HBO has finally greenlit that Deadwood movie
David Milch’s Deadwood, HBO’s best Western, ended 12 years ago after an impressive three-season run: while it was airing, it won eight Emmys and oodles of critical acclaim, and found a devoted audience to boot. (The show charts the development of a fictional frontier outpost in the 1870s in the very real Deadwood, South Dakota.) Since its 2006 end, those fans have been clamoring for a satisfying resolution to the series, in the form of a fourth season or as a movie. At this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, Casey Bloys, HBO’s head of programming, announced that Deadwood will be coming back as a film. Filming is expected to begin in October, Bloys said, and the network is aiming for a release next spring. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Milch — the show’s main writer — has written the script, and Daniel Minahan, who directed four episodes of the television series, is attached as the film’s director.
That’s great news for Deadwood-heads. It’s been a long time coming. Back in 2006, Milch and HBO announced plans to wrap up the series in a pair of telefilms; that didn’t happen. The rumors continued for the next decade, with various actors from the series quashing any whispers of a comeback. In 2017, however, Ian McShane — who played the violently compelling Al Swearengen — told the trade pub TVLine that Milch had delivered a two-hour script to HBO. “If they don’t deliver [a finished product], blame them,” he said at the time. At last year’s TCA awards, Bloys said he’d read that script; this January, the HBO exec professed optimism for starting production in the fall. As Swearengen himself put it, “Announcin’ your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.” So maybe fans shouldn’t count their ducklings before they’ve hatched. But this does seem like a good start.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
July 25, 2018 at 03:52PM
Facebook growth slows in aftermath of privacy scandals
For years, Facebook has enjoyed astronomical growth, but that’s starting to slow as the company’s moderation controversies and data privacy scandals continue to pile up. Facebook posted earnings for the second quarter of 2018 today, with revenue and user growth coming in under Wall Street estimates. It’s the first time the company’s quarterly sales did not exceed expectations in roughly three years.
Facebook’s numbers were still wildly impressive for the quarter: it saw 42 percent year-over-year growth in ad revenue and 11 percent year-over-year growth in monthly and daily active users. (The social network now counts 1.47 billion daily active users and 2.23 billion monthly ones.) But this is still the slowest quarterly user growth Facebook has seen in its history. And the revenue miss seems to illustrate that the social network and its massive online advertising empire is not, in fact, impervious to bad headlines and an ever-changing and inconsistent approach to policing its platform.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said back in November 2017, long before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March of this year, that fighting abuse from foreign governments in the form of misinformation and fake news would cut into the company’s profits. It’s not immediately clear whether Facebook’s poor performance this quarter is a result of the measures it’s been taking to fight third-party abuse, especially in light of the actions Facebook said it would take to address data privacy after Cambridge Analytica. Nonetheless, it seems as if Facebook is not the untouchable behemoth investors seem to think it is.
The company’s stock is down nearly 8 percent this afternoon in after-hours trading. Prior to this earnings release, Facebook stock hit an all-time high, and the company’s valuation has ballooned over the months since Cambridge Analytica to nearly $620 billion. Its first-quarter earnings of 2018 seemed to be a bright spot for the company back in April, showing that Facebook had shrugged off its US user decline from the fourth quarter of 2017, following a News Feed adjustment that de-prioritized news and Page content.
In other words, the company’s ability to make money has showed no signs of having been negatively affected by the scandal, Zuckerberg’s appearances in front of lawmakers, or the ongoing moderation issues the company has suffered regarding its policing of hate speech and fake news on the platform. But the earnings tell a different story, and this financial stumble may precede more structural issues for Facebook in the months to come.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
July 25, 2018 at 03:52PM
Square is helping businesses develop contracts to prevent chargebacks from their customers
Back in mid-May, Square quietly launched a landing page for a feature that helps small business owners create contracts that protect them from buyer chargebacks and other credit card disputes. It hasn’t publicly announced them yet, but in an interview, Square told The Verge why it launched these contracts, which will be promoted to business owners starting in August.
Kay Feker, Square’s risk program manager, noticed earlier this year that customers were increasingly asking for money back after a successful transaction. Even if they were satisfied with several home repairs, for instance, they would protest the final transaction and the business owner would have no real choice but to return their money as a result.
“These days with the increase in online purchases, you lose that sense of human interaction, so you’re more willing to send chargebacks along for all these purchases,” says Feker, explaining the uptick in transaction disputes over the last few years.
Square says that business owners who are taken advantage of by customers charging back on goods and services could easily save money with a contract that details the terms of a transaction. The chances of winning a credit card dispute are nearly twice as high when contracts are used, according to Square. But the agreements aren’t supposed to help in the case of credit card fraud, when the affected customer generally holds no responsibility.
The landing page, which is also open to non-Square users, lets owners make custom contracts that follow specific state guidelines and a variety of templates depending on the service. Square says business owners can give customers contracts before the transaction is fully completed to ensure that if the item or service is delivered to satisfaction, the customer can’t just chargeback or insist the product never showed up.
“Now you can’t just say ‘I bought this T-shirt, paid them, but I don’t like the color. I want my money back, I expected something different,’” Feker says as an example. “The business owner will now prove it: here’s the color, it was indeed delivered as described.”
Square doesn’t make sellers pay it chargeback fees, which is standard practice for many payment platforms, including PayPal and Stripe. But it does offer sellers up to $250 of chargeback protection per month, so it’s likely that these contracts will help Square’s finances even indirectly. “We’re not looking to profit off this,” says Feker, “But we’re a business, too, so if the seller loses, Square loses as well. This insures we protect our relationship.”
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
July 25, 2018 at 03:45PM
Star Wars author Timothy Zahn on Thrawn: Alliances and toxic fandom
Earlier this week, Timothy Zahn published his latest Star Wars novel, Thrawn: Alliances. The book is the sequel to his 2016 novel Thrawn, a long-untold origin story for his fan-favorite character, Grand Admiral Thrawn. In the new novel, he brings together two of the franchise’s greatest villains: Thrawn and Darth Vader.
Thrawn, originally introduced in Zahn’s 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, is a master tactician who attempted to resurrect the Empire after Return of the Jedi. While that storyline was wiped out when Disney acquired LucasFilm and reset the franchise’s canon, Thrawn was reintroduced in Star Wars Rebels, and Zahn wrote the definitive origin story for the character in Thrawn — which could serve both the old canon and the new. Thrawn: Alliances picks up the story, but alternates between an encounter between Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn during The Clone Wars, and much later, during the events of Rebels.
At San Diego Comic-Con, I sat down with Zahn to chat about his book, the challenge of working within Star Wars’ larger story, and his thoughts on bringing together two of the franchise’s greatest villains.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How does it feel to be writing about Thrawn again?
Oh, it’s a lot of fun. Thrawn is a great character to write. It was really like I was never away from the last books I did. He’s a fun character to deal with, because he’s more antagonist than villain, which means the readers can understand him better than perhaps someone like General Grievous. Thrawn has always been smarter than the average imperial officer, and he forces the good guys to bring their A-game to the field. It’s always fun to have the characters out-think each other, rather than just “Who’s got the bigger blaster?” or “Can lightsabers and the Force save the day this time?”
Thrawn feels like if it had been written before the canonization purge a couple of years ago, or if you squinted a bit, it would serve as a perfect setup for Heir to the Empire.
Oh, I don’t think you need to squint at all. I wrote him in these two books to fit in with everything else I’d done. So if someone at Lucasfilm snapped their fingers, and suddenly all of my other books were canon, and there would be no real retrofitting that would have to go in. It would all fit together.
Thrawn: Alliances feels more at home in the new canon, especially because Thrawn has been fleshed out a bit more in Rebels. Was there any adjustments for that?
Not really. I’m getting to play with more canon characters like Vader and Padmé and Anakin, but the character himself, I still see him as the same person. He’s got goals, and he won’t necessarily share them with you, but he as long as you’re going the same direction, he’s happy to cooperate and assist along the way.
For the longest time, the prequel era was off-limits. How was going back to add in those details?
I liked it. Padmé did not have that much to do in the prequel movies, but they fleshed out a lot more in the Clone Wars series, and that was the Padmé I wanted to write about. Being able to pick up that character and have her be really competent, in action when she needs to be, diplomatic when she needs to be. She’s a fun character to play with. Of course Anakin and Vader are two sides: you have two hints of what Anakin will become, you can have hints of Vader’s past, and linking them together in the storyline was really fun.
What I really appreciated about The Clone Wars was that when we see Anakin in Attack of the Clones, he’s a younger, angry man, while in Revenge of the Sith, he’s more serious, but right on the verge of going to the dark side. The series really showed off his evolution between films.
What we’ve got is some of the same distrust between Anakin and Thrawn as we have with Vader and Thrawn. But it’s a very different dynamic, because Vader isn’t sure he trusts Thrawn, while on the other hand, the Emperor still has use for him, so he’s limiting himself. Anakin doesn’t have any of that background, and he’s being forced to work with Thrawn because of the circumstances. So there’s a distrust, but it’s a different flavor of distrust, and both of them learn to understand one another better.
What was your approach to bringing together these two great villains?
Both of them have strengths, and the idea whenever you do a match-up like this is to make sure they complement each other. Vader’s got the Force. As Anakin, he was an excellent pilot. He can sense and do various things. Thrawn can see stuff that maybe other people don’t: he can anticipate, while Vader can be the brute force.
By the end they are working more or less together. There’s still a little bit of distrust on Vader’s part, but again, he recognizes Thrawn’s abilities and knows how to use them in whatever problem they are facing.
This is also a younger Darth Vader than we’ve usually seen — by the time we hit the films, he’s very much a powerhouse, but here, it feels like he’s a little more reckless and ready to jump into action.
Well, it’s been what... 16, 17, 18 years since he became Vader, so he’s not new to the whole thing. But he’s still developing, somewhat, and of course, he’s got the memories of Anakin — who he refers to as The Jedi — to distance himself from that part of his life. He’s got those memories that are going to also entangle things, and as we see in the prologue, the Emperor, on some level, wants to see what happens when he visits some of those memories.
You have the planet Batuu as a central location, and it’s the basis for the upcoming Star Wars Land, Galaxy’s Edge. How did that figure into this book? What materials were you able to draw on?
They gave me some of the sketches and descriptions of what Galaxy’s Edge will be like. But I’m not writing in the same era that that’s set. Galaxy’s Edge is set in the sequel era, with Rey and the First Order. I’m quite a bit before that, so while I can keep the basics of how the town is structured, because towns often don’t change that much physically, the people there won’t necessarily translate from the book to the park. But it gives a little introduction, and a little flavor of what it’s going to be like.
When you started writing Heir to the Empire, you were writing without much of the world being fleshed out. Here, you have a world with a lot more established detail. How has that changed your process when it comes to developing a story and playing within that world?
The constraints can be tricky. I do my first pass through things like Wookieepedia, and just make sure I’m not stepping on something that’s obviously been done. For anything that is not covered, I rely on the Star Wars Story Group to let me know about what’s in the works that I couldn’t possibly know about. They help keep the constraints, but also keep the consistency, which I really appreciate.
Has the Story Group significantly changed how the novels are conceived? Before, authors would generally just pitch ideas to Lucasfilm, but this feels like a more streamlined process.
It does. At the end of the presale era, the last few books I did before that were largely relying on Leland Chee, the keeper of the Holocron, with his phenomenal memory for Star Wars, and of course [senior editor] Jennifer Heddle, the book person. They were largely taking that role. By expanding it into the story group, which also has fingers in all the pies everywhere, it’s more streamlined, it’s more efficient. People would ask about Thrawn, “Was Tarkin a Grand Moff at the time?” I can unequivocally say “Absolutely,” because the Story Group didn’t flag it as wrong. That’s very freeing, because I know I have less of a fear of running into a wall someplace and knowing these guys around the warning track.
This book takes place shortly after the end of season 5 of The Clone Wars, after Ahsoka leaves the Jedi order. We just learned that the show is coming back, and that she and Anakin reunite, so did you have to set your book between those times?
I didn’t know that at the time, but yes. The saving grace is that each segment here is no more than a couple of weeks, and no matter what Dave Filoni does, I can probably slip it into the gap before the show comes back.
The entertainment industry is no longer just about books or movies — it’s about overarching, coordinated multimedia IP. How important do you think it is to the fan experience to have that coordination, versus “Here’s another adventure in this world”? It feels like these franchises are far more heavily geared toward fans than before.
My feeling is, they don’t have to all interconnect with everything. But if you have a standalone game, it should fit the continuity. You shouldn’t have Captain America in two places at the same time, for example. But you also have to be careful: you cannot have something unexplained in a movie, and then explain it the novelization. It’s not fair to the moviegoer that they’d have to find out the details of this unexplained thing somewhere else. Now, you can deepen what’s going on, but the movie should be its own experience.
What do you think this says for how fan culture has changed since Thrawn was introduced? There’s a lot of passion now for side characters.
Some of that, we created with the Expanded Universe — now Legends. The idea was to have a saga that would fill the gap after Return of the Jedi, where there were no other movies planned. I’m sure building that — I mean, it was different. Star Trek had done something similar with a lot of books in previous years. But the thing with them was that typically, you had to leave the characters at the end of the book basically where you started with them. You couldn’t change anything — you couldn’t have Kirk and Uhura get married, and have that continue on in later books or something. You had to be very episodic, because there was not a timeline where people would read them all in chronological order and follow the developments.
But [George] Lucas did a lot of that with the movies. We are not going to leave everybody at the end of The Empire Strikes Back the same way — Luke lost a hand. He’s now got a mechanical hand, and is heading in the same direction as his father, and that will pay off in the next movie. People are being changed throughout. A good example of something that has an overarching plot is Babylon 5 from the 1990s, where we have some episodes that are largely episodic, but all have this plot thread. I think George [Lucas] started that, and J. Michael Straczynski continued it, and now we’ve done that with the books, comics, and games.
It’s very commonplace now, with shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Expanse.
Yeah. It didn’t use to be that way. But you’re right, it is commonplace these days. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is following the same pattern: our heroes are where you leave them at the end of this movie, here’s where you pick them up in the next movie. There are conflicts, there are losses, and they’re doing the same sort of thing with their universe.
How do you see fandom as having changed through all that from the EU to now? It feels like we’ve taken a toxic turn.
I think fandom in many ways is following the trend in the world in general of less civility and more toxicity. A lot of that is the anonymity of the internet. People generally will not come up to me and say, “I hate your books,” but on the internet, they can say that because they are essentially anonymous, even if they have their name. You’re never going to face whoever you’re picking on.
But you’re right — it’s gotten very, very toxic. And it’s bleeding over into real life as well. People say and do things in public they never would have done 40 years ago, because the public would... there’s a certain amount of shame and disapproval from the overall society. A lot of that seems to have eroded away. So much of it is misplaced. It’s just bizarre that people pick on an actor or an actress for a movie they don’t like. This actor or actress did not write or direct it! They did what they were told! It’s not their fault.
Especially with The Last Jedi, it seems like there’s a very entitled sense of “this film didn’t turn out the way I expected, therefore it’s the worst thing in the world.”
You can go up to disapprove of something, but going up into hatred is just wrong and wasteful. There are more things in this world that deserve some hatred rather than movies or universes or fan things. There’s still a whole lot of slavery in the world! Let’s save our hate for that. How about that, guys?
What role do you think a movie, or a book like Thrawn, has in leading the fans somewhere a bit more uncomfortable, as opposed to wish-fulfillment?
Well, my job is to write a story that people will enjoy, where they’ll be surprised or will like the characters. And at the end of the reading, they will say, “Yes, this was worth the X dollars and the Y hours I put into it.” If I’m really lucky, it will be worth a second or third read. I’m not out to change the world — I’m out to entertain people. If I provide some good role models, or if the characters help people through a bad time in their lives, I didn’t go into that with that goal, but if that happens, it’s just a bonus. My job is entertainment — if I can help, if I can be there through a deployment, or trouble in your life. If the book is simply something you remember as a good time, and that book anchors that memory, that’s just an extra, added bonus, and it makes the job that much more worthwhile.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
July 25, 2018 at 03:31PM
How to Make a Juicy Lucy With Any Cheese
There are burgers, and then there are burger-themed projects, and the Jucy Lucy—AKA Juicy Lucy or Juicy Luicy (which is how I spell it)—is quite the delicious project. Rather than melt the cheese on top of the burger patty, this meaty wonder holds a treasure trove of melted freedom cheese on the inside.
Welcome to Burger Week! Grilling season is in full swing, and we’re flipping out over burgers. Whether it’s picking the perfect patty, stuffing those patties with molten cheese, or making a veggie offering that doesn’t suck, we’ve got the tips, recipes, and recommendations you need to build your best burger.
This burger is a messy bitch that lives for drama, and she is almost without flaw. The only criticism I can ever imagine anyone leveling at Lucy is that she can only be filled with American cheese, as other cheeses grease out and separate when you try to transform them into a molten core. Actually, that criticism isn’t even valid, as I have a found away to turn any cheese, even the prone-to-greasing cheddar, into a gooey, molten mess.
You may recall me talking about the power of melting salts—such as sodium citrate—when I made a whole bunch of cheeses into a whole bunch of cheese sauces. If you need a refresher (or introduction) they basically act as an emulsifier in acidic cheeses, increasing the pH and making the proteins more soluble. This, in turn, prevents them from separating into a gloppy, greased-out mess.
By adding a bit of sodium citrate to a pile of shredded cheddar (along with a little bit of beer), I was able to make the stringy, gooey cheese sauce you see above. I then took that sauce, chilled it until it was scoopable, and sandwiched it in between two three-ounce portions of ground beef, before chilling the whole thing one more time to help keep it together during cooking. A little reverse sear action gives us a medium-rare patty filled with melted cheese which, in turn, should fill you—and your belly—with happiness. To make your own, you will need:
Pour your beer and 1/8 teaspoon of sodium citrate into a small sauce pan and bring it to a simmer. Stir in shredded cheese, adding more of the melting salt as needed to get it to the consistency you see in the photo above. Pour your cheese sauce into a ramekin, and set it in the fridge for half an hour, or overnight. (If you’re using American cheese, you can skip this whole paragraph.)
Take six ounces of ground beef and separate it into two three-ounce patties. Flatten them out so each is about half an inch thick,, season the outside of each patty liberally with salt, and scoop your chilled cheese sauce (or folded American slice if you prefer) into the center of one patty. Place the second on top, and crimp the edges firmly with your fingers all the way around. Put the burger in the freezer for 15 minutes, and preheat your oven to 200℉.
Place the chilled burger on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet, and cook for half an hour for medium rare. You won’t, unfortunately, be able to check the internal temperature of the meat, as doing do would release the cheese, but the meat should turn a deep, dull red and the fat should begin to render out. During the last five minutes in the oven, pour a drizzle of vegetable oil into a stainless steel or cast iron pan and rub it around with a paper towel to coat. Heat the pan over high heat until it just begins to smoke, then cook the patty for a minute and a half on each side to from a crust.
Let the whole thing rest for five minutes, so as to prevent burning your mouth beyond recognition, then place on a nice soft bun and top with your favorite burger friends.
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM
See If Your State Is Having a Back-to-School Tax-Free Weekend
Parents will drop an estimated $510 per household on items needed for school this year, according to Deloitte’s annual back-to-school shopping survey. You can save some cash, however, by knowing when to buy stuff. Your best bets: Either late in the season when products are often discounted, or during one of the back-to-school tax-free weekends happening soon across the country. Find out if your state is participating below.
Items that you can purchase without state sales tax vary from state to state, but may include clothing, school supplies, books and computers. Each state has its own stipulations—for instance, tax-free clothing is capped at $100 in many places—so visit your appropriate government website (usually the department of revenue page) to read the fine print. Also, local sales tax may still apply.
Here are the dates of the 2018 back-to-school tax-free weekends, as compiled by The Krazy Coupon Lady:
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM
What to Do If Your Student Loan Servicer Screws You Over
Student loan scams are on the rise, but it’s not just third parties you need to worry about getting the best of you. In many cases, your servicer can mess up payments, stall loan applications or sell of your debt without proper notice.
If any of that happens, you’ll want to be ready. Student Loan Hero has the rundown on what to do if your servicer screws you over.
Your Loans Disappear
If you log into your account to make a payment or check your progress and your balance is suddenly $0, it’s likely not the miracle it appears to be—in fact, it’s a strong indication that your loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s how to find your missing loans, per SLH:
Once you do, make sure you stay on them to update your information and accept your on-time payments, or you could be in trouble.
Extra Payments Aren’t Applied to the Principal Balance
As I wrote here, if you’re making extra payments, you need to clarify with your servicer that the money is going toward paying down the principal amount of the loan, as opposed to the interest. This will not only lower your loan amount, it will mean less interest in the long run.
Here’s an example of what to send to the servicer to ensure that they apply any extra payments to the principal, from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Keep a copy of anything you send them and all payments made for your records.
Issues Adjusting Your Repayment Plan
Trouble with applications for income-driven plans and deferment are common reasons borrowers complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about their loan servicers, according to SLH. If yours is stalling your application, follow these steps:
Most importantly, you want to keep all paperwork and correspondence with your servicers, just to be safe. Take screen shots of payments you make and account balances often, and if you suspect something is wrong, contact them or a student loan ombudsman.
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM
Two-Factor Text Authentication Isn't Enough to Keep Your Accounts Secure
Just last week, Instagram confirmed reports that it’s modifying its two-factor authentication setup to allow users to log in with passcodes from security apps—like Google Authenticator. While this isn’t the sexiest of news, it’s great to see this practice growing in popularity: using a token-based app, rather than a text message, to authenticate into other apps and services.
You should be doing this whenever possible. There are plenty of reports that have shown just how easy it is for a hacker to call up a cellular carrier, find an unsuspecting customer service agent, and pretend they’re you. The bitcoin exchange Kraken (humorously) described the process in a 2016 blog post:
And even though cellular carriers (and the FTC) know about the prevalence of this hack—often called “SIM hijacking” or “SIM porting”--this Motherboard article notes that some carriers are only now beginning to offer basic measures to thwart this line of attack.
And you’re only “more secure” if you’ve actually done something like add a special PIN code to your account that a person would have to submit to verify they’re you when calling up a wireless carrier’s customer service. If you didn’t do that, or even knew you could, having your number stolen by a hacker can be cyber-catastrophic, as Motherboard notes:
Stop letting sites and services text you two-factor authentication codes
There are some sites—I won’t name which ones—that still send me text messages whenever I need to log in. It’s a bad security practice that I blame entirely on my laziness; that, and I don’t really keep as up to date as I should about which sites and services offer app-based two-factor authentication instead of text-based two-factor authentication.
If you’re not sure whether your favorite sites or services support this kind of “token-based” two-factor authentication, you have two options. First, you can scroll through your text messages and find when companies have messaged you a login code, and then go and scan the site’s settings to see if you can set up a software token in your favorite app.
And since I mentioned it, if you’re just getting started with two-factor authentication apps and have no idea what to even use, sites that support token-based two-factor authentication typically have recommendations for apps you should use. Otherwise, here are a handful of popular options:
Your favorite service might even use its own mobile app as an authenticator of-sorts—like Facebook’s Code Generator, for example. If it’s enabled, and you go to log in to Facebook on a new web browser, you’ll be prompted to enter a code from your Facebook mobile app. (Though you can always set up Facebook’s two-factor authentication with something like Google Authenticator, if you want.)
If you don’t have any text messages with login codes to go through, perhaps because you delete them once you’ve logged in to a site or service, you can also check out the ever-helpful Two Factor Auth website. Click on any category and you’ll see a comprehensive listing of apps and services, as well as which two-factor authentication setups they support—if any.
No matter how you do it, even if you have to manually go through your browser history to see which sites you most frequent, you should switch everything you access over to token-based two-factor authentication. That way, if a hacker ever gets a hold of your phone number, they won’t be able to break into the rest of your digital life.
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM
Nine Let's Plays That Can Turn A Bad Mood Around
Sometimes, when I’ve had a bad day or when the weather is horrible, I go on YouTube and find a Let’s Play to watch. On days where I just want to cry, I especially like tuning in to Let’s Plays that will make me laugh. I no longer feel alone, and the negative thoughts that were plaguing my mind fade. If you’re feeling that way, here are some of our favorite playthroughs that are guaranteed to at least put a smile on your face.
Kingdom Hearts - Press Buttons ‘n Talk
ProzD, Manky, and Anne Marie provide a refreshingly nonchalant take on this beloved game with their playthrough of Kingdom Hearts. They don’t hesitate to make fun of the Kingdom Hearts characters or shade Donald and Goofy when they finally start participating in a battle. ProzD and Manky also do an amazing job at voice-acting your favorite characters (particularly Dolan and Gooby) and making them say the weirdest and funniest stuff. The Press Buttons ‘n Talk’s playthrough of Kingdom Hearts is a great and humorous way to revisit the game, especially if it’s been a long time since you last picked it up.
Tattletail - Markiplier
Markiplier has an uncomfortable and exasperated one-sided conversation with the creepy Furby-like Tattletail in his short playthrough of the indie horror game of the same name. His visible unease, anxious screaming, and eventual annoyance with Tattletail makes my childhood nightmare a joy to watch and experience!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Video Games Awesome
Fraser Agar and the crew at Video Games Awesome are incredibly genuine and always fun to watch. Their Phoenix Wright playthrough—which is packed with hilarious voice acting—has a lot of laughter and plenty of side-eying at the series’ dubious courtroom logic. It helps that, for all the silliness, Ace Attorney has some of the most memorable characters in any game or visual novel. Fans should have a fun time with this but it’s even better if you’re new to the series.
- Heather Alexandra
Undertale - Cryaotic
Cryaotic’s playthrough of Undertale is one of my favorite playthroughs. Not only does Cry have an amazing voice, which he uses to bring Undertale’s characters to life, but he also is genuinely amused by and invested in the game and its story. His laughter is infectious and you won’t be able to keep yourself from laughing along.
Outlast - Gia Katya
This playthrough of the psychological horror survival game Outlast by Gia Katya is a must-see, because she dodges the game’s homicidal patients while doing an exceptional impression of Nicki Minaj. Her Let’s Play, aptly titled Nicki Minaj Plays Outlast, includes “appearances” from celebrities like Iggy Azalea and Taylor Swift, the click-clacking of high heels when Nicki makes a mad dash, and sick in-character rapping. If you like what you see, you should check out Nicki Minaj Plays Resident Evil 7.
Doki Doki Literature Club - Game Grumps
The Game Grumps’ playthrough of the horror indie hit Doki Doki Literature Club is a must-see. Arin and Dan’s unforgettably good voice-acting and entertaining commentary adds a layer of hilarity to an otherwise creepy and mind-blowing game. They enhance the experience of the game’s slow beginning with their funny add-ons to the characters’ dialogue. Also, Dan’s genuine shock to the game’s later plot twists is both relatable and amusing.
Super Seducer - 2 Girls 1 Let’s Play
Are you looking for more sarcastic humor? If so, you should check out Mari and Stacy’s playthrough of choose-your-own-adventure Super Seducer. The duo genuinely dissects the advice that dating coach Richard La Ruina shares in the game, providing honest feedback to what he has to say. They also fiddle around with all the obviously bad decisions the player can make, which results in a lot of laughter and second-hand embarrassment.
King’s Quest VI - Steam Train
I grew up playing adventure games. I adored all things Monkey Island but there was another series of games that I loved just as much: Sierra’s King’s Quest series. The early games were fun but the later games got truly whimsical. King’s Quest VI’s Emerald Isles are somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and The Elder Scrolls, and I loved exploring them. This playthrough by Steam Train embraces the silliness and approaches the game with enthusiasm. It’s funny stuff that captures all the frustration and excitement of stumbling through adventure games.
- Heather Alexandra
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM
Marine BiologistMelissa Cristina Márquez Was Bitten and Dragged by a Crocodile...and Lived to Tell Her Story
Marine Biologist Melissa Cristina Márquez Was Bitten and Dragged by a Crocodile...and Lived to Tell Her Story
When a crocodile clamped down on her leg and began to drag her earlier this year, Melissa Cristina Márquez performed the impossible: She stayed very calm.
Her job as a marine biologist requires her to be fearless in the face of giant predators. She’s come nose-to-snout with the likes of great whites and tiger sharks as part of her work studying the habitats of chondrichthyans, and remaining calm come naturally to her. “I’m just fascinated by misunderstood predators, and they just happen to be the most misunderstood so, I’ve never felt scared of them,” she told Jezebel by phone from Sydney, Australia, in June. (Márquez received her master’s degree from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.)
Until earlier this year, her biggest career-related brush with danger occurred when a highly venomous centruroides scorpion that had been hiding out in her wetsuit stung her, leaving her arm paralyzed for three weeks.
And then she met the croc. In April, Márquez was filming a program for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programming in the Cuban archipelago Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen). The documentary followed Márquez and her crew on their search to find a legendarily large local hammerhead shark known as La Reina. During a sweep of the shallows, Márquez encountered the croc. The next day she tweeted a brief recap of the incident, which began:
The incident was depicted on the Shark Week documentary Cuba’s Secret Shark Lair, which aired on Monday.
Márquez told Jezebel her croc-bite tale in detail. So riveting was her recounting in our interview with her that we are publishing it in full, with light editing for clarity:
MARQUEZ: The irony is: I was bitten by a crocodile during Shark Week. Another scientist and I were filming in Jardines de la Reina, looking for this big hammerhead shark that local Cubans know as the queen, La Reina. We were trying to figure out if it’s just one big female shark, or if it was multiple big sharks, because Cuba’s very secluded from the rest of the world.
Specifically, the Jardines de la Reina only allows around a thousand divers every year. We were really really privileged and really lucky to get to go to this beautiful place. During one of our scuba dives, I had the idea of going into the shallows because hammerheads hunt in the shallows for stingrays. It’s easier really—a good hunting ground. While diving in the shallows, we suddenly saw this big figure. And when we moved our lights, we realized it was an American crocodile. We knew that there were crocodiles around, we just didn’t know they were that close.
Toward the end of our dive, when they were taking out the lights and whatnot, my comms mask started acting up. I was having a really hard time communicating. I couldn’t hear what was going on, and I was getting sprayed in the face with saltwater every now and then. It was just really uncomfortable. So when my dive buddy signaled, “Hey I’m going up,” and I’m like, “Perfect.”
As he was going up and I was about to go up, I was kneeling on my knees on the sandy bottom. It wasn’t that deep at all. I could stand. Suddenly I felt really hard pressure on my left calf, and I was like, “That’s weird.” I thought, “That’s my fin.”And suddenly I started getting dragged backwards, and was like, “Nope, that’s not a fin.”
The first thing that went through my mind is, “Alright, this is most likely a crocodile, because this isn’t what sharks do.” But crocodiles were a completely new animal to me. The closet I’ve come to working with crocodiles is being a Florida native and knowing what to do in the presence of alligators. I did know a few things about crocodiles’ predation, so the first thing that went through my mind was, “Whatever you do, do not move your leg.”
I was in its mouth, which is highly receptive to texture, to taste. I hoped that it wasn’t not biting me too hard. It didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel pain. I felt really, really hard pressure, but no actual pain. So I was hoping, “Alright, hopefully, because I have the scuba suit on, no blood is coming out, so it doesn’t taste that. It doesn’t feel the meat, essentially, of my leg. It just tastes the neoprene, and it’s gonna let me go.”
I was like, “Don’t struggle,” because two things can happen. Crocodiles will either bite down harder, and then I would start feeling pain, and then: There goes all my rational thinking, really. If it bit down harder, not only would it possibly be painful, but it also could have taken out a chunk of my leg. Or, the worst scenario is that it rolled. That’s how a lot of them incapacitate their prey.
This was right below my knee, so I thought, “Either from my knee below is gonna pop out, or my whole entire leg’s gonna pop off. Either way, I’m gonna bleed to death.” Cuba is very isolated, especially where we were. We were about 80 km south of Cuba. I would have bled out before any medical attention would’ve come get me, essentially. Especially because it was late at night, so I was like, “Whatever you do, do not move your leg.” Once that thought went through my head, the next thing I did was claw at the sand, to see if there was a rock or something I could hold onto.
But I couldn’t find anything. And at this point, I was going into darkness. It was taking me away from the lights. It wasn’t dragging me hard—it was a very slow drag. This was a 10-foot crocodile. Weight, I couldn’t tell you, but was a big croc for its species. I started hitting the microphone, hoping that even though I couldn’t hear them, they could possibly hear me. That’s when I started saying, “Hey, I’m being dragged, I’m being bit.”All of this lasted maybe 10 seconds, tops. But time went really slowly for me then. Everything slowed down, and my mind kind of went into overdrive.
At the very last second, it just opened up its jaws and let me go. I didn’t have to fight it or anything. I think it finally realized, “No, this isn’t what I normally eat. This is a weird texture, it’s not fighting back, etc.” etc. As soon as I realized I wasn’t in its mouth anymore I filled my BCD (buoyancy control device) vest and I shot straight up.
That isn’t the best method of surfacing. Usually you’re supposed to have some sort of safety stop, but I was like, “Nah, no safety stop, I’m bleeding out, I need to know.” I popped up, and my buddy looked at me like, “What in the world? What took her so long?” I struggled to get the mask off. I finally did, trying not to move my leg that much. I didn’t know what it looked like then, I didn’t know how bad the damage was.
I said, “I got bit, I got dragged.” I went into shock a little bit, because I don’t remember really what happened next in the water. I remember people yelling, “Get her on the platform! Get her onto the boat!” I remember at one point, there were three people around me, all dragging my tank to move me faster through the water. I do remember a man kind of turning me toward him to take off my fins being like, “You’re okay, you’re okay.” And then I just got picked up out of the water and onto the platform, and then got my stuff taken off. At least all the heavy scuba diving stuff. The suit, I still had on, and I could see that my leg was there, which was good.
Then Mike, the medic, came up, got his medic bag, and opened up my brand new scuba suit, which I was really sad about. He basically just tore it open with scissors. I was like, “Nooo!” And that’s when we saw the bite.
On the outside of my left leg, there’s two deep puncture wounds. And on the inside, there’s a whole entire a row of teeth, essentially. Not all of them were super deep, some of them were deeper than others, just because not all crocodile teeth are the same exact size. That night only a few puncture wounds were really, really bleeding. The rest of them were more bruised. Five minutes after the croc bite, there was already swelling. Because I wasn’t in immediate danger of my leg being completely torn off, they put me on oxygen for possible bends and were trying to warm me up.
While they called DAN (Divers’ Alert Network) and doctors, the medic was working on cleaning my wound. If the croc bite doesn’t kill you, the infection will, because of just how disgusting their mouths are. They put bleach into my wounds through a high pressure hose. That was more painful than the bite.
I was just answering the medic’s questions, and during a lull in these questions, it hit me like, “Oh my god, what just happened?” He noticed that and was like, “You’re okay, you’re okay!” I nodded, and said, “I’m just sad about the new wetsuit!” Everyone laughed, and the tension was kind of broken. They knew I was okay because I was cracking jokes.
Because we were in Cuba, and I’m Hispanic, I was actually translating between the Cuban medic and the English-speaking medic. Like, “This is what they’re doing, this is what they recommend.”
The night was tough. All told, it was 20 minutes of chaos. I got some really strong antibiotics, which did save my leg from any further infection, but also really, totally, royally screwed over my stomach lining. And the next day (the night, really), I was also dry-heaving. I think it was the shock and the stress of the night in combination with the shock and the stress of a really strong medication going into my stomach. That’s when we started talking about possibly medically evacuating me to the States. We talked about it with multiple medics, multiple doctors, and finally we made the decision that I would stay for another day, but I would go home a little bit earlier than the rest of the crew, so that I could get looked at by professionals in a hospital setting, which is not to say that the people who were on the boat weren’t professionals. I definitely was that Miami hospital’s favorite patient that day, because everyone came, including a class, to look at my croc bite.
Some of the wounds are still healing currently. I’ve still got two of the really deep bite wounds that are still open and slowly closing. The bites weren’t tears or anything. They were very, very clean puncture wounds, just straight up and down. I do sometimes feel a little bit of pain, kind of like a charley horse sort of pain. Other than that, the fact that I literally can walk away from that, after a croc bite puts me in an interesting position as a quote-unquote “croc attack survivor,” but also as a predator scientist.
I can talk to people about this very rationally, I would like to think. The first thing I tell people is: I don’t blame the crocodile, nor do I blame the crew. We had a ton of safety measures put in place, and freak accidents just happen. That’s what it was. It could’ve happened to anyone, it just happened to happen to me. It was best-case scenario of a worst-case scenario.
I was telling some of my friends this story, and they were like, “Oh, did they kill the crocodile?” I’m like, “What? No, they didn’t kill the crocodile!” That that’s the knee-jerk reaction made me really sad. It’s one of those things where these animals also get a pretty bad rap. I think what happened is that it was disoriented from the lights that we had, it was on the ocean floor, bumped into something that happened to be my leg, and bit it to figure out exactly what it was. That’s just the nature of predators. I’m very happy to talk about my story and shine a light on it, being like, “Oh, you know, it’s not the animal’s fault. These things sometimes just happen.”
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
July 25, 2018 at 03:28PM