Friday, February 26, 2016

90s Expressions We Should Most Definitely Bring Back

Word.

Definition: An expression of affirmation.

Used in context: 
Person A: What up, bro?
Person B: Not much, just doin' my homework.
Person A: Word.

Talk to the hand.

Definition: A shortened version of "Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening." A way to get someone to STFU. More advanced users simply utilize the corresponding gesture. 

Used in context: 












All that and a bag of chips.

Definition: The best and then some

Used in context: Just because Alicia got that nose job she thinks she's all that and a bag of chips.

Bounce.

Definition: Leave. There is no physical bouncing involved.

Used in context: Yeah, bro, this party's whack. Imma bounce. 

Dope.

Definition: Another way to say awesome.

Used in context: That dress is dope! Where'd you snag it?

Bunk.

Definition: Bat-shit crazy. 

Used in context:  Image result for crazy 

What's crackalackin'?

Definition: What's happening? What's up?

Used incorrectly:
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That's my name, don't wear it out.

Definition: This doesn't actually mean anything. It's just a way to be annoying.

Used in context: 
Person A: Peter?
Person B: That's my name, don't wear it out.

Score.

Definition: Awesome, amazing, fantastic, cool. Normally used as a one-word reply.

Used in context:
Person A: Check it out! I scored Filter tickets for this Saturday!
Person B: Score!

I know you are, but what am I?

Definition: This has no real meaning. It's just a way to annoy the crap out of somebody and get out of any conversations. Made popular by PeeWee Herman.

Used in context: 
Person A: Did you watch Friends last night? Joey is such a dork.
Person B: I know you are, but what am I?
Person A: What the hell are talking about?
Person B: I know you are, but what am I?
Person A: I didn't say you were anything.
Person B: I know you are, but what am I?



9 Ways the 90s Blew Our Minds

1. MAGIC EYES



Straining your eyes to see the image, squinting, moving back and forth, desperately searching, and then, finally. Mission accomplished. 

2. NIRVANA



Admittedly, you don't know what they're saying half the time, but they totally get you. And you totally get them. Because the world is messed up, man, and music is just what helps you deal. 

3. BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY


In all honesty, I don't remember a single thing he taught me, but I'll be damned if this show wasn't both fun AND educational. 

4. MADLIBS


I mean, let's be honest, this is actually the only reason you know the parts of speech.

5. WARHEADS

I used to eat these like a champ, clutching them firmly between the roof of my mouth and my tongue and never saying never, even with the sour coating started to burn through my tongue. Which it did. Frequently. And left little blisters. 

6. OREGON TRAIL


Who can compare the trials of a modern life to the horrors your caravan faced on the Trail? When you had to barter your oxen for bread or when your cart broke down or worse, when your whole family died of dysentery. 

7. WALKMANS


I catch a lot of flack for this, but I think the 90s qualifies as the best decade for modern music. Think about it; Nirvana, Green Day, Alanis Morisette, Spice Girls, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, No Doubt, Bush, Blink 182 (before they were emo), The Offspring... need I continue? And, once you'd sat around listening to Casey Kasem and pressing record when all those awesome songs came up, you could listen to listen to your homemade mix tape on the go. 

8. WHERE'S WALDO?


I mean, seriously, where the actual fuck is he? If you were a completist like me, these books drove you absolutely bat shit crazy because you knew it wasn't just like he could be anywhere - he was refined the page you were turned to - but Christ almighty, he could be ANYWHERE!

9. MILKY PENS


Sure, they dried up fast and they smeared if you weren't patient enough (which I often wasn't), but they just looked so darn beautiful, especially when you drew on black paper. 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

90s Toys You Spent Way Too Much Money On


Why You Spent Money On It: They were definitely going to appreciate in value someday, especially those collector bears. They were certainly not just going to sit in the back of your closet. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Because you were the God of the sea monkeys. And even though they weren't snuggly or even cute, you held their tiny little lives in your hands. But you kept accidentally knocking the tank over.


Why You Spent Money On It: Because you lost all the damn pieces. Seriously, Polly Pocket was unnecessarily small. BUT AWESOME. I actually only had a couple of these, but a friend of mine had an amazing collection that I was privileged enough to play with. 


Why You Spent Money On It: To record your prolific thoughts just as soon as they popped into your head. Or to record your hit single. Just to record things. 


Why You Spent Money On It: I never spent money on it, actually, because I, tragically, didn't have one. Which I think is why, as an adult, I still find so much joy in this bossy little toy. 



Why You Spent Money On It: Because you were an aspiring artist with a penchant for right angles and living life on the edge. Because, let's face it, some kid knocks into you in the hallway and your masterpiece is gone for good. 


Why You Spent Money On It: To collect all the slammers and the bottle caps and also as an anger management tool. This game was significantly bad ass. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Perhaps you, like me, bought this at a tag sale and only had one game for it that you could never quite figure out. Or perhaps you actually used your Game Boy. But likely you bought it because it was the height of technology and you, obviously, were very, very cool. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Because it counted how many rotations you did up to 999. And that's waaaaaaaaaay too hard to do for yourself when you're hopping around. 




Why You Spent Money On It: Because you had failed the Sea Monkeys (once again), but you would certainly not fail the Tamagotchi. You would feed it and play with it and take care of it, even if that meant you had to put it in your desk during class so that you could furtively give your little chick its morning meal. JUST DON'T DIE, PIXELATED PET!


Why You Spent Money On It: Because it is certain. And you could change any answer you didn't agree with. Even though it was magic. 



Why You Spent Money On It: I don't know about you, but I spent a significant amount of time waging water wars as a child. Super Soaker was not quite as super a soaker as the hose, but it was so much better than those tiny water pistols. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Mostly you just wanted to know what in the fuck it was. It made your hands smell weird, could create farting noises, and came in unnatural colors. You couldn't really make anything out of and it slowly both dried out and collected particles of dirt and dust. But the enigma was too much to bear! Thanks, Nickelodeon!


Why You Spent Money On It: Because you could FINALLY draw on your stuff without lasting consequences. I used to write secret messages on the underpants. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Because you are a girl and you are supposed to LOVE shopping. Plus, it had credit cards and it talked! Let's be honest, shopping in this game was a perilous, strategic adventure, not unlike Risk. 


Why You Spent Money On It: Because you were suddenly an amazing athlete. You could catch anything in all the coolest ways. Behind the back? Hell yes. Above the head? Oh, yeah. Under the knee? Ah, show us a challenge! 

 

Why You Spent Money On It: These little buggers are soothing. You can bounce 'em, rub 'em on your face, dangle 'em by a little rubbery string, and they smelled kinda cool. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

90s Shows I Have Known and Loved

In case you were unawares, Netflix has produced a Full House reunion show (entitled Fuller House) that will be released on 26 February. Although my hopes aren't high, I'm very excited for this show and am going to have to restrict myself from binge watching. In honor of Netflix's shout out to the 90s, I'm preparing some nostalgic blogs from this same time. Today is all about 90s TV.

*************************************************

 A Nickelodeon sitcom based off books of the same title (I believe - and I think I read them), Alex Mack could do pretty awesome things like turn herself into an amorphous blob. More or less the girl version of Spider Man, Alex Mack chose to keep her powers a secret (hence the "secret world") and I'm not sure whether or not she uses them for anything good or not, but nevertheless she has them. And I wanted them. I don't remember much about the show excepting that I, too, wanted the ability to turn myself into a green blob in order to escape dangerous situations.


 Oh, Erik Von Detten. You are so yummy. Odd Man Out lasted only one season, which probably means it was actually really good, and, despite not remembering anything specific about this show aside from the exquisite yumminess of EVD, I do recall enjoying this short-lived sitcom. Maybe I can find back episodes of it somewhere on the vast expanses of the interwebs.
 She explains it all. Everything. But this show is far from educational unless you are a teenage (or a budding teenage) girl. Clarissa tells us about her training bras, the awkwardness of dating, how to cover up a pimple, and how to look super fly, 90s style.   Replaced by Alex Mack, I do believe Clarissa was Melissa Joan Hart's prime time debut.

 When this boy meets world, boy meets world....I could go on. I love this show and still watch back episodes of it, especially as one of my life's goals is to turn into George Feeney. There's something inviting about the close-knitness of friendships and family in this show that both warms your heart and simultaneously makes you want to barf a little bit. But in an awesome way.

 When I was younger, I appreciated the humor of this sketch comedy show and I liked that there was a fat woman, Lori, who butchered nursery rhymes. Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run into things. As an adult, I'm looking at this cast and doing a hindsight shout-out to Nickelodeon for the diversity in this cast. Yes, its predominantly white cast could be replaced by some Hispanic or Asian-American actors, but look at the ages, sizes, and races it does have.



I was never a big fan of cartoons, which is why 90s purists are going to be saddened at the lack of Hey Arnold and Doug on this blog. (Spoiler alert!) But I did love Animaniacs. 'Cause they're zany to the max. I'm not even sure what the hell kind of creatures they are, but they're awfully amusing. Plus, they had Pinky and the Brain, which just can't be beat.
 How you doin'? OH, MY GOD. Chand-luh? Chand-luh BING? Possibly at the top of my list for best sitcom ever made, and I would not bamboozle you. I have seen each season at least twice, because this show is my lobster. First name "Crap," last name "Bag." It's BoGOta, but close enough. And we must clap during the theme song.




 Show of my first crush, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or, as we all lovingly called him, JTT. When I watch this show as an adult, I get really annoyed by Tim's antics and assumptions that his wife will just roll with and fix everything, but I really like the sons in the chemistry in this show as well as the humor. This show, even without a laugh track, is genuinely funny.
 Alright, alright, I know, this show is hokey and uber-problematic, but I used to watch it every morning before school. I know everybody was in a tizzy as to who was cuter - suave, boy-next-door Zack Morris, or muscley, jock AC Slater - but this show definitely propelled my love of nerdy boys.

Cheesy? Yes. Whiter than wonderbread? You betcha. Entirely unbelievable that Joey has a stand up routine that features entirely clean, family-friendly humor? You know it. But Full House holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps its Danny's compulsive cleanliness or DJ's eternal search to find herself, perhaps we'll just never know what love is.
From Clarissa Explains It All to Sabrina, Melissa Joan Hart rocked the 90s. Sabrina was, unarguably, ah-MA-zing what with Salem, the mechanical talking cat, Salem the town, and some pretty baller special effects. My favorite thing about this show, though, were the aunts, Hilda and Zelda, respectively with their professional violining and sciencing. LOVE this show.


Fran Drescher's voice. Need I say more? 

I'm trying to remember what this show was even about, but Fran Drescher's voice keeps drowning it out.





I'm humming the theme song as I type. Oh, man, this fucking show. I didn't watch it in the 90s, I actually discovered my undying love for it later in life, which I suppose doesn't make it nostalgic, but perhaps YOU watched it in the 90s. I remember how much flack Roseanne caught for her brassy, loud mouth and now I can't help thinking that people were probably just pretty pissed that a big old fat lady was creating, producing, and starring in her own prime time TV show.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's a Good Step

So, guys, this happened. Ashley Graham has become the first plus-size model to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. To be perfectly clear, there are three covers out this February and only one features a plus-size model, but this is still a big deal for a number of reasons.

1) Body diversity. Yay! Let's keep it going! I hope next SI does a cover story about fat athletes.

2) Mainstream. SI is a popular, reputable magazine. There is no danger of it being called "feminist" (said with a sneer) or other dirty words that make otherwise veritable people and publications lose credibility whether or not it's actually deserved.

According to many sources, Graham has dedicated this cover to "all of the women out there who never felt that they were beautiful enough, who never felt like they were skinny enough, and who never felt like they were going to be able to represented in a society like this. Because now we're being represented." Graham is correct. SI is a big step in representation, which is not to say that there are not other reputable, respected, and famous plus-size models, Whitney Thompson (of ANTM fame), Tess Holiday, Denise Bidot, and Emme to name a few.

While I'm writing this post with the intent to say well done to Ashley Graham and revel in an more diversified world, I'm also writing with two other intentions.

Firstly, it's only one day later and I'm already seeing really problematic things being posted like, "Finally a real woman on the cover" or "So much better than the bones that SI normally has." BLURGBLUDALGJADLJ PATRIARCHY STOP HATING.

I've calmed down.

In other words, one of the reasons that western society is still so invested in marketing beauty is because women are taught view beauty as a competition. We become consumed with making ourselves "better" than other women by buying x,y, and z products and engaging in a,b, and c behaviors that we lose sight of things that actually matter. Like equal pay. And all the discrimination. Ashley Graham is not better or worse than any other SI swimsuit issue cover model that has come before her. She is just different.

While it's very tempting to use terms like "real woman" and throw back what has been thrown at fatter women for a long time, that's fire with fire and it's not necessary, productive, or helping. At all.

Also, a "real woman" is someone who is biologically born as a woman and still identifies as such or identifies now as a woman. It has nothing to do with someone's size.

Secondly, although this is a great step, I still can't help being dubious. Ashley Graham is "plus size" relative to an industry standard but is hardly representative of a - forgive the choice of words here - wider audience. From what I've read, her cover shot is virtually untouched, and I see trim arms, legs with little to no cellulite, and a belly that, though larger than most models', would barely be considered paunchy by most women.

What I hope is that size diversity will continue to expand its perceptions of size and that, in the near
future, we'll have a Tess Holliday on the cover. Or better yet, SI will start to feature more female athletes, fat or otherwise.

So, take this small victory in stride. Well done, Ashley Graham but we've still got a long way to go. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

In the Valley Below

After WWII, the responsibility of Germany's new babysitters, the British, the French, the Americans, and the Soviets, was to demilitarize the country that had begun two world wars by violating land treaties. As the saying goes, do it once, shame on you. Do it twice, shame on me. Wanting to avoid a third world war, these four powers set to work getting rid of Germany's military might. In other words, they blew shit up.  More or less everything went: the military headquarters, the weaponry, and the bunkers. 

Bunkers were fortifications above ground and below ground, constructed with thick concrete made to be indestructible. Some proved their worth, and the powers in Germany held friendly competitions about who could blow up as many bunkers as efficiently as possible. 

In 2016, only 2.5 bunkers remain, one completely inaccessible.

The half bunker existed between the French and Russian sectors and, while the French blew their side up, the Soviets never did. One bunker that proved too strong for bombs was Hitler's bunker, where he spent the last few weeks of the war, killed himself along with his new wife and his beloved dog, and plotted military strategy with a largely imaginary army. For myriad reasons including, but not limited to Germany's desire to separate themselves from this notorious once-leader, not wanting to encourage any sort of hero worship of the man who Eddie Izzard rightfully labeled "a mass-murdering fuckhead," and, of course, the order to demilitarize, Hitler's bunker was buried in its own rubble (after many attempts to destroy it with TNT) and finally paved over. Today it is a car park. 

The one bunker that remains and that is both usable and tourable is directly next to and was once part of Gesundbrunner Station. It, of course, wasn't destroyed because of its proximity to public transport. 

Today, tours enter the bunker guided by a straight-faced German woman whose dry humor works well with her straight-lipped, no-nonsense attitude. Everything in this underworld is grey, except the rusting artifacts. The walls still bear the paint indicating which direction the toilets are, how many people can fit in a bunker, as well as messages about the war. One wall still highlights the phosphorescent paint used for the inevitability of a blackout. Though faded now, at one point it was rumored to have been so bright you could read by it. We were warned not to lick the walls.

The bunker on its own is pretty amazing, but the collection of things assembled from the war are what make the bunker downright impressive. Included in the collection are helmets with bullet holes, propaganda, old weaponry, condoms (dried and certainly ineffective), suitcases, shoes, and knickknacks either salvaged from Berlin's rubble or left in the bunkers.  

After the war, Berlin was in ruins. Anything salvageable was used for, well, anything. Helmets were turned into cooking pots, a bomb was turned into an oven, bricks were cleaned and repurposed in order to rebuild; and the vast majority of this work was done by women. There was nothing to eat and stories remain of people eating newspaper and tapestries. Rubble turned into playgrounds for youth that had survived the siege of Berlin, but often turned disastrous when unexploded artillery was disturbed by young feet. According to our guide, more Berliners died after the war than during it. 

The bunker leaves visitors with a strange sense of both calm and eeriness, much as one could imagine the occasional inhabitants felt as the crowded into the small spaces, lured by the promise of safety from the world on fire above them. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ich Bin Eine Berliner


If Prague is the Louvre, Berlin is the haphazard pages of a child's coloring book.



Mostly decimated after WWII and then immediately split into opposing sectors, each instructed to demilitarize Germany (read: blow the living crap out of anything the Nazis could potentially use against any of the Allies or the Soviets), Berlin has barely had a chance to live. It is the youngest 800 year old city that I can think of because, as a modern state, it's really only 27. I'M older than modern Berlin.


What it lacks in eye-catching architecture, it makes up for in charm. Free museums, impressive graffiti, affordable restaurants boasting all kinds of international cuisine, bakeries with freshly made goods, and history - albeit oppressive history - around every corner. Most of the buildings, even the ones in former West Berlin, are pretty dreary looking, and reminiscent of times where grey, concrete slabs were the height of fashion and then off efficiency. But artists - both commissioned and not - have lifted their brushes (or rather, their spray cans) and have added some color to an otherwise very drab city.

Even though the buildings lack panache and I'm starting to believe that there is one loud ambulance for every fifth person in this city, Berlin has a certain je ne sais quoi, and I really like it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

One Day in Bratislava

Do not be fooled: Bratislava can be conquered (in the tourist sense of the word) in one day. Not Even two hours outside of Vienna and Bratislava is a world away from Vienna's ritzy, Baroque neighborhoods and is instead a pseudo-Bohemian daydream.

Greyish, yellowish buildings with red-orange roofs welcome you to Bratislava. The first stop is a short hike up some hills and Uneven stairs to Bratislava Castle, the city's primary castle, once owned by the Hapsburg and done up in Maria Theresa's typical style. Although we aid for a ticket in, I would suggest skipping That the entry price and simply wandering around the palace's fa├žade is quite good enough. The interior is Mostly reconstruction from the 1950s Following a devastating fire and, as Opposed to showcasing the rooms and Remains of the castle, much of the castle is now a museum featuring art work, Bratislavian history, and war stories. One cool section Allows visitors to ascend into one of the castle's towers And Then descend to a basement holding St. Stephan's crown, but the whole ordeal takes about 15 minutes.

After the castle, enjoy the views of Bratislava; the unique roofs covered in winter's fog, before making your way to the old town, Which sits at the foot of Bratislava Castle. The Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets, intimates clozes, and architecture you strain your neck to look at. The main areas of interest, referring to: Within are all about one square mile.


Wind your way in and out of the main square, taking in the kitschy souvenir shops, the beautiful statues, intricate carvings, and the occasional open church, Which lets you walk in, breathe in the Godliness seeping through the stained glass, and leave again free of charge.

Lunch is best done just outside the town center to save yourself a few euros. Be prepared for huge Portions and Cheap beer.

After lunch, continue your exploration of the town, this time heading outside of the town square closer to the river. Walk along the river and see the Opera House, the libraries, and the adorable little houses look like That They should be lining a canal in Amsterdam. If you care to (and if it's not closed), Devin Castle, just outside the main part of the city is Another popular stop.

As you make your way back into the main square, pass under St. Michael's gate, making sure to look up, down, and all around you. Although it's small, Bratislava is a feast for the eyes.


In the late afternoon, stop at a cafe - I suggest La Cocina - to have a coffee or an Aperol Spritz and get your energy back up with a delicious treat, like homemade cupcakes or an absolutely indescribable bar with a Buttery graham cracker crust, thick caramel, walnuts and salty.


As evening descends on Bratislava, enjoy the hues and the shadows cast by the Old Town and from the castle. Hop on your bus. You'll be back in Vienna soon.