Showing posts with label Please Excuse this Interruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Please Excuse this Interruption. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Please Excuse this Interruption from Your Regularly Scheduled 90s

You may have noticed I've been a little MIA lately. I appreciate all the guest bloggers pitching in to help (If you're interested in writing a guest blog, please email me at!)

Right now I'm knee-deep in wedding planning and haven't had much time to tend to the world of nostalgia. I'm taking more applications for guest bloggers for now! I promise I will be back once things settle down a bit. Thanks for understanding, 90s fans.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Classic Children of the 90s Post: Lunchables

Your faithful Children of the 90s blogger is still on vacation...but in the meantime please enjoy this classic post about Lunchables:

In the late 80s and early 90s, the Oscar Mayer company was out to prove that they were more than just a catchy jingle and a Weinermobile. At this point, we were all fairly aware of Oscar Mayer's way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A. We were relatively proficient in identifying our bologna by both its first and second names. We even had general affection for ingesting the aforementioned mysterious lunch meat daily. What more could they want from us?

Perhaps they were upset were were packing non-Oscar Mayer brand products in our school lunches. Maybe it was that sometimes we favored Jennie-O Turkey Breast over our old mystery meat pal bologna. Or possibly they were just concerned we weren't meeting our daily sodium level potential. Whatever the instigator may have been, the quest to streamline the lunch-packing process had begun.

When it came to the 1990s elementary school cafeteria, brown bags and insulated coolers were out and prepackaged boxed lunches were in. Suddenly the height of cafeteria coolness revolved around snack-like, nutritionally devoid, candy toting yellow boxes. To pull out one of those signature Lunchables boxes at lunch time was to declare yourself party to the latest in food trends and blatantly flaunt your parents' reputable recalcitrance for wholesome nourishment. Those of us whose parents insisted on packing us a food pyramid-inspired balanced meal were forced to hang our heads in shame at our lack of preboxed lunchtime delights.

The Lunchables roster certainly expanded over the years, but it began with a simple savory formula: crackers, adorably miniature slices of lunchmeat, and overprocessed and suspiciously orange cheese slices. Later models included such awe-inspiringly nutrition-void amenities as Capri Sun drink pouches and a fun size portion of candy. Some of us, though I won't say who, learned the don't-put-metal-in-the-microwave lesson the hard way via the addition of the metallic Capri Sun pouches. Her parents may or may not have frozen Lunchables for posterity and future lunchability, and she was not quite patient enough to let it thaw. Again, I'm not naming names, but she may or may not have broken her family's brand new microwave through this ill-fated Lunchable venture*.

Lunchable varieties became increasingly questionable with each successive incarnation. Each model stayed true to the original formula of a collection of spare lunch parts complete with assembly instructions, but Oscar Meyer certainly weren't afraid to experiment with creativity. They churned out pizzas, nachos, mysterious forms of "dunkers," tacos, and nearly any other fathomable junk food-based product. Naturally (or as the case warranted, by means of artificial flavoring) it was only a matter of time before anti-childhood obesity groups and health advocates stormed the Lunchables bastille in the name of all things overly salty.

Yes, these salt-packed snacks were tasty, but it's largely due to the fact that they were often packing a whopping three quarters of a daily recommended value of sodium for an adult. Mind you, these were mainly consumed by children, so it's fairly simple to deduce that the sodium content more than exceeded their healthy daily dosage. This preservative-rich snack boxes came under fire for their absolute defiance in the face of rising health consciousness. Essentially, researchers looked on in horror as morbidly obese children waddled to their lunch tables, inhaled a Lunchable, chased it with the fun size candy, and went into a salt coma. These were kids walking through their elementary school hallways single file not out of obedience to teachers but out of necessity to fit through the cafeteria door.

The Oscar Meyer/Kraft people could only hold out for so long. There was really no adequate defense for the remarkably low nutrition levels of their products, other than that children adored them and their junk-foody contents. As long as there was a consumer demographic of parents still willing to poison their children with dangerous sodium levels, there was no reason for them to make any sort of adjustment. However, as the pressure from nutrition advocates mounted and led to devastatingly bad press for Oscar Meyer/Kraft, the company quickly changed their salty tune.

It may be a bit harsh to say they sold out, considering the admittedly poor levels of nutrition in the original product. However, they did oblige to their opposition and began offering options such as fruit juice and yogurt. While these new additions may have had some grounding in health food, it's pretty safe to say they didn't significantly alter the overall caloric content. Regardless, as long as the juvenile salt-related cardiac arrest subsided, they were able to quietly continue packing children chock full of delicious artificial additives.

That said, it's important to note that some of their current releases are highly questionable. Take this disturbingly fizzy pop-rocks knockoff meat+candy creation.It just goes to show you that change does not necessarily equal progress. To its credit, however, the packaging does herald the excellence of the meal's calcium content. Calcium or not, the whole thing seems pretty suspicious. It's safe to say that while contemporary children may not enjoy the same levels of salty deliciousness, Lunchables continue to outrage parents everywhere in a distinctly kid-pleasing manner.

And isn't that what really counts?

*In case you failed to gather from the heavy hints, this was clearly me. I never did own up to breaking the microwave.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Children of the 90s Update

Hello loyal readers!

After I received my 10th or so fan email today (thank you, by the way!) asking if I was shutting down Children of the 90s, I thought I'd take a minute to address it on the blog. First, thanks to all of my readers who have been concerned over the less frequent posts as of late. Don't worry, Children of the 90s isn't going anywhere--I still have plenty of great topics to cover (or you can email your suggestions to me directly at

It seems, though, that I can no longer keep up with the pace of daily posts. Instead, you should expect to see something in the neighborhood of weekly or twice-weekly new posts. I recently moved, started a new job, and got involved in some new projects and can't devote the same attention to daily postings. I will, however, still be writing new posts at least weekly, so check back often! Thanks to everyone for your questions and emails--I always appreciate hearing from readers. Feel free to drop any future topic suggestions in the comment section!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

80s and 90s Kids' Arts and Crafts Part II

Welcome back to another edition of 80s and 90s’ kids’ arts and crafts. For those of you in the States, I hope you had a nice long holiday weekend. To my international readers, I’m sorry you have to continually endure the assumptions that you care about the United States’ independence. My condolences.

Before we get to the good stuff, a quick note: You may notice the posts here at Children of the 90s becoming a bit more intermittent over the next couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. Well, actually the previous statement is completely false: I am going somewhere, though the move will take place in the real physical world instead of the virtual one. I’m in the midst of a housing to move to parts as of yet unknown and am thus fully consumed by the arduous task of hauling furniture and packing up boxes.

I’ve never been much for manual labor, so the inevitable strain on my delicate self is taking up valuable blogging time. For the next few weeks, I appreciate your understanding of our temporary on-again, off-again relationship. Believe you, it’s not you, it’s me. And my incredibly overstuffed apartment.

For now, though, let’s resume our stroll down memory lane into the world of 80s and 90s arts and crafts. Believe me, I would rather be doing any of these things--no matter how ultimately tedious--than packing up a few years worth of accumulated stuff. If I had a velvet poster to color in or a spin-art wheel to operate, you’d bet my progress would be slowed significantly. Not to mention my belongings would be far more paint-splattered, though be fair it would be in an artfully random pattern.

Based on your much-appreciated write-in suggestions, here are a few more of the vaguely arts and crafts-related activities that held our attention as children. There’s still a part 3 likely coming your way, so feel free to add additional suggestions to the comments section or by email at

Scratch Art

For those of us lucky enough to have parents willing to spring $4.99 or so for a packet of pre-made scratch sheets, we enjoyed the hassle free scraping of surprisingly colorful designs from a black background. Others among us didn’t fare quite as well, opting to create our own scratch boards from, well, scratch.

Doing so involved the arduous task of filling a full page with random colored patches and using an entire black Crayola crayon to do you color-cover bidding. Your hand and arm would be incredibly exhausted from the whole ordeal, but at least you were able to reap the reward of some sweet vibrant etching.

Velvet Coloring Posters

I passed one of these at CVS the other day and found myself fighting the urge to purchase it and customize my very own velvet portrait of a unicorn galloping whimsically across a full arch rainbow. Despite my knowledge as a grownup that these posters are extremely tacky, there’s something so tempting about embarking on an endless and time-consuming velvet poster coloring project. Plus they’re velvet. Velvet! That stuff comes across as pretty classy to a seven-year old.

Ironable Perler Beads

We spent many, many hours in my house tediously placing plastic beads a millimeter in diameter each onto flat bumpy molds. Whoever thought these up was either a genius or incredibly sadistic, depending on your views on occupying a child with a mindless task for multiple hours at a time.

The molds came in different shapes and could produce different designs using the multicolored beads. Simply cover, iron, and ta-da! A piece of useless junk. But hey, it was your piece of useless junk. There’s a difference.

Spin Art

Just in case you were looking for a way to make painting messier and more airborne, you’re in luck: someone else has already come up with it and mass-marketed it. There actually used to be a professional Spin-Art center at our local mall, but I’m guessing the availability of allegedly easy-to-use at-home kits put them out of business.

The process was simple but undeniably attractive to mess-hungry children. You put a piece of paper on the spinner, activated the motion, and squirted various paint colors in its general vicinity as it spun. It was like a maxed-out version of the Spirograph: no skill required, guaranteed to create interesting artful symmetry.

Friendship Bracelets
I recently caught an episode of How It’s Made featuring the hammock-making process that led me to believe I could someday take on a lucrative career as a hammock craftswoman. The reason? The countless hours I spent weaving embroidery floss into masterfully crafted bracelets and anklets. How else can we children of the 90s put to use our skill at creating patterns like tornado, chevron, and candy stripe?

If you have a solution, feel free to let me know--I’m actually in the market for a new career. I don’t have Friendship Bracelet Making as its own category on my resume, but I’m willing to work it in for the right professional macrame post. Really, let me know.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Children of the 90s is Still Out of Town: Enjoy this Classic Post--Dunkaroos

Sorry for freaking out my loyal readers earlier this week--some anonymously evil spambot hacked into my account and Google, in their infinite if mildly misguided wisdom, temporarily suspended it. Luckily, I was able to convince them that I was not the spambot but rather its innocent blog-writing victim, so the site is back in all of its original glory. Thanks, Google!

I am still out of town, but with the site back up and running I will return in full force with new posts next week. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy this delicious frosting-accompanied post on Dunkaroos. It's the second post that appeared on the site back in March 2009, so the likelihood of you having already read it is relatively slim. Enjoy, and thanks to all for your patience and concern during the blog removal scare. I promise I wouldn't abandon you without warning like that --you need your daily dose of 90s, and Children of the 90s is here to deliver.

Ah, Dunkaroos. That is, a dual-chamber compartmentalized plastic snack container housing kangaroo-shaped cookies and sweet, sweet frosting. The marketing department at Betty Crocker clearly took a pretty literal approach with their concise yet didactic slogan: "You Don't Just Eat...You Dunk-a-Roo!" And Roos we did dunk. In fact, we dunked to with such zeal and fervor that a web search for "Dunkaroos" leads you to forum after forum where passionate Dunkaroo devotees discuss and debate the various black-market methods of procuring bootleg snacks from their 90s childhoods.

Yes, those were simpler times. These days, the current fanaticism surrounding this simple cookie-and-frosting snacktime combo impels Dunkaroo enthusiasts to scour and discount stores to locate these discountinued delights. Whether chocolate, vanilla, or the late-era cookies and cream flavor struck your fancy, these were a kid's dream. Imagine, a conveniently packaged snack featuring absolutely no natural ingredients and negligible nutritional value.

For some inexplicable reason, this cookie-and-frosting combo was paired with a sharp-dressed and surprisingly formal Australian Kangaroo mascot sporting a hat, vest, and tie. You have to wonder what that marketing meeting was like:

"Alright team, we've got these cookies with a frosting dip. What's the logical leap for our big ad campaign launch? I say we go the Australian angle, you know how those Aussies love their prepackaged frosting-laden snacks. Better yet, let's make it a kangaroo with an Australian accent. That's more appropriate, really. And can we dress him up a bit? Let's be real here people, a kangaroo wouldn't just go about eating sweets bareheaded sporting shirtsleeves. That's it, a hat and tie will really emphasize the deliciousness."

Exhibit A:

Ahh...there's nothing like a half-sung, half-spoken painfully literal description of a snack food to get the hunger juices flowing.

Mascot aside (because let's be real, most of our childhood foods were actively promoted by randomly generated anthropormorphic cartoon rabbits, cavemen, leprechauns, and their ilk), Dunkaroos were a phenomenon. These were the food to pull out at snack time. Your cheap handi-snack knockoff cookies-and-cream pack were essentially an affront to the valid cookie and frosting snack community.

The most bizarre part was, at the height of their popularity, the Dunkaroos people launched a contest to replace their loveable if oddly matched mascot, Sydney, with...wait for it...another kangaroo. I know they're called Dunkaroos, but really. The parameters of this contest, endearingly titled the "Dunk-a-Roos Kangaroo Kanga-Who Search," essentially requested from their loyal fans the most incremental image change possible. I present to you, Duncan, the dunkin' daredevil. Like all other cartoon food mascots, the majority of his life is devoted to being thwarted by obstacles in an attempt to eat a food that the rest of us can just pick up in our neighborhood grocery store.

So there you have it...Dunkaroos. As their then new bad-boy mascot (as denoted by presence of backwards cap) rides into the abyss on a roaring motorcycle, so too must we leave behind this delicious snack from days of yore in a cloud of cookie dust. That is, unless you're willing to risk life and limb by ordering discontinued snack food on for purely nostalgic reasons.

According to my google search, most of you are willing to take that risk. Dunk safely, children of the 90s. Dunk safely.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Doug

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweep
s. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!

That's right, we're talking Nickelodeon original-Nicktoon era, not the shoddy subpar imitation churned out by ABC/Disney after 1996. To embarrass themselves further, Disney awkwardly renamed the series Brand Spanking New! Doug, despite the fact that the show had already been airing on Nickelodeon 5 years. Their new title reeked of desperation, a sort of "look at us! We got that show you liked! Now watch us make it terrible."

Exhibit A, the more wisely re-renamed Disney's Doug:

Note the presence of unmatchable Disney inoffensive blandness, replacing the original lovability of the a-cappella theme song. Whistling? Really? And everyone standing there waving cheerily? A travesty indeed.

And before we move on, let us briefly discuss the mutual ridiculosity of fanatical fan Wikipedia updaters and absurdly miniscule visual changes made by the Disney animators to classify the show as "brand-spanking new!":

Character changes on Disney's Doug:

  • Doug's sleeves were longer and had a pair of black and white shoes instead of red and white.
  • Skeeter's shirt was altered from a yellow lightning bolt to a yellow "O".
  • Roger's leather jacket was sleeveless along with his hair combed down instead of his straight up hairdo on "Nick's".
  • Patti's hair was cut. Her shirt stayed the same, except she is wearing blue jeans instead of her blue skirt.

You have to think to yourself, was there some sort of copyright sensitivity from the original series to the knockoff Disney version? What would possibly motivate them to sit around the boardroom, poring over storyboards, and heatedly debating the merits of cartoon haircuts and leather sleeves?

But anyway.

The real Doug was Nickelodeon's Doug, running from 1991-1995. The original series wasn't about long, complicated plotlines; each show was divided into two 11 minute "episodes" conducive to our limited childhood attention spans. It took all of our favorite cartoon cliches (lovable awkward protagonist, cute pet sidekick, quirky best friend, wacky family and neighbors, love interest, school bully) and made them into a virtual rainbow of bizarre multiculturalism. Sure, Doug was white, but his mother is inexplicably purple. And let's not even get started on how his best friend's name is "Skeeter". Clearly this was of an era before that term was imbued with inappropriate rap-song innuendo. We can only hope.

The originally show was both vividly and ridiculously imaginative in a way that was deeply resonant with our not-yet cynical preadolescence. Case in point, Doug's self-imagined alter-ego "Quail Man":

Yes! Amazing. An amazing way to add flashier nonsensical, nonsequitor plots. But we ate it up nonetheless, for its sincerity and resonance. My personal favorite foray into Doug's imagination was his fantasy music video of his "band":

I'm torn on which part is my favorite; the initial exclamation-in-unison accompanied by star-producing high-fives, or maybe the Doug-as-Michael-Jackson-with-ethnic-backup-dancers sequence. Either way, it was pure, unadulterated genius. To this day people acutally do live-action covers of this song on YouTube, if that speaks at all to its posterity.

In short, Doug did not insult our intelligence as children. There were all sorts of clever minor aspects of the show we can now appreciate as (theoretical) grown-ups. The "Beets" as a facsimile of the Beatles, his beatnik sister Judy's "Moody's school for the gifted," or Porkchop's igloo in the backyard.

So, to Disney: we will not accept your cheap, shark-jumping imitation. Giving Patti Mayonaise a butch haircut and naming Doug's new baby sister "Cleopatra" (really?) will never win us over. The original quirkiness of the show was what made it so endearing and enduring. It's what separated the authentic Doug from the later inferior imitation.

After all, how many of you can recall the lyrics from the Nickelodeon-era Beets' hit songs "I Need More Allowance" and "Killer Tofu"? Or Doug's fear of exposing his distaste for liver and onions to Patti? Or that Doug was horribly embarrassed of his middle name, Yancey?

On the other hand, how many of you can recall...well, anything from the Disney version?

I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweeps. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!

Looking for a surefire way to guarantee that no one will respect the precarious health of the elderly and to diminish the legitimacy of their tenuous medical state? Well, you're in luck! The Life Call corporation has already done it for you and has made it available in convenient late 80s/early 90s daytime television commercial slots. As the Life Call people sat around musing what was the possibly the way to least seriously depict the grave dangers associated with solo-dwelling senior citizens, they stumbled upon a foolproof formula for endless mockery and derision. How could we make light of such a tragic and serious risk? Well, I'll tell you how.

Yes, the Life Call people decided against working the "this is a serious life-saving product and should be presented as such" angle and instead opted to hire the campiest, chintziest elderly actors to produce embarrassingly low-budget dramatizations for their television advertisement. At least at the beginning, the fine print in the lower right-hand corner reads "dramatization". Whew, that was a close one. I was concerned that that woman had actually fallen and couldn't get up, and we were all just sitting around casually observing her in her dire state. At best, it was as if Life Call had raided a retirement home community theater troupe. Obviously, they had already blown their whole legitimate actor budget to hire concerned-looking family members and friends of the injured party. Thankfully, those characters had no lines or maybe we would have taken this thing less lightly.

Here is the ad, in all its glory:

Less widely mocked was the first guy, Mr. Miller, who acts his heart out (possibly, literally, considering his supposed ailment) describing his chest pains. However, our real heroine was Mrs. Fletcher, oh great utterer of redundant and unintentionally humorous phrases. The fictional Mrs. Fletcher croaked out a line that exceeds nearly any quote out of Bartlett's in immediate recognizability.

"I've fallen...and I can't get up!"

It was probably that second part that did in poor Mrs. Fletcher. Laying on the floor of her questionably empty room, walker askew, we could all clearly deduce that she had indeed fallen. Her apparent need for the Life Call system suggested to us that she was also likely unable to get up. Otherwise, she probably would have called up and said, "I've fallen! ...Oh, no, I'm fine, I'll get myself up in a jiffy. I just wanted someone to talk to because I'm lonely and live alone and can only communicate with my children, neighbors, and doctors through third party Life Call employees." But no, Mrs. Fletcher knew better than that. She had to do more than just explain that she had fallen, that part was clearly evident to any impartial observer. She needed to fully elucidate her situation by pointing out that not only had she fallen, but that she was at the same time unable to get up. Well, bless her heart, she certainly sold that line. Unfortunately, to children growing up in the 90s, it was probably the funniest thing that they had ever seen and/or heard.

We had all been told dozens of time to respect our elders. Parents and teaches explained to us that most senior citizens are viable and capable and deserve to be treated as human beings. We all bought that for about ten minutes, or at least the time elapsed between receiving that explanation and our initial viewing of the Life Call commercial. Though the commercial was marketed toward seniors as a tool to encourage their independence, to us it only cemented their status in our eyes as highly dramatic, accident-prone victims.

As if Life Call hadn't hammered the point home enough already with their melodramatic dramatizations, they also relied on the cheery host of the commercial to explain to us what we had just seen. "See?" She prompted condescendingly. "Protect yourself with Life Call and you're never alone!" For those of us unable to understand the complex plot twists and the nuanced acting of her preceding ad castmates, we could always rely on our Life Call pendant-sporting pal to restate the thesis of the commercial. And wasn't she recently "deathly ill"? Why, she looks great! We can only imagine that if it hadn't been for been those dashing pseudo-cop outfitted Life Call operators, her deathly illness would have led to, well, death.

Obviously at some point, Life Call realized their gaffe and sought a new direction with their advertising campaigns. No longer were they going to be victims of endless mockery. They were going to take a hard line with customers and depict true stories of Life Alert's life-saving capabilities:

Wait a minute. Didn't she just say she wasn't an actress? Well, then why is she being played by one in the dramatization? We thought you had seen the error of your ways, Life Call, but this dramatization of supposedly real-life events featured the same catchphrase as the original. Are we really to believe that this real live woman had seen the Life Call commercial so many times that she instinctively uttered their trademarked line to operators? Also, are to we to buy that someone with the foresight to purchase a Life Call Emergency Alert System was engaging in such irresponsible fall-prone behavior as reading a book and walking? At the same time? And another thing! Aren't those the doctor and telephone operator from the first commercial? Are you telling me we're using stock footage because we couldn't even afford to hire some new actors? You can even hear the choppy way they cut off the "Mrs. Fletcher" part of the operator's line to accomodate this allegedly new true story. Way to go, Life Call. You really caught yourself with that one.

Then again, their intention was not to catch themselves; it was to catch poor clumsy Mrs. Fletcher, or this new supposedly real-life non-actress knockoff of Mrs. Fletcher.

After all, they were the ones who had fallen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Ghostwriter

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweeps. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!

Ah, the joys of good, clean multicultural middle-school student supernatural detective work. The television series Ghostwriter, which ran 3 seasons from 1992-1995, was a thinly veiled effort by public television to encourage the development of basic reading , writing, and problem-solving skills among elementary school children. We may have had no idea at the time, but watch an episode now and you will find the educational components are blindingly obvious. The show was remarkably good at tricking us into learning, as well as providing all sorts of feel-good moral lessons along the way.

The show's characters were the live-action equivalent of the names and pictures textbook publishers use to vociferously and repeatedly tout their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity. Though I can recognize this show aired during the blooming of the age of political correctness, they laid it on pretty thick. We couldn't just have a group of relatable middle-class white kids running around solving mysteries. Instead, it was necessary to produce some variation of "We are the World," the children's television series:

That intro shines so brightly with quintessentially nineties special effects, it makes you want to reach for the Vanilla Ice Gautier shades. The cast all seem remarkably surprised to see their names, though I assume they were told by the crew that they were filming the intro.

The premise of the show involves a mysterious unseen "ghost" (represented by a jumpy glowing light) who communicates with the Ghostwriter team by manipulating words and letters in the kids' everyday settings. The team quickly learns that a mysterious spirit has opted to communicate with them through the handily educational use of their reading and writing skills. While this ghost could likely have chosen all sorts of qualified, highly educated people to do his bidding, he insists on using elementary and middle-school aged children to solve his inoffensive and conveniently child-friendly brand of mysteries.

The "team" members, united by their common ability to communicate with the mysterious Ghostwriter, denoted their membership by wearing a special pen on a cord around their necks. That's right, as if they could not shove the educational component down viewer's throats any further, the team's all-powerful ability lay in their ability to write. I wouldn't call it a subtle metaphor, but hey, it worked.

Of course, just like real-life children, they had freakishly neat typewriter-grade penmanship and wrote at the slowest possible pace to ensure that their young viewers could actually grasp what was happening. Fortunately for those with limited literary prowess, each story arc took a remarkable four or five half-hour episodes to solve. Especially in a time before rampant over-prescribing of attention-deficit medications, it's nearly inconceivable children actually mustered the attention spans to follow a single mystery storyline over a weeks-long run. Ghostwriter clearly had some form of hypnotic power over its viewers, as the show was spectacularly popular throughout it three seasons.

Ghostwriter was not merely a television series; it was an educational franchising powerhouse boasting CD-ROMs, books, VHS releases, classroom curricula, and of course, replica Ghostwriter pens so viewers at home could "play along". I never had any luck solving the mysteries, but I do have a mini Lisa Frank notebook somewhere full of all of the clues tirelessly scribbled in admittedly poorer-than-Ghostwriter-team penmanship.

There are hundreds of Ghostwriter episodes floating around on the internet today, but I leave you with the original. As if you were not already convinced that Samuel L. Jackson is in every piece of motion-picture media every produced, he also plays Jamal's father in Ghostwriter. I present to you the first episode of Ghost writer, "Ghost Story:"

Link to exhausting log of Ghostwriter episode synopses: guide

Monday, June 7, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Scholastic Book Orders

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweeps. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!

There was no day like book-order day. It's crazy to imagine that book-order forms really drove the kids wild, but the love of these flimsy little pamphlets was irrepressible. Despite the fact that these books were available at local retailers everywhere, the idea that something would come to us in the mail at school and we could spend weeks anticipating it was almost too much to bear.

The best thing about book orders was not the order forms themselves, but rather the accompanying excitement of the purchase. Imagine, as a child, being able to select and buy something all on your own! Sure, your parents would have to fill out the form, write the check, and seal the envelope, but you brought it to school. The books arrived with a post-it with your name on it! Let's face it, as children we weren't big decision makers. We couldn't choose what we were going to eat for dinner or what time we would go to bed, but dammit we could pick our books and that was that.

Never mind that these books were educational. We usually found ways around that. There were always special "just for fun" books with no educational value whatsoever, and we hungrily devoured them. I specifically remember ordering a Full House Uncle Jesse's personal photo album. Just imagine! I, a mere third grader, could own Uncle Jesse's personal collection of photographs! In the days before I possessed the mental capacity to realize these "albums" were mass-produced, I actually believed that I owned a piece of history. Through my own good luck, book orders had allowed me to stumble upon a collection of pictures that Uncle Jesse had decided to mail to me and me alone! Take that, third grade peers!

Now of course we can look past our childhood frenzied enthusiasm to realize that at its core, Scholastic was really just a master of marketing to children. By distributing these in schools allowing the children to see these forms first, they put the kids in control. It was like programming children to pester and torment their parents until they finally gave in and wrote the check.

But in those days, we didn't see it that way. Aside from the obvious gratification of Christmas-morning-esque book-order deliveries, bringing in your book-order with all the right books checked off was a measure of your playground street cred. These book orders were ours, and we called the shots. As children, our level of autonomy was pretty limited, so we took it where we could get it.

And if where we could get it also threw in a boxed-set of Judy Blume books, it just made it all the sweeter.

Book-Orders in the news:
Book Orders Under Fire

Browse online Scholastic book-orders:
Book Orders Online

Friday, April 2, 2010

Children of the 90s is Still on Vacation...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post on Super Soakers

Children of the 90s is on vacation...please excuse this interruption from your regularly scheduled nostalgia programming. In the meantime, please enjoy this classic Children of the 90s post from way back when in the blog's early days. Not many people were reading, so you might be seeing it for the first time. How exciting is that? It's like a new post all over again. Almost.

Without further ado, I present this classic post: Super Soakers

Kids today have it too easy. Forget the value of dedication and hard work that so defined our generation. Their need for instant gratification continuously pushes aside their pioneering spirit of industry and diligence.

That's right, I'm talking about water guns. In our day, we knew the meaning of painstaking commitment to getting the job done. There was none of this "press the trigger and water sprays" nonsense. We would pump those Super Soaker air-pressure chambers until our fingers blistered, but it would all be worth it to spray our friends standing fifty yards away.

Originally christened the "PowerDrencher", Super Soakers burst onto the scene at the tail end of the 1980s. Approaching the 90s, toy water gun producers had fallen upon hard times, garnering flack from all sides on their regrettably realistic renderings of actual weaponry:

(image of Larami Uzi via

With parents and lawmakers increasingly conscious of how violent toys and media impacted the impressionable youth of America, these troublingly accurate imposters were on the way out. Water guns needed a new, updated image to distance themselves from their connotations of violence and war. What they needed was a light-hearted, neon-colored remastered water gun prototype with a distinctly non-military name.

At the prime meeting of timing and technology, inventor Lonnie Johnson and toy-maker Larami teamed up to produce a new water gun that fully diverted from the warlike water weapons of the past:

Super Soakers had a distinctly different tone from preceding water guns, and the ad conveys the odd sense of whimsy associated with their product. Though the commercial prominently features the theme of revenge, we can only assume that stereotypical 90's rich girl Buffy really had it coming. Also, who could resist the throwback to the Blues Brothers in their execution of their masterminded pool party-ruining scheme? This is 90s advertising as its finest.

Revolutionary in design, Super Soakers required their wielders to pump pressurized air into a separate chamber on the water gun that would build up the power to shoot water at great distances. While updated models abandoned this arm-exhausting mechanism, a great deal of the fun was contingent on that re-arming period. You felt that you had really earned that shot. You worked hard for it, and the results were spetacular. Plus, there was that awesome water bottle chamber with super-accesible fillability.

Unfortunately, while Super Soakers of today may possess greater power and precision, their R&D department's insistence on churning out novel products have led them to...well, new lows. In an effort to keep this blog in the PG range, I am not going to comment on the following video. Rather, I leave it to you to deduce from it what you will. Let's just say it stirred up quite a bit of controversy among children's advocate groups for its...provacative implications. I'm going to leave it at that.

Check it out:
Super Soaker Evolutionary Family Tree
AV Club Spoof of Hasboro Oozinator Marketing Meeting

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Children of the 90s is on Vacation...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy This Classic Salute Your Shorts Post

Children of the 90s is on vacation...please excuse this interruption from your regularly scheduled nostalgia programming. In the meantime, please enjoy this classic Children of the 90s post from way back when in the blog's early days. Not many people were reading, so you might be seeing it for the first time. How exciting is that? It's like a new post all over again. Almost.

Without further ado, I present this classic post: Salute Your Shorts

Does the name "Zeke the Plumber" still send chills of terror down your spine? Do you still wonder what happened to the buried treasure of ex-counselor Sarah Madre? Do you continue to lose sleep wondering about the appearance and whereabouts of mysterious camp owner, Dr. Kahn? Does the seemingly inocuous phrase "awful waffle" make you wince in pain? Well, you may be a Salute Your Shorts junkie.

Don't worry, though, you're not alone. Many of us children of the 90s suffer a similar affliction. There was a wonderfully effective cure available briefly in the 90s that aired Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the treatment is no longer available and those of us still suffering withdrawal are forced to self-medicate with YouTube clips. You can put yourself on the waiting list for long-term treatment (found here), but the outlook isn't good.

In a way, we all grew up at Camp Anwanna. We had all of our favorite standard 90s characters: The hero, the princess, the bully, the new-age oddball, the jock, the nerd, and the butt-of-the-jokes chubby one. They were all under the semi-tyrannical rule of Kevin "Ug" Lee, (get it? Ug Lee? Ugly? Witty, yes?) their authoritarian counselor charged with keeping this wacky mismatched group of campers in line. I went to various summer camps for 14 years, and I don't know a single one of my old camp songs by heart. I do, however, have the uncanny ability to remember all of the lyrics and produce mental screenshots of the Camp Anawanna song:

"We run, we jump, we swim and plaaaay. We row and go on trips
But the things that last foreveeeeeer are our dear friendships.

Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts
And when we think about you--it makes me wanna fart!
--"It's 'I hope we never part'
Now get it right or pay the price!"

Now we will share a lifetime of the fondest memories
By the lake of Anawanna...set in the old pine trees!

Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts
And when we think about you (This thing came apart)

Think Anawannawanna, Speak Anawannawanna, Live Anawannawanna. Ug!"

Here is a clip of the season 2 version of the theme song, which differs from the original in one initially indetectable but extremely significant way:

Seems normal enough, right? You're probably thinking to yourself, why that's exactly how I remember it! Let's do a character run-down and I think you'll see the slight discrepancy to which I was referring:

Bobby Budnick, our charming resident bully. You may be thinking to yourself, how can a guy with a flaming red mullet be a bully? In most other settings, wouldn't he be relentlessly mocked for merely existing with such an unfortunate aesthetic? Yes, but this was summer camp. This was also the nineties, where a mullet and cut-off t-shirts is more than enough to declare your bad-ass status. Budnick was forever playing tricks on his unsuspecting and less antisocial peers, most notably when he told the nightmare-inducing Zeke the Plumber ghost story to the other campers and set up scare traps across Anawanna. Well, he got what was coming to him when they saw him screaming like a girl in those spider webs. Eh? Am I right? Also, Budnick seemed to be a virtual fountain of contraband available for sale to his fellow campers. He was a big fan of the empty thread "...or I'll pound you," in which his mullet and cut-off t-shirt bad-assedness it emphasized by forever unrealized forbodence of pounding (which I am going to hope for all of our sakes is a euphemism for beating someone up.)

Donkeylips, the disgustingly monikered hapless fat kid. He was generally relegated to the role of thankless lackey and sidekick to the aforementioned Mr. Budnick. Donkeylips represented those feelings of insecurity and inadequacy in all of us; his premature cynical outlook and unquenching desire to be liked was certainly recognizable. Oh, and did I mention he was fat? Boy, was he fat! Despite all of those deep character traits, his unfortunate chubbiness was more often than not the major Donkeylips punchline.

Sponge, the smart nerdy one. Like any good 90s show, his intelligence and social ineptitude is characterized by his character's need for glasses. Apparently, popularity was reserved for those of us with superior eyesight. This nebbish little bowl-cutted pipsqueak sometimes veered dangerously close to the Screech zone, but was generally more brainy than irritating. You can also see in the intro that he enjoys science based on his penchant for dressing skeleton models in his own clothing and examining them with a magnifying glass (obviously the correlation between vision-enhancers and nerdiness is deeper-set than we'd originally thought.) They call him Sponge because he absorbs things. Get it? Like a Sponge! Oh, Salute Your Shorts. What zany nicknames will you think of next?

Telly, the girl jock. Yes, a girl jock. How progressive is that? Telly was relatively bright and normal, by Camp Anawanna standards. She was largely unexceptional when cast against her madcap caricatures of camper peers. If anything, the most unusual thing about our friend Telly (aside from her sharing a name with a certain contemporary Sesame Street monster) shows up in the opening credits. Telly's real name is Venus DeMilo. I kid you not. Her parents actually named her that. Whenever I pop out a child I too usually think to myself, geez, this thing really looks like an ancient Greek sculpture. I can only assume she was born with broken-off arms, or else there's really no explanation.

(the other Venus DeMilo)

Dina, our little Princess. What camp would be complete without one? Her range of hysteria generally ranged from the inability to select the appropriate outfits to the crushing disappointment of chipping a nail. Who says they don't write good parts for women on TV? My favorite-ever Dina storyline was when she went out with Budnick and required him to dress like a preppy square to meet her country-club standards. Oh, Dina! When will you learn? She did, however, accidentally ask Donkeylips to a dance once but ended up enjoying herself, so I'll let her accrue a few niceness points for that one.

ZZ, the requisite eccentric Kumbaya-er. I suppose you could blame her blondeness for her flightiness, but her ocean off oddness ran a bit deeper than ditziness. ZZ was into the environment, and frequently conversed with inanimate objects to illustrate her love and compassion for them. That sounds normal, right? She sometimes went a little off the deep end, and I'm not just talking about during Instructional Swim. A very loud audio version of ZZ playing one of her save-the-world songs on guitar can be found here, but I caution you that her anger brings forth a lot of unwarranted microphone feedback.

Ug, O great god of zinc oxide nose precautionary application. We all sometimes worry that we're going to get an awful sunburn not so much here or here, but right here. He was your basic authority figure standing in the way of general fun and mayhem, but occasionally he let them get away with a fun thing or two. Also, in the intro we learn that he plays a mean piano.

So, that brings us to Michael. What's that you say? Michael's not in the intro? How odd. Why ever could that be?

Surprisingly blond for someone named Michael Stein, Michael was the show's obligatory everyman. His main identifiable quality is that he's an all around nice, normal guy in a sea of insanity. It is for Michael's unfortunate experience that the show was named, as the first episode featured a sequence in which Budnick and Donkeylips stole his boxer shorts, ran them up the flagpole, and spiritedly saluted them.

They change that sequence in the second (and last) season intro. Why, you may ask. What could they possibly be trying to cover up?

Oh, right. That Michael has been swiftly and quietly replaced by this guy:

Michael mysteriously comes down with the chicken pox, and as is wont to happen in these types of situations, his parents decide to take him hiking in Switzerland for the remainder of the summer. Don't fight it, it makes perfect sense. Obviously the camp's waiting list is spectacularly full, as Ronnie Pinsky (above) replaces Michael just a few hours after his departure. Ronnie goes on to fill the Michael void, essentially assuming all of Michael's major character traits and serving as a sort-of stand-in Michael for the remainder of the series.

It should also be noted that the actor who played Ronnie Pinsky, Blake Sennett (though credited as Blake Soper in the series) is now the lead guitarist for indie rock band Rilo Kiley. Wait, what? Really? For those of you unfamiliar with the indie music scene, you may recognize their song "Portions for Foxes" from the Grey's Anatomy pilot (which, let's be honest, anyone unfamiliar with the indie scene is pretty likely to watch Grey's Anatomy).

So there you have it. Despite the Michael/Ronnie switcharoo, the show maintained its quality and wit throughout its two season run. Thank you, Salute Your Shorts, for bringing us hours of childhood diversion and entertainment with your wacky storylines and gloriously likable one-dimensional characters.

For that, we salute you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Blogaversary Treat: Children of the 90s Favorite Analytics Search Terms

Thankfully, I am the almighty arbiter in ascertaining what exactly constitutes a treat--whether you like it or not. The real question on my mind is, how do all of you get here? I didn't issue any personal handwritten invitations (at least not lately, you see, my calligraphy ink well has run dry), so many of you travel here through the magic of Google. I get about 400 daily visitors who stop by here via Google search, and through the magic of Google Analytics tracking data, I've learned a great deal about what exactly brings people here.

In honor of the blogaversary I totally forgot about yesterday, I thought I'd share with you just a few of the many, many hilarious search terms I've seen in the past few weeks. Apparently the answer to how some of you got here involves some truly bizarre Googling. Don't worry, though, I'm not here to judge. Actually, that was a boldfaced lie. My major purpose is to judge. All in good fun, and all that, but some of these just can't go unsnarked. It would be a disservice to the public to let them go without a brief mocking. Please enjoy the following output of total and utter ridiculousness. All in the spirit of the blogaversary celebration, obviously.

compare contrast essay 90's tv show mash and fresh prince of bell air

Geez, you Googlers sure are philosophical. Whenever I spot a search term like this, I've got to wonder about the motivation behind it. Sheer curiosity? Bizarre academic assignment? Either way, it's sort of an odd pairing.

warner brothers stinky and the brain
You may need a little remedial nostalgia work. Last time I checked, no one named "Stinky" ever plotted to take over the world. I could be wrong.

is 2010 going to be like the 90's
You've got to love these type of questions. I feel like the internet is both a blessing and a curse; it's given us constantly at-our-fingertips access to all sorts of pertinent information, but we can't rely on it for everything. Just ask anyone who's ever cited Wikipedia as a source for a paper. This isn't a crystal ball here, people. What are you expecting? Results found: 1. 1st result: Yes. Happy?

what is self concept of britney spears

I'm not sure, why don't you ask her? Much as I'd like it, my blog has not yet advanced to the stage of setting up shop in celebrities' minds. Ms. Spears has yet to approach me with hopes of sharing her innermost desires and ideals.

children of the nineties official website
Ah, music to my ears. Well, eyes. Whatever the equivalent of eye music is. You know, like visual art. Anyway, these people think I'm official. Not too shabby.

is lisa frank dead?

mr and mrs romero are having triplets. suppose the chance of each child being a boy is 50% and of being a girl is 50%. find each probability.

I spy a cheater. I only wish we'd had the internet and could solve simple word problems by the process of Googlage. What this person thought he'd find at Children of the 90s is beyond me, but I hope he got it figured out eventually.

90s catch phrases no _________ for you

Soup! Soup! It's soup. What do I win?

swallowed a whole role of bubble tape
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Or possibly psychiatric care. Decide quickly, please. Time is likely of the essence.

why did crystal pepsi failed?

I'm not sure, but I think the executives disbanded to address the more pressing issue of widespread grammar abuse.

a children's book about a skunk who makes bread from the 1980s

Why anyone would want to make bread from the 1980s is beyond me. It seems much fresher to bake more up-to-date bread. Then again, if you're a skunk freshness may not be your highest priority. Ah, the wonders of misplaced modifiers.

did carmen san diego ever existed?
I think this one must refer to Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? How else would you explain all the jumbled tenses?

poop french toast crunch scandal
WHAT??? I've eaten that cereal. For the life of me, I hope this is some type of misinformed urban legend.

cabbage patch kids coming to life and strangling owner

Again...I'm at a loss.

who's that actor whos blond and always plays a douche from the 90s

At least you're getting straight to the point. I suppose Google could care less about your tact.

encino man drinking games
Ooh, if you know any, please share. That sounds awesome. I'd be willing to take a shot every time Pauly Shore referred to "chillage". It would probably enhance the movie watching experience considerably.

how to make a slip and slide on cement
Really? What part of this seems like a viably injury-proof idea. I hope you all wore helmets.

good things about cheese handisnacks
Finding an answer in this case will probably take some pretty serious searching. Especially if you're referring to the nutritional value.

is mrs doubtfire based on a true story?
I probably shouldn't even dignify this with a response. Who saw that movie and left the theater believing it was a ripped from the headlines story? I'm actually a bit concerned.

video of cats vomitting whoomp

HOW did this bring you here? Please explain. 300 words or fewer. Due Friday.

gigapet depression
Do any of you know? Is this an actual phenomenon? I'm tempted to say yes, just because those things are so damn time-consuming and needy. Mine probably suffered from separation anxiety. Thank goodness I dropped it behind a bookshelf and it eventually starved to death.

are those michael jackson's biological children in space jam?
There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to start.

how to remove gak from hair

What exactly were you doing? I'm actually sort of curious. I'd say peanut butter, but you can't quote me on that.

write an introduction on the topic saved by the bell
No. I do what I want.

Remember when aol had all the chatrooms?

What do blue m&ms mean?
Oh, so now each of our candy color varieties needs a backstory? What kind of an answer are you seeking, exactly? Some sort of fortune telling-esque omen? They come from the factory like the rest of the colors. That's pretty much all there is to it.

khaki wishes and cookie dreams definition/meaning
I've gotten an inordinate amount of searches like this one. What do you mean what does it mean? It's just a Robin Leach cameo line from Troop Beverly Hills. It doesn't mean anything. I wouldn't overanalyze that movie.

at what part of the song do you start doing the macarena?
I love imagining the kind of person who's too self-conscious to just go with it. They've got to search the internet for answers to their outmoded potential dancing faux pas. It's sort of endearing, if not completely embarrassing.

10 things i hate about you is the one of 90s movie teeny bopper i actually enjoyed

I appreciate your willingness to share.

what's that little redheaded brat in that one 90s movie?
Oh right...her.

lisa frank backpacks children
She DOES? We should stage a boycott.

how to make an aggro crag replica

Let me know if you figure this one out. It sounds awesome. I'll totally come race you on it through the glitter dust snow. Only if I can be purple, though.

how come after i eat warheads my tongue is weird
Just a guess, but that highly artificial tastebud-burning chemical might play a role. I can't say for sure..

90s show that kids traveled into the internet through power lines to battle evil
Was this a real thing? I'd love to watch it.

aren't pushpops also good?


use the expression you go girl in a sentence
You just did. Well, almost.

sometimes i tape my thumbs together and pretend I'm a dinosaur
I actually had to look into this one, it's just so ridiculous. I found out it's a variation on a weird Google search autocomplete. Still. Weird. And how exactly did it bring this person here? Some mysterious are probably better left unsolved.

how do i become the next lisa frank
This. Is. Awesome. I really hope someone out there had an answer for you, kid. I'd say a legal name change might put you on the right track, although I can't guarantee you'll be the next. Someone might beat you to it. You better run, not walk, to file that court order.

Well, 90s children, that's about all the fun-poking I've got for you today. Join us again next time for your regularly scheduled installment of Children of the 90s. Oh, and if any of you were the mysterious Googlers in question, 'fess up. I've got so many things I need to ask you...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

500 Followers and a Special Ask Children of the 90s Extravaganza

In typical self-congratulatory blog fashion, I've got to hand it to myself. I have achieved my goal at tearing hundreds of unsuspecting 90s children away from their pressing school and office to-dos all in the name of some hearty nostalgia. Yesterday I finally reached a milestone 500 blogger followers with the help of my blog friend Sadako at Dibbly Fresh. Of course, with all of the readership statistics available these days, it's hard to benchmark any progress. I'm not going to let those stats get in the way of celebration of this pure, undiluted 90s victory. Thank you for your understanding, and I humbly (sort of) accept your accolades.

Before I let my head explode from the outpouring of good reader vibes, let me say that you readers are the lifeblood of Children of the 90s. For some unknown, writing experiment-fueled reason, I've been churning out 1000+ words daily on topics near and dear to our childhood selves with zero cash income. That's right, you uphold this free service with your support, comments, and hilarious additions in the comment section. All in all, it's fun because of you all, so thanks for your reading and/or lurking. It's much appreciated.

As a thank you for your loyal devoted readership, I'd like to extend an exciting limited-time offer to you. Well, maybe don't get too excited till you hear what it is. I doubt this has got any sort of bootleg sales black market value. And really, it might not be all that exciting. Damn, that anticipatory build-up can really come back to get you.

Okay, here goes: Here's your chance to ask your loyal 90s chronicler any and all burning questions. If you have anything at all you want to ask, drop it in the comment section. In an ideal world, we'd all celebrate by chugging Surge, bedazzling each other's jean jackets, and playing a zit-sticker frenzied game of GirlTalk! Unfortunately Surge has since been discontinued, my EZ 2DO bedazzler gave out ages ago, and and I'm pretty sure my mom sold my GirlTalk! game at a yard sale. We're going to have to settle for the next best thing, so ask away.

If you don't have any pressing curiosities, feel free to just stop by the comment section and say hi. I have the handy aid of Google Analytics to let me know how many of you read each day, and it's rarely reflected in the comments. The percentage of lurkers here seems to be extraordinarily high. Don't be shy. I'd love to meet you. Heck, I'd even read your blog. Reveal yourself, lurkers. It's time.

And if you're thinking this post is a huge cop-out and a negligent disregard for my otherwise rigorous weekdaily posting standard, you might be right. Before you go on getting too grumbly over the matter, let me assure you that I have not forgotten to provide you with a doctor-recommended dose of 90s child-specific wit. In celebration of my blog buddy Andy's upcoming birthday, I am guest posting over there today. In case you don't already read his blog, he's hilarious--I highly recommend you check it out. Anywho, you can find today's birthday-inspired post over at Wild ARS Chase.

Oh, and by the by, we've been tossing around the idea of making some kick-ass Children of the 90s t-shirts. Let me know if you'd be up for purchasing one of these bad boys. For an as-of-yet undetermined cut-rate price, you too can sport the proud declaration that you are indeed a Child of the 90s. Oh, and your back can serve as a handy advertisement for my blog, meaning when you leave someone you're really just leaving them with the gift of humor-tinged nostalgia. Who wouldn't want that? Really, it sounds just wonderful.

So thanks, fellow Children of the 90s, for your continued readership and support. You guys are da bomb, and I can say that because it makes sense to all of you in a cultural context. I'm browsing for some very exciting 90s-themed giveaway items, too, so stay tuned for that. Y'all are all that and a bag of chips and don't you forget it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Slap Bracelets

Fear not, loyal readers. Children of the 90s will be back in full force next week. I'm sure you're all aquiver with excitement over that one, but you'll just have to contain your glee until Monday. See you there.

Repost Disclaimer: Children of the Nineties is currently in recovery from the New Years festivities. In the meantime, please enjoy a pre-scheduled classic CotN repost from earlier this year. As I only had three or four readers at the time, it's probably (okay, almost definitely) new to you.

Slap Bracelets

Violence as fashion. It's a novel concept, or at least it was in the early nineties. Imagine, never again having to deal with the insurmountable challenges of securing a traditional bracelet to your wrist! Despite the fact that slap bracelets served no practical purpose and actually caused a moderately tragic number of injuries, we consumed them all the same. Slap bracelets were beloved by children and teenagers not just for their fashion credentials but also for the perceived danger we were warned of by parents and teachers. Slap bracelets may have seemed like the most minor type of rebellion, but they possessed the unmatchable allure of the forbidden fruit.

School principals sent strongly-worded letters home with students, urging parents to restrain their children from coming to school armed with these spring-loaded metal-lined deathtraps. The cheap cloth cover often strained under the force of the metal beneath it, poking out in an admittedly dangerous fashion. However, we weren't about to side with The Man and agree to the ban. We were passionate about our right to wear our day-glo green and zebra-striped wrist weapons, regardless of rampant urban legend-based rumors warning of slit wrists and burst arteries.

Slap bracelets were so much more than tacky arm candy. They worked as catapults, slingshots, and all-purpose weapons. And how cool to slap on a bracelet with a satisfying smack! There were endless ways to work these babies. Four at a time! Long-distance slapping! We just couldn't resist. Sitting there in class, how could you just leave this mind-bogglingly entertaining device to lay dormant? So it would be crack (flatten), smack! (slap on), over and over again until you'd earned yourself a trip to the time-out corner.

Slap bracelets have made a few minor comebacks in the last decade, but nothing on par with their original popularity. Stripping these delightful devices of their contraband qualities, slap bracelets became plastic-spring laden, pvc coated advertising devices. Sure, we were willing to acquiesce a bit in our day...give us a dinosaur slap bracelet with ruler markings down the side and we'll concede to its minor educational value. These days, slap bracelets are being used as cheap ploys to encourage kids to wear some company's logo around like a walking (gesturing?) wrist billboard. There's even been word of physics teachers using slap bracelets to teach functions of potential energy curves and states of stability, but it's almost too frightening to verify.

So let us remember slap bracelets as they were, before the world insisted on infusing some sort of subliminality to their existence: violent, neon-hued, and pure wrist-smacking fun.

Check it out:
The dark side of a slap-happy fad
US consumer panel warns of injury from slap bracelets

Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Jock Jams

Repost Disclaimer: Children of the Nineties is, weather permitting, in transit to much-awaited New Year's Eve celebrations. In the meantime, please enjoy a pre-scheduled classic CotN repost from earlier this year. As I only had three or four readers at the time, it's probably (okay, almost definitely) new to you.

Jock Jams

It only occurs to me now that the Jock Jams music series was in some way related to athletics in a "pump-you-up" sort of way. We all just accepted that the series was called "Jock Jams;" for years I thought it was a legitimate category of music. There was punk, top 40, rock, grunge, adult alternative, and Jock Jams.

Jock Jams was certainly unrelenting in its commitment to providing a singular type of music. Tack listings featured such non-sensically titled classics as "Whoomp! There it is!" "Boom, Boom, Boom" "Da' Dip" and "Tubthumping." Obviously, using words found in the dictionary was not a requirement for admission to Jock Jams stardom. If you could verbalize some sort of grunting sound and write a song about it, you were in. Pump-up themes were also prevalent and pervasive. The first volume featured a staggering 3 songs with the phrase "pump it up!" in their titles. There was no question this franchise was churning out upbeat tunes, as evidenced by a whopping 11 uses of the word "up" in song titles alone in the five Jock Jams albums.

These compliation CDs featured more than just music, though it was their main jock-inspiring focus. Jock Jams also included some spoken and/or chanted tracks full of strangely taunting remarks, often with vengeful undertones. These short tracks were cleverly faded into the next song, with little or no delay between tracks. Assumedly, this was to keep the jocks jamming uninterruptedly. There's nothing a jamming jock despises more than a two second pause between tracks. What sort of a bench press soundtrack would this be if lifters were forced to endure a one-second silence? How would they possibly build up the motivation to increase their muscular capacity if involuntarily subjected to quietude? How, I ask you?

Although the album covers declared the compilations to be presented by the distinctly athletic ESPN, in reality, these supposed "jock" jams were directed more at a teenybopper slash dance club crowd than their eponymous sportsmen demographic. In this sense, the spoken tracks were possibly misdirected with their vindictive themes. A bunch of 12-year olds chanting, "Hey, hey, you! Get out of our way because today is the day we will put you away!" is a tad more disconcerting and less appropriate than say, a football team delivering the same unsportmanlike message. Regardless of their out-of-placedness among the actual consumers, the spoken tracks had a certain charm to them that uniquely characterized the albums.

The most recognizable was of course the classic intro to the original Jock Jams (volume one) was the infamous boxing announcer Michael Buffer's trademarked phrase, "Let's get ready to ruuuuuumble!" Listeners were indeed, ready to rumble, possibly not in a punch-you-out fashion but at the very least in a 90s dance-club rump-shaking manner.

Jock Jams actually had listed tracks attributed to their very own Jock Jams cheerleaders, presumably those pictured on their various album covers. Though it was never made clear exactly what the prerequisites for Jock Jam cheerleaderdom were, we can only assume that the audition process required a yelling/spelling combo exam.

"Alright girls, all 28 of you have passed the shouting test, great work. Unfortunately, only 3 of you passed the spelling portion of the tryout. For those of you who spelled 'action' a-c-k-s-h-u-n, better luck next year trying out for volume 3 when we'll be asking you to incorrectly spell the word 'rowdy' with an 'i-e'." (Note: there is indeed a track on Jock Jams Volume 3 entitled "R.O.W.D.I.E". Check out the track listing for yourself if you have any remaining incredulity about the ridiculousness of these anthologies.)

These CDs included many of our favorite standard 90s upbeat tracks like the Macarena and the Space Jam theme, but also had some odd remixes thrown in for good measure. I'd been meaning to remix the Mexican Hat Dance for awhile now, but the good people at Jock Jams beat me to it. I also played around with the idea of turning "If You're Happy and You Know It" into a rockin' club jam, but again Jock Jams had clearer foresight than I. Did I mention I've always loved when they play the Chicken Dance at classy church-basement, come on, Jock Jams! You've got to be kidding me. That too? What won't you remix? It's obviously back to the drawing board for me.

The 1990s were famous for megamixing everything. We could never be satisfied with just mixing. Even supermixing seemed too tame for our extreme 90s music tastes. No, it was was megamix or nothing. Megamixing was the fine-tuned art of taking approximately one line from every song, in this case from a single compilation album, and mixing them into a something that even the most attention-deficit nineties child could attend to.

"We've tried mixing it...but could we megamix it? Our demographic prefers to listen to their favorite songs in snippets, people!"

I'll admit it is catchy. While the Jock Jams franchise was not creative by any means, you have to admire them for holding out all these years with their initial premise. The CDs were wildly popular and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. No 6th grade basketball tournament would be complete without a pre-game layup show set to some variation of the megamix. Jocks or not, children of the 90s reveled in the eardrum-shattering flavor of these CDs.

So go ahead, children of the 90s. Pop a Jock Jams the boombox, crack open a bottle of Surge, zip up that Starter Jacket, and get ready to rumble.

Digg This!