November 2011

The Information Superhighway

A term so bad, it was a genuine menace


Long before local newscasters had to struggle with explaining Twitter and Facebook to their elderly audience, they had to struggle with explaining the internet. It wasn't enough to say that it was a network of connected computers. Too technical! Not bizarre enough, apparently!
"Cyberspace" is what some of them called it. Cyberspace sounded suitably science fiction-y, it had that "gee whiz" factor, and it paired well with the crazy-ass graphics that local news stations tend to put together. But there was also something sinister in its vagueness. Cyberspace is where they steal your credit card, it's where those hackers hang out, where they can see what you are doing at all times. 

The Best '90's Candy

Sour warheads, Butterfinger BB's and Airheads.

I was a kid in the 1990's, meaning that I had about three things on my mind: videogames, Nickelodeon and candy. I'm not a huge fan of candy anymore, but occasionally, at the strangest of times, a candy jingle from my childhood will pop into my head. Yesterday, the jingle for Baby Bottle Pops--"Baby bottle pops! Baby bottle pops! You lick the pop, dip and shake it! Then lick it again!--came back to me while I was in the shower. Let's take a look at some of those unforgettable sweets from my youth:

The Fox "Alien Autopsy" Special

It was special, that's for sure!
Speaking of The X-Files, if you were around in the 1990s you probably remember Fox's "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction" television special. This still ranks high on the list of the oddest, most preposterous television stunts. It fired the imaginations of millions of gullible viewers, and provided grist for talk show host jokes for years to come.
These days if you think of Fox you probably think of Fox News, with its strong right-slanting bias. But in 1995, there was no Fox News to prop it up, and Fox was mainly known as the struggling, fourth-rate network that catered to lurid, down-market tastes. "When Animals Attack" was one of the network's most popular non-animated series.


(also known as "hot-desking" I guess because it sounds sexier)
This is definitely one of the worst things the 90s brought us. In the early 1990s, the boss of one of the most prominent ad agencies in the world (Chiat/Day) had a flash of inspiration. It seemed to him that "the conventional American office structure was antiquated and counterproductive." In response, he invented what quickly became a scourge upon the 1990s-era American workplace: hoteling.
Hoteling (also known as "hot-desking" I guess because it sounds sexier) is the practice by which an office doesn't have assigned desks. It's first come, first served. Sounds simple, right? Too bad it was one of the worst things ever inflicted upon American office workers. (And that's a long list.)

Heavy D and In Living Color

Early 90s comedy, featuring "James" Carrey


As you may have heard, rap legend Heavy D has died at the surprisingly young age of 44. One day he had a "touch of pneumonia," and the next day he was admitted to the hospital and died. 
One of Heavy D's many accomplishments was recording the theme song for In Living Color, a seminal television show of the 1990s. In Living Color aired on Fox on Sunday nights, one of the few successful live-action shows to break up what eventually became a solid block of animated programming.


A trio of straggly-haired blonde honey-voiced wholesome non-threatening everykids.


Hanson, one-hit wonder to some, lifelong obsession to others, is a great example of a tidbit of 90s culture that I somehow missed. I first heard about their biggest hit "MMMBop" by the time it had become an ironic punchline. 
This means that I come to Hanson as a stranger, as an adult, and about fifteen years behind everyone else. Nothing too unusual there, frankly.
I began by skimming the Wikipedia articles for the band, and for each individual Hanson. Surprisingly, for a band that has such a rabid and long-memoried fandom, their Wikipedia articles are quite bland, short, and "just the facts." I was hoping to at least learn if the boys had been raised as Fundamentalist Christians (as is my suspicion) but the only thing Wikipedia reveals about their childhood is the year and location of their birth. 

Kid activities kits let you explore many positions

Chef. Archeologist. Best Friend EVER.

Now that we’re adults, we get utilitarian presents for Christmas. Nice sweaters because it’s cold. Cooking gadgets that help you open wine bottles more easily. Maybe a pair of slacks. After people have finished opening their gifts on Christmas morning, they’re pretty much done.

Not so when we were kids. Christmas morning would be only the beginning, and the rest of the day would be filled with completing the activity from the gift that you had just unwrapped. Those were really the gifts that kept on giving—the gifts of kits for kids. I know that I always got presents that involved some sort of activity, whether it was science or cooking or archeology.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane once again and revisit some of the best kid activity kits:

The X-Files

Raise your hand if you used "trustno1" as a password!


This is one of those classics of 90s television. These days, geek culture IS the mainstream. But in the 1990s if you were a science fiction geek, you had few options when it came to mass market entertainment. When The X-Files debuted, it was a show designed just for us, and we went nuts for it.
Smart, sassy, contemporary, and always based firmly in the real world, The X-Files was a science fiction show of a very different sort. It's hard to remember now how revolutionary it was. Just the idea of a long-form television show with such a wide-ranging mythos was amazing. And a science fiction show? Wow!

"I'm Remembering" lives up to its name

It's your childhood on a blog!

I’ve become obsessed with the blog I’m Remembering lately. The blog’s concept is very simple. The blog’s creator, Hillary Buckholtz, was born in 1979 and wants to jog the cultural consciousnesses of all the ‘80’s and ‘90’s babies.

I was born eight years after Hillary, but I can recognize almost everything on the site. There’s a “The More You Know” background from NBC’s PSA’s and Buckholtz recently did a series of posts on childhood cakes shaped as everything from Sesame Street characters to Dennis the Menace.

Take a browser down memory lane, and let’s talk about some of the greatest childhood memories I recalled because of I’m Remembering: