Today In...

On
March 3
the following Al and Al-related events occurred.....


1847: Teacher and inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who would come up with inventions such as the telephone and the iron lung, is born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Alex would also found the first telephone-service company, perhaps maybe even the one referred to in "Midnight Star." Of course, songs such as "Phony Calls" and "Ringtone" wouldn't make much sense if it wasn't for the phone, but is it really necessary to explain Al's connection to that other gadget??

1920: Beam him up! The one and only James Doohan is born in Vancouver. Best known as Scotty, the Enterprise's chief of engineering on the original Star Trek, James would also earn a second pop culture distinction during the making of 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It would be James who devised the crunchy Klingon language, as originally heard in the film. The fictional alien language would later be fleshed out by master linguist Marc Okrand, but there's no denying who initially created it. The Klingon language, particularly fans' desire to "converse" in it, is often regarded as one of the dorkier aspects of the Trekkie lifestyle. In his Chamillionaire parody "White & Nerdy," Al claims to be as fluent in Klingon as he is in another odd language of sorts, JavaScript.

1951: One of the most beloved children's shows of all time, Watch Mr. Wizard premieres live on Chicago NBC station WMAQ. Immediately popular upon its debut, the series would soon be syndicated across the country and creator and star Don Herbert would move production to New York in 1955. Ultimately, the program would remain on NBC stations for fourteen years. Going through many later incarnations over the years, a retooled version of the series had already become a staple on Nickelodeon when Al mentioned that he watches the show "at five" in his 1985 song "Cable TV." Al would again recall the TV icon in the February 2008 Rifftrax MP3 for Jurassic Park, specifically when Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) tries to conduct a rudimentary experiment to illustrate chaos theory to Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) during the park's automated tour. As Malcolm complains about their car bouncing around too much, thus tarnishing the purity of the experiment, Al comments, sarcastically chiming in, "Mr. Wizard wouldn't conduct an experiment under these conditions!"

1960: The landmark François Truffaut film Les Quatre Cents Coups opens in the United Kingdom. In the animated music video for Al's 2009 original "Ringtone," SuperNews! recurring character Meghan has a Les Quatre Cents Coups poster on her apartment wall depicting Jean-Pierre Léaud as central character Antoine.

1966: Rapper Tone Loc is born in Los Angeles as Anthony T. Smith. In addition to his movie roles in films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Spy Hard (in which he would play one of General Rancor's guards...supposedly), Tone would have a huge hit in 1989 with the funky "Wild Thing," which Al would parody for the UHF album as the Gilligan-themed "Isle Thing."

1966: It seemed like only a week ago that William Frawley was born, as on this day the noted character actor dies of a heart attack in Hollywood. Of course his best known role was as neighbor Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy, who naturally would be mentioned in the song "Ricky" (and Fred can be seen in the video spilling his beer while bogarting the pretzel sticks!).

1976: Oscar-winning songwriter Ray Gilbert dies in Los Angeles of complications from open-heart surgery. Although he had worked in Hollywood since 1939 and had penned songs for the likes of Sophie Tucker and Earl Carroll, it was his mid-40s work with Walt Disney that he was best remembered for. Along with collaborator Allie Wrubel, Ray won the Academy Award for his theme to the studio's banned classic Song of the South, "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah." Always trying to avoid controversy to a paranoid extreme, in recent years the Disney empire has "reattributed" the song to now be from the Splash Mountain theme park ride as opposed to the animation milestone. The famous song's famous title would later be heard during an ALTV2K newsbreak when Al's announcing the really long title of Fiona Apple's new album.

1978: Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind opens in Finland. This movie would eventually be spoofed in UHF, as George makes a mountain sculpture out of mashed potatoes.

1984: The single "99 Luftballons" by German pop singer/group Nena peaks at #2 on Billboard's "Hot 100." The song would also hit #22 on the "Dance Music/Club Play Singles" chart. Nena had also recorded an English version of the song that would soon see release on the U.S. album/compilation 99 Luftballons (in, like, three days!). Al would show the English version's music video during the very first Al-TV special in 1984. As Al said after the video, "You know, I'm really glad she redid that song. I mean, I heard the original version and geez, you could barely understand it! It sounded like she was singing in a foreign language or something, I don't know." Ironically, it was this original German version that would become the bigger hit in the United States, so much so that Al would include it in the 1985 medley "Hooked On Polkas."

1984: Elsewhere on the chart, the Bette Midler pop single "Beast of Burden" also peaks in Billboard at #71 on the "Hot 100." The third and final single off Bette's No Frills album, this rather generic-sounding Rolling Stones cover marked the last time the Divine Miss M would appear on the main singles chart until scoring a #1 hit with the Beaches theme "Wind Beneath My Wings" five years later. "Beast of Burden's" notoriety was due to the fact that it was promoted with a music video guest-starring none other than Mick Jagger (even though he doesn't sing on this new version), who appears as the object of Bette's desire in a comic love triangle involving a sheik. Al would show the video during that September's Al-TV special, after which he replays the final scene in order to point out a blink-and-you'll-miss-it flub. In the video, the jilted sheik throws a pie at Mick's face and then another at Bette's face, but Mick appears freshly clean as the camera cuts back to show the second pie hit Bette. Al attributes this to one of Mick's "hidden secret talents," in which he has "the unique ability of being able to absorb pie through the pores of his skin! And you thought he just had big lips!"

1989: Really, really lame comedy Dream a Little Dream opens in theaters. Sort of a cross between 18 Again and the later Prelude to a Kiss, this film (and its even more illogical 1995 sequel) served as sort of a last attempt to breathe life into the legendary screen duo of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. It was evidently not in the cards, as the movie would end up grossing even less than UHF! In October 2005 Al would appear on VH1's mini-series I Love the '80s 3D to suggest that the movie should have been made in 3-D. "Having two Coreys in the same movie is obviously a treat in itself, but two Coreys coming right at ya? A dream come true."

1989: Academy Award-winning film Rain Man premieres in the United Kingdom. Its title character, played by Dustin Hoffman, would be referred to in Al's "I Can't Watch This." In October 2005 Al would appear on VH1's mini-series I Love the '80s 3D (again) to suggest that the movie should have been made in 3-D (um, again), punctuating his claim by imitating ol' Dustin.

1990: In a rare 1990 appearance, Al hosts NBC's Friday Night Videos with none other than Emo Philips!

1991: Character actor Vance Colvig, Jr. passes away in Los Angeles. Part of a generations-old show-biz family that included father Pinto Colvig (the voice of Goofy and reportedly the original Bozo the Clown), Vance played the lovable, filthy bum and saver-of-the-day in UHF.

1995 - Concert Date: Still in British Columbia as the AlCan Tour continues, Al and the band head over to Vancouver to play the Vogue Theater. Strike a pose!

1998: Speaking of which, the eleventh album (well, counting soundtracks) by Madonna, Ray of Light, is released, giving the perennial diva a much-needed hit album and renewed critical acclaim. In Billboard, the album would top the "Top Canadian Albums" chart and hit #2 on the "Billboard 200." This success was perhaps due to the bouncy, very un-Madonnaesque second single "Ray Of Light," which would top the "Hot Dance Music/Club Play" chart, hit #2 on the "Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales" chart, #5 on the "Hot 100," #7 on the "Canadian Singles Chart," #13 on the "Top 40 Mainstream" chart, #32 on the "Rhythmic Top 40," and #39 on the "Adult Top 40." A little over a year would go by before Al would add the hit to his Running With Scissors medley "Polka Power!"

1998: "I don't want to wait for this show to be over...." The popular WB teen drama Dawson's Creek opens in Brazil. Al would allude to the series in December 1999 while hosting the day-long VH-Al event, specifically during a segment in which he makes a checklist of things we should all have if we hope to survive in a post-Y2K, post-apocalyptic new world. Among the items on the checklist are the Beatles' Abbey Road, the romantic comedy Mannequin: On the Move, Amy Fisher's book My Story, eighteen episodes of Dawson's Creek ("first season!!!" the list stresses), Billy Blanks's Tae Bo videos, and a Kiss Army membership card.

2000: The quirky black comedy Being John Malkovich opens in Brazil, Finland, and Sweden. On the December 1999 MTV special ALTV2K, Al presented a clip from the little-known follow-up Being Corey Feldman. Al would resurrect the joke in January 2005 while discussing the movie during the "1999" episode of VH1's I Love the '90s Part Deux.

2000: The whiny, supposed-to-be-scary indie film The Blair Witch Project opens in Poland, the final country the flick premiered theatrically in. The movie received a double-whammy of jokes the previous December during ALTV2K. Al got Steve Tyler to admit that the scariest thing about the movie was that it was one of the highest grossing films of the year, and then during a newsbreak Al reported that an ultra-low-budget cash-in called Night on Hell Mountain was coming out...the first big Hollywood movie filmed with the lens cap on the entire time.

2000: The short-lived cult series Freaks and Geeks premieres in New Zealand. In January 2005 Al would praise the program on the "1999" episode of VH1's mini-series I Love the '90s Part Deux, explaining he knew when it was on that like all really well put-together shows, it was doomed to be cancelled.

2000 - Concert Date: Back in California for Touring With Scissors' 2000 leg, the guys play a special benefit concert in Anaheim at the Sun Theater. Dinner and a meet-and-greet were included, with the proceeds going to fund juvenile-diabetes research.

2002: The action series 24 premieres in the United Kingdom. The show's initial stunt, in which each hour would be presented in real time and each episode would chronicle one hour out of a whole day, received tremendous press and generated a huge fan base, so naturally Al would mention it in his Eminem parody "Couch Potato."

2003: John Ritter's comeback sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter premieres in the United Kingdom. With such a long, almost-contrived title, it would seem impossible to set it to prewritten music. Yet that's exactly what Al would do in "Couch Potato."

2004: The cult sci-fi series Firefly premieres in Finland. Despite low ratings in its original broadcast run, the show had such a huge fan following that overrated creator Joss Whedon would be allowed to make a feature film follow-up, 2005's Serenity. Al would recall the financially disappointing space franchise in the Rifftrax for Jurassic Park, specifically during the scene in which Nedry (Wayne Knight) is racing his Jeep across the island in a panic in order to get to the dock before the boat leaves. Al comments that "he's currently speeding his way home because his Blu-ray copy of Firefly just came in the mail from Netflix," which is a bit vague since it's unclear whether or not he's referring literally to the series or is simply mislabeling the movie version. Ironically, neither Serenity nor Firefly: The Complete Series were available on Blu-ray when the Rifftrax was released, so go figure (both have since been released on the format).

2005: Depending on who's doing the counting or who's being billed on the cover, the supposed third official album (got that?) by rap superstar 50 Cent, The Massacre, is released. The album's release came five days earlier than originally announced after it had been leaked onto the Internet and was becoming heavily bootlegged. Ironically, the album's release had previously been delayed by a couple of weeks. Doing very well in Billboard and being well-received by critics, the album would become a successful but not-quite-revolutionary follow-up to the rapper's previous Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The Massacre would end up topping the "Billboard 200," "Top Canadian Albums," "Top Internet Albums," and "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums" charts. The album's success was due in part to its second single, 50's sexy collaboration with singer Olivia, "Candy Shop." The song would eventually top not only the "Hot 100" but also the "Hot Digital Songs," "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks," "Hot Rap Tracks," "Rhythmic Top 40," and "Hot Ringtones" charts, not to mention hitting #2 on the "Pop 100," #3 on the "Pop 100 Airplay" chart, #5 on the "Top 40 Mainstream" chart, and #7 on the "Canadian Singles Chart." Over a year later, the hit would also turn up in Al's Straight Outta Lynwood medley "Polkarama!"

Is there an event I forgot? By all means let me know!!!!

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Recording dates and tour dates available at Weirdal.com, compiled by Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. Most release dates, birthdays, and chart positions according to the Internet Movie Database, the Library of Congress, and the All Music Guide.