When parents tell stories to their children, we get an image of fantasy creatures that's all our own. Later we become more attuned to the pop culture depictions of them, like the elves from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the dwarves (or dwarfs) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But in 2016, mentions of these characters are most likely to make us think of Lord of the Rings. The movie version, where hobbits, orcs, elves, dwarves, and men all have their distinctive accents.
Throughout The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the reams of related histories Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, he established whole societies, histories, and languages for a handful of races that still inform how they are depicted today. Elves are ancient, beautiful, and have pointy ears; dwarves are short, tough, and love to use axes; orcs are filthy brutes who live for destruction.
Of course the original readers couldn’t hear what Tolkien’s creatures sounded like, but the intense focus he placed on developing their languages gave people a pretty good idea. “Tolkien was a philologist,” says Olsen.“This is what he did. He studied language and the history of language and the changing of language over time.”
Tolkien would create languages first, then write cultures and histories to speak them, often taking inspiration from the sound of an existing language. In the case of the ever-present Elvish languages in his works, Tolkien took inspiration from Finnish and Welsh. As the race of men and hobbits got their language from the elves in Tolkien’s universe, their language was portrayed as similarly Euro-centric in flavor.
Tolkien was only partially responsible for the accents of his creations. He did establish that they sounded different from each other, but what those languages sound like changed over time as various interpreters added their own ideas. Did you know that Tolkien imagined dwarves sounding like Israelis? Read about the evolution of fantasy characters and how they speak at Atlas Obscura.
We knew people would use GoPro cameras to film every kind of physical activity imaginable, but the GoPro is showing us so much more than extreme sports and stunts.
They're letting us take a look inside stuff like never before, satisfying our curiosity with video footage from inside places where full grown adults simply won't fit- like inside a dishwasher while it runs through a full wash cycle.
Want to get in the Christmas spirit? Saturday Night Live has been bring us Christmas skits for over 40 years now, and of course, some of them stay with us. You can relive some of the best of them: Eddy Murphy in Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, Alec Baldwin in Schweddy Balls, The Lonely Island's Dick in a Box, Chevy Chase in Christmas at the White House, and more, as they are all embedded at TVOM.
Instagram Metalslimer isn't afraid to cosplay male and female characters -only unlike most people who chose to do that, he is anything but androgynous. But that's precisely what makes his female cosplays so memorable -especially those Disney babes.
While his Jessica Rabbit is hilarious, the fact that his Belle cosplay looks like Gaston snuck into her wardrobe and got a little crazy.
Oh the things that giant Lady Liberty has seen, as she watches over a city that's always on the brink of utter destruction. When dark forces look for a place to set up shop they tend to choose New York for a good reason- the overcrowding and urban density helps cover up their operations. New Yorkers grow accustomed to seeing such strange sights they don't think twice when a Stragoi sucks the blood out of its victim on the sidewalk, they just strut on home to their overpriced apartment and turn on the TV!
Keep your wardrobe scary cool with this New York INFECTION t-shirt by ALIENBIKER23, it's a new way to say "I heart NY" and is sure to make your fellow fans his with delight!
You can see that the secret is that the coffee stirrer is segmented, so once he figured out what notes they played, he worked on the pattern of the tune itself. You have to wonder what kind of boring job would lead to such a hobby. -via Tastefully Offensive
Peanut shells seem like a strange medium for sculpture, but talented miniature artist Steve Casino turns ordinary peanuts into pop culture icons with so much character they could hang out with Mr. Peanut.
Scratch that, I don't think Mr. Peanut is cool enough to hang with Steve Casino's creations, plus Mr. Peanut is all posh while the Casino crowd is a bit rough around the edges.
Steve's peanut superstars look perfectly camera ready in the front, but he leaves their backsides bare so you can see their humble beginnings as an ordinary legume.
There have been many famous, legendary haircuts (for men) and hairdos (for women) in show business history. Well, we can start with the mop tops of the Beatles. Then we obviously drift over to the long hair, frizzly hair, shaved head of the respective three stooges- Moe, Larry, and Curly. (not to mention the split-in-the-middle part of Shemp). Alfalfa of the "Little Rascals" had his slicked-down cowlick, Harpo Marx had his curly blond locks, and Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas had their bald domes.
Veronica Lake had her "peek-a-boo" hairdo. The classic blonds include Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow. And let's not forget Lucille Ball's legendary carrot top.
But Elvis Presley's combed-back, ink-black, slickly-oiled, long-sideburned haircut is known all over the civilized (and uncivilized) world.
The earliest Elvis hairstyle was not the jet-black we are all so familiar with. One can watch and enjoy Elvis' earliest TV appearances from 1956 and even his first movie Love Me Tender from 1956 and notice his hair a slightly lighter, dark sandy-ish shade.
It wasn't until his second (and best) movie Loving You in 1957 (Elvis' first color film) that we see the extreme ebony hair that was to be become his trademark. Although the King's hair was actually snow-white by the end of his life, he routinely had it dyed black from '57 on out.
A simple joke at work sends a guy over the edge. But it works, because the best puns, even the ones at second-grade level, only work if they make you groan. In this case, it's not the pun itself that induces the groan, but our hero's struggle with it. It's the latest from Teo, Hugh, and Corey at It's the Tie comics. Don't miss the bonus panel at the comic link. -via reddit
The Spanish Civil War saw the death of a half-million people between 1936 and 1939, but outside of Spain, it gets little space in history books because of World War II. That's also why many war crimes and shady dealings did not get proper documentation or an adequate investigation at the time. In the decades since, these mysteries remain. For example, what really happened to Dick Sheepshanks?
Dick Sheepshanks was a 27-year-old Reuters war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, and his life was the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster. Sheepshanks headed for Spain in 1937 with several other journalists to cover Franco’s Nationalists, but he was killed in December in the Republican shelling of the village of Cudete. When news of his death reached London, Sir Roderick Jones (who headed the Reuters News Agency and unknowingly shared a love interest with Sheepshanks) paid him all the tributes as befitted a national hero.
Then things get weird. According to some who had known him – including Jeanne Stourton, the aforementioned love interest – Sheepshanks had become suspicious of one of his fellow journalists, and the only one of the group to survive: Kim Philby. If that name sounds familiar, it’s for good reason – Philby went on to gain infamy as Britain’s most notorious traitor during the Cold War.
According to Stourton, Sheepshanks had grown increasingly suspicious of Philby’s motivations, and Philby took it upon himself to take Sheepshanks out of the picture. A comparison between eyewitness reports and photographic evidence has raised a number of unanswered questions, and it’s been suggested that Philby may have had a hand in the attack. What exactly happened to the Reuters journalists remains undetermined, and the death of Ernest Richard Sheepshanks has become a compelling Spanish Civil War mystery.
YouTube has launched its annual end-of-the-year video, which is less a recap of the year's events as it once was, and is now more focused on the video platform's most viral personalities. In it, the YouTube stars of 2016 sing, dance, and act out a few memes.
I recognize John Green, PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, Trevor Noah, the Pineapple Pen guy, the Slow Mo Guys, Dwayne Johnson, James Corden, and Seth Meyers. And none of the others, although I've probably seen some of their videos. There's a full list of participants at the YouTube page. -via Laughing Squid
People are buying comic books like never before thanks to the movie adaptations that are making billions in the box office, and yet the comic industry still struggles to stay afloat.
Nowadays people decide which series to read based on reviews online, so their opinions aren't swayed by a snazzy looking cover, but back in the day a gimmick cover was the ultimate way to sell comic books.
Guest artists were often brought in to create the bold illustrations on the cover, and this art was designed to make readers feel like that issue was something they couldn't live without.
Unfortunately, many companies also relied too heavily on needlessly gimmicky covers to sell their books, like The Amazing Spider-Man issue 400 which was supposed to look like a tombstone but wound up looking like a blurry mess.
Here's a unique idea for a year-end list: the notable truck spills of 2016. Atlas Obscura has taken those news stories and plotted out an interactive map. Click on an icon (color coded for type of cargo) and pull up the story of that spill. This year saw truck spills that unloaded beer, soda, cheese, mail, pigs, potatoes, grease, animal guts, sewage, liquid dye, and more all over the highways. We've covered some of these stories; reading through them brings back memories, like that of the beer truck that collided with the Doritos truck in Florida, called "the couch potato's nightmare." Good times.
Rotten Tomatoes started out as a site that featured movie reviews "from a variety of critics in the U.S.", and now the review aggregator website is "the most trusted measurement of quality for Movies & TV."
But a film that achieves a one hundred percent rating is something special no matter how you feel about the site, and yet many of the movies that have earned a perfect rating are quite surprising.
It's the time of year when we pull out all stops to make the season as merry and bright as possible, and Christmas just wouldn't be the same without decor shaped like Santa and his reindeer. But what ever happened to the stuff shaped like his goat Hal? That's right, Christmas decorations used to include ornaments and decorations shaped like Hal the Jingle Goat, but somewhere along the way old Hal got put out to pasture. So let's bring back that old timey tradition and pay tribute to Hal the Jingle Goat this holidays, he'll make people smile wherever you go!
Get in the spirit of the season your way- by wearing this Jingle Goat t-shirt by Miski, it's strictly for Christmas mavericks who prefer goats to reindeer!
Some of the things you have heard all your life about blind people ain't necessarily true. It's possible you've never thought about those myths enough to bother checking them out, but now you can have the straight dope fed right to you, as mental_floss busts some misconceptions about being blind. Josh Sundquist (previously at Neatorama) is the guest host this week for the mental_floss List Show.
Just last month we linked to a Today I Found Out article featuring 10 facts that sound completely unbelievable, but since then, they've posted two more articles with that very same theme -so now you can learn 20 more unbelievable but true facts. For example, did you know the biggest earthquake ever recorded hit 23 on the Richter Scale? Fortunately, no cities were destroyed because this earthquake was recorded by NASA and took place on a star millions of lightyears away.
Also strange, Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia for food -the local camels there are raised exclusively for racing and domestic purposes. And did you know that the people who voiced Mickey and Minnie Mouse were actually married in real life.
This is a Star Wars story. Or, more specifically, a story of a young Star Wars fan. Did you ever know a kid who would wear a superhero costume or a tutu to school every day? Alex is that obsessed with a galaxy far, far away. The stormtrooper helmet is a dead giveaway.
Married couple Abby and Matt were sick of being harassed by their parents about having a baby, so when they went to adopt a puppy, they had a brilliant idea about how to get their family to leave them alone.
They had their photographer friend Elisha Minnette take typical, cheesy baby photos with them and their precious new puppy.
One thing's for sure, this loving family sure has a beautiful, bouncing bundle of joy.
For 27 years, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, had a temporary hotel built out of ice that lasted from December through April. But now a new design will allow the hotel to remain open year round! The new ICEHOTEL 365 has concrete outer walls with pipes running through it to bring refrigeration to the ice that covers them, sustaining it through the summer by solar power.
With an eye toward research, ICEHOTEL founder Yngve Bergqvist knows that Sweden will have shorter winters in the future. He also has had visitors every year asking if they could visit his creation during the summer and autumn months. It was important that ICEHOTEL become sustainable year-round, so the 2,100-square meter ice experience was designed and built. It now includes 11 art suites, 9 deluxe suites with private bathrooms and saunas, an ice gallery and an ice bar. In keeping with tradition, the structure was hand carved by global artists, hand selected for the project.
When the holiday season rolls around you know it- there's a spring in our step, a smile on our faces as we make our lists and check them twice to make sure we get our shopping done and give everyone on our list a great present.
But driving around town or looking at a half dozen different websites to find the perfect geeky presents is a waste of time- especially when you can find all the shirts you need at the NeatoShop!
We all have one thing in common during the holiday season- shopping
Historic sites are often huge draws for tourists, even when the history is tough to discuss. Just don’t expect to find the darkest topics in a travel guide.
Governments, or more specifically, their tourism boards are usually enthusiastic to promote any noteworthy site or event possible. This has lead to more than a few missteps, of course. Like the recent ”Syria: Always Beautiful" campaign touting the country’s beaches. Come for the Mediterranean scenery, please ignore the raging civil war. This eagerness to encourage tourism makes certain decisions particularly interesting. Denying or restricting access, or even failing to promote something significant, is lost revenue. In some instances, the reasons for doing so are practical, as with Chernobyl or any number of active government buildings. With others, it’s a matter of taste and dignity. I doubt the German Tourism Board will launch a million-euro campaign touting tours of the country’s concentration camps. Today we head to Germany to look at why we get to see some things, but not others.
A million and a half people visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in 2014. After some research (along with a fair amount of estimation) and back-of-the-envelope math, concentration camps add some $100 million annually to the economies of Germany and Poland.
Me standing at the entrance of Slaughterhouse-Five. I never know what to do with my hands in pictures. (Image credit: Danilo Hommel)
How is access to historically significant sites determined?
World War II tourism is a big money-maker. While admission to Auschwitz is free, guided tours begin at 25 euros per person. Keeping in mind other notable sites, such as the Normandy beaches, Buchenwald, or Dunkirk, and the money flowing from tourists is substantial.
This is a cute illustration of a zebra from Raynato Castro and Alex Culang at Buttersafe, but the story escalates quickly. You must always remember that apex predators have camouflage, too. Here's what a polar bear in a snowstorm looks like. Yeah, you can see him, but more importantly, he is looking directly at you, you delicious warm-blooded human.
Haines, Alaska, has a population of 2,508 people, but the town boasts five museums. One of them is the Hammer Museum. It's a museum dedicated to hammers. There are more than 2,000 hammers on display, for every use you can imagine, including historical hammers and the 20-foot-tall hammer that stands outside.
The museum also holds special events like the Art & Hammer series and the annual Blacksmithing Workshop. The Hammer Museum is open from May through September, so make your summer road trips plans accordingly. Meanwhile, you can explore the museum through Facebook and Instagram. -Thanks, John Farrier!
Once upon a time mages were not invited to join many parties, on account of people thinking they're kinda weird and scary looking with those beady eyes staring out from under that giant hat of theirs, but nowadays the party don't get started until the mage arrives and that's final. They've gone from d-orko to prime Cura for a boring party, and whether they're slinging Black, White or Red spells they know the party people will appreciate the vibes they bring to the joint. So you wanna party like Cloud Strife? Get a mage to come over and watch your party get LIT!
Add some fantasy hilarity to your geeky wardrobe with this This Party Just Got LIT t-shirt by Jango Snow, it's pure fire and sure to get you lots of nods and fist bumps from your fellow fans!
The battleship USS Missouri, commissioned in 1944, is famous as the site of the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender that ended World War II. Earlier, under the command of Captain William M. Callaghan, the ship had been attacked by a Japanese Zero piloted by a kamikaze attacker. On April 11, 1945, the fighter plane came in at a low angle, as you can see in the image above, and crashed across the deck.
Even as antiaircraft fire hit the plane, the plane hit the ship. The ship’s baker, Len Schmidt, captured the terrifying millisecond right before impact on camera. An explosion could have killed hundreds. Instead, what foxhole converts call a miracle – historians call it wartime’s dumb luck – intervened: the bomb fell off the plane before impact. The hit barely made a dent, although it did start a gasoline fire. The Japanese pilot was the only casualty. Half his body fragmented, scattering on deck; the other half sank into the sea with his plane.
With the special fury sitting-duck sailors expressed for these flying suicide bombers, crew members prepared to wash their enemy’s body into the sea. Then in a decisive, life-defining, incredibly decent move, Captain Callaghan said “No.” He decided to see past the fearsome façade, and honor the fearlessness—and fealty—this boy demonstrated. Callaghan ordered that the body be brought to sick bay “and we'll have a burial for him tomorrow.”
Integrating technology into our lives was supposed to make things easier for us, automating and managing aspects of our daily lives to ease our burden, but in reality tech has made things more complicated.
We now struggle to unplug, constantly searching for a wi-fi signal so we aren't disconnected from our online friends list, each of us easily distracted by the small screens in our pockets and purses.
It appears our priorities shifted when we weren't paying attention, and now we'd rather carry on heated discussions about the color of dresses instead of speaking about the sad state of affairs in America.
Illustrator Eduardo Salles has a knack for cutting through the digital chatter to expose the soft, fleshy parts of our minds that have yet to become permanently attached to the internet.
Plug his brutally honest illustrations in and enjoy!