Don't forget to move your calendars ahead this weekend, because for the first time in four years, we're going to have a February 29. Every four years the world's calendars add an extra day to this month, allegedly because the calendar doesn't precisely match the solar year, though it's suspicious that it also happens to coincide with election years. This way the media gets to fawn over Barack Obama for an extra day, and insiuate John McCain is even older than he actually is. Cut the guy a break. If you give him back those years spent in a prisoner of war camp, he's only 206.Considering it occurs every four years, it's amazing some of the big moments in history that occurred on the date. Way back in 1692, the Salem Witch Trials kicked off, with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) presiding, and Geraldo Rivera covering it for Fox News. Not only did these trials result in hundreds of people being hung and tortured and represent a serious low point in American history, they also would eventually launch the career of Melissa Joan Hart, star of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Amazingly, no one associated with that show, not even Martin Mull or Nick Bakay, has been hung or tortured, with the possible exception of segments of the viewing audience.
I also read that in 1848, Neufchatel declared the independence of Switzerland. I find this puzzling because I'm not quite sure what cream cheese has to do with the sovereignty of a nation. But I do know that Switzerland probably wouldn't taste nearly as good on a bagel.
Perhaps the most infamous event that happened on February 29 came in 1972 when the Carpenters received a gold record for their single "Hurting Each Other", while simultaneously hurting the ears of anyone with any kind of good taste in music. Karen Carpenter celebrated with a feast consisting of an olive on a Ritz cracker. She was unable to finish it.
A source of yuks every year a February 29 rolls around, at least for those easily amused, is the jokes about people born on the date being far younger than they actually are because they only celebrate their birthday every four years. Some take to this humor easily, like Dinah Shore, who grew up to have her name attached to a women's golf tournament, and classical composer Gioacchino Rossini, best known for his television work in writing the famous "Theme from The Lone Ranger."
But others grew up seething at the taunts, growing angrier and angrier that birthday gifts come only as often as the Olympics. Eventually, for one such person, it caused him to grow up to choose a career in serial killing. Mr. Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, was born February 29 in 1960. Unfortunately for Ramirez, prosecutors didn't buy his argument that he couldn't be tried as an adult because he was only six at the time.
Throughout history, leap day has been regarded as both lucky and unlucky. The Irish thought it was a great time to get engaged and celebrate with drinks, though I guess it should be noted that the Irish have, historically, found just about anything to be a cause for celebration with drinks. The Scots, on the other hand, found leap year to be unlucky since it meant that they had to put up with their drunken neighbors.
Bill Rudick finds February 29 to be as lucky or unlucky as any other day. It's not like you get an extra hour of sleep or anything. His email is email@example.com.