Happy National Cookie Cutter Day! To be clear, we’re talking about the actual kitchen utensils you use to cut out fun shapes for eating, NOT the metaphorical usage that describes things that conform to norms. However, we will accept a cookie cutter cookie cutter, but only once the phrase “cookie cutter” starts to lose meaning.
This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.
December 1 in Nerd History
Here are five things that happened on December 1st at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.
Birthdays of honor: Richard Pryor (1940), Bette Midler (1945), Lou Rawls (1933), Deep Roy (1957), Marie Tussaud (1761).
Just when you thought you knew all that John Hughes gave to popular cinema, you find out that he also wrote and co-produced National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which hit theaters today in 1989.
Technically the third film in the Vacation series, it’s one of those rare movies that broke through and became a holiday classic that now demands annual viewing. Based on a short story written by Hughes, it captures the right amount of absurdity combined with relatability for those family holiday gatherings.
Like other movies in the series, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo play Clark and Ellen Griswold, heads of a family that just wants to have a little fun but seems plagued by terrible luck. And as with other movies in the series, their kids are yet again ambiguously aged and played by different actors, this time by future stars Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also makes an appearance as the snooty neighbor, just before she would become a regular on Seinfeld.
The movie did well at the box office, earning $73 million, but it’s the at-home viewing every winter that really makes this one shine. Play ball!
70 years ago today, in 1953, the first Playboy magazine was published.
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Hugh Hefner had worked in magazine publishing for a while and knew he wanted to start his own men’s lifestyle publication. Alongside business partner Eldon Sellers, he raised $8,000 from investors (including family) to create Stag Party. But an existing magazine, simply called Stag, threatened to sue, so they went with a backup name. You really do have to wonder if it would have been as successful as Stag.
For the very first centerfold, Hefner went with a nude image of Marilyn Monroe. But Monroe never posed for the magazine — it was an image that was already kind of famous, one that Monroe took for a pinup calendar called Golden Dreams out of desperation to make her car payment. Hefner later bought the rights to the photo for $500 and Monroe never saw a dime for it.
The first issue sold out in weeks, going for 50 cents apiece.
In 1903, what is often regarded as the first Western was released — or more accurately, began to be shown in vaudeville houses and other venues that the Edison Manufacturing Company sold it to.
The Great Train Robbery is a silent film that became an almost mythic piece of cinematic history. Yet it has been disproved that it was the first Western, or “Wild West Drama” as the genre was originally known.
It was, however, one of the first films, and definitely the first Western, to achieve widespread commercial success. The cutting-edge techniques, action, and close-up shot of an outlaw shooting his gun into the camera were a huge hit with audiences.
With all due respect to those that came before it, The Great Train Robbery gets all the credit and has become hugely influential — all with a runtime of just 12 minutes.
Today in 1984 “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! was the number one song in the country.