- He presided over the bloodiest war in American history. While the total casualties from the Civil War were lower than many other wars that the United States has been involved in, the Civil War remains the single greatest loss of American lives. Over 620,000 casualties, a whopping 2% of the population, was dead by the end of the war. Interestingly, the United States fights most of its wars far away from its home turf. The World Wars, along with many of the USA’s other military engagements, all involved force projection far beyond American borders. Even Pearl Harbor was an attack on Hawaii, which was a territory and not on the mainland. The Civil War was the single most devastating war for the United States in a domestic sense. In a way, this speaks to the warfighting prowess of the USA: the most damage ever inflicted on the country was by Americans!
- He was assassinated. In one sense, this is less extraordinary than its sounds: of all the American presidents that have served, nine have been the subject of an assassination attempt, with four being successful. That means that, on average, one in five American presidents will experience an attempt on their life. What was extraordinary in Lincoln’s case was the way that the assassination worked out: Lincoln had already accomplished what he set out to do at his election, so the assassination was not out of political calculation. It was purely out of spite. John Wilkes Booth wanted to avenge the South. Even more bizarrely, Lincoln had a premonition three days prior, in which there was a corpse in the White House. He asked one of the guards in his dream who was dead, and the guard told him that it was the President, who had died at the hand of an assassin. Lincoln was also the very first president to be assassinated.
- His eerie parallels to JFK. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Boothe, who ran from the theater, and was eventually caught in a barn. JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, who ran from a warehouse and was apprehended by police in a theater. If a barn is basically an agricultural warehouse (and it is), Boothe ran from a theater to a warehouse, and Oswald ran from a warehouse to a theater. Kennedy had a secretary who warned him not to go to Dallas, and that secretary’s last name was Lincoln.
- Finally, his face. Abraham Lincoln was noted as an extremely unattractive man with a very asymmetrical face. That asymmetry, however, also made him look very distinctive. Unlike George Washington and other Presidents who looked similar to other men of their era, Lincoln’s face is unforgettable and would never be mistaken for anyone else. A fun story: Lincoln was once accused of being “two-faced” by a woman who confronted him on a train. He responded, “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?”
Mega Man is a very recognizable video game character featured on many video game shirts. A lot of people know who he is even if they’ve never played any of the games. Released in the late 1980s, the first Mega Man game was revolutionary because it allowed the player to choose what order to defeat the bosses in. Each boss gave the player a new weapon to use, which would be very effective against at least one other boss. For example, an ice-themed boss might give you a weapon that works well against the fire boss. Choosing which boss to beat and in what order made the original game stand out.
But what was the story of Mega Man? In the original game, the robot (originally known as Rock Man) was a robot created by a scientist named Dr. Light. Dr. Light had a colleague named Dr. Wiley who helped created robots. When Dr. Wiley went rogue and reprogrammed Dr. Light’s robots, one of the only ones who escaped was Rock Man, who offered to be converted into a combat robot to stop Dr. Wiley. This was a simple enough story, and Dr. Wily was the boss of the original game. He was one of those old style video game bosses that is beaten in several stages.
This was a short lived part of the whole mythos, though. A few years later, in 1993, the character who would come to truly define the series was created. The character’s name was X, although he is commonly also called Mega Man. X is a successor to the original Mega Man that was created and placed in suspended animation for a century before being recovered by Dr. Cain. He was originally created by Dr. Light, but Dr. Cain was the scientist who found him a century later. Ignoring Dr. Light’s warnings that were logged in the time capsule, Dr. Cain proceeded to replicate Mega Man and create many more robots like him, called Reploids.
The Reploids (replica androids) were different from their predecessors. Like Mega Man X, they had free will and could make their own decisions. Disaster struck when a certain group of them became known as “mavericks”, turning against their human masters with their newfound free will. A group of maverick hunters was created, consisting of loyal reploids who could hunt down and kill the mavericks. One such maverick hunter was called Sigma. Sigma was originally a maverick hunter, but he eventually became a maverick himself and becomes the main villain of Mega Man X. Another character is introduced, named Zero, who is like the opposite of Sigma: originally a creation of Dr. Wily, he joins the maverick hunters later on.
The plot becomes more complicated from there, of course, but the brass tacks of it have been laid out. The plot as a whole is very confusing for a newcomer to the series, so if you don’t want to sound like a fool in front of die-hard fans, this article should help you out.
If you were a gamer of any stripe during the early 90s, you knew all about Streets of Rage. One of the most famous examples of the beat ‘em up genre, Streets of Rage allows you to pick from one of three characters: Adam, Axel, and Blaze. The characters are all very similar and possess the same movesets. What differentiates them are the character sprites, which look very different, and their stats. Adam has high power and jumps high, but is slower. Axel has high power and is fast, but does not jump very high. Blaze, the female, has high speed and jumps well, but has lower power. The game can be played with one or two players.
While the characters do not have unique styles or super moves (this comes later in the series), they do have something resembling a super move. If the special button is pressed, the camera will shift backward to reveal a police car. The police car will pull up and a policeman will pop out of it with either a bazooka or gatling gun. The policeman fires the weapon. Then the camera shifts back to the battlefield, where fire will rain down and destroy or greatly damage all enemies on screen. Each level, the player begins with one “special” use to call the police officers.
This is a very strange mechanic, but not totally unheard of in beat ‘em up games. For example, in Spider Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety, both the players can call superheroes from the Marvel Comics Universe to come attack all opponents onscreen. So the use of “summons” or “calls” during beat ‘em up games does have a history outside of Streets Of Rage. Later installments in this franchise would delete the “call” move in favor of special moves unique to each characters, and even give multiple specials to different characters. However, the call mechanic, as discussed earlier, would go on to crop up in other side scrolling beat ‘em ups later on in the 90s.
The game is fairly short and ends when the players defeat a gun-wielding mob boss named Mr. X. Mr. X is the antagonist of all three of the original Streets of Rage games. He wields a tommy gun and is portrayed as the boss of the criminal syndicate that sends out all of the goons that the players encounter.
Streets Of Rage is not the best beat ‘em up game from the 90s, but its two sequels were some of the greatest beat ‘em up games ever made. Streets Of Rage is therefore very important historically because it marks the beginning of the one of the most successful (and playable!) beat ‘em up franchises. Check it out for its historical importance and not-too-shabby gameplay, but keep in mind that Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3 are the real crown jewels of this franchise, and the ones whose cover art frequently appear on video game t shirts.
Bruce Lee designed his famous Jeet Kune Do martial art as more a philosophy or set of guiding principles than an actual system. To understand what he was doing and why, you have to understand how he thought about martial arts and his philosophy more generally.
Bruce Lee thought that all thinking was ultimately a form of self-expression. Once you got rid of all the patterns, all of the frameworks, you were left with nothing but “yourself.” For example, if you begin by learning certain martial arts techniques, and then begin to modify them to make them easier to use, then you will eventually create something that is unique to you. If you follow the path of most efficiency long enough, then the martial arts you practice will eventually come to reflect your own specific, unique physical style. Thus, the best martial artist always practices a totally unique art.
One of his favorite metaphors was that of water. Water, being a liquid, always takes on the shape of the vessel into which it is poured. If you pour water into a kettle, the water takes on the shape of the kettle. If you pour water into a vase, then the water takes on the shape of the vase. If you pour water into a glass, then the water takes on the shape of the glass. In every case, the water takes on the shape of the vessel into which it is poured. This metaphor applies both to the martial artist himself and to his art. The martial artist is like water in that he adapts seamlessly to each new situation by effortlessly fulfilling the new demands. In a real-life street defense situation, the martial artist would use improvised weapons or hide behind obstacles in a totally fluid and adaptable manner. Additionally, Jeet Kune Do itself adapts to the body of the martial artist, who makes the art his own by modifying techniques and improvising until he has developed his own personalized version of the martial art.
While it does not have techniques or patterns, however, Jeet Kune Do does have “guiding principles” that can be used to achieve better results. The highest kind of attack in Jeet Kune Do is known as a stop hit, or an attack that intercepts the opponent before they can land a blow. The idea is that, when an opponent goes to attack you, they will always give away or telegraph their attack, and this provides you an opportunity to intercept them. This same idea of interception is used both in the form of kung fu known as Wing Chun, and also in certain kinds of Western fencing.
The second highest kind of attack in Jeet Kune Do is to block an attack and counter at the same time. This technique is also used in the Israeli martial art, Krav Maga, where it is known as “bursting.” The very lowest kind of attack in Jeet Kune Do is to block or slip the opponent’s attack, and then counterattack in sequence. So Jeet Kune Do, which literally means “intercepting fist”, is based on the principle of having the upper hand at all times, by ranking attacks in a certain way.
Who doesn’t love Jim Carrey? Well beloved for decades and one of the most famous and iconic actors of the past 50 years, Jim Carrey was the face of American comic cinema throughout the 90s and 2000s. A master of physical comedy and improvisation, Carrey didn’t just play roles; he was the lynch pin and central element of nearly every movie he starred in. Having been a fixture of American comedy for some time, it’s no surprise that you still see him on the occasional Ace Ventura movie t shirt. Here’s a list of some of his best films:
5 Ace Ventura
Ace Ventura was one of Carrey’s earlier films, and it shows. There is a general trend in his movies where they become less and less wacky and goofy and more introspective and thoughtful as time goes by. Belonging to his earlier period, Ace Ventura gives Carrey a lot of room to improvise and do silly impressions, and is overall typical of 90s comedy in its lightheartedness and farcical nature.
4 Dumb and Dumber
Much like Ace Ventura, Dumb And Dumber is a typical 90s comedy. We see Carrey taking up what came to be his prototypical role in the 90s: a happy go lucky dolt whose entire existence consists of misadventures. While Dumb And Dumber is not exactly a critic’s idea of a cinematic masterpiece, it’s still an endlessly entertaining movie decades later.
3 Liar Liar
One can see Liar Liar as the beginning of the trend where Jim Carrey movies stopped being pure silliness and began to trend toward thoughtfulness and high-concept film. Liar Liar is a movie about a little boy that makes a wish that, for one day, his dad can’t lie. This quickly becomes a problem, because dad is a lawyer and needs to lie constantly to keep his job. What follows is hilarious, but also a sad commentary on how dishonest people are every day. This comes home when Carrey’s character says the line: “Adults need to lie.”
2 The Grinch
The Grinch holds a special place on this list because it’s a remake of an animated favorite. Jim Carrey’s Grinch is just as cantankerous and curmudgeonly as the old cartoon Grinch. However, Carrey brings his own unique twist to the character. His unique brand of physical comedy brings a new dimension to an old favorite. Like Liar Liar, The Grinch also show’s Carrey’s trend toward more thoughtful film making and acting. The message of the original Grinch cartoon carries through in his newer, “inspirational” style.’
1 Bruce Almighty
Bruce Almighty was Jim Carrey’s highest-grossing film and might just have been his best. Released in 2003, it grossed $485 million. It is also the movie that takes place at the apex of Carrey’s high concept phase. In it, God, played by Morgan Freeman, offers Carrey’s character, Bruce, a chance to be God for a while. The film has some interesting ideas about religion and morality, and questions whether it would be a good thing if everybody ultimately just got whatever they wanted. Of all of his movies, this is perhaps the best one.
It has been a decade and a half since the release of 300. Released in 2006, the film was a blockbuster. Grossing over four hundred million dollars, the film was praised for its style, unique color palette, quotable dialogue, and over-the-top action and gore. Although the film was released fifteen years ago, people still quote it today and wear 300 t shirts. So I have to ask myself: what made 300 so good? Why is that movie a classic?
A little background on me. I first saw this movie in 2006, when I was a teenager. I went to the theater in my small town with a friend and we sat in the back, ate some popcorn, and watched. I remember when, coming out of the theater, my friend was so pumped about it. He stood on the street corner and said, “Where do you guys wanna go eat? Because I was thinking that tonight, we could dine in hell!” He screamed that last part. I’m not the pubescent video-game-playing Red Bull-swilling kid I was then, but I vividly remember seeing 300 in the theater that night. It’s an experience I can’t forget.
And the unforgettableness of that movie really is what makes it a classic. But that, in turn, begs the question: what makes it unforgettable?
A few things. First, the movie is all about style more than substance. Or, to put a finer point on it, it’s style-as-substance. Who cares if it’s historically accurate or implausible? The point is the style. The whole movie is shot in a weird color scheme to make it look like a comic book, and this reinforces the surreal, mythological view of the whole thing. It doesn’t feel realistic. It doesn’t feel like real life at all. But it’s not supposed to! The whole point of 300 is to feel like some strange dream, the kind you have when you’ve got a high fever and just had a lot of cough syrup before bed. Everything in 300 is over the top and cartoonish, and that’s what makes it so delightfully archetypal.
The second aspect of 300 that makes it immortal (but not like a Persian Immortal!) is its quotability. Say any of the following to someone:
“Tonight, we dine in Hell!”
“Spartans, prepare for glory!”
“Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!”
Everyone knows those quotes. Everyone! Even people who have never seen the movie because they weren’t born when it came out know those quotes. They’re all over t shirts and memes and everything else. The quotable dialogue and unique style together make 300 an unforgettable film. Nobody can forget the over-the-top getup worn by Xerxes when he makes his first appearance, nor the sheer violence and gore. Add the agelessly quotable lines of dialogue ot that and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Any good retro gamer is familiar with the beat ‘em up genre. A common fixture of arcade and console games in the 1990s, beat ‘em ups were the addictive game par excellence. If the local laundromat had an Altered Beast arcade machine, then you knew you’d better wash your clothes before using it. If you don’t, then you won’t be getting any laundry done, because your time and quarters will swiftly be eaten by the arcade. Beat ‘em ups are addictive because they are difficult. The basic premise is that you have a dozen lives or so, and your character walks through a stage beating up hordes of enemies with kicks, punches, and special moves. You will die quite frequently, and in the arcade versions, you get more lives by depositing quarters. There are generally different playable characters with unique special moves. Sometimes the basic punches and kicks are different, too.
Many superheroes and supervillains have made their appearances in beat ‘em up games. Thematically, the beat ‘em up is very suitable for use with superheroes because it involves one or two main characters fighting their way through hordes of mooks, which is exactly what superheroes are meant to do. And who better to serve as boss than a supervillain?
Enter Carnage. Everybody knows about Spiderman and Venom, and even people who aren’t total comic book geeks know who Carnage is. You might even have seen him on some Carnage t-shirts. In the 90s, there were two popular beat ‘em ups featuring Carnage: Maximum Carnage, and Spiderman & Venom: Separation Anxiety. In both games, Carnage is the final boss.
Separation Anxiety is the more well-known of the two. Although the game is repetitive, with a lot of unavoidable hits that make it fiendishly difficult, nobody can deny that it’s entertaining. The plot has Spiderman and Venom teaming up against the nefarious Life Foundation to stop a horde of genetically-engineered symbiotes from running amok. After fighting your way through several levels full of goons, you fight a number of new symbiotes with names like Riot and Agony. At the very end, you face off against Carnage.
The controls are responsive and the game is considerably fun to play. There’s a wide variety of moves. You have the basic punch/kick combos, as well as the ability to climb on walls and drop down with an aerial attack. One of the game’s big positives is being able to play as Spiderman or Venom. Both characters have a shield that they can use. Spiderman’s is a web shield held close to his body. Venom, on the other hand, melds his hands together to create a shield from his symbiote suit.
If you can acquire Separation Anxiety in a compilation, or get the original cart, I strongly recommend it. It’s a good game and a lens into the state of console gaming in the 1990s.
There has been a big shift in entertainment over the past two decades. It has always been normal for adults to enjoy a little bit of children’s entertainment. You’re supposed to watch that stuff with your kids, after all. And there are plenty of grownup jokes in children’s movies that are there for the adults to pick up, and they’re designed to go over the kid’s heads. However, in the past decade or two, it has become much more normal for adults to consume children’s entertainment.
This has created a strange shift in children’s entertainment. Whereas older cartoons were just silly or banal, newer cartoons occupy a grey area between children’s shows and sitcoms for grownups. Good examples of this include the Regular Show, Stephen Universe, and, of course, Adventure Time. All of these shows are suitable for kids, yes. However, when consuming children’s entertainment, you usually have to suspend judgment. You have to let down your guard a little to enjoy kid’s entertainment. The difference with newer cartoons is that they’re written with a built-in grownup appeal, so that an adult can consume them without feeling as if they’re doing something age inappropriate.
Adventure Time is a good example of this on multiple levels. First of all, it’s a little known fact about the Adventure Time canon that the show is post-apocalyptic. This is incongruous with the way the show presents itself. It appears as something very happy go lucky. It’s also fantasy themed, and fantasy as a genre is typically characterized as escapist. But that extra layer of depth added by the way the world is constructed is just one example of how the show is designed to appeal to multiple demographics.
Another aspect of Adventure Time’s appeal to multiple demographics is its short length. Most episodes run about 11 minutes. This is intentional. If you’re a kid, then it’s bite-sized entertainment that can be consumed regardless of a child’s short attention span. If you’re an adult, then it’s the sort of thing you can watch on your phone while sitting at a bus stop or in a waiting room with some earbuds. The short, consumable nature of the show works for both children and adults, albeit for different reasons.
Adventure Time, and other cartoons like it, shows the changing nature of entertainment. First, cartoons were for kids. Then, they were for kids, but also watched “ironically” by college students and other people who wanted to signal their whimsical ironic sense of humor. Now, the irony has become sincere and you can quite comfortable be an adult running around in an Adventure Time t shirt.
Atari is not really a household name anymore, but dedicated nerds know what Atari was. Long before the X-Box and PS4, the two big contenders were Sony and Nintendo. Before that, Sega was in the fray as well. And before all three of those, all the way back in the late 1970s, there was Atari. Even if you’ve never heard of Atari, you’ve probably heard of Pong. Pong was the world’s first coin-operated arcade game, and it was a huge success. Pong made a big splash. In fact, one of the first mass-produced consoles was a console that did nothing but play Pong. Both the Pong arcade game and the Pong console were created by Atari.
But Atari’s big contribution was the Atari 2600. What was the Atari 2600? Simply put, it was one of the first mass-produced consoles that worked off of ROM cartridges. ROM stands for Read Only Memory, meaning memory that is only read and never altered. The game cartridges that were common to the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and Sega Genesis were all ROM cartridges. Many such cartridges also had a small amount of static RAM in them, which made it possible to save your game. Static RAM, or Random Access Memory, is similar to the RAM in your computer, except it doesn’t clear when you turn the system off, unlike your computer’s RAM. While the Pong system was confined to only one game, the Atari 2600 allowed for removable carts. Given the fact that the Atari 2600 cost $200 (more than $800 in today’s money), it stands to reason that it needed the capacity to play multiple games. Few people would want to pay $800 just to play a single game!
The Atari 2600 was great because it brought arcade gaming into the home. That was ultimately the trick: instead of having to go out and pop coins into an arcade machine to play a game, you could have that entertainment in your living room. And indeed, the “homeliness” of the Atari 2600 was intentional and reflected in its design. The original console had a wood grain finish. The point of giving it a wood grain finish was to make it fit with the decor of the average person’s living room. The “now you can play at home” vibe was completely intended by Atari.
Of course, there is plenty of history since the late 1970s in the gaming world. The NES was yet to come. Sega would still make its mark. And Atari itself was comparatively short-lived because of all the competition. Following the release of Pong, several competitors in the arcade market immediately sprang up. The same thing happened after Atari switched to at-home consoles. This meant that Atari quickly fell into financial trouble because it couldn’t move enough units, and the Atari 2600 itself cost nearly half a million in 1970s dollars to develop. So while Atari was not a terribly long-lived brand, it still left a significant mark with the Atari 2600. This is why you can still see the Atari logo on video game shirts.
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is almost an underrated book. This might sound like a weird thing to say. Jurassic park is very famous. So how is it underrated? The answer is simple. The movie overshadows the book. Jurassic Park is famous as a movie more than a novel. And we associate Spielberg with it more than Crichton. Spielberg is famous for directing the movie. Crichton has almost been forgotten. So the book, which is very good, deserves a treatment of its own. Let’s get into it. First, I will tackle the characters. Then, I’ll take a look at the underlying ideas. Then, I’ll look at some of the flaws. Finally, we’ll have a wrap-up.
First, the characters. The main character, Dr. Alan Grant, is very compelling. He’s likeable. He remarks that he likes children because they have one thing in common: a love of dinosaurs. He’s unpretentious. He’s an academic, but not like other academics. He likes to dress casually and be down to Earth. And he enjoys getting his hands dirty. He’s not fond of computers. Remember that this was written back in the 90s when familiarity with computers was not taken for granted. We also have Ian Malcolm, who is egotistical and over-the-top but still likeable in his eccentricity. And we have Hammond, the owner of Jurassic Park, who is childish and petty.
The underlying idea of the book is chaos theory. The idea is that human reasoning can’t understand nature. The real world is too complex for our basic linear thinking to comprehend it fully. So our plans will always become messed up because we don’t appreciate complexity. The real world is always a step ahead of us. We might think we have it all figured out. But we don’t, and that will come back to bite us every time.
The big flaw in the book is how dated it is. I talked about the 90s feel of it earlier. The other part is the use of computers. Some parts are not very believable. There is a part where a pair of young children hack into a computer. This would have been believable in the 90s, when few people understood computers. Thirty years later, it’s not believable. We’re all familiar with computers now. And we all know they don’t work that way. But in the 90s, the average adult could almost believe that kids, who always seem to know how to use computers, might be able to do such a thing. So the book is a little dated in the final analysis.
Finally, to wrap it all up, I think that this is a book very much worth reading. It’s not as good as some of Crichton’s other books. Books like Sphere are more well-written and examine the limits of human reasoning more closely. And Crichton raises more challenging ideas in his other books. But Jurassic Park is still a great novel that raises some fascinating problems. There is a reason that people still wear Jurassic Park t shirts.
If you grew up in the United States, you know who Abraham Lincoln is. He’s on our money. He’s on Mount Rushmore. There’s a Lincoln Memorial with a larger-than-life statue of him. There are . Five dollar bills feature his face and the Lincoln Memorial. Pennies feature the Lincoln Memorial and, until recently, had a tiny, almost invisible imprint of the Lincoln statue itself inside of the memorial. That imprint can be seen with a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loop.
We all know that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, but his presidency was unique for a number of other reasons. Some of these are well known, and some of them are more obscure. Let’s go through: