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Now is the time of year for all the periodicals across the land to cobble forth their year-end lists of all that year-related shit that happened this year. For example, Highlights: Fun With a Purpose will release a list of "The 26 Most Essential Letters of the Alphabet of 2013." Likewise, The Daily Mail will publish "The 26 Most Important Letters of the Alphabet of 2013," because they'll have simply copy-pasted Highlights, as The Daily Mail knows its audience.

Children's Television Workshop
"No. 10: The Letter O. Very important. You can barely speak English without it."

But here at Cracked Dot Com, you'll find no such mealy-mouthed nostalgia. We have no desire to bowdlerize for the last 365 days, during which you almost assuredly roared out somewhere between 365 and 1,460 bowel movements (because you're a goddamn beast, reader). No, we're going to let you in on a dark truth: 2013 WAS JUST 1996 IN DISGUISE. (Although we initially mistook 2013 for 1986, after confusing Kanye West's "Bound 2" with the end credits to Pee-wee's Playhouse.)

Not coincidentally, his pet names for Kim's breasts are "Globey" and "The King of Cartoons."

Behold Cracked's evidence, five telltale signs this year was not the year you thought it was. So if you wrongly believe what year it currently is, this will be the most important thing you will read all year. Year year year.

(In 1996 we all eagerly awaited The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), but few realized Spielberg's velociraptors were all bullshit. Discover raptors' actual size and plumage (yes, plumage) in The De-Textbook.)

Rob Ford = a Chris Farley Sketch (at His Prime)

I'm not the first person to draw parallels between Toronto's stout, loud, crack-dabbling mayor and the late star of Tommy Boy. But I'll credit myself with the following observation -- when a guy who's lived out the shittiest possible year a politician could ask for (the high points: tackling a confused woman, accusing the press of pedophilia) still has the pep to beatifically bobble like this come Dec. 17 ...

Whenever an elected official's in danger of acting competent, Rob Ford and Silvio Berlusconi jet to the scene in their invisible airplane, shaped like a flying fuck.

... you're left wondering where free will ends and "I am the earthly vessel for the manitou of Matt Foley" begins. That's one explanation I've got. The other is that it's actually 1996, we're all unwitting background characters in a Saturday Night Live sketch, and our universe will soon be destroyed to make room for a Tide commercial.

Our Superhero Movies Are Crazy Arcane Again

For our second clue that 2013 was just 1996 playing a trick on us, we must look to superhero cinema, which is the only form of artistic expression the human race seems to enjoy anymore, Beyonce, XVideos, and The Sound of Music Live! notwithstanding.

"We've finally cracked what America wants: swastikas the size of pizzas." -NBC

This year, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World reaped in all the buffalo nickels and haypennies, even though they were movies about Iron Man and Thor, a fact we take for granted. Seriously, if you time-traveled back to 2003 (the heyday of the X-Men flicks) and prophesized, "10 years from now, America's biggest cultural exports will be the superheroes nobody's given a shit about ever," even Stan Lee would not be a true believer. Also, you'd be butt-naked -- we're assuming Terminator physics here -- so that too would compromise your credibility.

And if some random bystander tolerated your time-displaced naturism long enough for you to explain the popularity of Iron Man 3 and The Dark World, you'd jabber some nonsense about Robert Downey Jr. and Loki, at which point, if you're lucky, these images would flit into 2003 guy's brain:

20th Century Fox Television/Marvel Productions
"Ah, so 2013 is the post-apocalypse, and there are only two VHS tapes left in existence. Got it."

Iron Man 3, The Dark World, the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, and Big Hero Six -- all of these films lack the culturally entrenched concepts of, say, a Superman movie. Think "Lois Lane," "Kryptonite," and (to a much lesser extent) "tossing your own logo at people."

For its flicks, Marvel had to root around in their intellectual property cistern and dredge up plot gunk (think "Extremis," "Malekith the Accursed") that makes comic book dipshits like me coo like we're at Meet the Breeds and normal moviegoers consult Wikipedia pages that might as well be written in Esperanto.

"Production promised us $1 million for every audience member who knows who Yondu the Space Archer is."
"Great! So what's our budget?
"A Wendy's hamburger."

So yeah, it's pretty hilarious that the American movie industry now relies on ideas cognizable only to people whose investments are primarily tied up in scale replicas of Galactus' hat. It's also the cinematic dream of 1996, albeit fully realized. What am I talking about? These were the top superhero movies that came out in 1996:

Gramercy Pictures/Concorde-New Horizons/Paramount Pictures
Readers born after 1992: These are not stock photos from a pamphlet for a discount sex shop.

Remember, back in '96, Marvel superhero blockbusters weren't on the scene thanks to courtroom hijinks. In 1996, all we had were adaptations of Barb Wire, Vampirella, and The Phantom -- none of which were household names -- and they all collectively made $17.65.

Gramercy Pictures
Fun fact: Barb Wire's opening credits had a topless Pam Anderson in a desperate ploy to get you to sit through the damn movie.

NOTE: Where does The Man of Steel fit in my "2013 was 1996" paradigm? Simple: Tim Burton is to Joel Schumacher as Christopher Nolan is to Zack Snyder. (Oooh, I'm nasty!)

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We Had a Government Shutdown for No Apparent Reason

This past October, you may have noticed that in Washington, D.C. -- aka that elephant graveyard for the hopes and dreams of high-school class presidents who end up working for the radioactive toothpaste lobby or whatever -- was in a tizzy when certain Republican lawmakers decided to get into a budget standoff with the president, resulting in a federal shutdown. Basically everybody thought this was a terrible idea, and the entire escapade backfired completely for the Republicans.

The impasse had no effect on the public's opinion of the radioactive toothpaste, a rare windfall that the lobby seized with vigor.

All those stuffed shirts on the Potomac wished to sidestep this shitshow because Congress already had a case study: the budget showdown(s) at the tail end of 1995/early 1996. Like 2013, the Republicans walked away looking like crap, as Americans generally don't enjoy politicians playing chicken with their government jobs and tax dollars. Also, they fucking love Old Faithful.

So why didn't shutdown proponents heed the hard, obvious lessons of 1996? Two theories: Either A) they got brain-drunk on too much House of Cards and fashioned themselves as silver-tongued, blogger-banging Machiavellis who don't play by Washington's rules; or, my preferred one, B) 2013 was 1996.

A big hole in my theory: After the shutdown, Newt Gingrich never got his own coloring book (well, not in the immediate aftermath).

We Remembered Dennis Rodman Does Things

This year, Dennis Rodman -- a man known for behavior calculated to elicit opinions -- acted unconventional so that people would point cameras at him and say his name in sentences. Suspiciously, in the year 1996, people also acknowledged Rodman's actions and words.

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Hi and Lois Is Still Being Published

What if when you die you realize that your entire life with all of its joy and suffering and 70,000 bowel movements was but a one-second concussion because you're actually an unfathomable god-beast locked in a slobberknocker bar brawl with another god-beast, but instead of feeling relieved that you aren't roasting in Hell or a disembodied consciousness doomed to swirl around the void for eternity, you're enraged because you're drunk and 100-light-years tall and annoyed that a phosphene jam-packed with dumb shit like your 7th birthday and your sister's voice and the way tears welled in the corner of your eyes when that special person said "I love you" for the first time distracted you, so you force yourself to forget and wind up for a haymaker that could eradicate a nebula?

Anyway, Hi and Lois is still being published, just as it was in 1996.

Kings Feature Syndicate
Further proof: Coffee existed in 1996.

So there you have it. When the ball drops at 11:59:50 on Dec. 31, the year 1996 will jump out of a laundry hamper wearing the bleached skull of 2013 like some kabuki death mime and yell, "IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!" And then, 10 seconds later, 1993 will skulk on by wearing 2014's skin as a petticoat, snap a selfie, and cackle, "I'M MR. VAIN!" They'll proceed to rage until dawn, celebrating their duplicity by filching Angostura bitters or isopropyl alcohol or whatever's left in the cupboard. Happy New and/or Old Year's, gang.

Cyriaque Lamar is a senior editor here at Cracked. You can find him on Twitter.

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As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked's year in review because, well, we know you don't remember it half as well as you think.

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