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September 22 is Hobbit Day

Today is Hobbit Day, the longest-runniHobbit Dayng holiday celebrated by fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth Cycle books, The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings. It originated in 1973 after Tolkien’s death on September 2 of that year.

It honors the birthdays of characters Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, which occurred on the same date in 2890 and 2968, respectively. There is some disagreement among readers about the specific date.

The Gregorian calendar would place it on September 14, but Tolkien once stated that the Shire calendar is ahead by about ten days, depending on the month.

In 1978, the official date of the Long Awaited Party was fixed as September 22 by the Tolkien Society, which also happens to fall one day after  was published on September 21, 1937.

It is part of Tolkien Week, observed on the calendar week containing Hobbit Day. Festivities around the globe include feasts, costume parties, reenactments, exchange of gifts and cards and fireworks.

Happy Hobbit Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

June 7 is VCR Day

vcr day

Ampex VRX-1000, 1956

Today is VCR Day. It commemorates the date in 1975 when Sony Corporation supposedly released the Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR) made specifically for home use. Some histories place the release in November 1975. In any case, it beat JVC’s Video Home System (VHS) to market by a year.

A VCR records the analog audio and video of a television broadcast or other signal source onto a removable, magnetic tape videocassette for subsequent playback. A programmable timer allows the user to schedule the recording to initiate, run and conclude while unattended. It can also play back prerecorded tapes.

The history of the VCR reaches back to the Ampex VRX-1000, released in 1956. Due to its substantial size and prohibitive cost of $50,000, it was affordable only to television networks and largest individual stations. Toshiba, Philips, and RCA joined the fray; Sony partnered with Ampex for a while to share technology.

In 1965, Sony introduced the reel-to-reel type CV-2000—CV stands for Consumer Video—as its first home-use model. (One ad shows the price as $695.) In spite of Sony’s marketing, it was mainly used for medical and industrial applications. Companies jockeyed for position for another decade.

There are many theories about why Sony won the battle to beat JVC to market in 1975 only to lose the war. One irrefutable fact is that each videocassette format was compatible only with its own VCR, ensuring that VHS and Betamax would never be able to play nice.

Sony may have gambled on their customers’ desire for quality over quantity, making higher definition tapes that could record up to one hour of programming. While we value that today, it was much less of a selling point in 1975, when simply being able to record a show and watch it was more of a priority than being able to parse every speck of dust on M*A*S*H in hallucinatory detail.

When JVC released its VCR a year later, it used VHS tapes that held two hours. By the time Sony caught up, it was too late. VHS had become the standard. In 1981, Betamax had only a 25% market share. By 1986, it had dropped to 7.5% and continued to decline. Although it began to sell VHS recorders in 1988, Sony continued to make Betamax recorders until 2002 and only stopped making Betamax tapes as of March 2016.

Of course, VHS didn’t stay on top forever. JVC stopped manufacturing standalone VCRs in 2008, long after DVD and Blu-Ray players had supplanted them. Streaming services hope to put them out of business, too.

Can a direct neural interface be far behind? As long as it doesn’t require the skull drilling we see in science fiction movies and the monthly fee is good, we say bring it on!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

April 26 is Alien Day

alien dayToday is Alien Day. The date 4/26 pays homage to LV-426, the planet where Ripley and her expendable crew set down and take on a stowaway that no amount of Pepcid-AC can overcome. By the time the monster surprises Dallas with a gesture that looks suspiciously like jazz hands, it’s clear that the entire crew will indeed be expended.

Ripley and Jonesy, the luckiest cat in the universe, escape after a run-in with the alien, who has hidden in a shuttle so inefficiently designed that it has wasted space in the exact proportions of a slavering hell creature.

In the sequel, Aliens, Ripley returns to LV-426–as an advisor, that’s all–with the Colonial Marines and Burke, Carter J., a company man and (spoiler alert) not an okay guy, after contact is lost with the Weyland-Yutani employees working there. Suffice it to say there are problems and a few deaths are involved.

Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection take place on a penal planet and the USM Auriga spaceship, respectively. Prequel Prometheus occurs on LV-223, another moon in the same star system.

Director Ridley Scott’s sequel to his prequel will be called Alien: Covenant and is scheduled for release October 6, 2017. Scott has issued this description:

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

At the end of Prometheus, David and Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) survived. What’s happened to her? The films have always had a strong female lead. We hope Scott’s planning to keep it that way.

Meanwhile, Neill Blomkamp has been working on Alien 5, but that’s only the working title, since it appears that he plans to dropkick Alien³  and Alien: Resurrection and pick up where Aliens left off.

Many fans of the early movies are happy about this prospect. Unfortunately, Scott has “asked” Blomkamp to delay his movie until after Alien: Covenant opens.

alien day

Blomkamp has been sharing concept art since last year which shows Hicks and Ripley very much alive. He released this pic of Newt this morning in honor of Alien Day.

alien day

Can fans trust him to bring the series back to life? Will we get the director of District 9 or the one who made Chappie? Will Scott’s wishes put Blomkamp’s plans into permanent hypersleep? Stay tuned and have a happy Alien Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 24 is New Kids on the Block Day

new kids on the block dayToday is New Kids on the Block Day and has been ever since Massachusetts governor and failed presidential candidate Michael Dukakis declared it so in 1989.

Boston’s favorite boy band is still going strong. The NKOTB Cruise has been an annual tradition since 2009.  This year, Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood will meet and greet their fans on a trip from New Orleans, Louisiana to Cozumel, Mexico. The October sailing has already sold out, but interested parties (you know who you are) can join the waitlist.

Happy New Kids on the Block Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays