After Dark, Flying Toasters, and the Weird Internet

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Hello and welcome to another Friday! This week we’ve got flying toasters, which I always see as a good start to the day. As always, you can subscribe to get this in your inbox every Friday morning.

After Dark in CSS

Younger readers may not be familiar, but After Dark was a piece of software you could get for your Mac that had a bunch of screensavers you could enjoy. The most iconic, as far as I can tell, are the flying toasters.

The earlier days of computers and the internet were really bad in some ways (matters of inclusion come to mind as something we didn’t even think of back then), but there are so many incredible things abut that time as well. Flying toasters perfectly symbolizes these days for me; it’s weird, it’s kinda stupid, and its iconic. Seriously, if someone hasn’t already sold an NFT of some sort with these toasters, then I think it’s a major opportunity.

While I’m quite a bit older than I was when After Dark’s bizarre flying toasters were popular, I still enjoy it when the internet is weird. I think that many people confuse “owning my enemies” with “weird”, but despite that crowd, there is so much out there that’s just people trying funky things to see what happens. You see this more on newer mediums, with YouTubers fundamentally changing video entertainment over the past decade, and more recently TikTok is where I see some of the most creative, odd work today.

An email newsletter isn’t perfectly suited to sharing things like TIkTok videos, so I appreciate the irony that my own newsletter is fun, but not really weird. I’m pretty straight-laced myself, but I enjoy the weird stuff, so I’m going to make an effort to let Birch Bark get a little more weird in the future. How I’ll do that, I have no idea, but like any good early internet thing, I’m making it up as I go.

The Quickies


I got on a bit of a Casey Neistat kick this week, and while I loved his vlogs, the video I had to share was Do What You Can’t, which I just adore.

This video made me immediately angry at how dumb traffic lights are in the US.

SmarterEveryDay has been doing videos on submarines for a few months now, and this last one was equally great. Check out the whole series.

And finally, Thomas Frank tries some of the best wireless noise cancelling headphones out there and comes to the same conclusion as me: the AirPods Max are more expensive than the rest, but they are also better in almost every way. The case is obviously not one of those ways 😉