Archive for pop culture

Laser Day

maimanToday they’re on everything from our pens to the heads of villainous frickin’ sharks, but before 1960, lasers were just a dream. In that year, Theodore Harold Maiman invented the laser using a pink ruby, proving that diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they won’t remove that regrettable tattoo. Maiman was born today in 1927, and to say his work at Hughes Research Laboratories changed the world is an understatement. Lasers have revolutionized medicine, electronics, communications and, of course, pop culture. Without lasers, could you have the idea of a lightsaber? Or a phaser?

Maiman created his own company around his invention in 1962, and continued to be a major part of the high technology world until his death in 2007. Celebrate his creation today by digging out the laser pointer and entertaining the cat.

Sparklers for Captain America

Next week is July 4th, so here’s an early birthday nod to Marvel’s Captain America!

captainamericabday copy

Stephen Colbert Day

The truthiness is out there! Your future quasi-benevolent dictator/warrior overlord, Stephen Colbert, was born on this day in 1964. Bears and people without a sense of satire, beware.

From numerous references to Dungeons & Dragons to his lightsaber Green Screen Challenge, Colbert has turned his geek history into nightly pop art on his show The Colbert Report. While his persona for the show rejects geekdom, some of the actor’s own passion still seeps through on occasion. When guest James Franco claimed he was the biggest Lord of the Rings fan, the butt cheeks of Colbert’s minions puckered in delight. They knew some Frodo fanboy thumpage was coming, especially since Colbert has repeatedly quoted long, obscure passages and recited mythology from Tolkien’s work as easily as a child saying the Lord’s Prayer. As a man of faith and family, he can probably do that too, but in Elvish.

 

First Contact Day

firstcontact“I don’t even like to fly. I take trains.” – Zefram Cochrane

Today in 2063 in the Star Trek universe, Zefram Cochrane pilots the first warp-drive craft into space and attracts the attention of the Vulcans, resulting in Earth’s official first contact with an alien species. The future is all conveniently documented for us in the 1996 movie “Star Trek: First Contact” so we have something to look forward to after the zombies attack.

There’s a certain poetry to Cochrane hosting the uptight Vulcans at a bar while Roy Orbison blasts away, don’t you think? We can only hope if aliens do find us interesting enough to talk to without probing, the human race will do it with similar style. Reality suggests, however, that first contact will be tweeted by someone before the aliens set foot (or tentacle) on our soil.

Celebrate today by defeating the Borg wherever you find them and cranking the song “Magic Carpet Ride” until the windows shake. The video clip below is one of our faves for two reasons. You can’t go into space without loud music, and some of the switches inside the Phoenix were Trekkie in-jokes: two of them were marked TOS 3 and TOS 8 for the original Star Trek series, referencing the first time Cochrane appeared in the series’ 38th episode.

Leonard Nimoy Day

Happy Birthday, Mr. Nimoy! Since yesterday was Tolkien Reading Day, it feels right to celebrate the two days together with one clip. You know the one. Leonard Nimoy singing “Bilbo Baggins!” Because William Shatner shouldn’t have all the fun, right?

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William Shatner Day

There are three geeky holidays today! They all revolve around William Shatner, and that’s how he likes it. Today in 1931, William Alan Shatner was born in Montreal. Because of one particular character in Shatner’s career, we also know that today in 2228 in Riverside, Iowa, James Tiberius Kirk was born. One major link between these two spun off our third holiday, Talk Like Shatner Day.

Whether you love him or hate him (there’s plenty in both camps) you can’t deny Shatner has entertained us for most of his 82 years. Whether he bedded curvy alien girls or sang conceptual albums or launched backstage drama, he has been a one-of-a-kind character in pop culture, and we salute him.

There are tons of awesome Shatner videos out there (including a hilarious turkey-frying PSA and a version of Bohemian Rhapsody) but to celebrate today, we went with something off-the-wall and completely Shatneresque: William Shatner backed by a chorus line of stormtroopers and singing “My Way” to George Lucas. Happy Birthday, Mr. Shatner!

First Tweet Day

Seven years ago today, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the very first tweet, spawning a micro-blogging sensation that has changed how we communicate. Twitter has more than 300 million users, and it’s helped topple regimes, break news and connect us to everyone from Ashton Kutcher to the the Dalai Lama. Celebrate this day like you every day, by tweeting your little heart out until the fail whale strikes. By the way, you can still check out that first tweet.

 

 

 

Pi, Einstein and Chips Day

Has math ever looked so delicious?

Has math ever looked so delicious?

Today celebrates three things geeks love: Pi, Albert Einstein and potato chips. The numerical shorthand for today is 3/14, which corresponds to 3.14, the beginning of pi. Diehard fans will likely celebrate at 1:59 and 26 seconds, so have a slice of apple pie nearby. While no one knows the exact hour and minute Albert Einstein was born (although it would be awesome if it was 1:59:26) he’s still a rock star in the physics world, and his name has even become shorthand for genius in the mundane, everyday world. As for potato chips, do we need to elaborate? Any day is a great day to celebrate them, but this is, in fact, National Potato Chip Day.

Celebrate all three by taking a physicist out to lunch (with pie for dessert, of course) today, and if you find a potato chip on your plate that looks like Albert Einstein, head straight to eBay. Ka-ching, baby.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr/djwtwo

 

Douglas Adams Day

douglasadamsHe was an honorary Python, wrote for Doctor Who, and gave us Zaphod Beeblebrox, Arthur Dent and Dirk Gently; Douglas Adams, born on this day in 1952, was a giant of a man in many ways, especially his contributions to science fiction and comedy. He left us far too soon, but his impact on geekdom and science fiction is still powerful today. Who else could inspire a massive inside joke with a simple “42?” He also loved technology and would have been awesome on Twitter, better than Steve Martin and Nathan Fillion combined. Yeah, we said it.

Celebrate today by carrying your towel or donating a little cash to save endangered animals, one of his favorite causes. If you don’t know who Adams is and you think BabelFish is just a translation website, get yourself to a bookstore immediately for a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Also, check out the lovely Google Doodle in his memory today, or watch his last interview filmed shortly before his untimely death in 2001 on the now defunct TechTV show, Big Thinkers.

National Cereal Day

cerealstartrekWhether you’re in favor of Boo Berries or bran, cereal has been an essential part of our complete breakfast for more than 100 years. For a certain number of us, Saturday mornings with the Road Runner weren’t the same without a big bowl of cereal so sweet, it made your eyeballs vibrate. Cereal has gone through a lot of phases since those first boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes hit stores as a health food in 1895, but they all break down to variations of oats, rice, wheat or corn.

Not that exciting? Think back to your days as a kid, bouncing down the cereal aisle looking for Tony the Tiger, Ribbit the Frog, or Lucky the Leprechaun. If you were fortunate, you scored a box of Cap’n Crunch. If not, Mom slipped a box of Life in the cart. (‘But Mikey likes it!’ fooled no kid ever.)

Thanks to savvy marketing, the cereal aisle has also seen its share of movie and TV tie-ins, with various bowls of breakfast named after Xena, Batman, Star Trek, Star Wars, E.T., Gremlins, the Hulk, Indiana Jones, Pokemon, Mr. T and even Urkel.

Celebrate today with a bowl of your favorite crunchies in some milk and check out Mr. Breakfast, an amazing site featuring cereal history. All your favorites are there, so save the heart-smart box for another day and rip into those Froot Loops for old times’ sake.

 

Flickr/Robert Couse-Baker