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Super Mario Bros. in 5 Minutes

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YouTube

In late 2011, Andrew Gardikis set a record for a "speed run" on Super Mario Bros. -- this means he played through the entire game as quickly as possible (yes, he used the warp tubes). For that 2011 run, Gardikis calculated his time at 4:58.898, or just under five minutes (he's calculating down to the frame level).

Then on January 14, 2013, Gardikis published a new video, in which he broke his old record by 0.1 seconds. In the new video, he put the old run in a little window inside the new run, so you can see how similar his pattern is -- he plays with uncanny timing, jumping at almost exactly the same times (with a few goof-off jumps at nonessential points). Because both audio tracks are included, you can hear how similar the two runs are.

At times one run gets slightly ahead of the other, but they end up syncing up due to the 21 frame rule (oversimplified explanation: when the game goes to a black screen or other such transition, it effectively rounds to the nearest 21-frame boundary, thus effectively re-syncing the clock).

Now, I want you to think back to playing Super Mario Bros., and all the times you died on the dumb water levels. Think about all those times you fell in a pit, and what an achievement it was to finally arrive at the final level after hours of play. Now watch Gardikis demolish the game in five minutes.

Gardikis holds other speed records (many of them tool-assisted). On SMB he can apparently do the whole game without warp tubes in 19:40 (!), and he gets major bonus points for sitting through more than 22 minutes of "Yo! Noid," mentioned in my opus 6 Obscure Facts About the Noid.

See also: Will the Real "Super Mario Bros. 2" Please Stand Up? and These Tetris Videos Will Stress You Out.

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Watch a Chain of Dominos Climb a Flight of Stairs
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iStock

Dominos are made to fall down—it's what they do. But in the hands of 19-year-old professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, known as Hevesh5 on YouTube, the tiny plastic tiles can be arranged to fall up a flight of stairs in spectacular fashion.

The video spotted by Thrillist shows the chain reaction being set off at the top a staircase. The momentum travels to the bottom of the stairs and is then carried back up through a Rube Goldberg machine of balls, cups, dominos, and other toys spanning the steps. The contraption leads back up to the platform where it began, only to end with a basketball bouncing down the steps and toppling a wall of dominos below.

The domino art seems to flow effortlessly, but it took more than a few shots to get it right. The footage below shows the 32nd attempt at having all the elements come together in one, unbroken take. (You can catch the blooper at the end of an uncooperative basketball ruining a near-perfect run.)

Hevesh’s domino chains that don't appear to defy gravity are no less impressive. Check out this ambitious rainbow domino spiral that took her 25 hours to construct.

[h/t Thrillist]

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The Secret Procedure for the Queen's Death
Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images
Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images

The queen's private secretary will start an urgent phone tree. Parliament will call an emergency session. Commercial radio stations will watch special blue lights flash, then switch to pre-prepared playlists of somber music. As a new video from Half As Interesting relates, the British media and government have been preparing for decades for the death of Queen Elizabeth II—a procedure codenamed "London Bridge is Down."

There's plenty at stake when a British monarch dies. And as the Guardian explains, royal deaths haven't always gone smoothly. When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the blue "obit lights" installed at commercial radio stations didn’t come on because someone failed to depress the button fully. That's why it's worth it to practice: As Half as Interesting notes, experts have already signed contracts agreeing to be interviewed upon the queen's death, and several stations have done run-throughs substituting "Mrs. Robinson" for the queen's name.

You can learn more about "London Bridge is Down" by watching the video below—or read the Guardian piece for even more detail, including the plans for her funeral and burial. ("There may be corgis," they note.)

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