Monday, January 30, 2012

Since I've Found Serenity

Life can be hectic sometimes - can't it, faithful readers?

Are you feeling overworked, overwhelmed or overburdened? Well, I'd like to take a moment of your time to help you find your center, reach nirvana and feng shui-ify yourself.

Just follow these simple instructions and you'll be feeling serene in no time:

1. Insert headphones and/or turn up speakers
2. Maximize the video below to "full screen" mode
3. Press play

4. Repeat as necessary

Have a nice day.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Faithful readers, I have a confession to make to you: I got sidetracked this week.

I had a bunch of cool videos, weird stories and odd websites in the queue, ready to be made into a full-blown Slice of Fried Gold post, but then an alert reader named Ryan sent me a video game. I opened the link, started to play, and suddenly a few days had passed. Whoops.

However, as I was completely ignoring my wife and children, I got to thinking, "Maybe I should make THIS the post for this week." AND SO I SHALL!

Here's the reason I didn't write/eat/bathe/stand-up for all of those hours:

Now, probably only the die hard Nintendo fans will know Abobo by name, but many of you may recognize his face. This is Abobo:

That's right, he's one of the mini bosses from the classic NES game Double Dragon. Apparently Roger Barr and his buddies thought that Abobo would be the perfect protagonist for their love letter to old-school Nintendo games. They take this minor character and place him in the middle of a number of classic NES games as he tries to save his son, Aboboy.

And it's awesome.

Seriously, I had so much fun playing Abobo's Big Adventure. The look, music, controls and gameplay took me back to a simpler time when movies had to rewind and telephones had cords. As Abobo fights to find his son, you'll travel through such games as Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, Contra and more. Plus, it mashes a number of games together, so you have cameos from a variety of NES video game characters.

Half of the fun is being surprised by what Nintendo games and characters make an appearance, so I don't want to spoil Abobo's Big Adventure, but here are a few fun shots from gameplay:

Zombies and a polar bear in the middle of Contra? Why not?

So many characters, so little time.

Even Zelda, which I didn't play that much growing up, still brought back a ton of memories.
Now, I should warn you that this game is a little violent. Abobo has a big appetite and a lot of muscle, so, at times, he doesn't hold back on dispatching an enemy. But it's mostly 8-bit blood and gore, so. . .

And did I mention that this game is completely free?

So there you have it. If you're a fan of the old school NES video games, Abobo's Big Adventure is truly a treat. There are so many cameos, Easter eggs and shout-outs in this game that it's hard to pick a favorite, but I will say that I was surprised to find a secret party at the top of the "elevator," and I'm glad I still know the Konami code by heart.

Oh, and for the sake of your spouse and children, please know that there IS a pause button and the game regularly saves itself, so you can return to the game later and start where you left off.

Happy gaming!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Own Subjective Top 10 Movies of 2011

For the past couple of years, I have posted a list of my top 10 movies I've watched in the previous calendar year. 2011 is no exception. Below are movies that I saw for the first time this past year that made a big impression on me. This year seemed to be harder than most - I had a list of over 20 fantastic films that I had to whittle down to these top ten best:

10. Spirited Away (2001) - Spirited Away presents an imaginative new world with fantastic characters and creatures. It reminds me of movies such as Labyrinth and Alice and Wonderland, where the bizarre becomes acceptable and reality is easily suspended. This is the first film I had ever seen by Hayao Miyazaki, and I was blown away by his stylized animation and fantastic imagery. This film won't be enjoyable for some (it's very odd), but Miyazaki's folkloric fantasy is undeniably unique.

9. Tangled (2010) - Tangled is a cute, cute movie. The animation is brilliant, the characters are fun and the story is entertaining. I could easily see this being performed on Broadway and Mother Gothel being the coveted role for many an actress. I will admit that I liked the book Rapunzel's Revenge better than this movie, but Tangled still felt like the return of classic Disney animated movies.

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011) - This isn't my favorite Harry Potter movie, but this film is a fitting finish to the Harry Potter series. It packs a powerful dramatic punch and shows how far our characters have come from the original movie. I was bothered by some changes they made from the book, but I understand (kind of) why they had to do it. I'm sad to see the Harry Potter films go, but it was a great ride.

7. Best Worst Movie (2009) - Best Worst Movie is surprisingly deep for a documentary about "Troll 2." For those of you that haven't seen Troll 2, please stop reading this post and do it now. It's one of those movies that is so bad that it's good. This documentary is very humorous at times, but it also delves into serious drama. It's probably better if you have seen Troll 2, but if you haven't seen it, this documentary will stir a desire in you to watch one of the best worst movies ever made.

6. Devil (2010) - Devil is the result of M. Night Shyamalan coming up with a story, and then letting other people write the screenplay and direct the film - and it works. This surprisingly clean horror movie has some well-done creepy moments and interesting twists. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone or X-files episode. Plus, it has a very faith-affirming message, despite the demonic title.

5. Catfish (2010) - The less you know about Catfish, the better. Just know that 1. It's a real documentary and 2. It's absolutely fascinating to watch the story unfold. I went into this movie expecting one thing and was completely taken off guard by where it ended up. Even if you know how it all ends, this movie is still worth a watch.

4. The Social Network (2010) - The Social Network presents a fascinating take on the origins of Facebook and the social media craze. David Fincher does a spectacular job of creating complex characters that go from despicable to likable and back in a matter of minutes. From the story to the acting to the soundtrack - this movie excelled. I was surprised by how much I liked this film, even with all the hype surrounding it.

3. 127 Hours (2010) - 127 Hours is Aron Ralston's amazing story, told beautifully by Danny Boyle and his filmmaking crew. James Franco gives a very believable performance as Ralston and it's hard not to get caught up in it all. This high-quality film is upbeat and uplifting, despite the grim subject matter. Danny Boyle has already impressed me with a number of his films already, and this one has firmly cemented him into one of my favorite directors of all time.

2. Kick-@$$ (2010) - I feel that Kick-@$$ would have been better as a PG-13 movie. Sure, this would have upset the comic book fan boys, but the strong, vulgar language and intense violence are distractions from the heart of this movie. At its core, this is an inspiring film about humanity rising to its full potential, and it's a fresh take on the superhero genre. The acting, plot, costume design, art direction, cinematography and soundtrack are all very well done, but I think the general public didn't embrace this movie because it is, simply, too much and I wouldn't recommend watching it unless you have a Clearplay DVD player, like me, or could find an edited version.

And my #1 favorite movie of 2011 is. . .

1. The Muppets (2011) - Watching The Muppets made me feel like a kid again. I honestly felt great after watching this movie. The humor in this loving tribute is quick and plentiful, plus, at its core, this movie has a heart. It's not a campy/cheesy reboot like many of the half-hearted attempts from studio executives today, vainly attempting to re-live their childhood. The Muppets is a well-made well-thought-out sequel to the other Muppet movies and should please both the Muppet lover as well as newcomers to the world of Jim Henson. I loved this movie and I gladly welcome it to the Muppet canon.

So there you have it, faithful readers, those are my top ten movies that I saw in 2011. I understand that all art is subjective, and that you may (and probably do) disagree with some of the choices on this list, but I would still recommend all of the movies on this list for your viewing enjoyment.

I'd also like to give honorable mentions to The King's Speech (2010) , Dear Frankie (2004), Rio (2011), Paper Moon (1973), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), (500) Days of Summer (2009), RED (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), Super 8 (2011) and True Grit (2010). Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for movies.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Is This Real Life?

    Have you ever wondered what Disney princesses would look like if they were drawn more realistically? I mean, in real life, there's no way Ariel's 4-foot bangs could stay up like that. Well, apparently a Finnish artist named Jirka Väätäinen took on this challenge of making Disney princesses a little more realistic. Take a gander:

    Ok, I confess, one of those isn't a Disney princess - Mulan isn't technically royalty.

    You can check out the rest of Jirka's work on this Disney theme by clicking here.

    Thanks to faithful reader, Bethany, for sending this one in!

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    The United Foods of America

    Since it's the New Year, I'd like to start this party with a bang! And what says "bang" more than a geography test, eh? EH? I thought so.

    This map of the United States, sent in by, alert reader, Brad, uses food to represent each state.

    Now, when you're ready to take this test, click the image above to enlarge it. If it's still too small for you, you can click here for the full-size food by state map. The answers are at the bottom of the page, though, so no cheating, please.

    This test is threefold:
    1. How many states can you identify on the map?
    2. How many foods can you identify on the map?
    3. Do you agree with the culinary choices made on the map and/or what would you change?
    Bonus Question: How many of these foods have you actually tried?

    Good luck, gumshoes!