Sunday, September 05, 2004

Blogs of ’99.

NO BLOGGING on Labor Day, and for that matter all of next week. But there will be much to report after that, beginning around Saturday.

One more item dragged out of the past, in this case five years ago, back when the Y2K bug had already been talked to death. If I remember right, I typed up these words late one Friday afternoon, just before catching a train home. I wasn’t reporting on the day’s events, but musing about even earlier incidents.

September 10, 1999

Friday afternoon has come and the whole staff is away, except me. Makes the office more or less quiet. The phone has stopped ringing and the e-mails have quit coming. Yesterday, the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninety-ninth year Gregorian & anno Domini has come and gone, without perceived incident.

Next week, the calendar will catch up with bad science fiction, as it has a lot this decade. (Another example, the launching of Lost in Space’s Jupiter II in 1997.) According to the long-forgotten Space: 1999, the opening events of the series occurred on September 13, 1999. How do I remember this? It's the kind of memory I have; perhaps the peg that I hang that useless fact on is that the premiere of the show was on September 13, 1975, and I saw it.

I was interested in that show for about a month, by which time its ridiculous plots (e.g., passing through a black hole & thereby conversing with God, or Somebody), wooden acting and other annoyances (everybody in 1999 wears pajamas all the time) were all too clear. Besides, I was drawn away by the original Saturday Night Live, which premiered in October of the same year. Luckily, a few years after that I quit watching much TV on Saturday nights, when I started hanging out with assorted eccentrics in high school.

Postscript, 2004. It turned out that not everybody in the future wears pajamas. But the prognosticators weren’t that far off. Now that the 21st century has actually arrived, it seems that t-shirts, shorts and baseball caps are the dress of our time. I don’t think, however, that anyone was predicting the future popularity of tattoos, which 30 years ago were for servicemen and criminals.

I saw the first episode of Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. I tuned in 30 minutes late, and the very first bit I saw was a spoof of an AT&T commercial. (Reminder to younger readers: that was the phone company at the time.) The advertising slogan to encourage long distance useage was “long distance is the next best thing to being there.” In the spoof, two men were clearly living together as more than mere roommates, and one of them called his mother. The slogan: “Long distance, the next best thing to being her.”

I thought, that’s odd. Was that a real commercial? No…


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