While we continue to celebrate 1999 Week, we must remember that the bygone year wasn’t all Lou Bega listing women’s names and baby Haley Joel Osment seeing dead people, but also, for many, the possible eve of a world-rending apocalypse. The Y2k bug—a numerical oversight in global computer systems—didn’t end up having any real, serious consequences, but, hyped up on years of The X-Files and Conan O’Brien prophesying, it’s important to remember that people really did have a serious fear that the technical flaw would destroy civilization.
While there’s a lot to enjoy on the site, from its clunky design and the fact that its About page signs off with an early-internet “Thanks for visiting,” the best feature is a section entitled “Year 2000 Rumors.” On it, the Council attempts to put a terrified population’s minds at ease by answering some of the most pressing questions they have about the Y2K bug.
There’s a wonderful, wide range of ridiculous worries represented here. The first rumor is about whether or not “The President plans to declare a national state of ‘martial law’ for Year 2000 transition.”
“The President has no intention of declaring martial law,” the page declares, noting however that, while “it is not expected that the Y2K transition will create a need for such action,” the “Federal Government will be prepared to take such action if circumstances warrant.”
Other rumors marked with an all-caps “FALSE” include the possibility that “Y2K problems in Federal prison facilities will cause cell doors and gates to open, increasing the risk of prison escapes,” that “nuclear missiles and other weapons that are not Y2K compliant on January 1, 2000, will, in fact, launch,” and that pacemakers will fail worldwide. One of the two concerns considered “TRUE” is the menacing suggestion that “increased solar activity at the end of 1999 could cause satellite systems to malfunction on or around January 1, 2000.” The Council, presumably rubbing their enormous bald heads while gazing out the windows of their secret deep space lair, say that “the next peak in solar flares or storms on the sun’s surface” actually were likely to occur around the New Year. They warn only of “a few days of difficulties for pager operators and broadcasting companies,” though.
This last point, which mentions the potential issues that may be faced by “pager operators,” pretty effectively caps off just how distant 1999 was, if not in time than at least in technology and culture. It’s hard to believe, but these goofballs thought computers were going to cause the destruction of humanity, not a widespread dismissal of climate change’s worsening effects and the return of far right politics to the global mainstream! What a bunch of morons!
Podmass_In [Podmass](https://www.avclub.com/c/podmass),_ The A.V. Club _sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])._
Summer is the perfect time for sitting around the campfire to revisit the nostalgia of ’90s Nickelodeon classic Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Hosted in the heartfelt way that only folks from Springfield, Illinois can pull off, Sara Laurel Goeckner and Jeremy Goeckner, the wife-and-husband team behind Are You Afraid Of The Podcast? present a watch-through that is entertaining for new and old viewers alike. Their spot-on analysis of this bonkers show pokes holes in ridiculous plot points, highlights unfortunate outfits, and even includes interviews with actors from the show’s original run. Although the podcast is billed as biweekly, you might have to wait a bit longer for new episodes since the hosts are deep in summer stock season, but it’s worth the wait. “The Tale Of The Carved Stone,” episode 33 of Are You Afraid of The Dark?, features the “new to town” trope that dumps poor Alison Denny in the middle of nowhere with zero friends. Can Sardo’s Magic Mansion help her find a friendship charm to change her luck? A dissection of the episode’s non-sequitur time-travel plot is the highlight of the episode. [Morgan McNaught]
Joining hosts Dax Shepard and Monica Padman this week is actress/director/screenwriter Lake Bell, who plays Shepard’s wife in the new show Bless This Mess. After pondering the feminine equivalent of a man’s musk, the trio discusses the current art exhibition of Bell’s husband, Scott Campbell, a celebrated tattoo artist whose show literally changes the people who see it—they put their arm through a hole in a wall to allow Campbell to tattoo them, sight unseen. Transitioning to an in-depth discussion of commitment and the nature of marriage, Bell shares her own insights on how a long-term, intimate, and trusting relationship allows humans to evolve. She’s found that spouses challenge each other in different ways and furthers the relationship by having children, a jumping-off point for unpacking the life-and-death stakes navigated by Bell and Campbell during their kids’ home births. As a guest, Bell is candid and personable, going deep into personal conversations as well as offering a compelling perspective on topics like careers, too. [Jose Nateras]
Every album has a story, especially the weird ones. With his new podcast, Bizarre Albums, host Tony Thaxton (Motion City Soundtrack, Feliz Navipod) will celebrate those stories through weekly mini-documentaries that explore the who, how, and why of history’s most infamous audio oddities. His inaugural episode takes us back to the year 1985 when the nation was suffering from a pandemic scientists have come to refer to as Hulkamania. Riding off the soaring popularity of Hulk Hogan and professional wrestling in general, WWF executives leaped at the opportunity to churn out an album of covers, parody songs, and truly twisted originals performed by their very own roster of leotard-clad brawlers. Despite the comedy album facade, the personnel listing on this record is nothing to sneeze at. Noted wrestling fan Cyndi Lauper provides backing vocals on a couple songs and legendary songwriter-producer Jim Steinman even lends a hand with production. In the end, the most bizarre thing about this album is the complete lack of the decade’s biggest star and the impetus for the whole project, Hulk Hogan. [Dan Neilan]
It’s the season-three premiere of everyone’s favorite show about a guy who fell into a portal behind a Burger King with all his podcasting equipment, landing in a magical world where he records a weekly show with Chunt the shapeshifter and Usidore the wizard. This beloved improv series, now in its fifth year, allows every stated addition to the universe to become canon, no matter how wild. This week they are joined by Rodney the Figurehead (Justin McElroy of the greater My Brother, My Brother And Me universe). Rodney wished upon a star and became an animated wooden man with a limited understanding of time and a truly confusing vocabulary; McElroy brings his humor and contagious laugh to the character. As always, the sound editing in this podcast, complete with background chatter and clinking mugs, lets listeners feel like they’re sitting right inside this seaside tavern, eavesdropping on our protagonists. For those who might be intimidated by this show’s back catalog, this season kicks off a new seafaring story arc, making it a great place to start. [Nichole Williams]
As the title implies, this movie podcast isn’t going to be a scholarly deep-dive into the vast, flickering world of cinema—even though it’s slated as the audio companion to CNN’s new show The Movies. Instead, CNN writer Lisa France, CNN reporter Sandra Gonzalez, and professional podcaster Kristen Meinzer record casual conversations about movies, especially popular ones. The opening minutes of this episode feature Gonzalez’s top five audience-friendly desert-island movies (Love Actually! Edward Scissorhands! The Lion King!). This week’s guest is Trace Lysette, a trans actress and activist who discusses being influenced by strong female characters as a kid, how Hollywood needs to start hiring trans women for trans roles, and that time she starred in an action movie that got shelved because her trans identity was revealed. To close things out, Lisa France solemnly reveals her undying love for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Considering that several people on Twitter last week—of all genders—dropped enough divisive takes on Scorsese to make him a trending topic, it’s like France knew she had to get on the mic and speak on behalf of all her Scorsese-loving sisters. [Craig D. Lindsey]
A cop records himself trying to coax a confession out of a wounded bank robber he’s carrying downhill in the cold open of this intimate, documentary-style show. Despite its name, Pretend profiles true events, with special focus on imposters. It’s not entirely clear what George Wayne Smith was pretending to be, unless it was a criminal mastermind. That he had a gifted mind and conditioned body was a given, but prior to May 8, 1980, Smith had nothing in his history to suggest what he was about to do. His military training and born-again-Christian indoctrination combined with a lifelong sense of superiority led him to subscribe to a paranoid fantasy of the world ending in 1981, and for whatever reason, he needed a lot of money before that happened. His bank robbery plan was one part too intricate, two parts overkill. Before it was all over, Smith and three accomplices used their considerable firepower to shoot up 33 cop cars and a helicopter. Host Javier Leiva wisely gets out of the way and lets author Peter Houlahan (who wrote <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B07GS7J2Z3" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1836724687[a|B07GS7J2Z3[au|5876237249237154266[b|avclub[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'avclub – A meeting of the (twisted) minds: The directors of The Witch and Hereditary talk horror on The A24 Podcast‘, ‘B07GS7J2Z3’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘avclub – A meeting of the (twisted) minds: The directors of The Witch and Hereditary talk horror on The A24 Podcast‘, ‘B07GS7J2Z3’);” data-amazontag=”kinjaavclub-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Norco-80-Spectacular-Robbery-American-ebook/dp/B07GS7J2Z3?tag=kinjaavclub-20&ascsubtag=e00342e7b8d4cb881d7a561959c2265326454ebe”>the definitive account of the robbery) color the scenes with his exacting knowledge of the case. [Zach Brooke]
It’s almost impossible to talk about horror movies of the last decade without mentioning Robert Eggers’ hyper-superstitious period piece The Witch or Ari Aster’s dread-ridden family drama Hereditary. The two films sparked a conversation around the massive divide between critics and audiences, yet the two films are undoubtedly some of distributor A24’s star children. This year already saw the release of Aster’s latest film, Midsommar, and later in 2019, A24 will release Eggers’ The Lighthouse. The newest episode of The A24 Podcast places microphones in front of the two visionaries to discuss some of their past work and their newest films, sans spoilers. The two directors, who are also friends, nerd out at almost a rapid-fire pace, jumping to topics like CinemaScore, Carrie, the importance of watching films more than once, and directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and Andrei Tarkovsky, but mostly Ingmar Bergman. Film buffs, get ready to take notes. [Kevin Cortez]
Hosted by Marin Buljan, this fictional documentary podcast follows the trial that will determine whether women are allowed to play in the top male soccer league at East Keilor High School. Focusing on the push and pull between men and women and their relationships with sports, the podcast is framed by Marin’s commentary of soccer games, news clips, and interviews with players, their coach, and others. “Retaliation” picks up after Alice, who spearheaded the change and was the first (and for a while, the only) woman to join the team, convinces her friend Grace to join and sees them through their first match, when the boys on the team structure a subtle but devastating retaliation. The games are cleverly time-lapsed, with Marin describing the highlights and interacting with their coach as his anger builds toward his team every time they ignore his instruction. The Graduate’s Cup unabashedly points out how an administration can (and does) turn their backs on the people they’re supposed to be supporting. [Elena Fernández Collins]
Host Fran Tirado kicks off this new weekly series with a discussion of all things ballroom, the competitive performance and pageantry originating in queer and trans communities of color. Out magazine senior editor and ballroom scholar Mikelle Street joins Tirado for a look back at the origins of voguing and ballroom dating back to the 1920s, as well as major moments in pop culture visibility long before RuPaul’s Drag Race launched ballroom into mainstream consciousness. Now, ballroom culture and language is everywhere: “It has seeped into every nook and cranny of the mainstream in a way that I personally have never seen before,” Tirado says. Terms like “reading,” “kiki,” and other catch phrases popularized on Drag Race all have roots in ballroom, but correct usage and exact definitions can sometimes get lost in translation (fans of the show might be surprised to learn that a “death drop” is actually called a “dip”). Tirado concludes with “Week In Gay” (WIG), a light news recap segment. [Sofia Barrett-Ibarria]
Kids had to work to find things to do before the internet was widespread enough to consume all our lives. Desperate for something, anything to occupy their tender minds, they scavenged for dead animals to poke with sticks, hunted for stuff to set on fire, and, most troubling of all, devoted themselves to collecting branded milk caps that were stacked in piles and hit with metal discs.
If this last activity sounds unfamiliar, allow us to introduce you to the wonderful world of Pogs through a 1994 video all about the trend called “Milkcap Krazy.”
“Milkcap Krazy,” which comes courtesy of YouTube’s Consumer Time Capsule, introduces viewers to Pogs with a concentrated hit of spastic, mid-‘90s video editing and some old-fashioned ‘tude. The host, a guy called Jesse Hynes, is practically bursting out of his skin while detailing the game’s boring origins. After oodles of tilted B-roll sets the scene, Hynes, plaid shirt tied around his waist, sprints around a park, gesturing maniacally while tracing the illustrious Hawaiian history of “the milk cap game.”
As this continues, an adult man dressed as a young boy tells us that the name “Pogs” comes from an acronym for the “passion fruit, orange, and guava” bottles where the first caps came from. Through it all, the camera swings drunkenly from side to side as the era’s color-warping and shitty CGI scene wipes underscore some truly righteous radio rock. Hynes eventually “sneaks in” to a tournament to narrate some high-octane, Pog-flipping action, in which a woman in an arm brace awards a bowl-cutted child a certificate in recognition of his milk cap mastery. God, we’re exhausted just typing this.
The true highlight comes about five minutes in, when a kid in tie-dye dutifully explains regulation Pog equipment. “When you start collecting a lot or buying a lot,” the boy says, “you’re gonna want one of these to store ‘em in.” He holds up a neon green tube and the scene freezes, a rush of dramatic guitars and crashing cymbals hanging over his image as if something of great import has just happened. A bass bows in and the tune becomes psychedelic. Images of ‘90s comic book character-branded Pogs flash by and the viewer’s third eye, like some spiritual milk cap, finally blinks open.
Seriously, just watch the rest of this thing for yourself. It’s never to late to learn about Pogs and begin a truly life-changing hobby. As the tie-dye boy tells us, even his “old guy” grandpa collects them “because, in the future, they’ll be worth a lot of money.” Invest now and maybe in 25 years you, too, will be as well off as that man surely has become by now.