Were we really once so easily amazed?

Technology has come a long way since the ’80s. I remember this commercial. I don’t remember it seeming so utterly stupid. Maybe that’s because I was only about 10 when it originally aired. Or maybe it’s because back then this was cutting-edge.

All I know is, the phrase “sneaker phone” sounds way more natural to me than it should. I guess this commercial embedded itself in my subconscious all those years ago, permanently tainting my worldview.

Source: Merlin Mann

Update: 1991? Holy crap. Yeah, I didn’t watch it far enough when I first posted this to hear the voice-over guy say, in a semi-lewd tone, “the revealing 1991 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue” (cue whistles). Since that comes out in February (or so I’m told), that would mean this commercial is most likely from 1990 or very early 1991, meaning I was 16 when it aired. You’d think by then I’d have been old enough, or at least jaded adolescent enough, to see how utterly stupid it was. Maybe.

Finally, more than 25 years later…

I think it was probably around 1983 that I got my first Rubik’s Cube. Wasn’t that the year they really hit big in the U.S.? Anyway, I just never had the patience or the logical foresight to be able to solve it. Never. Not once. Oh, sure, I was able to solve one side. I think once I might have solved two. But I could never envision how to put it all together. It’s the same reason I suck at chess.

Before long, I knew that it wasn’t possible to just solve the whole thing one side at a time. And, unnervingly, when you were closest to having the whole puzzle solved, just a couple of turns away from a complete solution, there would be a sequence of moves where none of the sides were solved. That was just too much for my 9-year-old brain.

Eventually I just gave up on ever solving my Rubik’s Cube. It didn’t help that I had also learned that you could turn one side to a 45-degree angle, pop out the middle edge piece, and easily disassemble the entire thing, reassembling it in perfect order. And so it was, that my speedy solution to the Rubik’s Cube, sadly, always involved a screwdriver.

This year my parents gave me a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas. (It’s OK… that’s not the only thing they got me for Christmas. I also got this, which rocks.) Today I decided, by gum, I’m gonna solve it! Of course, not on my own. These days Rubik’s Cubes ship with a little pamphlet revealing the magical seven-step solution. (No, not seven moves, more like a hundred or so. But seven basic logical steps.)

I was doing great… halfway through the seventh and final step, when… well, the whole thing fell apart. Not literally. They’re made pretty well — and it’s no longer possible to pop out the edge piece with a screwdriver. (Don’t ask me how I know that it’s no longer possible. I just have my ways.)

I realized after a moment of fretting that I had misinterpreted part of Step 7. I was left with this:

Almost had it...

One good side, and five sides of crap. (Much like Yessongs. Sorry… had to say it. Not too often you can work in a joke about a 36-year-old prog rock triple live album. By Yes.)

After dinner I was sufficiently distanced from my devastating defeat that I was willing to have another go, and this time… success!


Now I don’t feel like such a dork for my “You have died of dysentery” t-shirt

oregontrailshirtYes, it’s true. My nostalgic love of Oregon Trail extends to, occasionally, wearing a shirt featuring the green, pixilated image of an ox team and covered wagon, bearing the message “You have died of dysentery.” If you don’t get the reference, you might as well die of dysentery, because I have no use for you. (Of course, you don’t need to get the reference if you’re reading this, because I just told you.)

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But one thing is clear: as much as I love Oregon Trail, I’m nowhere near as passionate about it as Michael Nelson Price. Sure, it’s a joke, but you have to know the game inside and out to write an article like the one he did for McSweeney’s.

This is just what The Shawshank Redemption needed

The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies. I’m also a big fan of ’80s movies, but the appeal is completely different. Shawshank is a suspenseful, thought-provoking drama. ’80s movies elevate cheez to (nearly) an art form.

So, what would have happened if Shawshank had been filmed a decade earlier? It would have been shorter, for one thing. And it would have had a montage set to some fist-pounding rock music.

Now, the geniuses at FunnyOrDie.com make the dream a reality.

Pure ’80s goodness (what ’80s goodness?)

Despite the fact that it was the decade of my youth, for which I am often nostalgic, I don’t often look back on the ’80s decade itself with a great deal of fondness. Sure, there was Pac-Man, The Breakfast Club, Duran Duran, various other things in popular culture that I liked. But that’s offset with Ronald Reagan (no I do not consider his presidency a positive, and I could catalog the ways if I cared to, but I don’t), hair bands, this version of Pac-Man, hideous fashion (yes, it was a reaction to the ’70s and its own hideousness, but as bad as it was, ’70s fashion never produced the likes of these fashion nightmares), etc. etc.

And yet, thanks once again to the brilliant musical programming of MPR’s The Current, I’ve become drawn to the unabashed nostalgia for that dark decade served up dripping in digital synth excess courtesy of M83‘s latest album, Saturdays = Youth. After contemplating it for weeks, I finally bought the album on Amazon MP3 this morning, and have been listening to it nonstop (currently on my fourth time through).