Category Archives: Retro

WayBack Wednesday – ICS

So in order to keep my momentum going or at least set some sort of schedule, I present… Wayback Wednesday! I’ll post a video, picture or story about something from the wonderful time of the 80’s because there simply aren’t enough blogs posts on the internet about the era.

We’re gonna hit the ground running with this video/commercial from the 80’s/early 90’s..for International Correrespondence School.

When I came across this clip, just by bouncing around YouTube, it brought back a flood of memories. Mainly that of me taunting, trolling and generally razzing Sally Struthers. It began almost as a knee jerk reaction when commercial popped on, her frazzled visage filling the screen, asking us in that quavering voice, “Do you want to make more money, of course we all do!” It annoyed the hell out of me that she assumed we did, and did not even give us the chance to consider our options. I mean as a kid, I had the idea that a good job that paid a lot of money was a good thing; these days I would take the more pragmatic approach that I would rather have a job that made me feel happy and used all of my talents and skills. Like being a Jedi Knight who also did photography for Victoria’s Secret. Then again, more money means the same now as it did back then –“more money means I can buy more video games and toys!”

So I would mockingly retort “No!” loudly at her, even though she was already yapping on about the mail-order school. I did it every time, and I always got a guffaw from myself for it. I think my sister would tell me to shut up, because God I’m such an idiot. Apparently.

Next Ms. Struthers would start listing the courses. This is where the fun begins.

TV/VCR repair – Looking at this again, I was going to laugh, but then I put it into 80’s context. These days, when the $20 DVD player that you stomped over 5 grannies to get at the Wal-Mart doorbusters deal stops working, well you just toss it out (in the recycle bin, of course). However, back in the day, VCR and BETA movie players were big, clunky and they were damn expensive, normally running several hundred bucks! If a VCR broke down (and they did of course; I think the FBI released a statement back then that somewhere/anywhere in the United States a VCR broke every 15 seconds) so of course we need well-trained qualified repairman to fix ‘em! ICS would get you that training!

Learning the Personal/Small Computer- Now keep in mind when they say ‘small’ they’re not talking about MacBook Airs; they mean small as compared to the big ass ‘supercomputers’ you see in 1950’s educations reel-to-reels. Ones that filled entire rooms, and that was just the ones that you punched in with (do you know what ‘punching in’ is?). Later in the commercial, you get a hint of what you might get (at no additional cost) if you sign up for this subject, but computer programming in those days meant thousands of lines of code to make squiggly dots move across your screen. If you didn’t make a single mistake in that code. Which you would.

Interior Decorating- since no salesman will visit you to assess your lovely hovel, for admission you have to send a picture of your living room or some other space. They mail you some cans of paint and a set of curtains, switch up your space and mail ‘em back an after photo.

My absolute favorite topics though, include Gun Repair, which made me wonder what kind of materials ICS sent to you, in order to help you learn. For a final exam or whatever, did they send you a broken hunting rifle and say, “Ok fix this!” Well, then what? Let’s face it, you’re dealing with a population that is out of work, watching tv, and lacking skills to get a good job/salary. I’ve got an idea — let’s mail ‘em GUNS! What could possibly go wrong?!

Your professor has a stict policy on plagarism.

Same with Veterinary Medicine; do they mail you a sick kitty or puppy that you have to nurse back to health, only to demand you mail it back for analysis or you don’t get a grade? That one always goes over well with the kids.

What gets me the most though is that she says “Have your pencil ready” TWICE, like some schoolmarm talking to us like we are five, assuming we ain’t afford no pens in our house. I’m surprised she didn’t get specific, like “have a #2 pencil with a good eraser handy”, like my teacher did when we would take the ‘Citywide Exams’.

There is a new version of the commercial/company that has a new name and is completely online and actually seems sketchier than the University of Phoenix, if that is possible. One of their courses (they partially updated course topics from the above, but Blu-Ray Player Repair is not a major, sorry to get your hopes up), is Private Investigator, which is supplemented by a clip of a guy taking pictures of someone; so if you are a wanna-be Sam Spade or are a creeper enthusiast, here’s a way to make a little extra side cash.

Of course the idea of remote learning is a huge ‘business’ (or educational opportunity as they would call it) now, with many institutions offering courses and degrees, but this was where it started!


Filed under General Nerdliness, Humor, Retro, Uncategorized