Monday, September 28, 2015

"All That and a Box of General Mills"

September 28, 2015 

This summer, General Mills decided to reissue a spin-off version of "Cinnamon Toast Crunch" that was released in grocery stores in 1995. But instead of cinnamon and sugar flavored in, it had cinnamon and syrup. It was called "French Toast Crunch."

I decided to purchase a box from the store a few weeks ago, and when I had it for breakfast one morning, it tasted better than I remember--and perhaps not as obsolete, for that matter. The same could be said for the 1990s, having grown up in that decade myself. Now seems a good time to recap on a few trends and facts mentioned on the back of the cereal box I purchased.

You played grunge or hip-hop jams on your boom box.
A: Well, I never owned a boombox. I did listen to music on stereos a lot, particularly the radio. My older brother was really into hip-hop and some grunge. 

You remember gas being under a dollar.
A: I don't, actually. 

You insisted that people "Talk to the Hand."
A: I do remember that phrase. 

You had clothes that were baggy, backward or neon.
A: I may have worn my shirt backwards a few times. 

You secretly prepared for Y2K.
A: I know Bugs Bunny and Company did with Subway sandwiches, though not secretly. I did anticipate it during the end of 1999. (I wonder what Prince was thinking then as well.) 

You went to the video store to rent VHS tapes.
A: All the time! Amazing they still have them at local libraries--at least, the ones I go to. (Arguably, the Disney Classics released in this format in the late 80s and early 90s still hold up.)

You knew the macarena dance by heart.
A: Who didn't?!?

You tight-rolled your jeans.
A: I did in high school sometimes, but that was in the early 2000s. So this response probably wouldn't count. 

You practiced doing the "Running Man" in the mirror.
A: N/A--I don't remember the "Running Man."

You played video games at home more than the arcade.
A: True. My older brother and I played everything from Nintendo to Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64. I didn't get that interested in Playstation or XBOX. I did play at the arcade a few times. 

You used the term "Chillin' at my Crib."
A: Actually makes me think of MTV in the early 2000s. 

You frosted your hair. 
A: Never

You totally ate French Toast Crunch for breakfast.
A: I did, one time or another. I also remember, specifically, certain cereal ads on T.V., including, but not limited to:

--Frosted Cheerios (featuring comedy veterans Gilbert Gottfried and Wayne Knight, and a host of other celebrities at the time and yesteryear)--"Tastes so good, this box never closes."

--Froot Loops (featuring Toucan Sam)--"Follow your nose"

--Cookie Crisp (featuring the cop and two burglars)--"Lots and lots and lots and lots . . ."

--Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles (featuring Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble)

--Frosted Flakes (featuring Tony the Tiger)--"They're grrrrrrrreat!"

--Rice Crispies (featuring Snap, Crackle, & Pop)

You occasionally threw the word "NOT" in at the end of a sentence.
A: More like quoted. Not occasionally, but at times. 

And here are a few other trivial facts I, myself, have incorporated about the 1990s:

In retrospect, my favorite songs would probably be: 
--"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," by Green Day
--"One Headlight," by the Wallflowers
--"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," written by Baz Luhrmann (Although this one's more of a graduation speech set to instrumental music, it's still intriguing, nonetheless. By the way, it was written in 1997, not 1999 as it says above.)



Movies and Films:
--Some of the most memorable movies of the decade came from Disney (Beauty and the Beast, 1991; Aladdin, 1992; The Lion King, 1994). The second film became one of Robin Williams' most famous movie roles (as the voice of the Genie), as did Mrs. Doubtfire the following year (1993).

--There were big-action, sci-fi blockbusters like Jurassic Park (1993), Independence Day (1996), and Men in Black (1997). The latter two made Will Smith (a.k.a. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") a star.

--Jim Carrey made his starring-role debut in three films in 1994 (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber), which I loved. But that was before I became a lot more discerning in recent years, as I have towards other certain "comedies" starring Mike Myers (Austin Powers, 1997, pictured earlier), Eddie Murphy (The Nutty Professor, 1996), and Adam Sandler (Billy Madison, 1995), to name a few. Carrey did display some impressive dramatic chops later in the decade with The Truman Show (as the title character, 1998) and Man on the Moon (as Andy Kaufman, 1999). Yet, some of his more "appropriate" stuff still makes me laugh.

--Tom Hanks had a pretty prolific decade. His filmography ranged from sports (A League of Their Own), to romantic comedy (Sleepless in Seattle), to drama (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, The Green Mile), to music (That Thing You Do!), to space (Apollo 13), to war (Saving Private Ryan), and voicing (Woody in the Toy Story films).

--Some family entertainment came in the form of talking-animal pictures (Babe, 1995; Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, 1993).

--And Pixar began their unprecedented filmography with Toy Story (1995), followed by a bug's life (1998) and Toy Story 2 (1999).

Favorite TV shows were on the following channels:

--Nickelodeon (Doug, Rugrats, Clarissa Explains It All, Salute Your Shorts, Alex Mack)

--ABC (Full House, Family Matters, America's Funniest Home Videos)

--Cartoons on both channels, as well as on Fox or others (The Pink Panther, Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Tiny Toons)

Thursday, September 10, 2015


September 10, 2015

When the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were complete in construction in the early 1970s, they represented “America’s financial might” and were “probably the symbol of capitalism in the world” ( At 110 stories each, they were the tallest buildings in the world at the time.

On September 11, 2001, they were destroyed in an act of terrorism that left a nation crippled. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of ordinary individuals came together before and during the aftermath of the attacks. The Ground Zero memorials were created in memory of the victims of this tragic day. And from the ashes came the start of a reported work-in-progress to rebuild the site. 

Director Shaul Schwarz’s documentary short “Rise” (from TIME’s Red Border Films, which you can view here) briefly chronicles the construction of the One World Trade Center (1 WTC) tower and the iron workers who helped make it happen. 10,000 workers were reportedly involved in this building’s construction (which completed for the opening in May this year). Consisting of 102 stories (1,776 feet tall) topped by a 408-foot spire, a virtual elevator that recreates the growth of New York City, and a view that stretches as far as fifty miles (including the view of Philadelphia and New Jersey), 1 WTC now stands as the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, and the third tallest building in the world. 

Just as in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, it’s a story of ordinary people coming together to achieve the impossible and to rebuild from out of the rubble and to the skies. Hence a rebirth as well as a monument in memory of the men and women and families of 9/11.

The One World Observatory (center), above the Ground Zero memorial sites