1931 — William Shatner born

Whether you know him best as Jim Kirk, Denny Crane or TJ Hooker, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve never heard of Wild Bill Shatner. But did you know he’s Canadian? And Jewish?

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Shatner has two sisters, and has been acting since 1954, when he first performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. He would go on to become one of the most well-known faces in television history and fan favourite actor. In recent years, his growing willingness to laugh at himself has brought him new fans and won back some of the ones he pissed off in his infamous 1986 appearance on Saturday Night Live (in which he advised fans to “get a life” – it was meant as a joke, but it cut too close to the bone for many).

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

1933 – Dachau concentration camp opens

Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps. Located near Munich, over the next 12 years, until the camp was liberated by American forces in 1945, thousands of people were interned there. In addition to Communists and Jews, the camp also held ordinary German criminals, Christian clergy and a range of prisoners from various conquered nations. Over 32,000 deaths were documented there – and very likely thousands more were not documented.

After the war, it was used to hold captured SS troops as they awaited trial at Nuremberg, in a small measure of poetic justice. Not nearly enough, though.

Referenced in:
Nazis 1994 — Roger Taylor
Dachau Blues — Captain Beefheart
Ghosts of Dachau — The Style Council

1985 — “Rambo: First Blood Part 2” premieres

As sequels go, it’s hard to find one that twists the message of its original installment quite as much as “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”. “First Blood” was a film about a Vietnam veteran who had no place in an America that wanted to pretend that war had never happened. It had more in common with films like “Deliverance” or “Southern Comfort” than it did with its own sequels.

In “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”, there’s no subtlety, no subtext. Eschewing the suspense and psychological aspects of the first film, it’s unashamedly triumphalist, and was one of the major sources of the myth that there were still American POWs in Vietnam. It was, of course, vastly more commercially successful than the first film, and made Sylvester Stallone an A list actor in Hollywood.

Referenced in:
Rambozo the Clown — Dead Kennedys

1993 – Intel releases the first Pentium chips

Intel’s first Pentium microprocessor was the Pentium P5. Released on March 22, 1993, it was an x86 compatible chip that was an instant hit. Intel promoted it – and subsequent releases in the Pentium series – heavily. For a while there, it seemed like you couldn’t turn around without seeing one those damned “CyberdyneIntel Inside” logos.

The Pentium remains, to this day, the single most well known brand of CPU on the planet – today’s song is certainly proof of that.

Referenced in:
It’s All About The Pentiums – Weird Al Yankovic