Super Soakers aren't "Squirt Guns"

For all of history, guys have taken joy in shooting things at other things, whether it was the bow and arrow, the slingshot, the cap gun, or the paintball. The joy of it goes back to our origins as hunters (I'm guessing), but over time it evolved into sport, and then into shooting harmless substances at each other for kicks. A useful skill, I know.

The 90s did have one major innovation in the history of toy weaponry, and that was the Super Soaker. The original, which was released in 1990, could hold about 1 liter of water and fire it a good 50 feet, not to mention it also finally looked like a pretty badass "gun" like you'd expect in a Predator movie or something. The major innovation of the Super Soaker was that, unlike squirt guns, it had a "pumping action," which not only made you look like a badass Rambo-warrior when you were out prancing around the backyard with it, but also compressed the water so that when it actually did fire, it would fly! And when you got hit with these jets, you were bound to be streaked and squishy-heeled in short order.

Over the years these things just got bigger and meaner, holding more water and firing it further and further distances, with all kinds of accessories, like lazor guides and multiple shots with less pumping and easier "pump" refill (much easier than having to take the water jug off!), but whatever form they took, these things just about ruled whatever birthday party I was ever invited to. Once the guns were dusted off from the garage, there was no stopping the blitzkrieg... until they had to be reloaded of course. And so it was that after decades where toy weapons were only for target practice, kids were finally allowed to use other kids as the bullseye, thanks to this device. Boys will be boys, but only because a little water never hurt anyone.

But do yourself a favor and stop calling these things "squirt guns." I had many of those small see-through plastic pistol-shaped squirters with the push-button trigger, and I don't even see how they can be compared. Every squirt gun I ever had only carried about a cup of water at most, and it only fired it about a foot or two. You maybe got one or two decent tiny squirts out of it before you had to pour water down that impossibly tiny hole in the top or submerge the thing and wait for it to "glub glub" its way to being stocked. There's no question that the Super Soaker and its band of clones blew the squirt gun out of the water.

Stick Stickly Summers

People in the know know how zany Nick used to be, and how the idea of a popsicle sick announcer didn't sound weird at all. Stick Stickly was his name, googly eyes and felt mouth, and he was there for us at least a few summers back in the 90s announcing all the shows, doing commercials, and chilling with his popsicle and spork homeboys and girls all those sweltering summer afternoons of yore. There we could find him hosting a segment block called "Nick in the Afternoon," usually occupying some kind of miniature set featuring a prominent outlet in the back while constantly imploring all the shenanigans to "simmer down!" He also had his very own autobiographical special. I mean, this guy got to hang with celebrities, throw parties in the streets, and do whatever he was contracted to do to fill up 20 seconds at a time during commercial breaks, and I got to say, he was a welcome addition to the summer fun while it lasted.

Yeah that stick was alright... but now he's definitely in the "where are they now" file. 

The Shark Grabber

The annual Discovery Channel Shark Week is upon us! So in honor of my second favorite time of year, here be sharks! This one will be in the form of a toy which we all know for having made its big cinematic debut in the film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial where it cameo'ed as "Shark Toy" in Elliot's fish tank. Truly Spielberg knew all too well Elliot's adage: “The fish eat the fish food, the shark eats the fish, and no one eats the shark!" That's all one needs to know when watching Shark Week. No one eats the shark indeed. They just blow the sucker up.

But when it comes to the shark grabber toy in my canon, I have a confession to make. One time in middle school we all took a field trip to a local zoo park, and upon visiting the gift shop, I saw one of those shark-shaped lazy grabbers. I immediately must've pictured myself grabbing distant things with it on a lazy summer couch potato day, and so naturally I had to have it just for the sake of awesomeness cred. But alas, I didn't have any money on me. So I'm forced to confess that I stole said shark grabber thingy from the park... which was surprisingly easy to do, but yeah, a tragedy (and I throw myself on the mercy of the court!). Was it worth it? Of course not, because the thing couldn't grip anything, although it did annoy my girl cousins and my sister once or twice. Apparently shark grabbers are fond of short sleeves.

If it's any consolation, our class took a field trip to the Boston Museum of Science in the 3rd grade (one of the greatest places on earth for a kid like me), and when we came to the gift shop, I bought this really awesome pen that was shaped like a tiger shark with a removable tail fin for a cap. That one I kept with me for a long time, and it may even still be kicking around in my drawer somewhere with my old key chains. The ink ran out forever ago, but I kept it just for the awesomeness. You don't just throw shark pens in the trash. You respect the shark. Nobody eats him! (except me, at the sushi bar.)