The PBS animated afternoon program ‘Arthur’ may have taught us life lessons for over 200 episodes, but that doesn’t mean it left us totally prepared. Here are some lessons ’Arthur’ dropped the ball on.
1. We All Die Alone
Youtube via Arthur Complete Series 2014
Arthur had a whole school full of friends, a loving family, and a loyal dog, but even after 17 seasons, they never managed to do an episode showing the fact that, even if you’re gripping your spouse’s hand in the hospital bed, you ultimately slip away and face that great unknown with no one else beside you.
2. Time Takes Everything
Youtube via Arthur Complete Series 2014
Like most kids’ shows, Arthur hit the reset button at the end of every episode and got things more or less back to the status quo. Sure, he celebrated a few birthdays, but Pal stayed a puppy, the Tibble Twins remained annoying toddlers, and third grade seemed to go on forever. These are lies. Everything we know, everything we love, is devoured by the insatiable beast of entropy. Friends move. Romances end. Pets die.
3. Religion Is No Comfort
Youtube via Arthur Complete Series 2014
A progressive show right out of the gate, Arthur devoted seasonal holiday episodes to showing the diverse cast of kids celebrating Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and even an agnostic student welcoming in the Winter Solstice. What it failed to point out is that all of these superstitions and token memorials are just social constructs designed to subjugate the lower classes and/or perpetuate the illusion of an orderly universe. “Happy” Holidays.
4. What Matt Damon Might Look Like As Other Animals
Sure, celebrity guest star Matt Damon may have stopped by Elwood City in the 11th season as an adorable tiny-eared bear—but what about all the other anthropomorphic reimaginings they could’ve designed for him? We can’t rest until we see Damon as an alligator, tapir, and maybe even some kind of sentient moss.
5. That You Can Live With Someone For 6 Years And They Can Turn Around And Forget You In A Second
Youtube via Arthur Complete Series 2014
When Buster moved away, he and Arthur kept in touch via postcard, demonstrating that the bonds of friendship are unbreakable. If only Arthur had mentioned that the same can’t be said for romantic relationships, when in the span of one argument, you can go from intertwined souls imprinted on each other’s cellular memories to strangers in the same bed with so much distance between you that it may as well be infinite, until finally there’s nothing left to talk about but the logistics of packing up the IKEA plates as you ring in your new life as a ghost in your own skin. Thanks for nothing, Marc Brown.
AOL’s email notification sound was positively Pavlovian for many ’90s netizens. It was confirmation that a) you had successfully connected to the ISP, and b) someone out there likes you.
Those dulcet tones belong to voice actor Elwood Edwards, whose wife worked for AOL in 1989. She brought tape of his other famous phrases — “welcome,” “goodbye,” and “file’s done” — into the office. The rest is history.
3. The Whir of a Floppy Disk Drive
In their prime, each one of these puppies could hold about 120 MB — great for storing a few documents or images; less great for large applications and games. Before CD-ROMs became the norm, you might need 10 or 15 disks to install one program.
Listening to the drive tick away while the progress bar drew closer to 100% was like Christmas Eve for anxious young nerds.
Clippy, you magnificent bastard. You were always one step ahead of me. It’s like you knew exactly what I was writing before I even finished typing the sentence.
Rest in peace, old chum.
7. ISPs – The Old Guard
Before you got your Internet from cable or telephone companies, it arrived via dial-up service providers. A menu of local phone numbers would connect you to an ISP like Compuserve (pictured), Prodigy, and later, AOL — the service that would come to dominate in the ’90s.
Being “online” was a more curated experience. ISP home screens were peppered with links to topics, sections and news. The web “at large” was just one of many options.
Web surfing later became the norm as users ditched ISP portals in favor of standardized browsers like Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.
In 1993, we had Encarta, the multimedia encyclopedia from Microsoft. It offered your standard Funk & Wagnalls fare with the added value of color photos, music clips, videos and interactive content.
Microsoft later added articles from Collier’s and Macmillan, making the product more comprehensive each year.
Of particular nostalgic significance was an incorporated game called MindMaze, which tasked young players to explore a castle by answering trivia questions — you know, because learning can be fun.
9. Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack
The best part about getting a new computer? Finding out which games were packaged with your operating system.
Microsoft Windows PCs included a bundle of iconic 16-bit time wasters: FreeCell, Minesweeper, Rodent’s Revenge and a little gem called SkiFree.
Created in a Microsoft programmer’s spare time, the game was added to the Entertainment Pack in 1991, and challenged players to avoid obstacles while skiing down an endless hill. The Abominable Snow Monster still haunts the dreams of many gamers to this very day.
Before Twitter, there was Internet Relay Chat (IRC), a vast, anonymous wilderness subdivided into channels. The platform was not owned or operated by a single entity — rather, a network admin would run his or her own server, around which a community might form. This was distributed communication in its purest form.
IRC networks still exist today, and anyone with a functional client program can jump in. Just remember kids: On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
Color graphics and larger disk capacities were great for productivity, but they also ignited the imaginations of a new breed of storyteller.
Game publishers like Sierra Entertainment hit it big with franchises like King’s Quest (pictured), Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. These relatively non-linear game worlds allowed players to explore and solve puzzles through text commands. The scripts were rich and often humorous.
The games later evolved into “point-and-click” adventures as PC graphics become increasingly sophisticated.
12. Ancient Word Processors
Word processors existed before the PC era, but they were machines with a singular purpose.
Software like Microsoft Works and Corel’s WordPerfect ushered in the age of “desktop publishing.”
Finally, a more efficient way to write your Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction.
While MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) tech predates the web by more than a decade, the advent of MIDI-compatible sound cards in the early ’90s gave rise to a culture of armchair composers who would sequence popular songs and share them liberally online.
Sure, the Back to the Future suite sounds better with a real orchestra, but this version is free from a cool Angelfire site I just found.
14. The Rise of PC Puzzle Gaming
While consoles generally focused on action platformers, the keyboard and mouse lent themselves to puzzle games, which got richer in the ’90s.
Lemmings (pictured) challenged players to save a troop of witless rodents by assigning them tasks like building, digging and blocking.
First-person puzzlers like Myst set the bar for esoteric questing. Kudos if you can beat that thing without cheating.
15. Command Line Operating Systems
Fancy icons be damned. If you wanted to run a program or see a list of files in a pre-1985 PC, you’d have to type that shiz out on a command line — likely in MS-DOS.
It really wasn’t until 1990, when Windows 3.0 hit the market, that graphical user interfaces made the big time.
16. Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
The advent of the MP3 socked the recording industry in the gut. It wasn’t long before peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Napster and Kazaa turned music ownership on its head.
Legal and moral issues aside, the notion of downloading any song on demand (well, within the hour) was revolutionary. Though Napster was sued into oblivion, it paved the way for the media consumption paradigms we enjoy today — namely, iTunes, Netflix and Spotify.
17. Under Construction Clipart
If you were savvy enough to have a site in the early days of the web, chances are you were always looking for ways to improve it.
Netiquette demanded that any unfinished web pages be marked “Under Construction” to ensure the safety of passersby (you wouldn’t want someone to trip on a stray HTML bracket and sue your ass).
While Sierra dominated the adventures, Maxis took gold on strategy and simulation. Its “Sim” franchises upped the ante on the entire genre — Sim City, a jewel in the crown, of course. Again, personal computers tended to trump consoles on breadth and depth, and innovative gameplay concepts were on the rise.
Notable giants of the era include Sid Meier’s Civilization and the birth of real-time strategy staples like Blizzard’s Warcraft and Microsoft’s Age of Empires.
19. Media Players
So you’ve amassed an MP3 collection of dubious legality. While Napster has a built-in audio player, the discerning music pirate of 1997 requires a stand-alone app.
The web was chock-full of music players, but WinAmp took the cake. Playlist support, a serious EQ and skins to suit any taste made this free download an essential dorm party jukebox.
20. Web Portals
Even as curated ISP experiences faded away, web users still flocked to sites that offered a “home base” for their daily surfing.
Yahoo became the go-to homepage of the Internet. Its web directory put news, search, ecommerce and eventually email in one handy site. A link from Yahoo.com all but guaranteed a traffic windfall for the lucky destination.
While web portals have fallen out of fashion in the U.S., they still drive piles of traffic in emerging online markets — in Asia, for instance.
Let these microwaves bring you down from that 1980s high, nice and easy now.
1. All right, Stranger Things fans. You watched the shows whole season and now its time to stop obsessing over the past. These 1980s microwaves will gradually ease you back to the present.
3. We would never ask you to cut your Stranger Things world cold turkey. Youd instantly relapse, and start assembling a playlist of New Order songs while jamming your face against a Members Only jacket.
6. Eventually you wont even need these obsolete microwaves. Look at this list of microwaves three times per day, then after a month cut back to once per day, then after another month of that youll be cured of your nostalgia.
7. Ok so we know this is a far cry from a bunch of teens decked out in denim jackets and scrunchies driving around in a Ford Pinto, but lets see if you can handle this 90s microwave to ease you back into the present. Dont be frightened by it, just see if youve made enough headway to see a thing from a different era than Stranger Things takes place in.
8. Very good. Now heres a little treat for really pushing yourself on that last one: a 1980s microwave. For now you can rest, Stranger Things fans. Youve made excellent progress today.
If elections were held to name the ultimate ’90s kid, this guy just might win by a landslide.
Meet 28-year-old Michael Schoen. Like many ’90s kids, he loves talking about old-school Nickelodeon shows, he mourns the fact that you can no longer buy Dunkaroos, and he still remembers exactly what the inside of a Blockbuster smells like. But what separates him from the rest of his peers is his steadfast commitment to a certain—ahem—after-dark form of entertainment: Michael still chooses to watch scrambled pornography!
Yep, we’re not kidding. In an age when an endless buffet of hi-def nudity is instantly accessible to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, Michael, like a true ’90s purist, still elects to stare endlessly at the squiggly picture on encrypted television channels in hopes of spotting an occasional nipple.
“There’s just something really special about straining your eyes for hours on end in hopes of spotting a stray vulva in scrambled Spice Channel programming,” said Michael, who watches the footage with his finger readied on his TV’s input button in case he hears someone coming and needs to switch over to Sega. “There’s just no challenge in watching porn on the internet—I live for the hunt.”
Michael admits that watching scrambled porn has its frustrating moments, such as thinking you’re masturbating to a wonderfully perky breast only to realize it’s actually a man’s chin. But he insists this is also part of what makes the experience so exciting: the mystery of not really knowing what you’re jerking it to, but trusting your imagination to complete the picture anyway.
“In my opinion, it’s just a vastly superior porn-viewing experience,” said Michael. “If you’re doing it any differently, then I just don’t think you can truly call yourself a ’90s kid.”