YOUR FUTURE DICTIONARY
From pop anthems to dawn sites and midnight nuptials, a guide to 2000By Anastasia Stanmeyer
2000 While most people will ring in the new millennium at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, they actually might be off by a year. This is all because of a 6th-century abbot named Dionysius Exiguss, who created a calendar for the pope. Dionysius calculated that Jesus was born 531 years earlier based on biblical passages, establishing a base year of A.D. 1 and creating the phrase, anno Domini, which means "in the year of the Lord." So in the Christian world, the calendar began with the year 1. Using that logic, the second millennium actually ends on Dec. 31, 2000 and the new one begins on Jan. 1, 2001. Of course, the psychological power of the three 0s and the potential effect of the Y2K bug on computers overwhelmed any thought of adopting an odd year to kick off the next thousand.
2001: A Space Odyssey Adapted from the book by Arthur C. Clarke, this is a movie to watch anytime - but especially in the new millennium. The 1968 sci-fi fantasy is about a strange monolith found on the moon that motivates a special mission to Jupiter. Enroute, the ship's computer HAL takes control, and astronauts struggle to disconnect the machine. The director is Stanley Kubrick, who died earlier this year shortly after making Eyes Wide Shut.
Anthem of the Year 2000 This song by the three-teen grunge band from Down Under called silverchair will lead many young people into 2000. Sample lyrics: "We are the youth/We'll take your fascism away/We are the youth/Apologize for another day/We are the youth/Our politicians are so sure/We are the youth/And we are knocking on death's door." It's one of many millennium tunes around. At the other end of the teen spectrum is Backstreet Boys' new CD, Millennium, a recent chart-topper. Robbie Williams, former singer with Take That, has released a "Millennium" song, and there's ZZ Top's "2000 Blues."
Bethlehem Star An ambitious high-altitude project planned by Russia for the turn of the millennium. A combination of missile and satellite firings will create a more luminous effect than the moon for much of the northern hemisphere. That's the idea. (Hopefully, other countries won't think that they're under attack.) Russian scientists also propose to fire Cosmos rockets filled with presents and messages into cities all over the planet. Modules would be sent into orbit and parachute over a chosen city, where a hatch opens and ejects the contents. This takes 20th century war technology to a peaceful descent - if Russia can actually follow through with its lofty plans.
China Millennium Monument Why yellow as the color for Beijing's monument to the 21st century? It represents Chinese people's yellow skin, China's yellow earth and the Yellow River, and it was the imperial color. More than 200 specialists of history, art, architecture and philosophy debated every aspect of the monument's design. It's the Beijing city government's tribute to 5,000 years of Chinese civilization - and a look ahead. Visitors entering the 35,000-sq-m structure walk past a yellow marble plaque with an inscription written by President Jiang Zemin. Behind the plaque, the eternal flame of Chinese civilization surrounded by two small waterfalls representing the Yangzi and Yellow rivers. Then a shallow three-meter-wide pool made up of 5,000 bronze segments, each marking a significant event in China's history. A walkway leads to the monument's focal point: a sloping revolving stand with a needle pointing to the stars.
Cinderella 2000 Plenty of specially themed children's books are on the horizon. Some are old yarns with new twists. This one's plot centers on a girl (with two crotchety sisters) who dreams of the perfect date for a very important New Year's Eve. Then there's Millennium Madness, part of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch series in which the heroine races to prevent a Y2K catastrophe. Children's learning books, too, like The Story of Clocks and Calendars: Marking a Millennium, which takes youngsters on a trip through time and shows them the variations among the Gregorian, Hebrew, Muslim and other calendars. Worth noting too is the illustrated They Saw the Future: Oracles, Psychics, Scientists, Great Thinkers and Pretty Good Guesses, which examines the lives and predictions of such visionaries as Nostradamus and Leonardo da Vinci.
End of Days Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest film, with a budget of $100 million, is a thriller set at the turn of the millennium when Satan visits New York in search of a bride to sire the anti-Christ. The film is to be released on Nov. 24 in the United States and later in Asia. Snippets have been getting people's attention just as they get paranoid about the end of the 1990s.
Europe Literature Train 2000 This German project will fill a train with writers and send them down the track for a seven-week, 10-nation journey across the Continent starting June 1, 2000. Writers will hold conferences and roundtable sessions at 21 stops. At the end of the line, they will each submit texts which, when assembled, will constitute "The Guidebook to Literature in Europe," to be published in 2001.
Gates to the Year 2000 The entire French population and visitors to France are invited on New Year's Eve to pass through one of many "gates" to be erected throughout the country as a symbol of the passage into the new era. All regions are expected to install their own gates in central or symbolic places in this gesture of national solidarity.
Holy Gates Around 5,000 Roman Catholic locations throughout the world will be named thus and open their doors Christmas 1999 and during the year 2000. This is part of Jubilee 2000, the papal celebration for the anniversary of Christ's birth. These locations will receive followers seeking "plenary indulgences," as is customary during a Holy Year. The believer is expected to fast and refrain from cigarettes or alcohol for a day, give money to the poor or charities, and visit the aging and sick. There'll be special masses, cultural events and pilgrimages to the Holy Land. And certain days will be devoted to children, youth, families. Something that should be done every year.
Kathal Island This tiny Indian isle will experience India's first millennium sunrise - and thousands of visitors are expected to be there for it. Some people aren't too happy about the prospect of outsiders flocking to the remote island, which is part of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. It's inhabited only by tribespeople. Entry of foreigners and most Indians was prohibited until June. Critics say visitors will be a health hazard to tribespeople, who lack resistance to many foreign pathogens. One ecological group says this could turn out to be the biggest blunder of the millennium.
Midnight Weddings Couples who want to get married right after the first stroke of midnight can do so in the first time zone to greet the millennium. New Zealand's parliament decided to relax a rule banning weddings between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Those already married can play in or watch the world's first golf tournament of the 21st century. The southern city of Christchurch will stage the tournament - aptly called First Strike. Some 72 golfers from around the globe will tee off on the floodlit course of the Russley Club at midnight 2000.
Millenni-moms These are women hoping to give birth as early on Jan. 1, 2000, as possible. The target date for conception was April 9, and these women were monitoring menstrual cycles and body temperatures and practicing positions to aid pregnancy. The idea of a millennium baby has brought controversy, though. A 27-year-old in China aborted her baby because she wanted a year 2000 birth. An increased number of abortions were reported in Chinese cities because of rumors that millennium babies would qualify for prizes ranging from cash to international passports. Authorities are a bit worried that there will be a baby boom around Jan. 1, overstretching maternity wards that already handle an average of 36,000 births each day.
Millennium Dome Located in Greenwich, in the eastern suburbs of London, it is said to be the largest dome ever built at 320 meters in diameter, 1 km in circumference and 50 meters high in the center. Why Greenwich? It's the point of origin for the meridian that determines the time zones - Greenwich Mean Time. The $1.25 billion project will take the form of an international exhibition, and on the eve of the millennium, 12 time zones will be represented on 12 huge screens. The 50,000-plus guests (including Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II) will see the sun bring in the new year across the globe. The dome has been referred to as "The Stonehenge for the next millennium." It's a sore spot for British politicians. Blair supports the dome while Prince Charles said he would never set foot inside because the money could have been better spent elsewhere.
Millennium Island Formerly Caroline Island, the easternmost point of Kiribati was renamed because it's (arguably) the first land on earth to see the new millennium's dawn. Competition for this honor has been heated among South Pacific islands. Kiribati's leaders gave their archipelago an edge in 1994 by "moving" the international dateline to encompass its easternmost islands. The Royal Greenwich Observatory ruled that Millennium Island was first, Antipodes Island (Antarctica) second, and New Zealand's Pitt Island third. Millennium Island is uninhabited (although it'll be packed with celebrants), so Pitt is probably the first inhabited place to see Jan. 1. Further east, Western Samoa is luring visitors to witness "the final sunset of this millennium."
Millennium psychosis One Brit believes he actually swallowed the Y2K bug. Another felt a superhuman urge to free people. This end-of-the-century psychosis has struck a handful of people living near London's Millennium Dome - and more problems are expected as the end of 1999 approaches. A mental health service in the vicinity has dealt with nine admissions who have their own peculiar problem with the new millennium. It's not unusual for psychosis to be rooted in specific events. In the 1960s space race, many patients felt they had been infected with moon rays.
Millennium Society The world's oldest organization commemorating the year 2000. Founded in 1979 by a group of Yale students, it's a charitable foundation with members on six continents. Every New Year's Eve since 1984, the society has hosted Countdown 2000 charity balls all over the world. The climax festivities will take place simultaneously at the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Acropolis and Eiffel Tower. It'll be one huge party because participants will interact via transmissions to huge screens at each bash.
Millennium Time Capsule Plenty of toys already are on the market. This craft project is designed for kids 6 to 16. The 10-inch-round cylinder comes with a six-page "Time Chart" that has suggestions for items to put inside such as photos and drawings of family members, and a place where the kid can record the cost of chocolate bars and her favorite song, book and computer game. Then comes the fun of burying it or storing it away. Warner Bros.' offering: Based on its Looney Tunes, it is marketing Mil-Looney-Um characters.
The Green Meridian The French again - they're also to celebrate by planting a line of trees running down the country. The "woodland monument" will stretch 1,200 km in the most continuous line possible from Dunkirk in the north to the Spanish border in the south, through to Barcelona. On July 14, 2000, their national holiday, the French will have a giant picnic along the tree line.
The Zeros There were the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, so what do you call the next decade? A London PR agency surveyed 1,000 people to find out what the top choice is. The Zeros was the top choice (one-third of the people picked it), and then came the 00s (the Oh-Ohs) and the Earlies. One in four had no idea.
Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly Both games have special editions that keep the same rules and add a twist. The Monopoly board is made with hologram foil and the play money is sheer plastic. The traditional game pieces have changed from thimble, cannon, ship and shoe to computer, cellphone, in-line skate and globe. Along with a new design for its gameboard, Trivial Pursuit's special edition includes 3,600 questions about history, people and places, arts, sports and science from the last 1,000 years. On the subject of trivia, there's online Lycos Trivia 2000. Questions are supposed to be updated daily and are drawn from what happened on that day in history. The site is offering a contest through Dec. 31, 1999, with a grand prize of a "dream vacation." Check it out at lycos.com/entertainment/humor/trivia/trivia2.html.
World Peace Bell A 33-ton bronze bell cast in Nantes, France, is traveling up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in the heart of the U.S., on its way to its final destination of Newport, Kentucky. The bell - thought to be the largest free-swinging gong in the world at 11 feet across the base - will ring in the new millennium. The ceremonies will begin on the morning of New Year's Eve to coincide with the start of the New Year in the Pacific. Participants will be from all nations, and the bell's chiming may be telecast around the world.
Y2K Beanie Baby This plush toy bear has a rising sun, earth and the year "2000" embroidered on her magenta chest. It's no surprise that she has already sold out in many U.S. locations, as it's one in a popular line of Beanie Babies being marketed. (They've popped up in other countries such as China, sometimes as the real thing and other times as fakes.) The series has caused a craze in America, compelling adults to act like children and buy discontinued bears for thousands of dollars apiece. New millennium, old rope.
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