The Parent Trap Is Our Aesthetic

It’s summer, and our aesthetic is The Parent Trap (1998): a rustic cabin in a pine forest, a kicky new summer haircut, a sedate London home, secret twins, a sprawling Napa estate, getting your ears pierced by a child, comfy yet timeless sundresses, midafternoon dips in the pool with your dad’s too-young fiancee, casual camping gear, finding out your parents were totally OK with never seeing one of their children again… The Parent Trap has it all.

Although remakes usually pale in comparison to the original, The Parent Trap is different. The Hayley Mills version is fine, but it’s the Lindsay Lohan adaptation that I go to time and time again. It came out when I was 11 – the same age as Hallie and Annie, and could have passed as their triplet – and although almost two decades have gone by, it feels ageless. It’s no mistake that this is our second “___ Is Our Aesthetic” post featuring a film from Nancy Meyers, romcom queen and kitchen guru extraordinaire: all of her movies feel fresh and current when they come out, and thanks to her use of timeless and playful styling, they stay that way.

The Entire Camp Experience

I never went to sleepaway camp: not rich enough to afford it, nor poor enough for a scholarship (even at 11, I was able to recognize that the Parker-Jameses were seriously loaded). But maybe that’s for the best, because I am free to imagine summer camp exactly as it is in The Parent Trap. Camp Walden is everything you expect in a New England summer camp. Nestled among tall trees, the girls really do bunk in rustic cabins, wake up to bugle calls, eat at a mess hall, swim in a lake, hold unsupervised poker tourneys and engage in elaborate prank wars.  It’s the kind of low-tech, high-fun camp I could imagine generations of the same family attending.

Even the preppy-yet-simple uniforms are great, and those little touches like how Annie always chose the more formal version: the polo shirt instead of the tee, for instance.

To get it out of the way: those twin scenes were filmed with the help of Erin Mackey, Lindsay’s double and now a theater actress, who is sort of the Kathryn Alexandre of the Parent Trap universe:

The Handshake

Annie and her butler Martin have a secret handshake, which Hallie must learn to replicate in order to impersonate Annie. Not sure what is cooler: having a butler, or having a secret handshake.

MAKEOVERS!

Whether it’s The Parent Trap, Clueless, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, She’s All That, or one of our many other throwback favs, we loved a makeover scene 20 years ago and we love them still. There was something so satisfying about Hallie getting the haircut and ear piercing just right… thank goodness.

The Soundtrack!

Not strictly aesthetics, but music is a big part of the timeless summertime vibes in The Parent Trap. I’m not ashamed to say I owned the CD. (Off topic: Mid-to-late 90s: the golden age of movie soundtracks?) The score even has the whimsical, pretty sound of The Holiday, another of our Nancy Meyers favorites, although The Holiday was a Hans Zimmer score and The Parent Trap was Alan Silvestri.

Hallie (And Annie-As-Hallie)’s Relaxed Wardrobe

(Links to a Hallie Parker-inspired look. I always loved those multi-colored beaded bracelets and the plaid shorts and denim jacket combo)

hello, moto jacket.

Hallie is a laid-back Napa girl: she’s outdoorsy and informal, but she wasn’t exactly wearing hand-me-downs like the rest of us poors (not that she could have, as her sister was a secret).

Annie (And Hallie-As-Annie)’s Classic Style

Don’t panic, but the headband matches. This is why I matched my school uniform kilts to a headband with the same plaid. Also because I was a dork.

This is how I’d love to dress my children, who will hate me.

Blair Waldorf’s style inspiration.

Oh, to have Annie’s upper-class, finely-tailored, utterly timeless wardrobe: tweed and Peter Pan collars and A-line dresses as far as the eye can see. If you weren’t one of the fanciest children in all of London town, it was probably just a dream for you, but it was Annie’s reality.

The Napa Ranch

I’m floored Hallie even GOES to camp, because her real home has an in-ground pool, horses to ride, acres of land and a Nancy Myers kitchen. I especially love her lived-in, pretty bedroom:

The London House

Like the girls’ respective wardrobes, Hallie’s is the one you can imagine possibly having in an alternate universe, but Annie’s is the unreachable goal.

[All house images are sourced from and link to a page on Hooked On Houses about the Parent Trap homes. Hooked On Houses has been a favorite of mine since I bought my house – I seriously cannot get enough.]

Sister Act 2 Is Our Aesthetic

Sister Act 2 is the closest thing I’ll get to a time machine to my childhood. I’m definitely not from San Francisco, but I grew up going to Catholic schools and living in the “inner city” in the 1990s — so, pretty damn close. It’s also pure proof that the ’90s fashion revival is warranted. Those fashionable teens are still cooler than me at 30, just like they were in 1993 when I was 7. Our previous aesthetic posts include The Holiday (winter), Matilda (Back To School) and The Witches (Halloween). It’s been a while, so let’s get back in the habit (SORRY).

Lauryn Hill At Full Lauryn Hill

Just had to discuss this right out the gate. Lauryn Hill will always be the ultimate teen vocal/rap/songwriter sensation, even though she’s a grandma now (yeah. I feel old too. Remember To Zion? He’s a dad!). Sister Act 2 marks the musical moment when His Eye Is On The Sparrow entered all our favorite hymn lists. Sister Mary Round-Brush Bangs is right. Please don’t stop.

Everyone’s Under-Choir Robe Outfits

When the instruction comes to take off the choir robes, my teen reaction would’ve been “oh, no.” That’s because if I was wearing a choir robe, underneath I’d have on either something boring and schlubby, or something that was guaranteed not to peek out from the gown. These kids are in their full 1993 mall-outfit best. The two young ladies at far left ALONE. They look like they crawled off of 2017 tumblr and onto the screen.

 Specifically Lauryn Hill’s Outfit

It’s not so much that it’s classic – those mom jeans would’ve been majorly out of style for a good decade plus – but that this outfit has completely circled back into looking current again.

How The Choir Room Is Some Sort Of Attic

You keep waiting for the scene where they paint it or at least knock down the cobwebs, but nope. It’s always just kind of an attic for some reason. It’s a look.

This Rooftop Situation

It always seemed so cool to have a rooftop at school to hang out in. Not sure why everything at this school is so high up, but not complaining either.

When Ahmal Gets Really Into It In Oh Happy Day

He might be crusty, but Ahmal’s got that joy down in his heart. Did you know that actor Ryan Toby went on to sing in City High, who did that song “What Would You Do” (if your son was at home, crying all alone… yeah, it’s in my head now, too)? It was totally new information to me.

Ahmal’s Cultural Appropriation Speech

Ahmal was the woke one. You can tell because he is wearing the Woke Kid Uniform of 1993 and because he delivers a speech on cultural appropriation, which, yes, was a thing in the ’90s as well.

Can’t you come up with your own thing? Why must you continually come behind my people and steal our expressions? First jazz, then rock n roll, now rap? What’s next?

The Way Fancy Hotels Looked In 1993

We touched on this in our discussion of Curly Sue: fancy looked different in the early 90s. I’d almost say the era was peak fancy. There was a lot of gold plating and dusty pastels. I don’t know. I just love how this was the epitome of a really good hotel in 1993.

Sister Mary Clarence’s Minimalist Nun Cell

In 1993 this was like a prison room to die in; in 2017 it’s a minimalist studio to die for. And in San Francisco? The Catholic Church could only afford it by selling some Vatican artwork.

Richard’s Outfits

I feel like when anyone talks about ‘classic style’ they mean, like, polo shirts or suits, but consider this: this movie turns 24 years old this year (?!) and in any point since it was released, this outfit would’ve looked current.

Bonus: Baby Jennifer Love Hewitt smearing her mascara (?) behind him.

Uniform Adaptations

Never would’ve been allowed in any of my schools, but lots of fun and very reflective of real-life 90s style. Round sunglasses, hat bills flipped up, backwards snapbacks.

The Credit Sequence

So iconic, it was spoofed on Broad City and we all instantly got the reference.

Everything

From my notes during my rewatch: “The best part of Sister Act is the montage where they fix things up. The best part of Sister Act 2 is EVERYTHING.”

The Witches Is Our Aesthetic

New month, new aesthetic… same author? Last month we explained why the 1996 film Matilda is our aesthetic. This month, I have another Roald Dahl adaptation on the brain: the 1990 classic The Witches. It has all the best of Halloween spookiness, Scandinavian middle class life and early ’90s British coziness.

The cobblestone-y Norwegian streets

The first part of The Witches was filmed on location in beautiful Bergen, Norway, with quaint winding streets and Scandinavian houses that look like something out of a Jan Brett book or Colonial Williamsburg.

Helga’s hygge-ified kitchen

Helga has the perfect cozy grandmother’s kitchen to hear a story about witches in.

Flashback Erica’s knit woolens

Very Kirsten Larson, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you do).

Helga’s tiny bed

It seems so simple and old-school European to sleep on a minimalist, space saving bed but also I’m a greedy American and I need a queen bed so I can sleep diagonally across it.

This hotel

Look. If I drove by this hotel in real life and I needed a place to stay, I wouldn’t even stop. I’d just assume that it was already fully booked for a witch convention and keep going.

This witch’s super conspicuously witchy outfit

Very motorcycle meets Audrey Hepburn meets mean rich lady.

Convalescing by the sea

Just in general, it is 100% my aesthetic to be sent to convalesce at the sea-side when you’re sick. I don’t want to be sick ever, it’s just that WHEN I am I wish the treatment plan involved “sea air” and not, you know, amoxicillin. I imagine I’d have a lap blanket and go on strolls that weren’t too strenuous. What I think I’m saying is that I’d only do a sitting-down type vacation if I had a disease.

This Married With Children-looking witch

On the right. Imagine her trying to act like a normal human at either a New Jersey deli or a Steel Magnolias-style southern beauty parlor.

This whole Mary Kay General Meeting-style convention

Don’t even try to tell me somebody isn’t about to get awarded a pink Cadillac.

PS, my favorite witch is mustard yellow, front left.

This nice pram

This scene is seared into my memory from childhood and that’s not great, but goodness, what a beautiful baby carriage.

Cute rat children

Riddle me this: I don’t find rats cute, but somehow I find children even cuter when they’re morphing into them.

Luke as a rat muppet

An actual rat would have lost me, but this Jim Henson’s Workshop version of a rat is my aesthetic.

The topsy turvy dinner scene

…because it fixed what otherwise was an incredibly boring dinner. It gets better after this but you’ll just have to watch the move.

Also my aesthetic: cress soup.

This grand high witch outfit

Feat. the BEST hat.

Luke’s room when he’s a rat

It’s probably rough being a rat-boy, but a Rube Goldberg-y setup with THIS FREAKING TRAIN and conveyer belt and toy Ghostbusters firehouse softens the blow and sort of makes a human want to get turned into a rodent by a witch.

Keeping the grand high witches’ names in a black filofax

Both for how early ’90s it is, and how ordinary and practical.

 

 

Rad 90s Dog Names: Pogs, Polly Pocket and More!

Chances are if you had a dog in the 90s, it’s dead.

But if you’re a 90s kid – someone whose main childhood years took place from 1990 – 1999 – you’re also now old enough to adopt a dog of your very own. Silver lining!

I’ve entertained the idea of getting a second dog – an idea that I’ve shelved for now because my 11-year-old puppy needs some pricey surgery. However, I got far enough to start mulling over dog names. I don’t think you can really name a dog before you meet it, but maybe you have a new dog and you can just tell that it’s a 90s dog. But not an actual dog from the 90s. Which, again, are mostly dead. If your new pup is giving you total pre-Y2K vibes, get a load of some of the 90s dog names I’ve brainstormed.

Lisa Frank

Because a great dog deserves to be named after a great dog artist. I actually had a dream that I had a dog named Lisa Frank which was the catalyst for this post. I may use this if any of my short-list dog name faves don’t fit my next dog.

DJ Tanner

Other Tanner family options that work are Becky Katsopolis, Kimmy Gibbler and Uncle Joey, which will always lead into a fun convo about how Joey wasn’t even really an uncle.

Comet would still be good, too.

Space Jam

For this reference to really *work* and make people think of the preeminent sports/animation/celebrity vehicle right away, you can’t name your dog after a Space Jam CHARACTER. You have to name it Space Jam.

Bela

Bella is one of the most popular dog names out there, but in this case your dog is named for famed gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi.

You could probably name your dog after Kerri Strugg as well.

Kerrigan

After Nancy. Also if you have two dogs, and ones a good girl and one’s full of mischief? Nancy and Tonya.

Spinderella

Please? Someone please?

Hallie and Annie

Only if you have two dogs, otherwise the reference is lost.

Pogs

I happen to think that it works better with the “s” on the end, but do what you wanna. Pogs the pug would be especially wonderful.

This is a great name for a dog that you think is really cool-looking but you don’t actually know what to do with.

Cory Matthews

Is your dog the lovable boy next door? With tousled brown curls?

The Rachel

You can technically name your dog just Rachel, but you have to use the article before it for this to be a top-shelf 90s reference. 

Mavis Beacon

Mavis is a great dog name AND Mavis Beacon is a great fictional typist. Obviously if you get a pet pig you’ll name it Mavis Bacon.

McCallister

Have to leave your dog Home Alone? And he always gets into unlikely, messy mischief?

Also you could call a boy dog Mac for short and a girl dog Callie so this is just perfect for any dog ever.

Polly Pocket

If your dog is tiny and compact, maybe you should name her after our favorite 90s choking hazard, Polly Pocket. I’ve already talked about how Molly is an overdone dog name, but for some reason Polly doesn’t get much play and I think it’s a lot more unexpected and cute.

Furby

Your dog already has fur, so right away this fits. It’s especially apt if you end up with a dog who doesn’t shut up.

Macarena

Macarena isn’t just an annoying pop song and an even worse dance craze – it’s also a girl’s name. Heyyy, Macarena!

Dunkaroo

If you were jealous of the kids whose moms bought Dunkaroos, imagine how jealous people will be of your dog named Dunkaroo. This has no basis as a dog name other than that it’s fun to say and also sounds kind of dog-ish?

__ Spice

You can name your dog after a Spice Girl, but I think the spice name has to match your dog’s personality. Like if your dog is intimidating, Scary Spice, and if small and fluffy, Baby Spice.

Carmen Sandiego

How dope was Carmen Sandiego? This would work great on a dog who was a runaway, is sneaky, or who is just very good with geography.

Zubaz

You can definitely call your dog Baz or Zubie for short, but if he’s stripe-y or sporty there’s no name like Zubaz.

Biggie Smalls

Too soon? It works equally well for a very big dog or a very small dog.

Pepper Ann or Doug Funnie

She’s like one in a million.

Or in the case of Doug, dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah.

Tamagotchi

I don’t like the sound of this as a dog name. But what I DO like is the idea of someone being like “I have to go home to feed my Tamagotchi.”

Wishbone

 

Last but not least: I can think of no better way to honor your dog than to name him or her after the greatest dog of the 1990s, Wishbone.

Salute Your Shorts Live Blog: Zeke The Plumber – Open Air Toilets & Brain Plunging

In keeping with our Social Media Hashtag week, we’re celebrating #ThrowbackThursday and the 25th birthday of Salute Your Shorts by rewatching the favorite episode of my childhood, Zeke The Plumber (don’t worry, this isn’t one of our real theme weeks …. but the one we have on deck next week is gonna be non-stop, if you know what I mean, and I think you do). We only had five days during Big Orange Couch Week, and we focused on Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and All That. But if you were a 90s Kid (TM), you’ll also hold Camp Anawana in your hearts. And when you think about it, it makes you wanna fart. Which was a great joke when you were 6. 

You can watch the episode here! Or, preferably, somewhere legal instead. Ready? Go!

  • The episode opens with a child holding a 90s camcorder and narrating a walk through the woods for his parents. Remember camcorders? And how if you didn’t have a heavy, expensive piece of equipment and the ability to convert those little cassettes to videotape, your memories just had to live in your brain?
  • Sometimes, we look back on terrible haircuts of the past and think “well, it was fashionable then. Times change and someday we’ll all think we look dumb now, too.” This isn’t one of those times. I knew Budnick’s red mullet was bad when I was in kindergarten, and I know it now. Looking back, it actually might be the first time in my whole life I identified that somebody had bad hair.

    But also, this wasn’t totally out of left field in the early 90s – it’s not like he made up this weird hairdo. The 90s did.

  • It’s almost on the fence between ‘mullet’ and ‘too much of your hair is bangs.’ MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND BUDNICK.
  • I, um… I don’t remember if I noticed that Ug Lee’s name was “ugly” as a kid. I do remember assuming that he was Budnick’s dad or uncle, because wherever two or more redheads are gathered, I will assume that they’re related. (My childhood BFF and I were both tiny freckly gingers; we loved that people thought we were sisters.)

    No but. They do look alike, right???

     

  • Let’s talk about the theme song. First of all, why do people/Ug put zinc oxide just on their noses? I’ve never had a sunburn that encapsulated just my nose but surely there’s a reason. Also, this may be the genesis of me thinking it was super dorky that I had to wear sunscreen all the time. Anyway, all of the characters are set up in the opening credits. ZZ is a goody-goody who loves nature (she’s Dawn from the Baby-Sitters Club, mas o menos), Ug doesn’t know what’s going on around him, Donkey Lips is a Bobby Moynihan character, Budnick is a shit-stirrer with silly hair, Telly likes sports, Dina is the pretty popular girl, and Sponge is small. There’s a blonde boy I don’t remember well (Michael) who was just … regular … I think? Like if Salute Your Shorts were a movie, he would have been played by one of the Corys.

  • The kids are telling ghost stories and I have questions. Are they supervised? And where did they get all those candles? And matches? Does anyone else think this looks like a huge fire haz? I never went to camp; this all may be very normal.
  • The gist is: Zeke the Plumber was a camp plumber who had no nose. He hit a gas pipe, couldn’t smell the gas and lit a match (I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, like why would he light a match in the first place, and why are there so many damn matches at this camp, and surely he knew he punctured a pipe, ok?). So Zeke dies and only his plunger was left behind, which I don’t think he needs in a hole with a match, but I’m not a plumber so what do I know.
  • Wow all of these kids are so young! I thought Dina and Z.Z. were so cool and sophisticated and they looked like literal babies:

  • Zeke the Plumber appears in the boys bunk, spending his afterlife plunging children’s toilets, which seems like an odd choice but you do you, Zeke. More specifically, he is plunging the OPEN AIR TOILET THAT JUST HANGS OUT IN THE BUNK ALL THE TIME. Was this there before? And is this camp or prison?!

  • On a related note, I have a weird ghost toilet in my basement and the floor drain near it started spewing water last week …. and all I could think was “in what universe would someone need a haunted toilet in their basement anyway?” I’ll tell you what: a universe in which you’re keeping someone in your basement. That’s all.
  • Nevermind. Zeke was a dream. He “found” Michael’s stuffed hippo in the toilet and plunges his brain.
  • How expensive do we think this camp is?
  • Now, via dream,  Zeke tells Telly he can turn her into a professional ball player, plunges her brain, and sends her to a ball instead. But all the kids dream Zeke the same so he’s obviously real, right?
  • Sponge has an enormous laptop, because this was still that era where being really into owning a computer meant you were a nerd on TV. For a moment I think he’s about to look up Zeke the Plumber, but then I remember that we were years away from it being normal to have internet access, and even more years away from wifi. Maybe that nerd-o was playing Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego.
  • Now Budnick is going to spend the night in the woods at the spot where Zeke died. Hold on, I have questions again. How do they know, and why was he digging a hole in the middle of the woods, and why is there a gas pipe in the middle of the woods?
  • The kids all set out to punk Budnick to get him back for scaring them with the Zeke the Plumber story.
  • The punkers become the punk-ees, as Budnick replaces himself with a dummy with a melon-head and sets off soda cans.
  • Ug impersonates Zeke and Budnick catches him in a rope trap, and I know I’m getting old because all of this seems like a lot of damn work just to prove a point.
  • Ug looks exactly like all the kids imagined Zeke The Plumber, which in my estimation means that he’s a real ghost after all.

ICYMI: Thank God It’s 90s Hair

*Raise your hand if you were personally victimized by The Rachel when you were a teen.*

Celebrating The Rachel, On The 20th Anniversary Of Its Death

The Rachel is dead.

Long live The Rachel.

Jennifer Aniston’s choppy shag – the biggest boon to the round brush industry to date – met its end by Season 3 of Friends. That means that right now, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Rachel’s death.

I think that to avoid looking too dated or silly, you should avoid any haircut with a first name (unless that name is bob. Pretty classic). But in 1996, America couldn’t resist the curled-under layers of Jennifer Aniston’s bouncy ‘do.

In the years since The Rachel died, Aniston has been pretty vocal about the cut:

Like anyone who has tried to curl their ends with a blowdryer while twirling a brush with the other hand, Jennifer hated styling her haircut. In 2011, she went so far as to call it “the ugliest haircut I have ever seen.”  My favorite part: stylist Chris McMillan was (allegedly) high when he created the style. “Stoned out of his mind,” Aniston said.

Okay, but was the Rachel really that bad? Let’s take a look-see.


But Jennifer wasn’t the only 90s star with on point hair. See: Deej Tanner. I def had her hairstyle too. “The DJ” never really caught on, though.

Full House Of Style

Michelle Tanner, fashion maven, is apparently too busy to live in a row house with >10 other people. At least, that’s the party line for why the youngest Tanner will not be appearing on Fuller House. Like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Michelle is a fashion designer living the high life in New York City. Is this really surprising? We’ve already covered Ashley Olsen’s statement that Michelle’s wardrobe was made of cut-down designer pieces. Michelle wore a lot of sunflower hats, giant buttons, and clown sweatshirts, but it was the 80s and 90s. Who are we to say the top designers weren’t going a little overboard on the whimsy?

In the spirit of Michelle Tanner, Fashion Icon, we’re going to look at how the other Tanner girls were dressed back in the day — taking it back to one of our OTHER favorite 90s shows, House of Style.

D.J.

Country Goose D.J.

In 1987, those unfortunate mall bangs and shoulder pads hadn’t trickled down to Donna Jo Margaret Tanner. Deej wore washed-out pastels, simple t-shirts, and comfy sweats. Bangs were decidedly non-teased, and hair was worn long and probably un-permed. Remember when we discussed those weird geese in bonnets that were popular in 80s and 90s home decor? This is how a woman with ‘country geese’ in her house would dress her 11-year-old daughter. There’s nothing here that Candace Cameron (Bure) should find embarrassing: for an 80s kid, she is getting off very easy.

Chunky Sweater D.J.

Let’s call this D.J.’s transitional look. Not the pastel little-girl style of the first season, but not a full-out teeny bopper, either. Chunky knit sweaters weren’t JUST for teachers at Christmastime in the late 80s. It was a way to add some humor and color into those crisp Bay Area winters, I guess.

Woman Of The 80s D.J.

Like most of us, D.J. had some awkward fashion years around middle school. Unlike most of us, D.J.’s character was going through a ’13-year-old Cathy comic’  phase where she was basically a middle-aged woman. Sometime around junior high, Deej started dressing like a high-powered woman of the 80s, except that she was a child. Her hair was permed and teased, as was the style of the time. She wore a lot of vests that she didn’t have to be wearing. There were bright-toned blazers with some very of- the-moment Michael Jackson-style epaulets.

Laura (Kate and) Ashley (Olsen) D.J.

Dainty florals and schoolmarm chic were popular and – am I losing it? – kind of cute for a while. I just looked at these dresses and thought “wow, that is refreshingly age-appropriate,” so don’t worry, if I ever have a daughter she’s definitely gonna hate me when she’s a teenager.

Seattle D.J.

Deej went to high school, got a boyfriend, loosened up, and started wearing flannels. Which, during this particular era, was more universal and not like a subversive Seattle grunge thing.

Mid-90s Seventeen Magazine D.J.

As in, she looks just like the girls in the copies of Seventeen magazine I used to sneak-read when my sister got them in 1995. This was that fun Clueless era when mod accents, A-line silhouettes and athletic influences made teen fashion its own category. Deej favored slouchy faded-wash jeans and bodysuits for casual wear and short but not mini-short skirts when dressing up. Plus Candace Cameron got that cute bob and started to look like a trendy college girl instead of a goofy sitcom kid.

Stephanie

Adorable Moppet Stephanie

In the first few years, when Michelle was strictly in nonspeaking baby territory, Stephanie was the resident cute little kid. And she was GOOD at it: I remember watching reruns with friends in college, and all of us being stunned because little Jodie Sweetin actually had great delivery and timing. Early on, costumers played up the adorable little kid angle. They kept Stephanie in the same pastels and unteased hair as D.J., when at this point in the 80s there were a lot of loud prints and weird bangs going on in the outside world.

Foreman Of The Sass Factory Stephanie

Stephanie got older, and the Full House writers got more and more obsessed with catch phrases. They established Stephanie as the household sass. Jodie Sweetin got to rock a lot more neon patterns and weird prints, plus she got a perm.

Trendy Tween Stephanie

The perm came down and the bangs came up, and it became clear that Stephanie was the cool one in the family. Stephanie really got to shine as the aspiring young hip hop dancer that she was.

Bad Girl Stephanie

By the 7th season, Deej was too much of a 13-year-old Cathy Comic to give her many ‘edgy’ teen storylines (I mean, the time Jesse thought she was drinking and she wasn’t, I guess?). Michelle was now the cute kid. That mean that Stephanie had to be the ‘rebel.’ You can tell because she went to make-out parties, hung out with strange boys at the food court, didn’t practice for the talent show and wore a midriff-baring top.

Celebrating The Rachel, On The 20th Anniversary Of Its Death

The Rachel is dead.

Long live The Rachel.

Jennifer Aniston’s choppy shag – the biggest boon to the round brush industry to date – met its end by Season 3 of Friends. That means that right now, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Rachel’s death.

I think that to avoid looking too dated or silly, you should avoid any haircut with a first name (unless that name is bob. Pretty classic). But in 1996, America couldn’t resist the curled-under layers of Jennifer Aniston’s bouncy ‘do.

In the years since The Rachel died, Aniston has been pretty vocal about the cut:

Like anyone who has tried to curl their ends with a blowdryer while twirling a brush with the other hand, Jennifer hated styling her haircut. In 2011, she went so far as to call it “the ugliest haircut I have ever seen.”  My favorite part: stylist Chris McMillan was (allegedly) high when he created the style. “Stoned out of his mind,” Aniston said.

Okay, but was the Rachel really that bad? Let’s take a look-see.

I mean. Highlights have come a long way, and at the time those frosty pieces read more “sun-kissed” and less chunky. But NOBODY’S hair curls in towards their face like that, and that was the Rachel’s biggest downfall. Add in some cowlicks or waves and this thing is toast; try it on stick-straight hair, and it’ll just hang straight down with layers that look like they were cut with kitchen scissors.

Here’s the thing to remember, two decades on. It wasn’t just that people liked Rachel Green’s hairdo. It’s that the haircut spread across the nation like nothing I’ve seen before or since. (Closest match: Kate Gosselin’s I Want To Talk To The Manager haircut; that heavily inverted bob that looked cool for about a month and now just looks like a short haircut with two long puppy ears in the front.) It started with the moms. It moved on to the 20-somethings. I was 9, and my mom joked that I should get The Rachel.

Don’t think that just because The Rachel crawled off Jennifer Aniston’s head and died in 1996, it was gone for good. That baby multiplied and infested heads worldwide. In the early 2000s, you could still see a Rachel in the wild. Legend has it that a few dozen Rachels still exist in the natural world, but even if not, the echoes of the Rachel can be heard.  Every time your stylist asks if you want “a little face-frame,” the Rachel lives on. When a hairdresser suggests “some piece-y layers for texture,” you can hear the wind whisper “Rachel.” And whenever a thick highlight is pulled through a latex cap, the faint sound of Chris McMillan’s hairstyling shears floats into the room.

 

Moo Point: Joanna Pacitti Was Robbed

Welcome to Moo Point, a series focusing on really old scandals, controversies and mysteries that are now so culturally irrelevant that our thoughts on them are moo. Like a cow’s opinion.


If you were a theater kid, you probably both loved and hated the kids in the Broadway cast of Annie. On one hand, those lucky kids were living their dream! On the other hand, those lucky kids were living YOUR dream. I was a hardcore child theater nerd – camps, acting classes, commercial auditions, headshots, even an educational video that I hope never surfaces – but I was nothing compared to the little pros in Annie. Although the Andrea McArdles, Aileen Quinns and Sarah Jessica Parkers get most of the Annie cred, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool millennial you probably connect the most with the 1997 Broadway Revival. And leapin’ lizards, you’re probably still ready to serve a knuckle sandwich to whoever booted tiny, talented Joanna Pacitti.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it back … way back… to a show a surprising number of 10-year-olds were watching in 1997: Turning Point, a 20/20-type show on ABC. (In our defense, 20/20  did air right after TGIF, and how else were we supposed to learn that you can get scalped by a pool drain?) A Very Special Episode – advertised for what seemed like weeks – tracked the auditions and casting for the upcoming Broadway revival of Annie. You got to follow kids through open calls, callbacks, trying to act like they’re instantly bonded with Sandy, the crushing disappointment of rejection… and finally, the naming of a new Annie, Joanna Pacitti.  Even if you wanted to resent a kid whose acting career was going better than yours, you had to admit that Joanna was a great Annie. She had the tough kid act down, but could also play sweet. She looked like she was having fun. And her rendition of Tomorrow was note-perfect.

(Rewatching the above for the first time in 20 years, I remember how appalled I was at the kids’ acting ability as a child: most auditions I went out for required a more naturalistic approach, and the Annie auditions seemed to go more for girls who ACT like THIS, with some of their WORDS IN ALL CAPS!, like the spoken interlude in a Kidz Bop song. But the girls were just giving the producers what they were looking for, so hey, those gals could read a room.)

Before the show even went to the stage, Joanna became a national phenomenon.  She was on talk shows and was the talk of 5th grade classrooms everywhere. Her story became known across the country: just a regular Philly kid who got her start singing for tips at her father’s barber shop. As Annie took a roundabout route to Broadway via a national tour, Pacitti warmed hearts and gained positive reviews. In hindsight, the whole process of the 1997 Annie revival is weird: the laborious open call auditions, the reality TV-ification of casting (before “reality TV” existed as such), the national tour before the Broadway opening… it seemed almost like producers were trying to generate interest in the show that could have been accomplished by just, you know, opening a new production of Annie on Broadway. It was 1997. What were tourists going to take their 7-year-old daughters to, Rent?

Then, four weeks before the Broadway opening, the unthinkable happened. Well, unthinkable if you’re a girl who beat out thousands in a search for the new Annie: little Joanna got the ax. According to producers, the reason was concerns about Joanna’s acting ability and chemistry with Daddy Warbucks. In another statement, they said that after trying out understudies when Joanna got bronchitis, they just liked another kid better. The other kid, Brittny Kissinger, was the youngest Annie ever, a second grader carrying a Broadway show. Impressive stuff.

Still, I defer to my comment under the video – not a single one of those orphans were showing off their “acting ability.” They all did what my childhood acting teacher called “Barney acting,” shouting like an excited cheerleader hopped up on pixie sticks. Today’s viewers will know this acting style from countless Disney sitcoms. My point is, this production wasn’t going for realism in Annie’s performance, they were going for something between pep and moxie. It’s pretty hard to be bad at that, and I don’t think Joanna was. [Note: Joanna may have been a perfectly good, realistic actress in other contexts, but that doesn’t seem to be what the director wanted and that’s not what she gave him.]

What followed was a hubbub far greater than the initial casting announcement. Joanna was on Sally Jessy Raphael. She was an early guest on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, whose main platform was kids and musical theater (we both watched every day, yes). The story was in everything from Playbill to People. It even went back to Turning Point:

I mean, THIS is the girl that producers didn’t think was Annie enough to play Annie? She literally says “I’m not Annie no more.” What kid actually talks like that? Plucky orphans from the 1930s.

Then came the lawsuit. A flashy breach of contract case stirs my soul like musical theater auditions did when I was 10, so this part of the story is my jam. Joanna won a contest, and the prize of the contest was the role of Annie on Broadway. A lower court judge ruled that a Broadway role is “not comparable to other contest awards,” ergo specific performance can’t be ordered. But is there a breach? The third circuit court of appeals ruled that Pacitti had the right to have her case heard. Unfortunately for those of us who really want to know if this constitutes a breach, Macy’s settled.

As for Joanna? It’s all too tempting to say that the sun did come out. She starred in a regional production of Annie, which for a little kid is almost good enough. She still got to do what she loved. Joanna went on to pursue a pop career, and might have made a great American Idol contestant, except that the show’s legal team decided that she might have had too many ties in the entertainment industry – she was signed, at times, by both A&M and Geffen. According to her Twitter profile, these days Joanna is a singer and photographer. It comes as no surprise that the kid chosen to play resilient Annie is doing just fine after seeing the wrong side of show business – which, as they say, isn’t called show friends for a reason. My opinion may be moo by this point – the 1997 revival closed within months,  – but this 90s theater kid will always argue that Joanna Pacitti was robbed.

Saturday Spotlight: Everything Is Rent

HERE

Every time we do a theme week, we say it’s one of our favorite ones yet. Everything Is Rent week is no exception – whether revisiting our age-inappropriate ideas about the musical when we were 9-10 years old, or recasting it with our dream ensemble, we hold a special place in our hearts for this 20-year-old Broadway phenomenon. That’s right, kids: Rent is now older than Mimi Marquez herself.

  • I Should Tell You… that when we watched Rent as tweens, we had almost no clue what was going on. Mimi’s a stripper? Angel and Collins go from “nice to meet you” to “I’ll cover you” in one evening? Minds blown.
  • No Shame Playing The Fame Game… so if we want to create our Rent dream cast, we’re looking to the greatest of the greats to inhabit these roles. We’re talking Aaron Tveit, Renee Elise Goldsberry, the whole 9. (Note: we mostly eschew the OBC, because there’s no arguing that they defined the roles.)
  • America, at the end of the millennium… was a lot different from America a decade and a half into the next millennium. When Rent premiered it was a modern show, so when, why, and how did it turn into a 90s period piece? The decline of answering machines is probably a piece in that puzzle.
  • We rewatched the 2005 movie, and we love all things Rent but still hold a few questions, comments and concerns. Such as : how rank was that performance space, probably? And does aging the actors into their 30s change how the characters come across?
  • Tiempos De Amor… is actually just as good as Seasons of Love. One of the amazing things about Rent is how a musical with such a specific setting has touched audiences around the globe. So let’s meet Korean Angel, German Maureen, and Brazilian Joanne!

THERE

  • This tribute to yesterday’s ground-breaking musical (Rent) from today’s (Hamilton) has us a bit emotional.
  • Catch up with the original cast and relive their memories of their auditions, performances, and friendships. Cry, again.
  • Rent: eye-opener for suburban teens? Probably. But as I (Molly) remember growing up as an inner-city kid, Rent was important for a different reason: the drug pushers and grifters I saw in my everyday life were presented as real people with real stories.
  • Here’s a piece about Rent being “outdated” 20 years after its release. Looking at the same facts we did, they come to a very different conclusion: we saw Rent’s very dated nature as a victory for Larsen, who wanted to create a musical that encapsulated his time; they see it as a failure.

It’s Not 1912: Let’s All Decorate In A Titanic Theme

If you went through the throes of Titanic Mania, and were a tween or young teen, at some point the thought occurred to you: what if my bedroom looked like a Titanic stateroom?

And while “doomed to a watery grave” isn’t maybe the BEST decorating style, a cottage industry arose from that very dream. On this, the 104th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, let’s all decorate in a Titanic theme.

Titanic Duvet

On one hand, you could decorate with a bed from the Titanic era, which as a 90s child I’m fairly certain is this:

On the other, you could emblazon your bedding with the image of the vessel that carried thousands to their deaths. FUNSIES.

But like the MAIN THING about Titanic is how it sank, right? So let’s up the ante:

You remember the part with the giant sloth right?

Why Not Just Put An Entire Boat In There?

If you’re really serious about your Titanic themed bedroom, you would put an entire boat in there:

This was called a Titanic bedroom even if it does look more pirate-y to me. Also: COOL BEDROOM.

This is a bit closer. Nice waves on the hull there.

Not a boat, but GOOD GOD THE MIRRORED CEILING. Good news, this is a B&B, so you could stay here.

I believe in this scenario, the sleeping child is the iceberg.

Now let’s make it feel like drowning.

As we said, the main thing about Titanic was that it sank. So let’s pull a little “This ship is submerged in water and I’ll never let go” into the setup:

You could stain the concrete so it always look like your basement is under water.

Is the tub overflowing? Anybody’s guess but probably, yeah.

You could buy this lamp to pretend the ship is at full-tilt and all of the lifeboats have already been loaded with women and children.

Portholes Galore

In fairness, the icebergs were RIGHT OUTSIDE THE PORTHOLES if anyone had bothered to look.

This is a laundry chute, if every time you have to do laundry you would rather just throw it into the ocean instead.

If you’d like to imagine yourself on a pre-sunk Titanic.

Based on the hit 1997 film

Perhaps you’d like to bring Kate and Leo into this? Sure, why not!

Very Kates, Much Leo.

Thank you, Ugly House Photos.

The Ever-Popular Stateroom Chic

The easiest (and easiest on the eyes) take on the Titanic room: some brocade, some oak paneling, a few Edwardian antiques.

This is a garden shed and I am honestly very impressed.

Paneling, wallpaper, 4-poster. Read more about the Australian B&B at the link

How They Passed The Time Waiting For The Carpathia

Movie theatre. Where you sit in lifeboats. Surrounded by dry ice?

Hakuna. Matata.