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Today in Nerd History | May 18

Grab your podracer, saddle up for a wild west adventure, and prepare for some animated ogre antics and R-rated superhero snark because today we’re celebrating a fantastic mix of pop culture gems that hit us right in the nostalgia. On May 18, we dive into the high-speed thrills of “Star Wars Episode I: Racer” in 1999, the animated comedy of “Shrek” in 2001, the open-world lawlessness of “Red Dead Redemption” in 2010, and the outrageous, irreverent fun of “Deadpool” in 2018. Let’s explore some “Nerdy Facts” about these iconic entries that have captivated gamers and moviegoers alike.

Inclusion on this list does not imply that the entry is family friendly, only that is was a nerd culture milestone. Parents should, of course, use discernment.
1999: Star Wars Episode I: Racer (Nintendo 64/PC)

“Star Wars Episode I: Racer” zoomed onto the Nintendo 64 and PC, offering players a chance to experience the thrilling world of podracing as seen in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.”

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Record Holder: “Star Wars Episode I: Racer” holds the Guinness World Record for the best-selling sci-fi racing game, with over 3 million copies sold across all platforms.
  • Choose Your Racer: The game features 25 playable characters, allowing players to choose from a variety of podracers including Anakin Skywalker, Sebulba, and even obscure characters like Dud Bolt and Mawhonic.
  • Tight Turns and High Speeds: With tracks set on eight different planets, including Tatooine and Malastare, players could reach speeds up to 600 mph in their customized pods while avoiding treacherous obstacles and opponents.
2001: Shrek (Theaters)

“Shrek” stomped into theaters, subverting fairy tale tropes with its irreverent humor, memorable characters, and groundbreaking animation, making it an instant hit with audiences of all ages.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Voice Swap: Mike Myers famously took over the voice role of Shrek after Chris Farley had recorded nearly 90% of the dialogue. Myers decided to give Shrek a Scottish accent, adding a new layer of humor and personality to the character.
  • Oscar Trailblazer: “Shrek” became the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature after the category was introduced at the 2002 Oscars.
  • All-Star Soundtrack: The film’s soundtrack features the iconic “All Star” by Smash Mouth, which became so associated with the film that it’s hard not to think of Shrek whenever you hear the song.
2010: Red Dead Redemption (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360)

“Red Dead Redemption” rode into the gaming scene on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, delivering an epic Western adventure that blended storytelling, open-world exploration, and intense gunfights.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • High Praise: The game received universal acclaim for its engaging story, rich characters, and immersive open-world gameplay, winning multiple Game of the Year awards and cementing its place as one of the greatest video games of all time.
  • Dynamic World: The world of “Red Dead Redemption” is filled with diverse wildlife, random events, and side missions that make it feel like a living, breathing frontier, offering players countless hours of exploration.
  • Undead Nightmares: The game’s “Undead Nightmare” DLC added a spooky twist to the Western setting, introducing a zombie apocalypse that players had to survive with the help of silver bullets and mythical beasts.
2018: Deadpool (Theaters)

“Deadpool” unleashed a hilarious, ultra-violent superhero romp onto theaters, redefining the superhero genre with its unique blend of meta-humor and fourth-wall-breaking antics.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • A Long Time Coming: Ryan Reynolds had been trying to make a Deadpool movie since his appearance as the character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009), and it wasn’t until test footage leaked online that fan demand convinced Fox to green-light the film.
  • Record-Breaking Success: “Deadpool” became the highest-grossing R-rated film at the time of its release, earning over $780 million worldwide and proving that there’s a huge audience for adult-oriented superhero fare.
  • Meta Mania: The film is filled with meta-references to the X-Men franchise, Hugh Jackman, and Reynolds’ own career, including a jab at his role as Green Lantern.

May 18 is a day to celebrate the magic of storytelling across different genres and mediums. Whether you’re racing across the galaxy, befriending talking donkeys, hunting outlaws, or cracking wise with a super suit, these adventures remind us of the joy and excitement of diving into a great story. Happy Nerd History Day to all who revel in the weird and wonderful worlds of pop culture!

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Station Manager of LTN Radio and co-host of the "Nerd History Podcast" & the "Two Words Podcast". Matt is a third-generation radio station manager who has done pretty much every job in the radio industry. Matt is the father of two boys and a little girl. It's probably the best thing about him.

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