October 19th in nerd history: This bird you cannot change

October 19th in nerd history: This bird you cannot change

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October 19 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on October 19th for those of us who want to believe.


Birthdays of honor: Jon Favreau (1966), John Lithgow (1945), Evander Holyfield (1962), Michael Gambon (1940), Trey Parker (1969), Robert Reed (1932), Chris Kattan (1970), Peter Tosh (1944), John Le Carré (1931).


Today in 1985 David Cook opened the first Blockbuster Video in a strip mall in Dallas, Texas.

That first store opened with 8,000 titles available on VHS and even carried 2,000 Beta tapes. Cook's background in data management helped him to prime the store for rapid growth, and through franchising, it grew quickly. They would even tailor inventory based on local demographics.

By August of 2018, only one Blockbuster store remained — and you can still visit it in Bend, Oregon. But the recent reactivation of the franchise's webpage and other activities have some wondering if a comeback could be in the works.


In 1994, a landmark in independent film hit theaters with the black-and-white comedy, Clerks.


Directed by ultra-nerd Kevin Smith, the movie was shot for under $30,000, filmed mostly at the convenience and video stores where Smith worked. They had to shoot at night, which meant Smith was working during the day and filming at night, leaving him with about an hour of sleep each night.

The movie also introduced the world to Jay and Silent Bob, the first of which producers were worried would scare off audiences, but instead became a cultural phenomenon. After a successful run at Sundance, Miramax bought the rights to the movie and it grossed $4.4 million.

It's largely considered a cult classic, but launched the career of Smith into multiple successful movies (not to mention his podcasts and numerous other projects), and is seen as one of the most influential indie movies of the '90s.


Whenever you get a random calendar invite from your boss, of course you immediately wonder if you're about to get fired. But a subtle email and somewhat awkward conversation behind closed doors would be like winning the lottery compared to what singer Julius La Rosa experienced today in 1953 — 70 years ago.

Arthur Godfrey was a radio and TV entertainer who was quite prominent in the late '40s and into the '50s, appearing on both platforms with a down-to-earth, family-friendly presence. He would even sometimes bust out his ukelele and spark impromptu jam sessions with his house band.

But he was fiercely competitive and protective of the talent that he felt he had helped to bring along. Julius La Rosa was a young, up-and-coming singer who had achieved some level of fame, in part, thanks to Godfrey. But both he and the audience were shocked when after he finished a rendition of "Manhattan" to close out the radio portion of the show, Godfrey announced:

"That was Julie’s swan song with us. He goes out now on his own... I know you wish him godspeed, same as I do.”

Apparently, Godfrey wasn't happy that La Rosa had got an agent and was performing outside of the show. To be honest, it sort of seemed like he was just plain jealous. The on-air firing would, at least in the short term, boost La Rosa's popularity and damage Godfrey's image, and the event stuck to both men throughout their lifetimes.


Today in 1977, Lynrd Skynrd played a concert in Greenville, South Carolina. It would be their final show with founding member and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, as the next day the band would board a plane that would crash and kill six people.

Ironically, it was to be the last time the band would use that particular plane, a Convair CV-240, as they felt their level of stardom had earned them an upgrade. Aerosmith had also inquired and pressured management to use the exact same plane and crew for their upcoming tour, but had ultimately decided the plane and crew weren't up to snuff.

The crash happened after the crew realized they didn't have enough fuel and wouldn't even be able to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport, with the plane going down into a dense patch of trees. In addition to Van Zant, guitarist and vocalist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, Captain Walter McCreary, and First Officer William John Gray were killed.

The band would essentially go on hiatus until Ronnie's brother, Johnny, reformed the group a decade later.

At that last concert in Greenville, Lynrd Skynrd closed the night with none other than "Freebird."