Friday, August 5, 2011

The 90s are All That Recap Series with Andy--Part 3

Children of the 90s is still taking applications for potential guest bloggers and collaborators! Contact us at to apply!
Welcome to another exciting installment of musings on 90s Nickelodeon, brought to you by me and my comedic partner in crime, Andy Shaw. We've had a criminally fun time putting these together and strolling down memory lane to recall just how much TV used to rot our brains as children. Hopefully you'll enjoy these memory-stirrers as much as we enjoy goofing around in the blogosphere writing these posts.

We're doing things a little differently this time around. You can scroll down to see our conversation about Clarissa Explains it All and Double Dare, and visit Andy's blog to read our memories and plea to the Nickelodeon people to add Hey Dude to their rotating TeenNick 90s is All That lineup. Be sure to check out both posts and of course, let us know via email, twitter (@childrenof90s and @wildarschase
) or in the comments section what other shows you'd like to see in the series.

And of course, don't forget to check out parts 1 and 2, here and here!

Clarissa Explains it All

Children of the 90s: Never have I ever had a style and fashion icon quite like Clarissa Darling. Even watching the reruns on TeenNick, I can’t help wondering where she got her oversized Keith Haring t-shirt or checkerboard bike shorts. As a child, I used to dream of the day when my mom would let me wear a crop top, mini skirt, and pink tights like Clarissa does in the intro. Unfortunately, that day never came. Actually, I think I’m still waiting. Mom, what do you think of the crop top? Still no?

Clarissa was just pure cool. She was quirky but likable, and her granola family, nerdy brother, and floppy-haired window-climbing neighbor made for great situation comedy. She was smart and funny and totally unique. I watch the show now and still find myself wishing I could assemble ironic and interesting decor items like Clarissa. Hubcaps? Giant Swatch watch? Russian matryoshka dolls? Check, check, and check.h

WildARSChase: I wonder why she never really hooked up with Sam. He made it cool to use a ladder to get into a room.

My favorite aspect of the show was the computer games she’d have available. Remember, this was before people really had any such thing, so every game looked amazing. Probably how people marveled at that newfangled Facebooks all the kids are doing these days.

She also had that annoying younger brother, Ferguson, who was in love with Dan Quayle and was destined to grow up rich, connected and divorced by 42.

Fun fact: James Van Der Beek was a guest star.

Children of the 90s: Oh, I was a big Sam fan. He had that great 90s hair, where they shaved it underneath and let it go floppy on top. Swoon. I did like her sometimes-boyfriend, Clifford Spleenhurfer. He was a bully, but also a softie and totally whipped for Clarissa by the end of their relationship.

Ferguson loved Dan Quayle? I don’t remember that specifically, but it seems to fit right in with his general ambitious nerdiness. I stumbled upon a picture of what Ferguson looks like today and I couldn’t believe it. I just always think of him as the nerdy kid brother, and that picture is definitely a bona fide grown up (read:bald). Other fun fact: he’s now a theater director in Portland.

WildARSChase: And he also testified to Congress about the benefits of passing out free condoms. Neither here nor there. I’d just like to say that the world would all be better if everyone would break the fourth wall.

Double Dare

Children of the 90s: How awesome would it be if we could opt to defer difficult situations in our real lives by selecting a physical challenge? Just picture it: you’re at big meeting at work, all eyes in the boardroom on you, the boss puts you on the spot to defend your numbers, and you...choose instead to catapult a pie into your coworker’s pants. It just seems like a generally awesome alternative to dealing with the pressure of not knowing the correct answer.

You can’t talk about Double Dare without bringing up the ultimate irony of the show: host Marc Summers suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Now, I’m no psychology expert, but I imagine most treatments of the disorder--even the most head-on, encounter-therapy style ones--do not recommend auditioning to be the host of a show with the words “Super Sloppy” in the title. It just seems like common sense.

WildARSChase: I misread your last sentence as “Sloppy Seconds,” and thought, “That’s not good for anyone, let alone someone with OCD.”

Double Dare taught us all that when in doubt, you can get anywhere in life by accepting a challenge and filling a glass of milk glued to a helmet. To this day, when I hear, “On your mark, get set, GO” I start ferociously eating pies.

I always wondered if the dads on the show would get mad at their freeloading kids forcing them to go for the challenge rather than the better bet of answering a question and winning money to pay for the godforsaken trip to Orlando when all he wants to do is play some golf and drink some beer but no of course not he had to go on a game show and make a fool of himself in front of everyone and now he’s losing money to some bratty kids and ...

Children of the 90s: I hope that someday when I have a family of my own, we too can resolve problems by filling glasses of milk and mounting them on helmets. Heck, I don’t even care if we have a problem or not. I’m just going to make those helmets. They just seem like an awesome accessory to have on hand, assuming you like to drink over a tarp.

I too was pretty impressed by the parents on this show, they really gave it their all. I’m not sure I can imagine my family getting quite so behind a mission that involves sliding headfirst into the Gak geiser. On the plus side, though, I’m sure it made for some pretty awesome souvenir videos to drag out during a lull in the next family reunion: “Oh, and here’s where mom dove into the mashed potato vat to get the last orange flag! Rewind that so we can watch it in slow-mo, will you, Johnny?”

WildARSChase: I wish they would’ve shown some really dysfunctional families (more reality TV style) who would berate each other and screw each other over. That would’ve added a whole new dimension.

That's all we've got for you today, folks! Don't forget to stop by Andy's blog to see our Hey Dude post, too!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Selection of 80s and 90s Newberry Award Winning Books Part 1

Children of the 90s is looking for guest bloggers and collaborators! Have a burning desire to write about nostalgia? Have you seen a doctor to make sure it won’t just clear up on its own? Then you might be interested in writing for Children of the 90s! Contact us at to apply!

In so many areas in our lives, we look to the experts to tell us what is worth our attention and appreciation. The Oscars tell us which movies to see, the Emmys tell us which TV shows to watch, and the New York Times Bestseller List tells us which books to page through. Though far less prestigious, children’s and young adult books have their very own award system that shaped many of our young adult library experiences: the Newberry Medal.

Our school librarian always read to us from Newberry Award-winning children’s books, and with good reason. The Newberry Medal is awarded for excellence in children’s literature, showcasing the best young adult fiction of the year. After reviewing the list, I could remember almost all of the winners in fairly accurate detail. Even less voracious readers devoured these books with gusto, relishing the distinctly pre-teen themes and relatable writing.

Don’t blame me if this list makes you want to visit the young adult section at your local library--I’m heavily considering checking out Jacob Have I Loved and Number the Stars. Because most children of the 90s came of age over a span of a decade or so, I had to split this post into 80s and early 90s selections, with mid-90s selections sequestered to a second post. Now that we have all of the logistical details hammered out, let’s get down to brass tacks (don’t you think that sentence had a lot of hardware references for a post about books? Just saying.)

1981 Medal Winner: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

If nothing else, this book made me wish my family worked in the crabbing and fishing business like main character Wheeze’s father Truitt. I imagine the romanticized version of crabbing as a livelihood I gleaned from reading Jacob Have I Loved as a child is far from the reality of the back-breaking and dangerous job (Deadliest Catch, anyone?) but I still always thought it sounded like fun.

The book’s title references the biblical sibling rivalry of Jacob and Esau, echoed by the book’s own familial tension between main character Sarah Louise (Wheeze) and her golden child sister, Caroline. Caroline marries Wheeze’s closest friend and mysterious fisherman Call. Before you get to wondering what exactly a mysterious male fisherman is doing befriending young girls on an isolated island, just agree to accept that historical young adult fiction is allowed to take license with pretty much anything in the name of being moderately educational.

1983 Medal Winner: Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt

The sequel to Voigt’s 1981 young adult novel Homecoming, Dicey’s song follows Dicey Tillerman and her siblings as they begin a new life with their Gram on her farm in rural Maryland. Their mother, now in a psychiatric hospital,abandoned her children by leaving them in a parking lot. Gram is a very closed and private person, and Dicey and her siblings have trouble adjusting to their new life. Spoiler alert: their mom dies. Sorry if I ruined the ending, but if you haven’t read this by now, your window of opportunity to do so has probably closed. If not, hey, you probably would have seen it coming anyway. These young adult fiction books aren’t known for their subtlety.

1984 Medal Winner: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

Ah, Beverly Cleary. You always knew how to charm your child readers with your realistic young characters. In Dear Mr. Henshaw, we meet Leigh Botts, a second grader who writes to author Mr. Henshaw as a part of a class assignment. Aside from not knowing that “Leigh” is actually a girl’s name, our main character also deals with life issues like his parents’ divorce and moving to a new town. The book satisfied our natural curiosity (read: nosiness) by allowing us a peek at someone else’s private letters and diary entries, while covertly teaching us valuable life lessons about accepting things for what they are.

1986 Medal Winner: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

We were all crazy for historical fiction in the 80s and 90s, wishing for nothing more than a book to transport us to a different time and place. In the case of Sarah, Plain and Tall, we ventured to the old West to follow the daily lives of the Witting family. Like any good children’s book, the story centers on the wholesome and moral world of--you guessed it--mail-order brides. Yes, that’s right, the ol’ hopeless romantic Jacob Witting writes away for a new wife based on an ad in the back of the paper. Somehow MacLachlan manages to weave it all into a heartwarming tale, which is nothing short of a testament to her quiet and simple storytelling style.

1987 Medal Winner: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

Fleischman’s title character is Jemmy, the young boy forced to bear the brutal whipping consequences for a royal heir’s unprincely actions. Every time the prince acts up, Jemmy must endure the brunt of the punishing whippings. Pretty awesome job, right? Luckily The Whipping Boy keeps it fun and madcap, sending Jemmy and Prince Brat (as he’s called in private) on a whirlwind adventure escape filled with colorful characters like Cutwater and Hold-Your-Nose Billy. For a somewhat dark premise, the book’s tone is light, tying it all together neatly with a solid moral message about treating people with equal respect.

1990 Medal Winner: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry knows how to weave a compelling story, creating believable young characters child readers can relate to. In Number the Stars, Lowry explores the story of friends Annemarie and Ellen growing up in Denmark during World War II. As the Nazi presence becomes a part of daily life in Denmark, Annemarie is worried about what will happen to her Jewish friend, Ellen. While the theme is certainly heavy for a children’s book, Lowry artfully shows how the Nazi occupation affected young people while depicting the good-heartedness of families who chose to help their neighbors.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Want to Write for Children of the 90s?

Do you have something hilarious and nostalgic to share with the world? Have an aching desire to reminisce about your childhood in a public forum for all the world to see? Feel like you just can't keep your all-consuming love of the 90s inside anymore? Well, you're in luck, because the Children of the 90s blog is seeking collaborators and guest bloggers! I know, I know, it's pretty exciting stuff. I'll pause for the inevitable celebratory fireworks displays and ticker tape parades.

When I started this blog, I had an endless cache of free time. Perhaps it would have been better if I'd been a member of Generation X--at least then maybe I'd have had the shame and humility to feel I can't do something so big on my own. As a child of the 90s, though, my self esteem has been so forcefully inflated by grown-ups telling me how wonderful every thing I did was as a child, it's significantly more difficult for me to ask for help.

With a busy work year and the prospect of crunch-time wedding planning looming large, I'd like to find some additional writers and collaborators help carry the blog and continue to open fresh ideas to new audiences. A select overachieving few of you have already contacted me through Twitter and Facebook, but I'm ready to open up the request to the full blog audience.

Think you may be interested? Here are the guidelines for applying:
  1. Writers should preferably have a well-established blog with their own base of readers and a working knowledge of blogging. Well-established is a pretty wavy concept, of course, so if your blog is read by more people than yourself, I'll happily take a look at it. The idea is that you are both familiar with blogging and our blogs could mutually benefit from exposure to new readers and Twitter/Facebook users, so it's sort of a win-win(-win?) situation.
  2. Briefly review Children of the 90s for topics that have been covered and pitch a few post ideas of your own.
  3. Be able and willing to write 500-1000 word posts filled with pictures, videos, and other means of holding the fickle attention of blog readers (if you've read this far without a photo or video distraction and are still paying attention, congratulations. You may be ready to write for Children of the 90s!
Subject to approval and all that other fine print they say so quickly at the end of radio ads that so you can barely understand it before just you call and sign up for something without a working knowledge of the restrictions. Requesting a guest blogger position or pitching a topic does not guarantee a position, but if you're awesome, you have a pretty good chance. Also, this is obviously an unpaid probably doesn't need to be said, but if you're expecting a cut of the few cents I make daily from my sidebar ads, you're probably out of luck.

I'm very excited about adding some new writers to the team, so I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Leave a comment with means of contacting you or contact me directly at

Digg This!