October 13th in nerd history: It's for Halloween AND Christmas

October 13th in nerd history: It's for Halloween AND Christmas

Happy Friday the 13th. A generally rare occurrence (at least once a year, but only up to three), as to why the combo of the 13th landing on a Friday is bad luck is kind of anyone’s guess. The number 13 being unlucky possibly dates back to Christian and Norse stories, but really it just kind of seems like we all needed someone to blame for our lives sucking, and the number 13 nobly stepped up. I guess maybe Fridays are supposed to be fun? So when it’s a 13 it’s less fun?

Whatever the reason, it’s a great excuse for some horror movies, petting a black cat, or deciding not to skydive.

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October 13 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on October 13th for those of us who know the best thing to do when there’s a killer loose is to split up and not carry any weapons.


Birthdays of honor: Paul Simon (1941), Jerry Rice (1962), Sacha Baron Cohen (1971), Marie Osmond (1959), Lenny Bruce (1925), Nancy Kerrigan (1969), Sammy Hagar (1947).


30 years ago today, on October 13 1993, everyone’s favorite Halloween/Christmas movie was released in theaters across the country with The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It was dubbed a sleeper hit, not crashing the box office but over time earning a very respectable $50 million. And really, Nightmare is the ultimate sleeper hit, as home video sales and a cult following ultimately turned it into a beloved classic with growing merchandise sales and a themed reskinning of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion that seems to last half the year (it’s actually five months, so not too much of an exaggeration).

In fact, Disney was so worried the movie would alienate their core audience that they marketed it under the Touchstone brand — now they’ve claimed it. They also initially marketed it as Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas in hopes of drumming up interest. While Burton had indeed come up with the story, he really only served as a producer. Director Henry Selick and the rest of the crew still don’t get the credit they deserve for putting together this stop-motion masterpiece and beloved, dual-holiday movie.


In 2021, the record for the oldest person to have visited space was shattered, and by the dude who absolutely deserved it the most — William Shatner.

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Hitching a ride aboard one of the initial Blue Origin space tourism flights, Shatner was 90 when he gazed upon the Earth below him, this time for real.

Just after the flight, he said: “What you have given me is the most profound experience, I am so filled with emotion, just extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now.”


Today in 1989 we finally learned exactly what babies are thinking when Look Who’s Talking was released.

Somehow this movie still gets mixed reviews — yet it was a monster box office hit, earning nearly $300 million worldwide. Honestly, I can’t see what’s not to like about John Travolta befriending a baby that has Bruce Willis’ voice, all with Kirstie Alley as the central woman in both their lives.

Two more movies were made, the ’90s show Baby Talk was inspired by it, and a reboot seems to be in the works but hasn’t come to fruition yet.


In 1974 TV legend Ed Sullivan died of esophageal cancer at the age of 73.

Sullivan got his start writing sports columns for newspapers before moving into radio. But by 1948 he was hosting the TV show that would come to be named after him, and continued to do so until 1971.

His variety show helped to shape late-night TV, and its influence is clearly felt today (David Letterman and Stephen Colbert have used his theater for their respective runs). But it was his knack for bringing in music acts for debut or breakout performances that cemented his legacy.

Those acts included: The Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Supremes, the Doors, Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, and many, many more.

And Ed Sullivan is one of those people that anyone can do an impression of. Just say “shew” instead of “show” and you’ve pretty much nailed it.

In other news

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Every Friday the 13th film, ranked

There’s something about Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th certainly wasn’t the first of its kind. Well before 1980 you had a long history of slashers and proto-slashers from the likes of Hitchcock, Bava, Fulci, Argento, Canada… Friday the 13th’s writer Victor Miller was even given the explicit order to go to a screening of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and to write that, in the process unknowingly setting in stone just about all of the tropes we know the genre for today.

But Friday the 13th was the first of its kind to seriously blow up the box office, thus opening the bloodgates for the onslaught of cheaply and quickly produced slashers that would dominate the 80s and eventually go the way of parachute pants and acid wash denim. Somehow, Jason Voorhees and the shadowy allure of Crystal Lake survived the close of the decade, and after 12 films, a line of plushies, a thermos, and a lunchbox, horror fanatics still hunger for more.

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