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o you think you’re a 90s fan? OK, Jesus Quintana, can you handle this? It’s I Love the 90s, and this is 1998! The flicks, the fashions, the trends, the TV, the tunes—a totally awesome year that brought us these burning questions:
Exactly how many movies do we need about the microcosmic world of CGI ants?
Josh Timmermann: Right, this was the year that everything came in pairs. The meteor movies. The volcano movies. The computer-animated bug movies.
And whose boy was it, Brandy’s or Monica’s?
Ken Munson: Honestly? Until I saw the song credited in Billboard to two names, I thought there was only one singer.
Because you still love the 90s, because you still open up a can of whoop-ass and lay the smackdown when necessary, admit it, this is 1998!
*** Rushmore*** George Michael*** Powerpuff Girls*** Got Milk?***
*** Swing*** Boy Bands*** That 70s Show***
*** Chris Rock*** Pi*** Sosa/McGwire***
*** Deep Impact/Armageddeon*** The Grammys*** Barenaked Ladies***
*** Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas*** WWF*** The Big Lebowski*** Sex and Candy***
*** Nick Southall Hates Dawson's Creek*** Jesse Camp*** Starbucks***
*** Nu-Metal*** Forgotten Films: Buffalo 66***
*** Pamela Anderson*** A Bug's Life/Antz***
*** Forgotten Films: Hilary and Jackie*** That Boy Is Mine*** Seinfeld's Final Episode***
Joe Niemczyk: I have two kinds of friends. Those who love Rushmore, and those who are sure it's the worst movie ever.
Josh Timmermann: I love this movie so much!!
Zach Smola: Rushmore was, is, and will forever be one of cinema’s finest moments. It’s one of the best things I have ever seen. To me, it’s simply remarkable that you can relate to every single character in the film, even when they are in direct opposition to each other.
Ken Munson: Co-written by OWEN WILSON. Yes, Owen Wilson, who that year was starring in Armageddon. Yeah.
Christina Adkison: Rushmore consists of Jason Schwartzman, a kid who attend a private school on an academic scholarship. He's failing practically all his classes due to his over involvement in clubs. Bill Murray, who hates his own twin sons, becomes a father figure for him. Everything is peachy keen until they fall in love with the same woman.
Brad Shoup: Rushmore exists in its own fantastically-detailed little world. Everyone talks calmly and is capable of enlightened discourse. And 15-year-olds have unlimited budgets to stage adaptations of Serpico and Apocalypse Now.
Ian Mathers: Every single high school geek in North America wishes he was half as cool as Max Fischer.
Andrew Unterberger: Max Fischer had like, these crews ready to do his bidding at any endeavor, whether it meant getting cokes for the cast of his play or building a fish tank in the middle of the baseball diamond, just because he was that cool.
Ken Munson: The problem with the movie is that they try to make us believe Max Fischer is a nice kid deep down. He's not. He's a horrible little shit. A horrible little shit that's going to change the world someday, but still, a horrible little shit. You're not gonna fool me into thinking that he's gonna turn out all nice and sweet.
Joe Niemczyk: "I don’t care about the barracudas. Fuck 'em! I'm building it anyway!" I'm serious, is there a better all-purpose philosophy to life than that?
Brad Shoup: "I'm applying to Oxford and the Sorbonne. Harvard's my safety."
Ian Mathers: “These are O.R. scrubs” “O. R. they?”
Andrew Friedman: Schwartzman was good, but not so good that he was irreplacable. Bill Murray was the lynchpin of the movie.
Kareem Estefan: “Take dead aim on the rich boys” + smoking two cigarettes at the same time = Bill Murray’s greatest role ever.
Brad Shoup: For Bill Murray, Rushmore continued what Ed Wood started. I mean, I had no idea Carl Spackler could be so sad.
Josh Timmermann: I thought Bill Murray was a tad overrated in Lost in Translation, but he's simply perfect in this. My favorite scene, which never fails to crack me up, is where he's standing on Olivia Williams' doorstep and she offers him a carrot stick. His deadpan response: "Yeah, I'll have one of those." *takes a bite* Priceless!
Ken Munson: Having Bill Murray in this movie alone makes it good. Has Bill Murray ever done a performance this good? I doubt it.
Ian Mathers: I’d been a Bill Murray fan for years (ever since, err, Ghostbusters), but here he began really proving to the naysayers he could actually act.
Joe Niemczyk: The early buzz on Rushmore was that it was going to be the movie that finally got Bill Murray an Oscar nomination. Nobody knew that it was going to end up being one of the biggest mainstream cult films ever.
Ken Munson: There's something I don't like about Wes Anderson's directing that I can't quite put my finger on. It probably has something to do with the soundtrack choices, which are so perfect and yet somehow, so stodgy.
Joe Niemczyk: Can anyone today listen to "Making Time" or "A Quick One While He's Away" without thinking of the montage scenes in Rushmore? This movie alone brought The Creation back from obscurity and actually made The Who's weird, mini-rock opera relevant again.
Andrew Unterberger: After Rushmore it was obvious that Wes Anderson was going to go on to be one of the great filmmakers of our time, but I think people also expected Jason Schwartzman to go on to, you know, do something else. Not so.
Gavin Mueller: Didn't he join an emo band?
Andrew Friedman: Jason Schwartzman inexplicably joined and quit Phantom Planet and even more inexplicably did Slackers. I don't think there's any question what happened--HE FELL THE FUCK OFF.
Gabe Gloden: Shit dude, everyone knows Jason Schwartzman grew up to be Marilyn Manson… I mean, it was heavily documented on the Internet chat rooms.
Joe Niemczyk: Sometimes I wish he would've gone on to become a huge star. If anyone was going to restore the rightful sex appeal of the monobrow, it was going to be him.
Philip Buchan: Absolute best part about Rushmore: It is the only feature-length film I have ever seen in which one of the characters has my last name. Even if it had been a terrible film (it wasn't, of course), I would insist that it ruled based on that fact alone.
Zach Smola: But above all, Rushmore was great because it afforded a rare opportunity to see the kid who played Dennis the Menace narrate aloud a letter he wrote in crayon, and that letter was concerning betrayal via handjobs. A+.
Ben Woolhead: What’s white and drips down public toilet walls? George Michael’s latest release.
Andrew Unterberger: In 1998, George Michael was arrested for “lewd conduct” in a public park bathroom. According to the cops (and I quote), “(1) Michael was alone, (2) he was doing something, (3) the cop watched him do that something, (4) the cop arrested him”.
Ben Woolhead: I was doing a linguistics project at the time, and the day I’d earmarked to choose front page newspaper stories for comparison and analysis just happened to be the day after George Michael was arrested. And so my project ended up centering on the different ways different papers reported the incident. There were some novel euphemisms in there, I can tell you…
Brad Shoup: I can't imagine a worse beat than watching pop stars wank in bathrooms. Nor can I think of a better one.
Ben Woolhead: I can just imagine what happened when the cop got home that night. “Good day at work, honey?” “Not really, I got an eyeful of George Michael’s dick!”
Ian Mathers: Those police officers, no sense of humor.
Zach Smola: Entrapment or not, there are just certain things you avoid doing in a public restroom, no matter how much an undercover police officer may be provoking you.
Matt Chesnut: Wait wait wait. So, George Michael is gay? But he was so popular with the ladies.
Ken Munson: When the whole George Michael arrest/outing happened, I imagine that most people were torn between the same two emotions I was. On one hand, there was the complete non-shock at hearing the already well-known fact that George Michael was gay; on the other, there was the utter surprise at realizing George Michael still existed.
Gabe Gloden: I had a delusional friend and George Michael fan who was genuinely surprised and somewhat distraught by this discovery. She thought of him as the one studly and single leftover from the 80s.
Brad Shoup: Where were the clues? For starters, there was... his career?
Gavin Mueller: C'mon, I thought he was gay back in 1990 when I was wearing out my mom's cassette of Faith. I think addressing his lover as "you", a gender non-specific pronoun, is a tip-off that perhaps George doesn't have the scruffiest facial hair in his relationship.
Ian Mathers: I’d say George Michael coming out was more shocking than when, say, Elton John or Boy George did, but only very, very slightly. Which is kind of weird when I think about it, because even now the pretty heterosexual video for “I Want Your Sex” doesn’t seem odd or off key.
Nick Southall: Consider this – no “Outside”, no Eminem. Did we know he was gay? Not for sure, but the beard was a clue. No straight guy spends that long neck & cheek shaving.
Gavin Mueller: Plus, Americans think that every Brit is at least sort of gay.
Andrew Unterberger: George Michael did have a good sense of humor about the whole mess, though, dressing up as a cop in the racy “Outside” video and having the set be a dance floor that turns into a public bathroom. Cheeky.
Ben Woolhead: Perhaps he got together one night with Hugh Grant and asked him how best to raise his profile Stateside.
Zach Smola: It’s gotta be a little embarrassing to be caught in a situation like George Michael’s, but I suppose he made the most of it. However, I’m not sure how things worked in Europe, but regardless of how clever his “Outside” video was, it don’t recall seeing it much
Brad Shoup: But because he wasn't American, Mr. Michael's forced hand didn't translate into record sales or lasting controversy.
Andrew Unterberger: At least we got some funny headlines and dumb jokes about it.
Brad Shoup: Hey George, wake me up... before you're homo! AHAAHAAAHAAAHAA!!! BURN!
Ken Munson: Fighting crime, trying to save the world, here they come just in time, The Powerpuff Girls.
Adrien Begrand: This show had the best intro line on TV at the time: "THE CITY OF TOWNSVILLE..."
Kareem Estefan: “Girl power” was so 1997. In 1998, it was about “girl superpower” and Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup revolutionized the pre-adolescent feminism movement for generations to come. Well, not in the later seasons, those weren’t so good.
Brad Shoup: How come women get offered the goofiest crap to inspire them?
Matt Chesnut: Combining the psychotic cotton candy pace of Japanese cartoons with Rugrats voice actors, the Powerpuff Girls gave hope to giant-eyed, handless, freakish test-tube midget children everywhere.
Andrew Unterberger: The Powerpuff Girls was like the TV equivalent of chugging down ten pixie stix. Just a pure, unadulterated half-hour sugar rush.
Ken Munson: I really liked the Powerpuff Girls, but they were the delicious sugar cereal of cartoon shows. More than three episodes left me buzzed and disoriented.
Zach Smola: I’ll be straightforward and say that I’ve watched a lot of The Powerpuff Girls, and not because I think it’s cute or particularly acceptable for adults to watch. On the contrary, I’ve watched a lot of The Powerpuff Girls because I like cartoons a lot, and it’s a good cartoon. Granted, the whole elementary-school-girl-as-superhero thing is kind of weird, but it works.
Ken Munson: I like that the Powerpuff Girls had pretty much every single superpower imaginable. One episode they had telepathy, the next they had laser vision, then they could slow down time, etc.
Kareem Estefan: For months, I had a crush on a girl who was every bit as cute and bouncy as Bubbles. Repressed fantasies about a grade-school cartoon superhero? Seems like the most logical explanation.
Andrew Unterberger: The side characters made this one, though.
Brad Shoup: It was all about the loopy father figures. I would watch a series consisting solely of Professor Utonium and Dexter's dad. And if Cartoon Network wants, I can mail them a sheaf of finished screenplays I keep in my desk drawer.
Christina Adkison: I thought that some of the villians were pretty outrageous for a kids' show. Sedusa? The cross-dressing Him? That's a little too much for me.
Andrew Unterberger: Mojo Jojo is one of the all-time great cartoon villains. Megalomaniacal apes with a predilection for redundancy make for damn good TV.
Adrien Begrand: That episode with the Beatles parody was brilliant.
Ken Munson: My single favorite episode of any TV show is the Beat-Alls Powerpuff Girls episode, in which they just cram in every single Beatles reference they can into seven minutes. So cool.
Andrew Unterberger: Mojo’s best line comes from the Beatles episode, when he’s condescendingly offered a banana and stammers “OOOOHHHH THAT IS A MISCONCEPTION!”
Kareem Estefan: Most of The Powerpuff Girls episodes fell frustratingly short of the genius they so often grazed. Even “Meet the Beat-Alls,” a promising Beatles parody stuffed with luscious allusions and a mate for monkey-villain Mojo Jojo (Moko Ono), disappointed just a little bit. It seemed like the show’s writers handed in each script right before editing it one final, necessary time and lost out on creating one of the best cartoon shows of the 90s as a result.
Andrew Unterberger: It still beats the hell out of Spy Kids.
Zach Smola: Some things will never, ever, ever be cool. Milk is one of those things.
Christina Adkison: Wow, I'm so glad that we had advertisements for milk...I mean, before those awesome commercials, I had never even HEARD of the stuff. A white beverage? Now that's too crazy! And you can put chocolate it in? WAY too awesome!
Andrew Friedman: Did these only start in 1998? They seem timeless.
Joe Niemczyk: This was the apex of branding madness. It's just milk. People have been drinking it for thousands of years. Putting milk mustaches on Hanson isn’t going to boost consumer demand, no matter what the B.S. statistics say.
Ken Munson: I think recent health concerns over milk meant they had to drop the whole "Milk, it does a body good" thing. So instead we got "Got milk?"
Andrew Unterberger: Got Milk? marked quite possibly the only time in my entire life that I’ve been ahead of a trend. I’ve been drinking milk since day one, and have the height and lack of broken bones to prove it.
Gavin Mueller: Yo, I was on that milk tip since BACK in the day. All these Johnny-come-lately punks acting like they're O.G. milk...
Brad Shoup: I never got to experience that rush of discovering milk at the same time as everybody else. My mom was already on top of the stuff.
Kareem Estefan: I’m all for milk, but these commercials were terrible.
Ken Munson: The Got Milk television ads were hilarious and oh so true. It just doesn't work to wash down a great big chocolate chip cookie with Mountain Dew.
Brad Shoup: The Aaron Burr commercial was great. I don't remember the rest, though. Does milk hate me now?
Ken Munson: On the other hand, the Got Milk magazine ads and billboards were just gross. Why the hell would it benefit them to show tons of people with a great big nasty swath of old milk drying on someone's upper lip?
Andrew Friedman: SEMEN JOKE GOES HERE. LOLOLOLOL.
Joe Niemczyk: If anything, this campaign made me a little queasy. I like milk, but I don't slam it like a frat boy at a rush party, and I certainly don't get it all over my face.
Adrien Begrand: I find milk disgusting, so seeing celebrities with that stuff on their lips did nothing for me, other than make me want to throw them a napkin.
Kareem Estefan: Worse than the “Got Milk?” commercials themselves, though, were the countless variations and parodies, which somehow have survived to this day.
Matt Chesnut: This ad campaign is responsible for a gaggle of half-assed parodies. “Got green?” “Got beer?” “Got AIDS?” I don’t know, got any new ideas? No? Enh? Jesus.
Kareem Estefan: A couple weeks ago, I attended a lecture with the slogan “Got Human Rights?” as the first Power Point slide.
Zach Smola: I don’t care how many celebrities had milk mustaches, milk will never be a cool thing to drink. The ads really should have read: “Milk: Ummm…It’s Cooler than Osteoporosis.”
Andrew Friedman: The swing revival was pretty cool. The music was tight and it gave you an excuse to jump over people on the dance floor. You can't front on that.
Joe Niemczyk: For a few minutes in 1998, which happened to be the sum total of the six or seven times I saw that Gap commercial with “Jump Jive an’ Wail,” I really dug this swing thing.
Matt Chesnut: Oh, this takes me back to when I was working at a pharmacy as a soda jerk. I asked some dame to a local dance contest and we stole the show with our flips and classy digs. Oh wait, actually, that NEVER HAPPENED.
Andrew Friedman: It picked up easily as a trend because there was already a healthy swing scene in most of the country. I think the old timers and middle aged couples didn't quite know what to do when the MTV generation started showing up to their parties.
Gavin Mueller: I recall the marching band being way into this movement. And my mom.
Joe Niemczyk: I didn't get into swing, but most of my friends did. They tried to get me to go take lessons with them, but like the line dancing craze of a few years before, I wanted no part of it.
Ian Mathers: This trend was kind of cool for about a mintue (I kinda liked that "Hell" song), but quickly started to get on my nerves, in particular when hot girls with great legs traded in their mini-skirts for poodle skirts.
Andrew Friedman: Even though it was ostensibly a dance-based movement, I remember only dancing two or three songs for every few hours we went out. Most of the time we were sitting on the side practicing ridiculous moves. Throwing women in the air. Sliding under each other. Spinning around. Then at the end of the night, we'd dance the last few songs and show off whatever we'd learned. Though unless you were fuckin’ Gene Kelly, the swing movement didn't lend itself to getting laid.
Andrew Unterberger: One thing I’ll say for the Swing craze, it certainly made Bar Mitzvahs and weddings bearable for a couple of months. Sure, “Zoot Suit Riot” might not’ve been “House of Jealous Lovers” but it sure is preferable to fucking “We are Family” for the millionth time, ain’t it?
Gabe Gloden: Another example of a revival where the band names were more fun to hear than their actual music.
Zach Smola: What the hell kind of a name is the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies? Sheesh.
Brad Shoup: Hee hee... "Cherry Poppin'". Shhhh!
Andrew Unterberger: You know, I didn’t even think about that until right now. Honestly. No idea.
Phillip Buchan: That Cherry Poppin' Daddies video creeped me out, what with all of the vampish young ladies and scary making out and whatnot. Even though the lyrics to "Zoot Suit Riot" were about a bunch of sailors getting into a fight or something, the video led me to believe it was really about something obscene and occult.
Christina Adkison: The Cherry Poppin' Daddies confused me for the longest time...every time I heard the song "Zoot Suit Riot", I thought, "Who the heck is this Ryan guy?"
Brad Shoup: "Zoot Suit Riot" was even better in Spanish. I swear.
Zach Smola: If absolutely forced to respect one of these bands, I’d go for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, solely for covering an actual swing song with “Minnie the Moocher,” and appearing in Swingers. I wonder if it’s easier on an artist’s conscience to plunder music from 70 years ago as opposed to 30. Oasis and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies should debate this issue.
Ken Munson: This was the first musical genre I remember vanishing completely off the map before I even blinked. One day, everyone was dancing to “Zoot Suit Riot” at the school dance; the day after, the swing revival seemed even more ancient than the original swing movement.
Gavin Mueller: Dude, I was way to busy listening to German EBM and being a cynical 16-year-old to bother with that crap. Although I think I liked some Squirrel Nut Zippers songs.
Matt Chesnut: Bah, what kind of revival was this? Did anyone own a zoot suit? Did anyone pick up a brass instrument for longer than four months (and wasn’t in band)?
Adrien Begrand: They kept talking about swing bands and swing dancing on Friends around this time. Always the kiss of death.
Ken Munson: The music was actually pretty good, but I completely draw the line at swing dancing and ordinary people dressing like they came straight from the 1940s. That’s just bullshit. Go join a real subculture, like goth or something.
Gabe Gloden: After the subsequent deaths of the ska and swing revivals, I was kind of disappointed to discover there would, in fact, be no Polka revival. Imagine the great names that would have come out of that shit!
Brad Shoup: Now the swing kids' little brothers and sisters are indie dance fascists. Is this progress, people?
Adrien Begrand: Somewhere, hidden in the Florida swamp in the late 1990s, was a dank lair with a dozens of slimy pods, but unlike the ones in the movie Alien, these pods hatched coifed castrati.
Zach Smola: Ah, boy bands. Between these guys and Nu-Metal, it appears 1998 was one of those rare years in which record labels unleashed a two-fronted full-fledged attack on the very substance of music itself. Oh well.
Matt Chesnut: Much to the dismay of heterosexual males and people over the age of 25, teen pop came back with a mad vengeance. Groups of five (inferior groups had four) boyz aged 19-29 belted out ballads and bouncy pop songs.
Ben Woolhead: C’mon USA, get with the program – us Brits had had to endure a tidal wave of boy band shit ever since Take That’s demise left a gaping hole in the market, a gaping hole that record industry scumbags were desperate to plug in order to get their greasy paws on the teengirl pound.
Andrew Unterberger: It was inevitable, with the recent popularity of groups like All 4 One, Take That, and even the Spice Girls the year before, but it wasn’t a full-fledged pop movement until a little show debuted in 1998 called Total Request Live.
Gavin Mueller: TRL was my pop music awakening. I'd faithfully watch every day after school, regardless of the fact I hated everything on it. Eventually I was won over.
Ken Munson: “Will 'N Sync reclaim the top spot, or will Britney Spears hold the top spot again like it has for the last 43 days? Who gives a shit?? Watch the same ten videos we showed yesterday, in the same exact same fucking order, today on Total Request Live!” (*screams and cheers*)
Andrew Friedman: TRL...as if MTV could have made "music television" an even lower priority, they suddenly invented a show that showed AT MOST half of the video, then replaced the rest of it with 14 year olds screaming.
Brad Shoup: Hello, I'm Brad S., I'm from Austin, Texas, and I requested Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life" because they really are larger than life and they're such non-threatening yet sexy man-children!!! McNeil High School Color Guard rulez!!!
Adrien Begrand: It was amazing how it took MTV 15 years to copy Canadian TV channel Much Music's ingenious "live environment" idea. Somehow, in inimitable MTV fashion, it still came off as stiff and predictable. Plus, is Carson Daly the least charismatic television personality in history?
Christina Adkison: I don't understand the ideal of Carson Daly. He seems like some random guy they picked up from McDonald's, gave him a jean jacket and microphone and forced him to do a job he seemed to secretly loathe.
Ken Munson: I forgot why the hell I was watching it, but one day I saw Carson Daly on TRL interviewing Brian Johnson and Angus Young from AC/DC. At the end of the interview, he asked them if they thought the Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync were going to be number one this week. They gave him the most amused "Who cares?" look I've ever seen.
Andrew Friedman: It’s an interesting dilemma really--what's less interesting: boy bands singing, or a guy who looks like he should be in a boy band *talking* about boy bands singing.
Adrien Begrand: Carson Daly and Tara Reid...talk about a meeting of the minds there. Yeesh.
Christina Adkison: At least he was on less acid than Ryan Seacrest.
Andrew Unterberger: For a good year or so, the top spot on TRL flip-flopped between new videos between Backstreet Boys and N Sync, with KoRn permanently stranded at #3. No one else even had a prayer.
Ken Munson: I always found it fitting that the Backstreet Boys’ first hit video had them all dressed up as monsters, because I’ve always associated that boyband Max Martin sound with haunted houses or horror movies. It’s the music of my nightmares.
Christina Adkison: Backstreet's back, alright! Alright already!!!
Adrien Begrand: Grown men loved the Backstreet Boys. It was embarrassing. At my brother's wedding reception, they kept playing that "everybody rock your body" song over and over again.
Gavin Mueller: The best boy band songs were the dance numbers: "Everybody" by the Backstreet Boys and "I Want You Back" by 'NSync. Ballads were a dicier number (especially from Ohio pap-purveyors 98 Degrees), but BSB released the best of the bunch with "I Want It That Way."
Christina Adkison: As for the best of the bunch, I guess I would have to go with N Sync. But that's like asking me to pick my favorite veneral disease.
Brad Shoup: Boyzone had the gay one. 98 Degrees had the closeted ones. 5ive simultaneously brought Brian May back from the dead while killing "We Will Rock You".
Josh Timmermann: The best thing anybody from 98 Degrees has done is devirginize Jessica Simpson
Ken Munson: But I think Western civilization as a whole hit its nadir with LFO’s “Summer Girls.”
Brad Shoup: LFO was a trio of young Dadaists, bent on engineering a Richard D. Jamesian takeover of the pop charts with a string of impossibly bad hip-pop singles. Are we sure that the KLF retired?
Christina Adkison: LFO was by far the worst. Their songs were filled with disgusting sappy lines mixed with random culture shit from Trivial Pursuit cards. For example: "You’re the best girl that I ever did see, The great Larry Bird Jersey 33 ".....what the fuck???
Andrew Unterberger: “There was a good man named Paul Revere / I feel much better baby when you’re near.”
Christina Adkison: "Fell deep in love but now we ain't speakin / Michael J Fox was Alex P Keaton.”
Brad Shoup: "When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet/Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets".
Andrew Unterberger: “When I met you I said my name was Rich / you looked like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch.”
Christina Adkison: I don't know about you, but I particularly hate girls that wear Ambercrombie & Fitch...pretentious bitches.
Ken Munson: LFO started my lifelong mental association between Abercrombie & Fitch and rich smirking assholes like LFO.
Christina Adkison: LFO single-handedly brought my uncle out of the closet.
Brad Shoup: The boy-band craze so permeated mass consciousness that damn near anyone could parody the genre well. The Simpsons had Party Posse. Jack in the Box had the Meaty Cheesy Boys. Even MTV, ground zero and caretaker of the boy band infestation, came up with 2gether and MADE THE POP CHARTS.
Josh Timmermann: I think it's incredibly unfair that Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync get lumped in with infinitely inferior shit like 98 Degrees and O-Town. BSB are responsible for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," "I Want It That Way," and "Larger than Life,"; 'N Sync for "Bye Bye Bye," "It's Gonna Be," and "Gone"--not to mention the subsequent career of Justin Timberlake!
Andrwe Friedman: Then, of course, Justin blew the game away with his much-better-than-it-ever-should-have-been solo debut. But even with all that, it's hard to say the ends justify the means. Boy bands were fucking horrible, a scourge on pop music, and 45 minutes of young Michael Jackson nostalgia are not enough to make me forgive them.
Ken Munson: There is a lot of talk lately about how maybe, considering how good Justin Timberlake’s solo work is, maybe ‘N Sync were actually good. This is revisionism at its worst. ‘N Sync sucks just as hard, if not harder than they always did.
Tony Van Groningen: It's safe to say that boy bands were not my cup of tea. I don't really mind boy bands though, it's ok for 11 year old girls to have music custom-made for them. I do think though that any boy band member willing to safrifice his talent and soul to make generic glossy music for 11 year old girls doesn't deserve to have any kind of career later, unless you record something as good as "Rock Your Body."
Ken Munson: The boy band boom was a horrible thing all around. Not only were almost all their fans shrieking idiots (“OMG brians so hottt!!!1), but so were almost all the people who hated them (“d00d nsync totally sux cocks!!!1”).
Ian Mathers: As a self-respecting indie loving seventeen year old in 1998, not only did I hate all of these, but I felt the need to loudly declaim this at every possible opportunity.
Andrew Unterberger: I could probably pinpoint TRL and the boy band explosion as the end of my four-year obsession with MTV and popular music in general. Also as the reason why I didn’t go to my 8th grade dance. Bastards.
Ian Mathers: I haven’t exactly discovered any hidden treasures I missed since, but boy was the rock world’s reaction to the prominence of these guys embarrassing. Like a mounted knight attacking a creampuff.
Andrew Unterberger: I guess this stuff wasn’t all terrible—looking back on it now a lot of it was probably better than the lousy rock music of the time, but man did it seem like the end of the world back then.
Zach Smola: It was more fun insulting this 6 years ago than it is now. Now it’s just sort of sad. Cute sad.
Brad Shoup: That 70s Show. Man, did I think this was going to suck.
Ken Munson: It’s that whole twenty-years-ago nostalgia. The 70s were so 90s.
Zach Smola: Sometimes I sincerely wonder if, had it been called by a different name, this program still would have been referred to in the real world as That 70’s Show.
Andrew Friedman: The secret to That 70's Show is its subtlety. Instead of beating you to death with references to shag carpet, T7S just puts them in the background and lays a witty sitcom on top. T7S isn't about the 70's, it's just set in the 70's.
Tony Van Groningen: Along with Scrubs, this is one of the only long-running sitcoms that I find funny enough to watch with any regularity. I think the premise of it could easily have bombed, but the writing and humor were strong enough to guarantee the show’s success.
Andrew Friedman: 70's retro also has the notable advantage of being timeless. all things considered, one could wander through a time portal from the 70's into today and much fit right in. 70's music is still big; we still all love Zeppelin, Janis, Marvin and Hendrix, to name a few.
Adrien Begrand: Using Big Star's "In the Street" as the theme song was a good move. Though the Cheap Trick version they later used is atrocious, and they should have left in the line, "Wish we had a joint so bad."
Gavin Mueller: My parents loved the weed jokes.
Brad Shoup: Someone should check the ventilation in that basement. It keeps filling with an unknown smoky substance.
Zach Smola: I found it a lot funnier when it was beating the “the 70’s were hilarious” shtick to death then when it took on its current form of “teenagers doing lots of drugs and having lots of sex is hilarious” shtick.
Adrien Begrand: One of the rare times in recent years that the chemistry of a cast has been able to make middling sitcom writing marginally watchable.
Tony Van Groningen: It has a big ensemble cast, but the individual characters are handled deftly and written so well that the fact that any given episode will have 10 or so characters sharing screen time doesn’t hinder the show at all. At least one of the characters is guaranteed to have some quality that pretty much anyone can relate to- as funny as they are, they are believable.
Andrew Friedman: It's depressing that, of all the talent on that show, Ashton Kutcher was the only one to blow up.
Tony Van Groningen: This show launched the career of Ashton Kutcher, which I have mixed feelings about, and has semi-launched the career of everyone else in the cast.
Christina Adkison: Ashton Kutcher is by far the worst thing about the show. Even worse than the ugly, ugly clothes.
Adrien Begrand: Sitcom Ashton Kutcher: pretty funny. Reality TV Ashton Kutcher: insufferable. Serious movie Ashton Kutcher: completely in over his head.
Brad Shoup: Every time I see Ashton Kutcher making a jackass of himself at award shows and on film, I just turn on "That 70s Show" and all is forgiven.
Ken Munson: Why all the fuss about Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis? Topher Grace and Laura Prepon were the real talent on that show.
Andrew Friedman: Topher Grace needs a new agent, because if the only thing he got from his tour de force in "Traffic" was a leading role in motherfuckin "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton," something is seriously wrong. Also, Laura Prepon is fuckin’ hot.
Tony Van Groningen: As hot as Jackie is, I have always been more of a Donna fan. I wish I had been lucky enough to have a tall-tomboy-hot-loyal-redhead-girl-next-door who wanted to date me even though I was scrawny.
Brad Shoup: To me, cranky dads are comedy gold, and Kurtwood Smith as Red Foreman was a one-note wonder. The perfect straight man to everyone around him
Matt Chesnut: This show is currently breaking every rule of Jump the Shark. Donna’s new hair, Eric’s sister getting a new actress, and the big one, looking way too old for the part. Seriously, they’re supposed to be just out of high school and Hyde looks like he’s been managing a vintage gun shop for the last 20 years.
Zach Smola: I mean, teenagers still have a lot of sex these 30 years into the future, and it still isn’t funny enough to have a television show devoted to it. That’s why “The O.C.” and all the shows on the WB are dramas.
Andrew Unterberger: I guess if That 70s Show survived even the dismal failure of That 80s Show, it might be around for a good while. Which unfortunately means chances of a That 90s Show with five slacker teenagers in ripped jeans and flannel singing along to Soul Asylum’s “Somebody to Shove” are a long way off.
Brad Shoup: Chris Rock: we can laugh because a black guy said it.
Andrew Unterberger: In 1998, no one was cooler than Chris Rock. Even Adam Sandler was started to sound kinda weak by comparison.
Matt Chesnut: This is Chris Rock in his prime. The biggest stand-up comedian on the face of the planet, he had it all going on. Bigger and Blacker, endorsement deals, carrying second-tier movies. He had it all.
Brad Shoup: Yeah, Rock's a funny guy. He's got that I-can't-believe-I-said-it little-boy grin that slays me every time. Once in a while he gets a killer line out, and his energy is unbeatable
Gavin Mueller: Sure he was funny. But he was more than that. He was also angry and shrill.
Adrien Begrand: Ned Flanders: “Well sir, I never heard a preacher use the M-F word so many times.”
Andrew Unterberger: I learned a lot from Chris about race relations and inner city struggles. More importantly, I also learned what it meant to toss a guy’s salad.
Brad Shoup: But he's not shattering taboos or anything. Every black comedian worth his Def Jam salt has a government-conspiracy shtick.
Zach Smola: I have to admit finding Chris Rock’s stand up, television show, and bizarre spoken-word-musical career charming (especially the latter). However, this man could not support a movie to save his life.
Ken Munson: Chris Rock is one of those great comedians who will never ever star in a good movie.
Brad Shoup: Movies are like kryptonite to Chris. It's no shame, though. Richard Pryor had "The Toy".
Andrew Unterberger: He was pretty good in Lethal Weapon 4, though. Gotta give it up.
Zach Smola: It must hurt to be so clever and hilarious and be limited to cameos and supporting roles. Dennis Miller understands.
Ken Munson: Weirdly, Chris Rock has sort of been off-the-radar lately, and the slack has been picked up by Jon Stewart, who provides us with the incisive social and political commentary, and Dave Chappelle, who provides us with the guilt-free racial stereotypes.
Andrew Unterberger: Chris just needs a semi-dramatic crossover movie and he’ll be back on top in no time. The Life and Times of Tiger Woods, anyone?
Ken Munson: 3522, 54 545 8144, 9 314 0501225 955 655625 35124 2915 0899 35295. 210 90’9 522951925 9890, 89780?
Zach Smola: Pi seemed a little obvious. I mean, grainy black and white film, murderous rabbis, and a 216-digit computer-spouted arbitrary number? I think we all knew exactly where this one was going.
Nick Southall: A black & white movie about maths? Interesting. Or, perhaps, not.
Brad Shoup: Playing like a film-school X-Files, Pi centers on a man whose analytical mind and Sanford and Son computer pick up on the mathematical patterns that unify all human and economic relationships.
Ken Munson: Pi was original enough, and its theories about numbers were actually pretty interesting, but it will never beat out my all-time favorite math movie, Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land.
Tony Van Groningen: To be quite honest, I was obsessed with this movie. It was unlike anything else I’d ever seen. Having a math-obsessed genius recluse stumble into a Jewish occult mystery thriller might sound really bad on paper, but it was damn interesting to watch.
Andrew Friedman: I had a bad mushroom trip right before I saw Pi. I remember feeling similar during both of them.
Ian Mathers: I made the mistake of watching this for the first time by myself at four in the morning when I couldn’t sleep. I sure as hell couldn’t sleep afterwards, either.
Brad Shoup: Why oh why did he have to poke that brain?
Tony Van Groningen: The beauty of the movie was in the details, things like the ants and the fact that Max had 14 locks on his door that he compulsively locked every time he came inside. These kinds of things, along with the frantically paced jump cuts, quickly became Aranofsky’s trademarks.
Ken Munson: This movie’s style induced headaches by the end.
Ian Mathers: This was also one of the few movies where watching the making of is just as interesting as the film proper even for casual students of moviemaking; seeing how some of the shots of mental agony happened with steadycams and especially seeing how they made the door lunge towards the camera for that one scene was fascinating.
Kareem Estefan: A few years since I last saw Pi, I can’t remember whether it’s as deep as it purports to be, but one thing remains: it had a really fucking great soundtrack.
Gavin Mueller: The soundtrack was fucking sweet. Autechre duuuuude!
Ken Munson: Pi started out pretty intriguingly, but it fell to pieces by the end. By the time we had the showdown between the mystical rabbis and the EVIL, EVIL STOCKBROKERS, I had pretty much decided that this movie was much too cheeseball, when it came down to it.
Christina Adkison: Pi made my brain hurt, even before the scene where he drills into his own head.
Ian Mathers: The movie is pretty creepy for most of the duration, but that ending… I found it more disturbing than, say, Se7en’s, which is saying something. And yet oddly reminiscent of that Simpsons episode where Homer winds up shoving a crayon up his nose.
Kareem Estefan: Whenever I would complain about my headaches, my friends reminded me that I could sacrifice my arithmetic and take a drill to my brain.
Tony Van Groningen: It is a fantastic directorial debut, I had no doubt that Aranofsky himself was a genius after I watched Pi. Every year or two I pull this movie out and watch it again and it hasn’t lost any interest for me yet.
Ken Munson: Not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but the thought of watching Pi again pisses me off. You want numbers? 3 out of 10.
Christina Adkison: The moral of the story: math is evil and painful. Oh, and don't stare into the sun.
Zach Smola: Every decade, something has to happen to make kids care about baseball again. What better way than two blatantly-steroid-enhanced men going head-to-head against the home-run record of the relatively unassuming Roger Marris?
Adrien Begrand: Sosa and McGwire saved baseball, which was reeling after the 1994 strike. Unfortunately, it probably also saved Bud Selig's job, too.
Zach Smola: I bet all makers of Powerbars and Protein Shakes everywhere loved this. Weight-gainer is the new Big League Chew!
Joe Niemczyk: For the first time in years, Cubs fans had something to be genuinely excited about. This wasn't just another ill-fated pennant chase. Even if the team had its annual year-end collapse, this was something that could still happen.
Josh Timmermann: As a Cardinals fan, I was all about Mark McGwire. I was at one of the games when he was on the verge of breaking the recrord. I've never seen so many cameras flash at once as when he was at the plate. It was genuinely exciting.
Tony Van Groningen: I was rooting for McGwire to break the record first, I grew up in a town that had an Oakland A’s farm team and had gotten his autograph and watched him at the start of his career and everything. But that is not to say that I wasn’t also rooting for Sammy.
Gavin Mueller: Go skinny non-white guy!
Kareem Estefan: McGwire was this big, brawny baseball player and Sosa was a little kid who skipped around the bases, kissing a peace sign of two fingers and touching them to his heart every time he hit a home run. Sosa’s loss to McGwire violates every basic tenet of children’s sports movies.
Matt Chesnut: Sosa was easy to root for. First of all, he’s on the loveable Cubs who needed a massive event like this to disguise the fact that they weren't going anywhere in the playoffs. Second, he didn’t have the Andro cloud hovering over his head the way McGwire did.
Christina Adkison: I was cheering on Sosa, because he didn't have illegal substances mixed in with his Gatorade.
Brad Shoup: McGwire reveals that he takes androstenedione during the season, and MLB promptly bans the stuff. But he still gets his record.
Matt Chesnut: But still, watching Big Mac slug number 62 against Chicago followed by a big heteroid (that’s hetero+steroids) hug with Sammy was enough to make you want to start popping pills to get buff if it weren’t for the fact that baseball is so tedious in the regular season
Brad Shoup: Both guys struck out a huge amount. And only Sosa's team was in a playoff hunt. I didn't really give a crap who won; I just wanted to see a big number in my lifetime.
Kareem Estefan: So no one’s made it past 60 before? Well, let’s try 70.
Brad Shoup: 70? Thirty-seven years of an unbroken record, and it gets shattered by five and nine in the same season? Can you say PR stunt?
Joe Niemczyk: There was something about having two people break the record in one year that took away from the feeling that it was really special.
Ken Munson: I don’t really care about the record so much, but it was nice to see two guys that really made you believe that maybe professional athletes could be decent human beings.
Tony Van Groningen: I was happy that they were doing the things they were doing for baseball, I’m a fan of the sport itself as much as I am a fan of individual players and teams, and both Sammy and McGwire were about to break the biggest record in all of baseball. How could it not be exciting? How could they not be legendary? I was glad they both broke the record, and that they both did it with grace and a lack of ego.
Ken Munson: That illusion was of course shattered when McGwire’s record by first-class cock Barry Bonds.
Josh Timmermann: Of course, Barry "Balco" Bonds ended up having the last laugh. Oh well.
Kareem Estefan: Immediately after destroying a record that remained untouched for seventy years, McGwire and Sosa each broke Ruth’s sixty again in ’99, then Barry Bonds, who hadn’t hit fifty once in his fifteen-season career, swiped McGwire’s record with 73 in 2001. Did steroids hit a peak around the turn of the millennium or what?
Brad Shoup: Now Barry Bonds has the new record of 73, an unsexy number for a prick of a man.
Ken Munsonb: Now that the record is gone, McGwire’s legacy has kind of been reduced to steroid allegations, and Sosa’s is down to the memory of him in a video game ad saying “It’s so reeeeeal!”
Joe Niemczyk: I don't know if McGuire and Sosa were really racing each other, but it was fun to believe. Once again, America was in desperate need of heroes, so everyone bought into the myth.
Andrew Friedman: The race was exciting and all, no doubt, but the best thing was that it gave the rest of us with teams in the NL central a reason to go to the games. Long after the Pirates had thrown in the towel (which happens in about June), we could still go see Sammy and Mark. There's something eerie about an entire park cheering when the away team hits a home run.
Kareem Estefan: Many decried the 1998 home run race as the demise of major league baseball. What they meant was that statistics geeks finally had a reason to watch sports.
Matt Chesnut: I prayed for a cinematic rendition for the classic arcade game “Asteroids”. It came. Twice. Thank you, Allah.
Ken Munson: Why the hell is it the exact same premise will be put into two simultaneous movies? Does the world need to be destroyed by TWO giant asteroids?
Josh Timmermann: What I recall about them: Armageddon featured a jaw-droppingly campy "love" scene involving animal crackers and Liv Tyler's stomach. It also "inspired" the most insipid love ballad since,...well, last Celine Dion's Titanic song from the year before. Deep Impact maybe had Morgan Freeman in it and "inspired" a porn parody.
Christina Adkison: Armageddon followed my basic philosophy for solving problems. When it looks like there's nothing you can do, just nuke something.
Ken Munson: Armageddon is a great big hunk of hypercheese. It’s got this kind of classic corniness to it, much like Flashdance or Footloose.
Christina Adkison: The basis of this movie is extremely far-fetched: The US government trains a group of 12 oil drillers to be astronauts in like two weeks; they get help from some Russian guy; and they use nuclear weapons in space that NEATLY divide the asteroid the size of Texas into TWO pieces to bypass the earth.
Ben Woolhead: Steve Buscemi is the only good thing about Armageddon. Perhaps Liv Tyler, too.
Adrien Begrand: The scene where Ben Affleck is playing with animal crackers on Liv Tyler's tummy is not only the lowest point in either actor's career, but the most embarrassing spectacle in the history of the cinema, maybe in the history of modern civilization.
Christina Adkison: And at the end Bruce Willis sacrifices his life for Ben Affleck.
Zach Smola: The summer that Armageddon came out, my family was housing a French exchange student named Augustin. Sadly, Augustin confirmed every negative stereotype that exists concerning the French. However, our language difficulties and generally different personalities managed to co-exist for one night, in order to both insult Armageddon. Augustin simply began faux-crying and blubbering the phrase “Bruce Willis!”
Andrew Unterberger: These days Ben Affleck downplays his roles with such subtle grace that it’s strange to think of him being so outwardly emotional in Armageddon. “
Christina Adkison: Ben, Ben, Ben. You should have stayed on the asteroid baby.
Zach Smola: It is a rare feat indeed that a movie’s absurd badness can transcend cultural boundaries.
Ian Mathers: I think I’m the only person in my hometown to successfully avoid seeing either of these pieces of crap, although that goddamned video for “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” means I practically had to endure Armageddon anyway.
Ken Munson: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is either the best song ever written by Diane Warren, or the worst song ever sung by Aerosmith.
Brad Shoup: Senior prom. Last slow dance. Sara Manning. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". I couldn't stand the song before, but five minutes of it bleeding from rented sound equipment in a downtown Hilton seared it lovingly into my reptile brain.
Andrew Unterberger: Aerosmith’s only ever #1. So sad.
Ken Musnon: And as for Deep Impact… no one cares. It just didn’t have the whole “so bad it’s great” lame-itude that Armageddon had in bushels.
Zach Smola: As for Deep Impact, clearly it’s title proved false for me, because I remember absolutely nothing about the movie, save that a hobbit was in it, and that it seemed slightly bleaker and more realistic than Armageddon.
Ken Munson: I do remember that everyone in my hometown was very excited about Deep Impact because my city very specifically gets destroyed by the asteroid.
Nick Southall: Deep Impact is by far the better of these two movies, firstly because it stars Elijah Wood and he is beautiful, and secondly because, when they name the comet after his character his friend pipes up in front of the whole school “you’ll have more sex now; famous people always have more sex”.
Andrew Unterberger: I liked Deep Impact more, definitely. It was the thinking man’s death-from-above movie.
Gavin Mueller: Which movie was better? Simple: which title makes a better sexual joke?
Tony Van Groningen: I never watched either of these movies. I hate them anyways. I think movies based on any form of natural disaster are the most overblown, unexciting pieces of crap ever committed to film in spite of how pretty they might look.
Christina Adkison: At least these movies were maybe mildly believable. I mean, look at the crap we have for disaster movies nowadays. Global warming causes the new ice age? The core of the earth stops spinning? I'll take the asteroid any day.
Tony Van Groningen: This goes for all of them- Armageddon, Deep Impact, Twister, Volcanoes From Hell, The Earthquake That Ate California, 3 Days Of Tepid Drizzle!, etc. disaster movie. People like Jerry Bruckheimer love to produce them. People like Ben Affleck love to star in them. People like me do not love to watch them.
Ian Mathers: Where’s James Cameron when you need him?
Brad Shoup: 1998: the year of stupid causes.
Andrew Unterberger: One thing in this life is certain, and that is every new year brings another boring, interminable Grammies ceremony. Except in 1998, when all sorts of crazy shit happened.
Adrien Begrand: SOY BOMB was classic Dylan.
Ken Munson: So, for some reason some guy jumps onstage in the middle of a Bob Dylan performance, dancing around with the words SOY BOMB written on his chest.
Adrien Begrand: Bob's playing "Lovesick", SOY BOMB starts doing his thing, and Dylan glances over once, and continues without missing a beat. Totally unflappable.
Brad Shoup: Soy Bomb! Geez, he was pudgy.
Ken Munson: I actually saw that when it happened. I just thought Bob Dylan had an unusual stage show at first; the guy didn’t seem THAT out of place. Then I saw Dylan’s bemused expression.
Andrew Friedman: Protesting Bob Dylan is kind of like flashing your tits for Hugh Hefner.
Adrien Begrand: The dude is the all-time master of concert confrontation, for crying out loud...this hippie doofus was small p'taters.
Andrew Unterberger: To this day, I’m not sure if anyone knows exactly what the point of the Bob Dylan stage-jumper was, or what exactly SOY BOMB means. But goddamn, the dude could dance.
Zach Smola: “Soy Bomb”: A meaningless message for a meaningless awards show! Zing!
Andrew Unterberger: Then right after performing “How Do I Live,” LeAnn Rimes lost some Grammy to Trisha Yearwood, for her version of the exact same song.
Brad Shoup: If only Trisha and Leann had combined their songs into a "The Boy Is Mine"-type juggernaut. Then Leann wouldn't be picking lottery tickets out of dumpsters today.
Andrew Unterberger: A fitting reward for the longest-running #2 runner-up single in Billboard history.
Brad Shoup: This was also the year Aretha stepped in for an ailing Pavarotti, and amazingly sang his intro in Italian and English without rehearsal. And I thought she was just a washed-up soul blimp.
Tony Van Groningen: I don’t remember anything about this awards show other than the part where ODB hijacked the stage to proclaim to the world that “WuTang is for the children!”
Andrew Unterberger: The Wu-Tang Clan had recently lost their grammy nomination to Puff Daddy, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard was having none of that.
Brad Shoup: Out of nowhere, ODB wanders up to the podium to interrupt Shawn Colvin's Song of the Year award. I don't think he knew that the Wu wasn't up for Song of the Year.
Andrew Friedman: Nothing ODB ever does surprises me.
Andrew Unterberger: “Yo, Puffy’s OK and all, but Wu-Tang...Wu-Tang teach the children!”
Gavin Mueller: It’s true. I know at least 12 terms for cocaine because of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Ken Munson: At the time, we still thought of ODB as a funny clown, and not as the tragic crazy-as-fuck lunatic he eventually revealed himself as.
Brad Shoup: The day before the Grammys, ODB had helped save a four-year-old girl trapped under a car. Then he goes and buys a suit ‘coz he actually thinks Grammy voters prefer the Wu to Puff Daddy. You understand why he was bound to crack.
Andrew Unterberger: To be fair, if Puff Daddy (quite possibly hip-hop history’s greatest monster) had beaten me for a Grammy I’d be pretty pissed off too.
Gavin Mueller: It's the closest Wu will ever get to the Grammies... barring a Ghostface coup in 2007.
Tony Van Groningen: It was the funniest thing I’d seen all year. I have yet to imagine a scenario wherein ODB could have remotely logically decided that this was a good idea. But I’m glad he did it.
Brad Shoup: If only all Grammy ceremonies were this cool.
Andrew Unterberger: Just when you thought Snow would go uncontested as the best Canadian rap one hit wonder of the 90s, here come the Barenaked Ladies.
Gavin Mueller: Urge to kill... rising...
Andrew Friedman: Barenaked Ladies weren't just white and Canadian, they were genuinely weird looking., ugly fat men, like Drew Carey without the star treatment. Rapping. About Sting being tantric.
Ben Woolhead: A badly named band, if ever I heard one. Barenaked ladies are great, Barenaked Ladies not so. If these particular Barenaked Ladies gave anyone an erection I’d be both surprised and disturbed, and recommend that the strength of their medication immediately be increased.
Ian Mathers: Nice to see some Canuck geeks get some US airplay, even if it was with something that kind of screamed novelty.
Ken Munson: This is a great companion piece to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Semi-Charmed Life,” and other indecipherable 90’s soft-rock songs.
Brad Shoup: I was sixteen years old and I could not get sick of this song. It was a pain taping it off the radio because there's no intro - you miss the first two seconds, and it's gone, man, gone.
Tony Van Groningen: While I do recognize this song as being insanely, ingeniously catchy, it still annoys the hell out of me. I am guaranteed to change the radio station if this song is on.
Andrew Friedman: On the other hand, I'm ashamed to say I knew the whole fucking song by heart.
Andrew Unterberger: “Hold it now and watch the hood wink. Does it make you stop think. You think you’re looking at Aquaman. I summon fish tothedishalthoughIlikethechaletswissilikethesushicozitsnevertouchedafryingpan.”
Adrien Begrand: I'm Canadian, yet I have never been to "Chalet Swiss". Those Ontarians and their roast chicken...I don't get it.
Brad Shoup: "Hot like wasabe when I bust rhymes/Big like Leann Rimes/Because I'm all about value." This is my credo. I live my life by this.
Christina Adkison: I so identified with this song because I also have a history of taking off my shirt.
Nick Southall: “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral” – oh, so you’re a c**t then?
Andrew Friedman: For the record, Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken first showed up in Busta Rhymes' lines on Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario."
Zach Smola: Points, I suppose, for the Kurosawa line. It’s pretty clever.
Andrew Unterberger: I used to wow friends and family with my ability to recite this entire song (and for a bonus, Will Smith’s “Getting Jiggy Wit It”) at full speed. Thanks for the leg up, Say What? Karaoke.
Ken Munson: Someday, I will be able to sing this song all the way through. I’m workin’ on it, man. It’s the lines about getting the set of golf clubs that always gets me. I just have to kind of mumble until I get to “BOOM anime babes.”
Nick Southall: This song blighted by first term at university. Have they died yet?
Zach Smola: I suppose an interesting response to Rap-Metal is Canadian Rap-Folk-Adult Contemporary. But I’m kinda glad this didn’t catch on.
Adrien Begrand: To Americans, the Barenaked Ladies were new and fun. To some Canadians (yours truly included), their act was getting very tiresome at this stage.
Zach Smola: Simply put, I listened to this record while playing “Banjo-Kazooie” on the Nintendo 64. I no longer play “Banjo-Kazooie.” Enough said.
Ian Mathers: Still, the Ladies were strong songwriters, there’s a reason “One Week” caught on so quickly. And they’ve proven to have decent legs since, at least up here.
Brad Shoup: Every hour for about six months my hometown "hit music alternative" station would play "One Week" and "If I Had $1000000". We would listen, memorize the words, and go to our places of part-time employment feeling a little better about ourselves. That's not so bad, now, is it?
Ken Munson: 1998: the year of the weird-ass, no-plot movie.
Ben Woolhead: Plot: Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro go to Las Vegas and consume more than their own bodyweight in mind-bending narcotic substances. There may be more to it that that, but I’m don’t remember, and neither do they.
Ken Munson: Yeah, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, there's an odd movie. Too rare to dismiss... too weird to actually watch.
Gavin Mueller:Gilliam played up the cartoonishness of the book, to the detriment of the (admittedly convoluted) social commentary. But it made for a much better movie.
Adrien Begrand: As a longtime fan of the Hunter S. Thompson book, the movie version of Fear & Loathing was a remarkably faithful adaptation, and a very admirable one, at that. Alex Cox was supposed to direct, but Terry Gilliam was a last-minute replacement, and the chaotic, gonzo way he shot it all suited the material perfectly.
Tony Van Groningen: I walked out of the theater having very mixed feelings about this movie. The first 40 minutes or so are rather hilarious and fun. Then they get to Vegas and Hunter tries to get on the carousel and everything spirals downhill from there- they take so many drugs they can’t function and instead of drugs being fun and awesome, the drugs cause a big dirty disgusting mess.
Christina Adkison: Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro used more LSD in this movie than everyone in the 60s and 70s combined.
Andrew Friedman: Is there a difference between "classic drug movie" and "nonsensical garbage"? That’s a whole other discussion.
Ken Munson: I kinda zoned out of watching this movie at one point. When I looked up at the movie again, Johnny Depp was doing something goofy and Benicio Del Toro was running around screaming. I shrugged and went back to what I was doing.
Tony Van Groningen: Scene after fucked up scene, I remember actually wishing the movie would just wrap itself up. But I kept watching, I had to know how the fuck they managed to stay alive after ingesting every combination of every chemical substance I’d ever heard of.
Ben Woolhead: At one point the drugged-up duo are besieged by hallucinatory bats. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Christina Adkison: Absolute favorite line: "Isn't this a suitable place to park?"
Tony Van Groningen: . Oh yeah, Johnny Depp turns in a masterful performance as the mega-schizo Hunter S. Thompson.
Andrew Friedman: Anyways, Depp was brilliant, as was Del Toro. Depp went to Hunter S. Thompson himself to learn how to play Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson considers Depp to be one of the few true southern gentlemen left in the world.
Adrien Begrand: I swear, before the miracle of DVD subtitles, the only people who understood a word Depp was saying with that cigarette holder permanently stuck in his mouth, were people who knew the book by heart.
Josh Timmermann: I know this movie is adored in certain circles, but it's one of my least-favorite Terry Gilliam films. I do, however, recommend it to women I know who are in love with Johnny Depp, since he's, like, bald and fat in it.
Adrien Begrand: One thing that has always bugged me is that Depp is too skinny and short to play the Good Doctor. Though he did earn points by shaving that goofy bald spot on his head.
Gavin Mueller: Wonderful casting, although I never bought Ricci as the defiled innocent. She's Wednesday from the Addams Family!
Ken Munson: I hear this movie is really good when you're on drugs.
Ian Mathers: Everybody jokes that you should or shouldn’t see this movie on drugs, but trust me: If you’re ingesting shrooms, do not put this movie in. I have trouble with the lizard scene at the best of times, man…
Ben Woolhead: This, I imagine, gives the viewer a very intense and realistic impression of what it’s like being on hard drugs, right down to the fact that it makes you feel very funny and leaves you with an aching headache.
Andrew Friedman: It dealt with the binge issues well. Nobody could watch Fear and Loathing and come out thinking drug binges are a good idea. Instead of saying "this is what will happen to you!" Fear and Loathing says "this is more fun to watch than it is to experience." But it definitely was fun to watch.
Tony Van Groningen: I don’t remember the ending, but I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach when the movie was over and that is the lasting impression I have of it. This movie may have done more to make me afraid of taking hard drugs than any drug education class ever could.
Ken Munson: Do you smell what Stylus Magazine is cooking?
Gavin Mueller: This was huge my junior year of high school. I had to check my schedule first day to make sure I hadn't accidentally gone back in time to when I was in 3rd grade.
Matt Chesnut: This wasn’t your older brother’s WWF. Gone are the day-glo plastic shirts, the positive-messaged Hulk Hogan anthems.
Ken Munson: In the late 90s, the WWF went crazy insane with the outrageousness. There was also sorts of crazy shit that involved midgets, castration, nudity, Jello, ridiculous racial stereotypes (that one’s a wrestling staple, actually), and of course, lots and lots of stupid catchphrases. I could recite them all if you want, but I think I’ll spare you.
Matt Chesnut: Nah, we’ve got “Stone Cold” Steve Austin corrupting youth with his middle fingers of vengeance and the Rock, who is arguably the biggest crossover star to come out of Vince MacMahon’s crazy circus or transvestites .
Adrien Begrand: The persona of Stone Cold Steve Austin in its heyday was pure genius. In a world where you were either a "heel" or a "face", Austin was neither. He was 100% pure badass, and everyone, and I mean everyone, ate it up.
Ken Munson: I liked the WWF because it gave me all sorts of cool new ways to beat up my brother and younger cousins. Why noogie them when you could put them in the jackknife powerbomb?
Gavin Mueller: Yeah, fuck helmet laws!
Zach Smola: I never got into wrestling, but here in the south, most of the kids I knew were more WCW fans in the first place. I mean, Goldberg has to be the most frightening Jewish person alive.
Adrien Begrand: As great as Austin was, this was Mick Foley's time. His ad-libs were absolutely hilarious. Does anyone know what the hell "RAW IS WAR" meant?
Andrew Unterebrger: The crystallization of the WWF’s mainstream acceptance came in the rather unlikely form of Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s transformation into Jesse “The Mind” Ventura.
Ken Munson: Jesse Ventura got himself elected of Minnesota, and it's pretty easy to see why, honestly. He had lots of public-speaking experience, he came from a strong military and political background, and he had a solid, well-defined platform, onto which he could suplex his opponents.
Brad Shoup: When Jesse appeared in an X-Files episode with Alex Trebek, his rehabilitation was complete. Now he was legitimate.
Zach Smola: God bless any nation where an entire state can entrust its leadership to a man who can break a folding chair over someone’s back.
Andrew Friedman: "I Ain't Got Time To Bleed." Best. Book. Title. Ever.
Brad Shoup: Anyway, I don't know why we're talking about Jesse Ventura in a wrestling context. Surely we all know him best as Captain Freedom from Running Man.
Ken Munson: Me and a lot of other guys my age eventually fell out of watching professional wrestling, for two reasons: One, the show began to really suck, and two, we all just kinda realized we were watching fucking pro wrestling.
Zach Smola: I’m pretty sure WWF and WCW have combined by this point, or have completely traded rosters, and have somehow combined with the World Wildlife Foundation to create the greatest environmentally-savvy cage-match showdown ever to air on Pay-Per-View.
Ken Munson: So, yes, I was a wrestling fan back in the late 90s. Don’t judge. Just accept that it’s part of who I am.
Ian Mathers: This is the best movie ever made. Full stop.
Tony Van Groningen: It seems like pretty much everyone of my generation loves The Big Lebowski, and for once, pretty much everyone in my generation is right.
Ian Mathers: The first time you watch it, it’s okay. A few times later, great. A few times later, genius.
Ken Munson: The Big Lebowski is one of those movies which get better the quicker you realize that it’s not interested in making sense, and will happily stray from the plot if it finds something more interesting to do.
Tony Van Groningen: It relies heavily on being quirky, but unlike so many other movies that depend on being weird, The Big Lebowski does it right.
Ben Woolhead: Like all the best movies, The Big Lebowski is educational and inspiring as well as entertaining. It taught me the words “pederast” and “vulmania” and inspired me to experiment with White Russians.
Christina Adkison: This movie was so great. Jeff Bridges was great, John Goodman was great, Steve Buscemi died....
Adrien Begrand: At the beginning, when the thieves are dunking The Dude's head in the toilet, saying, "Where's the money, Lebowski?" and The Dude replies, "I dunno, let me take another look," I knew I was about to see one of the funniest movies ever.
Zach Smola: Allegedly, the Dude was based upon some person who exists in real life. This makes the ending of the film even more important, that the Dude truly does abide.
Tony Van Groningen: In a fair and just world, Jeff Bridges would have won hundreds of awards for his ability to portray The Dude. If he didn’t win, John Goodman or John Turturro should have.
Adrien Begrand: The phrase "tour de force" was created with John Goodman's Walter Sobchak in mind. Greatest Jewish warmongering bowler in movie history.
Nick Southall: John Goodman’s character in this film is the greatest comedic creation ever committed to celluloid.
Ken Munson: John Goodman deserved a friggin’ Oscar nomination for this one. “This isn’t ‘Nam, this is bowling. There are RULES.”
Ian Mathers: Poor Donny. Steve Buscemi finally plays an unmitigated nice guy, and not only is he a moron (“I am the walrus?”), but he dies to boot.
Andrew Friedman: We go bowling weekly. Not a Tuesday passes without the words "world of pain" or "you're over the line, Smokey." with some of my friends, it seems like the entire world is one long Lebowski reference. Everyday..."we believe in natheeng," "it really tied the room together," "you're out of your element”…
Adrien Begrand: "Shomerfuckingshabbos!"
Gavin Mueller: "Eight-year-olds, Dude. Eight-year-olds."
Andrew Unterberger: “Come on, man, I’ve had a really bad day and I hate the fucking Eagles!”
Ben Woolhead: “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS, LARRY, WHEN YOU FUCK A STRANGER IN THE ASS!”
Andrew Unterberger: “Using the parlance of our times…”
Andrew Friedman: “We'll cut off your johnson. We’ll step on it. And squveeesh it."
Ken Munson: “Shut the fuck up, Donny.”
Andrew Unterberger: “Shut the fuck up, Donny.”
Adrien Begrand: "Shut the fuck up, Donny."
Gavin Mueller: After the election, I wanted to say, "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling."
Tony Van Groningen: If I had to pick a favorite scene…probably the botched dropoff with the motorcycle thugs. No, the “Don’t fuck with the Jesus” scene at the bowling alley.
Adrien Begrand: The part where The Dude confronts Da Fino the private snoop is as inspired a storyline tangent as the Mike Yamagita scene in Fargo.
Andrew Friedman: Lebowski on the floor listening to a tape of bowling. Lebowski paying with sixty-nine cent check. Phillip Seymour Hoffman brilliantly playing yet another hard to watch character.
Ben Woolhead: “I’ll suck your cock for $1000”. How come you’re always clean out of cash when that happens? Dude, I feel your pain
Adrien Begrand: Tara Reid's one line marked the pinnacle of her acting career.
Andrew Friedman: How did they manage to get Tara Ried to look like she had tits, anyway?
Zach Smola: The character of Jesus Quintana deserves his own film.
Ben Woolhead: I wouldn’t fuck with the Jesus. Would you?
Tony Van Groningen: Or maybe when the Dude is hallucinating the fantastic Broadway-style bowling fantasy.
Andrew Unterberger: When the Dude’s detective-isms turn out to be totally useless—when he puts the chair against the door so he’ll know if someone enters, and then someone immediately comes barging through the door, when he attempts to shade in the phone number Jackie Treehorn writes down only to find out Treehorn just doodled a pic of a naked dude…that’s what the movie’s all about, really.
Ben Woolhead: My favorite thing about this movie is the dull clunking sound the police chief’s mug makes when it connects with the Dude’s forehead. Who’d have thought a mug could be quite such an effective weapon?
Ken Munson: I like how The Dude was presented as the last bastion of sanity against the ridiculous pretensions of the Big Lebowski, the ridiculous pretensions of Julianne Moore, the crazy-as-fuck John Goodman, the dumbass German nihilists, the Jesus, etc.
Tony Van Groningen: The characters are interesting, all of the acting is spot on, and they are so close to being believable in spite of their strangeness (there is not a single normal character in the entire movie, I think) that you want to believe that The Dude is really out there somewhere drinking milk out of cartons in the grocery store. And I mean The Dude, not an Almost-Dude, there are probably thousands of those in LA alone.
Andrew Friedman: But at the end of it all, amid all the brilliant performances, the ridiculous lines and that fucking weird montage, it's the Coen Brothers. And what's even more amazing is that this isn't even their best movie.
Zach Smola: Seemingly based upon the simple premise of “How many times can we write ‘fuck’ into a film screenplay”, The Big Lebowski has grown to become one of the most idiosyncratic, bizarre, and revered films of the decade, and deservingly so.
Nick Southall: The Big Lebowski remains my favourite Coen brothers movie, and one of my favourite movies ever. Everything they’ve done since has been a real let down because all their subsequent movies have failed to bring the funny
Ian Mathers: I don’t know how the Coens did it, but this is the one piece of cinema I can watch over and over again and just love it more and more. And if I quote this movie and you don’t catch it or at least find it funny, we’re not friends anymore.
Tony Van Groningen: The best stoner movie of the 90’s. One of the best movies of the 1990’s. Yeah, I love pretty much love every scene of this movie. A true “Movie For My Generation.”
Andrew Friedman: "Sex and Candy" was mostly grunge nostalgia. The song was mostly mumbled and could have been about heroin. Is there really anything else to say about it?
Brad Shoup: I'm still wondering how a song this slow charted so high. A male R&B; singer releasing "Sex and Candy," sure. But Marcy Playground? As if!
Kareem Estefan: Assuming there were about 20 songs released in 1998, I can see how “Sex and Candy” hit the top 10.
Matt Chesnut: “I smell sex and candy here.” I think most people were just delighted to finally hear sex directly addressed by its name in a pop song.
Tony Van Groningen: First off, I really like this song. Secondly, it always struck me as a high-school attempt to write a Nirvana song, or at least capture the spirit of a Nirvana song, and if this is indeed the case, Marcy Playground did a damn fine job.
Zach Smola: Ewwwwwwwwwwww…just something about the line “I smell sex and candy” is innately disturbing. Candy usually doesn’t really have a smell. And we won’t even address the other issue of this awkward lyric.
Brad Shoup: On the list of superpowers, being able to detect the residual scent of fornication and confection surely must rank towards the bottom.
Christina Adkison: This song is almost as unsexy as "Your Body is a Wonderland". The guy singing it sounds just as bored.
Ken Munson: Never has anyone sounded so unexcited about sex. Sex and candy must smell a lot like chloroform, because the lead singer sounded like he was about to fall asleep.
Josh Timmermann: Oh wow, this song was really cool, wasn't it? "Who's that lounging in my ch-aaaaiiiir?" Gotta dig the "All in the Family" reference!
Ian Mathers: This was one of those songs whose lyrics actually confused me (especially in conjunction with the rather baffling video). “There she was like disco lemonade”? Does that mean anything to anyone else?
Kareem Estefan: “There she was / like disco lemonade” has got to be one of the greatest similes of the 90s.
Christina Adkison: I pretty sure you need more than just caffiene to imagine a girl that looks like disco lemonade.
Ian Mathers: Man, did that singer look creepy in the video. Sort of like Johnathan Richman’s more sinister little brother.
Brad Shoup: That video, man. You got to hand it to them for dodging pigeonholes. No sex, no disco lemonade, and certainly no candy. Just spiders and oil spills. Yessiree.
Ken Munson: What the fuck was going on this video, you ask? That is an excellent question, and I hope someone has an answer.
Andrew Unterberger: The blue liquid that oozed out of the lead singer at the end of the video was pretty creepy. Kind of like the purple ink shit that oozed out of the Penguin at the end of Batman Returns.
Ken Munson: One thing they didn’t smell was another hit, but I heard one of their other singles played a lot on the in-store radio at Best Buy, and boy oh boy did it suck.
Ian Mathers: Still, oddness and one hit wonderness aside, this was a hoot, very low key but with a sense of humour (his aside of “Dig it” always cracks me up).
Tony Van Groningen: “Sex and Candy” has a cool, detached air about it that has everything to do with it being a successful piece of music. Easily one of the better singles from 1998.
Nick Southall’s Infamous Rant on the Ill Effects of Dawson’s Creek
Dawson’s Creek is turning our children into emotional retards. All the girls I know who are 'into' Dawson's Creek seem to have trouble maintaining serious relationships / dealing with mild or everyday emotional obstacles / etcetera. Of the four or five I can think of who I know very well, most have been in counseling and/or on anti-depressants at some point in the last few years. Most being four of the five. Now, while I recognise that instances of mental ill-health are increasing (50% or us will experience mental illness during our lives, I believe) and that Dawson's is a popular programme especially amongst the teen/early 20's demographic, it can't just be coincidence, can it?
Is Dawson's Creek fucking people up, basically? By portraying unrealistic and unattainable relationships, by portraying beautiful people with expansive vocabularies as still incapable of having decent relationships, is Dawson's (combined with various other factors) raising a generation of people (girls) who can't deal with real human feelings and relationships? "If Pacey and Joey can't be happy how can I ever be?" Is this a contributing factor in the decline of decent relationships in our societies and our resultantly ever-more-needy natures as we seek solace and satisfaction in increasingly more decadent and expensive and emotionally vapid ways?
How many years has it been running now? And Dawson still hasn't found any fucking creek, has he? Perhaps my friends watch Dawson’s Creek BECAUSE they’re emotional retards? Is pop culture a conspiracy to fuck us up so we take more psychotropics? Do Coca Cola (for example) use sex as an advertising tool not because we like sex and will associate it with their product, but so that we have enough sex to ensure more babies to buy their product in the next generation?
Or am I taking a dodgy US teen soap too seriously?
Brad Shoup: Life imitates Airheads.
Ken Munson: Jesse Camp and the Wanna Be a VJ? Competition marked the point where MTV ceased to be about music and started to be about itself.
Andrew Unterberger: In 1998, MTV held its first ever Wanna Be a VJ? Competition, where contestants competed through various rounds of interviews, music video trivia and audience response before fans voted on the best. In a close race, boring Dave Holmes was beaten out by the wild-haired, thin-voiced and homeless looking Jesse Camp.
Matt Chesnut: Jesse Camp looked like an even more stoned Chris Robinson.
Brad Shoup: Man, are you sure that this happened in 1998? The hair, the clothes, the band comprised of hair-metal castoffs, the idea that a VJ means anything... wasn't this in 1986 or something?
Zach Smola: Jesse Camp, while some type of chump and fraud, probably, was also the most desirable candidate for the position. I mean, did anyone really want Dave Holmes VJing?
Andrew Friedman: Jesse Camp was the obvious pick, but the runner up was entirely unexpected. Dave Holmes (I don't even remember his fucking name) was the VJ equivalent of missionary position with the lights out. And, if I remember correctly, he actually stuck around on MTV doing "live from the beach" type shit for a minute! he might have even outlasted Jesse.
Kareem Estefan: Let’s take it as a given that any MTV VJ is going to be an incorrigible, worthless fake. Now which one would you rather have: Carson Daly, a smug bastard that may or may not be Ross from Friends, or Jesse Camp, a high-pitched, goofy kid with weird hair and an untiring devotion to mediocre 70s hard-rock? At least Jesse liked music.
Andrew Unterberger: Unfortunately, eventually the true backstory of Jesse Camp revealed him to be a college educated, middle class poser. A nation’s dreams were dashed. Then he released his first album.
Kareem Estefan: I remember when Jesse Camp’s video, “See You Around,” premiered on MTV. It had everything a teenage boy could ask for: a school rebellion, a concert too rockin’ for the grown-ups, a car with hot chicks, and I think Jesse even flipped off a couple people, or at least mooned them or something.
Josh Timmermann: Someone actually bought me that Jesse Camp CD (presumably out of a bargain for about $1) as a gag gift. I listened to it once. It was pretty funny.
Andrew Friedman: Really? I had no idea he was a fake--what happened?
Brad Shoup: Wait... are we arguing the legitimacy of an MTV video jockey?
Andrew Friedman: Oddly enough, Jesse would be a hit now, with all the rock'n'roll nostalgia going on. He blew up in the wrong time, when Nu Metal was ruling and nobody had any time for good old rock. He would have loved Jet and the White Stripes.
Matt Chesnut: If I recall, they did about three of these until they realized that none of the people who ended up winning were fit to be on TV.
Zach Smola: If one thing was proven by this little reality-tv experiment, it was the fact that absolutely any chump in the whole wide world of chumpery could get away with being a VJ, because VJing requires absolutely no form of any skill at all. Whatsoever. In the slightest.
Josh Timmermann: So, where on earth do you think he is now? My guess would be playing county fairs. Opening up for "Puppet Show.”
Ben Woolhead: In the early 90s Seattle gave us Nirvana. In the late 90s it gave us Starbucks. One of them I could have done without.
Joe Niemczyk: Leave it to Americans to be the last to figure out what everyone else in the world had known for decades. Coffee is good.
Andrew Friedman: Coffee was always a dietary staple, but Starbucks was the first to take advantage of its necessity. Starbucks was the Nino Brown of coffee. They saw everyone had an addiction, millions of fiends to serve, but almost as many dealers. They were all about consolidation. They moved in, took over and your local Starbucks became the fucking Carter.
Matt Chesnut: “Starbucks Coffee” is a bit of a misnomer. Most Starbucks customers don’t drink coffee black. They drink coffee-flavored desserts. It’s Dairy Queen for yuppies and English majors.
Ben Woolhead: Starbucks instigated the fashion for pretending to sell a cultural experience or a whole way of life rather than a lukewarm beverage that looks and tastes like dirty dishwater.
Joe Niemczyk: Espresso drinks, and especially ones made at Starbucks, became a kind of psychosomatic addiction for people. There was the caffeine and the sugar, which got millions hooked, but they also took on social meanings. You weren't just ordering small, medium, or large like the rest of those suckers. You were a person of fine taste, and your drinks came in tall, grande, or venti, and they cost twice as much as anyone else's.
Andrew Friedman: For a while I was really into Chai. Chai latte. I don't know why. Maybe it was cheaper.
Ken Munson: I tried a Mochaccino from Starbucks once. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that it was chocolate milk. I spat it out on the ground.
Adrien Begrand: Starbucks cappuccinos are too weak. Their specialty drinks are little more than coffee for children who don't like the taste of coffee.
Andrew Friedman: Where coffee was just coke, the caramel machiatto was cooked crack. Nowadays I lay low with a caramel frappacino.
Joe Niemczyk: Ah yes. Gimmie a venti, iced, half-caf, skinny mocha with an extra shot and some hazelnut. Easy on the whip. You got that kid? I don't have all day here.
Adrien Begrand: I'm hopelessly addicted to their cinnamon after-coffee mints.
Brad Shoup: Before I ever thought of setting foot in a Starbucks, I heard a trillion jokes about overpriced coffee. When Dagwood is cracking on you, you have an image problem.
Matt Chesnut: I am familiar with the Starbucks-across-from-the-Starbucks phenomenon. Actually, there’s a place in my hometown with THREE, count ‘em, THREE within a half mile of each other. One inside a Target, one inside a Barnes and Noble. Can someone remind me again why this bitter drink is so awesome again?
Christina Adkison: I knew the world was coming to an end when there was a block in my city that had a Starbucks DIRECTLY across the street from ANOTHER STARBUCKS!!!
Ken Munson: I was glad that my hometown wasn’t taken over by Starbucks like so many other places. I told this to my girlfriend once how glad this made me. She just looked at me blankly and told me, “Kenny, what are you talking about? There are Starbucks everywhere.” Then she pointed one out to me right across the street. And it was like the scene with Roddy Piper in They Live, where he first puts on the sunglasses. All of a sudden I could see five different Starbucks shops right in my immediate neighborhood.
Joe Niemczyk: The funny thing is, even after being completely inundated by Starbucks and other coffee chains, most people really don’t know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. It's true.
Gavin Mueller: I've still never spent money at one of these establishments. Although I have applied for jobs at them.
Ben Woolhead: Even though I am the sort of person who might just as well be pronounced clinically dead when my caffeine levels drop below a certain level, I have never, ever felt the need to frequent Starbucks.
Zach Smola: I refuse to call any coffee “tall”, or utilize any of the words in Starbuck’s custom-made menu lexicon. I don’t adhere to the traditional “hate-Starbucks-love-Mom-and-Pop” feelings most people have concerning coffee shops, but I’ve never thought Starbucks was very good. However, need is need. And thusly, the $14.79 cup of coffee was born.
Ken Munson: You will never find me inside a Starbucks. It’s just pathetic to be one of those stupid pretentious coffeeshop espresso junkies. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish off this six-pack of Mountain Dew.
Brad Shoup: Nickelback got their name from the bassist's experience as a Starbucks cashier. Enough said.
Ben Woolhead: McDonalds for the middle class.
Andrew Unterberger: In ’96 and ’97, alternative rock was in a state of flux—grunge was officially over, so people were throwing all sorts of shit against the wall in America to see if it would stick—we got through ska, big beat, Britpop and the Primitive Radio Gods before finally settling, bewilderingly, on nu-metal.
Gavin Mueller: Grunge always sucked! Bring on the white dudes with dreds!
Josh Timmermann: This, folks, is the nadir of music as we know it. Not rock. Not pop, even in the broadest sense of the word. MUSIC.
Ben Woolhead: Nu-metal’s over, right? I can come out of the nuclear bunker now?
Adrien Begrand: Nu-metal should have been great. The standard was set by two groundbreaking albums, Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power and Sepultura's Roots, but instead, it was co-opted by lunkheaded thugs with no musical creativity to speak of. As a result, the late-90s nu-metal trend set the entire genre of heavy metal back, and it would take another six long years for traditional metal to hit the mainstream.
Zach Smola: Built on such excellent foundational songs as Faith No More’s “Epic”, Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, and Body Count’s “Cop Killa”, Nu Metal basically just made life less enjoyable from the years of 1998-2000 or so
Tony Van Groningen: I will admit that I was into this stuff way more than I was into boy bands. It just started coming out at a time in my life when I was bound to be interested in angsty music. In '98, before it became a parody of itself, nu-metal was actually a breath of fresh air from punk and hardcore and grunge and thrash metal.
Adrien Begrand: Tuned down guitars and sludgy, Alice in Chains chords became the worst trend in metal history. Everything was so tuned down so low, you could hear the Korn bassist's strings rattling.
Tony Van Groningen: I loved that nu-metal combined elements of hip hop with metal; looking back on it, the amalgamation of these two angry forms of music was probably ineivatable. Drop-tuned guitars with turntables? OK! Rapping AND screaming in the same song? Fantastic!
Josh Timmermann: Nothing since cavemen discovered that dinosaur bones could be used for percussion compares to the sheer awfulness that was Korn.
Tony Van Groningen: The first Korn cd wasn't like anything I'd ever heard before.
Gavin Mueller: Korn was my favorite, tempering the nu-metal rage with an irresistible disco stomp in tracks like "Got The Life" and "Freak On A Leash." The best of the nu-metal crop by far.
Joe Niemczyk: I liked Korn back when they were singing nursery rhymes. Then they decided to get really deep. Suddenly kids everywhere were finding respite in their fist-pumping songs about being horny and depressed. Even the kids on the basketball team were wearing Korn t-shirts.
Tony Van Groningen: The godfathers of the "movement" in my opinion were Korn and Deftones, pretty much everything that came after fell a little short of these two bands, or copied them so blatantly it was offensive.
Ian Mathers: KoRn deserve mild, grudging praise for not sucking as bad as either of the others, but that’s about it. “Got The Life” was okay, but except for Jonathan Davis, who was incredibly annoying in all his self-conscious freakiness, the rest were as exciting as carpet.
Ken Munson: Korn were easily the best band of the genre, and even they were only mediocre. Their hair, however, was spectacular.
Adrien Begrand: As much as I despise Korn, the breakdown in "Freak on a Leash" is absolutely amazing.
Ken Munson: My parents stopped banning me from watching MTV around this year. This meant I got a fresh start at forming musical opinions, completely free out of outside influence. One of the first things I decided was that I really, really hated Limp Bizkit.
Joe Niemczyk: I can remember seeing a Limp Bizkit video and pegging them as a hardcore version of Incubus, something that skater kids might dig but that would never, ever blow up huge like 311. Right? I fear I overestimated the youth of America.
Ben Woolhead: Fred Durst, the clown prince of twattishness. Has there ever been a rock vocalist more deluded about the extent of his own musical talent and importance? Despite having an ego the size of a small country and no doubt wiping his lardy ass with crisp fifty dollar bills, Fat Fred still insisted he was just like his fans.
Andrew Friedman: The discussion on Nu Metal unfortunately begins and ends with Fred Durst. Almost any problem you could have about Nu Metal is one you really just have with Fred Durst.
Christina Adkison: Limp Bizkit was the un-sexiest band ever. Nothing is more repulsive to a girl than the image of a flaccid penis. Except maybe Fred Durst.
Ian Mathers: Limp Bizkit deserve a slap for unleashing Fred Durst and his fucking terrible George Michael cover on the world. It’s one of those covers that makes me realize that I actually did like the original a little, at least enough to wish this had never happen to it.
Ken Munson: Limp Bizkit. The riffs were weak. The frontman was a moron. The lyrics were pathetic. “I did it all for the nookie, so you can take that cookie” needs to go down in some Bad Rhyme Hall of Fame.
Brad Shoup: For me, Limp Bizkit's "Nookie" was the pop apex of nu-metal, a self-pitying blitz of hooks and thunder that's one of the most representative singles of the 90s.
Gavin Mueller: C'mon, the breakbeat on "Nookie" was definitive as well as shit-hot. There's something very satisfying about hearing a group's opus.
Christina Adkison: You know what a do with a cookie? I eat it, that's what. Limp Bizkit is full of sick perverts.
Ken Munson: Limp Bizkit reached the first of several new lows with the “Break Stuff” video. A billion stupid morons in red baseball caps (there must be some kind of intelligence/red hat inverse proportion) lipsynching to Fred Fucking Durst.
Matt Chesnut: You know, I’ll be damned if “N 2 Gether Now” still doesn’t hold up today. Freddie tries so hard to be the White Wu.
Josh Timmermann: Limp Bizkit...eh. They're obviously bad, too, but still kind of funny at the same time, especially when Fred Durst attempts to "rhyme" with a word with the same word (i.e., "Y'all better be lovin' this shit right here / L-I-M-P Bizkit is right here!")
Ian Mathers: Still, if you’d told me back then about how awesomely bad Durst’s blog would be these days, I still don’t think I’d have believed you
Andrew Friedman: Even his own freakin’ band had some serious potential until Fred opened his mouth. "Rollin," arguably the worst American song ever made, held up with the retarded rap. There's no question that weird ass Wes Borland can shred. The drummer, whose name I forget, is secretly a monster jazz drummer. And DJ Lethal's got credibility in spades. No, it's all fuckin’ Fred Durst, ruining what could have been a genuinely interesting time in rock and roll. Fuck Fred Durst and fuck his blog.
Andrew Unterberger: Together with Orgy and Rammstein, Limp Bizkit and KoRn set out to take over the world with the Family Values tour of the late 90s.
Joe Niemczyk: Oh, to have seen the looks on the faces of those parents who'd been dragged along to this show. "What did you like best Jimmy? The cop-killer song or the boys who lit themselves on fire?”
Ken Munson: Oh yeah, I remember Orgy. I shed a little tear for them and for all other bands whose only real hit was a cover (lookin’ at you, Alien Ant Farm).
Joe Niemczyk: Four years after Frente! had a hit with "Bizarre Love Triangle," Orgy turned "Blue Monday" into an arena-rock stomper. It wasn't really a bad cover. It was just totally unnecessary.
Ian Mathers: Orgy deserve some form of pain for their absolutely atrocious version of “Blue Monday”, still a watermark by which I measure bad covers. They still play that song around here, and it hasn’t gotten any less awful.
Adrien Begrand: Rammstein's Sehnsucht album was great. It was all about the scary German singing...the CD has bonus tracks in English, and yikes, did they ever sound dumb. "Duuuu...du hast mich" sounds way, way cooler than "Yoooouuu...you hate meeeee."
Brad Shoup: I hated "Du Hast". I still hate it. Given the lyrics of the song, I guess it's sort of a meta-hatred.
Andrew Friedman: Laser Tag. We used to roll down to Monroeville in suburban Pittsburgh back in high school. They had a sweet deal where for $15, you could play unlimited laser tag for three hours. The soundtrack was straight up nu metal. Nothing gets you more hyped to shoot mufuckers than DU...DU HAST...DU HAST MICHT.
Brad Shoup: My friend Aaron swore that the translation was "you HAVE me," not "you HATE me". He said it was a perversion of traditional wedding vows.
Adrien Begrand: Wasn't the Rammstein singer a former Olympic swimmer or something?
Christina Adkison: It was the destiny for Limp Bizkit, Korn, et al. to suck in order to make Linkin Park look that much better.
Adrien Begrand: As bad as nu-metal was, I still have the deepest admiration for Slipknot's self-titled album, the first hardcore-influenced album to go platinum.
Ben Woolhead: Was nu-metal a good thing insofar as it initiated a new generation of fans into the School Of Rock so they could then graduate on to bigger and better things? Or was it just a horrible blot on the cultural map? I’m still not sure.
Brad Shoup: Trace the lineage. College radio. Alternative. Grunge. Nu-metal.
Zach Smola: It is survived by bland emo, pop punk, and the occasional distorted keyboard in a bling/crunk song.
Brad Shoup: Instead of celebrating the death of nu-metal, we're all gonna be shuddering at the Next Bad Thing. It'll probably be called hate-core, and you can't perform it unless you mainline PCP.
Forgotten Films: Buffalo '66
Whatever you may think of director Vincent Gallo--and I'd imagine anyone who still actually pays any attention at all to American independent cinema does indeed have a strong opinion of him one way or another--Buffalo 66 is as personal as moviemaking gets, warts and all. In the film, Gallo kidnaps Christina Ricci in order to pass her off as his girlfriend to his parents. Rarely has the male ego been examined on screen with such brutal honesty.
Matt Chesnut: In this corner: a scrawny, tattoo covered ex-Motley Crue drummer. And in the other corner: Baywatch pin-up with tits that look like cantaloupes in a tube sock. I hope someone has a fire extinguisher handy because that is TOO HOT.
Zach Smola: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Washed-Up Celebrities in Love.
Andrew Unterberger: Every decade needs a great leaked sex tape celebrity scandal. The 80s had Rob Lowe, the 00s have Paris Hilton, and the 90s got two for the price of one Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
Nick Southall: I knew… a few people… with copies. You have to understand I was at university.
Josh Timmermann: This was hilarious. Tommy Lee's dick was, like, comically massive.
Nick Southall: I still don’t believe that was a real cock.
Ben Woolhead: Who’d have thought it, Tommy Lee finally making sweet music after all these years?
Matt Chesnut: I didn’t realize until just now how repulsive I find the image of Tommy Lee naked.
Ken Munson: Pamela Anderson is not a real person. I’m not sure if she’s a CGI image, or a robot, or what, but I refuse to believe she’s an actual human being.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m not sure if I understand the appeal of a Pamela Anderson sex type. It’s not like it was with Jennifer Love Hewitt, who you very well might not have ever gotten a chance to see naked again. Anderson was all too otherwise ready and willing to get naked to make this legitimately exciting.
Andrew Friedman: I wasn't surprised when they broke up. I was more surprised when Pam started writing a regular column for "Jane." and even more surprised that it was actually interesting.
Matt Chesnut: I’ll say this much: I miss saying “Pamela Anderson Lee”. It made her sound more dignified if you forget that she was married to Tommy Lee. Maybe if she was married to Robert E. Lee? Lee Iacocca?
Ken Munson: Never watched the damn video, and you couldn’t pay me to.
Brad Shoup: Thanks Pamela and Tommy, for making leaked sex videos a rite of passage for desperate wannabe celebrities. Next time, go reef diving. It's educational.
Nick Southall: I’m hoping he marries Paris Hilton soon.
Josh Timmermann: Right, this was the year that everything came in pairs. The meteor movies. The volcano movies. The computer-animated bug movies.
Ken Munson: And here’s where Dreamworks began ripping off Pixar, a trend that continues to this day. Hey Pixar, here’s OUR star-studded CGI feature about insects.
Adrien Begrand: I've always preferred Antz. Woody Allen playing a worker ant with a major identity crisis was perfect casting.
Christina Adkison: In AntZ, Woody Allen plays the part of worrisome, whiny ant that always gets stepped on...which isn't too far from his real personality.
Kareem Estefan: I’ve been marveling at Shark Tale’s inexplicably diverse cast since I first saw the trailer, but I only now noticed Antz’s equally baffling lineup. How the hell did Woody Allen end up in the same movie as Sylvester Stallone and J-Lo? Maybe if I remembered it, I’d be able to say.
Christina Adkison: A Bug's Life was definitely for children (or those that have the mind of a child). AntZ tried to be for hipper and cooler for the adults. Hence, the ghetto-fabulous "Z" in the title.
Andrew Friedman: Antz was the better movie, far and away. Instead of being a mere "us vs. them" American film (like Bug's Life), Antz brought the complicated theme of rebellion against your own people. it may have been animated, but it could have easily been a heart-wrenching independant drama set in communist Russia. or Nazi Germany.
Zach Smola: Antz was never very good. No one wanted to see Woody Allen computer animate his problems.
Andrew Unterberger: I definitely preferred A Bug’s Life. The humor seemed a lot less cheap. Pluss “Baba O’Riley” was in the previews.
Ken Munson: Antz had more star power, but A Bug’s Life had more family Disney-type appeal.
Christina Adkison: The best part of A Bug's Life by far was the Russian pill bugs. "You fired".
Nick Southall: Ants are brown. Ants live underground in tunnels and stuff which are brown. Brown is not a great colour upon which to base an animated film for kids, even a cutting-edge CGI-based one. A Bug’s Life wins, because it has COLOURS.
Ken Munson: A Bug’s Life is still Pixar’s weakest moment.
Andrew Friedman: I wouldn’t say that Bug's Life wasn't enjoyable, but it was a far cry from Antz.
Andrew Unterberger: I always thought that A Bug’s Life was the clever one and Antz was the dumb family entertainment one. I guess these movies were even less distinctive than I realized.
Forgotten Films: Hilary and Jackie
Most biopics are mere overviews of the life of some noteworthy individual. This is one of the rare, ambitious examples that delves deeper into the psyches its subjects. Director Anand Tucker sensitively depicts the turbulent, complicated relationship between Hilary du Pre and and her sister, the famous, multiple sclerosis-afflicted cellist, Jaqueline. Rachel Griffiths and Emily Watson are perfectly cast as Hilary and Jackie, respectively, and each is superb is in her part; the scenes they share on screen are unforgettable.
Andrew Unterberger: Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine”—the musical catfight that became the biggest non-boy band hit of 1998.
Matt Chesnut: This song is the aural equivalent of “Oh no you didn’t!”
Zach Smola: It’s nice to have a feud song every now and then, especially with popular divas. This seems like it was kinda written for older women, though. It seems like it should be Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton, and my mother should listen to it.
Brad Shoup: Supposedly, each girl's management team made sure that their respective diva got excatly as much singing time as the other. I think Hal Sparks and Michael Ian Black have the same agreement.
Ian Mathers: The bit of the song where they’re kind of dueling vocally was pretty neat, but other than that was this really all that special?
Andrew Unterberger: The video, like En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)” video from a couple years back, featured several women fighting over Mekhi Phifer. Is the guy really so irresistible?
Brad Shoup: Mekhi Phifer is well on his way to becoming the Kevin Bacon of urban radio.
Ian Mathers: Girls, girls, there’s no need to fight. I’m sure he’d be willing to share.
Zach Smola: The problem with this song is that no clear resolution was presented. We never really found out whose the boy was
Ken Munson: Who's better, Brandy or Monica? Eh, I dunno.
Andrew Unterberger: Monica, definitely.
Josh Timmermann: Brandy, pffftt!! Had I been the boy in the question, Monica, no contest.
Gavin Mueller: I always thought Brandy looked like some sort of weird alien. Monica was way hotter at the time, but this didn't continue once she became legal.
Brad Shoup: Honestly? Until I saw the song credited in Billboard to two names, I thought there was only one singer.
Ken Munson: Is there really any difference between them? Hey, I bet that's why Mekhi Phifer was dating them both: he didn't realize they were actually two different people.
Gavin Mueller: He made the right choice, though, Eminem is definitely hotter than either of the girls. And if Eminem will fuck him, even I'll consider it.
Christina Adkison: I was so excited about the last episode of Seinfeld that I taped it. I think I later taped wrestling over it or something.
Joe Niemczyk: My friend and I were hyped about this for weeks. We even had a small party over to watch it. We even taped it so we could watch it over and over again. Yet, when it was all over, I couldn't help but feel a bit bummed. I mean, is that it?
Josh Timmermann: The idea behind the final Seinfeld episode was brilliantly self-reflexive in theory; in execution, it just sucked.
Brad Shoup: Yay! An extra-long Seinfeld goodbye! Hold on... a clip show? Followed by an episode which is half clip show? Um... thanks?
Gavin Mueller: Sweet, a clip show! It's like a week of UPN reruns in a single episode!
Joe Niemczyk: In the final episode, Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer visit a small town where they witness a robbery. Instead of trying to help the victim, they just keep their distance and crack jokes about him. This lands them in jail for violating the town's "Good Samaritan" law.
Christina Adkison: Most shows' finales have weddings or babies being born...Seinfeld had a trail. How irreverent!
Ian Mathers: I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I did think it was kind of fitting at the time, but looking back I don’t know if it ruined things to have the horrible four actually punished in some way for their misdeeds.
Joe Niemczyk: Finally having them atone for their ways was a good idea for a final episode, but it turned out to be nothing more than an excuse to trot out all of the secondary characters, who just repeated the same jokes that they had in the previous seasons.
Zach Smola: I guess being that it was a show about absolutely nothing, people were hoping for the last episode to provide some kind of blanketing fulfillment. So in that regard, the fact that the last episode was somewhat of a cripplingly sad disappointment to so many is actually hilarious.
Andrew Friedman: In a way, Seinfeld was really a show about disappointment. it only made sense that the last episode would be wholly disappointing. Very few last shows actually hit that mark and get the closure that the viewing public so desperately wants--why not say "fuck it" and just make the most unfulfilling, arbitrary final episode possible? Makes sense to me.
Adrien Begrand: What probably bugs me most about it is that they took a show that was about nothing, just a bunch of mundane (albeit funny) occurrences in a character's life, and focused the final episode on how he & his friends were mean to everybody. If the series had ended as innocuously as it had begun, it would have been perfect. The last show had too much of a sour feel to it.
Joe Niemczyk: Not only was this not very funny, but it made me question why I ever thought it was funny in the first place. The final season was a disappointment from the start, but it took the final episode to make me wonder if I might have wasted my time watching so many hours of this series.
Adrien Begrand: The only bright point in the episode was the judge's name being Art Vandelay, which was frequently George's alter ego.
Brad Shoup: Come on, that ending was great. The endless cycle continues. Forget why Elaine would be in a cell with three men.
Adrien Begrand: That Green Day song was the most overplayed song of 1998.
Joe Niemczyk: "Time of Your Life" was everywhere in 1998. The last episode of Seinfeld, senior prom, high school graduation. It was a nice little song, but its ubiquity was kinda sickening. Plus it inspired a lot of boring emo bands.
Adrien Begrand: Someone sang it on ER. It was on Seinfeld. It played when McGwire hit his record-breaking home run. It's called "Good Riddance"! It's a sarcastic kiss-off song, people!
Joe Niemczyk: The whole thing was a bit disillusioning. We felt like a cult without a leader.
Ian Mathers: Still, I didn’t regret watching it.
Andrew Unterberger: I never quite got why everyone said it was horrible. Plus, you can’t beat Jerry telling stand up jokes in the prison cafeteria. The irony is deafening, and that’s probably the way it should be.
By: Stylus Staff
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