Saturday, December 27, 2014

Holidays and Observances for December 27 2014

Howdy Doody Day


Howdy Doody is an American children's television program (with circus and Western frontier themes) that was created and produced by E. Roger Muir and telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947 until September 24, 1960. It was a pioneer in children's television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows. One of the first television series produced at NBC in Rockefeller Center, in Studio 3A, it was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC (at the time owned by TV maker RCA) used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.

The character first came to life from the creative mind of Bob Smith, who created Howdy Doody during his days as a radio announcer on WNBC (AM). At that time, Howdy Doody was only a voice Smith performed on the radio. When Smith made an appearance on NBC's television program Puppet Playhouse on December 27, 1947, the reception for the character was great enough to begin a demand for a visual character for television. Frank Paris, a puppeteer whose puppets appeared on the program, was asked to create a Howdy Doody puppet.

Bob Smith, the show's host, was dubbed "Buffalo Bob" early in the show's run (a reference to the historical Buffalo Bill and Smith's hometown of Buffalo, New York). Smith wore cowboy garb, and the name of the puppet "star" was derived from the American expression "howdy doody"/"howdy do", a commonplace corruption of the phrase "How do you do?" used in the western United States (The straightforward use of that expression was also in the theme song's lyrics.) Smith, who had gotten his start as a singing radio personality in Buffalo, used music frequently in the program. Cast members Lew Anderson and Robert "Nick" Nicholson were both experienced jazz musicians.

As both the character and television program grew in popularity, demand for Howdy Doody related merchandise began to surface. By 1948, toymakers and department stores had been approached with requests for Howdy Doody dolls and similar items. Macy's department store contacted Frank Paris, the creator of the puppet, to ask about rights for a Howdy Doody doll. While Paris had created the puppet, it was Bob Smith who owned the rights to the Howdy Doody character; an argument ensued between the two men, as Paris felt he was being cheated out of any financial benefits from having made the puppet. After one such disagreement, Paris took the Howdy Doody puppet and angrily left the NBC studios with it about four hours before the show was to air live; it was not the first time Paris had taken his puppet and left, leaving the live television program with no "star".

With Paris' past disappearances, impromptu excuses regarding the whereabouts of Howdy Doody had been hastily concocted. This time, an elaborate explanation was offered—that Howdy was busy with the elections on the campaign trail. NBC hurriedly constructed a map of the United States, which allowed viewers, with the help of Smith, to learn where Howdy was on the road. The explanation continued that while on the campaign trail, Howdy decided to improve his appearance with some plastic surgery. This made it possible for the network to hire Velma Dawson to create a more handsome and appealing visual character than Paris' original, which had been called "the ugliest puppet imaginable" by Bob Smith. Since Paris did not provide the voice of the character, Howdy's voice would stay the same after his appearance changed. The puppet which is remembered as the "original" Howdy Doody replaced the actual original made by Frank Paris.

Howdy Doody himself is a freckle-faced boy marionette with 48 freckles, one for each state of the union (up until January 3, 1959, when Alaska was admitted as the 49th state), and was originally voiced by Buffalo Bob Smith. The Howdy Doody show's various marionettes were created and built by puppeteers Velma Wayne Dawson, Scott Brinker (the show's prop man) and Rufus Rose throughout the show's run. The redheaded Howdy marionette on the original show was operated with 11 strings: two heads, one mouth, one eye, two shoulders, one back, two hands and two knees. Three strings were added when the show returned—two elbows and one nose.

The original Howdy Doody marionette now resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts. There were duplicate Howdy Doody puppets, designed to be used expressly for off-the-air purposes (lighting rehearsals, personal appearances, etc.), although surviving kinescope recordings clearly show that these duplicate puppets were indeed used on the air occasionally. Double Doody, the Howdy stand-in puppet, is now in the collection of the Division of Culture and the Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.[ Photo Doody is the near-stringless marionette that was used in personal appearances, photos, parades, and the famed NBC test pattern. He was sold by Leland's Sports Auction House in 1997 for more than $113,000 to a private art collector, TJ Fisher.

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day


Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day is observed on December 27th. The snowflake is often a traditional seasonal image or motif used around the Christmas period, especially in Europe and the United States. It represents the traditional White Christmas. During this period it is quite popular to make paper snowflakes by folding a piece of paper several times, cutting out a pattern with scissors and then unfolding it.

A snowflake is either a single ice crystal or an aggregation of ice crystals which falls through the Earth's atmosphere. They begin as snow crystals which develop when microscopic supercooled cloud droplets freeze. Snowflakes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Complex shapes emerge as the flake moves through differing temperature and humidity regimes, such that individual snowflakes are nearly unique in structure.

National Fruitcake Day


Today is National Fruitcake Day! Although fruit cakes are certainly a delicious treat to enjoy around the holidays, they are quite possibly the most popular item for re-gifting. A whopping 38% of people say they give fruitcakes away when they receive them!

Culinary lore claims that ancient Egyptians placed an early version of the fruitcake on the tombs of loved ones, perhaps as food for the afterlife. But fruitcakes were not common until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and barley mash were mixed together to form a ring-shaped dessert. Prized for its portability and shelf life, Roman soldiers often brought fruitcake with them to the battlefields. Later, in the Middle Ages, preserved fruit, spices and honey were added to the mix and fruitcakes gained popularity with crusaders.

With the colonies providing a boon in cheap, raw materials, 16th-century fruitcakes contained cupfuls of sugar, which added another density booster to the cake. In addition, fruits from the Mediterranean were candied and added to the mixture, along with nuts. Each successive century seemed to contribute yet another element to the cake, like alcohol during the Victorian era, until it became weighty with the cumulative harvests of the seasons.

In fact, by the early 18th century, fruitcake became synonymous with decadence and was outlawed inEurope, where it was proclaimed "sinfully rich" [source: Associated Content]. The law was eventually repealed since fruitcake had become an important part of the tea hour, particularly in England.

Recent centuries have seen fruitcake continue as a popular item to send to soldiers. One former soldier, Lance Nesta, rediscovered a fruitcake gifted to him in 1962 when he was stationed in Alaska. He had forgotten about the loaf, and it ended up in his mother's attic, where he found it 40 years later, claiming that at the time of receiving the present, "I opened it up and didn't know what to do with it. I sure wasn't going to eat it, and I liked my fellow soldiers too much to share it with them".

The humble loaf has also appeared in popular culture like Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," which recounts young Capote's time spent with his eccentric cousin, who would commence to fruitcake-making when she deemed it proper "fruitcake weather."

But it's perhaps the former host of "The Tonight Show," Johnny Carson, who best determined fruitcake's place in the modern psyche. Deriding the loaf as a holiday reject, he once claimed that, "The worst gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other".

In the next section, we'll look at the physical qualities of fruitcakes and find out why some people begin "feeding" their fruitcakes a year in advance of their gifting or consumption.

To celebrate National Fruitcake Day, buy one of these holiday treats at your local grocery store to share with friends!

Visit The Zoo Day


December 27 is Visit the Zoo Day! Don't miss the fantastic family fun…Everybody loves a trip to the zoo!The animals never cease to entertain, and there aren't any TV’s or games to distract the youngsters. Why not take advantage of these National Treasures and celebrate “Visit the Zoo Day” as a family!

If animals are your passion then Visit the Zoo Day gives you a great opportunity to really get close to some of the most intriguing and engaging species on the planet. No matter where you live, your usually not far from a Zoo, so why not go for a visit and find out more?

These days Zoos are at the forefront of much of the research which goes on into animal behaviour and how best to protect vulnerable animals from extinction. Many Zoos have breeding programmes running, where they work with other facilities around the world to increase the numbers of endangered populations. Zoo enclosures are roomy and mirror an animal’s natural environment closely. Some Zoos house indigenous species rather than those from further afield.

People of all ages are fascinated by Zoo animals, so a trip on Visit the Zoo Day is a superb idea for a family treat.

The zoo can find its earliest origins as far back as 3000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. The pharaohs would upon occasion demand that wild animals be captured and retained for the amusement of the ruler, intimidation of enemies, or to hunt as sport in a controlled setting. No matter what the surface reason, the root cause of keeping wild animals in this fashion was to exhibit the wealth and power of the ruler. This model continued on a very limited scale until the age of exploration, when explorers would collect exotic specimens from their travels around the world, particularly in the tropical regions. This led to zoos springing up in capitol cities around the western world, once again to demonstrate the city’s status through the size and grandeur of its zoo. Competitions sprang up between zoos to exhibit the greatest variety of species in “splendid isolation.”

This resulted in many small and inadequate exhibits that by today’s standards seem inherently cruel to the animals, but it’s not fair to judge past generations by today’s standards. These zoos also had no concept of conservation as we do today as people then viewed the natural world as inexhaustible. At the same time however, natural history museums were being founded. Couple the studious nature of the museum with access to new exotic subject matter through the age of exploration, and studies were done, possibly leading to a change in zoological thinking.

After World War Two, zoological thinking began to take it’s modern form. They began to take the roles of conservation facilities and everything that comes along with that role. Zoos began establishing research departments and hiring educational staff to share their new message with the public. This new found knowledge and attitude toward zoo management has resulted in more suitable habitats for the animals in the zoo. Through research, mixed species exhibits are formed creating a more natural experience for both the animals and visitors.

As we continue to study and learn from the animals we have in zoos, we can continue to provide more and more appropriate habitats and experiences in zoos. We have come a long way in how zoos are run and organized, each new role changing with the times. Today zoos serve a very important role in global conservation and sustainability.