Pegged on SEGA's 60th anniversary, the company announced a tiny version of their Game Gear 8-bit handheld console first released in 1990. It will sell for 4,980 yen (US$50). From IGN:
The Game Gear Micro is currently only available to preorder in Japan and will launch on October 6th. At time of writing, there has been no news of a Western release for the device.
The console has a one-inch screen, and will arrive in four colour schemes, each with a different set of four games preloaded...
Game Gear Micro (Sega.com) Read the rest
[NSFW] The Spice Channel was a softcore pornography cable TV offering in the 1990s. If you didn't pay for a subscription, you could still see scrambled video, which elevated the original video into psychedelic deep dream abstract art experiments. Here are a few clips.
From the YouTube description:
Signal bleed, or scrambling was a filter used by TV providers to partially block premium channels. This loophole was used as a form of advertisement. In 2000, United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group "required that cable television operators completely scramble or block channels that are "primarily dedicated to sexually-oriented programming" from 10 pm to 6 am."
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In 1994, exercise equipment maker Life Fitness partnered with Nintendo on the Life Fitness Exertainment System with games designed for the Exertainment bike. Above is a promotional video for this short-lived product.
The footage shows how the system works and also alludes to Tetris and Pac-Man being made for the system as footage was even shown, but the only games to come out for the system were Mountain Bike Rally and Mountain Bike Rally/Speed Racer combo for the Lifecyle 9XS gym version.
And here's a description of the the Exertainment System Mountain Bike Rally/Speed Racer cartridge that now sells for more than $1300 on the collector market:
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Welcome To The Exertainment System Game Pak! In this one Game Pak you can select from three exciting game titles: Program Manager Your Very Own On-Screen Trainer! Life Fitness Program Manager is your electronic personal trainer. It sets your personal workout goals and retains personal workout information for up to four members of your family. Program Manager is perfect for motivating you to get in shape and for tracking workouts - all while you're having fun on the Exertainment system! Mountain Bike Rally Wow! What a ride! Hop on your Lifecycle trainer and race against riders bent on winning at all costs. Watch out for punches and strike back at those cycling foes. But keep one eye on road obstacles. They're at every turn. Quick, choose the ramp routes and leave your opponent in the dust! Speed Racer Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.
I'm not an obsessive listener to the Reply All podcast, but when it's on, it's on — and this week's episode is fantastic. Host PJ Vogt is contacted by Tyler Gillett, a film director who is absolutely not a musician, about a song that he remembers from his childhood. Every word and note of this alleged 90s pop song is perfectly imprinted onto Gillett's brain … but there's no proof anywhere on the Internet that such a song has ever actually existed. They even go as far as to recreate the song in a studio with a professional band, completely from Gillett's memory.
The full hour episode is strangely gripping, and offers some fascinating insights into the ways that we remember things, as well as the bizarre world of that late 90s major label music boom. (Also: Barenaked Ladies.)
Reply All #158: The Case of the Missing Hit [PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman / Gimlet Media]
Image: Hanul / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest
An iconic 1990s junk food, Betty Crocker's Dunkaroos are packages of cookies and sugar paste, I mean frosting, for dipping. They were discontinued in the US in 2012 but will return this summer because the 1990s are cool again. Above, a 1997 TV commercial for the Dunkaroos tie-in with The Lost World: Jurassic Park movie.
(via Obscure Media, thanks Lux Sparks-Pescovitz!)
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Did teenagers use pagers in the 1990s? I don't know any who did. Nevertheless, here's an LA Times sidebar that shows the codes kids used to chat via pager back in the day.
[via r/coolguides] Read the rest
Edison Electric Institute created this fantastic public safety video in 1990 with CGI that's been aged to perfection for today's vaporwave music videos.
(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest
Vaporgoth composers take note for your next music video: the developers behind Microsoft Excel 95 left a marvelous easter egg hidden in the spreadsheet hell. Welcome to the "Hall of Tortured Souls." More background at the wonderful Easter Egg Archive.
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Manhattan in the early nineties, captured on what must have at the time been an unusually high-def camera.
The uploader of this incredible archival B-roll footage said to be of New York in 1993 says they captured it off of “a D-Theater HD DVHS Demo Tape by techmoan.com.
It's pretty incredible.
I miss this NYC.
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The original Smashing Pumpkins (sans D'arcy Wretzky), on the road again for another US tour, are covering James Taylor's classic "Fire and Rain" from his 1970 masterpiece Sweet Baby James. It's a lovely, trippy cover and hearkens back to their 1994 take on another '70s rock classic -- Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" (video below).
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If you saw the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary Dig! about the frenemy neo-psych bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you'll remember that the real star wasn't either of the bands' frontmen but rather the BJM's inimitable, lovable tambourine player Joel Gion.
Rocking his impressive mutton chops and 60s shades, Joel has spent the last 25 years performing with the BJM and releasing his own excellent music while slinging vinyl to make ends meet in the impossible city of San Francisco. Combine that unconventional life with Joel's skewed sense of adventure, razor wit, and relentless pursuit of laughs, and you end up with some killer yarns. Joel's got stories for ages. And now he's writing a memoir to share the weirdness with the world. I've read bits of what he's been writing and it is far fucking out, a modern Beat's notes from the underground.
Support Joel Gion's Patreon so he can get it all down on paper.
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I’ve just launched a Patreon page for my book focusing on the few run-up years before the documentary-era. Click on the link on my profile page and become a patron to read over 3K words posted right now. I’ll be posting new writing or project related stuff every week. #joelgion #bjm
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Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.
Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)
From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:
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“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”
According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”
Cyberpunk is Marianne Tranche's 1990 documentary about the early cyberpunk scene. It features interviews with the likes of William Gibson, Scott Fisher, and bOING bOING patron saint Timothy Leary. While the brilliant Brenda Laurel appears, the film unfortunately missed many of the other badass female cyberpunks of the day like St. Jude Milhon (Mondo 2000), Lisa Palac (Future Sex), Tiffany Lee Brown (FringeWare Review), Stacy Horn (Echo), and of course bOING bOING co-founder Carla Sinclair!
As Dr. Tim said back then, "Turn on, tune in, boot up!"
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If you came of age in the 1990s, you couldn't help but know the lyrics to at least one James song. Laid is great! Not just the single, but the whole damn record. But here's the thing: It's not the greatest tune that the band has churned out. In fact, since Laid hit the charts back in 1993, James has continued to make absolutely fabulous, soulful music. If you're not familiar with their catalog, there's no better time than the present to fill your ears with their sounds. You'll find their songs on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Once you're caught up, you'll be ready to buy their new album, Living in Extraordinary Times, due to pop on August 3rd. Read the rest
USDish analyzed Google search data for the last 15 years to create this map of the United States showing each state's "favorite" sitcom. The Midwest loves Friends, four states and Washington DC prefer Friends, and (hooray!) California digs The Simpsons.
"Can You Guess Your State’s Favorite Sitcom from the ’90s?" Read the rest
Ready to feel really old? In this React video, a group of older teens -- they all seem to have been born right around the year 2000 -- put on headphones to listen to select music from the 1990s. Their task is to guess the song's title and the artist behind it. It surprised me a little that more of them knew Los Del Rio's "Macarena" than Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." (Though, honestly, I didn't recognize all the songs either and I lived through the 90s.) Read the rest