William Shakespeare is still celebrated today, more than 400 years after his death, because he wrote some of history's most enduring dramatic works. Also because he knew that people like puns. Shakespeare's plays are loaded with puns. He's not the only one, either. The ancient Romans — who, incidentally, feature prominently in a handful of plays by one W. Shakespeare — also loved a good pun.
Frankly, everybody loves puns. Wordplay is in our DNA, right along with survival instincts and the ability to follow microwave oven cooking instructions. When political opponents of former New York governor and presidential candidate Al Smith wanted to smear him on account of his opposition to Prohibition, they hung the derisive nickname Al "Cohol" Smith on him. Get it? You can guffaw any time.
Paradoxically, part of humanity's shared love of puns is that we like to pretend that we think puns are terrible. A pun is never more cherished than when everyone groans about how awful and obvious it is. But really, we all think puns are the cat's pyjamas. Take today, for example. Today is Star Wars Day. Not officially, but it's probably the most formalized of any of the unofficial celebration days we have.
Take a moment, then, and ask yourself: Why today? The first-ever Star Wars movie, 1977's Star Wars was released on May 25, not May 4. Star Wars creator George Lucas was born on May 14, not May 4. If you add up the numerical value of the letters in the name "Darth Vader" and then divide by the total numerical value of the letters in "May," then you get (rounding up) May 3, not May 4.
So why is May 4 Star Wars Day? It's because if you say, "May the 4th be with you," then a) you sound Luke Thkywalker, and b) the whole business about puns. You can't make an intelligible pun out of May 8, say, or May 17. May 4, on the other hand? That's comedy gold. Or, you know, it's a least a moderately clever play on words. And it's easy for people to remember.
Here's at TestOut Continuing Education, we're celebrating Star Wars Day by honoring Han Solo, whose youthful antics will be explored in the forthcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story, to be released later this month on May 25, speaking of significant dates in Star Wars history. At any rate, Han Solo took a dim view of the Force, at least initially. He once said the following:
"Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense." All of that was in support of his original point that "hokey religions" are no match for a good blaster at your side.
At any rate, Han's argument was that you need to be proactive. You should look out for yourself and your own interests, because you can't rely on anyone else to take care of that for you. And proactivity is an idea we can all get behind. So May the Fourth be with you. Also, take charge of the direction of your own IT career and get a certification.
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