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10 Little-Known Names of Famous Video Game Characters

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You know Tapper and Frogger and Ryu and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous paperboy of all? Okay, that’s not quite how the song goes. But the point is, Mario and Luigi are household names while other classic video game characters remain identity-less. We’re here to right those wrongs today. Whether they’re little-known or just long-forgotten, here are the names of 10 of your pixelated pals.

1. The chef from BurgerTime: Peter Pepper.

And if you think that name is unoriginal, wait until you hear the names of the oddly menacing snacks that follow him around: Mr. Egg, Mr. Hot Dog, and Mr. Pickle. Quake in fear.

2. The damsel in distress from Donkey Kong: Pauline.

Though she was originally just called “Lady,” she was renamed for the U.S. release. “Pauline” was to honor Polly James, the wife of Nintendo's Executive Vice President and then-warehouse manager Don James. Developer dad Mike Mika made headlines earlier this year when he recoded Donkey Kong so his young daughter could play as Pauline and rescue Mario for a change. It's pretty awesome:

3. The dragons in Bubble Bobble: Bub and Bob. 

Go figure.

4. The Commando in Commando: Super Joe Gibson.

He wasn’t mentioned by name until the game’s sequel, Bionic Commando. His official title was “Supervisor, Joint Operations Executive”—hence, Super JOE. But exactly which character is Super Joe is kind of confusing. In the original arcade game, the main character is Super Joe. By the time the Nintendo version was released in 1988, however, Super Joe was the hero being rescued. The commando in the rescue operation is named Nathan “Rad” Spencer.

5. The commandoes in Contra: Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer and Lance "Scorpion" Bean.

At least for the first couple of games. By the time Contra III rolled out in 1992, though, Mad Dog and Scorpion had been replaced by Jimbo and Sully.

6.The paperboy from Paperboy: Julio.

Whether you take Easy Street or the Hard Road, Paperboy’s title character is never actually named in the game. It wasn’t until the cartoon series Captain N: The Game Master that the newspaper delivery kid was dubbed “Julio.”

7. The protagonist from Pitfall!: Pitfall Harry.

You may remember that one from the repeated references in the ads starring none other than Jack Black:

8. The bad guys from Q•Bert: Coily, Slick, Sam, Ugg and Wrong-Way.

Slick and Sam are the guys who change the colors of the blocks after all of Q*Bert’s hard work, while Ugg and Wrong-Way were little gremlins. Coily, of course, was the snake.

9. The digger from Dig Dug: Taizo Hori.

And he has quite a backstory. He was married to Masuyo “Kissy” Tobi, who starred in her own game called Baraduke. Despite having three sons—Susumu, Ataru, and Taiyo—Taizo and Kissy separated. Susumu stars in the “Mr. Driller” video games.

10. The commander from Wing Commander: Christopher Blair.


For the first two installments of the Wing Commander series, the commander had no name. In a gaming guide for WC I and II, the previously-nameless hero was called “Jason Armstrong.” Wing Commander III included some video sequences where the commander had to be called by name, and it’s said that the programmers went with Blair because it was a shortened version of what they called him: Bluehair. “Christopher” is a tribute to the game’s creator, Christopher Roberts.

Primary image courtesy of ffffound.com.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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