Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post: Celebrating 20 Years of "Must See TV"

Greetings, Children of the ’90s! My name is Frank Anthony Polito and I’m the author of the recently-released novel Lost in the ’90s.
As you might imagine, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ’90s lately. It’s hard to believe the decade that gave us Blossom, Beavis and Butt-head, and Blink-182 began over 20 years ago!

One of my favorite (and long forgotten) TV shows will actually turn 20 this coming August. How many of you Children of the ’90s remember the FOX drama The Heights featuring teen heart throb and singing sensation Jamie Walters -- who later appeared on Beverly Hills, 902010 as Ray Pruit?

The Heights focused on a fictional band called (what else?) “The Heights” and starred Walters as lead singer Alex O’Brien. The show also featured Charlotte Ross, then known for her Emmy nominated role as troubled teen 
Eve Donovan on Days of our Lives. Take a look at a scene from The Heights’ first episode:

While we’re on the topic of 20-year anniversaries... Here are a few other TV classics that also debuted in 1992. How many of these shows do you Children of the ’90s remember watching when you were growing up?

Barney & Friends - First airing on April 6, 1992, and featuring everybody’s favorite singing purple T-Rex. This show served as the babysitter to many a Child of the ’90s!

Goof Troop - Single father, Goofy, moves back to his hometown of Spoonerville with 11-year-old son, Max. The show premiered on April 20, 1992 on The Disney Channel and was adapted into a feature film A Goofy Movie in 1995.

Melrose Place - This steamy primetime soap centered around a group of 20-somethings living in the same West Hollywood apartment complex, and was recently revived (and soon-after canceled) by The CW. Episodes began airing on July 8, 1992.  

California Dreams - another show about a band, this multi-ethnic teen-oriented sitcom aired on Saturday mornings on NBC beginning on September 12, 1992. Check out the pilot episode below:

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years! Where has the time gone?

FRANK ANTHONY POLITO is an award-winning author and playwright. He received his BFA in Theatre from Wayne State University and his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon. He grew up in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park and currently resides in Sunnyside, Queens, NY.

LOST IN THE ’90s tells the story of a teenage boy from 2012 who travels back in time to April 1994, on the eve of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. There, he meets his teenage parents and helps them fall in love so that he can born. (Think of it as a ’90s Back to the Future without Doc Brown or the DeLorean.) The book is chock-full of ’90s pop culture and musical references, including the #1 hit tune from November 1992, “How Do You Talk to an Angel” which plays an integral role in the plot.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Post: Typical 90s Saturdays

Happy Friday, 90s fans! I must apologize for the lack of recent posts--as usual, I have a slew of readily available but totally honest excuses: we moved to a new city, I started a new job, I had a lot of wedding thank you notes to finish. You've probably heard them all before...

Anywho, have no fear--new posts should be on the way. Speaking of which, we are taking submissions for guest entries! With the demands of a new job, my recent writing availability has been few and far between. Here's where you come in: if you have an idea for a Children of the 90s post, feel free to pitch it. Not in the typical baseball sense, of course--that might smash my laptop screen. I'm thinking more of a dynamic e-mail conversation that characterizes what we consider an exciting interaction here in the 21st century.

Who knows--your post might just end up on our front page. We welcome submissions and pitches at childrenofthe90s(at)gmail(dot)com. Bring 'em on!

And now, without further ado: in honor of the impending weekend, the following post from guest writer Natalie celebrates a typical Saturday in the life of a 90s child:

The 90s: The Typical Child's Saturday

Think back to the day you turned 12 years old. What did you see around you? The television is on and undoubtedly turned to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or maybe Rocko's Modern Life on Nickelodeon. Daniel Tosh wasn't even on the air yet, instead we had good old America's Funniest Home Videos to watch for hours on end.

It didn't just end with TV back in the 90s. Everything was different, everything was awesome. You could wake up to find great cartoons on first thing on a Saturday morning, have your favorite bowl of Fruity Pebbles and hop on your Super Nintendo or Sega for a morning of fun.

Maybe afterward you would gather your Beanie Babies (which at the time we all thought would one day be worth millions, but still aren't worth a thing) together with your price book and dream with the neighbor kid how rich you would be when you turned 16 and these things paid out.

After business was conducted for the day, it was time for lunch. Back then, we got our favorite toys at McDonalds. Guys got the action figures and girls go the dolls. Most importantly, they all had small and dangerous parts. We all survived one way or another. If we were lucky, Good Burger was on just as we returned from lunch. Could it get any better?


As the day started to roll away, it was time for a snack. Whether it was a Fruit by the Foot, a Fruit Roll-Up, or Gushers, every kid always had a favorite fruit snack. Everybody also knew that one kid at school whose family wouldn't buy the "cool" snacks, so we were always happy to throw him a couple Gushers or split off a piece of the Fruit Roll-Up. Once in a while, somebody would show up with a fancy GoGurt at school. But, hey- let's not get school involved on our ultimate Saturday afternoon.

One thing that no 90s kid will ever forget about Saturday's is Pokémon. Whether trading the cards and pretending to actually know how to play the game, watching it on TV or firing up the good old black and white Game Boy,Pokémon was a part of our everyday lives. The cards could almost be used as a currency, traded away for whatever you may want to make your afternoon perfect.


If you were lucky growing up, you almost always you had a friend sleep over or you were staying somewhere else other than your house on a Saturday night. With shows like Ahh! Real Monsters, The Wild Thornberry's, Hey! Arnold and Doug on SNICK, how could you possibly go wrong?

Not to mention all thetalking babies (think Rugrats) and animals we all had a thing for. If you were lucky, it was already nine o'clock and your young self was getting tired. Your friends would turn the TV volume all the way down and it was on. Whether Jet Force Gemini, Donkey Kong64 or any other game, it didn't matter. After an hour or so of intense gaming you'd find yourself drifting off... Then only to awake, 15 years later and to realize it was all a dream.

Don't you wish you could go back?


Natalie Wilkins has been a professional writer and researcher for the last five years. Throughout this time she has worked for many weird and wonderful companies including an organic Tempurpedic mattress retailer and an elephant orphanage. The wide range of opportunities available is exactly why she loves her job.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Ode to Technology: Then and Now

A note to readers: Yes, it’s me, your as of late not-so-faithful Children of the 90s blogger. That is to say, the original eleven herbs and spices blogger, not one in many of the parade of worthy guest bloggers I’ve brought to you over the last few months. Now that I’m married and back from my honeymoon, my litany of excuses to put off blogging are dwindling quickly, especially with the long list of blog ideas I’ve yet to tackle. Don’t call it a comeback, of course, but hey: it’s an effort.

It can be hard to pretend you're still young and hip when so many of your technology reminiscences to anyone more than five years younger than you begin with a crotchety " When I was your age, we didn't have this newfangled (insert new and overly complicated mode of communication here.)" Who would have guessed that within a span of ten or fifteen years, the face of technology and human interaction could be rendered nearly unrecognizable from the simple telephone and instant messenger relations of our youth?

I freely admit I have found myself in multiple scenarios during which interacting with a friend in person has quickly devolved into showing off our respective front facing cell phone cameras to engage in simulated FaceTime. Never mind the fact that we are physically face to face in the same room. Because look how cool it is when we can video chat in tandem after only thirteen minutes and four failed network connection attempts! Now isn't that more interesting than plain old lower case face time?

While we're doling out the elderly style complaints (someone be a dear and bring me an afghan, wont you?) don't even get me started on hashtags. Why exactly does putting what I still think of as the number sign (or alternatively, the most boring button on my phone) in front of awholebunchofwordswithoutspaceslikethis suddenly constitute an astute sampling of social commentary? #imgettingtoooldforthiscrap

Call me a hypocrite for writing this on the Internet (and you probably should, especially since I'm typing it using my brand-spanking new Kindle Fire, albeit with lots of touchscreen misfire typos) but I just can't get behind changing my entire concept of communication and entertainment every time a new piece of technology is released.

Back in our day (and you legally need to be at least 22 to use that phrase, for future complaining reference) most technology existed to serve a single purpose. Even when I was in high school, it was largely unfathomable that someday you might be able to carry around some futuristic hybrid of your phone/camera/computer/calendar/book collecition/music player in your pocket. Barring, of course, the chance that you possessed a great deal of duct tape and/or some very large pockets.

Though there exist endless examples of fast-paced technological change from our simple 90s childhoods to the present day bonanza of ever-changing available devices, here are a few of my favorites that keep me feeling good and old at the ripe old age of 26.

Cell Phones: Then and Now



As any dutiful Saved by the Bell fan will attest, the quintessential “first realization of the existence of cell phones” moment came while ogling Zack Morris as he chatted on what looked like the indestructible little black box from an airplane crash scene. It was essentially a large plastic brick with a keypad and a huge antenna that veered dangerously into rabbit-ear territory and we all coveted it shamelessly.

Enter today, when our cell phones are about one-tenth the size with a thousand times the capability. Most of us have been out to dinner with friends or at some other in-person social gathering when you realize that every single person has whipped out their smartphone, creating a unique situation of socializing by proximity while simultaneously isolating ourselves into the self-created vortex of personal technology. Now that’s what I call a party!

Computers: Then and Now



It’s hard for me even to admit this sometimes for fear of sounding astoundingly middle-aged, but the first computer my family owned actually had a black-and-green-only screen. That’s right, pixelated screen colors hadn’t even broken onto the computer technology scene when I was playing Space Invaders on my Apple II. That’s how primitive our technology was. Scary, I know.

When laptops first debuted, it was hard to imagine computers could get any smaller. “But it can fit on my lap! Surely you can’t shrink it smaller than standard lap-size, adjusted for level of obesity!” But oh, they can. This mysterious “they” has morphed the oversized desktop into a cutely portable iPad or other knock-off tablet. Mark my words, someday we’ll be computing on pieces of looseleaf paper. That’s how thin these things are going to get (end prophecy transmission).

Data Storage: Then and Now



I remember looking at an oversized floppy disk and thinking, “but how did my ClarisWorks file get on you?” My understanding of data storage hasn’t increased, but my fascination with how small or even non-physical we can make it certainly has. Now we’ve got the ominously named “Cloud”, which conveniently stores all of my files in some remote online lair. It’s not perfect, of course. Any disruption of wireless internet means all of my files are dead to me until it’s restored. Damn you, Cloud, and your connectivity loopholes for holding my treasured Pinterest repins temporarily hostage!

Cameras: Then and Now



Remember film? If not, you should probably be reading some younger, cooler blog. Go ahead, I’ll give you some time to find something more hipsterish. Try looking for something wearing ironic black frames pseudo-intellectual glasses with clear lenses. That should be your first tip-off.
Are they all gone? Okay, good, now we can get down to business and recollect some things those kids have probably never even heard of. Seriously, some of them have never even seen a roll of film. They don’t even get what the film pictogram means on the sign that indicates what items should not go through the x-ray scanner at airport security.

Perhaps you remember when it was fascinating to think a photo lab had the capability to process your negatives into full-blown prints in just one hour. It seemed like such a breakthrough. If you can try to remember far enough back to the first time you saw a digital camera, perhaps you can recall just how amazed you were that the picture you just took was already visible on a tiny low-res screen. That was some crazy stuff. These days, we can take pictures with just about anything with an on-off switch, but back in the day, we used to actually wait for pictures to be developed to discover if they were flattering. Perish the thought.

Music Players: Then and Now



Boomboxes and Walkmans. Those words probably sound like no more than nonsensical gibberish to today’s children, whose music players are roughly the size of my pinky toe. I still remember upgrading from a cassette playing Walkman to a CD-playing Discman. At the time, I was almost certain that no, it just could not get any cooler than this.
Even in college, I still had a cassette tape adapter for my car that physically plugged into my external Discman to play burned mix CDs. It all seems so primitive now, considering every song I own is now available at the touch of a button on my phone. How are kids these days supposed to understand the significance of the gift of a good, heartfelt mix tape or CD? How, I ask you?

Books: Then and Now



Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. I’ve switched over to the dark side. I swore that books and I would never end our torrid ongoing love affair, but then my husband bought me a Kindle and I felt like a such a guilty two-timer. I tried to keep seeing books on the side, but they just didn’t have the same spark. Literally. They have no battery component. Bummer. I’m sorry, I promise I feel repentant. It’s just that now when I move to a new house, my book collection weighs one pound instead of 350 divided into 42 boxes. No offense, books, but that sounds like kind of a better deal, at least back-pain wise.

During what I assume was our respective period of childhood (since you’ve self-identified as a child of the 90s by virtue of arriving at this blog), a book was a tangible object and could be acquired at a bookstore or public library. Or a private library, I suppose, but I guess I never got invited to any of those. Of course, I don’t know two many eight-year olds with their own e-readers, so I suppose the Goosebumps franchise may still live to see another gory day.

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