December 4 nerd history: The Simpsons start singing the blues

Happy National Dice Day! Our favorite is definitely the 20-sided die. You feel like a god among mortals when you roll that thing… unless you roll a natural 1. Which I never have, as far as my DM knows.

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This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.

December 1 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on December 4th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.


Birthdays of honor: Marisa Tomei (1964), Jay-Z (1969), Jeff Bridges (1949), Fred Armisen (1966), Tyra Banks (1973), Kevin Sussman (1970), Wink Martindale (1933).


Today in 1990 America’s favorite animated subversive family did something very much not subversive when The Simpsons Sing the Blues was released just in time for Christmas.

The novelty album was pitched by David Geffen of Geffen Records, and producers were like, “Yes and do it now.”

It hit number 2 on the Billboard 200 and went double platinum. Lead single “Do the Bartman” became a huge hit globally, dominating the charts in the UK for a few weeks — and featured the vocal stylings of one Michael Jackson.

Reviewers essentially panned it at the time, but people like me ate it the hell up. So bust out your best Bartman today, but try not to break a hip.

Read more about The Simpsons Sing the Blues.​​


The one riff that every dad in the country can play on guitar was inspired today in 1971, all thanks to some random person at a Frank Zappa concert.

Deep Purple happened to be in town, preparing to record an album, when they caught the Zappa show at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. After the flare gun went off there was a fire, and the ensuing scene inspired the band to add a last-second song: “Smoke On the Water.”


In a clear contradiction to the show’s own title, today You Can’t Do That on Television debuted on Nickelodeon in 1981.​

It had already seen a successful run on regional Canadian TV, but today was when you most likely first got to see Barth schlepping burgers with a heater in his mouth and watch children get punished for saying “I don’t know” by having gallons of slime dumped on them.

It ran for a total of 10 seasons with 144 episodes.


In 1872 the Mary Celeste, a merchant ship, was found drifting without a single person onboard off the Azores Islands.


To further deepen the mystery, the ship’s food and alcohol stores remained plentiful, and there was no log or sign of any kind of struggle. The ship was a bit weathered but still seaworthy. The lifeboat was missing, yet none of those known to be onboard were ever heard from again.

We’re thinking either secret underwater society that offered them life in paradise under the seas OR drunken dare.