April 26, 4120 BCE — Bilbo Baggins is recruited by Thorin Oakenshield as a thief

It was a most Unexpected Party. Bilbo had no idea that he was going to be throwing it, for one thing.

But despite all the misunderstandings that Gandalf had apparently deliberately fostered (who says you can’t have a few laughs while you’re saving the world?), in the end, one bemused middle-aged hobbit with no prior experience at anything more challenging than walking down to the pub had agreed to travel halfway round the world with thirteen dwarves he didn’t know to steal things from a dragon. Because why not?

June 22, 4119 BCE — Bilbo Baggins returns to the Shire after his adventures

More than a year after he had departed, and after numerous adventures, after triumphs and losses, Bilbo Baggins returned to his home of Bag End, in the Shire. His long adventures there and back again are completed; he carries with him the One Ring (albeit not yet recognised as such), and believes that all his troubles lie behind him.

He is mildly discombobulated to discover that he has been declared dead and that certain of his relatives are attempting to claim his possessions. The matter is soon sorted out, although Bilbo’s penchant for adventures, the strange company he keeps (elves, dwarves and even wizards come to visit at times), and, we must suppose, a certain jealousy of his wealth, do little to endear him to most other hobbits.

September 29, 4040 BCE — The Ringbearers take ship from the Grey Havens

At long last, weary of Middle Earth, the majority of the remaining Noldor Elves take ship for the Uttermost West. Their company includes the bearers of the three Elven Rings; Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf; and also the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, who carried the One Ring.

It is an occasion both of sadness and of the rewards of victory, as the peace of the West means forsaking Middle Earth and all there whom they love, forevermore. The departure is witnessed by Frodo’s three closest friends, Merry, Pippin and Sam Gamgee.

1536 – Christopher Walker is the only survivor of a pirate attack

Christopher Walker was a man of strong will. When he washed ashore on a remote Bangalla beach, he did not just swear vengeance on the pirates, but on all criminals. And he did not merely swear his own life, but those of all his descendents. The Phantom who appears in Phantom comics to this day is the 21st in a unbroken line of mighty crimefighters. Because of this constant succession – and the use of the same costume design for centuries – the Phantom is widely believed to be immortal, and local tribes refer to him as ‘the man who cannot die’ and ‘the ghost who walks’.

Referenced in:

Phantom Shuffle — Austen Tayshus

1839 – The Wreck of the Hesperus is inspired

“The Wreck of the Hesperus” is a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which is based on the twenty ships that were lost in the Great Blizzard of 1839, which hit the New England coast of America on January 6 of that year. In particular, Longfellow is believed to have been inspired by the sinking of a ship named Favorite on that day.

In the poem, the Hesperus is wrecked when it dashed on a reef named Norman’s Woe, an actual reef on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, USA, much like the Favorite was.

Referenced in:
Lydia the Tattooed Lady – Groucho Marx

1929 — The Great King Rat is born

Little is known of the circumstances of the Great King Rat’s birth, other than its date of May 21st. Even the year is an estimate.

It is known that the Great King Rat would grow up to become a notorious dirty old man, and my feeling is that he was probably involved with organized crime syndicates in London. Given the cause of his death, it seems likely that he did not use condoms.

Referenced in:

Great King Rat — Queen

1956 – The Grinch steals Christmas

In an audacious daylight robbery, an individual known only by the nom du crime of “The Grinch” disguised himself as Santa Claus on this day in 1956, and stole a variety of Christmas-related items – presents, food and decorations – from the sleepy hamlet of Whoville.

However, the alleged Grinch later experienced a change of heart (n.b. witness accounts make it clear that this is no metaphor) and returned all of the stolen goods. The citizens of Whoville declined to press charges.

Referenced in:

Lonely Christmas Eve — Ben Folds

1973 — The Great King Rat dies

Only three facts are known about the circumstances of the Great King Rat’s death: the proximate cause was syphillis, it was forty-four years to the day since his birth, and the date was May 21st. Even the year is an estimate.

It is known that the Great King Rat was, at the time of his death, a notorious dirty old man, and my feeling is that he was probably involved with organized crime syndicates in London. Given the cause of his death, it seems likely that he did not use condoms.

Referenced in:

Great King Rat — Queen

2039 – The Volunteers set sail

Brian May described this song as his own little science fiction story.

It concerns a group who set out in a space ship, sailing ‘across the milky sea’ (which is a reference to both the Milky Way and to a pre-Queen band of Freddie Mercury’s, Sour Milk Sea), in search of a newer and better world. Their quest is ultimately successful, but their return to Earth That Was sees them fall foul of relativistic time dilation.

Referenced in:

’39 – Queen

More details will of course be provided, but not until 2139. Or you could listen to the song, which is awesome…

2139 – The Volunteers come home

Brian May described this song as his own little science fiction story.

It concerns a group who set out in a space ship, sailing ‘across the milky sea’ (which is a reference to both the Milky Way and to a pre-Queen band of Freddie Mercury’s, Sour Milk Sea), in search of a newer and better world. Their quest is ultimately successful, but their return to Earth That Was sees them fall foul of relativistic time dilation.

Referenced in:

’39 – Queen

2265 – The starship Enterprise begins its five year mission

Space… the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before…

Today is the day that it all will have started (time travel weirds English ever worse than verbing), in the year 2265. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu and Scotty started their five year mission, of which, alas, only the first three years were shown on television. (Chekov joined the crew later.)

Referenced in:

Star Trekkin’ – The Firm

The first episode of Star Trek was “The Man Trap”, and the date used here is derived from the stardate given in that episode.

2525 – Something happens. Really.

Today’s entry in the Rock ‘n’ Roll History of the World could just as easily find a home in the Daft Lyrics Database.

You see, although Zager and Evans were quite happy to prophesy on at 1010 year intervals from 2525, they seem to have somehow forgotten to specify just what would actuallly happen in that year.

Either that, or what man and woman will find in the year 2525 is the year 3535, which seems to suggest that 2525 will be the year in which the human race develops time travel, thus making the doom-saying of the rest of the song trivially easy to sidestep.

Referenced in:

In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) – Zager and Evans

3535 – Humanity embraces better living through neurochemistry

In the year 3535, it appears that humanity lives in a brave new world where psychiatric drugs are mandatory – not so much prozac nation as prozac planet. And these drugs, well, they make lying impossible, so either we’re all much more guarded or we’re all much more blunt.

Either way, it makes me think of the film Equilibrium, because you’d probably need that sort of police force to run such a state.

Referenced in:

In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) – Zager and Evans