September 19th in nerd history: Are those helicopters I hear?

September 19th in nerd history: Are those helicopters I hear?
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Happy Meow Like a Pirate Day! You've probably heard of Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is also today, but adding meowing is clearly the next evolution in this important holiday.

And yes, of course we considered writing today's newsletter entirely in pirate speech, but we knew the land lubbers just wouldn't get it.

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September 19 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on September 19th for those of us who left the phone off the hook when we needed to focus.

I.

Birthdays of honor: Adam West (1928), Jimmy Fallon (1974), Jeremy Irons (1948), Brian Epstein (1934), Twiggy (1949), Lita Ford (1958).

II.

Ray Liotta was born for his role in GoodFellas, released today in 1990. Not that he was the only or arguably even best performer in this Martin Scorsese classic, but he sure as hell was a highlight. In fact, I'd be willing to argue that this scene alone puts him in the acting hall of fame:

​It's widely regarded as one of the best movies ever made, easily top five for gangster movies, and Joe Pesci deservedly won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. But whenever I think of GoodFellas, I think of Ray Liotta and those helicopters.

Completely switching gears in terms of genre, I have to also highlight one of my favorite comedies that came out today in 2000: Best in Show. It's more or less your standard Christopher Guest-style mockumentary, but it's easily one of the best, if not THE best in that style.

The ensemble cast is really humming, and it strikes the perfect balance of everyone knowing what they're doing but not being so used to the format that they just phone it in. It's clever and absurd, and Fred Willard's performance is one for the ages.

III.

What if a teenager was your doctor?

That's the question the makers of Doogie Howser, M.D. sought to ask, and we started to get the answer when it debuted in 1989. The show opens on Doogie's (short for "Douglas") 16th birthday as a second-year resident surgeon. He does normal teen things like taking a driver's license test, but less-normal teen things like providing trauma treatment to an injured person in the middle of the test.

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He also keeps a digital diary and has been doing so since 1979. This particular plot element pays off in spectacular fashion when star Neil Patrick Harris, now many years removed from his breakout role, is seen writing his "blog" as Barney in How I Met Your Mother, complete with the same blue screen and Doogie-style music. Coincidentally, Mother also premiered today, but in 2005.

And in more medical TV show history, a little show called ER debuted in 1994 in the form of a two-hour pilot movie — and blew the damn roof off medical dramas. Created by none other than Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, it ran for 15 seasons.

It also made me feel disappointed every time I go to the doctor and it's not George Clooney that comes in.

IV.

In 1986 the 3-D and extremely '80s short movie Captain EO debuted in Disney parks, and only in Disney parks.

It featured Michael Jackson in a sci-fi setting that was truly indicative of the sci-fi-fantasy style that personally I loved at the time. Yet when I finally saw it I probably watched about 1/8th of it, because 3-D movies were not so easy to come by at that time, making this my first 3-D experience, and the evil Supreme Leader poking things at my face was kind of terrifying.

Incredibly, Captain EO was written by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It has a 17-minute runtime and was last shown at EPCOT in Walt Disney World in 2015.

V.

In 1982, the first documented emoticons were posted on the Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system. Apparently, Scott Fahlman was the first person to realize :-) and :-( looked like little faces.

But how did he figure that out? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯