CLOSE
Getty Images
Getty Images

17 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in July

Getty Images
Getty Images

We’re having a heat wave ... of outstanding, offbeat July holidays! The big firework show may come at the beginning of the month, but there are plenty more celebrations to keep you feeling Yankee Doodle Dandy all the way to August.

1. July 1: National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day

Thinkstock

In 1984, Ronald Reagan deemed July “National Ice Cream Month,” and the third Sunday of this month “National Ice Cream Day.” As great as the treat itself is, we’re big fans of those unusual flavor combinations that make you question the limitations of culinary science and marvel at their possibilities! Ben and Jerry might have the offbeat flavor market cornered for now, but to be safe you should probably head for your local ice creamery to “test” their strongest contenders.

2. July 2: World UFO Day

Keep your eyes on the sky at night on this day, because they are out there. According to the World UFO Day website, the celebration of all things unidentified, object, and airborne started officially in 2001. That said, most UFOlogoists believe the existence of intelligent beings from outer space dates much further back. If you’re feeling extra conspiratorial, holiday organizers implore you to use this day to “encourage governments to declassify their knowledge about sightings throughout the history.”

3. July 4: Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

Thinkstock

We’ve all heard the phrase “so hot outside you could fry an egg,” but today is the day we put that expression to the test. Though the origins of this climate-specific holiday are unknown, we imagine heat-inclined states were the earliest adopters. Oatman, Arizona has upped the ante with an annual solar-frying contest. Since you need daylight for this activity, it doesn't need to be mutually exclusive with Fourth of July fireworks! Everyone wins.

4. July 6: International Kissing Day

Thinkstock

Pucker up for some summer love! Formerly known as National Kissing Day in the United Kingdom, this holiday was invented to remind us all of the simple pleasure a sweet kiss can bring. It is also cited as a direct cause for National Mono Day.

5. July 8: International Town Criers Day

Getty Images

Hear ye, hear ye! Before there was Twitter, CNN, or even a newspaper, every respectable town had a town crier who kept the good public abreast of all relevant comings and goings. Today, you have full permission to shout your appreciation from the rooftops—it’s how they wanted it.

6. July 10: Teddy Bear Picnic Day

Thinkstock

In the early 20th century, John Walter Bratton composed an instrumental song entitled “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” In the late 1980s, collectible items dealer Royal Selangor decided to turn that into a national holiday. He also had the idea to conveniently release toy boxes and collectible items in conjunction with said event. Regardless of capitalist motives, the day became a national holiday and remains popular throughout Europe, as far away as Australia, and among many reputable stuffed bear circles.

7. July 11: Slurpee Day

Thinkstock

This year the ubiquitous (at least along interstates) convenience store will celebrate its 87th birthday. In observance of the the eponymous date 7/11, the store will dole out free Slurpees. Freeloaders mark your calendars now, and be sure to set aside an extra 20 minutes of recovery time from the subsequent brain freeze.

8. July 11: World Population Day

In honor of the holiday this year, the United Nations Population Fund continues advocating its Universal Access to Reproductive Health initiative. After you’ve recovered from your aforementioned brain freeze, take one more moment to reflect on being a part of such a big whole.

9. July 13: National French Fries Day

Thinkstock

Or National Freedom Fries Day, depending on your politics. We can’t make any promises, but last year some McDonald’s restaurants gave away their signature deep-fried potato sticks in honor of this special day. Free or not, on this day treat yourself to a full basket of guilt-free, Frenched, and fried goodness!

10. July 14: National Nude Day

The day the Tobias Fünkes of the world fear most. Originating in New Zealand, this non-public holiday encourages everyone to publicly celebrate their all-natural form. Note: please be sure to familiarize yourself with current local legislation concerning public nudity, lest you find yourself observing “international delinquent day.”

11. July 14: Bastille Day

Thinkstock

Storm your local Bastille in honor of France’s 1789 victory. More than 50 U.S. cities host celebrations, so you have no excuse to not indulge in delicious French foods and more fireworks. If your city happens to have loose public nudity laws, you can celebrate the birth of French democracy in your birthday suit!

12. July 17: Yellow Pig Day

The figment of two mathematicians’ imaginations in the 1960s, the 17-eyelashed yellow pig was born from an intense study of the fascinating properties of the number 17. Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics has kept the yellow flame alive every year, with Yellow Pig Math Days and even a special conference held in 2006 (the 34th, or 17x2, summer of the program).

13. July 19: National Flitch Day

Thinkstock

A 15th century relic, a “flitch” referred to an amount of bacon offered to married couples by local monks who could prove a year’s worth of matrimonial bliss to a jury of their single peers. Thought to have originated in Dunmore, England, the modern-day flitch ceremony now takes place once every four years, but is still very much all about the bacon.

14. July 22: Doonerism Spay

Getty Images

The birthday of Reverend William Archibald Spooner in 1844 London also marks the celebration of the famous slip of the tongue named after him. A spoonerism was originally the accidental switch of consonants or vowels, but has also since become a popular wordplay game.

15. July 26: National Talk in an Elevator Day

Thinkstock

We all do it. We look at our phone, at our feet, or at the fresh coffee stain on our shirts. Anything to avoid even making eye contact with our fellow elevator riders. Not today. Not on the last Friday in July. Throw out the social compact, and strike up a conversation with the nearest stranger while in a small space for a short period of time.

16. July 27: Bagpipe Appreciation Day

Thinkstock

Though bagpipes are perhaps most commonly linked to the Scottish, the largest producer in the world of this aerophone instrument is Pakistan. Just one of many fun facts you can toss out on Bagpipe Appreciation Day. You're welcome.

17. July 29: National Lasagna Day

Thinkstock

Catch up on some Garfield comics, head to an Italian restaurant, or grab some ricotta, pasta and Bolognese and whip one up yourself—there are many ways to honor National Lasagna Day. The only wrong way is to not honor it at all.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
arrow
Lists
10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 


PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios

"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios