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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Last year, Karen Cheng laid out the 10 ways to go viral by showing the world how she learned to dance in one year. On Tuesday, YouTuber Neiland showed how the same thing’s still possible if you follow Cheng’s exact same instructions.

    The new one’s called “Guy learns to dance in a year (TIME LAPSE),” and it features Neiland learning to dance more effectively through five scenes—each set on a different day within a 365-day period. More than 162,000 people have watched it since its Tuesday posting, including 10,000 in the time in took us to post this article, but it’s likely Neiland knew that was coming. After all, Cheng laid out the recipe last July. Since, her video’s eclipsed 3.8 million views, and she’s found similar successes elsewhere.

    To a T, all the way down to the various acknowledgments of “possible sponsors” in the video’s description area, Neiland follows the 10 commandments of Cheng’s success. He told a story, kept the clip under two minutes, and dropped it on a Tuesday, made sure to get proper video angles and keep the cat in the shot in the first clip. He wrote a viral title—hell, he wrote the same title—then presumably decided to compromise on his beliefs that he’s an original creator. 

    He buried a shoutout to Cheng’s video late in his description’s text, after links to tracks used throughout, mentions of GoPros, taking the time to explain how he hopes “this video inspires you to do the things that you really want to do. The things that make you feel good and happy.”

    The only recommendation Neiland didn’t follow is the one about making it easy for the media to get ahold of him. “I linked to my blog, website, and Twitter from the video,” Cheng wrote. Neiland linked to none. So we won’t be talking to him, and we'll never find out how long he’s actually been able to dance. 

    Photo via Neiland/YouTube


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    A White House petition to get pop star Justin Bieber deported to Canada has collected more than 100,000 digital signatures.

    The We The People petition calls for “the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked” following his arrest Thursday for street racing while under the influence of alcohol.

    “He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth,” the petition states. “We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.”

    Having passed the 100,000 signature threshold, the petition has guaranteed an official response from the Obama administration. One of these signatures was from actor Drake Bell, whose tweet linking to the petition was retweeted more than 1,800 times.

    The question of whether Bieber could be legally deported has dogged the 19-year-old since he was busted on the streets of Miami. 

    Legal experts interviewed by CNN and USA Today say it would be difficult to deport the singer unless he faced stiffer legal penalties.

    IF Bieber were charged with a felony and IF he were to be convicted, then his residency status in the USA could be affected,” USA Today reported. “Foreigners such as Bieber who are legal permanent residents can be deported if convicted of a serious crime, and the list of crimes that qualify has grown in recent years with America's growing exasperation with criminal immigrants. This includes Canadians, too.”

    Following his arrest, a group of 4chan pranksters has tried to convince his impressionable fans to kill themselves (#EndBieber), starve themselves (#StarvingBieber), or get themselves arrested (#Cuffs4Bieber) out of solidarity with the troubled celebrity.

     Photo by s_eckert/Flickr


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    Aside from his own specials and TV series, comedian Louis C.K.’s best-known directorial credit is for the resoundingly odd 2001 cult film Pootie Tang. But three years before that, he brought a debut feature, Tomorrow Night—starring Amy Poehler, Conan O’Brien, and Steve Carell—to Sundance. “Nobody wanted it,” C.K. explained in a Daily Show interview last night. So he stuck it on the shelf.

    Now, of course, C.K. enjoys a bit more mainstream cred and could probably find a distributor in no time—that’s just not his style. At noon today, you’ll be able to buy the 1998 movie through his website for $5, or, if you’re really cheap, download it for free when it pops up on torrent sites a few minutes later. Either way, we’re excited to see what our favorite funny people were up to back when the idea of purchasing or pirating stuff online was in its infancy. (R.I.P., Napster.)

    The black-and-white comedy, shot on 16 mm film, had financing from the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, who was captivated by the story of “a guy who gets sexual gratification from a bowl of ice cream.”

    Still, C.K. had to dig deep to get the thing made: “All the money I had I put into it, and some I didn’t and I did a few illegal things to get it done,” he said. All the parts were written with specific actors in mind, including beloved comics J.B. Smoove, Robert Smigel, Wanda Sykes, and Todd Barry. “Nothing makes much sense,” C.K. warned, “but the performances are great.”

    You can watch a scene in the first of the two clips below: Carell and Smigel, both of whom C.K. worked with on the now-legendary but short-lived Dana Carvey Show, struggle to contain their giggling as they carry out a childish prank phone call. Luckily, you are free to laugh yourself. 


    H/T Salon | Photo by Chris Toms/Flickr      


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    The most-talked about moment of the 2014 Grammys came after the awards, when Macklemore sent a text message to Kendrick Lamar, later displayed on his Instagram, claiming Lamar should have won the award for Best Rap Album. While many thought his social-media-blast-disguised-as-humility was in bad taste, it had some positive effects on Lamar’s Spotify traffic.

    In a recent post on r/hiphopheads, it was pointed out that Lamar’s Spotify traffic increased 99 percent since the Grammys. According to a Spotify press release, Lamar had the biggest jump in traffic of any rap artist on the streaming site.

    Back in December, Spotify revealed that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the most streamed artists of 2013, and they proved correct in predicting three of the Grammy winners: Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Daft Punk. Elsewhere, streams of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” increased 52 percent, and Daft Punk saw a startling 205 percent increase in streams of their songs from Sunday to Monday. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis saw only a 65 percent increase.

    Spotify has proven an innovative tool for using data to predict and assess pop culture trends, and a platform for controversy. After being attacked by musician Thom Yorke, who called Spotify’s business model “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse,” the site revealed in December just how much artists make per song. But it’s telling that controversycourtesy of a major platform like the Grammys  can drive people to discover an artist that might not know as well. It also didn’t hurt that Lamar’s set with Imagine Dragons on Sunday blew every other performance out of the water.

    In an interview today with XXL Mag, Lamar, when asked about the Grammy snub, said of Macklemore: “He went out there and hustled and grinded. Everything happens for a reason; the universe comes back around, that’s how it go.” He added that the Grammys should make more of an effort to spotlight hip-hop and rap:

    “We part of the world. We part of the movement. So I think any awards, including the Grammys, should always push for more hip-hop because it’s music as a whole, it’s not just splitting different regions. Everything moves as far as sound and vibrations, and that’s how it goes. And we are a part of that.”


    Photo via Jonas Ristaniemi/Flickr


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    It was Time’s 2012 book of the year. It went head to head against Harry Potter last year in Entertainment Weekly’s poll for the best Young Adult work of all time.

    The book fans have adored, quoted endlessly, and shed endless tears over is finally GIF-able.

    Acclaimed novelist John Green’s most beloved work, The Fault in Our Stars, is coming to movie theatres in June, and today, fans get a first look at the trailer, in which we meet the main character Hazel (Shailene Woodley)—named after a real-life Harry Potter fan who changed the author’s life—and Gus, the guy who won’t give up on her.

    That‘s all we’ll say about the plot.

    It’s all right—you can go ahead and cry at this one, OK? OK.

    Let the GIFs start rolling in. Go nuts, Tumblr.


     

    Screengrab via YouTube | GIFs by Aja Romano, Cooper Fleishman, and Fernando Alfonso III


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    This Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will face off for the NFL's highest honor in Super Bowl XLVIII. And from team highlights to alternative games to even a full explanation of the game, the Internet has you covered as the big day approaches.

    No cable? No problem

    Obviously, cord cutters who want to watch the game will be at either NFL.com or FoxSports.com, where the entirety of Super Bowl XLVIII will be streamed live. The only catch is that the famous set of Super Bowl commercials will differ from the televised feed.

    Out of sight, but not out of mind

    Despite the wider reach of the Big Game, not everyone will be able to devote a full four hours to watching it. Fortunately, fans can discreetly receive a steady stream of updates and alerts to keep them abreast of the action on the field. If this is you, there are app solutions. If This Then That (IFTTT) is a site that creates app "recipes" to enhance your mobile experience, the ESPN app can send constant updates and alerts to fans who may be stuck at work during the game.

    Cute overload

    If football isn't your thing, you can still spend Super Bowl Sunday enjoying a different—and far more adorable—matchup: the Puppy Bowl! For the 10th year in a row, Animal Planet will be holding the annual Puppy Bowl, which will stream live from New York City.

    If you don't like football or puppies (what’s wrong with you?), there is still hope for Super Bowl Sunday entertainment, believe it or not! Pounce on over to Hallmark.com and check out the first-ever Kitten Bowl! Hosted by activist Beth Stern and announced by New York Yankees announcer John Sterling, the Kitten Bowl will also be streamed live. If you don't like football, puppies, or kittens, then you simply aren't human.

    Wait… what’s football?

    Do football's complicated, ever-changing, and seemingly improvised rules confuse you? Of course they do! Thankfully, Fraser Davidson explains it all in the video "A Guide to American Football." Hilarious animation sequences breathe life into everything from the NFL's organization to the origins of team names… plus about "two hundred pages of regulatory minutiae."

     

    Wait… who’s in the Super Bowl?

    The Seattle Seahawks certainly had an interesting journey from Week 1. Moww Sports' video reel highlights each and every touchdown scored by the team during their regular season games. While the Seahawks' best-known video of the season may be Richard Sherman's famous rant against Michael Crabtree of the 49ers, this touchdown compilation is certainly far more glorious.

     

    In 2013, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw an impressive 55 touchdowns, beating a record of 50 that had previously been held by Tom Brady. Caleb Chase's video captures each and every one of Manning's successful touchdown passes throughout the season...so far.

     

    Location, location, location

    While plenty of Super Bowl talk is focused on the Broncos and the Seahawks, there is also a sizeable amount of discussion about MetLife Stadium, the home of Super Bowl XLVIII. Located at the Meadowlands complex in northern New Jersey just outside New York City, the stadium will be the Big Game's first-ever home in a non-domed, cold-weather city. Earthcam's video provides an interesting time lapse of the stadium's construction from 2007 to 2010.

     

    There you go. Now you’re totally prepared—nay, overprepared—for this weekend. We’ve done all we can, the rest is up to you.


    Photo via Matt McGee/Flickr


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    A site appeared out of nowhere today. Simply titled RHCP 2014, it featured the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dodge Durango, and Pepsi logos and promoted the band’s upcoming Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. A song automatically plays when you click on the site, and at first it sounds like a legit Red Hot Chili Peppers song, but then it gets really, awfully bad. But not out of the realm of possibility. After the second repeat, you still don’t know… wait, could it actually be a new Chili Peppers song? No way. Is it? No. Wait, is it?

    The song is called “Abracadabralifornia,” and it features all the trademarks of the aging group’s limp take on funk-rock-punk-rap. Twitter was immediately on it, though, and pointed to an episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! from March 2013, in which comedians Jon Daly and Zach Galifianakis discuss being “Pepperheads” and “Pepper Men,” and around the 24-minute mark, Daly breaks into a bit of the song.

    The website’s domain apparently belongs to a man named Cyrus Ghahremani, whose personal website features other questionable music, and who is in a band called Hot Karate. It’s rumored Daly is responsible for the vocals, though people have been pointing fingers at Ghahremani as well. Either way, this song is a thing of beauty, and the production value is exceptional; you can really feel the bass slap in your zing-a-zing-a-ding-a-ding-dang-dang. Parody of the year. 

    Also, please go back and listen to the whole “Pepper Man” episode.

    Photo via Richard Riley/Flickr


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    Earlier today, I watched a video called “Mailman Battles Angry Cat While Attempting to Deliver Mail.” I clicked on it quickly, even though I knew exactly what it would be. There was no element of surprise, just a “Heh, cats” under my breath. It left me feeling empty inside. Is this what it’s come to?

    A new site called Surprisely is here to combat the YouTube epidemic of explicit video titles. These titles are meant to get clicks, of course, to make it easier for us to sift through the deluge of daily videos by telling us exactly what we’re getting. But what if we knew nothing of the video going in? What if we just had to white-knuckle through the experience?

    Surprisely was brainstormed by video artists David Lewandowski (creator of the surreal “Going to the Store” and “Late for Meeting” videos) and Max Lazarov, and works by wiping the titles, ads, views, and the ability to embed and skip ahead from the video. All you have to do is paste a YouTube link into Surprisely’s URL field, and you get a video devoid of any context. So that cat video becomes this. But you always have the option to click on the YouTube logo and watch the real video.

    Via email, Lewandowski explained the origin of this idea, which they’ve been tinkering with since 2012:

    "I'd seen a great effect with really innocuous video titles not begging for attention and being used for misdirection. I wanted to find a service to strip online video and serve clips anonymously with no accompanying information or ads, and when we couldn't find one, we made Surprisely.”

    By stripping videos of all accompanying—and often distracting—data, Surprisely is playing with the coveted curiosity gap, and the idea of trust, which you must have in the person sending you the link. You're basically being asked to do a trust fall. 

    “One of the things we like about Surprisely is that it becomes a trust thing,” Lewandowski says. “Sites like Facebook or Twitter—the person curating the link has given you some cognitive bias before you even click it. …Even on sites like LiveLeak, it's lacking something raw, which I feel when you click a Surprisely link.”

    But do people want to be surprised? Do they want to click on this link and do a trust fall? (Click on it though, it’s really good.)

    “I think so,” Lewandowski says. “There's not really a danger aspect to online video. Personally, a surprise on the Internet feels like a present.”

    H/T Wired |Screengrab via RossCreations/YouTube


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    ‘Tis the season for all the Super Bowl ads marketed to pluck your heartstrings and make you buy beer. Perhaps the most innovative marketing campaign comes via Newcastle, whose IfWeMadeIt.com hosts several trailers for the “Mega Huge Football Game Ad” they “almost made,” including this spot featuring America’s Sweetheart, Anna Kendrick.

    Touted as a “behind the scenes” look at the commercial they were supposed to make, Kendrick explains why the promotion failed, and questions why she was even asked to be in the commercial.

    “I don’t think of myself as beer commercial babe hot,” she says. “I mean, I’m hot. But like approachable hot. Like, the-hottest-girl-in-your-improv-class hot.”

    There’s also a lot of swearing.

     

    Newcastle’s YouTube page features several more failed spots, including one with former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, in which he explains they wanted him to be the voice of a CGI skateboard cat, and an of out-of-context stock footage montage that makes fun of beer commercials. On the IfWeMadeIt site, there’s a “coming soon” preview featuring cartoon cats wearing sunglasses and riding skateboards.

    Sorry, Budweiser. Newcastle wins.

    Screengrab via Newcastle/YouTube  


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    Spotify is huge. It is a mind-boggling big database of music; at last count, the service was home to more than 20 million songs, and was adding 20,000 a day. Despite it's impressive user numbers (6 million, at last report), that's just simply too much music to listen to. It's overwhelming. I remember walking into music shops (back in the day, when I rode my horse walked there through five feet of snow) and being taken aback by the sheer amount of variety before me. There was no way I could pour through all of this to discover a hidden gem. 

    Spotify is like walking into a WalMart-sized music store and trying to accomplish this. 

    Enter Forgotify: it's a Web app that has compiled 4 million songs (that's 20 percent of its catalog) that have never gotten a Spotify listen. The songs for whom no one has press play—til now. "We set out to give these neglected songs another way to reach your ear holes," the team explains on its site. 

    So naturally, my morning was spent browsing all that I've beeing Spoti-missing. Welcome to the weird and wonderful black hole of Spotify—it's very own Island of Misfit Music. 

    1. Right off the bat, a title I recognize. 

     

    2. I admit that a song titled "?????" gets on any list I'm making. 

     

    3. Oh man, flashbacks to my High School obsession with Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell right here.

     

    4. Sing it, Carroll. 

     

    5. This is some silky smooth jazz and I'm going to pretend it was written for Blue Ivy. 

     

    6. Yeah, five seconds... OF GENIUS.

     

    7. I think the title pretty much says it all. 

     

    8. This sort of reminds me of when someone a little down on their luck gets up to do karaoke and everyone's like "Am I enjoying this? I don't really know..." 

     

    9. Upon first listen, you will likely be terrified. But you'll come around. 

     

    10. Country livin' never sounded so great nor so stereotypical. 

     

    10. Because "Zeebras."

     

    11. What in the hell!? A Louis Armstrong song available on Spotify has never been listened to? We've failed you, music. Accept my apology on behalf of all humans. 

     

    12. This is like angry, indecipherable Sublime. 

     

    13. Try and tell me this isn't just plain fun. If you just tried, I call BS. It reminds me of The Wonder Years theme song, which the world universally loves.

    Photo via Thompson Rivers University/Flickr


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    There’s a lot to love about Netflix: their extensive catalogue, their low—for now—subscription fee, their byzantine yet unfailingly accurate recommendation algorithms (for the record, Netflix, just because I gave Jiro Dreams of Sushi five stars doesn’t mean I’m interested in watching every Japanese cooking doc ever made... OK, I’m lying, yes, it totally does).

    One group of Netflix subscribers, however, has a bone to pick with the website. Deaf and hearing impaired viewers have called out Netflix for their subpar captioning system, arguing that the streaming service’s subtitles are often inaccurate, heavily censored, or just plain ridiculous.

    One of the first people to bring Netflix’s shoddy captions to light was Sam Wildman, a blogger for the website Nerdophiles who penned an open letter to Netflix last August. Wildman, who is half-deaf, was watching Footloose with captions on when she noticed the captions were noticeably different than the original dialogue in the movie:


    Photo: Screengrab via Nerdophiles

    The original line, Wildman notes, is: “If we could get one of them to dance—just one of them—then that was it. We’d get out on the floor and we’d really start to smoke.”

    She also noticed that Netflix was unnecessarily censoring some of its subtitles, including the captions in Breaking Bad. A cable show about ruthless, violent meth dealers, Breaking Bad, as you might imagine, features a fair amount of profanity:


    Photo: Screengrab via Nerdophiles

    Any Breaking Bad fan knows that the profane dialogue is crucial to the viewer’s understanding of the show and its characters. Wildman (understandably) wondered why Netflix would censor the language for hearing-impaired viewers. “If someone is watching a show with subtitles they ought to have the same sort of experience,” she wrote. “Or they ought to at least have as close to the same experience as possible.”

    Netflix has historically had a contentious relationship with hard-of-hearing viewers: in 2011, the company was sued by the National Association of the Deaf for failing to include subtitles on most of their content (as part of the settlement, all of Netflix’s new content will be captioned as of this year).

    It’s also important to note that Netflix obtains their captions the same way traditional broadcast TV channels do, and a spokesperson for the channel told the Week that even if a viewer complains to Netflix about an inaccurate caption or transcription error, they may not even have the rights to fix them. Moreover, Netflix is far from the only streaming entertainment platform to offer subpar captions: compared to Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube (whose notoriously bad automatic captions have inspired many a parody Tumblr), Netflix’s subtitling system is practically a shining paragon of accuracy.

    Still, it’s hard to believe that a company that purports to value consumer data as much as Netflix does would be so cavalier about fixing their captions—and about the thousands of Netflix subscribers like Wildman, who rely on captioning to watch their content.

    H/T The Week | Photo: Flickr, via spike55151


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    Football, despite what my Chicago Bears-obsessed father would try to tell you, is not for everyone. As the most reluctant member of a Midwestern family devoted to the pigskin, the Super Bowl is my Mt. Everest of not caring about football.

    If you’re like me and would rather watch Friday Night Lights reruns than ever tune into a live football game, here’s how to ignore the Super Bowl this weekend:

    Block it from Twitter.

    The Super Bowl is a huge event for Twitter, kind of like the Oscars for boring sports. To save yourself from the misery of #touchdown tweets, use a filter. You can get desktop extensions, like Silencer, which is for Chrome. It’s supposed to be for television spoilers but by my count it works for wanting nothing to do with football too.

    Block it from Facebook.

    Some of the filters I just mentioned for Twitter also work for Facebook, like Silencer. There are a few Facebook-specific options for desktop, though: get Social Fixer, a Facebook filtering tool that’s available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Greasemonkey. Or, for Chrome and Firefox, F.B. Purity can help you keep mentions of the Denver Broncos out of your Timeline (it’s supposed to be for blocking out R-rated content but it’s the best of the Facebook filters available).

    Block it from Tumblr.

    Tumblr is for reblogging GIFs, damn it! Not sports! Use Tumblr Savior to block any Super Bowl related tags.

    Block it Web-wide.

    Some filters allow you to block certain words for every website you on, not just social media, like Word Filter for Chrome. Now, this won’t stop pictures from showing up, but you can go so far as to block the phrases “Super Bowl,” “football,” “first down,” “Richard Sherman,” and “wooooohoooooooooooooooo,” which should at least help things considerably.

    Use a mobile spoiler filter.

    There are some apps specifically designed to filter content on your phone. Spoiler Shield is supposed to help fans stay blissfully unspoiled until they have a chance to watch something, but it has an NFL filter, so you can use it to block football content for iOS.


    Photo via Flickr/Daniel Spiess


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    As the South recovers from an unexpected snowstorm that left thousands of passengers and schoolchildren stranded overnight on highways and in schools and politicians apologizing left and right, one musician has plenty of reasons to be happy.

    When impossible traffic jams due to the snowstorm made roads nearly impassible in Atlanta and other regions throughout Georgia and Alabama, teachers spent Wednesday evening with the problem of how to shelter hundreds of students who wound up spending the night in their schools.

    But one regional musician, a family entertainer named Roger Day, got creative and connected with hundreds of school children in their classrooms during the slumber party. Day used Skype to put on a virtual concert for schools who were scrambling for ways to entertain their students overnight.

    “You played for my kids school today and they are now sitting at our dinner table singing about Rhinos and making kissing sounds,” Tuscaloosa teacher Leslie Marriner wrote on Day’s Facebook page Wednesday night, after Day posted about doing the first of what he called “Skype-certs.”

    In Hoover, Ala., Greystone Elementary School uploaded a picture of Day performing for a classroom full of children to Facebook. That photo quickly landed on Imgur and made the front page of Reddit. Day, a resident of Franklin, Tenn., responded to the sudden fame in good humor:

    “The bizarre world of social media. My son just called from VA saying all his college friends said I was the #1 post on Reddit. Wow! Some of the comments are a little, well, interesting. But I'm told this is a big deal.”

    Day is a touring musician who performs fun songs about nature for elementary school children. Among his big hits are “Mosquito Burrito,” “There’s an Alligator Raiding my Refrigerator,” “Monkey Brains,” and “It’s a No No to Kiss a Rhino.” 

    Although we weren’t lucky enough to get a special free Skype concert from Day in our own homes, you can still sing along thanks to the wonders of the Internet:

    Roger Day: "I Love to Study Mud" from Chalkhill Productions on Vimeo.

    Photo via Imgur


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    Fighting like cats and dogs? Think again. This furry feline’s all about helping out his four-legged friend—even if the situation might kill him. 

    There's no telling where this occurred or how the individual filming decided it’d be better not to step in and help, but what you’re seeing here’s pretty wild: a cat, sworn mortal enemy to all dogs since the day the two creatures came into existence, working like wild to free a grey pooch from captivity. 

    It’s like a deleted scene from Homeward Bound or something, an epic triumph of the animal spirit. We need to set this to Chariots of Fire music immediately. Anybody know how to do that? Bet this cat could figure it out.

    Photo via MikeJ04234/YouTube


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    The fourth season of Portlandia debuts Feb. 27 on IFC, but a few teaser episodes appeared online this week, to celebrate their version of Super Bowl tailgating.

    In the five-episode web series, Portlandia characters Kris (Carrie Brownstein) and Malcolm (Fred Armisen) tailgate before the craziest sporting event of the year: A live taping of A Prairie Home Companion. There’s bland soup, yerba mate tea, streaking, and talk of how Old Crow Medicine Show “rips.”

     

    These are essentially ads, with Subaru being the brand here. The product placement is a little jarring, but come Sunday, that’s all you’ll be seeing. Now if they’d had a Garrison Keillor cameo, in which a cooler full of piping hot yerba mate was dumped on him by overzealous greys, these spots might have been a bit more exciting.

     

     

    However, if you want to skip the concussive fervor the Super Bowl, watch this, watch the Puppy Bowl, take a bubble bath, and be in bed by 9:30.

    Screengrab via IFC/YouTube


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    Craigslist“Missed Connections” can be priceless pieces of art on their own merit, but if you wanted to make them even better, just add Alison Brie.

    The Community and Mad Men actress visited Jimmy Kimmel, where he recruited her for one of his segments. Just like Kimmel had Benedict Cumberbatch perform a dramatic reading of R. Kelly last month, he joined Brie for some sexy readings of missed connections on Craigslist.

    They managed to make the creepiest postings seem sultry with the help of background saxophone music.


    H/T Uproxx | Photo via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube


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    Big news on the Sharknado front: Ian Ziering and Tara Reid will reprise their starring roles from the original Sharknado as an estranged couple whose lives are torn asunder by improbable storms full of sharks. Except this time, the sharks will ‘nado around New York City. 

    The SyFy channel held a contest last summer to name the sequel on Twitter, resulting in the forthright (yet perhaps too plain) title of Sharknado 2: The Second One

    Daily Dot writer Aaron Sankin would like to rename the film Sharknado 2: The Sharkening and add the tagline "It's getting shark in here.” I’d prefer to rename it Sharknado 2 Fast 2 Sharkious and recast Vin Diesel in Ian Ziering’s role, but life’s not fair. 

    Apart from the location change to New York City, not much is known about the plot. While we wait for the summer of 2014 to see the second sublimely kitschy shark flick, here’s a list of possible plot-lines: 

    There is another Sharknado, and… 

    • The sharknado gets overpowered by a polar BEAR vortex. 
    • All of the sharks are twerking because 2013. 
    • The sharks are gluten-free so people start wrapping themselves in wheat tortillas to stay alive. 
    • The sharks are actually loan sharks, big greasy men from suburban New Jersey, and the sequel is far more horrifying than the original. 
    • The sharks are a metaphor for Late Capitalism. 
    • The sharks can all talk, and they are voiced by an uncredited Bruce Willis and Roseanne. 
    • The sharknado happens during a NATO summit. Tagline: Shark...NATO! It grosses $0. 
    • The sharks have come to New York City to audition for an off-off Broadway play. It’s a dystopian re-imagination of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The sharks win the part of the streetcar. Their rampage is subdued by the craft of stage acting. 
    • Turns out Tara Reid was a shark all along.

    If you think about it, is any of that really more absurd than the concept of a sharknado in the first place?

    H/T Defamer | Photo via Wikipedia


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    Television studios have long puzzled over how best to co-opt the popularity of an Internet that otherwise robs them of passive, dead-eyed attention. For instance, do you recall that week in 2012 when the popular Tumblr blogs F*ck I’m In My Twenties and Hollywood Assistants were optioned by NBC and CBS, respectively? Or how William Shatner starred in a sitcom based on the Twitter feed @shitmydadsays? Probably not, because the first two adaptations have yet to materialize, and the third was an abysmal, quickly canceled failure.

    Perhaps, ABC appears to have reasoned, the leap from blog to screen is a little too tricky. It would be a lot easier to simply dump a grab bag of digital concepts onto the table and see where things go from there. This, in a nutshell, is the pitch for Selfie, a show created by Emily Kapnek that just earned a pilot spot in the network’s roster. Here's the actual logline, per Entertainment Weekly:

    Comedy inspired by My Fair Lady tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman who is more concerned with ‘likes’ than being liked. After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media ‘followers’ than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

    I don’t know about you, but every time the focus lands on a computer in a movie or TV show—whether it’s for a tense hacker scene or some online stalking storyline—I know I’m about to be bored. At this stage in human history, most of us have to be connected to the Internet all day, so it’s understandable that writers would want to dramatize the experience; at the same time, TV has become an important escape from the tiring churn and flux of the Web.

    I suppose we can be grateful that the show’s not set in a Silicon Valley startup office, mostly because the real thing is already too painful.

    H/T Entertainment Weekly | Photo by cuppyuppycake/Flickr      


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    I remember very well the first time I stumbled upon it. I was in high school and a college football fan, so I had little interest in what was a rather lackluster Super Bowl. During a particularly dull stretch, I absentmindedly began to flip channels.

    And suddenly there they were: puppies. Puppies of every make and mold, all shapes and sizes, adorably tussling about a miniature football field. A golden retriever, a dachshund, a bulldog; tiny, fuzzy, maddeningly cute. What was this black magic yanking at my heart strings?

    It was, of course, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. Then in its relative infancy (the Puppy Bowl first aired in 2004), the program was simple compared to the three-ring circus it is today. After last year’s record-breaking 12.4 million viewers, consider the ante upped. Puppy Bowl X is putting its origins to shame: there’s a fantasy league, a live cam so you can watch pre-Puppy Bowl puppy play. Discovery Museum in Times Square has been completely dedicated to all things Puppy Bowl this week. Animal Planet landed Internet phenoms Keyboard Cat and Lil BUB for the halftime show, for god’s sake.


     

    This hoopla all came from a very simple and perhaps futile quest on Animal Planet’s part to hold on to viewership, during the Super Bowl. The story of the now-famed pitch has taken on a myth-like quality, in part because no one from the original Puppy Bowl team is still with the channel.

    “The most popular tale of how Puppy Bowl came to be is that during a production and development meeting, the team was throwing out ideas of what to put on against one of the most popular programs to air all year—the Super Bowl,” Melissa Berry, an Animal Planet representative, said. “Someone mentioned the simplicity and genius of the yule log on TV, which prompted someone else to suggest putting a bunch of puppies together in a room and letting them be puppies and see what happens. Of course, the idea was jazzed up a bit, they were put on a mock football field, given toys… but that is how Puppy Bowl was born.”

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    From there, it has grown at a rapid pace. There is a ref, kittens make an appearance, there are “cheerleaders,” a blimp. Penguins. There are penguins. “This year there are even more social media components, such as fan MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) voting and fans getting a chance for photos of their Puppy Bowl parties to appear live on-air via Instagram.”

    The evolution is almost startling, but it certainly corresponds to a cultural shift that’s happening. We live in a world of Grumppuccinos and famous Pomeranian death rumors; animals are not just some of our favorite memes, they are some of our favorite stars. It’s all-too appropriate that Animal Planet regular Lil BUB is part of this year’s show. “BUB’s role in the Puppy Bowl is actually that she is watching it from her ‘winter cabin’ and providing reactions and commentary,” BUB’s owner Mike Bridavasky tells me via email. “This was actually filmed in Chicago this past December.”

    He says that while BUB and he are in New York for the week’s Puppy Bowl festivities, they’re also promoting the upcoming Lil BUB’s Special Special, which airs on Animal Planet Feb. 8. (It’s been on my calendar for weeks, cards on the table.)

    BUB isn’t the only one that pre-taped Puppy Bowl. The show itself was taped back in October at a soundstage in New York over the course of two days (this means that the puppies at the event this week aren’t the same ones from the show itself; the original participants are much too big now). Animal Planet used 21 cameras to capture the footage, and then edits the hundred-plus hours down to the most exciting parts. “It’s edited and made to look like it’s a real game,” Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner tells me (who during our call only referred to the Super Bowl as “the other game,” to my genuine delight).


     

    It’s Schachner’s third year serving as Puppy Bowl ref. He’s traditionally trained as a TV host, but makes an exception to keep the animal athletes in line during the show. To land the gig, he says he “sent in an audition tape where I went to dog parks in New York City and interacted with the dogs there, and had a couple of meetings with [Animal Planet]. Got an allergy test, and we were set!”

    The challenges to Puppy Bowl reffing are few. “For me, it’s just a matter of trying to call the right fouls at the right time, not call too many. You kind of have to pick your battles. You can’t call fouls for pooping because otherwise you’d be there all day.”

    While I’m far more interested in the bowel movements of these puppies than I care to admit, there’s one thing I really want to know about Puppy Bowl:  How, for the love of everything furry and allergy-inducing, do the powers that be choose the puppies? It seems a daunting, heartbreaking challenge.

    Berry said that Discovery Studios (the umbrella under which Animal Planet lies) does its homework on shelters and rescue groups to ask for puppy submissions.

    “A casting call is also posted to Animal Planet’s website so rescues and shelters from across the country can apply if interested. Then the production team reviews the photos of the puppies, they are often sitting next to a soda can or something so you can get a sense of their size. [They] make sure they meet the age requirement (they have to be at least 12 weeks old by the time the show is taped), and they look for a good representation of a variety of breeds as well as a good size range,” she said.

    If that sounds overly cold and calculated for something involving, you know, puppies, rest assured it is not an easy decision. Berry said producers admit yes, it is difficult to choose. “They are all so adorable that it’s not an easy task for them to narrow down the list.”

    The submissions come from a variety of shelters and rescues, one of them being the Sato Project. The Sato Project focuses its dog rescue efforts in Puerto Rico (where there are many feral dogs that aren’t treated as pets), especially on Dead Dog Beach. The grim name is sadly very fitting: it’s described as a “last resting place for dogs,” where starved, abused, and poisoned (or worse) dogs go to die. Despite this harrowing situation, the group has made tremendous strides in the three years it’s been operating.

    This is the organization’s second time working with the Puppy Bowl, and it’s won a special place in Animal Planet’s heart after last year.

    “Our first year we had four dogs in the starting lineup and it was a difficult process because it was during Hurricane Sandy so they had to reschedule, and I was trying to get puppies in from Puerto Rico, which was no easy feat,” Sato Project founder and president Chrissy Beckles tells me. “It became a logistical nightmare, but I made it happen and I think it endeared me a little to Animal Planet.

    “This year we have eight puppies in Puppy Bowl X,” she said proudly, also mentioning that three made it to the starting lineup. Beckles deserves to brag, considering how some of these puppies made it to the squad.

    “Over the summer, we had a dog that was pregnant on the beach and unfortunately gave birth there. We finally managed to get her and the puppies out, and I remember turning to our vet and saying, ‘these will be our Puppy Bowl puppies. These little ones have to be treated like gold.’”


    The Sato Project puppies, pictured after being rescued with their mother. 

    Photo by The Dead Dog Beach PR Project/Facebook

    The outcome for dogs born in these conditions is typically bleak. The puppies born to mothers without vet care can be extremely malnourished, but these four—ApolloArtemisAbdiel, and Alanis—were given expert care by the Sato Project’s vet, Dr. Bianca Aguirre Hernández.

    “[Bianca] took in [the mother] and her four puppies, and when these puppies came back to me in October, they were the chubbiest, healthiest puppies you ever wished to meet,” Beckles said. “They were beautiful!”

    These four were joined by three sisters (DeeDeeDarby, and Debbie) who were dumped on the beach at five weeks old, as well as Simon, a dachshund mix. Puppy Bowl has been a major coup for the Sato Project, which is still relatively young and has big ambitions.

    “The greatest thrill for me is when the Puerto Rican press gets ahold of this,” Beckles said. “It can be used as a positive, educational thing. In my mind, if it can get these dogs who unfortunately don’t have good lives on the island off of it, and if it can change people’s perception of these dogs on that island, then that’s a fantastic thing that’s been done. And I really feel like it’s starting to happen.

    “The four that were in last year, the eight that are playing on Sunday, they are representing the 250,000 stranded dogs on that island.”

    Sato’s eight all have home homes now. Beckles says when they were being adopted, she would tell the families’ they were “getting a real superstar,” but being under a nondisclosure agreement couldn’t admit their new pups were proud Puppy Bowl veterans. “It was wonderful to email them and tell them their puppy is going to be in the Puppy Bowl, they were so excited!”

    Happily, they weren’t the only ones to find new families. Berry tells me that as of last week, all but two of Puppy Bowl X’s puppies and all of the kittens have been adopted. And if you want some good happy-cry material, Animal Planet is adding two segments; Dog Years: Life After Puppy Bowl and Pup Close and Personal to offer a look at alums' personal stories.

    In all honesty, I’m simultaneously thrilled and overwhelmed at the barrage of Puppy Bowl elements at my disposal. Between the Instagram feeds, Meep the Bird’s tweet dispatch, the pre-show, the post-show, the show-show, I feel sort of like I did when I adopted a dog as a kid. Wandering the rows and rows of dogs needing homes, both excited about my new pet and preemptively guilty about the ones I didn’t choose.

    But when it comes to Puppy Bowl there really can be no guilt. The puppies get to be puppies, the rescue groups fulfill ther missions, Animal Planet has a showstopper, and I get hours and hours of delightful puppy pouncing. It's an all-around win.

    Photo via Animal Planet


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    Clearly we’re all ready for the Big Game today—Puppy Bowl X, duh (just kidding, I’m a red-blooded American who will watch the Super Bowl and stream the aforementioned program from my laptop). But there’s another event in adorable athletics happening on Sunday: The Kitten Bowl.

    Over on the Hallmark Channel, the Kitten Bowl will compete for airtime with these other two programming powerhouses. It’s hosted by Beth Stern (animal activist and Howard Stern’s wife) and has many of the same supplementaries that Puppy Bowl is offering; a live feed that’s already available, a fantasy league, and the requisite tiny balls of allergy-inducing fluff that tear tiny holes in your heart with their cuteness.

    Hallmark is better known for riveting docudramas we (I) guilt-binge on, but Bill Abbott, president and CEO of its umbrella company, Crown Media Family Networks, is also an animal advocate who started a company-wide initiative called the Pet Project.

    “Pet Project [uses] entertainment to show the joy that pets bring to our lives and how many beautiful animals are in local shelters just waiting and hoping for a forever home,” Kitten Bowl’s lead publicist Pam Slay told me via email.


    via Kitten Bowl/Facebook

    “Also, once Bill’s idea flourished, he made sure the shelter he personally volunteers with, North Shore Animal League America and Last Hope, were the shelter partners we used in obtaining the little kittens who play on Su-purr Sunday.” (That is an excellent pun which I shall weave into conversation at some point over the next 24 hours.)

    Like Puppy Bowl, Kitten Bowl was taped back in October in New York, and all of the kittens have been adopted. So what else is there to expect from the feline festivities? Slay tells me the energy level is “incredible,” and that there will be some Lambeau Leaps in the mix. And it should be mentioned the kittens are named things like Ferrell Owens and Hairy Rice.

    They all have homes now, so you can’t watch the game and pick a kitten to adopt; however, Hallmark has made printed sets of its player profiles to collect as trading cards—and as if things could not get better, we’ve got a set to offer one lucky Daily Dot reader (See Facebook for details). Get ready to take home not one, but 71 adorable faces.

    Photo via Kitten Bowl/Facebook


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