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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Retrospective 1995

I just came to a sobering conclusion about this year.  It's not anything that I consider to be life-changing, life threatening, or just plain having to do with life in general - except for maybe the fact that I just realized how old I am, and how fast time is passing by.

This year marks twenty years since I entered high school.


(insert Macaulay Culkin scream here)

Yes, this is true.  I entered my freshman year of high school in...shudder...1995.

I still have a hard time believing that it has been twenty years since I was a freshman in high school.  To me, it doesn't even seem like that much time has passed.  In 1995, I was thirteen going on fourteen.  My only responsibilities back then were math homework and science fair projects.  The rest of the time, I was fixated on my Super Nintendo!

Now, I'm 33 going on 34, and I have a full-time job, and want to do so much more with myself but am not sure how to make that happen just yet.  And now I play Super Nintendo games on my Nintendo 3DS.

But, it got me thinking about that simpler time known as 1995.  I know that 1995 was a big year for me as I transitioned from elementary school to high school that year.  But I got to thinking about all the other things that were huge that year, and I almost want to do a retrospective on all the things in pop culture history that are turning twenty this year.

In fact, I've chosen exactly twenty items that are turning twenty this year.  Like the "Wheel of Fortune" categories, these can be people, places, or things.

Ready?  Let's have a look!

1.  Windows '95 - August 24, 1995

Windows 8 might be all the rage these days (whether you're raving because you love it, or raging because you hate it), but back in the summer of 1995, Windows '95 changed the way that people saw their PC's.  Introducing the taskbar and start button (still in use today), Windows '95 was the perfect operating system to usher in the Internet age.

2.  Sony PlayStation - September 9, 1995

Although the Japanese were the first to experience the PlayStation in December 1994, Sony entered the video game market amidst some strong competition from Nintendo and Sega.  Twenty years have since passed, and Sony is still considered a huge force in the marketplace, with the fourth installment of the game console being released in November 2013.  Think about it like this.  We would not have Crash Bandicoot, Gran Turismo, or Skylanders (which in itself was sort of a spinoff of Spyro the Dragon) without the PlayStation!

3.  Kendall Jenner - November 3, 1995

I suppose I have to include one person who was born in 1995, and Kendall Jenner of the overexposed Kardashian-Jenner family is the only one whose name stood out in the list of celebrities born in 1995.  It does make me feel very old knowing that when I began high school, she was still a fetus...

4.  Jagged Little Pill - June 13, 1995

It wasn't exactly a debut by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette.  This was actually her third album release following a short lived pop career.  But when she dropped the Debbie Gibson act and dropped F-bombs in a song that was allegedly about an actor from "Full House", she got everyone's attention.  The album spawned six hit singles, and was easily considered to be one of the best selling albums of the 1990s.

5.  One Sweet Day - November 14, 1995

And if Alanis Morissette had the most recognized album of 1995, certainly this collaboration between Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey was 1995's biggest single.  It hit #1 at the end of the year and stayed at the top for sixteen consecutive weeks - the longest that any song has ever stayed at the top of the Billboard charts.

6.  The Finale of "Full House" - May 23, 1995

"Full House" ended in May 1995 after eight seasons, and the way the show went out wasn't with a bang, but with a whimper.  Michelle falls off a horse, loses her memory, and the whole second half of the show focuses on Michelle trying to remember who she is.  Really, couldn't the show have ended with an earthquake flattening the house or something memorable?

7.  "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" - September 17, 1995

Though the story began with "The Simpsons" sixth season finale on May 21, 1995, viewers had to wait four whole months to find out who pulled the trigger and shot the evil, calculating C. Montgomery Burns.  It was one of the most watched episodes of "The Simpsons", and many viewers watched in silence as Maggie Simpson was revealed to be the culprit. 

8.  Toy Story - November 22, 1995

Remember when the world was first introduced to Woody and Buzz Lightyear?  Remember when Andy was still just a kid?  Remember when Pixar was still experimenting with computer generated movies?  Can you believe that all took place 20 years ago?  I know.  I wept myself.

9.  Batman Forever - June 16, 1995

It was twenty years ago that Val Kilmer took over the role of Batman from Michael Keaton, and that Chris O'Donnell first assumed the role of Robin.  The film itself wasn't as greatly received as the Batman movies that featured Keaton, but it was far from being the worst one.  I quite liked it.

10.  GoldenEye - November 13, 1995

Not only did the Batman franchise see a new actor take on the lead role in 1995, but so did the James Bond franchise.  Exit stage right Timothy Dalton, and hello Pierce Brosnan.  And of the four films that Brosnan did during his seven year stint as James Bond, this was easily the best of the lot.  By the time "Die Another Day" was released, we were ready to welcome Daniel Craig in with open arms.

11.  Waterworld - July 28, 1995

Sadly, not all box office releases in 1995 were blockbusters.  Kevin Costner's "Waterworld" made headlines twenty years ago for all the wrong reasons.  While it was considered at the time to be the most expensive film ever made, reviews of the movie were mediocre at best.

12.  The O.J. Simpson Verdict - October 3, 1995

The trial of the decade ended in October 1995, and audiences cried out in anger after hearing the words "not guilty", clearing O.J. Simpson of all charges in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend in the summer of 1994.  Of course, we all know that O.J. himself ended up behind bars for a completely different criminal offense years later...but still, some still consider O.J. Simpson as the man who got away with murder twenty years later.

13.  The Oklahoma City Bombing - April 19, 1995

Sadly, not all of the memories on this list are happy ones.  One hundred and sixty-eight people were killed when a bomb exploded outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in what was then the worst terrorist attack on American soil.  Well, that is until 2001 anyway...

14.  The Drew Carey Show - September 13, 1995

Years before becoming the host of "The Price is Right", Drew Carey kicked off his very successful sitcom, "The Drew Carey Show" twenty years ago this September.  The show would run for nine seasons, wrapping up production in 2004, and made stars of Diedrick Bader, Ryan Stiles, and Craig Ferguson in the process.

15.  Xena:  Warrior Princess - September 4, 1995

Now, this actually makes me completely gobsmacked.  How can it be twenty years since we were first introduced to New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless and her notorious battle cry as Xena: Warrior Princess?  The show itself did surprisingly well in cable and syndication, running for six years before signing off for good in 2001.

16.  Star Trek:  Voyager - January 16, 1995

Star Trek fans, take note.  The fourth television series based on the works of Gene Roddenberry debuted twenty years ago on the UPN channel.

Sigh...remember the days in which the UPN still existed?  That seems so long ago!

17.  The Jenny Jones Scandal - March 6, 1995

Jenny Jones was never considered to be up in Oprah Winfrey's class in hosting a talk show, but on March 6, 1995, her show was the subject of much controversy.  On a show she filmed on secret crushes, Jonathan Schmitz was informed that his friend Scott Amedure had a crush on him.  Schmitz killed Amedure a few days later, and Jenny Jones was thrown right into the middle of a wrongful death suit.  The case was later overturned, but it marked a turning point in talk television, as most talk shows turned down the controversy in the wake of the murder.

18.  The DVD - September 1995

Can you believe that the DVD is turning twenty this year?  After the colossal failure of the laserdisc player in the early 1990's, the announcement was made that a digital video disc had been in the works and would revolutionize the way we watch movies.  Certainly people were skeptical, especially when you consider that DVD players when first introduced were almost a thousand dollars.  But in the end that prophecy came true, and DVD's permanently replaced VHS tapes in the early 2000s.

19.  The "Million Man March" - October 16, 1995

The Million Man March was held twenty years ago this coming October in Washington D.C., and was solely designed to raise awareness for the African-American community and to raise awareness for voter registration in the United States.  Although not as powerful as the great Civil Rights Movement, it certainly did make its mark on the world.

20.  Chrono Trigger - March 11, 1995

Finally, I couldn't end this look back through time without adding a game that allowed players to...go back in time.  It's been twenty years since the RPG masterpiece "Chrono Trigger" was released for the Super Nintendo, and twenty years later, the game still has a lot of replay value - especially since the Nintendo company released an expanded version for the Nintendo DS just a few years ago.

Sigh...1995.  I remember you like it was yesterday.  Where did that time go?

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