Did NPR Just Endorse Newt Gingrich?

This is from 2011. I actually met Newt Gingrich in 2000 when I was an intern at ABC News. The former Speaker has done and said many things since this post that would probably color how I would write it now.  But these thoughts below are in the context of the 2012 GOP primaries.  That was a at least two lifetimes ago.  – CC, 2018

Did NPR Just Endorse New Gingrich?

It depends on how you feel about the ’90s.  Brian Naylor’s Friday piece, entitled “To Imagine a Gingrich Presidency, Look to the ’90s” ends on the obligatory NPR dead-note (“It’s impossible to predict what kind of president Gingrich would make, but if his speakership is any guide, it seems safe to assume a Gingrich White House would be one of bold ideas and polarizing politics,”) but otherwise paints a picture of Speaker Newt as a shrewd, if closeted, bi-partisan compromiser due a big slice of the credit Bill Clinton often gets for making the 90s rock just that hard.

Even the title sounds like an endorsement.  Weren’t the ’90s the last good American decade?  The last American decade, period?  Oh, sure, we were blissfully sewing the seeds of every problem we now face, only kind of trying to contain Al Queda, and doing a Wag the Dog war in Kosovo because Kosovars are white (even if they’re Muslim, right?) and Clinton had a sex scandal.

Whoa, wait a minute.  That sounds really, really cynical.  But maybe that explains the influx of visitors to this blog searching for information about Thomas L. Day’s recent Washington Post op-ed.

In any case, I will always love you, The ’90s. You had me at hello.

Lawrence Lessig has a different take on Gingrich. What do you think?

Google’s New Design: White and Black and Red All Over

When I was looking for our friend Chad Hogg’s Lehigh University profile, I discovered that in addition to the fancy schmancy black Google bar, the search pages now have a red text motif and look streamlined. They even have new icons. Observe:

I’ve decided to call this Google Wolfpac. Yes, Mom, I’m 31 years old and reasonably well-educated, but this is where my mind goes:

Someone hit the Big Kev theme.

My Greatest Sports Revelations of 2011

Perhaps my greatest sports revelation of 2011.

This image is via Yahoo!Sports. Peyton Manning, you look exactly the same. Cliff Lee, how is it possible that you were a teenager at precisely the same time I was? It’s not that you look old now…it’s just that you’re so talented, I assume you’ve been pitching since the dead-ball era.

Me in 1998.

Whatever Happened to the 90s?

taken by me during a trip to hollywood. This i...
This exists.

This is another dip in the old search-query-that-brought-someone-here-mailbag.  This question is honest and simple, and I spent a good part of my mid-20s trying to figure it out.  Here’s what I came up with:

Generation Y.

Yes. Everyone who was just becoming a teenager as the 90s wore down, I’m talking about you.  This is what happened:

Your boomer parents gave you a lot of disposable cash for no good reason.

You spent it on Britney Spears, boy bands, and clothing that wasn’t ironically cool (that is, clothing that cost more than $4.)

You did not spend it on Oasis or Nada Surf or Harvey Danger.  You did not spend it on The Flys or New Radicals. You absolutely did not spend it on REM. You also didn’t didn’t spend it on AOR or Adult Contemporary (goodbye, that whole genre).  No New Bohemians, no Mazzy Star.  Good bye John Mellencamp.  It’s been fun, John Secada.  Peace out, Tonic, Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Joan Osbourne, Black Lab.

Hello, TLR.

Hello, all delighted teensters with your expendable non-work-related dollars.  Hello, Generation Bigger Than The Baby Boom.  Hello, malleable taste-makers, hello.

Goodbye, alternative radio formats.  Goodbye, Y-100.  Goodbye, you last hangers on of Generation X, you would-be Cusacks.  Goodbye, Empire Records.

Hello Music Town.

That’s pretty much it.

Sad 90s Music Roundup or “Whatever Happened To Alternative Pop?”

it was probably nothing like this.

I graduated from high school in 1998 and made the excellent choice of working at BestBuy that summer.  My domain was the media department, and my duties included farming CDs (I love doing that.  I started doing it at stores I didn’t even work at), helping customers make not-sucky choices (I added that to my job description), catching would-be shoplifters (the best), stocking shelves, and looking stuff up on the DOS databases. I was also expected to try to sell monster cables to people buying new media equipment and service protection plans for PlayStations.  I was better at the other stuff.

All of this is important for a few reasons:

Working at BestBuy was like what I imagine working at Empire Records would have been like if those meddling kids hadn’t convinced Joe (that really is Anthony LaPaglia, by the way) to damn the man.  At BestBuy, all the Ethan Embrys worked in media and all the Renee Zellewegers worked the registers.  We had polo shirts and BHAGs and talked about shrink.   My immediate supers, which were team leaders directly below the department manager, were in their mid-twenties, which made them world-wary and wise.  One was a Zeppelin freak, the other was bound to name his first son Sid Barrett.  DVDs were very new and DVD players were very expensive.  Where were the Liv Tylers, you ask?  Grow up, dear reader.  There’s no Liv Tyler.

Some really good music came out that summer, much of which we listened to for hours on end via the Turn On The Fun Summer Sampler.

I got to buy the biggest microfridge ever made on the cheap because of my employee discount.  To the gentleman who had that item reserved and never came for it, we did try to call you.  300 feet of rope later, my best friend and I sailed that thing down Rt 22 West in one of the more harrowing transports of our lives.  I’ll be honest, it may have been 300 yards.  If you think you can’t load two microfridges into one 12-year-old Tempo, think again, friend.  Think again.

That second point, as you may have guessed, is the one we’ll be exploring today via a round-up of archived posts from 2009 about 90s music and 90s awesome.  (I doubt you could have guessed anything after the word via, so I hope you like your surprise. I made it just for you.  If you hate it I can take it back, or make another out of tears.)

The Roundup:

Speaking of tears, here’s one of my favorite post titles ever:  How Not To Be Sad About the 90s.  The impetus for that one was that someone really did make their way to this blog by searching that term.  Bear in mind that this post is 2-and-half years old, written well before I learned to stop worrying and love the blog.  Also before I lightened up about a lot of things.  Turning 30 is now like what growing a mustache was in the 70s.

Everything to Everyone

Maybe I Just Like Sad 90s One-Or-Two Hitters is a post about whatever happened to alternative pop in the Top 40. I remastered this one a bit before re-releasing.

Sad (Great) 90s Songs, Part II is a follow-up to above, mostly because I’d finally figured out what the third song in the sad (great) BestBuy song trilogy was.

Oh, and don’t let anyone fool you.  I still can’t watch that Flys video without losing my mind about how the 2000s turned out.  Still, one thing I’ve learned since writing these old posts is that sometimes, you really can pick up with people right where you left off, and that sometimes, old contexts aren’t as important or as fleeting as what you keep on doing.

Brother, Where Art Thou on Craigslist? (A Post About Word Processors)

One day, you'll stop running. One day, you'll come back to us.
One day, you’ll stop running. One day, you’ll come back to us.

A few days ago, I wrote:

“If you’re roughly my age, we may share some of these academic distinctions:

  • last or close-to-last class of students to attend various Cold War or pre-war era schools before their 90s and 2000s-riffic renovations. (Elementary school, high school, college)
  • last or close-to-last class to take a typing elective where actual typewriters were used. (9th grade, but I didn’t really learn to type until I started using AIM the next year.) Possibly the last class to even be offered a typing elective.
  • last class to run DOS in a computer applications class. (10th grade)
  • last class to run DOS-based email and instant messaging on campus servers. (college)”
He ain’t heavy.

What I didn’t mention was that before I learned to type (and before my family got our first home PC) we had a Brother word processor, a fantastic 80’s device that combined the functionality of a computer with none of the fun. Still, as a budding writer, I was mystified by the green and black interface and by the mechanical goodness of the printing process, which pounded out every word and punctuation mark with austere, efficient resolve.  If you love the visceral feel of typewriter mechanics and, for whatever reason, the ability to edit typos before they actually print, brother, these things were for you.

I saw a featured post on the WordPress homepage today that took me back to the days of digital input and ribbon printing.  Dr. J asks, and thankfully answers, the defining question of word processing’s transitional age: “Mr. Owl, how many spaces really DO go after the period?”  One, he says.  Just one.

Sir, I think I must respectfully disagree.  See what I mean? Too close. Too close for comfort. My sentences need room to breathe, friend.  Like this.  And this.   Maybe not this, though I was first taught to do three spaces. This just feels wrong.  This is the good stuff.

Because I wanted to include a picture of a Brother word processor in this post, I found this excellent Craigslisting:

Brother Portable Daisy Wheel Word Processor – $35

Brother Word Processor WP- 2600 able to save document on discs, print, & see other worksheets, etc on the screen. Great for someone beginning to learn keyboard typing & doesn’t have access to computer. Prints & saves documents.


Whisper Print ultra quiet daisy wheel system
Standard 3.5″ 720KB disk drive for MS-DOS file compatibility with PC’s
Allows transfer to ASCII files
Allows conversion of spreadsheets to LOTUS 1-2-3 WK1 files
Double column printing
Icon main menu
Dual screen capability
Allows you to view two files simultaneously and exchange information between them
Easy to read 5″x9″ (15 lines by 91 character) CRT display with contrast adjustment
Special features
GrammarCheck I with “word-spell” 70,000 word dictionary and 204 programmable user words
Punctuation alert
Redundancy check
Word count
45,000 word thesaurus
Easy access pull down menus
On screen help function
Spreadsheet software
Uses Model 1030 correctable ribbon and Model 3010 correction tape
Bold and expanded print
Block copy/move/delete
Auto save
Automatic “Word-Out” and “Line-Out” correction system erases a single word or a complete line
Automatic relocation after correction
Direct and line-by-line typing to handle labels and envelopes
Full line lift-off correction memory
Disk copy allows you to copy text from one disk to another
$35 Cash


I’m not too enthused about the ultra quiet daisy wheel print system, but this post does a great job of showing us all the features that made these things practical for people who didn’t want or need a personal computer back in the day.  What a fantastic hybrid of nineteenth and twentieth century innovations, you are, Word Processor.  Even if you have no place in the 21st century market place, you’ll always have one in my heart.  Shine on, you crazy diamond!

In honor of you, and of the icy, wintry mix outside, I offer proof of how badly we needed you:

Life before Brother.
The minimalist artistry and pristine presentation of life with you, old friend.