January 11 in nerd history: Happy little trees

January 11 in nerd history: Happy little trees

Happy Secret Pal Day! This is a great day to celebrate the person you tell all your secrets, especially because they could probably ruin your life if you don’t keep them happy.

This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.

January 11 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on January 11 at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.


Birthdays of honor: Carroll Shelby (1923), Mary J. Blige (1971), Naomi Judd (1946).


Today in 1983 trees got a lot happier when The Joy of Painting hosted by Bob Ross hit the airwaves for the first time on PBS.

The show helped turn Ross into an American icon, but not many know that he was essentially replacing his mentor, Bill Alexander, who hosted The Magic of Oil Painting from 1974 to 1982. But something about Bob Ross is just so appealing, and the way he starts out with what seem to be random markings that somehow turn into a beautiful landscape is extremely satisfying.

The show ran for 31 seasons and 403 episodes. Ross passed away far too young at the age of 52 in 1995, but his legacy remains strong.


Before January 11, 1927, no one had ever uttered the phrase "I want to thank the Academy." That's because it was on that day that Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, announced the formation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The original goal was to act as a mediator in labor disputes, but that didn't last long, and it soon became an honorary organization that served to further the film industry as a whole — as well as bestow statues of little golden men upon filmmakers and performers.

Membership is by invitation only, and I'm pretty sure mine should show up any day now.


Today is the day hair metal died.

At least, that's how the narrative goes, but it wasn't hair metal that Nirvana knocked off the top of the Billboard charts when Nevermind became a surprise no. 1 album on this day in 1992. No, that honor goes to Michael Jackson and his album Dangerous.

The fact that these two albums even coexisted on the charts at all is yet another reason that no one will ever prove to me that there was no more insane decade in popular music than the '90s. Just to reinforce my point, here was the top five that week:

1. Nevermind, Nirvana
2. Ropin’ the Wind, Garth Brooks
3. Too Legit to Quit, Hammer
4. Achtung Baby, U2
5. Dangerous, Michael Jackson


Oh, I'm sorry, did you think we were done talking about how ridiculous '90s music was? Too bad, because today in 1996, Kenny G's Breathless was certified Diamond.

Not Gold. Not Platinum. Diamond.

That means over 10 million people decided they wanted to listen to a dude that looks like Kenny G jam on a soprano saxophone — not even an alto!

And you know what? I don't get it. Sorry.