January 9 in nerd history: I know I put that beef somewhere around here

January 9 in nerd history: I know I put that beef somewhere around here

Happy Balloon Ascension Day! While it sounds like this is a day when all balloons will find nirvana and leave the mortal world for a better one, I think it’s really just literally about balloons floating into the sky. So find the nearest balloon vendor, tie a whole bunch of balloons around your body, and ascend.

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

January 9 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on January 9th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.

I.

Birthdays of honor: J.K. Simmons (1955), Jimmy Page (1944), Lee Van Cleef (1925), Muggsy Bogues (1965), Bob Denver (1935), Dave Matthews (1967), Joan Baez (1941), Joey Lauren Adams (1968).

II.

40 years ago today, one of the most important questions in the annals of human history was finally asked: “Where’s the beef?”

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The infamous Wendy’s commercial and powerhouse marketing slogan made its debut today in 1984. But it was very nearly something entirely different that definitely would not have translated into pop culture legend quite so easily — the commercial’s director originally wanted actress Clara Peller to say “Where is all the beef?”, but she found it too hard due to emphysema. Thus, the shorter, snappier, better version.

At 82 years old, Peller became a global sensation. Thankfully, she apparently did find the beef a few years later when starring in a 1985 commercial for Prego pasta sauce, in which she utters: “I found it, I really found it.”

III.

Everybody at some point asks themselves what it would be like to be inside a Star Wars movie. Nowadays, there are lots of ways to get a really cool, immersive Star Wars experience — but the first real chance began today in 1987 when Star Tours opened inside Disneyland.

Replacing the Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction (sponsored by none other than Monsanto) Disney basically dropped over $30 million on some top-grade flight simulators, and George Lucas and ILM put together some original new film for the ride. It was obviously at this point that it became clear Disney would one day just straight-up own Star Wars.

Passengers rode with Captain “Rex” RX-24 and got to meet R2-D2 and C-3PO in the queue. Technically, Star Tours shut down in 2010, but it was essentially just replaced with a newer version, and Captain Rex is now DJ Rex, spinning galactic bangers at Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge. The queue is essentially unchanged, but I have to say I wish I could take a trip on the live-action footage version once more, even if the updated version is pretty cool.

IV.

While their existence had been theorized for decades, today in 1992 astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail made the first discovery of exosolar planets (planets outside our solar system) official.

The astronomers had turned their observations towards the nearby pulsar PSR B1257+12, just 2,300 light years away. They noticed that the light kept blinking at regular intervals, and ultimately realized that was because the star had two planets in its orbit.

But don’t start looking for Pulsarians on Twitter just yet — the radiation from the pulsar means it’s extremely unlikely there’s any life.

V.

40 years ago today, Van Halen released their sixth album, aptly titled 1984. It was also the last to feature David Lee Roth. 1984 includes the hits “Panama”, “Hot for Teacher”, and “Jump”.

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Final Jeopardy! from January 9 1990

Today in the year 1990 the category for Final Jeopardy! was GEOGRAPHY.

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

The 2 independent South American countries named after famous men.

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The top 10 Weird Al Yankovic parodies from the 1990s

A long, long, time ago…

If you just hummed the tune to “American Pie” to yourself as you read those words, you might be a Weird Al fan. Or, technically, a “Weird Al” fan, but for purposes of entertainment, we’ll be leaving the quotation marks off from here on out.

After what can only be described as absolutely crushing the 1980s, Weird Al seamlessly moved into the ‘90s with his ability to satire not only pop music, but popular culture in general. He taps into memes of the moment while mixing in timeless screwball comedy, and we love him for it.

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