Saturday, October 22, 2016

Horror Movies For The Halloween Season

What has happened to the scary horror movies from the past that traded on the atmosphere of fear rather than the visual of spurting blood and flying body parts?  The tingling sensation that made the hair stand on the back of our necks and goose bumps on our arms as our imaginations ran wild.  The spooky ground fog that slithered over and around the tombstones, cloaking the cemetery in an eerie silence and spectral glow.

I'm talking about the traditional horror classics from decades gone by such as Frankenstein from 1931 with Boris Karloff's brilliant performance as the monster.  Also from 1931, Dracula with Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the vampire as both elegant and mesmerizing which left the horror to the imagination of the viewer.  The next year gave us 1932's The Mummy with Boris Karloff once again turning in a stellar performance, this time as the two thousand year old mummy in search of the reincarnation of his mate.  Then came 1941's The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney, Jr., as the stricken and cursed Larry Talbot.

True to Hollywood tradition, these classic horror movies spawned numerous sequels—Bride of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Dracula's Daughter.  And as long as Hollywood was on a roll, they added to the profit factor by capitalizing on the popularity of the characters by having them co-star in such movies as Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  Then there were the myriad remakes that came over the ensuing years, some serious attempts and others totally ludicrous.  Each one pushed the envelope in its own way in order to hopefully make it better (as in more box office dollars) than its predecessor.

And the award for the most remakes over the years goes to Dracula.  Some were serious films and others were more on the ridiculous side with titles such as Dracula's Dog.

With all four of the above mentioned original movies, the remakes never really captured the essence of the originals…in my humble opinion.

But these classic horror movies have done more than provide us with entertainment.  They have given us some valuable lessons for handling real life as well as those evil things lurking in the shadows.

Here are 9 important lessons Halloween season horror movies have taught us.

9)  When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it's really dead.

8)  If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination with blood, glowing eyes, or increasing hairiness, get away from them as fast as possible.

 7)  Do not search the basement when the power has just gone out (especially if it was NOT knocked out as the result of a storm or if yours is the only house on the block without power).

6)  If appliances start operating by themselves, move out.

5)  Stay away from certain geographic locations such as: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog, the Bermuda Triangle…or any small town in Maine.

4)  If your children speak to you in any language which they should not know or if they speak to you using a voice which is not their own, be afraid…be very afraid.

3)  When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off or worse yet go it alone when searching the spooky old mansion for the source of the strange noises (are you listening to this advice Scooby Doo gang?).

2)  As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to hell.

And last, but not least…

1)  If you find a town that looks deserted, there's probably a good reason for it.  Take the hint and stay away!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Haunted Houses Are Big Business, Part 2 of 2

Last week I talked about the history of haunted houses as staged events and ended with some Halloween facts.  This week I'm talking about the big business of professional haunted house attractions.

In the U.S., there are approximately 4,500 professional haunted house attractions opened to the public during the Halloween season—300 theme parks that operate a seasonal haunted house venue, 1200 large-scale haunted houses, and 3000 such attractions operated by and/or for charity organizations as fund raisers.  And, of course, Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida have the year round Haunted Mansion ride.

What is America's oldest and largest Halloween haunt?  That honor belongs to the Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles, California.  Or as it's known this time of year—Knott's Scary Farm.  It's the world's first Halloween theme park event, the largest Halloween theme park event, and the largest special event in the amusement park industry.  The park makes it clear that the event is not recommended for children under thirteen years old.

It should be no surprise that many of the professional haunted houses/scare attractions have an organization of their own.  Many of the most famous haunted house attractions in the U.S. have formed America Haunts.  They even hold a national convention every summer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The attractions that belong to America Haunts are as diverse as the people who operate them.  These attractions have been consistently reviewed and are rated as excellent by scores of media sources and considered safe, fun and an extremely scary show for horror and haunted house fans.  These are amazingly detailed, cutting edge attractions that rival many Hollywood horror movie effects.  Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The many America Haunts attractions [located across the country from San Diego, California, on the Pacific coast, to Baltimore, Maryland, on the Atlantic coast], annually draw in millions of brave souls during the Halloween season.  The haunted house industry, like most other industries, has their own tradeshows, experts, consultants, suppliers, magazines, associations, education seminars, gatherings and events.  Haunted attraction owners annually spend millions of dollars with haunted house vendors for supplies such as fog machines, animatronic monsters, lighting equipment, and costumes and masks.  In recent years, the overseas market has provided the biggest growth in business for the haunted house vendors of supplies.

The Otis Elevator Company estimates that 85% of the buildings with their elevators do not have a named 13th floor, with that actual floor being given the number 14.  Some businesses don't want to be associated with the stigma attached to the number 13 as being unlucky.  Some don't want to take a chance on losing customers/clients due to them having an aversion to the number 13.  And that probably explains the basic reason for the name of one of the largest haunted house attractions in the U.S.—The 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver, Colorado.

In the 1940s, the building that houses The 13th Floor Haunted House operated briefly as a hotel located across the street from the Sunset train station.  A group of children arrived at the station on their way to their destination south of Denver.  The weather had turned bad, so the bus driver taking them from the station to their final destination decided it would be better to wait until morning to complete their journey.  They checked into the hotel across the street and in the morning continued on their way.  The school bus became stalled on the tracks just south of town and was struck by a train, killing 10 of the children.  Legend has it that those children continue to haunt the hotel, protecting others from a similar fate.

Several of the large, professional attractions, such as The 13th Floor Haunted House, offer more than one venue as part of a specific location.  Each of the venues has a different theme.  And some of the attractions have both indoor and outdoor fright areas.

One such outdoor attraction is Hundred Acres Manor in Pittsburgh.  The attraction boasts 6 haunted attractions for 1 price.

Another outside offering is The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park, in San Diego, California.  It's a mile long trail through a twisted grove of pines and gnarled oaks.  Last year they initiated a creepy stroll down New Orleans famous Bourbon Street complete with vampires and other creatures of the night.  The Haunted Trail also offers the return of the 3500 sq. ft. maze

And this barely scratches the surface of what the large, professional Haunted House attractions have to offer those looking for the ultimate scare.  So…have a happy, sane, and safe Halloween.

And be sure to watch your back or you, too, could become one of the ghouls who haunt the land every Halloween!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Haunted Houses Are Big Business, Part 1 of 2

This week and next week I'm doing a two-part blog about haunted houses.

I remember when I was a child in West Los Angeles. We had a very large garage and one year my mother and father fixed it up like a haunted house for my Halloween party—a winding, twisty route through all kinds of scary things. It was a lot of fun and totally different from anything anyone else in the neighborhood did for Halloween. Of course, back in those days, scary things were not at all the same type of bloody gruesome attractions that are the main features of today's professional Halloween attractions.

Halloween attractions have moved far beyond the neighborhood scare as a fun encounter for the trick-or-treaters. Today they are big business—very big business. Operators of the large attractions spend most of the year coming up with new and better ideas for frightening attractions and then implementing them. They take pleasure in dreaming up even more diabolical ways of giving us the seasonal nightmares.

This week, let's talk about the history of haunted houses and some Halloween facts. Just in the United States, there are over 1200 professional haunted houses, 300 theme parks that operate horror-themed events and over 3000 charity-run spooky Halloween attractions. Haunted attractions have a long history dating back to early civilizations.

Ancient Times:
The Egyptians knew that the best way to keep body snatchers away from a pyramid was to really scare them away. The commonly used mazes, moving walls, self-opening doors, and traps as well as snakes and insects to protect treasure and the bodies of royalty. True, they weren't charging admission and the public wasn't lined up waiting to get inside, but it is an early example of creating a setting to produce fear.

The Greeks and Romans have a folklore complete with mazes and labyrinths filled with monsters. With theater being a vital part of their culture, we can assume they created numerous special effects devices to enhance the scare factor that would evolve into today's haunted house elements.

The Dark Ages:
This period in history saw the Christians continue the evolution toward today's haunted house attraction. During the 1300s through the 1500s, Europe had been converted from Celtic and pagan religions to the practice of Christianity. Many of today's Halloween activities—carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, dressing up in costumes and even trick-or-treating—were pagan practices that stayed with us.

The Renaissance:
Theater became increasingly popular and catered to society's love of horror and resulted in the development of more special effects. Ghosts, demons, the devil, and other monsters appeared regularly in plays including those of William Shakespeare.

The 1800s:
This was a time when the general population became fascinated with ghosts and the possibility of other realms. Self-proclaimed mediums, fortune tellers, clairvoyants, and spiritualists engaged in conjuring sessions in an attempt to communicate with the dead which became a form of entertainment for the elite. The theme of hauntings continued in the theater and the century provided the first wax museum, the forerunner of future walk-through attractions that played on people's sense of reality.

The 1900s:
The start of the 20th century saw the increased popularity of the traveling carnival and the rise of the what was referred to as a freak show. Dark rides also became popular amusements. The patrons sat in a boat or on a train and were automatically moved through numerous scenes. Amusement parks came into popularity during this time. Those that could not afford a big roller coaster offered cheap fun houses and haunted house attractions to pull in customers.

Also during this time, many of the residential houses built during the early 1800s had become dilapidated and worn down. Adults would tell their children that ghosts filled the neglected homes in an attempt to keep them from exploring those structures. This further fueled the mystique of haunted houses.

The 1960s:
1969 was the opening of Disneyland's (Anaheim, California) Haunted Mansion attraction. Rather than putting a genuine decrepit-looking structure in the middle of Disneyland, he created a lavish mansion with a pristine exterior based on the appearance of the San Jose, California, Winchester House. It was originally a walk-through attraction but was soon changed over to a ride.

The 1970s:
Non-profit organizations began to use abandoned buildings and fields to put up haunted houses to raise money for charity.

The 1980s:
This was the decade when horror movies grew in popularity and so did haunted houses. Most amusement parks had a scary attraction of some sort.

The 1990s to present:
Haunts are everywhere—haunted hayrides, mazes and scavenger hunts. They've become so popular that haunts are here to stay with the industry constantly evolving with new and more terrifying attractions.
Halloween Frightening and Fun Facts:
Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the U.S.

Approximately 100 countries celebrate Halloween.

Over 7 billion dollars are spent annually on candy, costumes and activities in just the U.S.

Approximately 90% of all households with children will participate in some sort of Halloween activity.

Over 80% of all haunted attractions in the U.S. are operated by a charity or help to benefit a charity of some sort.

Check back next week for Part 2 of my Haunted Houses blog.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

America's Haunted Hotels

Stanley Hotel
Are you looking for that Halloween thrill that's real rather than manufactured? A true haunted hotel for a night away from home? The U.S. has many haunted hotels and inns from which to choose. Here's a sampling (in no particular order) of 21 spooky destinations to spend the night. Or longer…if you're brave enough. Just make sure your stay doesn't become permanent.

The Myrtles Plantation—St. Francisville, Louisiana
Built approximately 1796, this former home is considered one of the most haunted homes in the U.S. with one murder and several natural deaths. The Plantation now has 11 guest rooms.

Hotel del Coronado—Coronado, California (San Diego)
Opened in 1888 and a National Historic Landmark since 1977, the Hotel del Coronado is said to be haunted by the ghost of Kate Morgan, who died there. This is one of my favorite hotels and has also been used as a location in many movies and television shows, probably the most well-known being SOME LIKE IT HOT starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe.

Marrero's Guest Mansion—Key West, Florida
Built in 1889 by Francisco Marrero for his bride, the 13 guest room Victorian home is rumored to still be haunted by her ghost.

Stanley Hotel—Estes Park, Colorado
First opened in 1909, this hotel is most famous these days as the inspiration for Stephen King's horror novel, THE SHINING.

Queen Anne Hotel—San Francisco, California
This B&B in San Francisco's Pacific Heights area is said to be haunted by the spirit of Mary Lake who was the Head Mistress of the school that used to be located inside the building.

Manresa Castle—Port Townsend, Washington
A former 30 room private residence is haunted by 2 ghosts, including a former guest who was stood up by her lover and subsequently jumped to her death from the hotel.

Driskill Hotel—Austin, Texas
Originally built in 1886 for cattle baron Jesse Driskill, the Austin landmark hosts travelers today in addition to the spirit of Jesse Driskill.

The Lemp Mansion—St. Louis, Missouri
This hotel offers paranormal tours complete with appetizers and a drink. Several members of the Lemp family died under various circumstances including more than one suicide.

Hawthorne Hotel—Salem, Massachusetts
The town that was the site of the Salem Witch Trials would certainly lend itself to hauntings and Halloween visitors. Guests of the hotel reported hearing eerie sounds in the stairwells and feeling ill at ease while staying there.

Green Mountain Inn—Stowe, Vermont
Boots Berry died in a fall from the roof. His ghost has been seen standing in room 1840, where he was born.

Buxton Inn—Granville, Ohio
The ghost of Orrin Granger, who built the Buxton Inn, has been seen wandering the halls. The ghost of Bonnie Bounell, a former innkeeper, is said to hang out in room 9.

1866 Crescent Hotel & Spa—Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The deceased who are still residing at the hotel include a stonemason, a cancer patient, a cat and a man in a white suit. A new ghost, a dancer, was recently spotted at the hotel.

Beverly Hills Inn—Atlanta, Georgia
This property is said to be haunted by the souls of 3 women. An investigation in 2007 recorded voices whispering "Get out."

Hotel Queen Mary—Long Beach, California
With its history as both a luxury cruise ship and a troop transport ship during World War II, the Queen Mary is reportedly haunted by many spirits. One of them is a young girl who broke her neck sliding down one of the ship's banisters. She can be seen today hanging out by the swimming pool.

Gettysburg Hotel—Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Ghosts dance in the ballroom and the ghost of a Union soldier strolls through the halls. The nearby Gettysburg Civil War battle field is considered by many to be the most haunted place in the U.S. When the battle ended on July 3, 1863, there had been 51,000 casualties Union and Confederate.

Congress Plaza Hotel—Chicago, Illinois
Built in 1893 for visitors to the Chicago World's Fair, the hotel is reputedly one of Al Capone's hideouts. Members of a rival gang did a drive by shooting attempt on his life while he was staying there. The hotel is said to be haunted by a young boy, possibly an innocent victim of that shooting.

The Battery Carriage House Inn—Charleston, South Carolina
Many guests have reported seeing the torso of a decapitated confederate soldier floating through the Inn.

1859 Historic National Hotel—Jamestown, California
Located in the Sierra foothills in the heart of the California gold rush country, the hotel is said to be haunted by a woman whose fiancé was shot by a drunk on the hotel premises. She is said to have died of a broken heart while wearing her wedding dress and has been giving hotel guests an uncomfortable feeling ever since.

Burn Brae Mansion—Glen Spy, New York
The former home of the third president of the Singer Sewing Machine company offers ghost tours.

Prospect Hill Bed & Breakfast Inn—Mountain City, Tennessee
The haunting spirit at this Inn apparently has a sweet tooth. The smell of baking cookies wafts through the Inn in the wee hours of the morning.

The Colonial Inn—Concord, Massachusetts
This 24 room Inn was established in 1716. Room 24, located in the oldest part of the Inn, was reportedly used as an emergency hospital during the Revolutionary War and that is where guests have reported odd happenings.

There are, of course, many more reportedly haunted hotels and inns in the United States. This is just a sampling. Do you have any haunted hotels in your city? I have been to seven of the hotels on this list and of those the Hotel del Coronado is definitely my favorite. Actually, it's my favorite hotel in any season.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival

With Halloween only a little over a month away, I thought I'd start a series of blogs representing the spirit of the holiday.

According to Chinese legend, hungry and restless ghosts roam the world to visit their living descendants.

Traditional Chinese belief has the seventh month of the lunar year reserved for the Hungry Ghost festival (Yu Lan). For 2016, that's August 3 – August 31. This is a boisterous celebration of feasts and music. According to Chinese folklore, the ghosts who wander the physical world are ravenous and envious after dying without descendants or because they are not honored by relatives who are still alive.
Because the hungry spirits need to be appeased, prayers and incense are offered to deceased relatives. Fake currency, known as hell money, along with paper copies of material wealth are burned. The ghosts then use them when they return to the underworld.

Neighborhoods hold nightly shows of Chinese operas and pop concerts. The front row of seats remain empty because they are reserved for the ghosts. These shows are accompanied by extravagant feasts. On the 15th day of the lunar month, families offer cooked food to the ghosts with the hope that the spirits will help them find good jobs, get good grades, or even win the lottery.

Because of the theme of this festival, it has been referred to as the Chinese Halloween.

Next week I'll be posting my blog of America's Haunted Hotels.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

12 Top Secret Sites From Around The World

Just the words Top Secret conjure up images of intrigue, conspiracies, and clandestine operations.  These off-limits sites exist all over the world with the various governments keeping activities hidden from public knowledge…safely ensconced behind those closed doors and security fences.  It's a given that most of the secrets probably have to do with research for new weapons and defense systems.

A while back, I came across an article listing 12 top secret locations, certainly not the total number of these sites…not even close…but an interesting list.

Cheyenne Mountain Complex
This bunker near Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a relic from the days of the Cold War.  Located literally inside Cheyenne Mountain, it was originally designed as a combat operations center with its own water, electricity supply, air filtration system and built to withstand a nuclear blast [a 1960s size nuclear blast].  This facility has been given new vitality as a result of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  It currently participates guarding against ballistic attack, supports space operations, and assists in keeping American and Canadian airspace safe.  The U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and Missile Defense Agency all maintain a presence at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex…and that's a lot of organizations devoted to secrecy.  But the secrecy of the location?  Well…there is a picture of it on NORAD's website and I recall seeing a kind of mini-tour several years ago on a television documentary.  But, with that many secrecy organizations involved, there's probably a lot more going on there than meets the eye.

Area 51
Undoubtedly the most famous…or infamous…secret facility in the world.  Even though its location in the Nevada desert was known far and wide and a topic of much speculation, the government refused to even acknowledge its existence until 1995.  And anything that secret is ripe for all kinds of conspiracy theories, some going back to Roswell, New Mexico, 1947 and the alleged alien spacecraft crash with the alien bodies supposedly taken to Area 51.  With many of the stealth technology aircraft tested there in secret, it must have looked like strange alien craft flying overhead.  And now you can see Area 51 via Google Earth.  Sort of takes away some of that mystique.

Site R
It's official name is Raven Rock Mountain Complex and it's an underground relocation facility for the Department of Defense, sometimes referred to as the underground Pentagon.  It's located in Pennsylvania about 6 miles from the Camp David presidential retreat.  There's speculation that a tunnel connects Camp David and Site R.  Like Cheyenne Mountain, this was a cold war era bunker given new purpose and life following 9-11.

The Capitol Visitor Center
Located on the east side of the Capitol, as the name implies its purpose is to welcome visitors to Washington, D.C.  But there is a theory that within or beneath the 580,000 square-foot building is a top-secret area for Congress to use in emergencies.  Giving credence to this theory are 4 bomb-proof skylights, a tunnel system large enough for vehicles to move around and a sophisticated IT infrastructure with thousands of feet of fiber-optic cable.

National Security Agency/Stellar Wind
According to Wired Magazine, the NSA is building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah.  This is where the NSA will intercept and inspect billions of calls, email, Google searches, travel itineraries, book purchases, and other miscellaneous digital information.  Stellar Wind is the codename for this surveillance program.  The NSA created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes.  While the CIA is better known as an intelligence gathering agency, the NSA is three times its size and costs more.  The NSA is considered the most powerful intelligence agency in the world today.

This program resulted in public disclosure by whistle blower William Binney in 2002 and most recently Edward Snowden in 2013.

Pine Gap, Australia
This is considered by many to be the Australian Area 51, the ground station for a network that intercepts telephone, radio, and data links from around the world.

Camp Peary
Located near Williamsburg, Virginia, Camp Peary (known as The Farm) is an area of 10,000 acres said to be where CIA agents receive covert training.

Mount Yamantau
Located in the Ural Mountains, the U.S. suspects this Russian site of being a large secret nuclear facility.  It's near one of Russia's last remaining nuclear labs and is part of their Dead Hand nuclear retaliatory command structure.

Liberty Crossing
Based in a complex in McLean, Virginia, this is home to the National Counterterrorism Center.  It utilizes experts from the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and other agencies, to avoid large scale terror plots.  Each office is essentially a vault.

RAF Menwith Hill
This Royal Air Force station located near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, is said to be the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.  It is operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and is part of ECHELON, created during the Cold War.

Negev Nuclear Research Center
Located in Israel's Negev Desert, the facility was built in 1958 and is widely assumed to be a manufacturing site for nuclear weapons.

Porton Down
This is a government and military science park located near Wiltshire, England.  Although the term science park makes it sound more like a children's learning-can-be-fun type of place, that's not even close.  In World War I, it studied chemical warfare.  With the passing decades, studies changed from mustard gas to nerve agents in the 1940s.  It continued to study biological warfare.

Planet Earth might be a global society out of necessity, but we obviously are not a harmonious global society.  And if the headlines on the daily news are any indication, we're a long way from achieving that goal.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September's Bizarre And Unique Holidays

Every month seems to have at least one holiday for each day, some well-known and celebrated and others wrapped in varying stages of obscurity.  And in addition to the daily holidays, there are also month long celebrations devoted to various endeavors.

In the year 2016, the following month-long observations for September include:  Classical Music Month, National Piano Month, International Square Dancing Month, National Courtesy Month [shouldn't this be a year long observation, every year?], National Chicken Month, National Honey Month, National Rice Month, National Papaya Month, Self-Improvement Month, Be Kind To Editors and Writers Month, Cable TV Month, National Bed Check Month, and National Mind Mapping Month.

Here's a list of the daily holidays (some dates having multiple celebrations scheduled for the same date). I've even included an explanation for a few of them.

Sept. 1       Emma M. Nutt Day—in celebration of the first woman telephone operator.
Sept. 2       National Beheading Day—every once in a while there's a holiday that has no obvious reason for being. Why would someone declare something as gruesome as beheading to be an activity that warrants a special holiday celebration? Beheadings have been a method of execution for both commoners and royalty throughout history and in today's society the practice includes the activities of terrorist groups. Probably the most famous royal beheadings were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1793 during the French Revolution. There isn't any factual information about the origin of this holiday.
Sept. 3       Skyscraper Day—a celebration of tall buildings?
Sept. 4       Newspaper Carrier Day—to honor those who deliver the newspaper to our homes.
Sept. 5       Labor Day—since Labor Day is the first Monday in September, the date changes from year to year. This is the only legal holiday in September, one honoring the nation's workers, where government offices are closed along with the banks, schools, and the post office which means no mail delivery. This is the unofficial close of the summer season, as Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning. Canada also celebrates their Labor Day holiday on the first Monday in September.
Sept. 5       Be Late For Something Day—if you are among the millions who can't seem to stay on schedule, then this is a holiday for you. Being late is a common occurrence and can be caused by any number of things from it being a conscious desire to it being caused by circumstances beyond your control. There is no factual information about this holiday, but it leads us to the September 6th holiday which is…
Sept. 6       Fight Procrastination Day—for those of you mired down in Be Late For Something Day, this is a day to get things done. Many people consider procrastination as a way of life. There are even clubs dedicated to procrastination. Today is the day to make a decision…to take action. Fight those procrastination urges. There is no factual information about the origin of this holiday.
Sept. 6       This is also Read A Book Day—self-explanatory and important for those of us who write. Goes along with this being Be Kind To Editors and Writers Month.
Sept. 7       Neither Rain Nor Snow Day—this sounds like a tribute to those who deliver our mail.
Sept. 8       International Literacy Day—another holiday pertinent to those of us who write. Something we should all support with the goal of wiping out illiteracy in all countries.
Sept. 9       Teddy Bear Day—a day to honor our teddy bears, those past and those present.
Sept. 10     Swap Ideas Day—a day to share information, plans, ideas, and maybe even dreams.
Sept. 11     911 Remembrance—while not a legal holiday in the manner of Labor Day, it's certainly far removed from the frivolous and fun nature of the other holidays that fall into the bizarre and unusual category. This is the day in 2001 when 4 commercial airliners were high-jacked by terrorists; 2 flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, 1 flown into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and 1 brought down by the passengers in a field in Pennsylvania thus preventing it from reaching its target in Washington D.C. To quote FDR (when speaking of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, that officially brought the U.S. into World War II): "A date which will live in infamy."
Sept. 11     National Pet Memorial Day—this falls on the second Sunday in September, so the specific date changes from year to year. A day to honor the pets we've lost to time.
Sept. 12     Chocolate Milk Shake Day—all I can say is yummy!
Sept. 13     Defy Superstation Day—this is the day for you to defy all those superstitious beliefs that surround us. And the defiance starts by celebrating on the 13th. This holiday was created to help you eliminate all those superstitions from your daily life. There isn't any group who claims responsibility for this holiday, but it dates back at least to 1999 in origin.
Sept. 14     National Cream-Filled Donut Day—again, all I can say to this holiday is yummy!
Sept. 15     Make A Hat Day—I can only assume it's a holiday dedicated to making hats of all type for all occasions.
Sept. 16     Collect Rocks Day—for all you rock hounds out there, this is your day of celebration.
Sept. 17     National Apple Dumpling Day—and once again, all I can say about this holiday is yummy!
Sept. 18     National Women's Friendship Day—this is celebrated on the third Sunday in September.  It's nice to have a holiday dedicated to friendship.
Sept. 18     National Cheeseburger Day—and even more yummies! Have you noticed how many holidays celebrate food and drink?
Sept. 19     International Talk Like A Pirate Day—a day to let out the pirate in each of us. You need to brush up on your pirate-speak in anticipation of this holiday. You're not required to dress like a pirate on this date, only to talk like one. This holiday was created by John Baur and Mark Summers in 1995 while they were playing racquetball and started talking to each other in pirate-speak as a fun thing to do.
Sept. 20     National Punch Day—I'm assuming (or choosing to believe) this relates to the beverage rather than hitting someone. So, I have to give it a yummy!
Sept. 21     World Gratitude Day—we all have things for which we need to express our gratitude. This is the day to do it.
Sept. 22     Elephant Appreciation Day—you can show your appreciation for all the elephants in the world.
Sept. 23     Dog In Politics Day—it seems that every year and every month and for that matter, every day in this election year, is filled with politics.
Sept. 24     National Cherries Jubilee Day—oh, yes…and another yummy!
Sept. 24     International Rabbit Day—this is celebrated on the 4th Saturday in September, for those of you who love your pet rabbits or are fans of Bugs Bunny.
Sept. 25     National Comic Book Day—for those who enjoy reading, writing, drawing, and collecting.
Sept. 26     Johnny Appleseed Day—in honor of the young man named John Chapman who planted apple trees across the country.
Sept. 27     Crush A Can Day—the beer can (hopefully empty) on the forehead? All I can say about this is ouch!
Sept. 28     Ask A Stupid Question Day—this is a chance for you to get all those stupid questions out of your system, all those questions you've been saving up because you thought they were too stupid to ask. And for this day, we have a special quote:  "Stupid is as stupid does." (Forrest Gump). The origins of this holiday goes back to the 1980s when there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom.
Sept. 29     Confucius Day—this is the day to get a fortune cookie and check your fortune.
Sept. 30     National Mud Pack Day—and another yummy!  Oops, wait a minute…that's wrong. Mud packs, not mud pie…I've never understood how smearing mud on your face is suppose to be good for the skin.

And that's a listing of the bizarre and unique holidays for September of this year. Do any stand out as a favorite for you?