Wednesday, July 11

The Trivial Eye: CD Covers of the '90s

by Jason Toon

If the '70s was the last great age of vinyl (and record covers) and the '80s squirmed beneath the cruel plastic jackboot of the cassette, the '90s unquestionably belonged to the compact disc. The major labels thought they'd found the goose that laid the shiny silver egg. By the end of the decade, they were selling over 900 million CDs a year in the U.S. alone.

But like a disillusioned sophomore who has just blown five hours of her Hardee's wages on a disc with one-and-a-half good songs, music consumers soon found the "skip" button. CD sales are now a quarter what they were at the end of Clinton administration. This year, revenue from digital music sales will probably surpass physical sales for the first time. And it seems that every few months, there's another report about the major labels perhaps killing CDs altogether. After all the claims that CDs attained eternal perfection in music formats, it didn't take long for them to become as dated as 8-tracks or 78s.

Let us remember the CD era by remembering the 90s albums represented in the cover snippets below...

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, May 23

The Trivial Eye: Vintage Board Game Box Art

by Jason Toon

As with the Atari 2600 boxes we looked at a while back, board game box art is where the game experience really begins. It strikes the proper mood, fills in some of the game's narrative gaps, and can be more enjoyable or intriguing than the game inside. Here are details from the boxes for eight classic games from the 1940s through the 1970s. How many are still gathering dust in the rec room of your mind?

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

 

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Wednesday, April 25

The Trivial Eye: 80s Music Videos

by Jason Toon

Until the 1980s, the main way for a musical act to present any kind of visual element to their audience was through album covers, an art that finally came into its own in the '70s. But then came MTV, and suddenly every band had to give as much thought to their visual aesthetic as to their sound. Looking at them now, '80s videos are always naive, often scattershot, sometimes tedious. But the trackless wilderness of this new form encouraged all kinds of goofy experimentation, and produced some memorable images. Can you identify these mini-masterpieces from the dawn of the pop-video age?

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments, below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, March 21

The Trivial Eye: 80s TV Themes

by Jason Toon

If you spent as much time watching TV as I did during the 1980s, we should start a support group together or something. On my deathbed, I'll be bitterly regretting the many, many hours I spent in the company of Arnold Jackson and Judge Harry T. Stone. Here are eight images from the opening theme sequence of '80s TV shows. Name them all, if the post-traumatic stress disorder doesn't get you first.

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

Hey, science types: I'd like to do some science-oriented Trivial Eye quizzes. But I've always been more verbal than clinical. I'd appreciate any suggestions for scientifically trivial subjects that can be shown in pictures - please post them below. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 08

The Trivial Eye: Book Jackets of the 20th Century

by Jason Toon

The 20th century was lousy with wars, dictatorships, unrest, and anxiety - but how about those books, huh? All that turmoil (plus mass literacy and ever-cheaper printing) made for a spectacular outpouring of literary expression, the depth and variety and power of which dwarfed all that had come before it. Can you identify these eight works published in the 1900's by these details taken from their first edition jackets?

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, January 25

The Trivial Eye: Atari 2600 Box Art

by Jason Toon

The fanciful/deceptive artwork on Atari 2600 game packaging wasn't just a marketing come-on. It was an essential component of the gameplay itself, often the only way for us to know whether a certain clump of squares was supposed to be a dragon, a spaceship, or a linebacker. Peruse the gallery of kitsch classics below (all from boxes for Atari-manufactured games - no Activision, Imagic, etc.) and see how many you can name. One thing is certain: all of them were much more exciting than the games themselves.

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your answers, or arguments, below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, January 11

The Trivial Eye: Album Covers of the '70s

by Jason Toon

When I was a know-it-all teenage punk, I thought the '70s was music's lowest point, a tacky, lifeless Dark Age of audio macrame. Now I think the '70s produced as many vital, thrilling records as any decade save perhaps the '60s. But wherever on that spectrum you lie, nobody can deny that the era - post-'60s, pre-CD - was the heyday of the art of the album cover.

These eight covers may not be the most iconic, or the most beautiful, and certainly not the biggest-selling '70s albums. But together they represent the range and artistry of that decade's embarrassment of album-cover riches. How many of them can you name?

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your answers, or arguments, below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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