October 2011

Now And Then: Celebrity Photo Comparison

"Sometimes I forget that Will Smith was a hiphop artist! Then I remember that… he really wasn't."
Internet aggregator and finger-on-the-pulse site Buzzfeed has a great photo essay comparing celebrities' photos from the 1990s and today. Overall, the biggest surprise to me is how many stars look better today than they did back then. Or is it just that we have a broader understanding of who they are, their trials and tribulations? 
Some selected thoughts:
Alyssa Milano
Sure, she was thinner in the 90s. That's thanks to the anorexia, which nearly killed her. She looks so much healthier and beautiful now!
Brad Pitt
I know a lot of people still think of Brad Pitt as just a mindless pretty boy, but I will go to bat for him. Se7en, 12 Monkeys, Fight Club… this guy is way better than a callow Tiger Beat photo shoot. Also: armpit hair! Quick, hand me the scissors!
Johnny Depp
In the 90s he was "pretty and conventional." Now he's "skanky and bizarre." I'm really not sure which one I prefer. 
Drew Barrymore
Can we talk about the massive side-swept hair? Hilarious! But in between that and the chunky silver necklace we have young Drew's thousand-yard stare. Those are the eyes of a girl who entered rehab at 13, had a suicide attempt at 14, was engaged at 16, married to a different man for a month at 19, and posed nude for Playboy at 20. 
Hilary Swank
I am in love with her combination of overalls, tank top, big black felt hat, and dark lipstick!
Julia Roberts
Julia and I have pretty much the same hair, so that's always what I study about her, because hers looks so much better than mine, and why??? Anyway, in the first pic Julia is sporting the "big poof" look that I believe was pioneered by Elaine on "Seinfeld."
Liv Tyler
I'm glad to see she was able to get that Pauly Shore-sized lump removed.

Achtung Baby: 20 Years Later

The 20th anniversary re-release of U2's album "Achtung Baby" is coming up next week, and it's causing a lot of reflection. Mostly along the lines of, "Can it really have been so long?" and "20 years? Really?" and of course a lot of "Wow, I am really getting old."
It's true: it's been 20 years. Most Redditors were born after the album's release. (Actually, most people on the internet, from what I can tell.) If Achtung Baby was a person, it would be old enough to vote and register for the draft, but not quite old enough to drink. It would probably be in its second year of college. (It would also be sneering at college the whole time, at the institutionalization of learning, all while focusing obsessively on its own GPA. Achtung Baby was just like that.)

Zima: Punchline of the Decade


Oh Zima, un-dearly departed "malternative" beverage of the 1990's! Zima was launched in 1993, where it took advantage of the fad for clear things. Pepsi Clear! Clear antiperspirant! (This fad was pretty much mocked straight to death with the Saturday Night Live skit "Crystal Gravy.")
I didn't understand the "clear craze" then, and I don't know. Clear things were supposed to be more pure. But we all know they were just the regular things without the caramel coloring added. Baffling!

Apple in the 1990s


The 1990s were a turbulent time for Apple. Basically, in the first 3/4ths of the 1990s Apple was without Steve Jobs, and they sucked. Then Steve Jobs came back and they began their swift rise to world domination.
The Bad Patch
In the first few years of the decade, Apple was still riding high on the innovations of the 1980s. Which is to say, the Mac. I had a Mac SE in my first year at college. It was pretty sweet. (I actually still have it, and sometimes I boot it up and watch the flying toasters flap past.)

The Hypertext Novel

Phil LaFarge, author of a recent hypertext novel, expounds upon the form in this Salon article. The idea of a "hypertext novel" began in the late 1980s, but it didn't start to seem really promising until the 1990s.
There was this whole entire awkward stage in the mid 1990s that occurred after computers had become ubiquitous, but before the internet had gotten very far. Everyone realized that something computer-y was the future of content and content delivery, we just couldn't figure out how it was actually going to work.



True story: I spent a large chunk of the 1990s out of the loop with regards to pop culture. One day I was driving along with my friends, and one of them mentioned a pop singer named Jewel.
"I went to school with a girl named Jewel," I mused. "What was her last name? It started with a K. Kirchner or Kitchener or something."
"Kilcher?" one of my friends said.
"That's it," I said. "How did you know?"