptance speech ever, delivered by Patty Duke in 1963 after winning the Best Supporting Actress statuette for The Miracle Worker. Her speech was a simple, "Thank you."  [note: I read somewhere else that the same 'thank you' is attributed to Alfred Hitchcock and William Holden.]

THREE is the
Number of films that have won all of the big five awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay). They are: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and The Silence Of The Lambs (1991).

THREE is the
Number of animated features that have been nominated for Best Picture. 1991's Beauty And The Beast was the first to earn this distinction, followed later by Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010).

FOUR is the
Most acting statuettes won by a single individual, a record held by Katharine Hepburn. She won Best Actress statuettes for: Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1982).

FOUR is the
The most Best Director wins by one person, a record held by John Ford since 1953, when he won his fourth statuette for The Quiet Man.

Length in minutes of the longest acceptance speech, a distinction held by Greer Garson, who won Best Actress in 1943 for Mrs. Miniver.

EIGHT is the
Highest number of acting nominations without a win, a record held by the late Peter O'Toole. He did finally receive an honorary Oscar® in 2002 for the body of his work over the span of his career.

TEN is the
Number of musicals that have won Best Picture, the most recent being 2002's Chicago, which ended a 34-year drought. 1968's Oliver! preceded Chicago's win. The Academy took a hard turn away from song-and-dance features with its 1969 Best Picture award to Midnight Cowboy which remains the only X-rated film to claim the biggest prize [and Midnight Cowboy probably would not receive an X-rating if released today].

ELEVEN is the
Highest number of statuettes won by a single film. Three movies are tied for this distinction: Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003). Return of the King won all 11 awards for which it was nominated, another Academy record.

ELEVEN is the
Highest number of nominations for a film that did not win any Oscars®. Two films share that dubious distinction: The Turning Point (1977) and The Color Purple (1985).

TWELVE is the
Highest number of Best Director nominations received by one person, William Wyler, with three of those nominations becoming wins.

FIFTEEN is the
Length in minutes of the first, and to this day the shortest, Academy Awards ceremony, held on May 16, 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Awards (the nickname Oscar® didn't come into being for several years) were handed out in 12 categories with the winners having been announced in advance. Today, statuettes are awarded in more than 20 categories, and ceremonies typically run three hours on average with some running much longer.

Highest number of hosts for one Oscars® telecast. For several years, the Academy used a gimmick dubbed Friends of Oscar® that featured a roster of rotating hosts for each ceremony. The broadcast with the most Friends took place on April 7, 1970, and included stars like Bob Hope, John Wayne, Barbra Streisand, Fred Astaire, Clint Eastwood, James Earl Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. Packing in so much star power paid off for the Academy: the broadcast was the Awards' highest-rated telecast of all time.

Highest number of acting nominations for a single person, a record held by Meryl Streep. She broke the previous record of 12, set by Katharine Hepburn. Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male actor, currently tied with Hepburn's 12.

Highest number of Oscar ceremonies hosted by one person. Bob Hope holds that title which includes the first televised ceremony in 1953. Billy Crystal is second with nine hosting gigs.

Number of times that the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars® have gone to different films. The most recent split came in 2013, when Ang Lee won Best Director for Life Of Pi and Argo (directed by Ben Affleck who was not nominated) took Best Picture.

Total number of Oscars® won by Walt Disney, the most ever for a single person. He was also awarded an additional four honorary statuettes, and holds the record for most wins in one year by a single person (four).

Highest number of nominations earned by a woman in any category and belongs to costume designer Edith Head. She won eight statuettes throughout her career.

Maximum number of seconds that Academy rules stipulate for acceptance speeches, a rule established in 2010 and broken multiple times every year.

Highest number of nominations for a single person in any category. Over-achiever Walt Disney holds that title, too. Composer John Williams is the most-nominated living person, with 49 nominations to his credit.

Length in minutes of the shortest Best Picture winner ever, Marty (1955). Brevity seems to be a theme for this classic film. The 1956 ceremony where the prize was awarded is the second-shortest Oscar® ceremony, lasting just 90 minutes.

Length in minutes (3 hours 44 minutes) of the longest Best Picture winners ever: a tie between Ben-Hur (1959) and Gone With the Wind (1939). But GWTW has a slight edge when you add in the overture, intermission music, and exit music which takes it to 238 minutes (3 hours 58 minutes).

And there you have it—Oscar® by the numbers.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


The 90th Annual Academy Awards Ceremonies falls on Sunday, March 4th, this year.  Who will win that coveted statuette?  Who will be taking home an Oscar®?

There are many people in the movie industry who are considered legends, those who received multiple nominations over the years and deserved the Academy Award but never received that elusive prize.  Some of the names will even strike you as What? That can't be true. He/She must have won at least once.

So, in no particular order, here is a cross-section of very deserving movie legends who were often nominated but missed out on the grand prize of the movie industry's top award.

1)  Alfred Hitchcock
With a string of directorial masterpieces to his credit, he never won one of the prized statuettes for directing.  However, in 1968 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

2)  Cary Grant
He made it look easy which sometimes prevented people from realizing just how good he was—adept at drama and light comedy (and even slapstick, after all he started his career as a vaudeville acrobat in England which certainly equipped him with the dexterity and coordination to do physical comedy).  Considered by many to be the epitome of the romantic leading man.  However, in 1970 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

3)  Peter O'Toole
He holds the record for the most Best Actor nominations (8) without a win with his most famous role probably Lawrence of Arabia.  My personal favorite of Peter O'Toole's films is My Favorite Year, one of his few comedy films.  However, in 2003 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

4)  Deborah Kerr
With many outstanding roles, certainly From Here To Eternity and also The King And I, she was nominated six times but no wins.  However, in 1994 she was presented an honorary Oscar® for her lifetime body of work.

5)  Richard Burton
Many outstanding performances including an exceptional one in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe. Six nominations, five of them for Best Actor, but no wins.

6)  Albert Finney
The British actor is probably best known for Tom Jones, one of his earlier films.  He's garnered five nominations but no wins.  My favorite Albert Finney film is Murder On The Orient Express with his marvelous portrayal of Hercule Poirot (supported by an incredible cast including several Oscar® winners and nominees, among them multiple Oscar® winner Ingrid Bergman who won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress in Murder On The Orient Express).

7)  Angela Lansbury
Today she's best known for her award winning role of Jessica Fletcher, the retired school teacher turned mystery novelist and amateur sleuth in the long running television series Murder, She Wrote.  In addition to television, she has an impressive string of Tony award winning Broadway performances.  But oddly enough, even though she started her career in films and received three Oscar® nominations, it's the acting award that has remained elusive.  My favorite of her Oscar® nominations was for a riveting performance in the original film version of The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey (she played Laurence Harvey's mother even though they were only a few months apart in age).

8)  Fred Astaire
Although best known for a stellar career in a long string of very successful musicals (many with his long time partner, Ginger Rogers), his one and only nomination came for a dramatic role in Towering Inferno.  I remember being pleasantly surprised when I saw his excellent performance in his first dramatic role, 1959's On The Beach—a story of nuclear war aftermath starring Gregory Peck.

9)  Charlie Chaplin
He is one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood.  Even though he never won for either acting or directing, I wasn't sure whether to add him to this list of never won an Oscar® because he did win one for Best Original Musical Score in 1952 for Limelight.  However, in 1972 he was presented with an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work and received the longest standing ovation in Academy Awards history (over twelve minutes).

There are, of course, many more nominated actors/actresses/directors who deserve but haven't yet had their name engraved on an Oscar®.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Salt Mine Tours

Taking a tour of a salt mine? On the surface, it seems like a strange way to spend a day. What could be so interesting about seeing miners dig salt out of the ground? After all, it's not like taking a tour of a location steeped in history such as the Alamo or the Tower of London. Or a famous government building such as the White House. Or a tour of an interesting city such as San Francisco.

But a salt mine? You'll be surprised…

WIELICZKA SALT MINE IN KRAKOW, POLAND.  I saw a segment on the Travel Channel about this unusual tourist attraction. The mine consists of a lot more than just the tunnels and pits where they have been extracting salt for approximately 700 years (one of Europe's oldest salt mines). It was opened in the 13th century with commercial mining discontinued in 1996 but it continued to produce table salt until 2007. This is a unique tourist attraction and is listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
The tour is spread out over the three upper levels of the mine complex, ranging from 64 to 135 meters (208 to 439 feet) below ground. You'll need to take nearly 400 steps down to the mine but there is an elevator that returns visitors to the surface. Tourists can walk the 3 kilometers (1.8 mile) trail through a collection of objects related to the mine and mining industry over the centuries. You'll see underground lakes. But perhaps the most surprising and fascinating feature of this salt mine is all the works of art made by the miners themselves over the centuries, hand hewn entirely of solid salt—statues, frescos, beautifully adorned chapels including one very large chapel (pictured below) with chandeliers and staircases made entirely of salt along with other hidden treasures. In addition to the spectacular works of art, the complex has a reception room used for private functions including weddings.
Everything in this picture (except the real live humans) is carved from salt including the crystal chandeliers, the statues and works of art, and the staircase.

The salt mine reaches a depth of 327 meters (1065 feet) and is over 287 kilometers long (172 miles) with the tour covering only a small portion of this total area.

STRATACA IN HUTCHINSON, KANSAS, USA.  Interactive dinner theater below ground in a salt mine? Scout campouts below ground in a salt mine? A large Hollywood film storage/vault facility underground in a salt mine? An event center underground in a salt mine? Yes to all of these…and more.

This salt deposit was formed approximately 275 million years ago when the Permian Sea dried up. This is one of the largest salt deposits in the world covering 27,000 square miles in central and south central Kansas. Adjacent salt deposits extend the entire area to include parts of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and south eastern New Mexico for a total overall of 100,000 square miles. The purest portion of the main salt vein is 650 feet underground and is still being mined. Strataca (when first opened for tours was called the Kansas Underground Salt Museum) has access to about 300,000 square feet of the mined out area.

Salt was discovered southwest of Hutchinson in 1887 by a land developer who was drilling for oil as a means of increasing land sales. Instead of oil, he struck salt. Strataca is located in the original Carey rock salt mine.
Even though the mine tour existed earlier and a large storage facility had been there since the 1940s, in 1999 the Reno County Historical Society recognized the importance of preserving and presenting to the public the Hutchinson salt story. Today's museum is the result of a collaboration of the Historical Society and two businesses that already existed in the mine—the Hutchinson Salt Company and the Underground Vaults and Storage. In addition to storing a vast number of original Hollywood movies (such as the master prints of Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz), it also stores millions of documents and items from around the world in a secure and environmentally conducive atmosphere.
The newly revamped and renamed Strataca was opened to the general public May 1, 2007. Their first Murder In The Mine interactive dinner theater was held in 2007 as was their first underground scout campout. The Visitor Center opened in July 2008. And in 2013, they launched The Salt Safari Adventure Hike.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chocolate—The Food Of Love

Valentine's Day is when the chocolate industry happily counts its profits.  Certainly other items also come to mind such as flowers, cards, and jewelry.  But chocolate reigns supreme for the holiday.

The history of chocolate goes back more than two thousand years.  Cocoa has long been associated with passion, romance, and love.  It's a concept that traces to the ancient Aztecs.  Archaeological records indicate that before the Aztecs the Mayans were consuming cocoa as long ago as 600 B.C. and possibly even earlier than that.

The Aztecs believed it was a source of spiritual wisdom, energy, and sexual power.  It was widely served at wedding ceremonies.  The ancient civilizations of Central and South America did not know chocolate as we do today.  They consumed cocoa as a drink, its naturally bitter taste possibly altered by adding chili peppers to the water and cocoa.

When the Spanish explorers first brought cocoa home with them in 1585, they experimented by mixing it with sugar and vanilla to make a sweeter tasting drink.  The result was a type of hot chocolate popular among the upper classes who were the only ones who could afford it.  Cocoa was also added to baked goods to give them added flavor.  By the first half of the eighteenth century cocoa production had increased and the price had fallen so that it became affordable to the general population of Europe and also the European colonies in the New World.

By the nineteenth century things were moving along nicely for those involved in the manufacture of chocolate.  In 1828, Conrad van Houton of Holland invented a process to make a refined cocoa powder which increased the output of the usable powder from a given crop of cocoa beans which further lowered the price.

The first chocolate candies as we know them today were invented in the 1860s by Cadbury, a British candy maker, who was also the first to sell them in a heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day.

Another big advance came in 1878 when a Swiss chocolate seller, Daniel Peter, invented a process for making candy out of milk chocolate—a process picked up by Nestle.  In 1913 Jules Sechaud, a Swiss chocolate maker, created the first chocolate candy with cream and other fillings and the modern soft centered chocolate candies were born.

And thus chocolate candies joined the ranks of flowers and jewelry in the courtship ritual.
Chocolate, including chocolate candy, is liked by most people, but women tend to have a somewhat greater affinity for it than men.  Chocolate is more than food.  It not only fills your stomach, it also makes you feel good.  Many people believe that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.  While it is true that chocolate does contain organic substances which have a physical feel good affect on the body, the amounts are not that great.

Critics claim the benefits of eating chocolate are small compared to the sugar and fat contained in a chocolate bar.  However, the best chocolate—dark chocolate with high cocoa butter content rather than milk chocolate—has no added fat with a high percentage of cocoa solids and correspondingly less sugar.  Dark chocolate will never be considered a health food based on its nutritional value, but it is still good for you.  It's good for your heart, relieves stress, and makes you feel good.  What more could you want?  But, like everything, in moderation.

Chocolate has long been associated with passion, romance, and love.  This association goes all the way back to the Aztecs.  Valentine's Day is a celebration of romance.  Chocolate is both an everyday pleasure and a token of love.  Valentine's Day and chocolate make a perfect match.  Men have long known in dealing with women that chocolate is almost always a safe gift. Chocolate is given as a token of love and is equally viable as a peace offering when he has done something to anger his love.

Chocolate—the all purpose taste treat that's good any time of the year.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The World's Most Romantic Islands

In honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a list I saw of the world's seven most romantic islands—travel destinations that offer more than just beautiful beaches.  Travel destinations that offer the perfect romantic getaway for the holiday that celebrates love.

Behind the outer wrapping of a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches you will find an interesting and varied landscape.  On the way to the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater you pass through vegetation that includes cactus, something not usually associated with tropical islands.  There are vast stretches of sugar cane fields, a 1900s cowboy town, and a rain forest with an almost primeval feel to it.

An archipelago in the Indian Ocean with white sand beaches, atolls, and secluded resorts.  This is the world's lowest elevation nation (overall elevation of high and low averaged).  You will find a hotel with a coral nursery and an underwater nightclub.  And how about a restaurant reachable only by boat?

This five mile long island was once a haven for backpackers with only the most basic accommodations.  Today it rivals many of the well-known Asian destinations.  Boracay starts with a forty-five minute flight from Manila followed by a boat connection to the final destination of White Beach with powdery sand that just might be the softest in the world.

This is the oldest of Hawaii's eight main islands and has the most dramatic scenery from wind sculpted mountains, red-walled canyons (Waimea Canyon is referred to as Hawaii's Grand Canyon), primeval rain forest, and a wide range of waterfalls.  Kauai has also been the location for several movies including The Descendants, Avatar, Body Heat, and South Pacific.

Every place you look gives you a postcard perfect view.  White washed buildings, colorful flowers, blue-domed churches all clinging to the hillsides of an ancient volcanic crater.  In addition to the spectacular scenery, Santorini offers a wide variety of diversions—fine wines, black and red and white sand beaches, archaeological sites including one referred to as the Minoan Pompeii.

This four-square mile dot in the Tyrrhenian Sea embodies la dolce vita.  There is a funicular railway to take visitors from the main port to the street of Capri town with its boutiques, restaurants, and romantic getaways.

What could be more romantic than staying in a bungalow above the waters of a turquoise lagoon?  At the heart of Bora-Bora is the jagged peak of Mount Otemanu and on its fringes are islets and a coral reef perfect for snorkeling to observe the varied and colorful marine life.

So, if a romantic getaway to one of these islands isn't in the cards for Valentine's Day this year, it would be a good time to start planning for Valentine's Day 2019.  One caveat—with the constantly changing international situation regarding terrorism, be sure to check out travel warnings that may apply.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bizarre and Unique February Holidays

February may be a short month, but it certainly is not short on the bizarre, unique, and weird when it comes to holidays—celebrations above and beyond the legal holidays where government offices, banks, and schools are closed for the day.

There are several month long designations in February:  American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Black History Month, Canned Food Month, Creative Romance Month, Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, National Grapefruit Month, and National Wedding Month.

February also has a week long celebration: the third week is International Flirting Week.

And this year (every four years), February is the time of the Winter Olympics, being held in South Korea this time.

Hmmm…American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Creative Romance Month, National Wedding Month, and International Flirting Week.  How appropriate that they should all be in the month that gives us Valentine's Day.

Feb. 1         National Freedom Day

Feb. 2         Ground Hog Day
Always celebrated on February 2.  On this day, the groundhog awakens from a long winter's nap and goes outside of his den.  If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, Spring is rapidly approaching.  The tradition comes from the German roots of Candlemas which is the mid point between Winter and Spring.
Feb. 2         Candlemas

Feb. 3         The Day The Music Died
Always celebrated on February 3. On this date in 1959 singers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash.  The event was immortalized in the popular song, Apple Pie, written and recorded by Don McLean.

Feb. 4         Create A Vacuum Day
Feb. 4         Thank A Mailman Day

Feb. 5         National Weatherman's Day
Always celebrated on February 5.  According to the Air Force News, this holiday "commemorates the birth of John Jeffries, one of America's first weathermen."  He was born on February 5, 1744, and kept weather records from 1774 to 1816.  This holiday honors the men and women who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather.  Even with the major technological advances including super computers and satellites, forecasting weather is still a tricky, ever changing, and always challenging task.

Feb. 6         Lame Duck Day

Feb. 7         Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbor Day
Feb. 7         Send A Card To A Friend Day (a holiday created by Hallmark?)

Feb. 8         Boy Scout Day
Feb. 8         Kite Flying Day
Always celebrated on February 8 (but why in the middle of winter?).  People have enjoyed flying kites for thousands of years, both children and adults.  The most well known kite flyer is undoubtedly Benjamin Franklin with his key and lightning experiment.  Kites were first used by the military in ancient China over 3,000 years ago.

Feb. 9         Toothache Day

Feb. 10       Umbrella Day

Feb. 11       Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day
Feb. 11       Make A Friend Day
Feb. 11       White T-Shirt Day

Feb. 12       Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (combined with George Washington's birthday, it's legally celebrated as President's Day the third Monday of February, on the 19th this year)
Feb. 12       Plum Pudding Day
Feb. 12       Clean Out Your Computer Day (the 2nd Monday of the month)

Feb. 13       Get A Different Name Day
Always celebrated on February 13.  This day is for those who are not fond of their given name.  It's the day to take steps to change your name (and don't forget to notify those who need to know about your new name).

Feb. 14       Ferris Wheel Day
Feb. 14       National Organ Donor Day
Feb. 14       Valentine's Day

Feb. 15       Candlemas (on the old Julian Calendar)
Feb. 15       National Gum Drop Day
Feb. 15       Singles Awareness Day

Feb. 16       Do A Grouch A Favor Day

Feb. 17       Random Acts of Kindness Day
Always celebrated on February 17.  You know what to do…perform a few random acts of kindness.  Almost any kind deed will do.  And remember—Random Acts of Kindness is highly contagious.

Feb. 18       National Battery Day

Feb. 19       National Chocolate Mint Day

Feb. 20       Cherry Pie Day
Feb. 20       Hoodie Hoo Day
Always celebrated on February 20.  On this winter day, people go out at noon, wave their hands over their heads and chant "Hoodie-Hoo."  This is the day to chase away the winter blahs (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Feb. 20       Love Your Pet Day

Feb. 21       Card Reader Day (another Hallmark creation?)

Feb. 22       George Washington's Birthday (combined with Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, it's celebrated as the legal holiday of President's Day on the third Monday of February, on the 19th this year).
Feb. 22       Be Humble Day
Feb. 22       Walking The Dog Day
Feb. 22       International World Thinking Day

Feb. 23       International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
Feb. 23       Tennis Day

Feb. 24       National Tortilla Chip Day
Always celebrated on February 24.  The corn chip recipe was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by a Texas businessman.  Just a few decades ago, Americans seldom ate corn chips and salsa.  Today it's wildly popular.

Feb. 25       Pistol Patent Day

Feb. 26       National Pistachio Day
Feb. 26       Tell A Fairy Tale Day

Feb. 27       Polar Bear Day
Feb. 27       No Brainer Day
Always celebrated on February 27th.  By definition, a no brainer is doing something simple, easy, obvious, and/or totally logical.  If a project requires thinking, study, or analysis of any kind, then this is not the day for it.

Feb. 28       Floral Design Day
Feb. 28       Public Sleeping Day
Feb. 28       National Tooth Fairy Day (sometimes celebrated on August 22)

So…enjoy your favorite bizarre, weird, and unique celebration/holiday.