The Thing About Today – April 7

April 7, 2020
Day 98 of 366


April 7th is the ninety-eighth day of the year. It is Genocide Memorial Day in Rwanda, as well as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide as established by the United Nations. The Rwandan genocide was a mass slaughter of Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutu between April 7 and July 15, 1994, during the Rwandan Civil War. The massacre was perpetrated by the Hutu government and related militias, and the attacks were racially motivated. Estimates of those murdered range between 500,000 and 1,074,016.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Beer Day, National Coffee Cake Day, National Girl Me Too Day, and National No Housework Day. It is also recognized as the SAAM Day of Action, a day during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) to stop sexual assault, harassment, and abuse before they happen through education. The day is typically observed on the first Tuesday in April.


Historical items of note:

  • In 529, the first draft of the Corpus Juris Civilis – recognized as a fundamental work in jurisprudence – was issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.
  • In 1141, Empress Matilda became the first female ruler of England, adopting the title “Lady of the English”.
  • In 1724, Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion, BWV 245, held its premiere performance at St. Nicholas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.
  • In 1805, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Third Symphony premiered at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria.
  • In 1827, English chemist John Walker sold the first friction match. He had invented the device in the previous year.
  • In 1906, Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated Naples, Italy.
  • In 1915, singer-songwriter and actress Billie Holliday was born.
  • In 1927, the first long-distance public television broadcast occurred. It was from Washington, D.C., to New York City, and it displayed the image of Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover.
  • In 1928, actor, singer, and producer James Garner was born.
  • In 1931, activist and author Daniel Ellsberg was born.
  • In 1933, the prohibition on alcohol in the United States was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight. Prohibition was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages starting in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment. The repeal happened eight months before the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment and is now celebrated as National Beer Day in the United States.
  • Also in 1933, actor Wayne Rogers was born. He played Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre on M*A*S*H.
  • In 1939, director, producer, and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola was born.
  • In 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first African-American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
  • In 1945, the battleship Yamato, one of the two largest ever constructed, was sunk by American aircraft during Operation Ten-Go.
  • In 1946, special effects designer and makeup artist Stan Winston was born.
  • In 1949, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific opened on Broadway. It would run for 1,925 performances and win ten Tony Awards.
  • In 1954, martial artist, actor, stuntman, director, producer, and screenwriter Jackie Chan was born. (No, he doesn’t do all of his own stunts: Look up Mars (Cheung Wing-fat), one of Jackie Chan’s best friends, who was first credited as his stunt double in 1983’s Project A.)
  • In 1955, Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom amid indications of failing health.
  • In 1964, actor Russell Crowe was born.
  • In 1983, astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson performed the first Space Shuttle spacewalk during Mission STS-6 on Challenger.
  • In 2001, Mars Odyssey was launched.


In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) was established by the United Nations. Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well being. It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. Its flagship publication, the World Health Report, provides expert assessments of global health topics and health statistics on all nations. The WHO also serves as a forum for summits and discussions on health issues.

World Health Day, the celebration of the organization’s birthdate, is a global health awareness day sponsored by the WHO. The organization brings together international, regional and local events on the day related to a particular theme. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports, such as the Global Health Council.

World Health Day is one of eight official global health campaigns marked by WHO, along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis Day.

The theme for World Health Day 2020 is the support of nurses and midwives.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – April 6

April 6, 2020
Day 97 of 366


April 6th is the ninety-seventh day of the year. It is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding. The date was chosen to commemorate the inauguration of the first Olympic Games of the modern era, which took place in Athens, Greece in 1896.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Caramel Popcorn Day, New Beer’s Eve, National Sorry Charlie Day, National Student-Athlete Day, National Tartan Day, and National Teflon Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1320, the Scots reaffirmed their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.
  • In 1652, Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck established a resupply camp at the Cape of Good Hope. It eventually became Cape Town.
  • In 1712, the New York Slave Revolt began near Broadway.
  • In 1808, John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company. The company would eventually make him America’s first millionaire.
  • In 1861, the first performance of Arthur Sullivan’s incidental music for The Tempest debuted. It was a success, and led to a career that included the famous Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
  • In 1869, celluloid was patented.
  • In 1889, George Eastman began selling his Kodak flexible rolled film for the first time.
  • In 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested in the Cadogan Hotel in London after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry.
  • In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece. This was 1,500 years after the original games were banned by Roman emperor Theodosius I.
  • In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany in World War I.
  • In 1929, film composer and pianist André Previn was born.
  • In 1937, actor Billy Dee Williams was born.
  • In 1947, the first Tony Awards were presented for theatrical achievement.
  • Also in 1947, actor and director John Ratzenberger was born.
  • In 1953, Scottish composer Patrick Doyle was born.
  • In 1965, Early Bird was launched. It was the first commercial communications satellite to be placed in geosynchronous orbit.
  • In 1969, actor Paul Rudd was born.
  • In 1973, the Pioneer 11 spacecraft was launched.
  • In 1974, the Swedish pop band ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo”. This moment launched their international career.
  • In 1975, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Zach Braff was born.
  • In 2009, the Star Trek reboot film directed by J. J. Abrams premiered in Austin, Texas.


The Declaration of Arbroath – Declaration o Aiberbrothock in Scots, Declaratio Arbroathis in Latin, and Tiomnadh Bhruis in Scottish Gaelic – was the declaration of Scottish independence on April 6, 1320.

It was sent in the form of a letter in Latin to Pope John XXII to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state and defending Scotland’s right to use military action when unjustly attacked. Generally believed to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time.

The others were a letter from the King of Scots, Robert I, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all made similar points.

National Tartan Day is a North American celebration of Scottish heritage, set on the date upon which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed. It originated in Canada in the mid-1980s. It spread to other communities of the Scottish diaspora in the 1990s.

This year Scots would be celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath with events of various kinds, but the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in multiple cancellations.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – April 5

April 5, 2020
Day 96 of 366


April 5th is the ninety-sixth day of the year. It is Sikmogil in South Korea. Also known as the Korean Arbor Day, Sikmogil was established to celebrate forestry and the development of national history. The day of April 5 was chosen for its historical significance, the day upon which Silla achieved the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

It is also known to fans of Star Trek as First Contact Day. The eighth film in the franchise, Star Trek: First Contact, established the date of first contact between the people of Earth and the Vulcans as April 5, 2063. Fans have celebrated the date since the film premiered in 1996.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Caramel Day, National Deep Dish Pizza Day, National Flash Drive Day, National Go For Broke Day, National Nebraska Day, National Raisin and Spice Bar Day, National Read a Road Map Day, and Geologists Day. The last one is typically observed on the first Sunday in April.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1722, Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovered Easter Island.
  • In 1792, United States President George Washington exercises his authority to veto a bill. This was the first time this power is used in the United States.
  • In 1856, educator, essayist, and historian Booker T. Washington was born.
  • In 1900, Archaeologists in Knossos, Crete, discover a large cache of clay tablets with hieroglyphic writing in a script they call Linear B.
  • In 1904, the first international rugby league match was played between England and an Other Nationalities team comprised of Welsh and Scottish players in Central Park, Wigan, England.
  • In 1908, actress Bette Davis was born.
  • In 1909, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli was born. An American film producer, he co-founded Eon Productions, home of the James Bond franchise.
  • In 1916, actor, producer, and activist Gregory Peck was born.
  • In 1922, the American Birth Control League, the forerunner of Planned Parenthood, was incorporated.
  • In 1933, actor Frank Gorshin was born. He played the Riddler in the 1966 Batman television series.
  • In 1949, a fire at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham, Illinois, killed 77 people. The tragedy led to nationwide fire code improvements in the United States.
  • Also in 1949, astronaut Judith Resnik was born.
  • In 1950, writer Ann C. Crispin was born.
  • In 1952, actor Mitch Pileggi was born.
  • In 1958, Ripple Rock was destroyed. The underwater mountain was a threat to navigation in the Seymour Narrows in Canada, and it was removed in one of the largest non-nuclear controlled explosions of the time.
  • In 1982, actress Hayley Atwell was born.
  • In 1994, Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana committed suicide by shooting himself in the head at his home in Seattle. His body wasn’t discovered until three days later by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system.
  • In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge opened to traffic in Japan, becoming the longest bridge span in the world.
  • In 2008, Apple’s iTunes overtook supermarket group Wal-Mart to become the largest music retailer in the United States.


April 5th is Gold Star Spouses Day.

Families of United States service members are able to fly and display service flags. These flags have a white field with a large red border, inside of which are a number of blue stars corresponding to the number of family members serving during a period of time. A gold star (with a blue edge) represents a family member who died during military operations, typically during engagements during and after World War I. The flags and their usage are codified by law in the United States Code.

The families who fly the flags are referred to as Blue Star and Gold Star Families. Therefore, the spouse of a fallen service member is referred to as a Gold Star Wife or Husband, and Gold Star Spouses Day is a day to commemorate their sacrifices.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – April 4

April 4, 2020
Day 95 of 366


April 4th is the ninety-fifth day of the year. It is Independence Day in Senegal, commemorating their freedom from French rule.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day, Jeep 4×4 Day, National School Librarian Day, National Vitamin C Day, National Walk Around Things Day, National Love Our Children Day, and National Handmade Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Saturday in April.

Today is also National Education and Sharing Day, which is typically observed on the 11th of Nissan in the Israel Calendar and therefore shifts annually on the Gregorian calendar.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1147, Moscow was mentioned for the first time in the historical record when it was named as a meeting place for two princes.
  • In 1581, Sir Francis Drake was knighted for completing a circumnavigation of the world.
  • In 1818, The United States Congress, affirming the Second Continental Congress, adopted the flag of the United States with 13 red and white stripes and one star for each state. At that time, there were twenty states.
  • In 1850, Los Angeles was incorporated as a city.
  • In 1887, Argonia, Kansas elected Susanna M. Salter as the first female mayor in the United States.
  • In 1922, composer and conductor Elmer Bernstein was born.
  • In 1923, actor, director, producer and screenwriter Gene Reynolds was born.
  • In 1928, poet and memoirist Maya Angelou was born.
  • Also in 1928, singer-songwriter Monty Norman was born. He is best known for composing the James Bond theme.
  • In 1944, actor, director, and producer Craig T. Nelson was born.
  • In 1956, screenwriter and producer David E. Kelley was born.
  • In 1960, actor and producer Hugo Weaving was born.
  • In 1964, The Beatles occupied the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
  • In 1965, actor, producer, and screenwriter Robert Downey Jr. was born.
  • In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Also in 1968, NASA launched Apollo 6, the final uncrewed Apollo test mission.
  • In 1969, Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the first temporary artificial heart.
  • In 1973, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were officially dedicated.
  • In 1975, Microsoft was founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • In 1979, actor Heath Ledger was born.
  • In 1983, the Space Shuttle Challenger made its maiden voyage into space on Mission STS-6.
  • In 2012, Tardar Sauce was born. The feline was better known as Grumpy Cat, a popular internet meme.


In 1841, William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia, becoming the first President of the United States to die in office.

Harrison was the last president born as a British subject in the Thirteen Colonies before the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775. He served in the military, participating in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, an American military victory that effectively ended the Northwest Indian War. Later, he led a military force against Tecumseh’s Confederacy at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, was promoted to major general in the War of 1812, and in led American infantry and cavalry at the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada in 1813.

Harrison began his political career in 1798 when he was appointed Secretary of the Northwest Territory. In 1799, he was elected as the territory’s delegate in the House of Representatives. Two years later, President John Adams named him governor of the newly established Indiana Territory, in which he served until 1812. After the War of 1812, he moved to Ohio and was elected to represent the state’s 1st district in the House in 1816. In 1824, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate, but his term was cut short by his appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia in May 1828.

He returned to private life in North Bend, Ohio until he was nominated as the Whig Party candidate for president in the 1836 election, during which he was defeated by Democratic vice president Martin Van Buren. He tried again four years later with John Tyler as his running mate, touting the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”. They defeated Van Buren, making Harrison the first Whig to win the presidency.

Harrison was the oldest person elected to the office, a record he held until President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. Harrison served as the Ninth President of the United States for 31 days until he died of typhoid, pneumonia or paratyphoid fever, setting the record for the briefest administration in American history.

His death ignited a brief constitutional crisis regarding succession to the presidency because the Constitution was unclear as to whether the vice president should assume the office or merely execute the duties of the vacant office. John Tyler claimed a constitutional mandate to become the new president and took the oath of office, setting the precedent for an orderly transfer of power when the previous president fails to complete the elected term.

The first vice president to succeed to the presidency without election, John Tyler served longer than any president in U.S. history not elected to the office. He served the remainder of Harrison’s four-year term before being succeeded by James K. Polk in 1845.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



Culture on My Mind – Slipped Discs and Squid Ink

Culture on My Mind
April 3, 2020


My apologies for skipping last week’s post. It’s been a bit crazy around here.

This week’s “can’t let it go” is a quick plug for new home media releases if you’re looking for a distraction from the plague-ridden world.

Gary Mitchel – longtime friend of Creative Criticality, raconteur, and gamemaster extraordinaire – hosts his own blog called Squid Ink on RevolutionSF. One of his regular features is Slipped Discs, a heads-up on what nerdy film fare is available to arrive on your doorstep each week.

His most recent edition covered the releases for March 31st, including the plethora of Star Wars material that dropped on store shelves and doorsteps alike.

If you’re on the lookout for new releases on physical media to keep you moving, consider sparing a few minutes each week with Gary and RevolutionSF.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – April 3

April 3, 2020
Day 94 of 366


April 3rd is the ninety-fourth day of the year. It is World Party Day, a day of global celebration and joy. Under the circumstances, we should all party with our friends and families virtually, maybe over Skype or Zoom, or even through an online gaming platform. I wish you a bright celebration of life today.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chocolate Mousse Day, National Film Score Day, National Find a Rainbow Day, and National Tweed Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1783, Washington Irving was born. He was the American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian who wrote Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and encouraged other American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe through his successes in Europe.
  • In 1860, the first successful United States Pony Express run from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, began.
  • In 1865, Union forces captured Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America. The American Civil War would end just over a month later.
  • In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler was granted a German patent for his engine design.
  • In 1888, the first of eleven unsolved brutal murders of women committed in or near the impoverished Whitechapel district in the East End of London occurred. These murders were attributed to the mysterious Jack the Ripper.
  • In 1895, the trial in the libel case brought by Oscar Wilde begins. The trial would eventually result in his imprisonment on charges of homosexuality.
  • In 1922, singer and actress Doris Day was born.
  • In 1926, astronaut Gus Grissom was born.
  • In 1934, English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall was born.
  • In 1946, Japanese Lt. General Masaharu Homma was executed in the Philippines for leading the Bataan Death March.
  • In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Marshall Plan, authorizing $5 billion in aid for 16 countries.
  • In 1955, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it would defend Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl against obscenity charges. Howl denounced what Ginsberg saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States, as well as reflecting his own sexual orientation while describing heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every state.
  • In 1958, actor, comedian, and producer Alec Baldwin was born.
  • In 1959, actor and activist David Hyde Pierce was born.
  • In 1961, actor and comedian Eddie Murphy was born.
  • In 1969, actor Ben Mendelsohn was born.
  • In 1973, Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first handheld mobile phone call to Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.
  • Also in 1973, actor Jamie Bamber was born.
  • In 1975, Bobby Fischer refused to play in a chess match against Anatoly Karpov, giving Karpov the title of World Champion by default.
  • In 1980, the United States Congress restored a federal trust relationship with the 501 members of the Shvwits, Kanosh, Koosharem, and the Indian Peaks and Cedar City bands of the Paiute people of Utah.
  • In 1982, actress Cobie Smulders was born.
  • In 1989, the United States Supreme Court upheld the jurisdictional rights of tribal courts under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 in Mississippi Choctaw Band v. Holyfield.
  • In 1996, the “Unabomber”, Theodore Kaczynski, was captured at his Montana cabin. Between 1978 and 1995, he killed three people and injured 23 others in an attempt to start a revolution by conducting a nationwide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology. In 1998, a plea bargain was reached under which he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • In 2010, Apple Inc. released their first iPad tablet computer.


In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee.

The speech primarily concerned the Memphis Sanitation Strike, calling for unity, economic actions, boycotts, and nonviolent protest, while challenging the United States to live up to its ideals. At the end of the speech, he discussed the possibility of an untimely death. He would be assassinated the very next day.


Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – April 2

April 2, 2020
Day 93 of 366


April 2nd is the ninety-third day of the year. It is World Autism Awareness Day, an official health-specific United Nations day designed to bring attention to autism, research about it, and acceptance of those affected by it.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Ferret Day, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, National Reconciliation Day, and National Burrito Day. That last one is typically observed on the first Thursday in April.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first sighted land in what is now the United States state of Florida. Somehow, we later got a natural spring and a street named after him in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In 1792, the Coinage Act was passed, thus establishing the United States Mint.
  • In 1800, Ludwig van Beethoven led the premiere of his First Symphony in Vienna.
  • In 1805, Danish novelist, short story writer, and poet Hans Christian Andersen was born.
  • In 1875, Walter Chrysler was born. He was the businessman who founded the Chrysler car company.
  • In 1900, the United States Congress passed the Foraker Act, which granted Puerto Rico limited self-rule.
  • In 1902, the “Electric Theatre” opened in Los Angeles, California. It was the first full-time movie theater in the United States.
  • In 1911, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the country’s first national census.
  • In 1912, the RMS Titanic began sea trials.
  • In 1914, actor Alec Guinness was born. Among other great roles, he portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first three Star Wars films.
  • In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked the United States Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.
  • In 1920, Jack Webb was born. The actor, director, producer, and screenwriter was well-known for his role as Sgt. Joe Friday in Dragnet.
  • In 1939, singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye was born.
  • In 1947, singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris was born.
  • In 1956, As the World Turns and The Edge of Night premiered on CBS. The two soap operas became the first daytime dramas to debut in the 30-minute format.
  • In 1962, actor Clark Gregg was born.
  • In 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C.
  • In 1972, actor Charlie Chaplin returned to the United States for the first time since being labeled a communist during the Red Scare in the early 1950s.
  • In 1973, the LexisNexis computerized legal research service was launched.
  • In 1977, actor Michael Fassbender was born.
  • In 1991, Rita Johnston became the first female Premier of a Canadian province. She succeeded William Vander Zalm after his resignation as Premier of British Columbia.


Fitting for the day after April Fools’ Day: In 1941, radio host and satirist Dr. Demento was born.

Barry Hansen gained his Demento persona in 1970 while working at Los Angeles station KPPC-FM. He played “Transfusion” by Nervous Norvus on the radio, and station DJ “The Obscene” Steven Clean said that Hansen had to be “demented” to play it.

The name stuck.

His weekly show went into syndication in 1974 and was syndicated by the Westwood One Radio Network from 1978 to 1992, and continued in various markets until June 6, 2010. It has since entered the online market and continues weekly production.

The son of an amateur pianist, he started his vast record collection at age 12, a collection that now exceeds 85,000 units. He worked as Program Director and General Manager of KRRC radio in college, eventually earning a master’s degree in folklore and ethnomusicology.

Known for his love of novelty and parody music, he is credited with introducing new generations of listeners to artists such as Harry McClintock, Spike Jones, Benny Bell, Yogi Yorgesson, Stan Freberg, and Tom Lehrer. He also brought “Weird Al” Yankovic to national attention. In 1976, the good doctor spoke at Yankovic’s school, and Yankovic gave a self-recorded tape of comedy songs and parodies to him. The first song, “Belvedere Cruisin'”, about the family station wagon, was featured on the show. Positive listener response encouraged Yankovic to keep recording, leading Dr. Demento to fund Yankovic’s first EP, Another One Rides the Bus. Events led to a record deal and pop chart success in the 1980s and beyond, and Demento has appeared in a number of Weird Al’s music videos and his movie UHF as a result.

Dr. Demento has been inducted into both the Comedy Music Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.