Friday, March 30, 2012

Flashback Fridays: The World Wide Web!

Photo Credit
Unlike the kiddos of today, I can remember a time without a computer. Obviously, this is a very vague memory because we got one when I six, but I still like to pull out that superiority card from time to time when talking to my 12 year old cousin. She can barely fathom that my first family computer would now be older than she is.

I can distinctly remember the day I discovered the internet. It was a Friday afternoon back in 1998. Before taking me to my Dad's house for the weekend as is the custom with divorced families, my Grandmother and I stopped at the supermarket. There at the end of the check-out counters I saw the beauty before me: a beautiful row of shiny CDs promising the gift of the internet!

I quickly snatched a CD and took it with me to my Dad's. I recall being in his kitchen eagerly handing him the CD saying, "Dad...I want to go to AOL Keyword: like the TV said to do." I apparently had no idea the Nickelodeon website existed without having to have AOL.

What happened next changed my world forever...I found out we actually already had the internet. We had some magic thing called Comcast that was super fast. Shortly thereafter, my Mom got the internet, but she had dial-up. Let's reminisce with the beautiful melodic sound of dial up internet doing the actual dialing up part:

Does anyone remember how awesome websites from the 90s looked? All those hyperlinks! All those snazzy graphics! All those fancy HTML tricks! If you don't remember, perhaps this slide show of 90s websites that still exist will help you out. My personal favorite is the official website for the movie SpaceJam. It's been left untouched since its launch in 1996. Another gem is the website for You've Got Mail.
So Beautiful. So Simple. So 90s
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. 
Yes, folks, the 90s were a much simpler time for the Internet. Imagine if these sites are still up 50 years from now. Future generations will be so confused. Of course, this adheres to the underlying assumption that we're still using the internet then. With the rapid increase of newer and faster technology we're experiencing, who knows?

What were your favorite 90s sites? Do you remember your first encounter with the world wide web?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: The Cast of the Nanny

Photo Credit:
Hello my fellow nostalgia seeking friends! This week I've decided to take a look at the cast of one of my favorite TV shows, The Nanny. No judging! This is a judgement free zone! I'll admit that when my Mom watched it regularly back in the 90s, I wasn't a fan. I couldn't stand Fran's nasally voice, and her viewing time totally cut into my Barney watching time. Not ok. Only child problems. 

However, when Nick at Nite began re-airing episodes a few years ago, I became completely addicted. I began to actually appreciate the witty humor of the show. It's a perfect sitcom; it doesn't take itself too seriously, and the whole ensemble shines. Except maybe that Brighton kid; he actually annoyed me more than Fran's voice.

I actually loved it so much that my Dad scored me the complete series on DVD from some company in China. Yeah, that sounds completely legal, right? Well, the US only offers seasons one through three on DVD, so it's their own fault for not making the following three available!
My Box Set of All Six Seasons
The Nanny aired on TV from 1993-1999, so what has the cast been up to over the last thirteen years?(Side Note: Can anyone else not get over the fact that 1999 was thirteen years ago? I still think the 90s were only 10 years ago. Woah, reality check.) Anyways, a lot of the cast members have been surprisingly busy since then! Kudos to them for keeping active long after the series ended. 

Fran Drescher: The Nanny's central character has managed to still stay in the limelight for a bit. Not only has she remained active, she also beat cancer! She currently stars in a show on TVLand titled Happily Divorced. It's based on Fran's real life experience in which she married a man and later found out he was gay. Oops. However, two have remained amicable and are still close friends. He actually directs some episodes of Happily Divorced. Nanny fans will be happy to hear that there will be a brief Nanny reunion on this new show! 

Nanny Cast. Photo Credit:
Charles Shaughnessy: Mr. Shaughnessy stared as the dashing and charming Mr. Sheffield, Fran's main love interest and employer. Ooooh Scandalous. Since The Nanny ended, Charles has remained on Television, guest starring on shows such as Mad Men, Days of our Lives, Hannah Montana, and CSI: NY. I also recall catching him on an episode of Jeopardy! during the "celebrity" championship. He sadly lost to to Michael McKean.  Much like Fran and her actual ex-husband, the two have remained close, and he's made cameos on her other TV shows. He regularly updates his YouTube channel with vlogs. 

Daniel Davis: Everyone's favorite british butler, Niles, certainly gave that other snarky british butler on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air a run for his money. Niles' quick one liners were often the comedic heart of the role. Mr. Davis hasn't done much on television since The Nanny; he's instead re-entered the realm of professional theatre. He starred as the the title character in King Lear in a recent production by The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. 

Lauren Lane: Niles' foil, the over dramatic and egotistical C.C. Babcock has kept a low profile since the end of the show. She's currently a professor in the Texas State University Theatre Department. During the latter half of The Nanny's run, she gave birth to her daughter, so she's made being mom her main focus since then.

So there you have it! Aren't flashbacks fun? I'd like to end this post with an invitation to you!

Does anyone have any "Where are the now?" requests? Feel free to leave some ideas in the comments.

Until then, I leave you with The Nanny's extremely catching and easily stuck in your head theme song:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Memory Mondays: Crash and Burn

Little Courtney Passed Out
This is a Monday post. It's Tuesday. I think that explains itself. Just got back from spring break, and now I'm a little overwhelmed by the work load ahead of me, but then again aren't we all? Still adjusting to figuring out what day it is.

It would be nice to go back to the time when all I had to worry about was feeling worn out after a long afternoon of playing kick-ball in the cul de sac or when the most complex math problems were ones that involved fractions. But alas such is not the case.

Big Courtney Passed Out

It's time to buckle down and face April head on. Let's hope I don't end up like I did in the picture above.

Too late.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashback Fridays: Spring Break

Ah Spring Break! Just as soon as the semester starts to get tough, colleges are thoughtful enough to give their students a much needed break. As I posted earlier, mine has been rather tame, but some of my fellow students are off living the good life down in the gulf. However, this is nothing new. College students have been flocking to the coasts since the early 60s. It seems each break brings more sunburns and even more scandals.

Back in the 1990s, I was, of course, spending my spring breaks playing with Barbies or running around my yard. Nothing really scandalous to talk about there, but I am curious as to what I could have been doing as a college student in the 90s. A quick YouTube search led me to this inside edition gem from 1989 (close enough!). Enjoy:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: Aaron Carter

Mention the name Justin Bieber to basically any girl between the ages of eight and fourteen and they may just start crying. I don't really understand the phenomena, but then I had to look back on my childhood. It seems every generation has an attractive, poppy, crooning, young man that girls love to swoon over. My Mom had David Cassidy & Donny Osmond. We've established today's girls have Justin Bieber. We had Aaron Carter.

Really, looking back on this is quite embarrassing. So to you little Bieber Fever fans: one day you will grow up and look back on all this fandom and wonder why you were so crazy about a boy who sang like a girl. Welcome to adulthood. Please indulge in reminiscing the embarrassment that is "Aaron's Party (Come and Get It)"

I don't really remember how Aaron fell of the charts, but I guess like most pop stars his celebrity flame just dimmed. However, he actually hasn't fallen off the face of the earth. After some quick googling, I found out he's still trying to remain active, but then again aren't all former child stars?  

Unsurprisingly, he ended up in rehab for a bit, but once again, don't most child stars? I'm not surprised. When you're like eleven years old rapping about the party you're throwing you're pretty much destined for the Betty Ford Center

Now he's out of rehab and updating his MySpace Page with some new music. Yes. MySpace page. People still use that? How long was he stuck in that center.... 

He's also been starring in the long running off-broadway show The Fantasticks. Unfortunately he recently had to take a break because his sister Leslie died. (No Snarky Courtney Commentary; that's quite sad.)  

If you're really interested in keeping up with what he's up to, he has a Twitter. Such gems include: 
  • "Burping and sneezing at the same time is dangerous."
  • "80 days cigarette free. I've never felt better and my music director says my voice sounds amazing! Kick the habit everyone! Your worth it!"
  • "All creative people must have been dropped on their heads as children.."
  • "What if all we had were our hands.. Would that be enough?" 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Memory Mondays: Mother Dear

Mother Daughter Pic Awwww 
Break out your tissues folks: it's semi-sappy post time. I'm home for spring break this week. Most of my comrades are flocking to PCB for escapades of debauchery and morning after regrets, but I'm opting for a much more tame week at home.

While some people would absolutely dread returning home, I don't really mind it. Maybe it's an only child thing? I'm just happy to spend a week with my Mom.  

I have a lot of fun memories with my Mom over the years. I think one of my earliest memories is from my toddler years when we lived in our first house. I can recall waking up, going into her room, curling up with her and watching reruns of I Love Lucy on TV. We still like to catch it if a marathon is on.

I can also recall the fun day trips we spent together when she was still a stay at home mom. Anything from parks to library trips were fun filled adventures. Eventually, after my parents split, she returned to teaching. I remember sitting in my first grade classroom being very upset because she wasn't there to send me off on the bus the morning of her first day on the job. However, I quickly became ok with her going back to teaching because that meant we were on the same schedule. We were fortunate enough to be able to bake together on snow days and spend summers together. (She always says the three best reasons to become a teacher are June, July, and August)

Throughout everything, she's always been there for me. Anything from a minor boo-boo to the more serious broken hearts. I can't thank her enough. I honestly think if one day I turn out to be half as good of a mom as she is I will be quite fortunate. I am so blessed.

So here I am on spring break looking forward to a few dinners together before I return to school. I don't need a crazy trip or brief getaway. I've got it all here at home.

(OK this was really sappy and cliche, but deal with it. I promise I won't do this all the time)

May All Your Memories Be Meaningful,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flashback Fridays: "Science-y Things"

Ms. Frizzle & Bill Nye Leave No Child Left Behind.
Photo Credit:
When it comes to things involving Math & Science, I am always the first to admit that I haven't got a clue. I'm fine with words, literature, art, and facts, but once you throw numbers in there, you've lost me.

Case in point, I somehow managed to find a loop hole at my college that has allowed me to take JOUR175: Media Literacy as a Math Science course. It didn't involve equations or number voodoo magic, just analyzing articles and thinking critically.

However, if those actual math science courses had been taught by the great science teachers of the 90s, I would have been far more willing to take the classes. I am, of course, referring to Bill Nye the Science Guy and everyone's favorite elementary school teacher, Ms. Frizzle.

I can recall many mornings spent watching those shows before heading off to my real school. I think it's safe to say (as that handy graph points out) that I learned much more from those shows than I did sitting in an overcrowded classroom. Who says television rots our brains? I definitely learned some valuable life lessons from both shows.

The best day in any classroom was when you arrived to class and saw that big TV set on the cart. You know this one:
It usually meant one thing: Bill Nye videos. That show had everything: dinosaurs, terrible child actors, experiments to try at home, experiments you're not allowed to try at home, and that awesome theme song! (Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Nye the Science Guy!) Because of that song, I will never forget that "inertia is a property of matter." I'm not even exactly sure what that means, but I know it, That has to count for something, right? Perhaps it will come in handy if I am on Jeopardy one day.

Bill Nye is actually still teaching science. It seems some people need to go back and watch his videos again. Watch as Bill attempts to explain Global Warming and the moon to a Fox News anchor: 

Perhaps Bill Nye could have used some help from the other best science teacher of the 90s, Ms. Frizzle. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wished my class field trips were as cool as hers. My class only went to the body exhibit at the science center. Ms. Frizzle's class got to actually go inside a body. Talk about hands on learning. 

Ms. Frizzle taught more than just those "science-y things." She also taught some valuable life lessons. I absolutely love her catch phrase: Take Chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy! 

Wise words my friends. So even if you're like me and not inclined towards the math science or somehow gifted in those skills, you can still take those words to heart. In whatever field you pursue, don't be afraid to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. Oh, and never forget: FoxNews doesn't know what they're talking about. Those four things will get you far in life.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: Justin Timberlake's Hair

Ok, so it's totally a lazy Wednesday here in the blogosphere. I'm two days away from Spring Break, and a few hours away from turning in an important assignment. But, I am dedicated to keeping these posts going so I present to you:

What happened to Justin Timberlake's hair?

Remember when Justin Timberlake was one of the members of N*SYNC? I can't remember the other members' names because, well, they're not Justin Timberlake, and they're not doing anything of note.

Well, back in the N*SYNC days, Justin Timberlake looked a lot different.
Photo Credit: MTV

Now his hair is styled in more of a buzz cut fashion. What happened to those curly locks? They became the inspiration for every college student's late night treat: 
Photo Credit:
And that is what became of Justin Timberlake's curly hair. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Memory Mondays: Chuck E. Cheese

Little Courtney & The Ball Pit of Germs
Let's talk about Chuck E. Cheese. I hope you all know what Chuck E. Cheese is; I mean after all it's still around and thriving. Who knew a giant rat, pizza, and video games was so recession proof?

I'm sure everyone has some sort of memory from Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe it was one of seven birthday parties you attended there. Perhaps it was a traumatizing encounter with an overgrown rat.  Or even a fond nostalgia for the pizza. Any time I eat left over pizza, I always think back to the cold pizza at Chuck E. Cheese.

You probably also remember Chuck E. Cheese's security system. I can recall the hand stamps back in the day. When you entered, they would stamp your hand with some magic ink that only appeared under black light. The stamp had a number, and your parents would receive the same stamp. It was supposed to be a foolproof way to prevent someone from abducting a kid.

Did you ever wonder what happened when someone did try to leave with a different number? I found out.

When I was probably four or five years old, I had an aunt who would watch me during the day. Looking for a source of easy child entertainment, she took me to Chuck E. Cheese. Well of course, we got the hand stamps. However, my Mom came to join us later that day. She too received a handstamp. A different handstamp.

Eventually, it was time to leave, and I was heading out the door with my Mom. Not so fast; we didn't have the same number! I guess my Mom calmly explained the situation. So it's not like I narrowly avoided being a milk carton kid or anything like that.

But what about an even worse form of irresponsible parenting? I'm not talking about the people who try to take home the wrong kid; I'm talking about the people who leave their kids at Chuck E. Cheese. Check out this recent news report from Good Morning America. Seriously watch it. It's both disturbing and hilarious.

So folks, next time you go to Chuck E. Cheese, make sure you have not only the right kid with you, but also that you actually have your kid with you!

May All Your Memories Be Meaningful,

Friday, March 9, 2012

Flashback Fridays: 90s Chick Flicks

For those of you who don't know, this blog's creation stems from a fantastic course I am taking at the University of Maryland. It's called ENGL 488B: Writing for the Blogosphere. In class, we occasionally receive challenges. This week's challenge is to respond to someone else's post/incorporate it into our own blog.

I've decided to tackle the subject of "Chick Flicks" as inspired by my fellow classmate's blog, Ezra Won't Shut Up. Ezra informed me that her favorite chick flick of her childhood was When Harry Met Sally. That's definitely a classic, but let's take a look at some great ones from the 90s.

Ezra begins by claiming, "We like to think chick flicks are about love in its ideal state, that they are about the best case scenario. I would actually argue that they are snapshots of female fantasy." I completely agree. Chick flicks somehow manage to tap into the inner minds of women. In fact, Sleepless in Seattle completely plays into that as an important part of its plot. The main character, Annie, dreams of finding a love like the classic old-time chick flick movie, An Affair to Remember. It's a chick flick within a chick flick! Chick-flick-ception. I think people fell in love with this movie because it showed a woman aspiring to achieve that chick flick female fantasy, and then, of course, in true chick flick fashion, she totally did.
So much love. So much passion. So much estrogen.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News

The chick flick romance is basically what every woman wants. Ezra argues

"Now, I can’t speak for all women (actually, I totally can, and you can’t do anything about it!), but I’m guessing most of you daydream as much as my friends and I do about the perfect guy [or girl] falling madly in love with us and getting married/moving in together and living together in the perfect blend of lighthearted jesting, cute shared traditions, and fiery passion." 

"She walked off of the street, into his life,
and she stole his heart." Wow. Ok.
Photo Credit: Movie
If you say you don't, you're lying. Everyone has their own little "female fantasy." For some, it's that perfect bliss of happily Ever After. However, what happens after that ever after? Reality sets in. The rest of Ezra's post analyzes the newest chick flick, The Vow, and how we sometimes lose sight of reality when we escape into the world of the movies. 

I think it's safe to say many escaped into the reality of some more 90s chick flicks. For instance, Pretty Woman. I looked up a list of The Top 10 Chick Flicks of the 90s. Sure enough, Pretty Woman was number one. 

Pretty Woman is supposed to be the "cinderella story" of the 90s. Girl is prostitute. Prostitue meets wealthy business man. Prostitue begins affair with wealthy business man. They fall in love. Uh oh. Prostitute is almost sexually assaulted by George Costanza. Wealthy Business man comes to her rescue. They live happily after...until she becomes a Runaway Bride...or something like that. You get the point. Highly unrealistic, but everyone loves it. 

We all love it because we also love to put ourselves into those situations. Ezra believes that an important part of chick flicks is that they are  "Vague slots for us to emotionally slide our personality into." Case in point: The Bodygaurd. Come on, who hasn't belted out the lyrics to this movie's iconic song "I Will Always Love You" in front of a mirror? You haven't? Well fear not. Get your belting voice ready, it's karaoke time:

Ok, moving on. Every decade has its great, tear jerking, chick flicks. Why? Because that's What Women Want. Yes, they're often unrealistic, but that's the formula that works. Women buy tickets and buy into the fantasy. 

Some chick flicks are so successful that they get to be re-released. In one month or so, Titanic will be back on the big screen...and this time in 3-D. I am not ashamed to admit that you will find me in line, most likely dragging my boyfriend along with me. (Sorry not sorry Dear!)  Will buy into that movie once again and I will eat it up. I will eat it up like the pint of Ben & Jerry's that often accompanies most chick flick watching sprees. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Where Are They Now?" Wednesdays: Steve from Blue's Clues

Back during the days when I used to rot my brain in front of the TV,  I had quite a few favorite TV shows. Unsurprisingly, most of them were on either Disney Channel or Nick Jr. At least they were somewhat educational.

One of my top choices was Blue's Clues. Let's bask in the nostalgia:

I remember eagerly sitting down in front of the TV with my bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese and watching it before rushing off to kindergarten every afternoon. I really don't know what it was that entranced me so much, but whatever it was worked.  Maybe it was the felt people, or that darling couple, Mr. Salt & Ms. Pepper.

Image Credit: Nick Jr. 
The most memorable part of Blue's Clues came in the form of the show's host, Steve. I watched during the golden age while he still danced around and searched for clues. He was later replaced by some impostor named Joe, and that wasn't even his real name.

After Steve's departure, many speculated over what became of him. There were rumors of a heroine over dose, but he's still alive and well. According to my roommate, "that's really disappointing."  There's not much to say about him now.  Shortly after leaving Blue's Clues, he pulled a Britney Spears and shaved his head. He also gave a music career a try.

 I'll have to admit, much like my roommate, I am rather disappointed by his low-key post Blue's Clues lifestyle.

SIDE NOTE: Did anyone else know that Blue was a girl?! How progressive!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Memory Mondays: Future Terrapin

Little Courtney Waiting To Grow Into Her Terrapin Shell
While preparing to write this blog, I spent a Sunday evening at home going through my Mom's old photo books from my childhood. I couldn't help but smile when I came across this one.

This photo was taken at the Baltimore Zoo some time around 1994/1995. Clearly, back then, I had no intentions of going to UMD. I was far too busy playing Barbies and watching movies to even know what my future would hold.

For those of you who don't know, UMD's mascot is a Diamondback Terrapin named Testudo. He's pretty awesome.  He's much cooler than a Blue Hen or an Orange Blob!

Here at UMD we take Testudo very seriously. You can find him at almost any event: anything from Basketball games to prestigious alumni functions. We even leave him offerings every time midterms and finals role around.

Offering to Testudo
Human Sacrifice Edition

I'd love to go back to the Zoo and take another picture in the turtle shells. I think they're still there? Well, if I fit in them, of course. Perhaps, I can even go in my cap and gown in two years. That would make a cute graduation announcement. Until then I'll just settle for some pictures with Testudo. Although no one knew what my future would hold when that picture was taken, I am glad it ended foreshadowing it just a bit.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Flashback Fridays: Game Boy Color

Game Boy in Atomic Purple
Photo Credit: Nintendo 
My Mom recently asked me what favorite christmas gift of all time was. I think she was slightly surprised when I answered the Game Boy Color of Christmas '98. Like many girls, I typically asked for Barbies, dress-ups, and all that jazz, but that christmas was different. Game Boys had recently re-entered the market--and this time in color! (Hence the name, duh.) I had to get my hands on one.

This was back during the Christmases when I had to still retreat to my room and go to sleep before Santa would magically arrive. I can still distinctly remember dreaming about the Game Boy color that night. You know when you have something big like a presentation due the next day and you just dream about it over and over? Yeah, that happened to me with the idea of receiving my Game Boy color.

I finally awoke, probably somewhere around 6 am much to my mother's dismay, and I eagerly rushed down the stairs. Unfortunately, this was the first Christmas after my parent's divorce, so I had to sit and wait for my Dad to arrive so he could join in the festivities. (I have an oddly specific memory?) Eventually, he arrived, and I was free to do what American children do best: tear open all of my presents in record speed.

I remember getting excited about my various other toys, but in the back of my mind wondering if my parents, er, Santa, had in fact fulfilled my number one wish. (Not gonna lie the same thing happened this Christmas with a Testudo Pillow Pet. Don't judge me; it's so fluffy). Finally the moment arrived, and I found the box that contained that awesome Atomic Purple Game Boy Color with the see-through plastic shell. 

Now, by today's standards, the Game Boy color pales in comparison, but at the time it was perfect. Its equivalent counterpart today has not one but two screen and even has a 3D feature. Nintendo has now dropped the "Game Boy" name, but the concept is still the same: handheld gaming system with a wide variety of games.

If you're currently missing some of your favorite handheld games, I've found a great online resource with ways to play them on your computer.

And for my fellow English majors out there, I present to you the greatest game that never was: The Great Gatsby Video Game. (WARNING: It's addicting)
Great Gatsby Video Game!