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- 10/03/15--06:00: The definitive guide to obscure pop-culture holidays
In the video game Terminator: Future Shock, it occurs sometime in 1995—two years prior to the original date.
The novel Terminator Salvation: Cold War puts it at July 25, 2003.
Both Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the novel Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes place it on July 25, 2004.
It happens at some point in 2005 in the novel T2: The Future War.
Sarah Connor is informed that it will happen April 21, 2011, in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Thanks to Sarah Connor being given a Terminator for protection early in Terminator: Genisys (who then kills the Terminator sent to kill her in 1984 in Terminator), the original date of Judgment Day is now pushed back a couple of decades to 2017.
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One of the most anticipated days on the Internet is literally decades in the making.
Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in the second Back to the Future film in order to stop Marty’s son from ruining his life (and that of his family’s). The date itself is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things—it’s not like Marty and Doc kept returning to it, like they did with Nov. 12, 1955, across three films—but the fact that it’s displayed prominently within Doc’s DeLorean time machine makes it perfect trivia fodder. And so, thanks to Back to the Future, there’s now a significance to Oct. 21, 2015 (not, ahem, any of the other dates your friends and relatives shared on Facebook).
We love shit like this.
You won’t find these dates circled on most calendars, but fans and purveyors of pop culture have been celebrating them for years. For example, Harry Potter fans—who already saw many of their favorite characters’ birthdays celebrated on J.K. Rowling’s website—figured out the entire timeline of the series based off Gryffindor ghost Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday, which took place on Oct. 31, 1492. Because it was his 500th Deathday party in Chamber of Secrets, fans quickly figured out that Harry Potter took place in the ’90s; from there, mapping out the births and deaths of most of the characters in the series was a cinch. Rowling herself even embraced it at one point in Deathly Hallows.
We might not yet have something to celebrate every single day, but that just means there’s room to grow. Follow along with the complete list of events with this shareable Google Calendar.Jan. 6: Sherlock Holmes’s birthday
Origin: Sherlock Holmes
History: While Sherlock’s birthday is never explicitly stated in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales, Sherlock fans figured out the year because his age is mentioned in “His Last Bow,” which takes place in August 1914: “He was a tall, gaunt man of sixty...”
Jan. 25-31: Winter-een-mas
History:Ctrl+Alt+Del creator Tim Buckley, who created the gaming holiday within his webcomic’s universe, explains why he came up with it.
“Winter-een-mas, in its essence, is a holiday for gamers. It is celebration of games and the gamers who play them. Video games allow us to do things, go places, see stuff that we couldn’t do in real life. They can be an escape from reality, a release after a long day, a fun activity with friends, or just an enjoyable way to pass time. They give us a lot of entertainment, So why shouldn’t they be celebrated?”
Winter-een-mas—a portmanteau of winter, Halloween, and Christmas—is essentially the time of year when gamers can take the time to actually play all of the games they’ve purchased and loved throughout the year. While technically Winter-een-mas takes place through all of January (and, for some gamers, the celebration could very well just be every day), the main week of celebration is the final week of the month. (It also has a fairly absurd and amusing origin story told in the style of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”)
Feb. 2: Groundhog Day
History: Groundhog Day has been a yearly tradition long before the Bill Murray–Andie MacDowell romantic comedy brought it into the pop culture lexicon, but the official holiday is now almost inextricable from Murray’s Phil Connors’ hatred for it. According to WhatCulture, the character relived this nightmarish date an astounding 12,395 times.Feb. 13: Galentine’s Day
Origin:Parks and Recreation
History: We all know about Valentine’s Day, but for many women both in and out of relationships, the real fun is in Galentine’s Day. First appearing in a now-iconic season 2 episode of the same name, the holiday started when feminist hero Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) gave out gifts to her friends, female co-workers, random strangers, and even her mother in order to celebrate the incredible women in her life. Ovaries before brovaries, as Leslie would say.It’s brought up again in season 4’s “Operation Ann” and is the name of a season 6 episode when Leslie hosts an impromptu Galentine’s Day brunch in order to find a suitable replacement for Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) before she moves away. So even though Parks and Recreation is over, many women have embraced this holiday as their own, letting the show’s legacy live on.
Feb. 22: “Underage Drinker #1’s” Birthday
Origin:Hot Fuzz / Cornetto Trilogy
History:Hot Fuzz is pretty much a masterpiece on its own, but one of the smaller points involves Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) arresting a rowdy teenager for being underage in a pub. We don’t know if the teenage boy’s birthday is actually on Feb. 22 or it was just a date he pulled out of thin air, but evidently it meant something to him.Feb. 29: Leap Day
History: This season 6 episode of 30 Rock turns the one day we see every four years into a more legitimate holiday, complete with bizarre traditions and a grandfather-like mascot that pops out of the Mariana Trench to give children candy after they cry. People wear blue and yellow lest you get poked in the eye, and to top it all off, there’s a cheesy rom-com within the episode starring Andie MacDowell and Jim Carrey as lawyer who transforms into a mustachioed, gilled creature. It’s absurd, but it works.March 6: The Day of the Dude
Origin:The Big Lebowski
History: It’s not often that a film sparks its own religion, but The Big Lebowski is in a class of its own. Oliver Benjamin founded Dudeism—also known as the Church of the Latter-Day Dude—in 2005, and soon afterwards a holiday was established to honor the very foundations of Dudeism. While the date shifted around at first, it ultimately fell on March 6, the anniversary of when The Big Lebowski came out in 1998.“We recommend celebrating The Day of the Dude by getting together with like-minded Dudeists, drinking white Russians, watching the sacred film, and going bowling,” the Dudespaper explains on how to celebrate the holiday. “However, anything that pays honor to the high principles of Dudeism is fine.”
March 24: That fateful Saturday detention
Origin:The Breakfast Club
History: That detention at Shermer High School could’ve taken place on any other Saturday if it hadn’t been spoon-fed to us. Released nearly a year after the detention in question, The Breakfast Club is quotable, relatable for many of us, and we still come back to it more than 30 years later. And all it took was five teenagers giving up a Saturday.April 5: First Contact Day
History: A day that hasn’t happened yet? Sure, but it’s just as much of a celebration of Star Trek as it is the endless possibilities of our own space exploration. After the first flight of the spaceship Phoenix, which could achieve light speed with warp drive, caught the attention of the Vulcans, humans in Bozeman, Montana, and Vulcans contacted each other for the first time. First Contact Day marks that anniversary. It eventually became one of the plot points of Star Trek: First Contact as Captain Jean Luc Picard and his crew go back in time to April 2063 to save the future.The date itself is a little easier to explain: April 5 is the birthday of First Contact co-writer Ronald D. Moore’s oldest son.
April 8: Rex Manning Day
History: Empire Records, a struggling indie music store, is hosting a signing and meet-and-greet with former ’80s pop idol Rex Manning. Nobody is looking forward to it and nobody really likes Rex (including his own assistant), but the employees can’t help but say it as often as possible. Although the date was up for debate, the Netflix version of Empire Records (and larger TVs) put an end to that.April 25: The Perfect Date
History: Early on in the Miss United States pageant, Miss Rhode Island, aka Cheryl Fraiser, is asked for her idea of the perfect date. Instead of going into detail about the place or the activities, she took a more literal approach.April 30 (but really all of April): It’s Gonna Be May
History: N’SYNC may have been singing about themselves when they came out with the 2000 megahit “It’s Gonna Be Me,” but since 2012 larger groups of people online have joked that Justin Timberlake sounds like he’s saying “May” instead. It’s never gonna be more close to May than April 30.Soon enough, your calendar may even start singing back to you. May 2: The Battle of Hogwarts
History: Remember how the Harry Potter fandom nailed down a chronological timeline of the entire series? That even includes inserting information not widely available within the text of the books, such as the date the end of Voldemort’s reign of terror took place. Rowling confirmed it in the 2007 U.K. documentary J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life while she discussed the birth of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s oldest child.
Now that Rowling is on Twitter, she’s taken the time to acknowledge the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. As you can imagine, she’s still mourning the loss of the many characters who perished in the battle and has even started to apologize for killing some of them.May 4: May the Fourth Be With You / Star Wars Day
Year:~2011 with an assist from 1979
History: It’s hard to imagine a May 4 passing without mention from the decades-old Star Wars fandom, but this holiday has grown significantly with the help of social media. And while LucasFilm didn’t come up with the idea, it’s fully behind the idea of a Star Wars Day—as well as the pun with “May the Force be with you.”The phrase itself first appeared after British politicians congratulated Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become the U.K. Prime Minister, in a 1979 newspaper ad that said “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” And while stories of people celebrating a version of Star Wars Day appeared online earlier, the Toronto Underground Cinema put on the first organized Star Wars Day in 2011. With The Force Awakens and other films on the horizon, this one is only going to get bigger.
May 5: Revenge of the Fifth
Origin: Star Wars
History: Nowhere near as well-known as its counterpart, Revenge of the Fifth is a play on Revenge of the Sith, for the people who need more than one day to celebrate everything Star Wars.
May 10: Whacking Day
Year:1775 / 1924
History: Appearing in the season 4 episode “Whacking Day,” this holiday marks the annual Springfield tradition started by the purported town founder Jebediah Springfield, who whacked his first snake in 1775. Essentially, the people of Springfield lure some snakes to the center of town, where they then kill them with sticks. (It’s just as barbaric as it sounds, and it’s loosely based on a holiday that takes place in a small town in Texas.)However, over the course of the episode, Bart discovers that Jebediah couldn’t have actually founded Whacking Day since he led an attack on Fort Ticonderoga; never mind that his reported birth year makes him only 1 in 1775. At the episode’s climax, Bart reveals the truth: Whacking Day is actually a thinly veiled excuse to beat up the Irish in town that began in 1924.
May 25: Towel Day / one third of Geek Day
History: Towels are known as the “most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have” in the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, and fans use that symbol of practical and psychological value to honor the life of Douglas Adams. D. Clyde Williams proposed the first Towel Day for May 25, 2001—two weeks after Adams’s sudden death—as a way for people to talk about Hitchhiker’s Guide. While other days have been proposed in recent years, May 25 has always stuck.Wondering how best to celebrate? Just carry a towel—and don’t panic.
In recent years, Towel Day has been combined into one big Geek Day; May 25 is also the day Star Wars: Episode IV was released in 1977 and marks the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution. (More below.)
May 25: The Glorious Revolution / one third of Geek Day
Year:1957 in the Discworld timeline
History:Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Night Watch, which in part is a parody of Les Miserables, features its own revolutionary battle that ended the reign of a particularly nasty Patrician, or the ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Many fought on that May 25, and while many of the events were reversed throughout the novel, the casualties stayed the same. Now on the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, the survivors (and only those who partook in the battle) wear lilac flowers to honor the fallen.
After Pratchett’s death this year, Discworld fans used the in-universe holiday to honor the author as a day of remembrance.
June 5: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Origin: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
History: In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the titular character (Matthew Broderick) basically has the best day ever. For ages we had a vague sense of when the date occurred—toward the end of the school year—but we only recently got a date, and it’s because of the Chicago Cubs.Baseball Prospectus’s Larry Granillo noticed from the scene where Ferris catches the foul ball at the Cubs game that the production crew didn’t put any recreated footage in it. Bueller, Cameron Frye, and Sloane Peterson are at an actual Cubs game. After crunching some numbers, Granillo pinned the game as have taking place on June 5, 1985, an 11-inning game the Cubs ultimately lost. Ken Collins, the film’s second assistant director eventually confirmed that the scene was shot on Sept. 24, 1985, but Granillo believes his theory still stands.
June 22: Evangelion Day
Origin: Neon Genesis Evangelion
History: While Neon Genesis Evangelion aired in the mid-’90s, the famous anime created a futuristic and dystopian world that’s both familiar and foreign to us today. But among everything else, it had mechas—better known in the show as Evangelions. In the very first episode, which took place on June 22, 2015, Shinji Ikari is made to get inside of Eva-01 by his father Gendou to fight the Third Angel, and nothing is ever the same.
Although that date has now passed, we can be glad that we’ve yet to be attacked by the Third Angel.
June 22: Summerween
History: The people of Gravity Falls, Oregon, love Halloween so much they made a second holiday of it—Summerween, which falls toward the end of June. It’s very much like the Halloween that takes place in October except for a few minor differences: Instead of jack-o’-lanterns the residents make jack-o’-watermelons, and there’s the local legend the Summerween Trickster, a creature that will eat any children lacking in Summerween spirit. (Like everything in Gravity Falls, the Trickster is real.)
June 30: Usagi Tsukino’s birthday
History: Even though Usagi is the leader of the Sailor Guardians and the reincarnation of Princess Serenity (and will one day become Neo Queen Serenity), she’s still a teenager at heart. And of course she’s going to be excited when it’s finally her birthday, which occurs in “Usagi in Tears: a Glass Slipper for My Birthday” in the original anime series.As excited as she was, it didn’t exactly go according to plan. The other Sailor Guardians ignored it because they were planning a surprise party for her, but her boyfriend Mamoru Chiba just didn’t know.
June 31: Weasel Stomping Day
History:“Weasel Stomping Day,” a song off of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Straight Outta Lynwood, is all about getting your viking hats and boots ready to “stomp your cares away” at the expense of some weasels. With a fitting music video courtesy of Robot Chicken, this song parodies ’60s animated musical specials instead of one song in particular—and it’s catchy to boot.When asked by About.com’s Mike Durrett what day Weasel Stomping Day fell on, Yankovic jokingly said June 31, so good luck celebrating this one anytime soon.
July 1: Bobby Bonilla Day
History: After the end of the 1999 season, the New York Mets wanted to buy out the final year of Bobby Bonilla’s contract, but instead of just paying him the $5.9 million he was owed, the Mets agreed to pay him $1,193,248.20 every year for 25 years starting in 2011. The Mets were reportedly making investments with Bernie Madoff at the time and figured they’d make more money back than they’d owe Bonilla, but that didn’t exactly pan out for them.
So instead Bonilla makes nearly $2 million a year through the year 2035, by which point he’ll have earned approximately $29.8 million for not playing a single game of baseball—something sportswriters and fans love to laugh about.
July 4: Freedom Day
History: Although there isn’t an exact date for Freedom Day, it’s the Fourth of July on steroids and celebrated by everyone on Earth. Essentially, it’s the one day of the year (although it’s unclear if it’s an annual event) when anyone can do anything they want to express freedom. For example, you can be a jerk without consideration of other people’s feelings or go nude without any consequences (or even take part in nude hot tubbing). A parade goes through Earth’s capital of Washington, D.C., the president gives a speech, and then there are fireworks.The only thing that you can’t do? Eat a flag—which Dr. John Zoidberg found out the hard way.
July 6: The only day in an abandoned English village
History: In “The Android Invasion,” Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) return to Earth after some time away and come across a small, strange English village. There, they’re chased by men in white suits along with androids disguised as their friends at U.N.I.T. who are trying to kill all humans and take over the world.
At one point, the Doctor examines an abandoned pub that’s filled with odd items such an unused dartboard and a tear-off calendar with only one date in it.At first glance it looks like the Doctor is in his own version of Groundhog Day, but it just turns out it’s another piece of evidence that not all is right with that village.
July 31: Harry Potter’s birthday
History: While more than a dozen Harry Potter characters such as Ron and the rest of the Weasleys, Hermione Granger, Hagrid, Dobby, Snape, and even Voldemort each have their own birthdays, Harry’s is doubly important. Not only was his birthday part of the plot in numerous books, it’s also Rowling’s birthday, without whom there would be no Harry Potter. This year they both hit a milestone: Harry turned 35 while Rowling turned 50.Aug. 3: Esther Day
History: Prior to her death in 2010, John and Hank Green promised Esther Earl, a vlogger and Nerdfighter they had befriended, that they would make a video on her birthday about anything she wanted as long as they were still making Vlogbrothers videos. After thinking about it, Earl decided that she wanted the videos to be about celebrating love, family, and friends.Earl died shortly after the first annual Esther Day, but the Nerdfighter community still gets together every year for what John Green describes as “a Valentine’s Day for the rest of love.” They celebrate Earl’s life along with saying “I love you” to the people in their lives who don’t often hear it.
Aug. 8: The Sensates’ birthday
History: Will, Nomi, Riley, Capheus, Sun, Lito, Kala, and Wolfgang are the Sensates—people who are connected to others through a telepathic connection—at the center of the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic for Netflix. As members of the same cluster, they already have at least one thing in common: They all share a birthday.Aug. 8 already brought Sense8 fans a renewal, but since the show has only been out for a few months, fans will have to wait to see what else is significant about the date. The characters’ full birthday has not yet been confirmed, but fans have speculated that the Sensates were all born on Aug. 8, 1988—the date with the highest number of eights that lines up with their approximate mid-20s age range.
Aug. 29: Judgment Day
Origin: Terminator series
History: One huge constant in the Terminator series is the idea that the artificial intelligence Skynet will eventually become self-aware and launch a nuclear strike on the world because it saw humanity as a threat.What hasn’t been constant is the when. Because of the vast use of time travel throughout the series, the date has often changed. Aug. 29, 1997 is the original Judgment Day mentioned in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but alternate timelines have moved it around quite a bit in history, making us wonder how Skynet was even able to keep track of everything.
Sept. 1: The first day of Hogwarts
Year:“over 1,000 years ago,” according to Professor Binns in Chamber of Secrets, although some put it at 990 A.D.
History: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was famously founded by Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin more than a millennium ago, although the actual date was lost. Since then, it’s popped out its fair share of talented and powerful witches and wizards (both good and bad), but they likely all had one thing in common: they were sorted into Houses prior to the start-of-term feast.
It’s unclear exactly when that tradition started, or whether the date of Sept. 1 was always the first day of term for Hogwarts students—no matter what day of the week it fell on—but the Hogwarts Express left promptly on Sept. 1 at 11am from Kings Cross Station in London every year since the early to mid-19th century.
The first notable Sept. 1 came with Albus Dumbledore’s first day at Hogwarts in 1892, which Elphias Doge recounted in Dumbledore’s obituary in Deathly Hallows. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have plenty of memorable Sept. 1s, ranging from a dementor attack to crashing the Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow to meeting their worst nightmare in Dolores Jane Umbridge. With the trio now in their mid-30s, it’s just about time for their kids to go off to school. Albus Potter, Rose Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy still have two more years before they go to Hogwarts per the epilogue, but James S. Potter just started his first term at Hogwarts as a newly sorted Gryffindor.Sept. 7: Doc’s (and later Marty’s) supposed deaths
Origin:Back to the Future Part III
History: Buford Tannen was so mad about having to kill his horse after it lost its shoe that he was willing to kill Doc (then the local blacksmith) for it. In the uninterrupted 1885 timeline, that’s how Doc dies, two days after Buford shot him in the back. But Marty stepped in and took on his fight, making his name appear on the tombstone.
It only took some common sense and some cues from Clint Eastwood for him to save his own skin.Sept. 13: Roald Dahl Day
Origin: Roald Dahl
History: Nearly 16 years after Roald Dahl’s death in 1990, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity—which uses donations and proceeds from Dahl’s books to help ill children—launched a day to celebrate the life of the beloved author. Not only does it acknowledge his life’s work and the influence he’s had on people all over the world, it brings more awareness to the charity’s efforts.
Starting in 2006, on what would’ve been Dahl’s 90th birthday, people have dressed up as their favorite Dahl characters, hosted parties in schools and libraries, held book readings, and even put together the world’s first Oompa-Loompa skydive.Sept. 18: Chase Matthews opens up the time capsule buried in Zoey 101
Origin: Zoey 101
History: On the second episode of the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101, which aired Sept. 18, 2005, the show’s titular character (Jamie Lynn Spears) recorded a message on a DVD as part of a time capsule the students at Pacific Coast Academy buried on campus. She teased her friend (and future love-interest) Chase Matthews (Sean Flynn) that she talked about him on it, but he would have to wait 10 years to find out.
Ten years have passed, and Zoey 101 creator Dan Schneider didn’t forget about that time capsule. He got Flynn and Chris Massey, who played Michael Barret on the show, to film a short video revealing what Zoey said a decade ago.
The only person not thrilled by the revelation? The girl Chase was about to propose to.With a “To be continued?” message attached at the end of the video, it’s up in the air about whether this revived story will play out (and where it’ll fall on the calendar). But fans of the show already want more.
Sept. 22: Oceanic Flight 815 crashes
History: While those numbers in Lost—4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42—popped up everywhere and served plenty of purposes throughout the course of the show (including the flight number of the plane that crashed onto the island), the day that Oceanic Flight 815 crashed wasn’t one of them. It’s not until the season 2 finale that we even find out that date: Sept. 22, 2004.
It’s notable for two different reasons. One, it’s the same day that the show premiered, and two, it’s also the day of the autumnal equinox.
Sept. 22: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday / Hobbit Day
Origin:Lord of the Rings
Year:2890 and 2968 in the Third Age (or 1290 and 1368 in Shire-Reckoning), respectively
History: Although Middle-earth’s calendar may not exactly match ours, dates have always been a crucial part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world—one with its very own timeline. For example, Frodo first encountered the Nazgul at Weathertop on Oct. 6—which he remembers because that’s when his wound begins acting up; same with Shelob’s sting on March 13. But Sept. 22, which falls somewhere between Sept. 12-14 on our calendar, is mostly a much happier one for both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Once Bilbo adopted Frodo as his nephew following Frodo’s parents’ deaths, the duo likely celebrated their birthdays together. And while Bilbo’s 111th birthday was memorable for plenty of reasons—not least of all his disappearing act—it was Frodo’s 33rd birthday that year, which is when Hobbits come of age. They end up leaving Middle-earth on their birthday as well.In 1978, the American Tolkien Society officially declared both Tolkien Week, which takes place during the calendar week that contains the date of Sept. 22, and Hobbit Day on Sept. 22, although the celebration of Hobbit Day predates that declaration. It suggests celebrating Tolkien and his works through public displays in schools, libraries, and universities, by holding feasts, games, costume events, and even marathoning Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
Oct. 3: Mean Girls Day
History: Aaron Samuels once asked Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) what day it was. You know the rest.Oct. 11: Hallie Parker and Annie James’s birthday
Origin: The Parent Trap
History: Hallie and Annie (both Lohan) are identical twins separated by their parents soon after they were born. And while there are growing cases of people finding their doppelgängers via social media (and even a pair of identical twins finding each other after one spotted the other on YouTube), it wasn’t that they looked alike, but the fact that they shared the same birthday that they found weird.Oct. 13: Treat Yo Self
Origin:Parks and Recreation
History:“Treat Yo Self” is the one day of the year Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle treat themselves to anything and everything they want (and probably don’t need), because well, they deserve it. And while the date itself is never stated, some fans use Oct. 13 as a marker because that’s the date the episode introducing us to “Treat Yo Self” aired.Oct. 19: October 19
The fourth season of Community was supposed to return on Oct. 19, 2012, at least until NBC took it off the schedule about a week before it was set to premiere. And while it wasn’t the first time NBC removed the show from its schedule, the cast took some time to reassure fans in-character that although they didn’t even know if it would return, Oct. 19 would still be a special day… in their hearts.
As Abed says, “It just isn’t a date, it’s a state of mind.”Oct. 21: The day that Doc and Marty travel to 2015
Origin: Back to the Future Part II
History: For whatever reason, this was the day that Marty McFly Jr. decided to try and rob a bank with Griff and his gang—at least until his dad steps in.
While Back to the Future nailed our love of nostalgia, it didn’t get everything right. We’re still waiting for flying cars, hoverboards, and self-fitting (and self-drying) clothes. But the one thing that may still come to pass? That Chicago/Miami World Series may be impossible—both teams are in the National League—but the Cubs actually have more of a shot at it than any of us thought possible (which is to say “a shot at all”), having clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2008.Oct. 26: Doc Brown demonstrates his time-traveling DeLorean
Origin: Back to the Future
History: Sure, Doc had created a time machine out of a DeLorean, but before he went and used it himself, he needed to test it out with the help of his dog Einstein as a guinea pig and Marty as videographer.
They met at Twin Pines Mall early the morning of Oct. 26, 1985, where Doc successfully sent Einstein one minute into the future. Doc was about to get into the machine himself before he was shot by the Libyan terrorists he tricked into getting him plutonium—and Marty, trying to get away, was sent into the past.
Because Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985—nearly four months before that fateful October night—technically the events of Back to the Future happened in the future. And according to Bob Gale, who co-wrote Back to the Future, a group of fans showed up at Puente Hills Mall in Industry, Calif. (the real-life location of Twin Pines / Lone Pine Mall) at 1:15am on the morning of Oct. 26, 1985 to see if anyone would show up in a DeLorean.
Nov. 5: Remember Remember (the Fifth of November)
Origin: V for Vendetta (for the purposes of this calendar)
History: The quote predates V For Vendettaby at least 100 years, but Americans don’t really celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, which acknowledges the failed assassination attempt of King James I when Fawkes was arrested guarding explosives near the House of Lords on Nov. 5, 1605. Still, we sure do love to quote him.
In Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta, “Remember, remember the Fifth of November,” is attributed to V (who wears a Guy Fawkes mask), and for some fans, Hugo Weaving’s delivery of the quote was likely their first exposure to it.Nov. 5: Doc Brown discovers time travel
Origin:Back to the Future
History: Like many major scientific discoveries, Dr. Emmett Brown’s came by accident. As he tells Marty in 1985—and Marty relays to him in 1955—Doc was attempting to hang a clock above his toilet when he hit his head on the sink and came up with the Flux Capacitor.
So good thing Marty was paying attention, or else he probably would’ve been stuck in 1955 forever (or until he was erased from existence, whichever happened first).Nov. 12: Marty goes back to the future
Origin:Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III
History: This one date might just be the most important one in the entire trilogy. In the first movie, Marty has to make sure his parents kiss before lightning hits the Hill Valley Clock Tower so he’s not permanently erased at precisely 10:04pm. Marty and Doc have to go back to Nov. 12, 1955 in Back to the Future Part II in order to stop a teenage Biff Tannen from getting his hands on the almanac that will make him rich (all while making sure nobody sabotages the antics from the previous movie). After Marty goes back to the future, Doc is zapped back to 1885, so it’s that same night that Marty needs to find the 1955 Doc to help him to his next destination.Dec. 9: Abed watches old Christmas specials with his mom
History: Abed Nadir, like many of us, has set Christmas traditions. Every year on Dec. 9, he and his mom get together to watch the Rankin and Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Except this particular year his mom doesn’t do that, instead sending a postcard explaining that she has a new family.It all comes to a head in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” Community’s season 2 Christmas episode—which was animated in the style of Rankin and Bass, showing how Abed sees the world. Eventually he learns the true meaning of Christmas: that it has meaning and it can mean whatever he wants it to mean. So instead of spending Dec. 9 and the holidays with his mom, he now spends it with his friends.
Dec. 18: Australian Christmas
Origin: Team Fortress 2
History: According to Team Fortress 2 legend, a man named Nicolas Crowder arrived in a newly settled Australia and, instead of staying there, decided to single-handedly invade the South Pole instead, where he is said to live to this very day. On Dec. 18, Crowder will kidnap the naughty children of Australia (while leaving the nice ones in their beds) and make them build him toys for the next 12 months. When he has lots of duplicates, he posts them online at extremely low prices.
So what does that mean for Team Fortress 2 players? They’ll get more content, festive crates that you can only open with a “special festive key,” and even the chance to play the game in a different mode, which started in a content update in 2010.
Dec. 23: Festivus
History: Although Festivus has been celebrated as early as 1966 after editor and author Daniel O’Keefe coined it, it truly became a cultural phenomenon after the season 9 Seinfeld episode “The Strike.” In this version, it’s George Costanza’s father Frank who came up with the holiday as an alternative to Christmas and its overcommercialization. Festivus: It’s for the rest of us.It’s a full-fledged holiday, complete with such traditions as setting up the traditional Festivus pole, the airing of grievances, eating a meal that doesn’t involve feathers, and the head of the house listing the Feats of Strength. In recent years, some have really embraced the spirit of Festivus with their own poles and complaints; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will air his own grievances on Twitter.
Dec. 25: Decemberween
History: Decemberween is essentially Homestar Runner’s version of Christmas, held 55 days after Halloween, with a few key differences. They decorate a tree and hang up lights and garlands, and they even sing songs with the same melody as our Christmas carols, but the traditional food for this day is bunny. Also, the gifts are much different, and sometimes Decemberween can occur in July.But if it works for the people of Free Country, USA, then so be it.
Hyperwalks? Segways? Hovertrax? Do we have a definitive name for these things yet? Wheel-e-boards? Whatever they are, they're the hot new transportation accessory for Hollywood's elite. And now they're being incorporated into some pretty incredible choreography.
Choreographed and directed by David Moore, who's repped by viral dance network DanceOn, this cover of Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" is an amazing feat of balance and flow. Five dancers bob and weave through a studio space on their transport devices, channeling Bieber's pain into... something. If anything, this video signals that it's time to work on your core.
Just imagine a future where, on Saturday night, the dancefloor at your favorite club is cluttered with people on Wheel-e-boards. Just imagine.Screengrab via davidmooretv/YouTube
If you live in America, chances are Alien is the most popular horror movie in your state. Unless you're in Rhode Island or Delaware, where Psycho reigns supreme.
To find out which thrillers are popular in each state and a handful of cities across the country, Halloween Expresstook a look at the top 20 movies from IMDb's highest rated horror feature films with at least 1,000 votes, and analyzed the Google trends data to see where people searched for what movie most frequently.
The Exorcist was the third most popular movie in America, followed by The Shining. City tastes are a little more varied, with The Others most popular in San Jose, California, while Louisville, Kentucky searches for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Also worth noting—cities favor movies that take place in their general area. The Shining, which takes place in the Rockies, is most popular in Denver, while Philadelphia-filmed Dawn of the Dead is popular in Pittsburgh.
Helpfully, Halloween Express also looked up the most popular films across different streaming services, including Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes, so you can figure out how to curl up and watch your favorite flick. But you might have to get Halloween the old-fashioned way—it's the only film on the list not available on any of the streaming services.H/T A.V. Club | Photo via Halloween Express
What started off as a joke last year turned into a fully funded Kickstarter project, as they blew through the $40,000 goal and ultimately raised more than $65,000 for the project. Run the Jewels, the duo of El-P and Killer Mike, finally made good on their promise of a cat-sampled remix album and now we have the first video for "Oh My Darling," which shows cats terrorizing a city.Screengrab via Mass Appeal/YouTube
Rousey's 17-year-old sister, Julia De Mars, plays a young Rousey in the clip, beating up boys at school and standing on a podium accepting a medal.
In a Facebook post, Rousey shared the promo video, clearly excited for her sister's starring role.De Mars is 11 years younger than the 28-year-old Rousey, who is skyrocketing in popularity as the face of UFC. Rousey will fight Holly Holm at the bout on Nov. 14.
H/T SB Nation | Photo via Ronda Rousey/Facebook
Caleb was the oldest child of the Bratayley family, who has been vlogging their lives since 2010. After the announcement of his passing, his name trended on Twitter and Instagram.In addition to appearing in the family vlogs for their 1.5 million subscribers, Caleb also ran a gaming channel showing him playing popular teen games like Minecraft. Fans and fellow vloggers have been sharing memories and disbelief over the tragedy on social media. Fans have also expressed concern over whether the announcement is true, since there's limited information, and the Bratayleys last posted a video on Sept. 30, just before Caleb's passing. However, Maker Studios, the Bratayley's multichannel network, posted about his passing. One fan has also catalogued various close family and friends reacting to the news on the RIP Caleb Instagram page.
We've reached out to the Bratayley family for additional information on the young star's passing and will update with any further information.
Screengrab via Kayla Pinky/YouTube
Will Smith—primarily known for starring in movies, the Fresh Prince rap, and fathering the two coolest humans to ever walk the planet—is starting a new chapter in his career: artist. Perhaps he was inspired by daughter Willow’s proclamation: “I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist.”
Last night at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Smith unveiled his latest work for a group of exclusive guests. Museum attendants ushered elite guests into a dimly lit room, full of wildlife and half-destroyed computers, a strong statement about the tension between technology and the natural world. We sat cross-legged on the floor, eagerly awaiting the performance. And suddenly our ears were graced with the most beautiful and strange sounds:
Obviously influenced by the muddled sonic work of Bruce Nauman and referencing the way Kehinde Wiley plays around with race and pop culture in his iconic paintings, Smith layers his biggest hits on top of another, as if to ask the viewer: What does this all mean? By highlighting the similarity between his rap songs, he reimagines the simplicity of pop music as chaos. Mid-song, we are relieved from the chaos briefly. Smith tells us to “freeze.” What is he asking us to reconsider? Our blind adoration of his “greatest hits”? Or is it something deeper?
After the show, I asked Smith why he decided to make the switch from cinema to art.
“Willow changed everything for me when she said, ‘This is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.’ At first I didn’t know what she meant. But then I read Baudrillard and it all made sense. Cinema, simulacrum, is not a copy of real, but is its own truth.”
“A sort of hypperreality, we can label it, although I’m aware of the futility of labels. But we have to accept the inherent disconnect between signifier and the signified.”
“So, why the switch from cinema to art?” I probed.
“Pop culture is dead,” Smith proclaimed. “And I am immortal.”
Smith giggled again. “It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth. And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”
There you have it folks. #WillSmith2020, anyone?
The worlds of professional gamer and YouTube gameplay star collide with Endemol Beyond’s Legends of Gaming, a new series that launched this week.
Legends of Gaming is a U.K. import that pits teams of two against each other in various video games, most of which the players are not experts in or perhaps have never played before. While the teams are coached by esports players like Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel and Carl “Perfect Legend” White, the players themselves hail from YouTube’s sect of gamers, not the professional leagues. While the pros are on the sidelines shouting instructions, the players are sometimes accidentally using alternate controls, running into walls, and stuck on their weapons pages.
“It turns into the coach playing the game through the player; it’s freaking hilarious,” explained series host and YouTuber Toby Turner. “I spend a lot of time being bad at video games, and this is my chance to be the one who gets to make fun of other people who are not good. It’s implied that I would be good, but I’m definitely not.”
Collectively, the players involved represent 57 million subscribers across social platforms, giving the series a real shot at reaching the levels of success of its British predecessor, which is already in its second season. Filmed at the YouTube Space L.A., the episodes have the feel of a raucous LAN party in your friend’s basement.
“It’s a very expensive LAN party, but it’s just like a LAN party,” joked contestant runJDrun, also known as J.D. Witherspoon. “It doesn’t smell like a LAN party; it smells better. Kudos to YouTube Space.”
The goal of Legends of Gaming isn’t to showcase the best of esports, but to make the world of esports feel more relatable to the casual gamers of YouTube.
“We’re catering to competitive game play, but with a hint of dirty casual in us,” said Witherspoon. “I can see casual gamers going, ‘I can watch this and understand what’s happening, and they play like me. Terribly!’"
The series is the first from Endemol Beyond’s newest network, SMASHER, a digital-first project that will exist across 20 platforms from YouTube to Go90 to TiVo. With a focus on esports and gaming, the network will launch a total of seven shows in the coming months.
Photo courtesy of Legends of Gaming
You know when you're just chilling out at your Airbnb and the neighbors call the cops on you?
This apparently happened to D.C. rapper and producer STEFisDOPE, aka Stefan Grant, who was renting an Airbnb for a music festival in Georgia with a four other friends. He live-tweeted the whole event, from arriving and settling in at the host's house, to the cops showing up after a neighbor called 911 to report a possible robbery.Grant, who left the Airbnb on Saturday to attend the Million Man March in D.C., took the incident in stride. He told Slate that it "wasn't totally unexpected. We’re black kids in this Leave it to Beaver neighborhood, you know?” He added that the neighbor who called the cops apologized and said there had been an uptick in robberies lately. A 2014 Harvard study noted a bias against black Airbnb hosts, and found that "non-black hosts are able to charge approximately 12% more than black hosts, holding location, rental characteristics, and quality constant." But there has not yet been a definitive study about how race figures into how guests are treated. In 2013, YouTuber Tommy Sotomayor claimed he was declined an Airbnb rental twice by the same person.
We've reached out to Grant for comment, and will update if we hear back.
Update 1:50pm CT, Oct. 10: Grant responded via email, saying: "I think the cops handled the situation professionally & things went way smoother than they could have but I also think everyone in the house handled themselves really well too. The insight that I got from this situation is that, before cops are law enforcement officers, they're regular people. I try to deal with people on eye level & just be a cool, no matter who they are or what they do. I think if more people just approached each other in that way, the world would be a doper place."
H/T Uproxx | Illustration by Max Fleishman
Hardy was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season after being found guilty of domestic violence against his former girlfriend in 2014. The arrest warrant alleged that he was accused of “GRABBING VICTIM AND THROWING TO THE FLOOR, THROWING INTO A BATHTUB, SLAMMING HER AGAINST A FUTON, AND STRANGLING HER,” but ultimately he never served any time, and received minimal punishment from the NFL for his indiscretions.
He made his triumphant return this week, and in his first press conference he told reporters that he’d come back “guns blazing,” which has been heralded as perhaps the world’s worst word choice. As TMZ reports, he made a music video with rapper Ja Alan in late 2014 in the midst of his legal troubles.In the video for “I’m Just Me,” which was posted to Ja Alan's YouTube page in August, we see barely clothed women traipsing around Hardy and Alan while they sit in sports cars and declare “What you see is what you get. I’m just me, I’m just real, and that’s what I do.”
Another line is particularly chilling, given Hardy’s history of domestic violence: “It’ll be a cold day in hell before your girl tries to play me.”
It seems that cold day has already come, but for entirely different reasons.
If you remember shopping at Kmart in the '80s or '90s, then you probably remember the schmaltzy background music that soundtracked weekend shopping trips with your family.
Last week, former Kmart employee Mark Davis offered the Internet a bit of warbly nostalgia when he uploaded his entire 56-tape archive of in-store music from 1989-1992 to the Internet Archive. Davis worked the service desk at several different Kmart stores over the course of a decade, but when he was employed at the Naperville, Illinois, store in high school, he started taking the cassettes home with him after they'd been played, thinking they'd be of value some day.
"I actually found the audio very interesting while I worked at the store because it kept repeating over and over," Davis said via email. "You actually start to get to know the songs and in some situations I started to like them."
In the Internet Archive description, he explains:
Until around 1992, the cassettes were rotated monthly. Then, they were replaced weekly. Finally sometime around 1993, satellite programming was intoduced which eliminated the need for these tapes altogether.
The older tapes contain canned elevator music with instrumental renditions of songs. Then, the songs became completely mainstream around 1991. All of them have advertisements every few songs.
The monthly tapes are very, very, worn and rippled. That's becuase they ran for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week on auto-reverse. If you do the math assuming that each tape is 30 minutes per side, that's over 800 passes over a tape head each month.
The later tapes feature more mainstream music, but the earlier ones are lacking production value; they are truly Muzak. Here's one from 1989:And here's a 1992 clip, complete with Wilson Phillips:
He calls special attention to one tape from Kmart's 30th anniversary celebration in 1992:
This was a special day at the store where employees spent all night setting up for special promotions and extra excitement. It was a real fun day, the store was packed wall to wall, and I recall that the stores were asked to play the music at a much higher volume.Back in 2013, Davis uploaded a video of the collection to his YouTube page—home to other bits of Kmart and cassette-tape nostalgia—and people started asking him to digitize the tapes. He did so in 2013, but he wasn't sure where to put them. The Internet Archive really is the perfect home.
"My wife thinks I'm actually kind of crazy and doesn't understand it," Davis said, "but I actually do understand the Internet community and how there is a following for almost everything."
Screengrab via Mark Davis/YouTube
A prequel is a tricky thing, and the perils of it are best enumerated in Patton Oswalt’s classic routine “At Midnight I Will Kill George Lucas With a Shovel.” That tirade was of course directed at Lucas’ much-derided Star Wars prequels, and it allowed Oswalt to introduce the refrain, “I don’t give a shit where the stuff I love comes from! I just love the stuff I love!”Prequels can very easily wander into TMI territory, not to mention the inherent lack of suspense when you already know certain characters’ fates. Still, Hollywood is showing no sign of losing interest in the concept, with TV prequel spinoffs for both the Taken franchise and FX’s Sons of Anarchy in the works, to name just a couple. With AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead having just wrapped up, we decided to revisit some of the other TV prequel series that have come before, and where you can see them.
1) Bates Motel
A Psycho prequel series about a teenage Norman Bates? At first that idea sounds as bad as, well, making a shot-for-shot remake of the movie starring the guy from Swingers. Thankfully A&E’s Bates Motel proved to be much more than the easy punchline it could have been.
Much of that success owes to some truly stellar casting in the form of Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) as young Norman and his mother Norma, respectively. After the death of Norman’s father, the pair move to a small town in Oregon and purchase the one-day infamous motel, hoping to start a new life. Unfortunately, trouble soon finds them after a tragic event exposes Norman’s own… proclivities. Their new hometown is also full of secrets, but the main attraction here is watching the dysfunctional relationship that could only be retroactively referenced in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, and the slow formation of one of cinema’s most iconic psychos.
Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix Instant. A&E has already renewed Bates Motel for fourth and fifth seasons, to air in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
2) Better Call Saul
Pretty much nobody was left in a good place at the end of Breaking Bad, but the opening of prequel spinoff Better Call Saul reveals that sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman wound up… actually, exactly where he predicted in an earlier episode: living under an alias and managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska.
But Saul Goodman wasn’t always Saul Goodman, and Better Call Saul dials the Wayback Machine to 2002, when Saul was still James “Jimmy” McGill, a public defender struggling to make ends meet and caring for his ailing brother. So why did he change his name and how did he become the go-to legal guy for Albuquerque’s criminal elite? When he crosses paths with a gangster named Tuco, his collision course with one Walter White is set in motion, and there’s no turning back.
Sadly, Better Call Saul hasn’t hit any of the three major streaming services yet, but you can purchase episodes from Amazon Instant Video and other digital providers. Better Call Saul was renewed and is expected to return for a second season in early 2016.
3) Black Sails
“Pirates” is one of those genres television hasn’t really delved into much, maybe owing to the fact that you need at least one convincing boat replica or else viewers will start complaining that nobody on the show ever goes above deck, and boats are expensive. Starz’s pirate drama has the requisite boats, and it also happens to be a prequel to the novel Treasure Island, exploring the timber-shivering career of Captain Flint and his pirates some two decades before the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel. The show mixes fictional creations like Flint with real-life icons of the golden age of piracy, including Blackbeard. But since this one’s a prequel to a piece of literature, you crazy kids will have to actually crack a book to find out the endgame. Or, you know, one of the dozens of movie adaptations of Treasure Island. Or CliffsNotes. Or Wikipedia.
Some of Starz’s shows eventually make their way to Netflix once they’re concluded, including Spartacus, Boss, and Magic City. Black Sails is still chugging along, already renewed for a fourth season with the third not premiering until January 2016, so I wouldn’t expect it on Netflix anytime soon. You can, however, grab episodes on Amazon Instant Video.
After wrapping up the critically and fan-beloved Battlestar Galactica remake in controversial fashion, it’s not surprising that Syfy wanted more. But how do you spin off a series that has very definitively wrapped up its storyline? The answer was to go backwards.
Caprica is set 60 years before the Cylon destruction of the Twelve Colonies that kicked off Ronald Moore’s reimagining of Glen Larson’s cult sci-fi classic. Eric Stoltz stars as Daniel Graystone, who stumbles onto the beginnings of what will become the Cylon race after a terrorist attack fells his daughter. Moore has said that “everything about Caprica was designed specifically to not repeat what we had done in Galactica,” and the show proved to be too far a deviation to keep bringing back fans who might have been hoping for something more action-oriented, such as a look at the first Cylon war. Still, Caprica is an interesting but flawed show that could have become something even greater if it had survived long enough to find its footing.
This one’s a case of terrible timing: Caprica just got yanked from Netflix Instant’s catalog. So if you want to see it, you’ll have to hit up Amazon or other digital services.
5) Fear the Walking Dead
It wasn’t that many years ago that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman was adamant we’d never see the actual beginnings of the zombie outbreak that continues to make life difficult for Rick Grimes and company. Still, time (and money) changes minds, and so this summer we got precisely that in the form of Fear the Walking Dead, a (terribly named) AMC prequel series set in Los Angeles right as the undead shit begins to hit fan.
Like its parent series, Fear the Walking Dead explores the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a diverse cross-section of ordinary people, and how “when civilization ends, it ends fast.” Reaction to the prequel spinoff has been decidedly mixed, but a second season has already been ordered for 2016. In the meantime, there’s also the tie-in webseries Flight 462, aka “zombies on a plane.” What those people need is a brooding redneck with a crossbow.
Fear the Walking Dead just wrapped up its six-episode first season, but you can purchase episodes from Amazon.
Hollywood has been retelling Batman’s origin story for seven decades now, but where most incarnations of the Dark Knight fast forward from his tragic origins at least past puberty, Gotham is all about exploring the early early days. It’s a choice that doesn’t always serve it well, frequently straining the bounds of credulity and introducing characters who will be interesting in a decade or so once they acquire a taste for colorful costumes.
Then again, the show also gave us the delight that is Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, the low-level crook who will someday become better known to Gotham as The Penguin. If there’s any single element that makes it worth suffering through Gotham’s sillier moments, it’s Taylor, although young David Mazouz is also surprisingly good as a young, haunted Bruce Wayne, even if the show’s writers don’t always know what to do with him. The less said about Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney, however, the better.
Gotham’s first season is available to stream on Netflix Instant. Season 2 is currently airing Monday nights at 8/7pm CT on Fox.
7) Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Of all the shows on this list, this one is the only one with its roots in a real-life tragedy. It’s impossible for many fans to separate Gods of the Arena from its heartbreaking real-life backstory—the death of Spartacus star Andy Whitfield from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011—but thankfully the series is strong enough to stand on its own in spite of those associations.
John Hannah and Lucy Lawless were two of the best parts of Spartacus’ freshman season, playing the deliciously conniving Batiatus and Lucretia, so Gods of the Arena would be more than worth watching even if it just meant getting to see more of them. Thankfully there’s plenty more to appeal about Gods, including many of the rest of Spartacus’ outstanding supporting cast, as well as Dustin Clare as Gannicus, a rockstar gladiator who would return to play an important role in the rest of the series.
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is available streaming on Netflix Instant. While it is a prequel, it should be watched after the first season of the parent series, because spoilers.
8) Star Trek: Enterprise
Enterprise is set over a century before the adventures of Kirk and Spock, following Captain James Archer (Scott Bakula) and another ship called Enterprise. It also holds the ignominious distinction of being the show that ended a nearly 20-year run of at least one Star Trek series being in production. It’s a show that kept trying to find itself—or reinvent itself—throughout its four-season run. It still suffered from the same problems of its predecessor Voyager, the same formulaic predictability that came inevitably from being lashed to a massive franchise with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Still, the show had its moments, and I still have a soft spot for Manny Coto’s TOS-worshipping fourth season. Enterprise is more a cautionary tale than a successful prequel, and a compelling argument that you shouldn’t go back before the beginning unless you’ve got a solid reason to and a worthy story to tell.Screengrab via Fox/YouTube
Sure, Amy Schumer was cracking jokes about the Kardashians while hosting Saturday Night Live last night, but she also aimed her comedy at one of the biggest issues that the U.S. just can't fucking figure out: ending gun violence.
In a sketch simply titled "Guns," Schumer and the rest of the SNL cast display some of life's most precious moments—getting a gift from your significant other, spending time with grandpa, the birth of a newborn baby. Occasions big or small, guns are there.This isn't the first time that the comedian has addressed mass shootings and U.S. gun policies. In August, following a movie-theater shooting during a screening of her movie Trainwreck that killed three people, Schumer and Sen. Chuck Schumer unveiled a plan to stop these violent events. According to website shootingtracker.com, there's been over 300 mass shootings during 2015 in the United States, as of the month of October.
Schumer has used her comedy in the past to point out some of society's most prevalent issues. A sketch from her show Inside Amy Schumer spoofed Friday Night Lights while making jokes about rape culture.The rest of Schumer's SNL appearance was lighter. Her monologue included stories about meeting Bradley Cooper (who she's totally dating now, according to Facebook) and Hillary Clinton. She asked the presidential candidate about her favorite booze, and sounded a little disappointed when she found out Clinton isn't down for tequila.
Screengrab via Saturday Night Live/YouTube
Nobody told Rick Grimes that life was gonna be this way—because how could anyone have predicted a zombie takeover?
The Group in The Walking Dead is so much more than a family at this point. They’ve killed Walkers and humans with evil intentions together, they’ve mourned every death, and they’ve warily welcomed new people into that dynamic. So it's no surprise that this upgrade to The Walking Dead's instrumental theme song fits so well.Somebody needs to build a Central Perk in Alexandria ASAP.
Screengrab via The Woodcreek Faction/YouTube
When Matt Geiler worked as a news anchor at Omaha, Nebraska’s CW affiliate KXVO, he couldn’t have predicted that he’d become an Internet legend.
Geiler had only been at the station two months when he was asked to fill some time on the 10 o’clock evening newscast. He says there was a constant lack of resources and time at KXVO; they had to fill 22 minutes every night and often had to come up with “Band-Aid solutions” on the fly. One of these moments happened in 2006, when they were prepping Halloween content for the week.
“[T]here were these holes in the show,” Geiler said. “So I’m like, ‘I’m going to run up to this place and get a unitard, and in the meantime, throw up a graphic of a graveyard on the green screen and I’ll dance around to Ghostbusters for like two minutes. Is that OK?’”
“Throw up a graphic of a graveyard on the green screen and I’ll dance around to Ghostbusters for like two minutes. Is that OK?”
Taylor Stein had been working at the station for about four years at that point, but he took over as producer on the 10 o’clock news in 2006. The station wanted an edgier, younger, “alternative” 10 o’clock newscast, which Stein says was initially a disaster. The show had a series of rotating hosts (the guy who hosted before Geiler was former MTV VJ Brian McFayden), but when Geiler came on, the four-person team solidified. They were “this crazy ensemble, trying to put the show on,” Stein said—sketch comedy meets Talk Soup.
Geiler had come out of Second City, and he and Stein were on the same page about wanting to push the boundaries of comedy—at least as far as one could on a local news show. The week of Halloween, Geiler had been filling holes by dressing as a grandma, offering advice about poisoning relatives, and starring in a murder mystery he describes as a “low-budget Clue.”
He’d previously bounced around the idea of having a character on the show called Happy Jack the Grave Dancer, who, in his head, looked like Oz character Jack Pumpkinhead. But the costume shop down the street sold no such costume. Pressed for time, Geiler had to swipe a pumpkin decoration from the station lobby, cut it in half, and fashion a headband out of a hanger.
And the Pumpkin Dance was born.“That’s why it’s so tiny and ill-fitting,” Geiler said of the mask. “And possibly why it has never been replicated.”
You’ve probably seen the Pumpkin Dance, either on your local CW affiliate or online; the clip now has more than 3 million views. The premise is as simple as Geiler described, but there’s something almost resembling folklore about the strange, magical dance.
“A sketch like the Pumpkin Dance just fit right in with the chaos of our show,” Stein explained. “People kind of came to expect, like, ‘oh my god, what are they gonna do next?’ At the time, we thought it was funny. We didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
Geiler, who appears as a floating head in the segment after the Pumpkin Dance clip, says he’s not sure what happened to the mask. In the chaos of the show, it may have been destroyed.
When the clip came out in 2006, the concept of a viral video was still developing, and YouTube wasn’t being used en masse just yet. People were still sharing videos on Myspace. The Pumpkin Dance was uploaded to YouTube by someone at the station, according to Geiler, but it sat at a few hundred views for years. Stein adds that several of their KXVO sketches floated around the Internet after the show was canceled in 2007; many can still be found on the show’s channel.
In October 2009, one of KXVO’s producers contacted Geiler. Some website—he thinks it was possibly BuzzFeed—had called the Pumpkin Dance the greatest Halloween video of all time, and it was getting a lot of hits. Stein was back at KXVO working a different job when the video exploded—a college friend in New York emailed to alert him that he was “all over the Internet.”
Since then, it’s circulated every October, awkwardly ushering us into the Halloween season. There were Christmas and Valentine’s Day appearances from Happy Jack as well, but they never matched the spark of the original.Geiler pinpointed exactly why the Pumpkin Dance has persisted.
“There’s a WTF quality,” he said. “You see this thing, and—regardless of what the entertainment is of it—there’s this thing that’s happening in your mind of like, ‘Why is this?’”
“Everybody loves goofy dancing because everyone’s got a goofy dancer inside of them,” Stein surmised.
“Those moves are… who knows where they came from,” Geiler said. “It’s almost like I’m channeling some kind of a weird pansexual ballet.”
The video is also highly remixable, which has helped sustained its virality online. It’s a blank slate, really.Shortly after the clip went viral, Geiler, who now does musical improv in L.A., got a call from America’s Got Talent, who wanted him to do the dance on the show. But he turned them down. It’s not a party trick.
The Pumpkin Dance is too pure.
Nearly a decade after the Pumpkin Dance was created, it’s made its way back into his life in unexpected ways: Geiler tried to recreate it for his 6-year-old son, at his request (“It was a disaster”), and his 12-year-old son did the Pumpkin Dance at a school talent show last year. Some of his friends had been watching a Pumpkin Dance mashup online, and his son decided to set the record straight.
The Pumpkin Dance is too pure.
“He told them, ‘That’s not the original Pumpkin Dance. My dad is the original Pumpkin Dancer,’” Geiler said. “He came home and was like, ‘There’s these kids that don’t think you’re the real Pumpkin Dancer.’
Later, Geiler had to confront the kids who still didn’t believe.
“I didn’t say this, but I was like, ‘First of all, I don’t even want to be having this fight with you guys, you 13-year-olds, about whether I’m the creator of this thing that I created, which you don’t even know the original version of,” Geiler recalled. “You don’t even want to get into it with me.’”
Stein, who now works at a station in Minneapolis, reiterates that of all the sketches they did, he never thought the Pumpkin Dance wold be the one to blow up. He also has some revelatory info: When he returned to KXVO for a different job years ago, he was able to salvage a piece of Internet history from a prop closet.
“I do, in fact, have the original mask.”
Screengrab via KXVO 10:00 News/YouTube | Remix by Jason Reed
Storytelling fans were everywhere in the Minneapolis Convention Center this weekend for the inaugural NerdCon: Stories. Even the most unexpected sort.
During a panel, Welcome to Night Vale actress Kate Jones recounted a story about running into a curious person at the convention center who wondered what was happening down the hall. Jones explained NerdCon, and that she was there because of Night Vale. The woman she’d met became visibly excited. When Jones introduced herself, the woman replied: “Hello, I’m the mayor of Minneapolis.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges aside, fans gathered for the two-day event, the brainchild of Hank Green, whose other convention, VidCon, has helped define a genre and an industry. Despite a broader topic like stories and the fact that NerdCon is not a carbon copy of what makes VidCon a success, Green’s convention shows marks of lightning striking twice on his particular brand of community building.
If Green’s VidCon is high school, then NerdCon is freshman year of college.
The two conventions have a different focus, with VidCon exploring digital video and the celebrities and trends of that genre. It skews younger, with packs of teens vying for moments with their favorite celebrities, and businesses vying for the eyeballs and loyalty of those young consumers. VidCon may cater to the storytelling of digital video, but NerdCon goes broad. The recurring topic of the weekend was “Why are stories important,” and talks were tackled by authors, podcast producers, musicians, and video creators alike. NerdCon doesn’t care about medium; it cares about communication.
If Green’s VidCon is high school, then NerdCon is freshman year of college.
NerdCon is small—it had less than 3,000 attendees, allowing for the kind of openness and collaboration that VidCon had to forsake as it grew into an 18,000-person behemoth. VidCon stars can’t walk the floor unattended for fear of becoming a safety hazard, but at NerdCon, celebrity guests had to cross the lobby to use the bathroom, and aside from a few waved hellos and requests for photos, no one blinked. They popped into the back of lecture halls to catch their fellow panelists speaking when they had free time, and no one caused a scene. Even the con’s arguably biggest draw, author John Green, walked around sans stampede. A fan did stop to tell him something, and Green chatted until his phone rang and he said goodbye.
NerdCon fans still lined up for sanctioned autograph sessions, but the attention was firmly placed on the programming tracks, which frequently filled up to capacity. Two tracks were housed in lecture hall–style mini theaters, pitched so high Hank Green joked that he was afraid everyone would come tumbling down on him during one session. Instead of frantic photos or shouted “I love you”s by attendees mid-panel, fans mostly pulled out notepads and pens to take notes on the fold-out desktops. If they did shout, it was to offer factual information. Q&A sessions were questions about craft, inspiration, and process, not hairstyles or favorite foods.
None of this suggests NerdCon is “better” than VidCon, only that it’s possibly the emotional next step for a community—a graduation. It’s the translation of teenage obsessions into a collegiate and post-collegiate career. But it also suffered somewhat from the lack of specificity, at least for attendees who weren’t sure of what they were agreeing to attend.
“It’s such a broad reason for having a conference,” said 25-year-old attendee Tasia Weatherly. "It’s such a huge topic, so it’s kind of hard to figure out a concise ‘this is what this is.’”
Weatherly traveled from California for the event, mostly because she’s such a fan of Hank Green’s work and trusts him. It was a sentiment echoed by Night Vale creators Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, who don’t do many conventions.
“I am not much of a convention person,” said Fink. “I am really here because I trust Hank Green. It’s been so much smoother than any convention I’ve been to.”
One of the con’s biggest strengths was that presenters were equally present onstage as well as off, even if that could bring challenges for some.
“I wish I had more time to actually go to see other stuff,” said Cecil Baldwin, the main voice actor for Welcome to Night Vale, who spoke and performed several times throughout the weekend.
To help avoid guests and panelists alike from having to choose among too much, NerdCon nights closed with singular programming in the main hall, a variety show of sorts using the special guests. Author Mara Wilson, a former child actress, read from her LiveJournal entries at age 16, complete with phrases like “I just want to go off to a Buddhist monastery somewhere, shave my head, and die a virgin,” while Dave Nadelberg explained that his counterculture teenage self decided that an obsession with bagpipe music was cool, and writing poetry about it even cooler. His reading of a poem about a fictional performer, Mr. Pips, had the sign language interpreter barely able to keep it together, and then completely losing it, as he had to sign phrases like “squeeze it and you’ll see” and “I like your bag, Mr. Pips.” On the closing night, the New York Neo Futurists performed Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, an ever-changing interactive series of short plays they attempt to complete in a 60-minute span.
NerdCon felt like a loopy late-night storytelling circle with friends.
Other moments included a “what’s in my mouth” guessing game complete with spit-buckets and a mock-debate on the preferred method of putting on your socks and shoes (sock-sock-shoe-shoe vs. sock-shoe-sock-shoe). During a round of SuperFight, a card game where players describe their fictional superhero (or villain) and contend for who would win in a hypothetical fight, Desiree Burch pulled the character of 9-foot-tall Batman, inside a mechanical “two horses in a man suit.” In the time it took players to boggle the logistics of that kind of apparatus (is Batman just inside one of the horse? or somehow in both?) a fan drew live art and sent it up to the stage. Later, more art poured in for a dragon covered in eyeballs, seated on a chariot pulled by two kindergarten classes.
During the same game, author M.T. Anderson pulled a doozy: the Illuminati made of guacamole that explodes if it stops moving. In a room full of writers, this was too good to pass up. Instantly dubbed the “Guacanati,” hashtags flew and a chant and hand symbols flew up into the air. It kept popping up over the course of the weekend, with Twitter handles and spontaneous chants, all while fans online scrambled to figure out just exactly what jokes they were missing out on by skipping NerdCon. Instead of feeling like a con, NerdCon felt like a loopy late-night storytelling circle with friends—perfect, hilarious, and sometimes nonsensical in the morning.
“I think stories and each other are the most important things that we have,” said Hank Green during the weekend’s first session. As entertainment and the media chases the next big thing, wondering if YouNow or Snapchat or something yet-to-be-named will produce the ultimate hit, NerdCon dared to slow down and think big-picture about what it means to make those things—and what it takes to do it.
“It’s really easy to get bogged down in the work sometimes,” said Weatherly. “So having that inspiration and being around people who go through the same struggles and to be reminded that it is OK to struggle, but this is important. Your voice matters, and other voices matter.”
Correction 2:51pm, Oct. 12: An early version of this article misspelled Tasia Weatherly’s name.
Photo by Rae Votta | Remix by Max Fleishman
Since the announcement of With Bob & David, the new Netflix series that’s a rebrand of classic HBO sketch show Mr. Show, excited fans have been straining for a glimpse. What happens after David Cross and Bob Odenkirkemerge from the toilet?
And now we get a peek behind the curtain.
From this first official trailer, it appears several members of Mr. Show’s cast have returned: Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley, Scott Aukerman. But there are some new faces as well, like Keegan-Michael Key and Paget Brewster.
The highlight of this trailer might be Odenkirk as digital prophet Shingy, which gives us hope that they’ll be tackling more modern subjects. (They take a shot at the kid who said he went to heaven, too.)
Nov. 13, please hurry up and get here.H/T Vulture | Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube
Rachel Bloom may be the CW’s newest TV star, but the musical actress has viral roots.
Bloom began uploading videos, mostly musical, to YouTube starting in 2010. She built a modest 46,679-subscriber following, but a spate of popular videos helped her reach 10.2 million lifetime views on the platform. Now she’s transitioning to prime time with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical show that follows Bloom’s character as she tracks an ex across the country in hopes of reconciliation.
Bloom’s been using her YouTube channel to share things from the TV show, like her “Sexy Getting Ready Song,” but before the world falls in love with TV Bloom, there’s a whole backlog of Internet Bloom to explore. We rounded up five essential videos to understanding Bloom’s particular sense of humor.
5) “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury”
Bloom’s sexual ode to science fiction writer Ray Bradbury got a lot of viral attention when she released it in 2010. Eventually even Bradbury saw the clip. In it, Bloom pairs a Britney Spears-inspired schoolgirl moment with her graphic descriptions of what she would’ve liked to do to the now-deceased author. It definitely speaks to the style of her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend character.
4) “Historically Accurate Disney Princess Song”
An animated Bloom does her best Belle impression in this video made in association with Cracked.com. Her Disney princess lives in a plague-infested town where thieves hands are hung off a statue of Jesus and excrement piles high in the street. Way less adorable than singing bookkeepers and bakers.
3) “NOBODY WILL WATCH THE F*CKING TONY AWARDS WITH ME”
The lament of every die-hard Broadway fan is felt in Bloom’s ode to the annual award show that no one, except those die-hard Broadway fans, wants to watch. Her musical number describes the Tonys as “if the Olympics had Nathan Lane” and “the Oscars if the actors had talent.” Not a super popular sentiment in Los Angeles, but theater nerds everywhere nod along with Bloom.
2) “I Steal Pets”
Bloom's pet-theft number is fully, fully weird. It’s got an electronic pop dance vibe, and it starts off as a pretty normal theme until she reveals the scary truth: She’s a pet stealer who then dresses the pets up like the popular people. The video, produced with CollegeHumor, is full of adorable pets, making it one you can’t miss.
1) “You Can Touch My Boobies”
Bloom’s most popular video is a 12-year-old boy’s bar mitzvah fantasy dream about, as the title implies, his desire to touch Bloom’s chest. It plays at pre-teen misunderstanding of female anatomy and involves an animated boob car; 3.6 million viewers can’t be wrong.Screengrab via racheldoesstuff/YouTube
American Idol is gearing up for its fifteenth and final season right now, and the show's San Francisco auditions got considerably more exciting this weekend when Kanye West and Kim Kardashian made a surprise appearance.
West, who was in town to perform at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, apparently swung by the auditions and gave an impromptu performance for judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban.
Stunts like these are often interpreted as publicity stunts in our deeply cynical times, but the judges reportedly seemed genuinely surprised, and Kardashian tweeted screenshots of the audition with the caption “SURPRISE!”
So either West was feeling super punchy this weekend and decided to work some comedy into his schedule or Fox’s viral-moment budget for Idol’s final season is huge. Regardless, this season's San Francisco audition episode should feature some solid Kanye moments.
Ah! Those hot ’80s summers working at the country club: pressed linen, tennis lessons, and serving chilled lobster by the pool. Hustling for tips during the day and skinny-dipping in the sixteenth’s water hazard by night. Losing love—but finding it again in the place least expected.
If you believe the films, everyone was somewhere in this enclosed little world, from Joe Quarterback bronzing high up on the lifeguard chair down to the slackers bussing tables. And if you weren’t the staff, you were the guest: charging a steak sandwich … and a steak sandwich to the Underhills’ account or meddling in the lives (and abortions) of the dancers.
But I wasn’t there. And neither was Craig Roberts, the star of Amazon’s new series Red Oaks, who’s Welsh and probably “came of age” slicing leeks and feeding scrums rather than tennis balls to 50-year-old accountants. Yet the depictions of these places have inundated our collective conscious so thoroughly that it doesn’t seem to really matter whether you were there or not; you just know it.
The reason why the country club/upstate summer resort still intrigues is the same reason why it’s one of American entertainment’s go-to frameworks. It comes with a built-in ensemble cast of characters whose job titles dictate their personality and never need interact more than the screenwriter needs them to. And it contains a palatable level of tension borne out of the limited social stratification found at the club.
And so, since everyone we follow comes from the same sort of families, the major differentiation between the characters comes from age and from the ability to show the protagonist’s potential paths through the prism of others (the stressed millionaire, family man, or free-spirited drop-out). This makes it the perfect landscape for youthful introspection.
The music is stirringly evocative, and the saturated greens and pinks of refined ’80s living transport us.
Red Oaks is no exception. Roberts’ David is in the summer of his sophomore year at NYU and is reluctant to tread the path that his father (Richard Kind) has laid for him: becoming a CPA. So, despite having the swing of a rusty robot, he finds himself as the assistant tennis pro at the country club, where he comes into contact with the other men whom he could one day become: Paul Reiser as the club president and Ennis Esmer as the tennis pro.
And along with the expected tribulations of love, it’s all pretty predictable stuff—it even nods to its predecessors by casting Jennifer Grey as David’s mother—if done with a certain panache. The music, as you’d expect from Eastbound and Down’s David Gordon Green, is stirringly evocative, and the saturated greens and pinks of refined ’80s living transport us.
However the fact that it’s more dramedy than pure comedy continually draws us back to a type of program that we have seen so many times before. That’s not completely a bad thing, as there is something quite comfortable about re-entering a world that feels so familiar. But it’s a world that, if not played entirely for laughs, appears dated and at odds with everything that happens outside the club’s gates.
While David’s moment at the crossroads is supposed to be monumental, a period of grand, life-shaping significance in retrospect, it’s all so very safe. While the kooky characters will attempt to distract you, essentially David is faced with a life that will be enjoyable or one where he will be rich. He is in a position where everything is possible. As decisions go, it verges on the trivial, as therefore does the heart of this program.
Screengrab via Amazon Instant Video