October 3rd in nerd history: Is that a picture of the Pope?

October 3rd in nerd history: Is that a picture of the Pope?
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Happy National Kevin Day! You've got your Costners, Nealons, and Bacons, but I think we all know which Kevin we'll be celebrating most of all today.

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October 3 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on October 3rd for those of us who chew on this.

I.

Birthdays of honor: Gwen Stefani (1969), Noah Schnapp (2004), Neve Campbell (1973), Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954), Tommy Wiseau (1955), Lindsey Buckingham (1949), Tommy Lee (1962), Chubby Checker (1941), Greg Proops (1959), Denis Villeneuve (1967).

II.

While Sinead O'Connor had already achieved international fame with her monster hit rendition of "Nothing Compares 2 U," it was the night of October 3, 1992, that truly made her a household name.

That night, O'Connor was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She performed an acapella version of "War" by Bob Marley, and while singing the final lyric of "evil" held a picture of Pope John Paul II in front of the camera, ripped it up, shouted "Fight the real enemy!", and threw the torn pieces toward the camera.

The audience sat in stunned silence.

Later she would say she was protesting the Catholic Church's history of covering up child abuse. The picture had belonged to her mother — who had been abusive toward Sinead during her childhood.

The backlash was swift and stuck with her throughout her career, even after Pope John Paul II himself apologized for the church's covering up of abuse in 2001. She was banned from NBC for life and ridiculed publicly, including by fellow celebrities.

But Sinead had always embraced her outsider status and said she felt more comfortable when the mainstream was against her, and that fighting for child victims was worth the backlash.

III.

In 1961 a titan of television was born when The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered on CBS. It featured oodles of iconic talent, including creator Carl Reiner and stars Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore — plus a very important ottoman.

Following the exploits of a fictional comedy writer working at a fictional show with fictional characters, all of which clearly based on real life, the sitcom won 15 Emmys across five seasons and 158 episodes (plus an in-color reunion special). In three of those seasons, the show ranked in the top 10 for Nielsen ratings. And it's had an indelible impact on pop culture that persists to this day — in the first episode of the Disney+ show WandaVision, for example, Vision narrowly avoids tripping over a chair in a clear homage.

Not enough '60s sitcom premieres you say? Well, are you in for a treat. On the exact same night, but one year earlier in 1960, another classic TV sitcom debuted — The Andy Griffith Show.

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I guess the thing where they just name a show after the lead actor even though the actual plot is about something totally different doesn't really happen anymore. Andy Griffith played Sheriff Andy Taylor of the small town of Mayberry, North Carolina. At his side was Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts. And of course, his aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and son Opie (played by Ron Howard).

Over 8 seasons the show was never rated lower than seventh by Nielsen and is among just three shows to end their run at number one (I Love Lucy and Seinfeld being the others).

IV.

I'll admit something right now — before today I didn't even know that "cinematic platform game" was a genre of video games. I just called them "those games that are like platformers but are really neat looking."

Today in 1989 that genre was essentially brought into being when Prince of Persia was released for the Apple II.

The smooth motions and quality of the animation were beyond anything else that had been released for the home market. Sure, Dragon's Lair was awesome, but you were just memorizing patterns and the animations played out from there. In Prince, you were controlling the character.

Part of the reason it probably struck a chord with gamers at the time was because, similar to some of the coolest animated movies from the '70s and '80s, it used rotoscoping. Designer Jordan Mechner filmed his brother performing acrobatic stunts, as well as referenced classic swashbuckling movies to nail the movements.

It wasn't an immediate commercial success, but it was critically acclaimed out of the gate. This led to the game eventually getting ported to pretty much every platform and inspired a litany of followers, including Out of This World and Flashback, and can even be traced to modern games like Limbo.

V.

In 1995 the entire country stopped whatever they were doing to collectively watch the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial — which came back as not guilty.

The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson technically spanned 11 months and just might be the most covered trial in media history.

As the trial replaced most daytime soap operas for the duration, it's estimated that some $40 billion in work productivity was lost. Big media outlets gave the trial more airtime than the Oklahoma City bombing and Bosnian War combined, and you can bet your ass that everyone you know has an opinion on that final verdict.

Participants and witnesses in the trial became stars simply by being involved, including events such as lead prosecutor Marcia Clark receiving a standing ovation on the courthouse steps for her new haircut.

Simpson, as you may have heard, was eventually found guilty in a civil case and served time for unrelated crimes. The trial remains one of the most unique and ubiquitous moments in pop culture history.