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7 Fictional Holidays for Pop Culture Enthusiasts

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If you’re a pop culture fan, then why not celebrate some of these alternative winter holidays next year?

1. Life Day

There’s no doubt about the impact Star Wars has had on pop culture, but the weirdness that was the CBS Star Wars Holiday Special can’t really claim any credit for that. It is appallingly bad and worth watching just for the campiness. Jumping on the Christmas special bandwagon on November 17, 1978, the folks at CBS aired the two-hour program which focused on Chewbacca’s return to Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day with his family. The holiday features a Tree of Life, wookiees and much spontaneous singing. At any rate, celebrating Life Day is as good a reason as any for breaking out the light sabers and having a party.

2. Verdukian Holiday of Mouth Pleasures

The Secret Santa exchange at the office can be pretty disappointing. (True story: I once received an expired Subway gift card.) If you’d like to get out of it, take a cue from 30 Rock and convert to Verdukianism. Celebrations include meat cubes with pictures of Jimmy Connor, blonde virgins and dental floss, sausage pizza, and plenty of root beer for its healing powers. If things get weird, just renounce your new faith—but not to the police, who will tase you, bro.

3. Festival of the Bells

Fraggle Rock was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and I vaguely remember Episode 301: The Bells of Fraggle Rock. Gobo thinks the festival is sort of silly and useless, so he goes off to find the Great Bell at the heart of Fraggle Rock. Muppety hijinks ensue, culminating in this clip--the near-stoppage of the Rock threatens to end Fraggle life as they know it, but Gobo discovers the Rock can be jump-started again by ringing bells to awaken the Great Bell, who keeps the Rock spinning. You can celebrate similarly, if you so choose.

4. Festivus

Daniel O’Keefe isn’t the name usually associated with Festivus, the secular holiday popularized by Seinfeld. But O’Keefe’s son, who was a writer for the show, included the family-created celebration as part of the storyline in the 1997 episode “The Strike.” Now Festivus is celebrated independently in varying degrees of seriousness, complete with aluminum (stripper) poles, the Feats of Strength, Airing of Grievances, and minor Festivus miracles. If you need help getting started, pick up one of these handy Festivus in a Box kits for $22.95.

5. Chrismahanukwanzakah

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive celebration with no contractual obligation, look no further than Virgin Mobile’s Chrismahanukwanzakah. While celebration details are sketchy, there are gifts of (rather outdated) cell phones for every girl and boy and dreidels made of non-pork meat.

6. Wintersday, Feast of Winter Veil, and Starlight Celebration

These are alt-holidays in MMORPGs, celebrated by players of Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XI. Each feature holiday-only items, special quests, and festive in-game decorations. A day spent trash-talking via the Internet and eating junk food actually sounds like a pretty good time. The rare items and pseudo-Christmas trees are like a bonus.

7. Refrigerator Day

Remember the early-1990s ABC sitcom Dinosaurs? They didn't have religious celebrations, what with pre-dating man and all, so they set aside a day to honor the refrigerator, the greatest invention of Jurassic times. Celebrations include decorating the fridge with sparkly things, making up a refrigerator mold pie, and presents! Watch the full episode here if you can handle the out-of-sync audio.


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Richard Bouhet // Getty
4 Expert Tips on How to Get the Most Out of August's Total Solar Eclipse
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Richard Bouhet // Getty

As you might have heard, there’s a total solar eclipse crossing the U.S. on August 21. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the country since 1979, and the first coast-to-coast event since June 8, 1918, when eclipse coverage pushed World War I off the front page of national newspapers. Americans are just as excited today: Thousands are hitting the road to stake out prime spots for watching the last cross-country total solar eclipse until 2045. We’ve asked experts for tips on getting the most out of this celestial spectacle.


To see the partial phases of the eclipse, you will need eclipse glasses because—surprise!—staring directly at the sun for even a minute or two will permanently damage your retinas. Make sure the glasses you buy meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standards. As eclipse frenzy nears its peak, shady retailers are selling knock-off glasses that will not adequately protect your eyes. The American Astronomical Society keeps a list of reputable vendors, but as a rule, if you can see anything other than the sun through your glasses, they might be bogus. There’s no need to splurge, however: You can order safe paper specs in bulk for as little as 90 cents each. In a pinch, you and your friends can take turns watching the partial phases through a shared pair of glasses. As eclipse chaser and author Kate Russo points out, “you only need to view occasionally—no need to sit and stare with them on the whole time.”


There are plenty of urban legends about “alternative” ways to protect your eyes while watching a solar eclipse: smoked glass, CDs, several pairs of sunglasses stacked on top of each other. None works. If you’re feeling crafty, or don’t have a pair of safe eclipse glasses, you can use a pinhole projector to indirectly watch the eclipse. NASA produced a how-to video to walk you through it.


Bryan Brewer, who published a guidebook for solar eclipses, tells Mental Floss the difference between seeing a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is “like the difference between standing right outside the arena and being inside watching the game.”

During totality, observers can take off their glasses and look up at the blocked-out sun—and around at their eerily twilit surroundings. Kate Russo’s advice: Don’t just stare at the sun. “You need to make sure you look above you, and around you as well so you can notice the changes that are happening,” she says. For a brief moment, stars will appear next to the sun and animals will begin their nighttime routines. Once you’ve taken in the scenery, you can use a telescope or a pair of binoculars to get a close look at the tendrils of flame that make up the sun’s corona.

Only a 70-mile-wide band of the country stretching from Oregon to South Carolina will experience the total eclipse. Rooms in the path of totality are reportedly going for as much as $1000 a night, and news outlets across the country have raised the specter of traffic armageddon. But if you can find a ride and a room, you'll be in good shape for witnessing the spectacle.


Your eyes need half an hour to fully adjust to darkness, but the total eclipse will last less than three minutes. If you’ve just been staring at the sun through the partial phases of the eclipse, your view of the corona during totality will be obscured by lousy night vision and annoying green afterimages. Eclipse chaser James McClean—who has trekked from Svalbard to Java to watch the moon blot out the sun—made this rookie mistake during one of his early eclipse sightings in Egypt in 2006. After watching the partial phases, with stray beams of sunlight reflecting into his eyes from the glittering sand and sea, McClean was snowblind throughout the totality.

Now he swears by a new method: blindfolding himself throughout the first phases of the eclipse to maximize his experience of the totality. He says he doesn’t mind “skipping the previews if it means getting a better view of the film.” Afterward, he pops on some eye protection to see the partial phases of the eclipse as the moon pulls away from the sun. If you do blindfold yourself, just remember to set an alarm for the time when the total eclipse begins so you don’t miss its cross-country journey. You'll have to wait 28 years for your next chance.

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Pop Culture
IKEA Publishes Instructions for Turning Rugs Into Game of Thrones Capes
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Game of Thrones is one of the most expensive TV shows ever produced, but even the crew of the hit HBO series isn’t above using an humble IKEA hack behind the scenes. According to Mashable, the fur capes won by Jon Snow and other members of the Night’s Watch on the show are actually sheepskin rugs sold by the home goods chain.

The story behind the iconic garment was first revealed by head costume designer Michele Clapton at a presentation at Los Angeles’s Getty Museum in 2016. “[It’s] a bit of a trick,” she said at Designing the Middle Ages: The Costumes of GoT. “We take anything we can.”

Not one to dissuade customers from modifying its products, IKEA recently released a cape-making guide in the style of its visual furniture assembly instructions. To start you’ll need one of their Skold rugs, which can be bought online for $79. Using a pair of scissors cut a slit in the material and make a hole where your head will go. Slip it on and you’ll look ready for your Game of Thrones debut.

The costume team makes a few more changes to the rugs used on screen, like shaving them, adding leather straps, and waxing and “frosting” the fur to give it a weather-worn effect. Modern elements are used to make a variety of the medieval props used in Game of Thrones. The swords, for example, are made from aircraft aluminum, not steel. For more production design insights, check out these behind-the-scenes secrets of Game of Thrones weapons artists.

[h/t Mashable]


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