Monday, October 14, 2013

When Toasters Fly

A flying toaster.
Back in 1996 I was hanging around a little mom and pop computer shop in Indianapolis with my buddy Pete, who worked there at the time. Pete was a great guy and knew a ton about computers of all kinds, but he was sort of a dick too, and he had little time for people who didn't want to listen to him muse about technology. Well, this particular day, as we were shooting the breeze about who knows what --- it was 1996 so we were probably bitching about how much AOL sucked --- a young couple walked into the otherwise empty store and started looking around the place. They were both blond, well-tanned and well-primped; probably college students out shopping on a pleasant summer day. That's what I saw. Pete, on the other hand, saw a couple of non-geeks (muggles) who, at worst, were going to waste his precious slacking-off time and at best, provide him with some fodder with which he could amuse himself (he ended up going with the latter). Eventually, after wandering aimlessly around for a bit, the couple made their way towards the counter where Pete and I were both standing. They briefly looked my way before directing their attention to Pete and asked him where they could find some screen-savers. I remember Pete stoically blinking at them for a couple of seconds as the snarkyness was no doubt building up inside of him.
As I said, it was 1996 and a lot of folks were just starting to purchase their first internet-ready, multimedia computer, although most really didn't know what to do with these veritable powerhouses of machinery sitting on their desks besides use them to check their Prodigy mail. So, they went to computer stores and bought screen-savers. Now this particular computer store that Pete worked in only handled hardware and, in fact, had no software of any kind to sell, and this of course, made Buffy and Blake, who were staring blankly from across the counter, look even more ridiculous to him. So Pete informed them that yes, the store did have screen-savers and not only that, but that they had the BEST screen-saver of all! He motioned to the computer next to the cash register and asked them if they'd like to see it. The couple's eyes lit up as they looked at each other in glee, "Sure!' they both answered and they quickly scooted up behind Pete's counter to see this amazing screen-saver in action. Pete gestured towards the computer as they stared wide-eyed at the beige, 14-inch CRT monitor and switched it off. The screen went blank as the sound of static electricity fizzled away. It took the couple a second or two of staring at the powered-off display to realize that they'd been duped and once they did, I could clearly see the look of "well, screw you" on their faces as they silently left the store to find a salesperson who wasn't such a prick. Ah, Pete, you big jerk.
Anyway, in celebration of screen-savers, here's a video showing off nearly every module made for the original titan of the genre, After Dark, including the flying toasters. Enjoy.

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