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Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 In Pop Culture: Fads, Toys, & Games

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the third part of a seven part series in this blog for the last week of 2014.  It's a little something that I like to call "2014 IN POP CULTURE".

And, I will be completely up front with you.  I am purposely making this blog entry on the short side because my computer has decided that it hates me this week, and my Internet connection keeps kicking me off.  I hope that it stays on long enough for me to post this piece.  Fingers crossed.

Anyway, for today's posting, I have decided that I am going to talk about some of the trends, fads, games, and toys that seemed to dominate 2014.  In fact, I have selected ten in all that I think got the world's attention over the course of the year.  The list includes a certain type of challenge, a word that has a double meaning, and a hashtag that causes people to go back in time...quite literally.

Shall we begin?  We'll go in alphabetical order...


Okay, so we can thank Pharrell Williams in part for this latest trend, as his single "Come Get It Bae" introduced everyone to the term.

So, what do you think the word "bae" means?  Well, it's got a double meaning, and depending on who you ask, it can be a very sweet meaning, or a very disgusting meaning.

The sweet meaning is supposed to be a slang term for "baby".  Granted, I am not one who appreciates the shortening of legitimate English words into nonsensical gibberish.  Maybe I am a little bit old school here, but the only time I prefer shortening words is if I am using it as an abbreviation, or if I am going to use a contraction such as shouldn't, don't, or can't.  To me, using bae instead of baby just screams laziness.

Or, if you're Danish, you could consider it to be a show of disgust.  After all, in the Dutch language, "bae" is reportedly a slang term for feces.  What a touching sentiment.


Just when you thought that Candy Crush Saga wasn't addictive enough, they released "Candy Crush Soda" in 2014.  It plays out almost exactly the same way that the original game plays, but with a twist.  Whether it is making soda rise to save a small bear, breaking jelly blocks to find hidden gummi bears, or eating all the chocolate in a level, the game will allow you to visit hundreds of new levels, and is one of the most downloaded games on Google Play and iTunes. 

Or, at least in theory, it will allow you to visit hundreds of levels.  I have been stuck on level 55 for two weeks now...


Okay, so technically, Fitbit has been around for a couple of years now, but 2014 seems to be the year that it has exploded in popularity.  And Fitbit bracelets seem to do almost everything.  It measures your heart rate, measures how many steps you take, measures how many floors you climb, and even monitors how many times you wake up during the night!  Now if it can tell you when you are losing weight as you move, that would be absolutely perfect!


It was inevitable that when "Frozen" was released in November 2013, that 2014 would be a year in which none of us would be able to "let it go" no matter how hard we tried.  Not only did we have the original movie released on DVD and Blu-Ray, but we also had the Sing-Along edition.  Not to mention the CD soundtracks (and karaoke albums), karaoke machines, dolls, stuffed animals, Christmas cards, inflatable decorations, gift bags, sweatshirts, T-shirts, underwear, socks, cookies, etc...


This past summer, thousands of people all over the world took part in this charity challenge to raise money for ALS.  It was really simple to do too.  All you had to do was grab a plastic bucket filled with water and ice cubes, and douse yourself with it.  The reason why the water was ice cold was so we could understand somewhat what ALS felt like (ALS being a disease that affects mobility).  And for what it is worth, not only did people douse themselves with frigid water, but the campaign raised millions of dollars.

For what it was worth, most of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges were fun to watch.  But some were just painful like the one below.

And some were just beyond this one posted below.  I sure hope this was a spoof...because if not, lord help her.


Did you ever think that in a world in which you can take photos with a cell phone and print them off at a photo kiosk or in the comfort of home that the hottest gadget of 2014 would be a pastel coloured camera that takes Polaroid style pictures?  Well, believe it!  This camera made by Fujifilm was so popular at my workplace this holiday season that we could not keep it, or the replacement film in stock!

There's just one catch.  The photos are about the same size as the ones you might get at a shopping mall photo booth, and the film costs exactly one quarter the cost of the whole camera.  But, who can understand fads, right?


The September release of the latest iPhone model certainly caused a lot of mixed reaction.  It still caused a lot of people to line up at Apple stores to pick one up, and apparently one poor soul in Australia dropped their phone immediately after getting it.  But the con is that the phone is larger than the previous iPhone 5, 5C, or 5S, and reportedly some people found that the phone is a lot more...flexible than previous models.  It is hard to say whether the iPhone 6 will remain popular, but enough people seemed to go for it in 2014 that it deserves a mention.


Okay, so granted, Minecraft is not a new thing.  This block based video game has been around for at least three or four years now.  But when the game was expanded to include console releases for PlayStation and XBOX, its popularity grew, and millions of people all over the world have played the game at least a few minutes a day.  It is absolutely amazing how creative people have gotten with Minecraft, and I can only imagine that its popularity will grow over 2015 as well.  I often wonder if Nintendo will jump in and join the Minecraft bandwagon.


2014 was a rather weak year in the video game industry.  No new consoles were released this year at all.  But the latest edition of Skylanders came out this year which allowed gamers to trap enemies, rehabilitate them, and convince them to fight on their side.  Or, at least, that's what the seven year olds who have bought Skylanders action figures from me at work tell me, anyway.  Skylanders have always been a popular game for younger gamers, so it isn't too surprising that the latest version would also be popular.


Have you ever seen those old photos of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers that have the hashtag #TBT attached to them?  TBT stands for "Throwback Thursday", and it seems to have taken off this past year.  I see a lot of people posting old photos on Thursdays in an effort to generate discussion.  And, well, technically today isn't Thursday, but here's an old photo of me with the Easter bunny circa 1987 in the spirit of it all.

Coming up tomorrow...the final Tuesday Timeline of the year.

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