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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    As even the most casual Game of Thrones fan will tell you, there is a whole host of things of which Jon Snow knows nothing: love, the dangers that lie north of the the wall, how to avoid getting arrowed up by an aggrieved ex-lover, etc.

    However, up until this point, the most egregious gap in the knowledge of Ned Stark’s bastard son is the simple joy of button mashing his way through an old-school side-scrolling platformer. Lucky for him (well, probably not because he’s technically, you know, fictional), Spanish game designer Abel Alves, who is currently based out of Uruguay, has created Game of Thrones: The 8 Bit Game and made it available as a free download.

    The game lets players take multiple characters—such as Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Davos Seaworth, and fan favorite Tyrion Lannister—through the ever-dangerous world of Westeros, stomping baddies using swords, sorcery, and the occasional dire wolf attack all to a gloriously 8-bit soundtrack featuring the instantly iconic theme song to the hit HBO series by chiptune cover artist Floating Point. 

    “I’ve tried to make some video games before, but I was not very happy with the result,” explained Alves, who is responsible for the Spanish language comics like Zombess: Teenage Psycho Killer, to Wired in an email. “This time, I spent more time and effort thinking about reaching a larger public. I knew I had to use a franchise that is known, and Game of Thrones has a universe very easily adaptable to a platform game: Mythical creatures, great heroes, terrible battles. So the decision was easy.”

    While this isn’t the first video game based on George R. R. Martin’s epic series of fantasy novels, it may actually be the most enjoyable to play. “The console game was rubbish, the browser-based social strategy game lacks action,” wrote video gaming blog Kotaku in a post that labeled Alves’s fan-created addition to GoT’s interactive canon as “the best Game of Thrones video game so far.”

    Check out the game’s trailer:

    H/T CNet | Screengrab via Abel Alvarez Rejo/YouTube


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    Bill Nye the Science Guy emerged as an early fan favorite when the cast for the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars was announced, and he cemented that title with his very first dance.

    He embraced the campiness associated with the show and performed the cha-cha to a rather fitting "Weird Science" with an elaborate chemistry lab set up on stage. It wasn’t the smoothest performance of the night, but it was weirdly wonderful to watch.

    Although judge Carrie Ann Inaba called Nye "the heart of the show," she and the other judges weren't as impressed with his performance with professional dancer Tyne Stecklein and gave them the lowest score of the night.

    Maybe Nye and Stecklein just need to work on their... well, chemistry. As Nye told his partner at the beginning of the episode, “It looks like the successful couples have that—I mean, frankly, it’s sexual tension. From an evolutionary standpoint.” 

    Despite his early stumble with the judges, Nye scored big with the audience, who welcomed him with the familiar Science Guy chant of “Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!”  The hivemind at Reddit's r/videos predicts that Nye will get through week after week with the fan vote, and the ultimate narrative will be determined by how far he gets on the show.

    The first elimination doesn't happen until next week, but when you start at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

    Photo via TheVocalVault/YouTube


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    George Takei is already taking over the Internet one social network at a time, but now he's finally made a venture into the next frontier: YouTube.

    His newest project, Takei's Take, debuted earlier Tuesday, and the biweekly webseries shows Takei demonstrating modern technology so that older Internet users will be able to understand it with the hopes that they would embrace it over 12 episodes.

    Takei promised that the show would appeal to all audiences, from original Star Trek fans to their children and grandchildren, and cites his technophobic sister as someone who would benefit from the series.

    The first episode looks at Google Glass, and it's a mix of simple explanations and the standard Takei humor that we've come to know and love. He brings in tech vlogger Lamarr Wilson to give more insight at how the technology can be used in groundbreaking ways, but they manage to keep the conversation light-hearted.

    And what sort of show would it be if Takei didn't get in one of his signature “Oh my”s and a jab at Star Trek costar William Shatner?

    H/T Tubefilter | Photo via TakeisTake/YouTube


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    A brilliant genius has strapped a GoPro camera to the back of an eagle and posted the video to YouTube.

    The resulting vid by YouTube channel Srachi is strangely soothing. It shows an eagle soaring above a beautiful nature scene and basically makes you feel like you’re flying.

    This video is either an awesome look at a point of view most of us will never have, or a depressing realization that none of us are as cool as eagles. Basically we will never see the majestic Earth from the soaring view of a majestic beast. But this comes pretty close.

    There’s some debate on Reddit about whether a GoPro was actually used, rather than a specialty bird-strapping camera like the ones used in these BBC videos from 2009.

    Many people commenting on Reddit is also lamenting humans' lack of ability to simply rise up from the ground and fly without technology. Maybe one day we will all be eagles.

    UPDATE: We were too quick to take credit for this awesome video on behalf of America. Although the U.S.A.'s eagle credentials are unimpeachable, this video was actually filimed in the Chamonix Valley at Mer De Glace, France's largest glacier.

    H/T Reddit / Photo via YouTube


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    Those of you perennially bored or outright revolted by the musical acts the NFL drags onto the field for the Super Bowl halftime show, that annual low point of pop culture, may want to take note: A Change.org petition to get legendary tongue-in-cheek metal band GWAR on the bill for 2015’s game has amassed more than 21,000 signatures so far—and it's gaining momentum.

    The author of the petition, one Budha Mann, makes a compelling case for the nearly 40-year-old group (which has, admittedly, gone through a few lineup changes while retaining a similar cast of “characters”) to headline the show. After shrugging off the choice of dance-pop idol Bruno Mars for 2014, he wrote:

    We don't want another year of sitting around talking through a muted, boring NFL Super Bowl halftime show. We want something different. We want a real spectacle that only GWAR can provide. Doesn't the NFL want more viewers? Don't advertisers want more people paying attention? This way everyone wins.

    Plus, GWAR's relationship with American football is one of the strongest in music. Front man Dave Brockie writes a football column for MetalSucks.com called "Necessary Roughness" even the "The Dan Patrick Show" has an Oderous mask on display. It's been suggested by Sports Illustrated that GWAR should become mascots!

    NFL must listen to the people. GWAR is more American than apple pie.

    Fans lending their name to the cause also noted the reasons for such activism: “GWAR's wardrobe, while unconventional, is thoroughly battle-tested, and therefore unlikely to malfunction onstage,” wrote one, alluding to the band’s highly theatrical costuming. “GWAR has 30 years of showmanship behind them,” wrote another. “They are clearly not a fad, a flash in the pan, or a fluke. They're a tried and true part of americana, with close ties to the football community. Give GWAR a chance.”

    For at least one person, the choice was a bit more personal:

    Ever since I was a small child, my father would listen to Gwar while watching football. It always amazed me how a band, with immense ties into American culture, has never played during the Superbowl Halftime show! Sadly, my father passed away during The Who's halftime show performance, citing their atrocious performance. It was his dying wish that I take a hand in getting Gwar to the Superbowl!

    As well as the petition, there’s also a Facebook page to throw your support behind, and on Twitter the official hashtag #GWARBowl is getting a workout as users imagine what sort of a spectacle the veteran shredders would deliver.

    Really, there’s only one criticism we can think to level at this idea: with a halftime show like this, who needs the football part?

    H/T: @eliotvb | Photo by Alex DiVincenzo


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    Once upon a time, clicking on Emma Watson was a surefire way to download a trendy celebrity virus. As often happens in Hollywood, though, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out. Now a new actress has landed the top spot for most malicious Web search.

    According to McAfee’s 2013 “most dangerous celebrity “ list, Lily Collins is now the most dangerous celebrity to search on the Web. Collins is the daughter of musician Phil, and stars in the recently released film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The McAfee survey warns that a search for “pictures and downloads” of Collins increases your risk of “landing on a page that tested positive for spam, adware, spyware, viruses, or other malware” by 14.5%.

    The rest of the top 10 list features exclusively women, with the exception of Jon Hamm, who comes in at number eight. Sandra Bullock, strangely enough, is number three. Avril Lavigne remains relevant at number two. It's interesting Collins and Watson, who've both starred in films with strong fandoms, hit number one. In 2011, Heidi Klum was the most virus-ridden.

    Why is this list so female-heavy? Well, these malicious sites often include words like “nude” and “photos.” One of McAfee’s top tips for staying safe online: “Be wary of links to free content or too-good-to-be-true offers.” McAfee also warns cybercriminals are keeping track of celebrity  trends like the rest of America. Cybercriminals: They're just like us.

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr


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    Last year’s League of Legends World Championships posted world record numbers, including an incredible audience of 8.2 million and 1.1 million simultaneous viewers. That’s the kind of attention most television shows would kill for.

    There’s no reason to believe this year’s event won’t break eSports records once again—and yet almost no one in the mainstream media is writing about it.

    The League of Legends Season 3 World Championships kicked off this week. The grand finals will take place in a sold-out Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, where the winning team will walk off with an impressive $1 million prize.

    Fourteen top teams from around the world have descended on L.A. to compete for $2 million in total prizes. The competition's opening day attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers. 

    “The #Worlds hashtag trended third in the United States above NFL games at certain times,” reported Gamespot’s Rod Breslau, and Reddit’s League of Legends community was the site's most active.

    The Koreans in SK Telecom T1 and the Chinese in OMG are leading a powerhouse Group A in the standings. Two big European teams, Fnatic and Gambit Gaming, are currently sitting atop Group B. The two top teams from each group will advance to the brackets, where they’ll face the four teams who have earned a bye straight to the final stage of the championships.

    This year’s championship event is getting a lot of praise from viewers for the increased role of post-game analysis. The analyst’s desk has given players of all levels great insight into a game with potentially intimidating depth.

    Riot Games, League of Legends’ publisher, has said that the championship series is not profitable.

    “Riot won’t divulge exactly how much money it is putting into the LCS, but the total prize pool for Season 3 amounts to $8 million alone,” reported VentureBeat. “That’s before the cost of booking a venue, paying a production staff, and logistics.”

    However, given the intense interest it generates and the massive audience it reaches, the championship series is the perfect loss leader: Riot spends a few million to create an unparalleled eSports experience and reaps the rewards for the rest of the year in the form of millions of players who cannot get enough.

    Photo via Riot Games


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    After all the receipts are tallied, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V  will go down in history as the most financially success video game in history.

    In its first day of release alone, the game netted $800 million in sales, destroying the "one-day retail sales record set by Activision Blizzard Inc., whose 'Call of Duty: Black Ops II' brought in $500 million in its first 24 hours of release," the Los Angeles Times reported.

    This impressive record would not have been accomplished without the army of fanatical gamers who, for the past five years, have obsessed over the game map, a mysterious shed, and the bikini model who graced all the game's advertising.

    Since its release Tuesday, GTA V has been a worldwide trending topic on Twitter and inspired countless pieces of fan art, but the most impressive tribute is an 8-bit trailer produced by the Majami Hiroz show for Machinima Respawn. The Majami Hiroz YouTube channel specializes in remixing "'80s movies like Scarface, '80s TV series like Miami ViceGTA: Vice City, '80s music, '80s video games and all things retro (not necessarily in this order and not necessarily all of them)."

    The trailer has already been viewed 95,000 times. Not bad, considering that its target audience is GTA V players, who would actually have to quit the game for a few minutes to watch a video on YouTube.

    Screengrab via YouTube


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    Forget about Tom Hanks’s overplayed giant piano scene from Big—Canada is where real novelty instrumentation is thriving today. Case in point: a video of “Le piano vivant,” or “Living Piano,” an interactive public installation engineered by TFO (the French-language public cultural and educational television network of Ontario) and marketing agency Lowe Roche.

    Also called “The Living Opera Organ,” the giant instrument is a foot-operated keyboard with twelve keys. But stepping on these keys doesn’t produce the usual tones—instead, a different opera singer is assigned to each pitch, belting it out when the tune calls upon them.

    Delighted observers and even some dogs all seem to have a blast on this nifty, crowd-pleasing device, and the singers are admirably stoic as cogs in a larger, if human, machine. The conductor also plays a recognizable aria from the opera Carmen and instructs other participants in creating vocal harmonies.

    TFO, which is “the only public television station in Ontario that features opera as a part of their weekly programming” brought the project about in collaboration with the Festival d’Opéra de Québec in order to introduce the not-exceedingly-popular art form to people who might otherwise not experience it. But those kids are bound to be disappointed when they find out that, in the actual show, they’re not a part of the orchestra, and stomping is generally discouraged.

    Photo by Marcio Mesquita/Flickr


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    The discrimination is indiscriminate: Female gamers, comic book fans, and women passionate about any aspect in geek culture have all likely faced criticism as “fake geek girls” at some point or struggled against the misogyny that’s all too common in geek circles these days. 

    Now a group of women are taking a humourous look at the fake geek girl phenomenon with a new webseries aptly called “Fake Geek Girls.” The series follows two female best friends, a video game designer named Jessa and a booth babe named Kat, through their geeky adventures.

    Created by writer and producer Sara Clarke, the first episode is available to watch on YouTube and does a fairly good job of taking a funny look at how these two girls are trying to make it in the geek world as guys question their credibility. In the first 20 seconds, the characters are already relatable as we see Jessa playing a video game and complaining to Kat that the guy at GameStop asked her if the game was for her boyfriend when she bought it. What female gamer hasn’t been in that situation? 

    A Kickstarter campaign is asking for funding to make six more episodes in the series. The campaign has already hit its $10,000 goal and is looking to reach stretch goals that will let them make more complex episodes, like an entire show with the cast in cosplay. The campaign ends Sept. 20.

    Screenshot via fakegeekgirlsshow/YouTube


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    The Lannisters are a long way from Westeros, but they're already fitting right in on Sesame Street.

    Game of Thrones stars Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage stopped by Sesame Street this week, and while they don't play the most child-friendly characters on their hit show, they were nothing but giddy and charming. There was no backstabbing, no pushing children or Muppets from tall buildings.

    Headey first appeared on the show's regular "What's the Word on the Street?" segment with Murray Monster, who’s unable to relax in front of the actress, probably because he just finished season 3 of the HBO series. Luckily for him, “relax” is today's word. Headey is more than happy to help him through it, and her relaxation method doesn’t involve slurping down wine.

    On the other hand, Dinklage puts his acting chops to work with a group of the cast. With this kind of charisma, who needs petty Westerosi politics?

    H/T The Mary Sue | Photo via SesameStreet/YouTube


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    By ABRAHAM RIESMAN

    There’s nothing metaphorical about the title of the Disney Channel series Dog With a Blog. It’s literally about a dog with a blog, it’s fantastic, and its second season debuts tonight at 8:30pm ET.

    See, there’s this dog named Stan, and due to an experiment gone awry, he has the ability to talk. He gets adopted by this family in Pasadena, and he starts writing a blog (“See Stan Blog”; URL never disclosed) at night. The kids (and their grandma, due a series of hijinks) know he can talk, but it’s never established whether they know he can blog.


     

    Anyway, the show’s really fun! You should watch it! It has lots of positive female role models (of course, the male characters are dumb and lazy, like most shows about non-dogs) and also features the chronically overlooked Beth Littleford (she was one of the original Daily Show correspondents) as the family matriarch.

    At the end of every episode, Stan hits his readers (whoever they are) with some truth about life, love, and learning. I made this supercut of his most emotional blogging moments because, at the end of the day, aren’t we all just dogs with blogs?

     

    Abraham Riesman is a multimedia journalist living in New York City. You can see more of his work at abrahamriesman.com.

    Screengrab via Vimeo | GIF by Fernando Alfonso III


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    By KRIS HOLT

    On this Sunday's Breaking Bad, we flashed back to Walter and Jesse's very first crystal meth cook in the middle of the desert. Cautious of his clothes smelling like chemicals and alerting his wife, Walter stripped to his underpants.

    Now you can have the privilege of owning said tighty whiteys.

    New auction site Screenbid is selling around 250 props from the AMC drama, where fans can grab everything from cars to bells. It's the site's first offering, and its founders hope Screenbid will help movie and TV studios offload props systematically and profitably, according to the New York Times. They estimate the Breaking Bad auction will generate more than $2 million.

    Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces Breaking Bad under its TV wing, has undisclosed reserve prices on all the items. The auction won't take place until after the series finale on Sept. 29. Some auction items will only be listed after then, to avoid spoiling the final two episodes.

    One item you definitely will not find in the auction is Walter and Jesse's first meth lab, the RV they rode out to the wilderness. Sony plans to showcase that for its studio lot tour.

    Here are 9 of the best items included in the sale (Warning: spoilers ahead).

     

    Item: Walter White's briefs

    Starting price: $250

    We're not kidding about the future meth king's underwear. The briefs Bryan Cranston sported in the series' pilot episode are currently displayed at the Museum of Moving Images. They'll ship to the lucky winner after the exhibit ends in late October.

    Item: Pink teddy bear

    Starting bid: $1,500

    The stuffed toy, which features in many episodes over the show's entire run, was created especially for Breaking Bad. Sony's offering two of the bears used in the show: one with eyes, one without.

    Item:Walter White's Aztec

    Starting price: $1,000

    One of three Aztec's used in the show, this one was basically a stunt car. It's not in driving condition and as the listing notes, it needs "a whole lot of work." Still, it's a chance to own the car that Walter used to mow down a pair of drug dealers.

     

    Item: Cousin's axe

    Starting price: $150

    Of all the villains on the show, the Salamanca cousins were among the most terrifying. This axe (which actually has a rubber head) was their signature weapon.

     

    Item: Walter's Hazmat suit

    Starting price: $1,500

    As Walter and Jesse's operations grew, so too did the quality of their meth lab attire. Cranston wore this suit in Season 1. You can also grab one used by Aaron Paul, starting at $750.

    Item:Lily of the Valley

    Starting price: $500

    This might be an expensive plant, but it's one that was critical to the plot. Walt used it to poison a small boy in Season 4, to motivate Jesse into helping him take out Gus Fring. This is the artificial plant that appeared in the very last shot of the season.

     

     

    Item: Tio Salamanca's wheelchair

    Starting price: $5,000

    Here's the mangled wheelchair under which Walter placed the bomb that killed Fring. It's a critical prop from the series, used by one of its most compelling characters.

     

    Item: Tio Salamanca's bell

    Starting price: $3,500

    Since Salamanca was mute, he used this bell to communicate. It played a second role later, as it triggered the bomb underneath his chair. The bell is a little charred from the blast, but it still rings clearly.

     

    Item: Inscribed copy ofLeaves of Grass

    Starting price: $3,000

    Walter's ego stopped him from hiding the book that caused his downfall. His former lab partner Gale Boetticher gave Walt Whitman's book as a gift, adding the inscription "to my other favorite W.W." Hank found the tome in Walter's bathroom and finally figured out his brother-in-law was the meth lord he'd sought for so long.

    Photo via Marco Vidal/YouTube


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    After its most highly rated episode, Breaking Bad has not just inspired fan art, watercooler conversations and a spike in pork pie (the hat, of course) sales. It’s also produced a new Twitter spam specifically targeting its fans, according to security firm Symantec.

    Here's how it works: Phony Breaking Bad accounts with names like “Leaked Episode” and “Breaking Bad Fans” add thousands of Twitter users at once to a Twitter "list." That way, their account pops up into your notification tab, including a link to their spammy content.

    This particular brand of Twitter spam isn't new. It took off several months ago when Twitter increased the number of lists each user can have from 20 to 1,000, and the maximum number of accounts in each list from 500 to 5,000.

    Since spam is a game of numbers, this increase has turned Twitter into a much more useful engine for creeps hoping to part you from your money.

    The links within the fake accounts in the Breaking Bad list spam accounts, and in some cases the links in the list descriptions themselves, lead to Pastebin pages with lists of links purporting to be sources from which you can download Breaking Bad episodes ahead of time.

    “In order to open the large file,” behind that link, according to Symantec’s Satnam Narang, “users are instructed to download the latest version of 7-Zip. The link directs users through an affiliate program, which is how scammers make money.”

    Of course the episode is not a “leaked episode.’ It’s an old episode.

    Although no malware has been reported as being downloaded on the machines of people who have clicked these links, it certainly seems like a good delivery strategy. So be careful.

    You can remove yourself from any list to which you were added by reporting the user who added you.  

    H/T Symantec | Photo by Kevin Chin/Flickr

     


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    Todd Alquist, Breaking Bad’s gentle sociopath, knows love. He also knows how to shoot a child in the face—but no, deep down, the Aryan dreamboat is a sucker for the pitter-patter of the heart. (Just ask Lydia!) It helps that the actor who plays him, Friday Night Lights’ Jesse Plemons, is so adroit that in the right YouTube supercut, someone who’s never seen the southwestern meth drama might be convinced that Todd’s the Apatovian nebbish lead in a romantic comedy.

    One redditor on the r/BreakingBad subreddit did the next best thing: snatched corny teen platitudes from the Things Boys Do We LoveTumblr and Photoshopped them over scenes of Todd at his vilest. 

    From the original:


     

    That one sounds a lot like Todd!

    The same sentiment, just with [SPOILER ALERT] Todd dropping his meth-lab prisoner, Jesse Pinkman, some Americone Dream for his hard work:


     

    Or telling his sweetheart about the purity of their product:


    Or dropping in on Skyler:


     

    “Todd is a true gentleman,” wrote buttersugarbun. Another proposed the perfect Tumblr hashtag: #justtoddthings, to complement the deluge of novelty bracelets on the #justgirlthings tag.

    Will Todd get the girl? We'll see in the series finale. He's got all the moves down. And if nothing ever comes of it, he'll always have Lydia's lipstick-stained mug to stare at.

    Screengrab via AMC


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    The rumors are true. Internet curiosity and ex-gay man Antoine Dodson took to his Facebook page this morning to confirm reports that he and his girlfriend (referred to only as “Queen”) are having a baby.

    Five days ago, the Internet meme sensation tweeted that he was expecting a baby with his lady partner, but the announcement was met with a flurry of confusion. Many fans had assumed Dodson was gay. 

    He had been, he now says, but has since chosen to be straight.

    This morning, Dodson posted that he and his future baby’s mother were at a their first doctor’s appointment. “I pray that my child will be healthy and the Most High God bless me with intelligence to be a great man and dad,” he wrote this weekend. Today he wrote, “So we are at the doctors office and sitting in the waiting room full of pregnant people. Uhmmm!!”

    Dodson became famous for an interview he gave the local news after a man broke into his sister’s bedroom in which he implored viewers to “hide your kids, hide your wife.” The clip was shared on YouTube with people equal parts celebrating and mocking Dodson’s unique way of speaking. YouTube songsters the Gregory Brothers then created a parody mashup of Dodson’s words which went viral as “Bed Intruder Song.” The video currently has more than 117 million views.

    Dodson was singled out in the news broadcast because of his flamboyant and entertaining character and personality. At first, Dodson came out as gay and posted more videos of himself doing his friends’ hair and talking to the camera. He also sold merch, cashing in on the meme's ubiquity.

    But in May, Dodson took to the Internet again to say he’d renounced his former homosexual lifestyle and was now a religious Hebrew Israelite and a straight man who wanted a wife and family.

    On Facebook, he wrote about his Most High, “He showed me that I could overcome homosexuality when I thought it was impossible. He taught me to lean on him rather then leaning on gods my ancestors didn't know. He showed me that he brought my ancestors out of the house of bondage as he could do for me. He allowed me to accomplish things to understand his power and removed all the people in my life that was tainting the image of holiness.”

    Dodson’s girlfriend remains a mystery, but probably not for long, as he’ll likely want to show off the family his Most High has provided him.

    H/T Facebook / Photo via Facebook


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    There's an old adage that goes like this: When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. For the alternately infamous and monumental transparency group WikiLeaks and its alternately charismatic and controversial founder, Julian Assange, its hammer is right there in the organization's name.

    So, when the group came out against The Fifth Estate, a major Hollywood movie about WikiLeaks’ recent exploits, the next move was probably pretty obvious—leak the script.

    In a memo accompanying the script's release that listed a point-by-point analysis of where the movie's plot supposedly diverged from reality, WikiLeaks called the film "irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful."

    The memo went on to charge that the movie was made with a specific anti-WikiLeaks agenda to portray Assange as an "antisocial megalomaniac" and falsely implied that WikiLeaks' disclosures harmed over 2,000 United States government informants.

    "There are very high stakes involved in how WikiLeaks is perceived. This film does not occur in a historical vacuum, but appears in the context of ongoing efforts to bring a criminal prosecution [emphasis in original] against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for exposing the activities of the Pentagon and the US State Department," wrote the group. "People should not in any way treat this film as an historical account of WikiLeaks, its activities or its personnel. Hopefully, they will be inspired to approach the topic with an open mind, and to support WikiLeaks."

    While the film's director, Academy Award–winning filmmaker Bill Condon, said that the version of the script released to the public was an early draft bearing “little resemblance to the movie we made," WikiLeaks insists that it is actually a late-stage version nearly identical to one shown that the film's premiere earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

    Assange, who has been cloistered inside of Ecuador's London embassy for over a year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, has long been critical of the film, describing it as a "massive propaganda attack" during a videochat with students from Oxford University in January.

    Sherlock Holmes actor (and otter look-alike) Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in the film, told Entertainment Weekly that he half expects WikiLeaks to come after him for his role.

    "I'm not a bank with offshore accounts in the Canaries, I don’t fiddle my taxes, I'm not wanted for war crimes," said Cumberbatch. "If he goes after me, it's going to be a waste of his extraordinary talent. But if he does, I kind of respect that because he needs to be able to answer back."

    Cumbertach has said he attempted to reach out to Assange during his preparation for the character but was rebuffed.

    Interestingly, according to the leaked script, WikiLeaks' reaction to the film is actually predicted in the film itself. In the script's very last section of dialogue, Assange says, "The WikiLeaks movie? … Full of lies and distortion, like all bad propaganda. The WikiLeaks movie? More like the anti-WikiLeaks movie. You want to know the truth? No one is going to tell you the whole truth. They'll only tell you their version. You want the truth, you have to seek it out for yourself."

    Check out this trailer for the film, which is being released in the United States on Oct. 18:

    Screencap via The Fifth Estate/Facebook


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    Music icon Cher has a signature voice, and also a signature way of typing on Twitter.

    She uses a lot of ellipses, misplaced commas, and incorrect capitalization. But so what? She’s an artist. She can tweet however she wants.

    The only problem is it’s hard for her fans to read her pearls of wisdom on Twitter. Until now. This Tumblr “Speak Cher” translates every day English into perfect Cher-speak.

    Just type in any sentence and the Tumblr will write it out in Cher’s native tongue -- Cher.

    The site was created by Rob H. Dawson, who was last seen on Twitter geeking out that the Cher Speaks Tumblr was tweeted by Marie Claire and Elle fashion editor Nina Garcia.

    To get an idea of what Cher's Twitter is like, here’s that sentence above translated into Cher:

    “the site was Created by rob h ! dawson .., who was last seen on , Twttr geeking out that the tumblr was twt'd by marei claire 'n elle fashion editor nina Garcia .”

    So accurate, and so illegible, that I believe in Cher Speaks after love.

    H/T Tumblr | Screengrab via Speak Cher


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    A whistleblower who promised to release information on a sprawling government conspiracy to control the population through hip-hop music has been revealed as an actor in a viral marketing campaign to promote a new rap video.

    The campaign began on 4chan's paranormal imageboard /x/ early last week when former Department of Defense operative Robert Connors posted a shoddy YouTube of him explaining “Operation Sedgwick,” the alleged hip-hop mind control initiative. At the end of the video, the image cuts to black as an alleged recording of Michael Jackson's final phone call before his death plays.

    "The majority of shit on /x/ is bullshit, at least this has some basis in reality," one anonymous /x/ user wrote last week. "I'm not going to just choose ignorance for no reason when all I have to do is watch this story."

    Connors also promised to release more information today. At about 1pm, he made good on his word (it gets good at 00:35):

     

     

    As it turns out, “Connors” is an actor named Shane Schultz, promoting a video called "WHO KILLED HIP HOP" for Prince EA, a St. Louis-based rapper.

    The fake government conspiracy was perfect bait for /x/, an imageboard whose members obsessively investigate the strange and the paranormal.

    Sometimes their investigations pan out, as in the case of Pronunciation Book, a three year old YouTube channel that suddenly went off the rails 2 and half months ago. The channel has released one new video a day counting down to a big reveal to occur Tuesday, and /x/philes were the first to spot it.

    But they can’t all be home runs. Perhaps because of the similarities between “Operation Sedgwick” and actual government programs like COINTELPRO, or perhaps because they wanted to believe, many on /x/ bought into it.

    "Hahahahahahahaha!," one /x/ user wrote today. "Fucking /x/. You chumps."

    Screenshot via YouTube


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    Since July 9, YouTube’s Pronunciation Book channel has been locked in a mysterious 77-day countdown that’s captured the Internet’s imagination with endless conspiracy theories and wild speculation. Now, with mere hours left on the clock, there’s reason to believe that the countdown will end with neither a bang nor a whimper.

    According to the New Yorker,  the countdown is leading to a performance art installation at the at the Fitzroy Gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that will coincide with the launch of a new project called Bear Stearns Bravo.

    As suspected by the sleuths at 4chan, Pronunciation Book is the work of New York artists Thomas Bender and Jacob Bakkila, the duo behind a 2008 alternative reality game (ARG) called This Is My Milwaukee and the art collective Synydyne. According to the New Yorker and in contrast to Gawker’s investigative report from 2012,  the two are also responsible for the beloved Twitter spam account @Horse_ebooks. (The account was reportedly purchased in September 2011.)

    Since 2010, the Pronunciation Book has regularly posted tutorial videos that instruct non-English speakers how to say certain words or manage difficult interactions in English, like “How to State an Unpleasant Fact” and “How to Politely End a Business Meeting.” It’s clocked more than 700 videos and 27,000 subscribers, even inspiring an unrelated parody account, Pronunciation Manual, which landed on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in early 2012.

    But in July, Pronunciation Book took a sudden, sharp change in direction. It started posting one creepy, cryptic video a day, counting down from “77.” After a series of seemingly random sentences, each one ominously concludes, “Something is going to happen in X days.” Some people thought it was counting down to a terrorist attack or spy communications. Others suspected viral marketing. We suggested that it’s leading to a Battlestar Galactica reboot.

    In the 111-page Google Doc compiled by members of 4chan, Pronunciation Book obsessives speculated about the involvement of Bender, an employee at N.Y.C.-based Synydyne, which describes itself as “a content group.” The group’s responsible for a documentary called Hoopeston, about a Wiccan school in Illinois that Bender and Bakkila promoted in this interview from 2010. They also created “This Is My Milwaukee,” a 10-minute-long promotional video for the alternative-universe city of Milwaukee, plagued by a corporation called Blackstar and a monster called Go.D.S.P.E.E.D. That video led to the elaborate alternate reality game of the same name. (An ARG is an interactive narrative that uses elements of the real world as a platform to deliver a story using social media, real-life characters, participants’ ideas, puzzles, and more.)

    Pronunciation Book was Synydyne’s next move. The channel launched on YouTube on April 14, 2010. The next day, PronunciationBook.com was registered by a “Thomas Bender.” 4chan discovered that the following websites were also registered to Bender’s email address, franzpoekler@gmail.com:

    “Looking up Franz Poekler, we arrived at a Youtube channel, created on May 27th, 2008: https://www.youtube.com/user/franzpoekler,” the doc states. “His Youtube activity is filled with only four interactions, two of which are likes of Pronunciation Book’s videos. This channel is also subscribed to the Pronunciation Book channel.”

    Franz Pokler is the name of a German rocket engineer in Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow and an apparent alias for Bender. Bender’s partner, Bakkila, is a Brooklyn-based artist and the creative director for BuzzFeed. I recognized most of the actors in the This Is My Milwaukee as New York City-based sketch comedians, and I was able to confirm Bender and Bakilla’s involvement in it and the subsequent ARG through Henry Zebrowski, another one of the actors in the video.

    It was all starting to add up.

    After finding his number online on July 22, I texted Bakkila that I knew he and Bender were behind Pronunciation Book. Within an hour, he called me. He seemed upset and surprised. He said no other media outlet had figured out they were behind the countdown, and they hadn’t anticipated it happening so quickly—if at all. He confirmed that he and Bender, among unidentified others, started Pronunciation Book in 2010 with intention of selling it to a larger company as viral marketing. Instead, Bakkila said, the two merely sold the countdown concept.

    In the interest of keeping the mystery alive, and in return for an exclusive on the big reveal, we elected to not go public with their identities.   

    Earlier this month, a source close to the project scheduled a meeting to discuss the series’ ending. He said Synydyne originally created Pronunciation Book to be professional enough to get a brand interested, simple enough to require close to zero production time and cost, and straightforward enough to where it’d be easy to slowly develop a cryptic narrative and loyal fanbase.

    Bakkila and Bender, according to the source, wrote a script that scraped Google and YouTube autocomplete for "How Do I Say" and "How Do I Pronounce" and went down the alphabet to find what people were searching for. This allowed them to make videos that would be instantly popular in search results and create a lot of organic traffic.

    After a few months of pitching the project around, the two apparently landed a $40,000 deal to tie the countdown concept to a viral marketing campaign.

    On the phone, however, the source sounded distraught. He cried. He explained that the company backed out, deciding that Pronunciation Book wasn’t getting enough views to merit the release of their trailer. Even worse, the source claimed there was no “kill fee” in the contract, meaning the two will not be reimbursed for their efforts, since the project was cancelled before its completion.

    The change left the duo scrambling to complete their narrative without its intended ending. Frazzled, the source told me they intended to create a short film in one weekend in a desperate attempt to wrap up Pronunciation Book’s story.

    For the past two weeks, the source had refused to name the company that was behind the trailer, not even off the record, saying that Synydyne had signed a nondisclosure agreement. The source sent frantic texts and emails, begging the Daily Dot not to go public with anything we’ve learned. They even sent clips of the short film.

    As the countdown ticked away, my nerves got the better of me. I worried that this was all a series of misdirections, a way of stalling until the big reveal. Or perhaps there was never a larger company to begin with, just a bizarre Internet riddle that spiraled out of control. It was impossible to tell.

    And as the clock inched closer to zero, my source suddenly, after weeks of ongoing dialogue, went silent.

    I’ve waited like everyone else for the big reveal. Then I read about it in the New Yorker

    Here's the latest Pronunciation Book video:

    Update: BuzzFeed Senior Editor Summer Anne Burton confirmed to the Daily Dot that "that literally no one really knew" about Bakkila's side projects. "A few people who know Jacob better than I do have referred to him as a 'notorious old school internet troll" but say they didn't know anything specific," she said. "We're as surprised as everyone else, but completely supportive of people doing cool weird stuff." 

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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