Time to celebrate crazy eight

Lucky day: 08/08/08 isn't just special for the Chinese
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Today is Aug. 8, 2008. 08/08/08. 888. Lucky eights.

One lucky local is Katie Gooch, of Draper, who turns 8 today, eight years after she was born as an 8-pound, 8-ounce baby girl in 2000. Katie - or, should I say, K-8-E - said today will be a lucky day for her because of the day's plans, which include eating French toast for breakfast, a Subway cold-cut trio (with lettuce only) for lunch, an outing to the mall to get ears pierced and then dinner at the Mayan tonight.

Because Katie has a soccer game today, her mom - who had Katie in her eighth year of marriage - has scheduled a special party for her on Aug. 16, called the "8 Days Later Party."

On the other end of the spectrum, there's Adeline Proctor, of Sugar House, who turns 88 today. She plans to celebrate with her family, which includes eight great-grandchildren. "I've been waiting for it," Proctor said of her birthday. "I must be lucky - I have a lot of eights."

Numerologists generally agree that 08/08/08 is a lucky day: perfect for weddings, buying lottery tickets and asking for a promotion at work even if all you've been doing lately is singing "Eight Days a Week" at your desk.

There's good reason the Chinese wanted to launch their Olympics today. The number eight is considered extremely lucky to the Chinese, in part because in China the word "eight" sounds like the word "prosper" or "wealth." (It's too bad Chinese ice skaters won't be able to skate figure-8s during these summer games.)

It's natural that eight might be considered lucky worldwide, as eight is the atomic number of oxygen. Eight is a so-called "magic number" in nuclear physics - whatever that means.

There are eight Beatitudes, eight is the number of wealth and abundance in Hindu, and when Jewish children are 8 days old, they get circumcised as a necessary rite. (Maybe we should consider that latter example as culturally significant, but not quite so lucky for the boys involved.)

Locally, eight is the number beloved Brigham Young University quarterback Steve Young wore, and 8 is the age of baptism for children of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So, chances are that if you look into your Magic 8-Ball, a 20-sided device floating in the dark blue liquid inside will tell you "it is decidedly so" that today is your lucky day.

But before we jump off a cliff and expect to land on our feet just because it's a lucky day and we had a V8, it's a useful exercise to look in the past and see if past 08/08/08s have been lucky for mankind.

On Aug. 8, 1908, the Wright Brothers made their first public flight at a French race course.

On the same day, the late U.S. Supreme Court justice Arthur Goldberg was born - so that was lucky for him. His most influential opinion on the bench was when he argued that the death penalty was "cruel and unusual punishment" - so some convicts got lucky because of that.

Perusing the Aug. 8, 1908, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune reveals that luck was in the air. The local health board had just revealed that there were "only 72 deaths" in Salt Lake City in the month of July, signifying that the "mortality rate now is at very low ebb."

Also in the Tribune was an advertisement for the very lucky Mexican Mustang Liniment, "for the outward ailments of Man or Beast." The panacea was promised to give relief for, among other things, burns, colds, sore throat, shoe boils, harness sores and lameness - the latter for horses, not men, unless a man had a sore throat, apparently.

Here's a random sampling of lucky Aug. 8s.

- On Aug. 8, 1708, Benjamin Franklin's sister, Lydia, was born. Again, a lucky day for her.

- On Aug. 8, 1608, John Smith left the Tockwogh village and headed down the Chesapeake on his second exploration of the Virginian river. That, in itself, wasn't particularly lucky, but if Smith really looked like Colin Farrell (who played the character in the recent film "The New World"), perhaps he got lucky.

- On Aug. 8, 1508, Juan Ponce de Leon founded the first settlement in Puerto Rico, which was lucky for the future rum drinkers of the world.

Yet some other Aug. 8s haven't been as lucky.

On Aug. 8, 1608, the British theaters at which William Shakespeare's plays were allowed to be performed were shut down because of fears that the plague would spread.

On Aug. 8, 1308, the Order of the Knights Templar - the villains in "The Da Vinci Code" - were sent a letter from the pope that led to them being exonerated from heresy, and freeing them, hundreds of years later, to persecute the hero of the book and film.

And on Aug. 8, 2007, I was beset by an ingrown toenail that really hurt.

But, in the end, the moral of the story is that people will die today, and others will be born. Some people will wed, and some people will divorce. Some people will be hurt, and others will be healed. (For Katie of Draper, that means she will experience momentary pain as she gets her ears pierced today, but the pain will pass.) All we know is that we just don't know.

But, hey, maybe this is a day to try your luck. For example, perhaps you feel the urge to shoot billiards, and you're contemplating your odds at sinking an eight ball into a lucky pocket. Chances are, you just might sink it.

David Burger writes about popular music. Contact him at dburger@sltrib.com or 801-257-8620.

More crazy 8s

- 8 maids-a-milking

- V8 engine

- 8 levels of consciousness, according to Tim Leary

- 8 known B-vitamins

- 8 bits in a byte

- "Sk8er Boi," song by Avril Lavigne

- 8888 Burmese uprising on Aug. 8, 1988, that demanded democracy

- Perusing the Aug. 8, 1908, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune reveals that luck was in the air. The local health board had just revealed that there were "only 72 deaths" in Salt Lake City in the month of July, signifying that the "mortality rate now is at very low ebb."

Lucky 8 parties

- Tonight there's an 08/08/08 neighborhood party/fundraiser for the 4th Street Clinic at Pioneer Park from 4-7 p.m.

- Tonight the city of Layton and the Davis Arts Council present a "Great Family Date in 08/08/08." Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 8 and under. The party begins at 8 p.m. at the Ed Kenley Amphitheater at 8 p.m. in L-8-ton. Crazy-8 games and prize giveaways will be part of the night, along with music by Mid-Life Crisis and comedy from Craig Bielik and Keith Stubbs.