The 20 Most Bizarre Fictional Food Characters

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Opening this Friday, the animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 presents a vast array of anthropomorphic and sentient creatures made up of food, from pizzas with crust limbs, musical burgers and cute little strawberries to predatory "Tacodiles." At the other end of the wholesomeness scale, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are gearing up to produce their long-cherished project Sausage Party, an R-rated, animated adventure about a sausage that's fallen from his shopping cart and is trying to get back to his aisle.

But of course, there's nothing new in this.

Humans have been endowing our food with personality since at least the Gingerbread Man - revived as Gingy in the Shrek movies - through innumerable advertising favorites ranging from Big Fig - the dancing Fig Newton - to Mayor McCheese, Will Vinton's California Raisins, the gullible M&Ms, the evangelical stars of the Veggie Tales and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Here are twenty more of the many, many other examples of conscious cuisine...

1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster

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The FSM was created by - or, perhaps, revealed himself to humanity through - one Bobby Henderson, in a 2005 open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education arguing against teaching "Intelligent Design" in public school science classes, on the grounds that there's as much scientific evidence that this high-carbohydrate deity created the universe as any other Supreme Being. Soon after, however, the Sacred Starchy One spawned books, a website, and other manifestations, and, in a sort of apotheosis et absurdum, was adopted by ironic hipsters as their true faith.

It's all good-natured fun for now. Hopefully a few centuries hence there won't be a bloody jihad between the Orthodox FSMers and the sect of the Al Dente Angel Hair Incarnation.


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Grand Theft Auto V: Ten Things to Love and Two Teensy Gripes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 6:00 am

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In the interest of FULL DISCLOSURE...

I've been a gamer my whole life. I even planned my move to Los Angeles Los Santos around the launch of the PlayStation 2. (Oct 26th, 2000!) I wanted to make sure I could pick up my pre-order in Chicago before heading west. Years earlier, I dropped an exorbitant amount of cash on a Japanese version of the Nintendo 64 just to play Mario 64 months before the U.S. release. The entire mission screens were in Japanese! Let's talk why not?!

The release of GTA III in 2001, however, was pretty meh for me. My friends spent hours, probably closer to days, in Liberty City. Me, maybe three hours total. I hated the controls, hated the forced satire and above all, loathed the beyond frustrating unforgiving save system. (Forty minutes on a mission, half of it trailing some van only to have to redo everything because the auto-aim of my AK-47 missed the headshot was awful.)

Flash forward twelve years later. Here I was Sep 16th, 2013 in line at 9pm with hundreds of other nerds at my local GameStop for the midnight release of GTA V.

What happened? Niko Bellic and GTA IV happened.

In 2008, IV was the first game to receive a 10/10 from IGN and Gamespot since Soul Caliber in 1999.

Granted GTA: San Andreas earned a stellar 9.9 from IGN, remaining a favorite among fans. IGN gave Vice City a "terrible" 9.7. Still, a 10 for IV and that same year a 10 for Metal Gear Solid 4 was monumental. I had to crack this bad vibe I'd had with Rockstar's franchise.

I ended up completing IV's story mode five times: three times on the 360, twice on the PS3.

I wanted to give this disclaimer of sorts before diving into my impressions of GTA V because the reason I love IV (and to a lesser extent III, VC and SA all of which I went back and played after falling love with IV) is not why most gamers love GTA. I couldn't care less about killing hookers, rage meters or any other sense of chaos that many indulge in while seeing just how much mayhem they can muster.

First and foremost, I'm a fan of the worlds that interactive entertainment allows me to explore. It's why I played Mass Effect, The Last of Us and Portal 2 multiple times. It's why the underwater city of Rapture has stayed with me.

To revise Bill Clinton's '90s motto: It's about the world, stupid!

So far I clocked in over 24 hours in V, so this is in no way a complete review of the main story. I'm currently at 34% on the completion meter.

Lastly, though the game comes packaged with GTA: Online it will not go live until next month.

As usual, minor spoilers...

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Ten More Marvel Shows We Want to See Besides Agents of SHIELD

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

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It's a good time to be a TV-loving fan of Marvel Comics these days. With Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuting on ABC at 8:00 PM EST tonight and talk of a period-piece Agent Carter show in the works as well, it's only a matter of time before the whole family of Disney-owned networks is completely dominated by properties that grew up in the House of Ideas.

The general public might enjoy the blockbuster action of movies like Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and The Avengers, but they're not nearly as familiar with the smaller and darker corners of the Marvel Universe. It's those more specific and specialized corners that could make for a solid line-up of dramas and comedies we'd like to see. It's time to build an even bigger Marvel Studios Universe, and here's how.

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Thirteen Weirdly Inappropriate Figurines for Train Sets (That You Can Buy Right Now)

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:00 am

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original Thomas pic by kewsvnet

In the time before action figures - a time of darkness for individuals with active inner children - it was more common to put aside childish things as adulthood was entered into, because frankly, many toys weren't all that good, even if they were more likely to be made of metal or wood, and did a whole lot of damage if you threw them against the wall.

One significant exception, however, was the train set. Even before Star Wars toys ushered in figure-collecting as we know it, adults could get away with having elaborate model railway dioramas, and be thought of as perhaps only mildly eccentric. Time has moved on, and companies like NECA and McFarlane have made it reasonably mainstream for action figures to feature R-rated content. What I didn't know, until going on some Amazon search tangent recently, is that the toy companies who cater to train hobbyists have done the same.

If tiny (and terribly done) representations of nudity are NSFW, be careful how you proceed from here...

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Eleven Nerdy Observations From a Week at Disneyland

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 6:00 am

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As many of you know, I recently had the occasion to stay at the Disneyland hotel for an entire week, with a pass to enter both Disneyland and California Adventure at any time except Saturday. A lengthy stay can make quite the difference, as Disneyland has so much stuff that it's impossible to do everything in a day, and day-trippers are usually rushing to cram everything in. With a week on your hands, however, there's more time to take it all in, noticing things you might not normally see in the hustle and bustle.

This list may be more self-indulgent than usual, if such a thing is possible. And, no, there are no X or R-rated honeymoon photos herein. Just some of the more intriguing things that caught my attention while enjoying the afterglow of wedded bliss.

1. Disney Has Not Forgotten the Rocketeer.

They remember. They just treat him like slave labor now.

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Yes, Cliff Secord's airfaring alter ego cranks out kernels of corn in a food cart nowadays. The sad li'l superhero can see the replica of a rocket outside of his glass prison, but may never use his again.

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Ten DC Characters Who Will Never Be Seen in Live-Action

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 6:00 am

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With the recent announcement of not only a Superman/Batman movie, but also Warner Brother's president Kevin Tsujihara dropping hints at a much larger slate of DC Comics based movies and shows coming our way, DC fanboys finally have hope of seeing other characters make it to the big (and small) screens after years of waiting.

And while this all might be true, there are still some characters from the DCU, many whom are very beloved, who probably won't make it to live-action in any forseeable future. I should point out, this list is not an exclusively "they're so lame, they don't deserve a movie" list; many of these characters are flat-out great, in fact, but for various reasons they have a snowball's chance in hell of making it to live-action glory.

Although one or two really are just that lame.

10. Power Girl

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I've always been a big Power Girl fan ever since I was a kid, so it's been a real pleasure for me to see her rise up the ranks at DC to, if not A-List status, then a list a solid B-lister. Having said that, there is a slim to none chance that Superman's cousin from an alternate universe will ever make it to live action, for multiple reasons. Now, if Smallville were still on the air, this would be a whole different story, as that show seemed to have every DC superhero show up at least once to help "inspire" Clark to become Superman. And since Kal-El's cousin Kara was already introduced on that show, in the form of actress Laura Vandervoort, there wouldn't have been much to stop the producers from giving her a shorter haircut and introducing an alternate universe version of her, probably dressed in all white, and almost certainly with bigger boobs.

Alas, Smallville is no more, so if and when we see Superman's cousin Kara again in live-action, it'll be in a movie starring Henry Cavill's Superman. And no doubt that version will be the classic Supergirl version, because that's what's expected from the general audience. Maybe it's all for the best, because were Power Girl to be introduced, chances are certain aspects of her characterization and costuming would be different, or totally changed. (yes, I'm talking about the boob window) She'd be Power Girl in name only, and who wants that?

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Nine Ways Hollywood Gets Nuclear Energy Completely Wrong

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:00 am

This list is inspired by the movie Pacific Rim, but don't misunderstand, I actually love the movie. However there is one MAJOR issue in it that I find inexcusable, and it is an issue that nearly all of the international film industry gets wrong (but mostly Hollywood).

Nuclear Reactors do not explode.

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Every damn time someone in a movie mentions that something is powered by a nuclear reactor, you know it is inevitably going to be used as an atomic bomb; there is no end to how much this pisses me off. With how much goddamned money they sink into these things, why is it so hard to have someone sit down and fact check about your linch pin, plot twist, ace in the hole? It is funda-god-damned-mentally impossible for a nuclear powered generator to cause a thermonuclear explosion, because physics, and what it takes to cause one, and fuckin' A why can't you lazy ass Hollywood bastards do you homework.

OK, fair warning disclaimer here: this is going to be educational, so bear the fuck with me on this as I am a firm believer that obscenities make everything better, especially education.

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Ten Major Ways Grand Theft Auto Has Altered Pop Culture

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Today, Rockstar Games' latest virtual magnum opus is unleashed on the world.

And in a completely unrelated incident, millions of adults are calling in "sick" to work due to unspecified, quickly-resolved illnesses.

As it just so happens, in case you've been living under a rock with only your Atari ST and Intellivision for companionship, Grand Theft Auto V is out now for everyone to devour. Surprisingly, the game is by many accounts incredible, and it is going to make approximately five separate shitloads of money.

Not bad for a series that began with a bunch of dudes in Scotland screwing around with top-down 2D graphics. Along the way, there have been controversies, lawsuits, a particularly pernicious lawyer, and more man-hours logged in for these "murder simulators" than any NASA space mission. All the while, the Grand Theft Auto series has left an indelible mark on pop culture around the globe.

Let's look at ten major ways Grand Theft Auto has altered our pop-cultural sensibilities!


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The Ten Best Non-Star Wars LucasArts Games

Monday, September 16, 2013 at 6:00 am

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You know, there tend to be some rare moments when you realize that despite having existed for quite a while, there are some Topless Robot lists we surprisingly haven't gotten around to yet. I honestly thought we did a list of the best LucasArts games in the past, and while a search reveals The 10 Best Original LucasArts Adventure Characters and The 10 Best Sierra Adventure Games, I honestly can't seem to find any record of a list solely devoted to LucasArts games. Huh...(by the way, if it turns out I'm wrong on this, feel free to correct me and smack me upside the head).

It honestly strikes me as odd, because given how many great games LucasArts has made beside the onslaught of Star Wars titles they've put out, which could fill out their own entire list here (and probably have), you'd think a list like that would be a pretty obvious addition to our various lineups of nerd trivia, but nope, not there. So to finally remedy this situation (and as a much-belated memorial for them being killed by the mouse earlier this year), here are ten of the greatest games LucasArts ever pumped out, and let us never forget the awesomeness they provided us over the years.

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Eight Reasons You Should Care About the World of Darkness Reboots

Friday, September 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

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20 Years of World of Darkness! 20!

It's easy to forget these days, when pin-up models regularly sport N.E.S. tattoos and cosplaying is more synonymous with cheesecake than living in basements, but there was a time when being a geek was a social stigma. This stigma was especially strong with table top gamers, who were known for obsessively collecting dice, confusing real life with epic campaigns, and putting everything on graph paper. Or, as my Senior Advisor said in my High School Yearbook , "Dave you are a cool guy, you should ditch that D&D stuff and get some chicks".

However, back in the 90s, Nine Inch Nails, Anne Rice's vampire chronicles, and D&D all had a bastard child named Vampire: the Masquerade, and suddenly everything changed. Goth clubs started hosting live action roleplays (LARPs to us gamer nerds). People played RPGs at coffeehouses while smoking clove cigarettes. For the first and only time the local RPG convention became overrun with goth girls wearing vampire fangs and/or fox tails. It was a strange, confusing time to be an RPG geek for sure.

This new generation of RPGs was intended to concentrate on stories and moral decisions rather than smiting enemies and gathering treasure. The books were splendid at invoking their gothic-punk atmosphere with art, writing, and bits of song lyrics. However, their mechanics could be a bit slippery and the books became infamous for meta plots involving sometimes ridiculous characters, weird cosmic events, and vampires wearing trench coats carrying katanas and/or paired desert eagles.

Concept and mechanics slippage led to multiple reboots of White Wolf's core lines over the years (particularly Mage, their book about modern occult practitioners) and eventually led to a book that ended the game universe followed by a new, more subtle line called the New World of Darkness. The New World of Darkness (now published by Onyx Path) tried hard to curb the excesses of the old editions, maybe a little too hard as many believed a bit of the joy was gone from the old game. That, coupled with the decay of table top popularity in general led to a successful game line that had far less cultural impact than the old one.

That was 2004 - 2012. But, this year, we are seeing a new version of the New World of Darkness. And this is why you should care:

1. We Aren't Tired of Vampires Yet

There's a new Dracula television series on the way, all full of darkness and hot girls and a bit of metro-sexuality and science wherein Dracula pretends to be Tesla, or something. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is in it, and he also was in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which came out this year... and has more vampires! Also, as you know, that pensive pale girl and the sparkly guy over in Twilight land.

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100% Sparkle Free!

Vampires seem bigger than ever, which is funny since it has been true most of my life. This starts to give me the impression that vampires will grow ever more famous as I live on until all the TV shows have vampires. Which I heartily endorse by the way as vampires basically make everything better.

World of Darkness games let you play these characters, and not in the sense of 'a vampire can fly 6 inches above the ground and drink your blood in ten minutes', I mean, that is part of the game, but more important is all of the angsty bits. Angsty bits are fun because if vampires don't have angst they're basically zombies, and we're all sick of zombies. To be a World of Darkness vampire, you still have to drink blood, but if you aren't really nice about it or lose your vampire temper (which is a constant danger) you end up degenerating to a serial killer, and then a dribbling idiot fast. You have your powers but you hate them, too. It's sort of like me and my terrifyingly powerful charisma.


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