There are a lot of cool things you can find when digging through a closet on a rainy Sunday morning. But, at least for me, discovering a long forgotten box of National Geographic magazines pretty much takes the cake.

Yes, I'll admit it. I love the National Geographic. Just leafing through the pages makes you feel like an armchair anthropologist, doing archaeology from the comfort of your living-room sofa. Fascinating articles from exotic locales. Candid looks into far-away cultures. Not to mention some of the finest photojournalism on the face of the planet.

Sometimes, even the advertisements are pretty interesting.

"Introducing the 1985 Century by Buick," says one ad, with a distinguished-looking older man standing in front of a mocha-brown edition of what must be the single ugliest car Detroit has ever made. The boxy lines, the tiny pie-plate tires... How did we ever think this was chic?

Here's another one, with an ancient-looking Apple II, sitting on a desk cluttered with 5-1/4" floppies, Motley Crue albums and packs of Bazooka Joe... ahh, sweet memories...

And, of course, every once in a while you come upon an ad with a level of sheer irony that is, in retrospect, utterly astounding. For instance, I found this one on the inside cover of the December issue, circa 1995...

On the left-hand side, there's the classic Microsoft banner: four large squares shaped like a window, colored red, green, yellow, blue. In the yellow square, printed in big block letters, are the following words:


As any geek could surely tell you, this phrase is in fact a sly reference to Microsoft QBASIC, though it's kind of unclear exactly why MS would want to make such an allusion. After all, QBASIC is not something I would readily associate with "FUN"; at least, not without the benefit of a prefrontal lobotomy. For non-geeks, feel blessed that you've never had to endure such horrors first-hand. You'll just have to take my word for it when I say that nothing says "fun" quite like Microsoft QBASIC.

It should also be noted that, upon closer examination, the color being used to represent "FUN" is not the standard lemon-yellow of the Windows logo. It is, however, exactly the same shade as the famous yellow frame on the magazine's cover. I'm thinking that this is probably not a coincidence.

But wait, there's more. Over on the opposite page, a splash of yellow leads to a smallish block of text, which reads, in its entirety (brace yourself):

Windows 95 will actually make your computer more fun to use.

The first time you turn on your machine you'll see what we're talking about. Instead of an annoying electronic fanfare, you'll hear this cool sound Brian Eno created. (Even if you don't know who Brian Eno is, don't worry, you'll still think the sound is cool.) You'll notice the look of everything on your screen is more dimensional, more interesting. When you copy a file, you'll see little pieces of paper fly from one folder to the other and be told just how long it will take. When you place a new multimedia Autoplay CD-ROM in the drive it will automatically begin to play. You'll get the most out of all the amazing new games designed for Windows 95. Little stuff like that.

Who knows, you might start looking forward to turning the thing on.

Where do you want to go today?

Centuries from now, archaeologists will unearth this box, as I did today, from the crumbled remains of my hall closet. I can hardly imagine what they'll think of us then. node for the ages, y'all. 'nuff said.

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