Einstein was a strange bird, there can be no doubt about that. My first assumption from childhood, when I learned about Einstein, was that his style of dress and his hairdo were normal for his time period. That wasn’t true, though. Einstein was considered strange, socially inept, and childlike his whole life. While the rumors about him being a terrible student are not true, it is true that he was inept at many non-intellectual things. The gist of it is that Einstein was crap with practicalities: he was very smart in theoretical things, but his intellect was a hindrance in any other realm.
One good example of this is in the job market. Einstein was not very good at holding down a job while he was young. In fact, he was consistently fired from most of the jobs he applied to. He was able to graduate from university, but he could not do any jobs without being fired. He even took jobs tutoring small children, and was fired from those jobs as well. Some have reported that Einstein was lost in his head much of the time and could not do practical work-a-day jobs very well. He simply wasn’t cut out for manual labor. He wasn’t cut out for tutoring, either.
Einstein’s big break came when he worked at a patent office. This worked for him because all he had to do was review paperwork. More importantly, he didn’t have to constantly pay attention all the time. There were long stretches where he simply sat at his desk and did nothing at all. During those long stretches, he could work on his physical theories. The patent office was a blessing because it gave him time to work on physics and did not demand things from him that he could not produce, such as constantly paying attention to what he was doing.
Einstein is now a man whose name is synonymous with genius. But there are some people who are too intelligent for their own good. If you’re too absorbed in abstract ideas, and cannot ground yourself in physical reality no matter how hard you try, then it may be that you’re past the point where intelligence has any practical value.
Another way to put it is that intelligence is only useful up to a point. The point where it stops being useful to an individual is when it can no longer work for practical things. Past a certain point, intelligence is only good for doing abstract theoretical stuff and doesn’t really help anymore with the ordinary practical stuff. In fact, as in Einstein’s case, it can even be hindrance. So keep in mind whenever you see a person wearing an Einstein novelty t shirt that the man on that shirt was brilliant, but handicapped in a way by his intelligence.
Alchemy seems so mysterious. The word conjures up images of arcane charts, lists of obscure elemental symbols, wizards and alchemists turning lead into gold, fantasy worlds, goblets, alembics, mortar and pestles, retorts, furnaces and beakers. There is something very Frankenstein-ish about alchemy, something that tempts the imagination and fascinates the mind. But what was alchemy, really? Where did all of this strange symbolism that straddles the border between magic and science come from? There’s an entire history behind it, an entire world of esotericism and proto-science, so let’s take a look at it. You might learn something really cool.
Alchemy is a proto-science, but it’s also associated with magic. Many of the discoveries of ancient alchemy were legitimate scientific discoveries. The idea that you could control the conditions around a piece of matter and put it through different processes in order to induce desired changes is not, strictly speaking, wrong. Fundamentally, alchemy is the same basic idea as chemistry: the study of change. The difference is that alchemy and chemistry separated during the Renaissance and Enlightenment, with alchemy becoming more and more esoteric and magical, while chemistry joined the rest of the physical sciences. So alchemy is the origin of chemistry.
However, even before splitting off from chemistry, alchemy was still deeply involved with magic and occultism. This is clear from the associations between alchemy and the various esoteric philosophies of late antiquity. Neoplatonists, as well as magicians and writers like Hermes Trismegistus, who wrote the famed Emerald Tablet, all dabbled in alchemy. The famous phrase “As above, so below,” first recorded in Trismegistus’ Emerald Tablet, is part of the philosophy of alchemy.
Indeed, many people even into the modern era experimented with alchemy. Even Isaac Newton, who laid the foundations of physics from his time until the 20th century, was not immune. Newton had an alchemical chest and spent much of his time absorbed in strange and arcane ponderings on the nature of alchemical processes. He saw a thoroughly spiritual dimension in it as well. It wasn’t just another science to him. He really thought that there were occult and supernormal powers that could be granted through alchemy.
All of this makes alchemy a good basis for much fantasy literature. Writing, video games, anime, and television shows all draw from alchemical themes from time to time. The reason for this is that alchemy’s dated nature makes it seem foreign. Nobody has seriously studied alchemy for a long time, so the symbols are no longer familiar, and this gives it a strange, foreign feeling. This is why alchemical symbology still looks so cool on posters, mugs, and alchemical novelty t shirts.
The Eye of Horus is a very ancient symbol. It has been found on amulets dating back to 3000 BC, making it one of the oldest still-recognizable symbols used by mankind. Also known as the wadjet, the Eye of Horus signifies concepts related to healing: restoration of health, wealth, or property, and protection of same. To this day, the Eye of Horus is immediately recognizable and associated with ancient Egypt. It appears in video games, movies, and on novelty t shirts.
Who was Horus?
Horus was a very important god of ancient Egypt. Depicted with the head of a falcon, he is often identified with Ra, the sun god. His enemy, for much of Egyptian history, was considered to be the god Set. Set is depicted with the head of an unknown animal. What specific animal Set is supposed to be is a subject of speculation among scholars, who designate the unknown creature as “the Set animal”.
Egypt began as two big kingdoms: Upper Egypt in the south, and Lower Egypt in the north. Upper Egypt was “upper” because it is where the source of the Nile was, and the Nile flows downhill. So Lower Egypt in the north is “lower” because it is further down, vertically. The unification of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt was symbolized by the reconciliation between Horus and Set. Horus and Set are reconciled, and by being reconciled, they unite Egypt.
For a long time, the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt had many names. Beginning with three names, they gradually expanded over the millennia until they had five names. But even at the beginning, one of the royal names was the “Horus name”, or the name the Pharaoh took to associate him with Horus. As time went by, the Pharaoh was gradually considered to be a descendant or incarnation of Horus himself.
The Eye of Horus is famous because it’s more than just an ancient Egyptian symbol. In a way, the Eye of Horus stands for Egypt itself. The Eye of Horus comes from Horus, and Horus is the Pharaoh, and the Pharaoh is Egypt. Keep in mind that the dynasties of Egypt lasted from 3000 BC until the civilization was destroyed by the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. That means that Ancient Egypt lasted for three and a half millennia! To put that in perspective, Cleopatra (31 BC) lived closer in time to the moon landing (1969 AD) than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza (2500 BC). So when you wear an Eye of Horus t shirt, you’re bearing a symbol so old that it was already ancient when the Romans were building the Colosseum in 80 AD. It’s the perfect choice for a necklace, poster, or novelty t shirt.
Dave C: Toxic Avenger vs Captain America
Dave I: Captain America. You know I always liked Swamp Thing more than Toxic Avenger.
DC: Swamp Thing freaked me out.
DI: That’s cuz he was just a big swamp zombie with a vacuum cleaner for a face.
DC: S-s-s-s-s-swamp monster!!!
DC: Short Round vs Marty McFly.
DI: Short Round! His belt is super FTW!
DI: Oh wait that’s the kid from Goonies.
DC: Yep but put a pound of beef on the line. Kid was starving. Should have said Indiana Jones kid from Crystal Skull vs Marty.
DI: Depends on if he had taken his Geritol.
DC: I meant Shia Le Boof.
DI: Oh. He could be taken out with a mild fart.
DI: Marty then. Shia LaBeouf vs the Smurfs.
DC: Shia. I ahte the Smurfs More. R2D2 vs Maximilian.
DC: Maximilian from the Black Hole.
DC: I Love Robby. I pick him.
DI: He was way cooler in Forbidden Planet than Lost in Space. (the image comes from a novelty t shirt in my personal collection BTW. I love Forbidden Planet. It’s a real thinker).
DC: Piccachu vs a bucket of cold water.
DI: Lol. Squirtl vs a urinary tract infection.
the Infamous Dave Inman
Supernatural isn’t a perfect show, but then again, nothing is ever perfect and if it were, would we as a viewing audience still tune in? The Walking Dead is massively flawed, but sometimes I get the impression that people tune in just to try to parse out what they might have done differently as writers/ producers or even actors. Back to Supernatural, and to shows that do well, specifically within a certain demographic: What do shows such as Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Once Upon a Time and even the original series of Star Trek all have in common? Well, they are or were all wildly popular and successful, especially among women ages 18-35, though still appealed to the “target demographic” of straight (ostensibly white, cis-gendered) men of the same or even broader ages.
(image from one of the many Star Trek novelty t shirts in our collection)
Science Fiction and to some extent, fantasy has always been a man’s world. The writers are men, the show’s producers are men, the showrunners and the majority of the lead actors and characters are all usually male. But so many of the fans are female, and straight females who are either tuning in with hopes of seeing two men in an intimate relationship with each other, or creating works of fan-fiction, better known as “Slash” in which their own fantastical, sexy projections and/ or interpretations of characters and events can finally manifest. (Star Trek T Shirt “Shoot that Thing!” because Kirk/ Spock was the original Slash.)
Family doesn’t end with blood.
The CW’s hit show “Supernatural” has been on the air for almost 10 years and just been renewed for its 11th season. What started as that other show about sexy people hunting monsters on what was then still the WB network, has turned into a flagship for its parent company and a rallying cry for a huge fandom that explores themes of what it means to be human, what it means to be a family and what it means to fight evil, within as well as literal things that go bump in the night.
During its first season, the tag line for Supernatural’s promos was “Scary just got sexy”, and it was described (not unjustly) as “The X-Files meets the Hardy Boys.” (X-Files image from one of our many novelty t shirts) But now, the line is changed firmly to “Join the Hunt.” Still, perhaps it might be better encapsulated with a line from one of the show’s own characters: Jim Beaver’s beloved portrayal of Bobby Singer (a gruff father figure named as a joke by the crew after one of the show’s head writers and executive producers) told the two main characters, brothers Sam (Jared Padaleki) and Dean (Jenson Ackles), that “Family don’t end with blood, boy!” and that has made a world of difference for people on social media, for youths exiled due to being LGBTQ, for fans and strangers to the show alike.
Let me expound upon this esoteric concept known as a protagonist. You see in order for an audience to enjoy a movie they need to connect to a character. This is usually the main one but sometimes can be a supporting character. Generally this identifiable character is a good guy who people like, although some great films can be about a bad guy who people sympathize with or who goes through some kind of a change (known to we film professionals as a “character arc”). Once in a while it is a really bad guy but he is that special kind of bad that is actually very cool, or that we hate but like to see bad stuff happen to. Typically when we identify with this character we imagine ourselves in his or her shoes and kind of wish we could be that cool.
Without this connection we honestly don’t care about the characters and therefore don’t give a crap about the drama they are experiencing. The main character of this film, Jim Bennett, is a turd of the highest order. A spoiled little rich kid who has a talent for writing he refuses to use for some idealistic reason. He is a professor who ends up sleeping with one of his students while owing gangsters hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has three major problems: diarrhea of the mouth, a crippling gambling addiction, and is fricking stupid.
That is really why I couldn’t identify with him in the end. Like all rich 1st world people he has the solution to his problems handed to him over and over again and yet keeps on doing the stupidest thing possible (image courtesy of our many novelty t shirts). His mother gives him $260,000 to pay off his gambling debts and he blows it all in Vegas. Someone else lends him the dough and he gambles it again. You can’t put yourself in the shoes of a character you don’t respect and I don’t respect characters who keep sticking their fingers in light sockets while being rich little bastards.
More pluses and minuses
Plus: JJ Abrams.
JJ Abrams has been known to do the occasional decent film and is most importantly a fan of Star Wars. He has said for a long time he loves this franchise and I truly hope he will put a lot of effort into not screwing up.
Minus: JJ Abrams.
Personally I think he did an absolutely cretinous job with Star Trek (both of them) and has the habit of reforming things in his own image. Also there is a reason fan fiction is hardly ever used by shows and movies and I don’t know if a fan boy is the best guy for the job. If I had written the script for the last Star Trek movie it would have certainly not had all the canon destruction and bad casting for Kirk but the temptation to take Kirk and Spock on a fantasy joyride where they destroy the entire Romulan Empire might have been hard to resist. (Romulan symbol is one of the very cool novelty t shirts from the fantasy logo collection) I think fans can make decent directors but a true fan might end up making his favorite character into some kind of super god. Sometimes a little restraint is not a bad thing.
The story. It pretty much picks up with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) in the hands of revolutionaries while Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held in the capital. The rebels are led by President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymore Hoffman) with help from security heavy Boggs (Mahershala Ali. He was in the 4400. I thought he looked familiar. The image I pulled from one of our novelty t shirts). They want her to be their spokesperson but Katniss wants nothing to do with it until she sees Peeta on the TV pitching how great President Snow is or something (Snow is Donald Sutherland and is great). She agrees to help them as long as they rescue Peeta. She goes out into battle and gets filmed bitching about how evil the Capital is (no argument here) while up to her knees in the burnt corpses of her former friends and neighbors. Show proves how evil he is by bombing a hospital and then the revolutionary base. A team is sent in to rescue Peeta and when he gets back they find the bad guys messed with his mind.
You know when you add it up that’s not a lot of events for 123 minutes. They really were stretching this out into two epics. At least they aren’t calling it the Hunger Games Saga. So do I recommend you see it? If you saw the first two (or read the books) absolutely. If you didn’t you will be lost without a paddle. Very little will make sense starting with who is this chick and why is she cool with going into battle against modern soldiers armed with a bow and arrow. This film does not stand alone well. Honestly my recommendation means very little for movies like this because either you are inclined to go or not. There is no middle ground for someone who saw the first two films but is on the fence for this one. I will say if you are dating someone who is into the Hunger Games it is well worth your time. She will love it and if you watch the first two on streaming (or just skim the Wikipedia story synapses) you will probably develop a connection or something like that with her. Let me know what that is like. Bathroom break? Go when Haymitch is telling Katniss about the Peeta rescue. That’s when I went.
Thanks for reading. I have Dumb and Dumber To to do tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook (and in real life please. I have serious self esteem issues), etc. Talk to you soon.
The Infamous Dave Inman
It is well known that most everything cool in this world was first shown in a science fiction movie or TV show. In fact most of our coolest stuff now was first in Star Trek (cell phones, tablets, self aware computers, green dancing slave girls). I used to do some writing for another blog that specialized in technology that comes from science fiction (got shut down unfortunately).
One of the cooler inventions from science fiction (for me) was always the hoverboard from Back to the Future, which ironically in the movie was readily available in the far off year of 2015 (this image is from a novelty t shirt in our Back to the Future collection). Talk about an awesome way to get around. Of course really without direction control the vectors will have you on your ass every time (statics was one class I actually aced. I am the vector king). However I always wanted to have one.
Now a company right here in the Bay Area has officially invented a working Hoverboard! I couldn’t be more excited. It works on magnets and needs a metal floor but still a lot of half pipes are metal these days. Check out this amazing article about Tony Hawk riding a real hoverboard! Awesome!
From what I understand the board was more invented to help move ocean containers and the like but still the possibilities are huge. It’s only a matter of time before kids are shattering bones with these things.
Now all we need is for some company to get working on my real Back to the Future dream flying cars. Enough with all this traffic not to mention bridge tolls. I’d like to see someone look into that time machine thing too but as a fan of the Butterfly Effect I don’t think it’s a good idea. Also it’s impossible because inertia is a bitch. Think about it.
the Infamous Dave Inman