Category Archives: Childhood

Anything related to my early 90s childhood.

R’s Childhood: Arthur the Aardvark

From what I remember, my early life as a 7-8 year old kid consisted of school, snacks and television series; the last one consuming mostly 60% of my life. I was perfectly satisfied with my routine especially my television “schedule” and I was rather glad my brothers didn’t care much for the T.V and I didn’t have anybody to wrestle the remote with. Well, except my dad. One thing I’m thankful for is my parents gave me absolute freedom on the T.V and I explored all channels with gusto and tried to keep in mind what shows I liked, what time of the day they were showing, did it interfere with any other activity (i.e school), etc.

If you grew up in Manila with a cable T.V during the mid 90s, you’ve probably encountered a certain channel where they showcased animated shows that weren’t under Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or aren’t anime for that matter. The Raccoons, Rupert, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and Night Hood for example (titles ring a bell?). I forgot the name of that channel and if you know, please let me know and I’ll forever be grateful. It’s the same channel that aired the Wild C.A.T.s and one of my favorite animated TV series ever, Arthur.

And said HEY! What a wonderful kind of day.
Where you learn to work and play,
And get along with each other.

… As the catchy of the opening theme of the show goes and we are greeted with this image of anthropomorphic rabbits, dogs, bears, moose as children with kid at its center (I didn’t know what animal Arthur was at that time and it puzzled me for quite some time) wearing a yellow sweater.

I have fond memories about the show Arthur. It is after all the show that taught me to give oatmeal baths/wash to people with chicken pox when Arthur contracted them and a many years later, I was faced with the question in Nursing school “What kind of bath do you give to patients with chicken pox to relieve symptoms?”. Then I remembered that episode. Got the question right, no kidding!

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R’s Childhood: Nickelodeon Short: Safety Queen

The Non-Adventures of Safety Queen was one of the commercials or animated shorts I remember encountering while my favorite Nickelodeon shows were on break. It’s been so long I’m so glad to have found this video! I was probably 6-7 years old when I first met this “Safety Queen” and back then I had no idea what a pogo stick is or what retainers were for!

Back then I thought it was really amazing how she can figure all of that stuff out. Now I think it’s really just overthinking getting ahead of you but it still gives me that warm fuzzy feeling watching these Safety Queen shorts. This is one of those class Nick shorts and I’m sure there are a lot of us out there who know this one!

Since we’re talking about Nickelodeon shorts, I still haven’t found that particular one that I liked a lot. If you ever stumbled upon this blog and read this, I would like to know if anyone else if familiar with this particular short. It’s being narrated by a girl and the art style and the animation looked like a doodle and she’s narrating how her field trip to the planetarium went. That’s all I remember and it’s really bothering me for a while now that I can’t find it. Other than that I’m still on the search for those more obscure Nick shorts. My other favorites were Mr. Frear’s Ears, Inside Eddie Johnson and Zoom by Istvan Banyai:

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R’s Childhood: The Adventures of Pete and Pete

Note: This entrywas a long time coming. I’ve been busy with NLE reviews and it just didn’t give me much time to sit and actually write something.

A huge part of my childhood, being a 90s kid, was the early 90s off-beat era of Nickelodeon and their TV shows. I’ve already done an entry dedicated to Clarissa Explains It All here and it was one of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows and also a personal favorite of mine (Clarissa Darling was my ‘It Girl’ then). But now, I think it’s time that we take a few steps back again to that Golden Era of Nickelodeon to another personal favorite and explore Wellsville, USA—a peaceful fictional suburban town inhabited by characters who are a bit eccentric; case in point two brothers who are both named Pete.

Like many of the Nickelodeon shows of its day, the teen series The Adventures of Pete & Pete was one of those shows that definitely stands out in the mind of kids who grew up in the early 90s like me. Personally, I thought it was the coolest thing to happen on television, seeing an everyday account of the not-so-ordinary lives of your typical neighborhood boys the titular Wrigley brothers: Big Pete and Little Pete.

Typical but with their little quirks, Big Pete (17 year old Michael Maronna) and Little Pete (12  year old Danny Tamberelli) experience weirdness in perfect harmony with characters in their neighborhood who are a bit more eccentric than them. Set in the sleepy fictional suburbia of Wellsville in the USA (pretty much like the Simpson’s Springfield),  the show adds bits of surrealism to the craziness that exists behind the lawn sprinklers and past the white picket fences and no other show was able to potray it better than the Adventures of Pete and Pete.

Whether it be how they spent their  April Fool’s Day and summer vacations and also  minor hiccups such fighting over the family bowling ball Rolling Thunder, being grounded, or standing up against the school bully, the Wrigley boys lives are anything but ordinary. Big Pete and Little Pete deal with every day problems that kids face but in their distinct way and this usually evolves into mind-bending scenarios. At that time, it made me gloat over my otherwise boring neighborhood which eventually resulted in my everyday attempts to make my childhood a little surreal (the application of the “Pete Way” though sometimes made my parents sigh and resulted in extensive sermons).

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R’s Childhood: Clarissa Explains It All

Lately I’ve been gloating with jealousy over the folks who have the kind of Nickelodeon that features ‘The 90’s Are All That’. Sadly, our kind of Nickelodeon here in our country doesn’t cater to that particular segment which took the liberty of repeating my life—my beloved 90’s cartoons and sitcoms of Nickelodeon, which were my Holy Grail of youth-oriented entertainment of the not-so-distant past. It was even trending in Twitter a few days ago and after reading all the tweets about the inevitable wave of nostalgia that hit a mass of people, you realize the 90’s was really the Golden Age.

I’m a child of the 90’s—heck I was born on 1990 and Nickelodeon then was a definitive factor of how it was an amazing time to be a child of the 90’s. We grew up in Nick’s Golden Age of clever Nickelodeon Bumpers and Shorts (anyone remember Inside Eddie Johnson and Mr. Frear’s Ears?). My 24/7 lifestyle consisted of watching T.V and playing with childish abandon of making a quick obstacle course of the living room pretending I was a contestant on Global Guts, waiting to be attacked by the Inca soldiers in Olmec’s Temple and wishing that somehow, someday, I get slimed suddenly. But of course game shows were minor compared to the real life I wanted to lead which craved adventure and cleverness. I wanted a slice of Pete Wrigley’s (both older and younger) life and but I wanted EVERYTHING of Clarissa Darling.

Now Clarissa Marie Darling—she’s was something of a different sort of girl and something new that television had to offer. Most often, girl-centric entertainment is too pink, too safe, laced with too much wooziness and confined to only a socially accepted image of a stereotypical girl who desperately wanted to fit in. But that all changed when Nickelodeon introduced Clarissa, a fictional off-the-wall girl who was edgy, funny and wore amazing looking Doc Martens and the center of her show. Along with her came the existence of smart television shows for girls.

Clarissa was the star of the Nickelodeon sitcom ‘Clarissa Explains It Allwhich was produced from 1991-1994. It focuses on the adolescent Clarissa Darling (played by a young Melissa Joan Hart) a contemporary and imaginative girl who explains all the ins and outs of life and the people in it. The show also showcases her family: the classic annoying younger brother Ferguson (Jason Zimbler); her parents who are ex-hippies—her health-nut mother Janet (Elizabeth Hess) and her environmentally aware architect father Marshall (Joe O’Connor). And course, Sam (Sean O’Neill) Clarissa’s best friend who made a habit of going in and out of Clarissa’s room via a ladder outside the Darling house.

I salute to Clarissa and she personified what I aspired to be: smart, imaginative, funny and she was comfortable to watch—she had confidence and a cool self-esteem that makes no hesitation in detailing her likes, dislikes and fantasies. Viewers got a chance to see her not just a protagonist of her own show but also as a person, not simply a flat character on TV. Nickelodeon broke many conventions in this sitcom, particularly being a show that features a female lead and a selling point was they used special video effects to highlight Clarissa’s thoughts and plans which allows us to examine with her how life is through her eyes.

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R’s Childhood: Animated Movies

When you’re a kid, watching movies especially animated films provide that high-tech visual space where adventure and pleasure meet in a fantasy world of possibilities, which often the hard-nosed joyless reality of schooling lacks. Weekends in our home in the early 90s consist of a well-deserved movie marathon, while wrapped up in a blanket like a little burrito. The adults of the household knew my attachment to the T.V and anything animated so they showered me with VHS copies of any animated goodies and the much rarer ones come straight from my cousins in the States. Thankfully, there were animated films lodged in my memory that made an impression on me in my childhood during my early formative years now that I think about it. It was also important that during this time, my parents let me alone to entertain myself since Mother Hen was very much busy on the recent birth of my younger brother. I didn’t mind that little G would take so much of their attention; in fact, I was rather glad for it because no one was there to call my attention if I’ve been “watching too much T.V” and “getting silly ideas”.

I had plenty of Disney films to choose from back then and the more you watch several of time, I guess I was unconsciously familiar with the “style” already. They were entertaining definitely but it was unforgettable when I discovered other animated films which were visually different yet provided that same magical escapism you wanted as a kid.

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, The Brave Little Toaster and Bebe’s Kids—very different from each other yet still delivers that same happy wavelength it gave me years ago and they would be the movies I would gladly watch over and over again.

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R’s Childhood: Goosebumps by R.L Stine

God bless R.L Stine and his demented mind for Goosebumps. If you are a 90s kid, you’d know what I’m talking about and I’d love you extra for owning copies of the novels that were published in the mid nineties.

Unfortunately for me, at the time, I didn’t have the privilege of owning a single copy of Goosebumps since my parents cared more about my clothes and toys than books (and they always reasoned I had quite enough at home). Third grader R was first exposed to these treasures by my boy seatmate A.I, who always carried a white towelette with him. We were ‘frenemies’ but we had our more precious moments of spastic flailing and gleeful chaos around in the school grounds and he can be a really nice guy. He loved to read those things and being seatmates, we had an unspoken truce, the rule of “sharing” (and that includes shamelessly copying each other’s answers in Math class). The numbness and deadness I felt inside about literature suddenly took a turn for blatant contentedness. The day he let me read one novel during recess changed my whole perspective about life.

The girls at my class didn’t care about reading at ALL (and it still surprises me up to this day) and me and A.I reveled in the feeling that the books gave us: fear in our spines, creeped out yet we were unfazed. It awakened a hunger in me and soon enough I was devouring these books. Other than breaks, I read them voraciously in class (A.I refused to let me take home a copy) hiding the books behind a bigger book and I got caught, sometimes. I was taught the skill of being stealth and me and A.I we’re very much content behind our teacher’s backs and went on reading. I could not be content until I mined the series for terrifying and amusing snippets the author was capable of producing.

The Goosebumps series is central to me and probably to the others out there who experienced this childhood thrill of reading them. Reading Goosebumps is like a rite of passage and probably an obligate stage one must pass for the adult readers.

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R’s Childhood: Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin was one of the big childhood heroes of mine and now that a movie’s coming up, I think it would be appropriate to do a little backtrack on Tintin.

Whether he’s trolling the high seas for treasure or blasting off for the moon, young reporter-sleuth Tintin and his faithful dog, Snowy, have delighted readers of all ages everywhere for generations with their timeless adventures. I didn’t have the luxury to be provided with the comic books (which I just found much later in my childhood) but I had much of my Titin dosage through a now defunct i-Channel.

For wee R (who was 6-8 years old at the time but good things like Tintin stay in your memory vividly), he was my hero– a mythical figure whose tasks were to cope with the perils and challenges of the modern world. Next to Tintin appeared Captain Haddock and then Professor Calculus and together their exploits took place all over the world. He was an important educational figure as well. With Tintin, I developed a knack to writing and the English language (both spoken & written and I learned the word “Barnacle” for the first time courtesy of Capt. Haddock). And most importantly, like Tintin I wanted to be an explorer of the world. Together with Tinin, I discovered the world and developed a taste for adventure.

One of my favorite Tintin episodes: Tintin and the Prisoner of the Sun God

Tintin as a role model also taught indespensible things which you adapt by watching him every single day during the mornings and reruns in the late afternoons. It’s serious stuff when you learn about generosity, daringness(which Tintin embodies well), tolerance, openess (featuring various cultures in every episode) and the need to understand and explain things. It’s probably the greatest masterpieces of our time for children. They don’t make cartoons this good like this anymore.

Earth below us, drifting falling, floating weighless, calling, calling, home! This episode is also awesome and I always wondered how did Thompson and Thompson sneaked it HAHA!

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