January 8 in nerd history: People usually call me either a space cowboy or Maurice

January 8 in nerd history: People usually call me either a space cowboy or Maurice

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January 8 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on January 8th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.


Birthdays of honor: Elvis Presley (1935), Stephen Hawking (1942), David Bowie (1947), Shirley Bassey (1937), Robby Krieger (1946), William Hartnell (1908).


Today in 1981 a French farmer looked up and saw something strange, in what was described by Popular Mechanics at the time as “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented [UFO] sighting of all time.”

Known as the Trans-en-Provence case, it all started when Renato Nicolaï was doing some routine work on his farm and suddenly heard a strange whistling sound. He looked up to see what was described as pretty much your classic flying saucer, landing just a couple of hundred feet away. But it took off almost instantly, perhaps because they didn’t like the smell of stinky cheese (it’s a French joke, get it? OK, fine).

Perhaps the most remarkable part of Nicolaï’s encounter was the burn marks left behind. A two-year investigation revealed four to five tons of pressure had been applied to the burn area and heat between 572 and 1,112 °F. Nicolaï assumed it was all due to an experimental craft from the nearby military base, but officially no plausible explanation was ever found.


Today in 1993 we were finally given a decent movie to watch on St. Patrick’s Day when the comedy-horror film Leprechaun hit theaters.

Originally intended to be more of a straight horror movie, it was none other than the legendary Warwick Davis who helped to inject some humor with his performance of the title villain, ultimately helping the movie to become a moderately successful cult hit and spawning a franchise.

It also stars a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston, and some of the more violent scenes were shot at the same location where Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons were filmed.


In 1980 some poor bastard said “This is the future of video games” when Mattel released the Intellivision in the United States.

While not the first competitor to the Atari 2600 on the market, the Intellivision was the first real threat to Atari’s home dominance. It featured controllers that look more like a TV remote as part of the Master Component, and you could also add on a Keyboard Component.

Mattel has George Plimpton to thank for the console’s success, as marketing campaigns featuring the actor showed off superior graphics and sound. Let’s put it this way — if you knew someone who preferred LaserDisc, they probably also had an Intellivision.

It’s estimated over 3.75 million consoles were sold up until the video game crash of 1983.


Today in 1974 “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band held the top spot on the music charts.

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Final Jeopardy! from January 8 1996

Today in the year 1996 the category for Final Jeopardy! was I LOVE LUCY.

Can you come up with the correct response based on the following clue?

On the May 9, 1955 show, Lucy imitated Gary Cooper, Clark Gable & this man who guest starred.

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Who played the leprechaun in Leprechaun?

What would you do if you found a pot of gold? I mean, an actual, real little black cooking pot, full of gold coins?

Well if you’ve ever seen 1993’s Leprechaun, you immediately shouted “LEAVE IT ALONE” at your screen.

This movie gave us many things — including a masterful performance by this actor. Who was it?

Your horoscope for the rest of the day:

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