Day 134: Ephemera & The World Calendar Cult

originally published May 13, 2012

Today’s topic is ephemera. Defined as transitory written matter that is not intended to be saved or preserved, it is naturally something that folks in our society save and preserve to a ridiculous extent. People collect ephemera like they’ve found the lost written prophecies of King Jehoiachin. I’m sure somewhere in the murky basement stash of my youthful souvenirs I’ve still got the set list I snagged from a 1994 Pink Floyd show I saw. That’s just ephemeridiculous.

Concert tickets are big in the ephemera world. I used to hang on to my ticket stubs, as though I’d never remember that I saw Neil Young and Crazy Horse unless I maintained possession of this evidentiary paperwork.

I think the aspiring hoarder needs to look at a wider variety of ephemera with which to fill those pesky empty corners of floor. Like airsickness bags.

Curator Steven J. Silberberg maintains the collection showcased at www.airsicknessbags.com, an impressive display of over 2200 puke-sacks. I assume that, like most collectors, Mr. Silberberg prefers to handle only unused bags. He even offers a Starter Kit for those who are looking to succumb to the addictive rush of barf-bag collecting. No dollar amount is set, the page simply offers three bags mailed to anyone who shoots him an email. I’m seriously considering doing this, if only to witness the look of exasperation on my wife’s face when they show up.

If your interests lay less among vomit and more in the realm of cultural history, check out the site hosted by Louisiana Tech University, ephemerastudies.org. They have a massive collection of old posters, booklets and ads that offer tasty slices of time from America’s past. Unfortunately, only a smidgen of the collection is available online. For example:

This is evidently a booklet seeking to oppose the World Calendar Association, which was aiming to change Sunday into a floating day that would pop up in different places each week.

Wait… what the hell?

Okay, this is a real thing, and suddenly I’m no longer interested in looking up the biggest collection of Bazooka Joe comics in the world. I want to know how Sundays are going to get mobile.

If I’m lucky, the internet will uncover this mystery, and allow me to harness my knowledge into providing me with more sleep-in days and more football every week. With haste I shall away to www.theworldcalendar.org.

The site’s slogan: “…helping to adopt the World Calendar by making sure the world has at least considered it.” This group’s militancy already has me nervous.

Okay, glancing at the World Calendar, it doesn’t appear that Sunday would become a wild card, randomly popping up and surprising us with unexpected new episodes of Mad Men. What this group is proposing actually looks like this:

Every year, January 1 would fall on a Sunday. January, April, July and October would have 31 days, the rest of the months would have 30. This divides all four quarters of the year equally, with each quarter starting on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday.

Already the symmetry appeals to the mathematical neighborhood of my brain (which is, in all fairness, on the outskirts –  off a pothole-laden exit ramp that doesn’t see a lot of use). It would mean that anyone whose birthday falls on March, May, or August 31 would have to shift their celebration slightly – a small price to pay for chronological balance, don’t you think?

As for December 31, it would also cease to be. This maintains the balance of the four quarters. However, in order to ensure 365 days between each Sunday, January 1, the day after December 30 would be Worldsday, a global holiday of New Year’s. This would be a day out of time in a way – the day before it would be a Saturday, the day after it, a Sunday. Only by removing it from the cycle of weekdays can we keep the cycle consistent.

Alright, I think this site is starting to convert me. Not to the point of fanaticism yet, but I might consider ordering a bumper sticker if the price is right. They’ve even accounted for leap years, dropping in an extra Worldsday after June 30 every four years. I think Worldsday is a brilliant idea. We should get started on designing the ceremonial hats right away.

This craziness originated with the work of 19th century Italian priest and philosopher Marco Mastrofini. He came up with the blueprints, and in 1930 a lady named Elisabeth Achelis founded The World Calendar Association, or TWCA, a group that probably had a hard time being taken seriously because they incorporate the ‘The’ into their acronym.

There was some international support for this idea in the League of Nations, and it was even introduced for consideration into Congress after WWII. Achelis pushed the UN to swing the world over to her side, but she was delayed by the Americans, who wanted to see if their population would support it. Given the propaganda booklet that likens the World Calendar to the bombing of churches, I’m thinking that’s where the idea fell apart.

Achelis dissolved her organization in 1956, but it took on other forms and still remains active. Their website, which incorporates a potent visual design you don’t see very often outside of late-90s geocities pages, states that they hope to transition the world over to this new system by 2017. I’m not very optimistic that this will come to be.

If they can’t pull it off by then, their next target will be 2023 – the next calendar year that begins on a Sunday. The problem is, they’ll never get support from the Christian world, or even the Jews for that matter. Those religious cycles operate on a strict 7-day Sabbath-to-Sabbath system, and deviating from that – even for a world-wide party – just isn’t going to happen.

I think what we need to do is incorporate the World Calendar concept into a bigger, more powerful cult-like religion. ‘World Calendar’ even sounds cult-y. Come on people, someone design some robes to go with those funky hats and let’s get this going.

I’d like to wish the World Calendar people luck. You have my vote. And thanks to Louisiana Tech for completely diverting me off my Wiki-selected topic of ephemera, and saving me the trouble of having to come up with a bunch of witty one-offs about Jeff Shepherd, the guy who owns over 100,000 Bazooka Joe comics.

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