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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This Girl Is Replacing Photos of Her Ex’s Face with Beyoncé’s to Help Cure Her Broken Heart

This Girl Is Replacing Photos of Her Ex’s Face with Beyoncé’s to Help Cure Her Broken Heart


This Girl Is Replacing Photos of Her Ex’s Face with Beyoncé’s to Help Cure Her Broken Heart

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 11:15 AM PDT

After a breakup, Cassandra Blackwell photoshopped Beyoncé’s face over the photos she took with her ex-boyfriend. Then she compiled the images on a Tumblr called “Beyoncify My Boyfriend.” Since the website has gone viral, she has offered to “Beyoncify” other people’s photos with their exes. And now we can’t get the pop star’s hit “Single Ladies” out of our head.

Cassandra Blackwell

 

Cassandra Blackwell

Contract Negotiations Stall Big Bang Theory Production

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 11:15 AM PDT

Production for the upcoming season of The Big Bang Theory has been postponed due to contract negotiations, Warner Bros. Television said Wednesday.

The nerdsploitation comedy series has consistently garnered high ratings for CBS, and has received Emmy love for star Jim Parsons and series regular Mayim Bialik. According to The Wrap, the actors who were still negotiating their contracts were Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco. Warner Bros. would not comment past their statement announcing the production’s postponement.

The Wrap reports that network executives were confident contract negotiations would pan out during the Television Critics Association press tour earlier in July. No word yet about how this will affect the show’s scheduled return Sept. 22.

Perhaps Wil Wheaton is to blame.

“The Book Was Better”: Why Readers of TV Adaptations Need to Let Go

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:59 AM PDT

The battle between books and TV used to be fought by bibliophiles proclaiming that they didn’t even own televisions. Today, the terms of battle have changed, as prestige TV has gotten enough cultural status that there is probably some counter-snob bragging, at a cocktail party somewhere, “Why, I don’t even own a book!”

But the latest point of contention is between readers and watchers of the same story, when an acclaimed, popular work of fiction (e.g., A Song of Ice and Fire) becomes an acclaimed, popular TV drama (e.g., Game of Thrones). If you read a franchise before it was adapted for the tube, is your fandom more true than a newcomer viewer? Does the TV series owe you a faithfulness to the original story? And do you suddenly have to clam up about “spoilers” you read a decade ago?

Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones recently weighed in on that last issue with a directness that would do her character Arya Stark proud, sticking book purists with the pointy end: “I'm so sick of going on the Internet and seeing all the book readers being snobby, spoiling it for other people, then saying, ‘Well, it's not a spoiler. The books have been out for years.’ Like, couldn't you just stop being mad for a second and let other people enjoy the show?”

Speaking as a reader of the books, she’s right–up to a point. If anyone that desperately wants to know what’s coming up in the books, nothing’s stopping them from reading ahead, so I’m not taking a vow of silence. On the other hand, I don’t have to be a jerk about it: in my reviews of GoT–which at this point has started diverging from the books in key ways anyway–I pointedly avoid book spoilage, at least without warning anyone. There are plenty of big forums for book readers to discuss the series with other readers–the AV Club has gone as far as publishing separate “newbies” and “experts” reviews.

There’s a similar dynamic going on with The Walking Dead (which has diverged even father from the source graphic novels, or so I’m told). And pretty soon we’ll have a new book fandom entering the TV-space: Outlander, based on a massively popular fantasy-romance-history series by Diana Gabaldon–involving war, sex, time travel and 18th-century Scotland–debuts on Starz August 9. And as with Game of Thrones, its loyal readers will be watching closely. Very closely.

Writing for Vanity Fair online, Joanna Robinson angered some of these Outlanderphiles Tuesday when she posted a critique of the credits sequence that Starz has put online, arguing that the misty-highlands music and the “Ren-meets-Lilith-Fair” visuals suggested that Starz was positioning and marketing the series as a genre romance in a way that might turn off a larger audience, especially men. It was hardly an in-depth review, but it was a legitimate enough subject for a short post about the marketing of a TV series–from a writer who has been an astute critic of series like Game of Thrones. (I’ve seen six episodes of Outlander, which I’ll review later. I think it has crossover potential, and I didn’t exactly think I needed to turn in my Man Card for watching it. But, to Robinson’s concern, the series itself is a good bit less gauzy than those credits and Bear McCreary theme song suggest.)

A slew of commenters, though, took Robinson’s critique of Starz’s marketing of the TV series specifically as an attack on the books, and their genre at large–on them. (Starz, she suggested, was making Outlander look like “Fifty Shades of Plaid,” in a way that might appeal only to “your dear old mum.”) What especially struck me, though, was a repeated refrain in the angry replies from fans: “If you have read Outlander, which I don’t believe you did, you would never make those silly comments.”

Robinson pointed out on Twitter that she actually has read Outlander. But suppose she hadn’t. So what? What’s really going on here is a larger, recurrent argument here about fandom and ownership.

Outlander the TV series is an adaptation, which Starz–like HBO or AMC or any other adapter–is making for an audience that, ideally, will be far larger than the readership alone. Can you not have a legitimate opinion on them unless you have read the source books–and unless you love the source books and are invested in a series you haven’t yet seen? Are the old fans the true fans, the authentic fans, the authoritative fans? Can you truly appreciate and understand an adaption without reading the source–or is it actually a handicap?

HBO’s Game of Thrones. HELEN SLOAN

I’ve been on both sides of this, and my strict rule about reading the source material is: there is no rule. I’ve read the A Song of Ice and Fire books and I love them–not without reservation–but there are times I wish I could watch Game of Thrones without knowing what’s coming or being tempted to compare. Knowing the general story lets me focus on Thrones‘ themes and characters without getting bogged down in plot speculation. On the other hand, I can never un-read the books and know what it would be like to watch the series from that perspective.

So when I heard HBO was adapting The Leftovers, I decided not to read the book, even though I’m a fan of Tom Perrotta’s other novels. I’ve never read The Walking Dead graphic novels, not because I care about being spoiled but because I don’t have enough interest. Outlander—that’s a lot of books to read in a little time, and I’d just as soon go in without preconceptions. On the other hand, I eagerly read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, long before the BBC announced its upcoming adaption of the fantasy novel, and I can’t wait to see it.

In other words, I’ve been a reader and a non-reader. One experience is not better, purer or more authoritative than the other. Neither experience makes judgment of the visual version of the story more or less legitimate. They are qualitatively different experiences–but they are just that, different, and it’s impossible to have both experiences at once. That’s why I’m glad, for instance, that I can read Game of Thrones reviews both by critics who have read the source and ones who haven’t–I find things in both that I can’t expect to get from the other.

People who came to Game of Thrones years after I read the books are not fandom gentrifiers. Our perspectives aren’t inherently better or worse than the other. And the same goes for books vs. their adaptations. As a reader of ASOIAF, HBO owes me precisely nothing–except in the sense that it “owes” me as a subscriber to make any TV series a good TV series. It doesn’t owe me a reproduction of my favorite scenes and storylines. Our default adjective for adaptations is “faithful,” but there’s no breach of faith inherent in changing a story for the screen. There are things I miss in Game of Thrones, but in many ways the streamlining of the vast, digressive story has been an improvement–and in any case, it’s better suited for TV.

But beyond that, HBO could have turned ASOIAF into a laugh-track family sitcom–That’s My Lannister!–with a wacky space-alien neighbor living next door to the Red Keep, and it would not diminish my reading experience one bit. It would change the larger world’s perception of the story, yes. Any TV or film adaptation is likely to have a much broader cultural reach than the novels it was based on–and there’s another reason for readers to feel anxious about adaptations. But in the end, what other people think of a story you love doesn’t matter. What matters is the individual, and inalienable, bond the story makes with you.

I don’t know how true Outlander will ultimately be to the books, but one way or another Outlander‘s literary fans will soon have to deal with all of this just as ASOIAF‘s have. (If my friend and colleague Lev Grossman’s The Magicians ends up becoming a series at Syfy, so will its readers.) And I recognize that this tension is especially strong among readers of genre fiction, who have learned to expect their favorites to be dismissed as silly stories for Dorito-stained fanboys or doily-clutching old ladies. That may be, for instance, why you don’t hear the same kind of outcry or policing among Perrotta fans over HBO’s Leftovers–literary-fiction readers just don’t have to deal with the same kind of insults. As a genre fan, you become protective. You are The Watcher–or rather, The Reader–on The Wall.

But in the end, the book is the book. The show is the show. I’m glad to accept that I’m going to get different things from one than from the other–and if one of them ends up sucking, it doesn’t diminish the other. It’s just one more reason that it’s a good thing to own both a TV set and a bookcase.

CDC Reports More Cases of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:57 AM PDT

More than 600 Americans have been infected with the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus so far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. The vast majority of cases, the CDC says, were not contracted locally.

The disease (pronounced: chik-en-gun-ye), which causes fever, joint pain, headaches, swelling and rashes is not fatal, but it can be very painful. Earlier this month, the first locally-transmitted case was reported in Florida. There is no vaccine for chikungunya, but it is not contagious. The best way to avoid the disease is to stay protected from mosquitos by wearing adequate clothing and by getting rid of standing water.

The CDC says it expects more cases of the virus to pop up among travelers, given recent outbreaks in regions like the Caribbean and the Pacific. Imported cases of the virus could mean the disease will spread locally, the CDC said.

You can read more about chikungunya in the U.S. here.

Congress Plays Chicken With Highway Funding

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:50 AM PDT

The House and Senate have two competing versions of a temporary fix for the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money at the beginning of August if nothing is done.

The House passed its version of the $10.9 billion fund bailout on July 15, while the Senate passed a bill of its own Tuesday night. The problem, however, is that House Republicans object to how the Senate pays for its bill, arguing the upper chamber has left a $2 billion hole that's unpaid for.

"I just want to make clear: If the Senate sends a highway bill over here with those provisions, we're just going to strip it out," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Tuesday.

The legislative friction comes just as both chambers are expected to recess for five weeks at the end of this week, setting up a game of congressional chicken. The House plans to re-pass its version and send it back to the Senate before breaking for recess, thus leaving the Senate with the choice of defaulting or passing the House bill. If there’s enough time, however, the Senate could turn the tables on the lower chamber, passing its version of the bill and daring the House to not come back to work and prevent a default.

Such games of chicken are common before recess breaks. In this case, what will most likely happen is the slower-moving Senate will likely accept and pass the House version. But all the ping-ponging doesn't endear Congress to the states and companies depending on Highway Trust Fund money for projects—or to the American people at large.

Turkish Women Can’t Stop Laughing at Minister’s Advice to Stop Laughing

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:44 AM PDT

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc did not intend his Monday speech on “moral corruption” to get big laughs, but when he advised women to suppress their laughter in public, it landed on the public like a well-crafted punchline. Women in Turkey have since tweeted pictures of their reactions, ranging from grins…

…to guffaws.

Over the past three days, hundreds of thousands of people have tweeted under the hashtag, “kahkaha,” the Turkish word for laughter. Sadly, the minister wasn’t joking.

 

How 2 Gay Men Live in a Country Where Homosexuality Is Illegal

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Some 37 African countries criminalize homosexual relationships, with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to death sentences, according to a Human Rights Campaign Foundation report released Tuesday. The report, which analyzed LGBT rights in 54 African countries in total, paints a picture of a continent in crisis.

In Ghana, a country often regarded as among the most progressively democratic nations in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal, punishable by up to three years imprisonment. A recent Pew survey of various countries, not all African, reveals that 98 percent of Ghanaians feel that homosexuality is "morally unacceptable," the highest percentage of any country surveyed.

“In Ghana, everybody is culturally and religiously blinded," says Fred K., an openly gay man living in the Ghanaian capital of Accra who didn’t want to share his last name for fear of criminal and social repercussions. "They think that it's demonic … so I just pray that a time comes that they decide to change and be like the Western countries."

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation's report is out just a week before U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to hold the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.. Advocates from the U.S. and Africa are jumping on that opportunity to bring the the continent’s controversial LGBT rights record to the world’s attention.

"My fellow gays don't want anything to be legalized," Nana Yaw, a human rights activist and openly gay man, says. "All they want is for their rights to be respected and protected."

Inside Sarah Palin’s Truman Show

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 10:18 AM PDT

Any time former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has a thought, she now can share it with the world, or at least the world of Internet television subscribers willing to pay $9.99 a month or $99.95 a year for Palin's pearls of wisdom.

The newest platform for Palinisms is brought to us by Tapp, a platform for subscription video channels. Palin is the second channel Tapp has launched, following one for radio relationship guru Steve Arterburn. But while Arterburn usually films his daily shows over a day and a half each week, Palin's approach is decidedly more Truman-esque — that's Truman like Jim Carrey's The Truman Show, not the former President.

Tapp installed dozens of cameras in Palin's two homes, one in Alaska and another in Arizona, so that any time the mood strikes her, she can flip on a camera virtually anywhere in her house and broadcast. "She's not on a set. She can just riff and you're seeing your idol in their natural habitat," Jon Klein, Tapp co-founder and CEO, tells TIME.

Palin has also gone mobile, shooting video on smartphones "as she's taking her kids around town," says Klein. "It's really front row seat of her life as it unfolds,” he adds.

Klein approached Palin with the idea through her lawyer, Bob Barnett, and he has shouldered all the upfront costs, while he’ll split any profits with Palin. He says he's already happy with the response to their endeavor, though he declines to "characterize" the number of people who have signed up thus far. Active members of the armed services can sign up for free.

So, what does Palin talk about all day long? "She's really in to what people post— the comments on her Facebook page, she reads Twitter—and she's really into the communal aspects of things. She loves crowds; loves engaging. Instead of keeping all the responses to herself or turning to [her husband] Todd Palin, she can flip on the camera and respond."

And her "super fans," as Klein calls her subscriber base, can respond as well. A sampling of some of the comments Palin followers have made on her channel:

Curtesy of Tapp cable tv

 

But Palin's "super fans" aren't the only ones who have taken notice. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert registered the domain TheSarahPalinChannel.com. Thus far, the site just links to a Colbert show segment on Palin and Paul Revere, but Colbert and his staff have promised to have some fun with Palin and her channel's footage. Super fans, it seems, come in all different forms.

ManServants: The Startup That Promises to Make (Almost) All Your Fantasies Come True

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 09:57 AM PDT

Ladies, are you tired of (and maybe a little grossed out by) the male strippers at bachelorette parties? Do you wish instead that you could just hire a hot guy to serve you food, do your laundry, or dole out creative compliments whenever you walk into a room? Beginning in the fall, new San Francisco-based startup ManServants promises you can have all that, and more, with their rent-a-perfect-guy service.

The men for hire go through “a very rigorous training process,” co-founder Dalal Khajah told Mashable, and they can be hired to do whatever the client wants. During the testing phase of the service, one woman wanted a sassy gay friend to give her relationship advice. Another wanted her man to serve her food while singing songs from The Little Mermaid.

The singing will cost you extra – according to ManServants’ website, the standard services include waiting on you hand and foot, serving drinks, acting as a body guard, taking photos, giving compliments, and “[cleaning] up your hot mess.” For an additional fee, you can get your ManServant to do things like speak in an accent, or give you a spa day complete with cucumber water and chocolate covered strawberries. (The website doesn’t say what it will cost you to hire your ManServant, but he will be compensated by the company beginning at $80 per hour and $300 per day.)

Josephine Wai Lin, Khajah’s business partner, explained all the customizable options: “Every woman’s fantasy is different.”

But one thing the men won’t do is fulfill fantasies that are less innocent than say, singing “Under the Sea.” In the ManServants code of conduct it says, “A ManServant keeps his penis in his pants and out of the lady’s face.” Chivalry isn’t dead!

The company’s vision is “to empower women to make their own rules. Rules a ManServant may then follow.” So watch the hilarious promo video, and start coming up with ideas.

Stephen Colbert Scoops Up Sarah Palin’s Domain Name

Posted: 30 Jul 2014 09:54 AM PDT

Two competing Sarah Palin websites have launched in recent days. The first is called “Sarah Palin Channel,” and it offers subscribers a 24-hour newsfeed of pure, unmediated Palin for $99.95 a year. The second is called “The Sarah Palin Channel” (emphasis ours), and it promises to be “The only Sarah Palin Channel on the internet with a definite article in the address!” (emphasis theirs).

The website also happens to be a parody concocted by Stephen Colbert, who announced on Tuesday night’s episode of the Colbert Report that he had exclusive rights to TheSarahPalinChannel.com. Unlike its rival, the Colbert version will offer all of its content free of charge.

Today’s exclusive content? A link to another Colbert Show parody of a Sarah Palin project.

 

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