November 28th in nerd history

November 28th in nerd history

Happy National French Toast Day! While recipes similar in style have been around since at least the 14th century, it’s the French one for pain perdu, or “lost bread”, that has stuck with us. Stale loafs or bread that would have otherwise been wasted was often used to create this breakfast favorite. All we can say is, trés bien!

French Toast Chef GIF by American Masters on PBS

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November 28 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on November 28th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.


Birthdays of honor: William Blake (1757), Ed Harris (1950), Karen Gillan (1987), Anna Nicole Smith (1967), Randy Newman (1943), Judd Nelson (1959), Berry Gordy (1929), Paul Shaffer (1949).


In the rich and deep history of blues, not many would have predicted a high point would come in the late ’70s with a Canadian and an Albanian-American who told jokes for a living. But hell, that’s exactly what happened when Briefcase Full of Blues was released by the Blues Brothers today in 1978.

Jake and Elwood Blues were the creations of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, cast members of the still newish Saturday Night Live sketch show.

Aykroyd had been a fan and player of the blues for some time, including the occasional stint with the Downchild Blues Band from his native Canada. After joining SNL, he rented out a bar for afterparties where people could hang out and sometimes jam. It was there that he introduced Belushi to the blues and the idea for the fictional act came together.

Following an appearance on SNL as musical guests, the Blues Brothers opened for Steve Martin in September of 1978, and the entire set was put down on record. It would quickly be released as Briefcase Full of Blues, and the album took off, peaking at no. 1 on the Billboard charts and becoming the highest-selling blues album of all time. Featuring a slew of covers, these unlikely blues fans became unlikely blues stars.

Turns out it’s incredibly difficult to verify what the highest-selling blues albums are, but Briefcase definitely still stands among them with millions of records sold. And this was all before the seminal 1980 movie was ever projected on a single screen.


Don’t believe 1993 was the pinnacle of television? Then explain to me why it marked the premiere of Beavis and Butt-head — sparking a run of seven seasons that ended today in 1997.

Giggling Butt-head GIF - Giggling Butt-head Beavis GIFs

Originally created for the short film Frog Baseball as part of MTV’s Liquid Television, the teenage duo became pop-culture sensations — and the show became MTV’s top-rated. A movie followed in 1996, opening at number one and grossing over $60 million. There were also comic books, video games, an album, and a plethora of merch.

Of course, there was also plenty of controversy. The show was often blamed for dangerous behavior, including a kid who lit his house on fire, prompting MTV to censor Beavis from saying the word “fire” and moving it to a later timeslot. In pretty much every case, it was revealed that those responsible for the poor behavior didn’t even have cable TV, meaning they were simply jerks.

Beavis and Butt-head were definitely influential, mostly in showing us how stupid all of us can be, while reminding us it’s OK to laugh about it.

The show has since been rebooted a couple of times, and you can catch a new film on Paramount+ — and damn it (Beavis), they still got it.


There’s nothing like the roar of the engines and the thrill of the chase at an auto race. And it all started today in 1895 when the very first automobile race in the United States took place in Chicago.

The winning motor wagon.

The Chicago Times-Herald race pitted four cars against two motorcycles, which in and of itself is pretty awesome. The whole thing was essentially a big promotional stunt, intended to boost newspaper sales while pushing interest in automobiles, including the nascent motorcycle.

83 entrants were originally signed up for a chance at $5,000 but just six showed up. To make matters worse, two of the cars were stopped en route and had to be pulled in by horse. This was well before cars were anywhere near ubiquitous, and the police basically told them it was against the law to drive on Chicago’s city streets.

In fact, editors from the Chicago Times-Herald had to plead with the city to get an ordinance passed so the race could even take place. But it finally did, running 54 miles from Chicago to Evanston and back.

Frank Duryea’s Motorized Wagon won it with the scorching time of 7 hours and 53 minutes of running time, and 10 hours and 23 minutes total. The car averaged about 7 miles per hour.

It would take a driver from NASCAR about 16 minutes to complete the same distance.


In 1989 Technotronic ushered the transition into ’90s dance music with the release of their debut album, Pump Up the Jam.

The single of the same name became an iconic dance track that both heralded the future popularity of electronic music and the need for you to get your booty on the floor tonight.