Anniversary Post: Leap Day and Hattie McDaniel

Leap Day and Hattie McDanielWell, it’s Leap Day my friends. The only person I’ve ever known who was born on this day was my grandfather. It’s always seemed a curious way to deal with a calendar. But there is a lot about our calendars that I don’t care much for. I don’t like months being different lengths. And then February really screws things up not being static. And why February? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put it in December? You could start with January at 31 days, and then alternate 30, 31, 30, and so on. That would give December 30 days on a Leap year. At least it would make sense and everyone would be straight on the number of days in each month.

Given that we just had the Academy Awards, it’s interesting to note that Hattie McDaniel won her award for Best Supporting Actress on Leap Day in 1940 for Gone With the Wind. Such awards generally make a career in Hollywood, and Hattie McDaniel was no different. She went on to play maids in several films before moving into radio and television. She died at the age of 57 of breast cancer.

The one good thing about Leap Day, however, is that it does provide another day of work this month to get paid. I didn’t get much work done this weekend, because the very idea of it seems just too much. Not that there is much of an alternative. We have, as usual, the Schopenhauerian paradox of working to work some more. The one place that’s not true is working on the book. Soon, it will be done and I will never be stupid enough to get involved in such a ridiculous waste of time again. That’s a cheerful thought.

But we have to salute Hattie McDaniel. She was good, even if Gone With the Wind is really a far more troublesome film than Birth of a Nation. I mean, only film students watch Birth of a Nation, and I’m convinced a fair section of Americans get their ideas about slavery from Gone With the Wind.

4 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Leap Day and Hattie McDaniel

  1. Having the last day of the year the one to change would actually be quite annoying – it’s good to be able to say “the last day of the year is 31st December” and for it always to be true – programming, for instance.

    If you want something a bit more even, then have 5 months always with 31 days, 6 always with 30, and 1 with 30, except in a leap year when it gets 31. Say, Feb for the 30/31, and April/June/Aug/Oct/Dec for 31.

    • Your suggestion is pretty much mine except for the month. But is it ever important to know that the last day of year? I actual prefer 12 30 day months and then 5-6 days of a years festival celebrating the fact that we made it through another year.

      • You could do – though that does mean you have some days that don’t belong to a month – or a 13th 5/6 day month. That calendar is almost J.R.R. Tolkien’s one – 12 30 day months, 2 holidays for ‘Yule’ at new year outside the months, and 3 or 4 at midsummer. And he put the central 1 or 2 days of midsummer as non-days of the week, so that all the other dates fell on the same day of the week every year. (You could make that summer/winter split 3 and 2 or 3, to make things more even between the northern and southern hemisphere summer and winters). Or you could declare every date of the 31st in my idea a holiday, and spread them out through the year.

        Now to decimalise time …

        • That would be part of the selling point. But I like your idea of cutting it in two. That way we’d get the holiday in the Summer and Winter in both hemispheres. But if I were ruler of the world, I would do other things that would drive people even more crazy like getting rid of time zones which, in my line of work, totally suck.

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