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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    On Aug. 8, Drake and Lil Wayne kicked off a joint tour, branded as "Drake vs Lil Wayne." A new app for Android and iOS lets you interact with the rappers while they’re on tour, by playing them against each other like Street Fighter characters.

    The tour is sponsored by Capcom, so this makes sense, and it’s no doubt capitalizing on the recent release of Ultra Street Fighter IV. During the rap battle portions of the show, fans can help them “power up” and influence their performances on the stage, though they will not be physically fighting each other.

    The tour app market has taken off in the last few years, though it’s still fairly niche, and it costs a lot of money to produce an app specifically for a tour. This Billboardreview from Sunday’s Chicago stop reveals the crowd picked Lil Wayne first, thus making him player one, and possibly making Drake feel sad about it.

    But hold up, wait a minute: Another review from the show claimed all that tapping on your phone might not have actually had any effect, and that an entire arena of fans might have just been desperately touching their phones in vain. The reviewer also said downloading the app at the show was hilariously futile.

    The gamification of tour apps seems inevitable, but it seems this one has a few kinks to work out. Apparently you do not only live once. 

    H/T Pitchfork | Screengrab via iTunes


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    A YouTube musician is getting a lot of attention—and not for a cover of Super Mario Bros. music, for once.

    The "Pipe Guy" of Australia built a unique instrument out of nothing but PVC pipe, turning himself into something of a one-man Blue Man Group. And what does he play the instrument with? Why, his flip-flops, of course! (That's "thongs" to native Aussies.)

    A video of Pipe Guy's performance in the Rundle Mall shopping center in South Australia is gaining traction on YouTube, currently standing at almost 61,000 views. As people gather around, snap photos, and even dance, he plays a mixture of original compositions as well as covers of Darude's "Sandstorm" and Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At."

    Hopefully, Pipe Guy's continued exposure will allow him to play larger venues; we could see him doing well as the musical guest of honor at a plumbing professionals convention.

    Screengrab via Pipe Guy/YouTube


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    Actor Robin Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, Calif., Monday, according to local officials

    The cause of death is not official yet, but according to a memo released by Marin County Sheriff's Department Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd, it is thought to be suicide by asphyxiation. Williams turned 63 on July 21.

    The beloved actor was perhaps best known for his roles in Good Will HuntingFlubberMrs. Doubtfire, and Dead Poets Society. He was also the iconic voice of Genie in Disney's Aladdin, and an idol to stand-up comedians everywhere.

    The new of his death spread rapidly on social media, where many hoped for another fake claim. 

    As reports continued to spread, fellow celebrities and fans alike paid their respects.

    Williams was last seen alive in his Tiburon home, where he lives with his wife, last night around 10 pm. Police responded to a 9-1-1 call at 11:55 am, and Williams was pronounced dead on the scene at 12:02 pm. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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    The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is getting an infusion of Supernatural for its second season. Jim Beaver, who played Bobby Singer for years on the CW show, will now be making the move to Neverland as the patron of the Darling clan, George Darling.

    "For those of us who never grew up, Peter Pan still resonates," Beaver told the Daily Dot. "That's why I wanted to be a part of The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy. My other reason for joining the Peter and Wendy company is that my pixie pal Paula Rhodes is a driving force behind it. And I'll do anything a pixie asks me to!" 

    While Beaver has also appeared in numerous productions, including Deadwood and Justified, he's a fan-favorite in the Supernatural community, with his character serving as a surrogate father figure to central characters Sam and Dean. That connection to fandom made him an ideal choice for the YouTube project.

    "I've always loved the Supernatural fan community, so to be able to work with Jim is hitting me from two sides: As a fan, I'm squeeing; as a producer, I want to make something that both the fans and Jim are truly proud of," said Peter and Wendy producer Jenni Powell.

    "It's quite possible Jim is my fairy godfather," continued fellow produer Paula Rhodes. "He's one of my absolute favorite people on the planet as well as favorite actors, so I'm beyond thrilled to have another chance to play with him." 

    The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is a modern transmedia adaption of the Peter Pan story, with Peter as a comic book artist who never wants to grow up and Wendy as an ambitious vlogger set on seeing the world. The show, which airs on EpicRobotTV's channel, is currently raising funds on Indiegogo for its second season. With other Peter Pan productions in the mainstream media getting decidedly negative casting reviews, The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy's casting choice is a breath of fresh air.

    Image courtesy of The New Adventures of Peter & Wendy


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    With all of his memorable film and TV credits to his name, I will always remember Robin Williams for one of his least public performances.

    In 1997, Williams presented the eulogy at the funeral of Herb Caen, the iconic San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Although not a native of San Francisco, Williams could frequently be seen around town with a smile on his face. This morning, he died across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

    In a statement, his widow, Susan Schneider said, "As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."

    No doubt, each Robin Williams fan has his or her own favorite scenes, lines, or gags this brilliant comedian brought to the world, and he will forever be in our hearts and on our TVs and tablets via Netflix and film/TV reruns. He had the opportunity to work with some of the best actors and directors of his time, including Gus Van Zant, Barry Levinson, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dustin Hoffman (to name a few).

    He launched his career as a stand-up comedian in the Bay Area at such clubs as the Great American Music Hall and Punch Line, but his most notable claim to fame was as Mork in the sitcom Mork and Mindy. The phrase "nanu-nanu" belongs in the time capsule of ’90s pop culture and was the first in an endless parade of indelible memories. Here are just a few:

    The wisecracking genie in Aladdin:

    As Adrian Cronauer, the radio personality in Good Morning Vietnam:

    The therapist in Good Will Hunting:

    The ultimate dad-turned-nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire:

    As the owner of a drag queen club in South Beach in The Birdcage:

    And last but not least, as Mork from Ork first appearing on Happy Days:

    Williams, who died at age 63, can be seen in wide variety of films available on Netflix, including: The Big Wedding, Hook, Jumanji, The Birdcage,World’s Greatest Dad, Popeye, and The Fisher King. On Hulu Plus, you can find Moscow on the Hudson, The Survivors, and The Best of Times. Episodes of Mork and Mindy are also on Hulu.

    Photo via Castles, Capes & Clones/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)


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    BY DAN WILKINSON

    If you’ve ever embarked on the adventure that is learning how to read music, you’ll understand the process involves a lot of books, dusty piano teachers, and a fair bit of money spent to understand the minutiae of each note on the Hexatonic scale. 

    Up until now, the cheaper alternative had been to either (A) be born a genius or (B) jump on ultimate—guitar, read tabs, and maybe progress to being able to play the same three songs by Green Day, Oasis, and Radiohead. But those days could soon be long gone. A new music learning game called Meludia wants to make the music experience easier for beginners and experts in the field of music. How? It throws complicated squiggles and repeated renditions of “Für Elise” to the side and replaces them with an experience similar to synesthesia—featuring colors and evolving shapes.

    Essentially, Meludia aims to teach people through emotional response rather than boring them with musical jargon. For example: one section involves guessing if a note is higher or lower on a scale —which is a simple way of learning the actual tones of notes—and another helps figure out what specific notes make up each chord. The tasks start easy—but they advance too. The top—tier levels employ obscure time signatures, help find out the discordant notes which are music’s out of touch cousins, and have, apparently, stumped even the most hardened musos.

    I talked to Paul from Meludia about how people should learn through emotions and why the app aims to teach people from pro to poser a lesson about music.

    Noisey: What made you want to set up Meludia? 
    Paul: Despite the fact that music is one of the rare universal traits of human societies throughout space and time, we have come to think of music as an innate gift that only a few people possess. Meludia aims at revealing that anyone can become a musician. 

    Read the full story on Noisey.

    Photo via jasoneppink/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Acclaimed American actor and comic Robin Williams was found dead at his home yesterday, in what police are saying is an "apparent suicide." Tributes have since poured in for the 63-year old Oscar winner and father of 3, with President Obama saying that "he ended up touching every element of the human spirit." TV host Ellen de Generes tweeted "He gave so much to so many people. I'm heartbroken," reports the BBC.

    But one of the most touching tributes comes from the comedian and talkshow host Conan O'Brien, who heard the news whilst filming the evening's show with Will Arnett and Andy Richter, and felt compelled to salute Williams.

    "It just felt like we just needed to acknowledge [Williams]," said a clearly shaken Conan, looking far removed from his usual confident persona. The news is "absolutely shocking and horrifying and so upsetting on every level," he said, adding: "We're just processing this information literally right at this moment."

    Andy Richter described the late actor as "an amazingly kind and generous person… it's gotta be a terrible time for his family."

    Will Arnett meanwhile, who has previously worked with Williams, said: "As funny as he was—he's truly one of the all-time greats—he was even better as a person. He was even more fantastic. Just the loveliest, sweetest… one of the kindest guys I've ever worked with."

    "Just a soft warm, emotionally sweet guy," he finished, "and it's a major major loss for everybody."

    The news of Williams' passing has been met by an outpouring of grief from his fans around the world. A clear indication of the depth of popularity for the late actor can be found on image-hosting site Imgur of all places—almost every photo currently on the front page is a tribute to Robin Williams.

    H/T Entertainment Weekly | Screenshot via Team Coco


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    BY BETH ELDERKIN

    Most of us have probably seen the Funny or Die series Drunk History that made its way onto Comedy Central. You might have even thought, “Hey, I could get drunk and tell stories about Abraham Lincoln or Patricia Hearst.” But that’s the easy part—what about acting it out, perhaps with puppets or cocker spaniels? 

    Drunk History, the show where historians and philosophy majors talk about famous historical figures while being blinding drunk, is recruiting talent online for its second season finale. “DIY Drunk History” has posted five audio clips from the show on SoundCloud, and is inviting fans to create video clips channeling their inner Michael Cera, Winona Ryder, or any other celebrity who’s lip-synched to intoxicated history lessons. 

    In theory, improvisers, comedians, and the occasional YouTube junkie should leap at the chance to be featured on Drunk History, but there have been less than 10 submissions seen so far. Not that there isn’t an interesting variety of content: The entries include American Girl dolls reenacting Nellie Bly’s undercover stint at an insane asylum, and a little kid telling the story of Percy Julian’s experience with racial segregation using action figures. 

    Oh, and there’s puppets. Because you can’t have a history lesson without puppets. 

    There have been other times when fans got the opportunity to channel their inner celebrities for fame or prizes—though, strangely, many of them have involved professional fighting groups. Earlier this year, the WWE asked fans to submit videos of their own wrestling personas, while UFC had viewers submit fan tributes last year. And don’t forget about the Lady Gaga challenge at this year’s SXSW, where fans did outrageous stunts like sing karaoke on the sidewalk, on hidden camera, to get tickets to her private show. 

    The DIY Drunk History competition ends Aug. 19. They’ll post the five finalists the next day and have voters pick their favorite. The top fan fave will be featured on Comedy Central’s website and social media accounts. The grand prize winner (picked by Drunk History staffers) will have a spot in the season 2 finale, which airs Sept. 2. 

    Screengrab via Comedy Central/YouTube


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    Does the Internet have its own dialect? Can you talk “Internet?” That’s the initial question posed on the most recent PBS Idea Channel video by host Mike Rugnetta.

    “I was just sitting at my computer and it dawned on me, ‘Do I have an Internet accent?,” Rugnetta told the Daily Dot. “I put it out on Twitter and then responded to myself because there’s no pronunciation so maybe it’s a dialect. Then I had a lot of debate with followers on the platform.”

    The shift in an understanding of digital talk as a kin to actual speech in the linguistics community has been a developing process, accelerated by the proliferation of social media. Now, linguists use social media to study global language and develop massive data sets of speech that were practically impossible in years past. This has led to the understanding that what may have been generalized as “Internet speak” years ago, which is actually more diverse than a standard Internet dialect imagined by outsiders.

    The Internet doesn’t have one standard dialect. So Rugnetta delved into the ideas of "communities of practice" and "speech communities" to address how different corners of the Internet construct identity through language.

    “Communities of practice describe, roughly—very roughly—people who do stuff together," Rugnetta says in the video. Communities of practice have often been used to describe how language and social identity form in this way. The concept of speech communities is another frame for this idea, without the emphasis on "doing stuff" that communities of partice emphasizes.

    "[Speech community theory] is not necessarily focused on interests or shared goals. It really is just a group of people who spend time together in a specific place," Rugnetta said. "Can you call what you do on 4chan or Reddit—are you working toward a goal or a shared practice, or is it just shared proximity?"

    For Rugnetta, he first learned his Internet language styles on IRC posting about music and cyberpunk, and newsgroups where he says he would craft messages with the aim of sounding as “with it and part of the community” as he could. Since he has learned multiple conventions to navigate different Internet speech communities, from the reaction GIFs of Tumblr to the hashtags of Twitter. "Code switching," as Rugnetta calls it, between various forms of speech online comes naturally now, and he sees those codes of speech moving from the digital to the physical, at least within his offline community.

    “I would definitely say amongst my closest friends, all of whom are ‘Internet professionals,’ there’s definitely a level of speaking as though you are typing that’s not only permissible but expected,” Rugnetta said. “That’s a way of speaking I would not expect or engage in myself in other settings. I think there’s definitely already a certain amount of Internet related code switching that happens in geek space.”

    Rugnetta said fans have been defining their own speech communities in the YouTube comments on his video, and debating points of his arguments, which he’ll address in the next Idea Channel video.

    “We had [a commenter] talk about the idea of 'registers' instead of 'dialects,' so that’s something we’ll get into,” Rugnetta said. “We also have people describing the characteristics of the speech community they hang out in online. And someone wrote a really good one about TVTropes, and they mention YMMV, and TVTropes is the first place I ever saw that mentioned. We’re very lucky, or comments section is very exciting—a lot of people willing to have strange conversations with each other.”

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    Hannah Hart doesn't think she's transparent enough. That's a funny sentiment from someone who's already let the world into her kitchen to witness her no-holds-barred drunken cooking.

    "In the prior years the buzzwood has been 'integrity' and 'authenticity,'” the 27-year-old YouTubestar explained over coffee on the east side of Los Angeles. “I think transparency is the next big thing. Transparency with budgets, transparency with projects.” She pauses. “Do you think when people realize we’re not all millionaires even a little bit, will they still be interested in us?”

    The Internet is definitely interested in Hart, millionaire or not. (She’s not.) In 2011 Hart wanted to connect with her best friend living across the country, so on a lark, she uploaded a video of her doing what she’d always done for her best friend—drunk cooking. Ever since she’s increasingly opened her world up through the lens of YouTube, gaining fans and letting them follow her on her cooking and charitable adventures. She’s amassed 1.3 million self-proclaimed “Hartosexuals” on the site, and this week she expands her reach into the publishing world with her first book, My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going With Your Gut. While many other YouTube personalitiesmove on to television and other video-related gigs, Hart admits that she’d always imagined a book as the big payoff for her hard work on YouTube. 

    “I have always wanted to write a book,” Hart said. “I grew up a voracious reader. I read a lot of nonfiction and watch TED talks. I don’t read a lot of fiction anymore, but fiction was escapism for me."

    As for whether the book always wanted her back? "Back when I tried to sell the book originally, no one really wanted a book from a YouTuber," she explains. "I was a little ahead of my time.”

    It may purport to be a cookbook, but the My Drunk Kitchen book reads more like therapy. Hart jokes that it’s really “self-help parody.” The prose feels like Hart could be reading it to you as she prepares each meal in her kitchen, camera locked on her every move. The cooking isn’t so much about the food, but rather a delivery system for Hart to impart her wisdom, make jokes, and get closer to her readers. There’s even a passage where Hart pauses, mid-book, to notice a dirty keyboard and clean it off. Cookbooks don’t often pause to bring you out of the fantasy of food into the reality of writing, but Hart’s style is far from conventional. 

    “That’s one of my favorite parts,” she smiles. “It’s like, ‘oh, you’re writing this book wherever you are.’”

    That leap from impersonal to deeply personal and connected is inherent in everything Hart does. In person, Hart is no different from her book or video incarnations, just with the added ability to actually touch you. She likes to fistbump, and when you say something she agrees with, she snaps for you. Hart listens, really listens, and that constant feedback loop mentality she built on the digital Web was actually detrimental to the book-writing process. She’d want to share small bits with her editors and get feedback, but she says they kept pushing back and demanding she “just write the whole thing!” Despite two years of producing weekly videos, she described the demands of the book writing process as “very painful.”

    “In 2013 I was blessed with the opportunity to shoot a movie, go on tour, and write my book all at once,” she explained. But juggling all those projects took its toll. “It was the weirdest balancing act. Every day it was deciding which thing would get the 50 percent energy.”

    She’s managed to juggle all the aspects of her busy life with aplomb, from the successful release of Camp Takota with fellow YouTubers Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart (no relation), to her successful MyHarto tour that she crowdfunded via Indiegogo. Despite her digital upbringing, she sees her book as more of a physical entity.

    “As much as I do all my reading online, when I go to beach and I take a pen and put my notes in it, I feel like I really absorbed it,” said Hart. “It’s good to flip open a book and [have it] fall to that passage you read a thousand times in college. I shared a book of poetry with a friend of mine and asked her to share her notes with me. I hope My Drunk Kitchen can be like that for my fans. They can pass it around, get it messy.”

    Messy is definitely Hart’s forte. My Drunk Kitchen is no stranger to spills, although as videos they’re anything but sloppy. You could use Hart’s videography as a training series for success on YouTube, from her cadence and her jump-cuts to her ability to interlace jokes into caption and callbacks, the fact that there’s a beginning, middle, and end to her videos. It’s a sensibility Hart says she had to learn as she moved into her fame.

    “I was so ignorant of the space in 2011,” she laughed. “It wasn’t until I went to my first VidCon, and that’s where I met John [Green] and Jenna [Marbles] and all of those people. Everybody was referencing stuff. I have been a genre person my whole life, and to be in an environment where I had no idea what anyone was talking about was difficult.”

    Marbles urged Hart to be forthcoming with her subscription strategy (“Jenna was the first person who told me, ‘You need to say “subscribe to my channel,” you need to start saying that right now'”) while Indianapolis-based Green tried to impress upon her the idea that her future in YouTube was not dependent on a move to California. Hart did make the move, however, leaving New York for the West Coast. She’s somewhat wary of the heavy focus on Hollywood for YouTube creators now, although she sees the allure of big cities as central points in the YouTube community. 

    “It’s kind of like with London,” she explained. “I could go to London and spend two weeks doing collabs, the same way someone could come to L.A. and set up their collabs. I just hope people are still up-and-coming on YouTube.”

    Growth in her medium is of paramount importance to Hart. Since returning from the yearly VidCon pilgrimage, she said she’s been deep in thought on new ways to embrace her community and finding ways to do that outside the established YouTube model of brand partnerships and deals. Despite it being the current world order, Hart isn’t interested in brand deals for the sake of it. 

    “What if it was just as simple as creating content and interacting with the dedicated community?" she ponders. "YouTube is a great goal. Being a self- sustained entertainment model. Many hands make light work. Maybe—spoiler alert, fingers crossed—as I go on to make more expensive projects and pay more people for more things, I would think it would be great to make your community your investors, instead of corporations.”

    We joke about her penchant for potato chips in recipes for the books. I ask after her favorites, and she names Kettle Chips but definitely not Lays. When I laugh that she’ll never get a brand deal with Lays now, she gets serious.

    “I dont want a Lays sponsorship; I think those chips are bad for people to eat,” said Hart.

    “I pray for the future of celebrities people are accountable for the words they speak. I want my audience to be my only sponsor. One day.”

    There’s that transparency again. It’s served Hart extremely well, building her a loyal and passionate fanbase. Hart is one of the handful of women who command major audiences in the YouTube space, and one of an even smaller handful that does so without being primarily a beauty or fashion vlogger. Even more, Hart’s followers—mostly women at every point of the sexuality spectrum—express the same kind of crush-status on Hart, who’s openly gay, as they do on the throngs of straight boys in the space.

    “You can say it; I’m a total stud,” Hart laughs. “I think I’d have to be a total narcissist to say it felt normal. It feels like living a daydream. I kind of thought I’d embrace it a lot more. I’ve really just stayed me but also grown up. I think this is exactly who Hannah Hart is as she becomes an adult and gets more emotionally balanced and mature.”

    Many of those smitten fans are younger than Hart, although the age of her views runs the gamut. Still, speaking to a younger demographic imbues Hart with a level of responsibility that she embraces, both through her general demeanor and through charitable efforts like the MyHarto series that took her on a tour of soup kitchens across America funded by her voracious fans.

    “I feel a deep social responsibility to use this outlet to promote positive change. I embrace that,” Hart said. “Being older, I love being a positive and authentic role model. I believe that these 13 to 17 or 18 to 24 groups are the people who are going to be responsible for the world when I’m too old. It’s really important that we [the YouTube community] pay attention to our teenage fans.

    "I’m happy Tumblr exists because the generations after us will never know what it feels like not to have a place for your voice. The way it’s structured and the way YouTube comments are structured, people put their opinions out there and then are forced to defend their opinions. Doubt is good. Having a dense, rich experience with their beliefs is good.”

    For Hart, being a part of that community and serving them is at the core of her methodology, and the reason behind why she wrote her book the way she did.

    "I really want my die-hard community… The people that are so like-minded and have been on this journey from day one, I wrote this book for them,” Hart said. “To be on YouTube, you have to play the YouTube game; to be in entertainment, you have to play the entertainment game. And the good part of that is you have to play the game to change it. I wrote the book to [say], ‘I am everything I say I am; let me allow you to know me better.’”

    She's back to that transparency again. And it’s that kind of ethos that keeps fans coming back to Hart time and time again.

    Screengrab via My Harto/YouTube


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    Sean Bean is very good at dying on screen, but how does he actually handle it when his character lives?

    He’s died over 20 times in his career, but on his new show Legends he will live. It’s even become an advertising hook for TNT, which seems to be embracing that mindset among Bean fans full-heartedly. But maybe, just maybe, the constant worry of whether he’ll still be breathing on his own show is starting to get to him.

    His latest shoot is a fairly straight up scene where not much really happens, but it’s missing something. The writer may not see it, but he certainly does, and he’s got more than enough tips on how to remedy the situation ranging from realistic to downright creative.

    Some of his on-screen deaths were already writtenin books before he ever got a hand on the script, but it might make you wonder how many of them were his suggestion.

    Screengrab via Funny Or Die


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    Pussy Riot might be coming to Netflix, in the form of a season 3 House of Cardscameo.

    The show is currently filming its upcoming season in Baltimore, and City Paperreported on Friday that Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were on the set Aug. 7, according to two sources associated with the show’s production team.

    House of Cards is known for tackling hot-button political issues, and this info isn’t brand new. It was reported in the Washington Post back in May that the two had met with House of Cards staff while in New York City. When asked why, Alyokhina replied, “It’s important for us to meet people who are doing political cinema in the U.S. because in Russia, it doesn’t exist, and we want to know how it happens.”

    Members of Pussy Riot were arrested in February 2012, after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” at a cathedral in Moscow. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, as well as third member Yekaterina Samutsevich, were sentenced to two years, and their stories are told in the excellent HBO documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, released last year. 

    It’s also known House of Cards attempted to film in Russia, but the Russian delegation to the United Nations would not allow them to shoot in the U.N. Security Council. There's no word yet on whether this will be a musical performance from Pussy Riot, or who might play Putin. 

    Photo by cea/Flickr (CC By 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    As the stars of digital continue to spread their wings into broadermedia, three of YouTube's biggest names are releasing new projects this week that will hopefully jump them from the laptop screen to the mainstream.

    Today, Aug. 12, serves as the release date for two digital stars' new projects. My Drunk Kitchen's Hannah Hart expands her YouTube brand to the bookshelf with the release of My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going With Your Gut. The book pairs the simplistic recipes featured on her channel with her useful life advice. Hart will kick off a trek around the country that's part book tour, part live performance with cohorts Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig

    Meanwhile, George Watsky—who rose to fame in the digital space, racking up millions of views for his raps and spoken word slam poetry on YouTube—drops his newest album, All You Can Do, today. He's already appeared on late-night television and daytime talk shows, and he too will embark on a worldwide tour to support the new album.

    The week will end with another major musical release, courtesy of 19-year-old YouTuber Troye Sivan and his first album, TRXYE, which hits shelves Aug. 15. His first single, "Happy Little Pill," has climbed the Billboard Twitter charts and generated massive buzz among this fans. Sivan seems to be taking the most relaxed route to release, with no major tours or events revealed in the near future. However, he did release the music video for "Happy Little Pill" in advance of the big album release.

    It remains to be seen if these YouTubers can break through to mass awareness with these new projects, but they're all definitiely poised for extended success.

    Screengrabs via My HartoWatsky, and Troye Sivan | Remix by Jason Reed


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    Fans of Veronica Mars are already excited about a return to the world of Neptune with Rob Thomas's new CW Seed spin-off webseries. Now they have more to celebrate as Kristen Bell and a slew of other Mars alumni have signed on to appear in the series

    Play It Again, Dick, will focus on Ryan Hansen, who appeared in both Veronica Mars and Thomas's Party Down. He'll attempt to reignite his career by crafting a spinoff of the CW series. Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring will play fictionalized versions of themselves in the series, among a laundry list of other Veronica Mars stars. The series already got a second life as a famously fast-funded Kickstarter film project released this year, in which Hansen appeared as Dick Casablancas, perpetual thorn in Veronica's side.

    The new CW project will premiere Sept. 15. Instead of opting for the binge-watch style, Thomas will release the eight- to 10-minute episodes on a weekly basis. 

    H/T BuzzFeed | Screengrab via Veronica Mars (2014)/YouTube


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    Babies are the new music critics: They love Nine Inch Nails, they hate Frozen. They already know about 2 Chainz.

    In this clip, a wonderfully plump baby bursts into tears and gives us her best raptor scream, signaling cranky time. But then a phone magically appears in front of her. It starts playing 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different,” and her mood shifts.

    This baby and Katy Perry baby seem like soulmates.

    H/T Viral Viral Videos | Photo via Tricia/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Arguably the best thing to come out of The Sing-Off (besides Nick Lachey's career revival) combines with arguably the best song of the summer. What's not to love?

    A cappella gamechangers Pentatonix tackle Ariana Grande's "Problem" in their latest video. The quintet rose to fame on The Sing-Off, NBC's a cappella competition show, in 2011. They've since gone on to release three albums that are a mix of covers and original music. Their take on Grande's hit problem, which spent 13 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, will be featured on the group's upcoming album, PTX, Vol. III, due Sept. 23. Until then, it gets a glossy video treatment.

    Three years later, and it's still hard to believe they're making all that music just with their mouths.

    Screengrab via Pentatonix/YouTube


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    The new webseries SanFranLand is like every sitcom you’ve ever seen. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but does anyone want to watch a watered-down Sex and the City when there is so much else competing for your specific tastes?

    Independent webseries can be roughly divided into four categories. There are those featuring celebrities that live or die on their stars' appeal. There are gay webseries (of which there are thousands), and there are those that target certain subgroups or narrow interests that aren’t traditionally serviced by the mainstream channels.

    Then there are those that ape formats from television; that is where SanFranLand lies. 

    It is straining to be broadcast. Its 12 episodes are short, but it is structured like a romantic sitcom. Its characters are the archetypes refined by decades of studios’ market research: the ditz, the solid one, the man-eater.

    Even the boiled-down synopsis—“following three single young women as they enter modern San Franciscan adulthood”—is, bar the city, interchangeable with any number of programs.

    But in its attempt to be like the things that are most popular on our television screens, it fights a futile battle. Webseries of the first three categories can succeed because, in their own way, they are niche. They exist out of necessity, filling voids created by time and financial constraints of larger producers.

    But whereas those programs are essentially alone in their field, SanFranLand sets itself alongside its influences in a competition it can never win. There’s no reason why a webseries of this type cannot be good, but when you consider the talent and money involved further up the sitcom food chain, it would be miraculous if a webseries targeted at the mainstream like this could surmount its handicap and be recommended over its better-funded kin.

    That’s not to suggest that SanFranLand is bad. It surely isn’t—it’s just that it is difficult to warm to something that’s being done better elsewhere. It’s pleasant enough; there are some nice set pieces, and San Francisco is a beautiful backdrop. Making a series such as this is a large undertaking, and I would hate to diminish creator/producer Ryan Lynch’s achievement in getting this out there, but within a few minutes, you’re either going to be wanting to fire up TiVo, clicking over to videos of drain fishing or watching something by a true oddball—after all, that's where the Net's strength currently lies.

    Screengrab via SanFranLand/YouTube


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    You can’t just win the seat for host of The Tonight Show. You have to maintain it.

    Back in his Late Night days, Jimmy Fallon would often put on full-on parodies of shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Downton Abbey. Fallon is bringing the tradition back, foregoing the usual games by tackling the seedy politics and underbelly of late-night in a House of Cards parody complete with dramatic shots of 30 Rock.

    Perfectly tackling the southern drawl of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood, Fallon navigates through the various tasks of running a late-night TV show. But none of the gimmicks, from from speaking directly into the camera to his rib habit and low-talking colleague, work out as well for him.

    With Ellen Barkin stepping in as Claire and a mysterious someone not happy about the new Tonight Show—a scene that echoes a key moment from season two of House of Cards—all might not be well for the new man in charge.

    Photo via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    BY BETH ELDERKIN

    When Adriene Mishler made her first yoga video for YouTube, the mantra of the day was “find what feels good.” Two years later, that mantra has become the center of Yoga With Adriene, a thriving business with a global online community, premium content, and, of course, free YouTube videos generating thousands of hits online.

    “If you had asked me two years ago if I would ever have an online yoga community or a YouTube channel on yoga, I probably would have giggled,” Mishler told the Daily Dot. “I am still so blown away by the impact and connection that is possible through the YouTube platform.”

    Mishler is part of a growing number of yoga teachers going “Namas-digital.” Instead of taking the traditional route of teaching at the YMCA or opening a studio and hoping for the best, they’re hosting YouTube channels with free content. Just search the word “yoga,” and you’ll find a huge list of videos from Mishler, Tara Stiles, YogaYak, and others. It’s yoga for a digital generation, where you can “find what feels good” on your own terms.

    “My goal is to help people feel better, become clear, confident, healthy and radiant, so they can go out into the world and affect positive change,” Stiles wrote on her blog. “Is yoga a good tool, absolutely. Am I an agent for expanding traditional yoga, whatever that means in 2014, absolutely not.”

    According to Yoga With Adriene student Alexandra Paredes, doing yoga videos from YouTube is better than just buying a DVD. The teachers put out fresh content on a regular basis; invite comments, questions, and suggestions; and give their students a better connection to their teachers, even from thousands of miles away. 

    “She tells you how it feels and how to do it. You’re not left blind, so I feel like I can do it at home,” Paredes said in an interview. 

    Mishler said teaching yoga through a laptop rather than in a classroom can be unusual, but the basic principles are the same. She and producer Christopher Sharpe try to create a comfortable environment with a mat, some sunlight, and just one or two camera angles, rather than something big and flashy with quick cuts and expensive lighting. She said it’s important to make sure the person at home feels like they’re a part of the experience, rather than just watching something from a distance. 

    “We both agreed that it was important to keep the videos simple and homemade, and to consider what the person on the other end is experiencing—on the mat and not just at the computer,” Mishler said. 

    “My goal is for the production to be invisible,” Sharpe added. 

    Still, there are challenges to practicing YouTube yoga, although Mishler calls them “differences” instead of difficulties. She said doing yoga at home is convenient, but that “there is nothing like practicing with other living [people].” Even Paredes said she sometimes has a hard time making sure she’s holding a pose the right way, although she added that there’s really no “wrong” way to do yoga.

    “Sometimes I feel like I don’t know if I’m doing it right,” Paredes said. “[But] I feel it in my muscles, and if it feels like it hurts or it feels like that’s not right, then I kind of fix from there.” 

    What Paredes said she loves most about YouTube yoga is the online community that comes with it. Yoga teachers like Mishler and Stiles have created large global groups through their websites and Facebook groups. Paredes said the online community is what makes YouTube yoga such a valuable experience for her. She said even though many of them have never met before, and probably never will, everyone participating is there to support one another. She said it’s become a close-knit group of people sharing in the same experience of learning yoga online. 

    “It’s inspirational, because I’ve had times where I beat myself up or I don’t think I’m actually doing good or seeing progress. But it’s so nice to hear that other people feel the same at times,” Paredes said. “Seeing everyone’s progress is beautiful. It’s beautiful to be a part of everybody’s life. I’ve gotten so many new friends, and I’ve joined a family.” 

    Even though the videos are free, both Mishler and Stiles have created lucrative businesses with side projects. Each has introduced her own brand of yoga videos that can be bought and taken offline. Stiles has Strala yoga with its own studio in New York City, while Mishler has released two month-long yoga video series: Reboot is available to the public, while Empower is still in limited release.

    “Ultimately, they are my version of ‘yoga bootcamp,’ which is a huge request from our viewers,” Mishler said. “People want to be held accountable; they want to go deeper.” 

    Mishler said she and Sharpe plan to continue releasing yoga videos on YouTube, but that they’re expanding with more premium content and tours to cities like Los Angeles and New York, where groups who met online through Yoga With Adriene have started meeting in person as well. She said YouTube has helped her and other yoga teachers reach an audience they never could before, and that’s turned a personal experience into an international one. 

    “In addition to YouTube allowing us to grow the family around the globe, it also is allowing us to actually provide free yoga to all,” Mishler said. “I think that creating and cultivating a home practice is all about self love and can truly be empowering. … Through the community and lifestyle aspect of the channel, I hope that we are able to connect globally and inspire one another to get on the mat.” 

    Screengrab via Yoga With Adriene/YouTube


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    BY RYAN BASSIL

    The world of independent music used to have heroes; people like Kimya Dawson, R Stevie Moore, and Albert Hammond JR who wore button badges for obscure political causes on their corduroy jackets, grew their hair long, and released records that sounded like they were recorded under the ocean.

    In recent years, though, the idea of an indie hero has been sidelined; it’s cooler to be sponsored by a drinks company than it is to self-release an eighteen track cassette tape with hand-drawn artwork and a secret track where you perform a mumblecore reenactment of your favourite sketch from The Tracey Ullman show. But, and this is the important thing to remember in the world of independent music, not being cool is being cool. 

    This photo is one reason why permanently baby-faced actor, Michael Cera, is poised to become this generation’s next indie hero. But the other reason is because he’s released an eighteen track album; most of which involves the sort of incoherent sounds and reverb that pushed Adam Green inexplicably into the hearts of girls that carry tote bags.

    The album appeared online today and could potentially launch Michael Cera into relevance in a way not seen he was photoshopped into a tatted-up bro by Hipster Runoff.

    I would recommend listening to the album above but a lot of it is mostly him banging around on a piano, pressing keys, sounding like something George Michael Bluth and Gob attempted to create as a soundtrack for Gob's magic show.

    Read the full story on Noisey.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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