May 29: 25 years of chasing waterfalls
And not sticking to the rivers or lakes we're used to. Also: Total Recall, calculator hacks, retro iPhone app icons, and more
The Retro • May 29, 2020 • Issue -3
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This week in nostalgic history…
25 years ago, on May 29, 1995 - TLC’s single Waterfalls was released.
Their most successful commercial single (sorry, No Scrubs), the song was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and won two Grammy awards (Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group). But if you plan to karaoke it — which you should — you need to memorize Left Eye’s rap verse in its entirety. Karaoke versions inexplicably don’t include the lyrics on the screen. (The karaoke powers-that-be do the same thing, much less notably, to the rap in Rebecca Black’s Friday.)
Also on May 29th: Soul II Soul’s single Back to Life was released (1989)… Sister Act hit theaters (1992)… Apple announced its doomed portable called Newton (1992)… Almost Heroes hit theaters (1998).
25 years ago, on May 30, 1995 - Vanessa Williams’ single Colors of the Wind was released.
Written as the signature song for Disney’s Pocahontas, the song won the Oscar for Best Original Song (and also a Grammy and Golden Globe). The song came from the pre-Frozen era of Disney, of course, where the lesser-known voice actors would perform the songs in the film, then a pop star’s cover would be featured on the soundtrack and released as a single.
By the way, the songwriters made up the concept of a “blue corn moon.” No such thing exists. Sorry, crying wolves. And historians.
Also on May 30th: Cal Ripken’s record-breaking consecutive games streak began (1982)… INOJ’s Love You Down was released (1997)… both Finding Nemo and The Italian Job hit theaters (2003).
35 years ago, on May 31, 1985 - Chevy Chase’s movie Fletch hit theaters.
Random trivia: Fletch was one of the last movies released in the HD-DVD format, before it finally lost the high-def DVD wars to Blu-Ray. The HD-DVD came out on March 11, 2008.
Also on May 31st: Funkytown, by the one-hit wonders Lipps Inc., hit number one (1980)… Sega’s Zero Wing, the game featuring the future meme about All Your Base, was released in Europe (1991)… Night Court aired its series finale (1992)… the Beastie Boys album Ill Communication was released (1994)… Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell left the Spice Girls (1998)… Survivor premiered on CBS (2000).
30 years ago, on June 1, 1990 - Total Recall hit theaters.
One of the post-Terminator Arnold Scwarzenegger films, Total Recall is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, received an Oscar for visual effects, and was one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time with a budget pushing $60 million. And yet… nearly all of its pop cultural significance today revolves around a brief scene featuring a topless three-breasted woman.
Also on June 1st: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock hit theaters (1984)… the first edition of the video game (then called) John Madden Football was released (1988)… Sting’s single Fields of Gold was released (1993)… the first episode of MTV’s Challenge aired (1998)… Napster launched (1999).
20 years ago, on June 4, 2000 - Kobe Bryant threw a legendary alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal to seal the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals.
The Lakers would go on to win the championship, the first title for both Kobe and Shaq, in a six-game series with the Indiana Pacers. The Lakers would win two more titles in a row and, speaking from the perspective of someone who’d just moved to Los Angeles at that time, the mania over that Lakers team transcended insufferability.
Also on June 4th: Poltergeist hit theaters (1982)… the Tiannamen Square protest happened in China (1989)… 2pac’s single California Love was released (1996).
Everything old is new again…
Some mad scientist built a handheld Commodore 64.
And someone hacked a NES controller to add a miniature screen… so you can play games right there on the controller.
Necco Wafters are returning to stores after a two-year hiatus and a change in ownership. They’re the type of candy whose only appeal is really the nostalgia — it ain’t the taste.
A student hacked a Casio calculator to add a secret screen, wifi, and messaging for some serious hi-tech cheating.
Speaking of calculators, Texas Instruments is changing their famous TI line to stop supporting programming. People aren’t happy.
Someone hacked a Power Glove and turned it into a robot hand that makes music.
A Mission: Impossible 2 writer recalls an odd conversation between Tom Cruise and Jack Kevorkian.
Throwbacks and recommendations…
A YouTube channel called 90s Fashion features fashion show and other fashion-related shows from the ‘90s.
Icon Rewind lets you use retro icons for apps on your iPhone. That includes the old logos for apps like eBay, YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, and many more.
Mental Floss digs into the history of the Trapper Keeper.
The Guardian picks “10 of the best retro video games.” The list isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but there are a few curveballs on there.
Thanks for reading! Back next week with Kiss from a Rose, Betamax, and lots more.