1993 – Lorena Bobbit hacks off her husband John’s penis

The Bobbits – Lorena and John Wayne Bobbit – had been married for a little over five years of not terribly happy matrimony on June 23, 1993. That was the night when, finally provoked to action by the latest in a what was apparently a series of spousal abuse incidents, Lorena got out of bed, came back with a knife, and cut John’s penis off.

Lorena was arrested, but found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. John’s penis was surgically re-attached. The couple were divorced in 1995.

Lorena became a campaigner against domestic abuse. John went on to abuse his next fiance, and then his next wife (these were two separate women). As the possessor of what was, at that time, arguably the most notorious penis in the world, he also attempted to become a porn star (which only goes to illustrate that some insanities are more temporary than others). As of 2009, he apparently still sends Lorena Valentine’s Day cards.

Referenced in:

Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

1980 – Pac-Man is first released

The highest-grossing and most well-known computer game of all time, Pac Man was created by the Japanese company Namco. It first made an impact as an arcade game, but by the mid-eighties, it was available for purchase to use on home gaming consoles, and it has remained available on many gaming platforms ever since.

At the time, moral watchdogs worried about its effect on impressionable youth, but since hardly anyone ever spent hours in dark surroundings listening to extremely repetitive electronic music while gobbling down a variety of pills, their concerns were clearly groundless.

Referenced in:

Pac-Man — Weird Al Yankovic
Pac-Man Fever — Buckner & Garcia

1994 – Michael Fay is caned for vandalism in Singapore

Michael Fay was 18 years old and apparently didn’t realise that laws were different in Singapore from in his native United States. When he was arrested for theft and vandalism (which, to be fair, were crimes back home too), he was astonished to be sentenced to caning.

The actual caning itself was a fairly trivial affair – schoolchildren endured worse in the days of capital punishment on a regular basis – but the outcry was astonishing. Across America, Singapore was denounced for its barbaric legal system. American diplomats requested leniency for Fay, and the Singaporean government reduced the number of cane strokes by a third – from six to four.

Fay was briefly a media sensation, and did fairly well financially from his media appearances, but a later arrest suggests that it he learned little from his experiences.

Referenced in:
Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

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

1937 – Spam is first released

Spam didn’t used to have anything to do with enlarging your penis or getting cheap medicines of dubious quality.

It was originally the name of a certain kind of meat, although the ‘dubious quality’ part is well-enshrined in urban legend – known backronyms devised for it include “Something Posing As Meat”, “Stuff, Pork and Ham” and “Spare Parts Animal Meat.” Oddly enough, Spam wasn’t even the original name of the product – it was introduced because the previous name – Hormal Spiced Ham – was losing market share.

It wasn’t until Monty Python and Joel Furr got involved years later that the word assumed its modern meaning.

By the way: according to Hormel’s trademark guidelines, Spam should be spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in the phrase “SPAM luncheon meat” – strange but true.

Referenced in:

Spam – Save Ferris
Spam Song – Monty Python
Spam – Weird Al Yankovic

1994 – Skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by a jealous rival

Nancy Kerrigan, a skater who was training as a member of the US Olympic team, was attacked at practice by Shane Stant. Stant was in the pay of two men, Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt. Her injuries forced her to withdraw from competition, and rival skater Tonya Harding won handily.

However, Gillooly was the ex-husband of Harding, and when brought up on criminal charges in the matter, incriminated her in the conspiracy also. Harding only ever admitted to helping cover up the attack, not to any prior knowledge or approval of it. Even so, the resulting scandal effectively ended her career as a skater.

Referenced in:
Headline News – Weird Al Yankovic
Tonya’s Twirls – Loudon Wainwright III

UHF (1989)

UHFVHS | DVD | Download

Soundtrack Track List:

  1. Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies
  2. Gandhi II
  3. Attack Of The Radioactive Hampsters From A Planet Near Mars
  4. Isle Thing
  5. The Hot Rocks Polka
  6. UHF
  7. Let Me Be Your Hog
  8. She Drives Like Crazy
  9. Generic Blues
  10. Spatula City
  11. Fun Zone
  12. Spam
  13. The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota

Tracks Not on Soundtrack: