Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 5 Failed Apocalypse Predictions of the 21st Century

The world is going to end.  Eventually.  But multiple times every year, people proclaim the end is nigh.  They've always been wrong.  Here are some of the predictions of Armageddon, the End of Days, the Rapture, or the Apocalypse that have caught on in pop culture this century.

5: May 21, 2011 (Judgment Day) - A crazy preacher names Harold Camping convinced his many followers that Jesus would show up to send the world into a thousand years of horror, after sending his elect to Heaven.  Camping purported to have Biblical "proof" of this "judgement day.  As to his "proof," we say this.

4: September 10, 2008 (start-up of the Large Hadron Collider) - The LHC at Cern, a particle accelerator, is the largest scientific instrument ever made.  It forces subatomic particles to collide at near the speed of light, creating new particles in the resultant explosions--particles that haven't existed since the formation of the universe.  Despite assurances from scientists, some people were very concerned that the LHC would create black holes that would swallow-up the Earth.

3: October 21, 2011 (Judgment Day, again) - Crazy old Harold Camping (see #5 above) woke up on May 22, 2011 and was neither in paradise nor in a post-apocalyptic world.  Realizing his Biblical "proof" of end-times hit a snag, he retrofit his story to predict a "spiritual judgment" on May 21st, with the true Rapture and judgment day occurring October 21st.  We have no word on what he said the morning of October 22nd.

2: December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000 (Y2K) - Someone realized that when the calendar rolled over from 1999 to 2000, computers using only the last two numerals would think it was the year 1900.  This lead to widespread panic, with speculation that our electronic world would come screeching to a halt, the world would go dark, nuclear missiles would launch, and planes would literally drop out of the sky.  Most systems had the potential glitch repaired before the day came, and nothing happened from those that didn't.  Somewhere in my house I still have the emergency kit given to me, containing water, batteries, and a flashlight.

1: December 21, 2012 (the end of the Mayan calendar) - Okay, so as we are posting, this is scheduled to take place tomorrow, but we're calling it now.  Not gonna happen.  Penn & Teller debunked this one best on their show Bullshit! (first part available here).

Just in case we're wrong, please visit us on Facebook and like our page today.  But in case we're right, share your thoughts in the comments below.  We'll leave you with these words from Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice.  
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.  
But if I had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To say that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top 5 Fast Food Holiday Beverages

'Tis the season for deliciously themed holiday beverages at your favorite fast food restaurants.  Here's where to go for the good stuff.

5: Eggnog Shake (McDonald's) - I have a friend that loves these so I gave it a try.  For me it just wasn't eggnoggy enough.  Know what I mean?

4: Gingerbread Cookie Shake (Burger King) - It tastes like a Yankee Candle. But in a good way!

3: Peppermint Stick Swirl Shake (Arby's) -For some reason I was not expecting much and was more than pleasantly surprised.

2: Mint Hot Chocolate (Dunkin' Donuts) - A nice spin on the original.

1: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (Starbucks) - Top notch! I was very upset when this went away after the holidays last year.

These are all available for a limited time only, so get 'em while they're hot!  Or cold, as the case may be.  And be sure to let us know in the comments below if we've missed anything good (especially if you've found something outside of the northeast U.S.).  Don't forget to visit us on Facebook and give us a like to keep up with all things Top 5.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 5 Reindeer Games

"They never let poor Rudolph join in an reindeer games." - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

We've been doing some Christmas-themed posts, and you folks seem to like them, so here's another.  For years, children have wondered what these games could be.  Children need wonder no more, for the crack team of researchers at the Kooz Top 5 scoured the globe for answers (then ended up making them up).  Here are your top 5 reindeer games:

5: Freeze Stag - Hardest part of this game is figuring out how to "tag" with hooves.

4: Buck, Buck, Moose - Nobody wants to be the moose.  Nobody.

3: Tic-Tac-Doe - Before declaring yourself the winner, you have to sing the entire "do-re-me" song (Doe, a deer, a female deer...).

2: Truth or Deer - The older reindeer like this one, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how it's played.

1: Fawn Darts - It's like dodgeball, but more uncomfortable.  Don't worry, they use rubber darts...

Remember--no playing these with Rudolph.  To be clear, I'm not sure if the prejudice is solely against Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or if it applies to all red-nosed creatures, or all Rudolphs, so I think twice about letting NYC's former Mayor play with you.  If you can think of any others, drop a note in the comments below, and don't forget to visit us on Facebook and like our page!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 5 Reasons I Don't Need to Go to TGI Fridays Anymore

I used to think that for a tchotchke restaurant, TGI Fridays was pretty solid.  You knew what you were going to get before you walked in the door, and I was bummed when I moved somewhere that didn't have one nearby.  Alas, judging by my visit the other day, it seems that things have gone downhill at ol' TGIFCO, and now I'm just bummed about wasting money on lunch.  Here's the five worst things:

5: Price - High. $45 for lunch?  It dawned on me that I probably could have printed a coupon for buy one get one, so my guess is they've raised their prices to make up for everyone using coupons.

What you can't tell is that this plate is the size of an appetizer plate.
4: Portion size - Small. I ordered an entree I've had before, but this time it took up only half the plate.  Annoying.  Between the higher prices and smaller portions, they must be raking in the dough.

Did they rinse the pretzels off before serving them?
3: Food - Flavorless, at best.  The entree mentioned above (Chicken Brushetta, if anyone's interested) used to have this great balsamic sauce and a ton of tomatoes.  Not anymore.  And we were pretty disappointed with their new Warm Pretzels with Craft Beer Dipping Sauce.  The pretzels were wet, and I'm not sure why.  They weren't greasy or buttery, which would secretly be okay, just...wet.  And the cheese sauce came in a barely half filled cup, which looked suspiciously like what was leftover from the last person that ordered this appetizer.

Eww.
2: Menu - Sticky.  Visibly so.  Gross.

1: Seat - Wet.  It's pretty disconcerting to suddenly realize that your leg is getting wet while you are innocently perusing a sticky menu.  And while I'm glad I wasn't in some sort of horror movie scenario (is that not your first thought, too?), I didn't really appreciate the last customer leaving an ice cube on the seat, or the server not taking a second to wipe it down before I sat or give a damn after I pointed it out.

Been disappointed by a restaurant lately?  Or better yet, been pleasantly surprised?  Let us know in the comments below, and stop by our Facebook page sometime and give us a like.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top 5 Reasons The Elf on the Shelf Better Watch His Ass

Yeah, I'm talking to you, Elf.  I've had my eye on you, and you can consider this your one warning before I go back to Santa and let him know all the naughty things YOU've been spotted doing on Facebook.  Here are the top 5 places I better not find you again.

5: Lounging in a pair of Underoos that are inexplicably hanging on a Christmas Tree.

4: Slumped over next to a bottle of mysteriously dwindling whiskey.

3: Watching me sleep.  Creep.

2: Defecating on cookies. (Hint: stay away from the Peanut Butter Blossoms this year, folks)

1: Perched on the edge of a toilet tank with a direct sight line to the shower.

All true.  That creepy little bugger fills my Facebook feed this time of year, and people are getting way too creative.  Have you seen him in any strange places?  Notice, although there are plenty of real jobs for hard-working elves, you never see him doing anything.  Let us know below; and while you're scouring Facebook for the Elf on the Shelf, press the like button on our page.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 5 Best Classic Christmas Songs

This is an impossible list.  There are over a dozen Christmas songs that could lay legitimate claim to the number 1 spot.  But this ain't the Kooz Top 12, so here's our five favorites.  Please add your faves in the comments!

5: Jingle Bells (Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters) - A lot of people like the Gene Autry version, but I defer to Bing , this time teaming up with the Andrews Sisters to bring a slight twist to the classic without changing the spirit of the song.  This is one of the most fun songs for the holiday season, and there's a reason why it's one of the first little kids learn to sing--it's a song about sledding!

4: It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (Perry Como) - This paints the perfect picture of Christmas for me--the toys, the family, the maniacal laughter...

3: I'll Be Home For Christmas (Bing Crosby) - Bing sings about all the things he's looking forward to while home for Christmas, only to reveal that he'll only be home in his dreams.  There is a sadness here that most Christmas music lacks, yet there's a sweetness underlying the sadness.  This reminds me of all my beloved family and friends with whom I'll never share another Christmas.  It's bittersweet.

2: White Christmas (Bing Crosby) - Bing isn't in the number 1 spot, but there's nobody better than Bing for Christmas music.  Nobody.  Take that, Elvis.  Bing's gentle deep voice lends this song an ethereal quality and takes me back to a time (which I'm fairly certain never happened) when, as a child, this song came on the 8-Track player as snow was falling gently outside on a nice Christmas Eve while I was cozying up to my mom's hot chocolate.  What a nice memory.  Apocryphal, sure; but still nice.

1: The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (Nat King Cole) - Nat King Cole's smooth, smooth voice melts into this perfect Christmas song.  Personally, chestnuts were always a special treat for me when my mom and dad took me to NYC around Christmas when I was a kid, and this year I had the pleasure of taking my (2 year old) son and his friend--his reaction to the chestnut: "Eh, it's okay."  Whatever, Nat King Cole still rules.

So Bing is way over-represented.  I know.  I kept trying to squeeze Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Gene Autry, and Frank Sinatra in there, but I couldn't in good conscience choose any of their (admittedly amazing) records over any of the 5 above.  So add some of your favorites in the comments below, and like our Facebook page when you get a chance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top 5 Funniest Old NFL Logos

While the NBA may have the coolest team logos, the NFL is where it's at for the funniest and most interesting logos in sports history.  Here are the ones that gave us a chuckle; we hope you'll get a laugh or two out of them as well.

5: The Cleveland Browns logo was, at some point, drawn by a struggling student at Art Instruction Schools (you remember--they're the ones who put out the pamphlets that say you can enroll as an artist in their correspondence art program if you can draw a pirate or a turtle (and pay them tuition!)).  You know a guy is tough when he has this logo on his hat...

4: When I saw the Pittsburgh Steelers old logo, I was convinced that the construction worker running along an I-beam, presumably atop a skyscraper in construction, only to kick a football at the end was the logo most in need of a "don't do this at home, kids" sign.  Then I saw...

3: The San Francisco 49ers with their rootenest-tootenest mascot, Shooty McKillerton (probably).  The only thing crazier than this drunk with twin six-shooters is his picnic blanket sense of style.

2: The Denver Broncos were once represented by a bored midget on a toy horse.  'Nuff said.

1: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were progressive before it was cool.  (In my brain), the flamboyant pirate logo was meant to evoke a sense of toughness, while simultaneously contradicting football's butch and rugged image with an effeminate brigand appealling to the common rogue.  This approach failed.

While you're wasting time, why not check out our favorite bird logos.  Or, you could comment below or find our Facebook page and give us a "like."  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Top 5 Brilliant Ideas in MMOs That Were Subsequently Hamstrung


Today we've got a long one but another good one from guest blogger Dan:

For a long period of my life, I played MMOs.  An MMO is short for MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.  Having said that, just imagine if you were playing Skyrim with 100,000 other people at the same time.  Yeah, its like that...

I could write several top 5 lists on MMOs, but I had a conversation with a friend who was down because one of his favorite MMOs was shutting down.  We talked about all the cool and brilliant stuff in the MMO world, and I got the inspiration for this list: the most brilliant, yet completely kneecapped ideas to hit the genre.

5: Ultima Online - I only put this on the list because it was the first, but it being the first, one of the developers made a huge discovery.  The story goes, this Dev was playing his game, and came across a woman playing a woman cleaning some random house.  They got to talking in game, and she invited him to dinner.  They went inside the house, and soon her son logged on, as did her husband.  It turns out, the husband was stationed in Germany, and the wife and son was still in the States.  They logged on a few times a week to have dinner together in a virtual world.  Yeah, MMOs started a form of social gaming that was truly amazing.  In the end, this concept has been throttled in so many ways it's pathetic, as most games tend to ignore this part.  Some got it right, other flat out ignored it.

4: Asheron's Call - This game was the third MMO that was released (maybe; I could be wrong, but it was the third I knew about).  It had many great ‘new’ developments in the genre, but one in particular was unprecedented, astounding, and has NEVER been duplicated.  They called it an "episodic narrative content, period new quests, and events that visibly affect the entire world.”  Most called it “Dynamic Storytelling.”  In other words, every month, you’d log into the game, and the world would change.  

Let me tell you this story: The second big story line had shadows appearing throughout the world.  It was a mystery, these black creatures attacking from everywhere.  A questline appeared and people followed it, they found a spell, and when cast it revealed these crystals that were casting the shadows.  (Note: The game had several servers, and this event happened at different times on different servers.)  After a few months of following quests, it was discovered that there was a giant crystal somewhere, and...it was an egg ready to hatch!  On every server but one, the thing hatched, and some HUGE marauding beast wandered the entire world, from town to town, killing whomever it got near, before eventually being taken down.  That one server where it didn’t hatch? Several people from several guilds banded together, and fought the shadows around the clock, 24 hours a day for almost a month.  That creature never hatched on that server, and the Devs erected a monument to those guilds and people which still stands to this day (in the game). 

The game is still up and running, but is horrendously dated.  Yet no one has come close matching the concept of a world that changes as time goes on due to storyline and plots.

3: Star Wars Galaxies - This game has a history that breaks my heart.  It closed down in 2011 for good, but still has a ‘emulator’ which is player created out there.  The game came onto the market as an economy based game.  People would play this game and do quests only to get items that had to be crafted into something.  On top of that, there was a third bar (most games have 2, health and magic) which was called ‘fatigue.’  The only way to fill the bar was to visit a player entertainer.  At one point this game had the highest ever player base of women, because all the women wanted to play this social dancer whom people HAD to visit.  The hard core players griped, and Sony Online Entertainment completely changed the game.  To this day, in some business classes in colleges, they will point to Star Wars Galaxies as an example of what not to do in business...

2: EverQuest 2 - For a brief moment in time, EQ2 was an amazing place to play a social game.  It seemed as though the corporation that ran it, Sony Online Entertainment, wanted this social game to thrive.  Players made their houses in to ‘bars’ that opened up on certain nights.  Role Players would come in and play as their characters, interacting and making story lines.  There were even a group of people who played bards who went to these taverns and performed.  (Yes, I was one of these with El’Mindeeya Do’Katal, the Emerald Bard.)

But what EQ2 did, just before they completely hamstrung themselves, was add something unbelievably user oriented to the game.  EQ2 already had TONS of books.  In fact there are quite a few websites dedicated to the cataloging of all in game books, and all the lore contained within.  But then one day, they added Player Made Books to the mix.  This meant not only could people make books to put in their houses, but they could fill them with their own content.  My character alone wrote over 20 books.  Several poem books and several story books.  They were widely collected, and wonderfully cherished things, and created so much more foundation to the game.

There were plenty of signs that changes were coming to the game before the inclusion of books.  Almost directly after they arrived, SOE, the same company that destroyed the truly unique part of Star Wars Galaxies, turned their backs on the current players and started to slowly revamp the game to make it more like the current #1 MMO in the world, which destroyed the uniqueness of the game, and alienated a high percentage of the player base.

1: City of Heros - On November 30th, 2012, this MMO shut down.  It was a very sad day to a friend of mine, because he enjoys games, and enjoyed that game.  There were two major things this game did that have never been duplicated and made it a really amazing experience.

As most people know, RPGs have are based off of gear.  You get sword with x stats making you x better.  CoH did not do this, it was stat based.  You increased your stats as you grew.  It made the game so much more of a ‘how well do you play’ game instead of a ‘how good is your gear’ game.  This concept is unbelievable in the genre, and it’s a shame its not looked at more closely as MMOs are getting so ‘gear-centric.’  If you were a skilled player, you could go far, and your accomplishments felt like your own.

The other thing about this MMO was player made content. You could go on missions that were designed by players.  It added a whole new aspect to the game and increased the playability.  In the end, there’s no explicit reason for it shutting down, except to point out that Marvel came out with its own Super Hero game and had tried to sue the developer on occasion, and it had changed publishers a number of times.

--

In the end, my history with games is long and varied.  I’ve seen lots of games make it, and lots of game fail, but some of the ideas that games have are truly amazing, and then they dropped the ball on so many other aspects.  These particular 5 have varied reasons for their issues, but all 5 have a cherished memory attached to them.  Share your MMO stories in the comments below, and find us on Facebook to get more of the good stuff, every day.

--

Dan Bonser is a voraciously passionate writer and blogger.  Having started A Brainless Nod in June of 2012, he has gotten a welcoming applause from his readers.  There, you can see more of his talents in photography, poetry, articles, and take part in reading his serial webfiction stories, as he shares his life and passions with the world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Top 5 Worst "Days of Christmas" Gifts

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... First, there's only one day of Christmas; stop trying to steal Hanukkah's thunder.  Second, have you listened to yourself?   Based on most of those gifts, that is not your "true love."  For example:

Paging Mr. P. W. Herman; Mr. P. W. Herman you have a telephone call.
5: 4 calling birds - I am not sure if a "calling bird" is a specific species, but in my head, it's a bird, screeching, calling for its friends.   And lucky you, you get 4 of them.

And I'm sure this process emits no odors either.
4: 6 geese a laying - Messy.  Where, exactly, should I put these 6 geese while they're pounding out their eggs?

3: 11 pipers piping - Annoying!  Twelve idiots running around with pan flutes making noise--not music, noise.

2: 12 drummers drumming - This is what you buy for someone you hate.  Sort of like getting a drum set for a kid who isn't yours.

This guy and nine of his best friends.
1: 10 lords a-leaping - Unless they're Time Lords, I can't imagine ever wanting this.   Ever.  (At least with the others, you can show people your pretty birds or play the noise off as "music.")

Of course, you can say--and people would agree--that these things are balanced by the gifts of 9 ladies dancing and 5 gold rings, but that's a judgment call.  Tell us what you think in the comments, and don't forget to find us on Facebook and like out page!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top 5 Science Stories of Late November, 2012

Science had a pretty amazing week toward the end of November.  Of course, scientific discoveries are happening all the time, and it's a bit disingenuous to cull together some happenings within a specific time-frame as though they have anything to do with each other, but still...  Here are just a few of the cool things that happened:

5: Cancer Universal Blood Test - How many lives could be saved by being able to detect cancer very early using simple blood tests?  Probably a lot, but one would be plenty?  Well, researchers reporting in Science Translational Medicine have taken the steps toward creating just such a test.

4: Pakistan Shows Science Some Love - Pakistan currently uses 0.6% of it's GDP as its science budget.  Policy changes hope to raise that to 2% by 2020.  This seems like a small increase, but its impacts in the region could change global politics immensely.

3: Pat Robertson Endorses Science - Okay, it's a bit misleading, because it isn't as though Robertson denies science generally.  Rather, Robertson encouraged evangelical Christians not to "fight science" on the age of the Earth concept, saying, "So there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible.  So don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years.  That's not the Bible."  Hopefully, others will see Robertson as proof that you can have your religious cake and eat your science too.  

2: Double Helix Photo - Using an electron microscope, scientists were able to take the first ever actual photograph (rather than a rendering using other methods) of the double helix in a strand of DNA. 

1: Mercury has Water Ice and Organic Compounds - A NASA release (and three published papers) indicated the Messenger spacecraft discovered evidence of water ice and organic compounds on Mercury.  It's not "blue skies on Mars," but it's a hell of a thing to find on the planet so close to its sun.

Okay, the Pakistan story is actually from December, but it's under-reported, so I included it over the Golden Spike moon-trip story, which is actually cooler but is getting a lot of coverage.  Let us know if you've heard any cool science stories by adding them to the comments below; and you can always find us (and like us) on Facebook and drop a comment there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 5 Popular U.S. Non-English Christmas Songs

Christmas is huge all over the world, and especially in the United States.  And in this great melting pot, people have turned to a variety of cultures and languages to bring them holiday cheer.  So whether you sing in Spanish or Swahili, and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the commercial holiday Xmas, or a Festivus for the rest of us, join us in singing these non-English American favorites!

5: Donde Esta Santa Claus? (Augie Rios, 1958) - "Mommy, where is Santa Claus?"  "In your imagination, honey.  In your imagination..."  Or it might translate to something else.

4: Buon Natale (Means Merry Christmas to You) (covered by Nat King Cole, Dean Martin,  and Gene Autry, 1960's) - They have Christmas in Italy?  Well, the Pope lives there, so yeah.

3: Mele Kalikimaka (The Hawaiian Christmas Song) - (famously, Bring Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, 1950) - People of a certain age picture Bing Crosby when this song comes on.  People of a different age hear Bing, but remember Christmas Vacation and picture a girl by a swimming pool with a tight bathing suit (Nicolette Scorsese)...  Or Chevy Chase.

2: Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano, 1970) - People go batty for this upbeat anthem wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year.

1: Adeste Fideles (Bing Crosby, c.1940's) - This hymnal tune may date back to the 13th Century, but nobody sings it like Bing.

We're gearing up for more holiday-themed posts, so stay tuned and follow us on Facebook.  If you have an idea for a top 5 you'd like us to cover, email us here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top 5 Versions of Rainbow Connection

The Muppets Movie's greatest legacy is a little song by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher called Rainbow Connection. How good is this song? Dig this: today is Monday, with all it baggage. Now, while sitting at your desk, softly sing:

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows,
And what's on the other side?

You're smiling now, aren't you? Miss Piggy couldn't have gotten that out of you... So here are our 5 favorite versions of this fabulous song.

5: Sarah McLachlan - Everything she does is beautiful.

4: Jason Mraz - He makes people feel good when he sings.

3: Willie Nelson - Typical Willie timing, and perfect.

2: Kermit the Frog - The original.

1: Paul Williams - The man himself, along with the Yo Gabba Gabba cast.

Well, my day is brighter already--we know that it's probably magic... Share your thoughts and memories of this song with us in the comments below, and find us on Facebook, where we bring you a new top 5 every day!