Disney reaches out to terminally ill Avengers fan

It’s a sad, sad day for fans of the “world’s cutest dog.”

On Friday, the owners of Boo the Pomeranian announced on social media that Boo died in his sleep at the age of 12. The precious and beloved pup has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram, and several books written about him.

Though Boo’s humans are “heartbroken,” they explained they’re hopeful that Boo will soon be reunited with his best friend Buddy, who died in Sept. 2017.

“I brought Boo home in the spring of 2006 and so started the greatest, most heartwarming friendship of all time. Shortly after Buddy died, Boo showed signs of heart issues. We think his heart literally broke when Buddy left us. He hung on and gave us over a year. But it looks like it was his time, and I’m sure it was a most joyous moment for them when they saw each other in heaven.”

“We find comfort knowing that he is no longer in any pain or discomfort. We know that Buddy was the first to greet him on the other side of that rainbow bridge, and this is likely the most excited either of them have been in a long time,” Boo’s owners explained.

After the news broke, Boo’s many fans mourned his death online and offered love and gratitude to his family for sharing his journey.

“Since starting Boo’s FB page, I’ve received so many notes over the years from people sharing stories of how Boo brightened their days and helped bring a little light to their lives during difficult times.  And that was really the purpose of all this,” Boo’s owner went on.

“Boo brought joy to people all over the world. Boo is the happiest dog I’ve ever met. He was so easy going that we never had to bother with training. He made the manliest of men squeal with delight over his cuteness and made everyone laugh with his quirky, tail wagging personality.”

Boo’s humans then proceeded to thank all of the loving fans, doctors, therapists, and animals hospital staff members that both Boo and Buddy encountered over the past 10 years.

Rest in peace, Boo. You will be missed.

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/boo-internet-pomeranian-dies-from-broken-heart/

George RR Martin says that Daenerys would benefit from reading ‘Fire and Blood’

George RR Martin says that even Daenerys Targaryen should be reading his new book
Image: WireImage

A lot of Game of Thrones fans are still slightly upset that George RR Martin took time to write a 700-page book of Targaryen history, when he should be spending all waking hours finishing The Winds of Winter. 

But, we now know that Fire and Blood does contain important information relating to GoT. And Martin just emphasized again that Fire and Blood is not just a bone he’s throwing his fans to get them to leave him alone for a while. 

In an exclusive video published on Esquire, Martin said that even Daenerys herself should probably give the book a read to better understand how to play the game of thrones. 

“This is a book that Daenerys might actually benefit from reading,” Martin said. 

Image: Courtesy of HBO

Fire and Blood is Martin writing as Archermaester Gyldayn, resident of the citadel in Oldtown, Westeros. And though Daenerys is busy elsewhere getting people to bend the knee, she would really benefit from a reading trip to the citadel. 

“She has no access to Archermaester Gyldayn’s crumbling manuscripts,” Martin told Esquire. “So she’s operating on her own there.” 

But he says that this text holds important information for the Mother of Dragons. “Maybe if she understood a few things more about dragons and her own history in Essos, things would have gone a little differently,” he adds. 

If we all promise to read Fire and Blood, will you please finish the other one already, George?

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/george-rr-martin-fire-and-blood-daenerys/

The radical, democratising power of Instagram poetry

Image: vicky leta/mashable

We millennials like our poetry typed out in neat fonts on rustic pastel backgrounds, centred in a tiny square on a small screen. We read short, simple, and relatable poems which may strike a chord with us for a second before we scroll on to the next Timothée Chalamet appreciation post or #brunch pic.

I’m talking, of course, about poetry native to Instagram. A budding genre scoffed by the literary community but loved by millions of young readers. 

This Insta-friendly verse, with its distinct tone and aesthetic, is serving sincerity and feeling in the place we need it the most: the ever ironic, cynical internet. It’s this vulnerability on a platform that’s more-often-than-not replete with inauthenticity and polished veneers that makes it so striking. 

Roll your eyes all you like, but Instagram poets are defining the genre for the millennial generation with a radical democratisation and push for diversity in the poetry world. Their work is accessible in more than one sense of the word, and while the critics may not always like it, their work is now being celebrated as “gateway poetry” — and that can only be a good thing. 

Household names in the Instagram poetry realm are now also recognised names in bookstores and the literary world in general. The most famous poet of Instagram is 25-year-old Rupi Kaur, whose poetry has — apart from securing seven-figure sales numbers — reached the level of popularity and recognisability where it is now a (frankly hilarious) meme. R.M. Drake, or Robert Macias, is perhaps best known for being reposted by the Kardashians, but he is also the author of several bestsellers. British poets Charly Cox (read her poem about kale) and queer poet Yrsa Daley Ward are making strides in Europe. Not to mention Nayyirah Waheed (read up on her plagiarism dispute with Kaur for real-life Insta poet drama), Tyler Knott Gregson, Amanda Lovelace, and Lang Leav. 

This is a diverse group of poets, many of whom have long since graduated from Instagram to print poetry, causing some to argue that the term”Instagram poet” is a lazy one, that their medium is the least interesting thing about them. But these poets do have more in common than their platform of choice, poetry experts say. The Instagram poets have given birth to a genre of their own.

“What the poets of Instagram tend to have in common is what I would call emotional relatability or accessibility, and a tone and vocabulary that is reminiscent of the self-help or self-improvement movement — many read like motivational quotes,” says Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan, digital director of the Institute of Poetry and Poetics at Durham University.

“It is not really about complex language, it is more about easily translatable universal emotions.”

It is precisely this relatability that makes Instagram poetry so resonant among millennials. Rather than alienating a young audience with convoluted language or complicated form, the ultimate goal of the Insta poets is always to connect directly with their audience. 

Judith Palmer, Director of the Poetry Society, says that one of the defining characteristics of Instagram poetry is that it’s less about flexing your linguistic muscles and more about gaining instant understanding from readers. “The language isn’t often being pushed and I don’t see a complex vocabulary,” says Palmer. “It is not really about complex language, it is more about easily translatable universal emotions.”

While short form diary-style writing has been an internet culture staple pretty much since the days of LiveJournal, Insta poets are breaking new ground by insisting that their writing is poetry and demanding it be viewed and respected as such.

According to Martha Sprackland, Associate Editor at Poetry London, that’s one of the things that sets high profile Insta poets apart from your average inspirational quote account. 

“There has long been light verse, slogans, inspirational quotes, whatever else; what’s more recent is their determination to be included in the bounds of ‘poetry,'” Sprackland tells Mashable. Per Sprackland, their dedication to belonging in the poetry genre is part of what has helped them gather an eager young audience around poetry. “I know that the rise of Instagram poetry has changed the perception of ‘poetry’ as a whole for large numbers of young people,” says Sprackland. 

While Instagram poets have achieved great mainstream commercial success, literary critics have unsparingly criticised them and their supposedly “amateur” writing. With their style and medium of choice, they are leading a commercialisation of the poetry genre and diluting the quality of poetry, a once high-brow literary genre. 

Poet Rebecca Watts argues in the poetry journal PN Review that Instagram poets are ruining poetry as an art form. “In the redefinition of poetry as ‘short-form communication’ the floodgates have been opened, writes Watts. “The reader is dead: long live consumer-driven content and the ‘instant gratification’ this affords,” Watts writes in the piece entitled ‘The Cult of the Noble Amateur.’ 

Watts wants the literary community to “stop celebrating amateurism and ignorance in our poetry, ” and insists that the size of one’s following says nothing of the quality of the writing (Watts even goes as far as to make a comparison to Donald Trump).

There is of course some truth to the point that a massive following does not ensure quality, as one trickster poet attempted to prove when he obtained thousands of followers writing four word poems on Instagram. 

But, according to the poetry experts, we’re looking at emerging poetry the wrong way. The exposure that Instagram has brought to the genre is a good thing, despite the fact that they’re taking the genre in a direction that the critics might not like. 

“What are those critics doing over there?” Sprackland asks. “It’s not for them. It’s a different genre, and it’s daft to try and approach it bristling with all the usual tools of the ‘contemporary page poetry’ critic,” Sprackland says. “It’s not a case of merit, but of misfiling, of mislabelling, and then a wilful refusal to admit that mislabelling for fear of either causing offence or appearing snobbish.”

But, this critical snobbery to newcomers to a genre isn’t exactly a new thing. Spencer-Regan points out that frowning upon art in a new more accessible medium it is “definitely not a new response.” 

“The emergence of this new kind of poetry can really make us question what poetry is and what makes it good. But these poets do reach large audiences, and their work clearly resonates with a lot of people — though it may not be to the personal taste of many academics and literary critics,” says Spencer-Regan. 

“It’s giving opportunities to many women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people who publicly disclose mental illnesses.”

Spencer-Regan argues that the Instagram poets have, in fact, succeeded at securing more diversity in a genre traditionally perceived to be dominated by white, straight people (both when it comes to both readers and writers). Spencer-Regan argues that these poets and their strategic use of social platforms have in fact reinvigorated and democratised the poetry world. 

“This is a radically democratic method of publishing that is giving opportunities to many women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people who publicly disclose mental illnesses,” says Spencer-Regan. “These people are rejecting the old rules of a literary world that they feel may have rejected them.”

According to Palmer of The Poetry Society, the Insta poets have successfully managed to bring poetry into people’s everyday life. Many poems deal with topics found in all sorts of Instagram content, such as body image, sexuality and gender. 

“What we’re seeing is contemporary life reflected and that is the big appeal. People have for too long had this idea that poetry is a small world, and that poetry is one thing. This is an unnecessary narrowing,” says Palmer. 

And, like it or not, Instagram poetry has introduced young people to a genre that, in the recent years, hasn’t had much of a hold on them. 

The poetry of Instagram may not be to the critics’ likings, or the likings of some adult readers, but that shouldn’t make us write it off as meaningless, trivial diary scribbles.

“Poetry will no longer be something remote or intimidating, but an art form that these young readers feel they can claim as their own.”

“You could argue that some of the poetry is trite, clichéd, bland or derivative. But we’re coming to it as more mature, more sophisticated readers,” says Spencer-Regan. “I can imagine being 14 and then finding these pages — they would speak to me in a whole other way, giving voice to feelings and experiences that I perhaps couldn’t have articulated for myself at that age.” 

Spencer-Regan sees Instagram poetry as a harnessing of the power of social media to get young people excited about verse. 

“We talk about Harry Potter as a ‘gateway’ book, and I suspect that these poems can work in the same way — to make young people curious about poe,” Spencer-Regan says. “Poetry will no longer be something remote or intimidating, but an art form that these young readers feel they can claim as their own.”

Whether you like or dislike the poetry in your feed, or you relate to the minimalist relatability of the Insta poets, their influence must be acknowledged. After all, if you have haters, you must be doing something right. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/instagram-poetry-democratise-genre/

Oscar race heats up as star-studded Toronto film festival begins

New films from Oscar winners Barry Jenkins, Michael Moore and Steve McQueen will be unveiled as part of this years lineup

Much-anticipated new films from Barry Jenkins, Steve McQueen and Michael Moore are set to be unveiled at this years Toronto film festival, beginning this week.

In one of the festivals stronger lineups in recent years, there will be 138 world premieres featuring a long list of stars, including Judi Dench, Julia Roberts, Steve Carell, Colin Farrell, Robert Pattinson, Viola Davis and Kristen Stewart.

The Oscar-winning writer-director Barry Jenkins will debut the follow up to his best picture winner Moonlight, an adaptation of James Baldwins If Beale Street Could Talk. The 70s drama follows a couple torn apart by a false accusation of rape and stars newcomer Kiki Layne alongside Race star Stephan James and Emmy winner Regina King.

The 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen will be premiering his new star-studded crime thriller Widows, based on the Lynda La Plante miniseries with a script co-written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Robert Duvall all star.

Its a genre picture, McQueen said to Variety. I liked the idea of going into a genre, but still having social realism involved. Chicago had all the elements that I wanted to investigate, those of race, class, religion, policing Its such a fertile narrative environment. It has this criminality that goes all the way back to Al Capone.

Set to be one of the festivals most talked-about titles is Fahrenheit 11/9, the latest documentary from Michael Moore. Its a look at America under the presidency of Donald Trump, its title a reference to the day he was elected. My choir is the American people, Moore said to HuffPost. The old guard of the Democratic party has failed to speak to them. I will at least give them a song they can belt out.

Timothee
Timothe Chalamet and Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy. Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Toronto also gives Oscars prognosticators a chance to put this years race into focus, with many hyped films and performances set to debut. After breaking out last year with Call Me by Your Name and scoring himself a best actor nomination, Timothe Chalamet could return to the conversation with his role as a meth-addicted teen in Beautiful Boy, also starring Steve Carell.

Julianne Moore, whose winning performance in Still Alice premiered at the festival in 2014, will return with the lead role as a woman facing first dates in her later years in Gloria Bell, a remake of the acclaimed Chilean drama Gloria, both directed by Sebastian Lelio. Last years ceremony saw Lelio take home the Oscar for best foreign language film for A Fantastic Woman.

Best supporting actor winner Mahershala Ali hopes to repeat his Moonlight success with a role in 50s drama Green Book alongside Viggo Mortensen. The film sees the pair taking a road trip in the deep south and encountering racial divisions.

The festival has previously been home to world premieres for major awards contenders, including Silver Linings Playbook, The Martian and The Theory of Everything.

Judi
Judi Dench in Red Joan. Photograph: 1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right/Toronto film festival

Other much-anticipated world premieres include the adaptation of award-winning police brutality YA novel The Hate U Give, Jamie Lee Curtiss long-awaited return to face Michael Myers in Halloween, Judi Dench playing the KGBs longest-serving British spy in Red Joan, Sam Taylor-Johnsons adaptation of James Freys controversial bestseller A Million Little Pieces, Kristen Stewart playing an unlikely literary sensation in fact-based drama Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy and Robert Pattinson heading into space for High Life, the latest film from Claire Denis.

Both Taylor-Johnson and Denis join an impressive list of female directors premiering their films at the festival after this years Venice film festival came under fire for its largely male list of film-makers. Cameron Bailey, who acts as both co-head and artistic director, is set to sign a charter that aims for 50/50 gender parity at the festival by 2020.

The move will be part of the festivals Share Her Journey rally aimed at shining a light on both womens stories in film and the harassment many of them face behind the scenes. This years event will also see Geena Davis and the British director Amma Asante speak.

Toronto arrives after both the Venice and Telluride festivals unveiled the first set of Oscar contenders. The most buzz has been circulating around Lady Gagas performance in Bradley Coopers remake of A Star is Born, Olivia Colmans turn as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimoss period comedy The Favourite and Alfonso Cuarns Netflix drama Roma.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/sep/05/toronto-film-festival-preview-oscars-barry-jenkins-michael-moore

50 websites to waste your time on

These fun websites are great for when you, a human, are bored. They're also great for dogs.
Image: Darwin WiggetT/Getty Images 

Bored with your usual digital stomping grounds?

Don’t fret, bored friend! There are plenty of sites other than Twitter or Instagram for you to waste countless hours on. Besides, it’s not like you could be doing something constructive at work or maybe, I don’t know, go outside. That requires like actually moving or interacting with other humans. Boo.

So if you prefer procrastination to productivity, this list of 50 websites should keep you amused for a few hours. Or you could sit there and keep refreshing Facebook until something interesting actually happens.

Useless Websites

1. Find the Invisible Cow

An Internet version of the hiding game Hot and Cold.

2. The Useless Web

Generates even more useless sites to waste your time.

3. Hacker Typer

Hollywood-style hacker code. Pound on your keys and freak out your boss.

4. Pointer Pointer

What’s the point of this? Yeah, I don’t know — just embrace the weird.

5. Staggering Beauty

Make the worm dance with your mouse. (Warning: Flashing images.)

6. Bees Bees Bees

This site reveals Oprah’s secret plans.

7. Shady URL

Changes URLs to look like viruses.

8. Don’t Even Reply

A collection of emails from awful people.

9. Shut Up and Take My Money

A shopping website of stuff you don’t need, but you really want.

10. Just this giant Wikipedia list of dogs

Space dogs? Check. War dogs? Check. Famous dogs? Check annnnd check. 

11. Drive Me Insane

Turn on the lights (or a disco ball) in someone’s home from your computer. The site has been running since 1997.

Educational Websites

12. Astronomy Picture of the Day

Stunning photographs of space.

13. Duo Lingo

Learn a new language for free.

14. Hubski

A forum of good ideas and conversations.

15. Lizard Point

Browser-based educational activities.

16. Music Theory

Learn the language of music.

17. Sleepytime

A calculator that tells you exactly when to wake up for a good night’s sleep.

18. Code Academy

Step 1. Learn to Code. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit.

19. What Should I Read Next?

Suggests books and authors based upon your interests.

20. OnRead

Free e-books.

Creative Websites

21. Weave Silk

Draw stunning symmetrical images with the click of a mouse.

22. I Need a Prompt

An idea generator.

23. This is Sand

Draw things with sand.

Gaming Websites

24. Pokemon Showdown

A Pokémon battle simulator to waste hours on.

25. SNES Party

This site allows you to upload ROMs (legally obtained, _of course_, unless you’re a bad person) and play with friends within your browser. Pick a game, share a link to your room, and you’re set.

26. Sporcle

Brain games.

27. Poptropica

An interactive online RPG.

28. TagPro

Multi-player online capture the flag.

29. Cookie Clicker

Click for cookies and level up.

30. Foddy

A running game using your keyboard skills.

31. HabitRPG

A habit building app that treats your life like a game.

32. Flash by Night

A collection of addictive games.

Music Websites

33. Party Cloud

Automatically syncs music, now you’re a DJ.

34. You are Listening to

Syncs police scanners from different cities with ambient music.

35. Incredibox

Create your own music with just a few clicks.

Mood Websites

36. A Soft Murmur

Set the mood with weather sounds.

37. Rainy Mood

Sometimes, the sound of rain is soothing.

38. Good vs. Evil

When doing good in the world feels too hard, just vote for good. It won’t change the world, but you the distraction can be nice, even for a moment.

39. Free Rice

Each questions answered correctly translates to 10 grains of rice donated to a hunger charity.

Utility Websites

40. Do I Have a Dead Pixel?

Find out.

41. Da Font

So. Many. Fonts.

42. wallhalla

You probably need a new desktop background.

43. Retail Me Not

Deals and steals.

44. Mint

Tracks how you spend your money.

45. Taste Kid

Explores your tastes and preferences.

46. Addictive Tips

Tips to improve your digital experience.

47. Lifehacker

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that need improvement.

48. Instructables

DIY everything.

49. Snopes

Dig deeper and find out the truth.

50. Interface Lift

Stunning photography and backgrounds for all of your devices.

WATCH: Distract yourself with a bunch of animal videos

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/websites-to-waste-time/

Twitter rips awful Forbes take about replacing libraries with Amazon

Libraries are amazing and bad takes in Forbes are not.
Image: Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATE: July 23, 2018, 1:48 p.m. EDT As of Monday afternoon, it appears as if the story has been pulled from Forbes without a note or any other reason. The story has also been removed from Mourdoukoutas’ author page. I’ve reached out to Forbes for details but, for now, you can read a cached version of the story here and an updated version that was briefly on the site is here (via Wonkette).


There are bad takes, and then there’s the take by Forbes contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas (who also serves as Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University) that local libraries should be replaced by Amazon book stores

Among the reasons Mourdoukoutas offers are: libraries don’t have as many public events as they used to because of school auditoriums; people go to places like Starbucks to hang out and work and read now instead of their library; and because technology makes physical books obsolete.

These arguments are easy to rebut. School auditoriums are hardly new and libraries remain bedrocks of local communities, Starbucks locations don’t offer free loans of books, and libraries all over the country have amassed huge ebook collections, meaning you can still check out books in whatever format you want for free, which is way cheaper than any price on Amazon. 

Also, since Mourdoukoutas brings up the demise of video rental places for some reason, it’s worth pointing out that plenty of libraries now offer streaming audio and video services. And many larger libraries, including New York City and Chicago, loan you free museum passes using your library card, proving they’re still mighty useful to the community.

It’s a poorly written and barely defended take. The one cogent argument Mourdoukoutas does make is that such a move would save residents in tax dollars and would help Amazon stock holders. Because apparently being the richest man in modern history isn’t enough for Jeff Bezos and harming lower-income communities where residents rely on libraries as their primary source for books and more is totally fine.

Bad takes aside, it seems a majority of Americans still consider the library vital to their community, with that being particularly true among millennials. A 2017 report by the Ohio Library Council found that from 2013 to November 2017, Ohio voters approved 162 out of 172 (94.2%) levy increase proposals to benefit their local libraries. And there are plenty of other examples of such approvals, at both state and local levels.

Twitter smelled Mourdoukoutas’ bullshit and was happy to push back, starting with an actual library.

TL;DR: this take was very bad and libraries are very good. Support and patronize your local library today. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/22/forbes-library-amazon/

In Sheer Scope, Avengers: Infinity War Is an Unreplicable Success

There will never be another movie like Avengers: Infinity War. Not because it’s a feat of filmmaking (though it is impressive), but because no other studio may ever have the patience to spend 10 years and billions of dollars building up to one release. Given Hollywood's instant-gratification calculus, it's likely that no other studio—and perhaps not even Marvel itself—will want to gamble that audiences will want to consume movies the way they do comic books: slowly, over years, following dozens of characters until they converge in one massive crossover event. No, there may never be another Infinity War because, really, who's got time for that?

Obviously, movie franchises span years. Star Wars has been going on for more than four decades, but that longevity wasn't pre-ordained. People kept lining up to see Skywalker movies, so Lucasfilm kept making them, first as prequels and now as ongoing sagas and one-offs. There’s an entire galaxy far, far away now, but it didn’t come from a pre-existing canon; it wasn’t born in decades of pulp like the Avengers were. (And sometimes it shows.) Cinemas have been welcoming James Bond films for more than 50 years, but despite the presence of some ongoing baddies like SPECTRE, 007 himself gets rebooted and replaced every few years. Warner Bros./DC is trying to replicate the Marvel model with the Justice League, but is so far behind the avenging pack—and offers such disparity between its films—it may never fully catch up, no matter how devout Zack Snyder stans are.

This inherent complexity, this need to unite multiple threads and multiple people, is Infinity War’s greatest gift and biggest curse. On one hand, fans will appreciate the resolution of plot points they’ve been following since 2008’s Iron Man or 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. On the other hand, those who missed a couple movies, or just frankly can’t remember the finer points of Thor: The Dark World, might feel a bit lost. That’s OK. If you can’t remember why Bucky Barnes is in Wakanda—or, frankly, why a guy who looks like a rock bassist is hiding out in a secluded African nation—his reunion with Steve Rogers may not be as sweet, but you’ll still be able to follow the action. (On the other other hand: if you understand none of the proper nouns in that last sentence, Infinity War may not be the movie for you.)

This has always been the issue with Marvel films: they pack a punch, but occasionally it’s too much. From the first Avengers onward, each single movie has been obliged to carry a narrative and expository burden that can threaten to eclipse the film's discrete purpose. Sometimes it makes for a great film—see Captain America: Civil War—sometimes it makes for a movie that collapses under its own weight, as was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

But with Infinity War, the scale is balanced. And that’s its greatest marvel. With no fewer than 25 prominent superheroes, many of whom have their own franchises, Infinity War bordered on overstuffed from its very conception. How could all of those plots and interests meet and find denouement? It’s a testament to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script and Joe and Anthony Russo’s direction that for the most part they do, jumping off from the recent events of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok (and, to a lesser degree, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and quickly looping in the plots of every Captain America, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy movie that came before them. At times it can feel like a Marvel trivia lightning round, with issues from previous films being introduced just to be knocked down and resolved, but it's also gratifying for hardcore fans while still remaining sensical for casual viewers—and manages to wind up with nary a massive plot hole in sight.

But what is the plot? To reveal too much would ruin everything, but it’s no secret to say that Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) quest to gather the six Infinity Stones and rule the galaxy—as hinted at in post-credits scenes and expositional dialogue from the MCU's many installments—ends here. His goal, if you haven’t watched the trailer, is the bring "balance" to the universe, which for him essentially means wiping out half its population. (Not a fan of overcrowding, this one.) To attempt to stop him, various pockets of Avengers and Guardians are dispatched throughout time and space—Wakanda to Knowhere, New York to Nidavellir, the origin of Thor’s mighty hammer. And surely as attempts are made to stop him, those attempts are thwarted.

It all culminates in an ending that is unlike anything previously seen in a Marvel movie—but certainly witnessed in a Marvel comic. It’s likely to shock, and even upset, a few people. Yes, some heroes die. (“That was like going to a funeral,” said one person leaving the screening I attended.) But as comic book fans know, in comics, death is not permanent. There’s another Infinity War coming next year, and it seems likely that much of its roster will be resurrected from the ashes of the film that came before it.

When Marvel honcho Kevin Feige first started talking about creating a multi-phase cinematic universe of superhero films, it seemed wildly ambitious, if not foolhardy. If more than one or two of the films underperformed, fans easily could have lost interest and derailed the whole enterprise. The fact that the MCU has yet to meet such a fate is astounding. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but keeping a fickle moviegoing public interested in anything for a full decade deserves notice—if for no other reason than it’ll probably never happen again. Too many things command the audience’s attention now.

About halfway through Infinity War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) puts Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on notice. The New Guy is still learning the ways of being an Avenger and talks a little too much about other movies for Tony’s taste. (Though his use of an old trick from the Aliens franchise to defeat one of Thanos’ minions is pretty solid.) “Not one more pop-culture reference out of you for the entire ride,” Stark tells Spidey. Watching the latest Avengers movie, with its constant references to MCU movies past, can feel a bit like that. But if you bought a ticket to Infinity War, then you’ve already bought in; you’ve come to hear every reference this movie wants to throw at you. Ten years in, Marvel has managed to keep everyone along for the ride.

More WIRED Culture

  • The inside story of Pong and Nolan Bushnell’s early days at Atari
  • What does “self-care” mean amid the barrage of news and social media?
  • The strange history of one of the Internet’s first viral videos

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/avengers-infinity-war-unreplicable/

There’s a wonderful reason why Mister Rogers always said aloud he’s feeding his fish.

On Feb. 19, 2018, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” turned 50 years old. And the internet was feeling feelings over it.

Photo by PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images.

After premiering on Canadian TV in 1963, Fred Rogers’ beloved children’s program debuted in the U.S. in 1968, inspiring generations of kids across North America to be more thoughtful, kinder neighbors.

One person feeling the feels on the show’s anniversary was model, author, and Twitter goddess Chrissy Teigen.

Teigen tweeted the most delightful anecdote about why Rogers would often announce that he was feeding the fish during the show.  

“Mister Rogers would narrate himself feeding the fish each episode with, ‘I’m feeding the fish,’ because of a letter he received from a young blind girl who was worried the fish were hungry,” she wrote. “Love you, Mister Rogers.”

Aaaaaand I’m crying.

Rogers included the text of the girl’s letter in his book, “Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?” published in 1996.

As he noted in the book (emphasis added):

One girl and her family wrote to tell us there was a special reason why she wanted me to talk about feeding the fish each day.

Dear Mister Rogers,

Please say when you are feeding your fish, because I worry about them. I can’t see if you are feeding them, so please say you are feeding them out loud.

Katie, age 5 (Father’s note: Katie is blind, and she does cry if you don’t say that you have fed the fish.)

This downright adorable clip from the series shows Rogers reassuring little Katie that the fish were always well-fed:

“I need to feed the fish right away,” Rogers said in the episode, before shaking the container of food above the tank. “I have some friends who get very concerned when I forget the fish during our visits.”

Aaaaaand I’m ugly crying.

Rogers showed us how simple it often is to be a more compassionate friend.

Photo by Getty Images.

“I just wanted you to know that even if I forget to feed them when we’re together, I come back later and feed them, so they’re always taken care of,” Rogers concluded. “It’s good to know that fish and animals and children are taken care of by those who can, isn’t it?”

Yes it is, Mister Rogers. The world needs more neighbors like you.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/there-s-a-wonderful-reason-why-mister-rogers-always-said-aloud-he-s-feeding-his-fish

Henry David Thoreau by Laura Dassow Walls review radical, unsettling, relevant

A superb new biography of the seer of Walden Pond reconsiders his reputation as tax-refuser, recluse, environmentalist and writer

In March 1845, Henry David Thoreau borrowed an axe and set off for Walden Pond, near his home in Concord, Massachusetts. He was going to build a hut, and he knew exactly where: on a spot near the water, backed by a pine grove and fronted by smaller pines and a chestnut tree. Before stopping for his first lunch break, Thoreau had cut and trimmed enough of these pines to make the houses main timbers.

Then he paid $4.28 to buy a shanty from a railroad worker who was moving on the line had just been built past Walden Pond. Thoreau dismantled it and dried its planks in the sun to become the huts roof and sides. He laid a chimney foundation using cobblestones from the pond. When he finished the house that autumn, it had weatherproof shingles on the outside, neat plastering inside and a few carefully counted possessions: three chairs, a desk, one cup, two forks. He planted rows of potatoes, corn and peas and miles of white beans making the earth say beans instead of grass, as he put it. The project had begun: Thoreau would live there, dedicating himself to the principle of simplicity. He would observe nature and write.

The idea had come from his friend and neighbour, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said a writer must have a hideaway. Walden was an obvious choice: Thoreau knew it well, and had spent lazy days in his youth drifting in boats on the pond, playing his flute. Now, he had a more serious purpose. He lived for two years in the hut, then spent a further seven working up his notes for publication. When he produced Walden, he made the earth say a lot more than beans. This cranky, observant, mystical, polemical, exhilarating masterpiece became a classic of 19th-century Americana, studied by schoolchildren and stuffed into pockets for journeys on the road with generations of young idealists. Through this and his essay Civil Disobedience, which urged non-violent political resistance and the principled withholding of taxes, Thoreau called on Americans to tune in, drop out and seize control.

Walden had a rousing effect on me when I first read it. It still does, but I now find it disquieting, too. Besides nature lovers, Thoreau speaks to a spirit of refusal that runs through the modern US (and elsewhere). This spirit rejects political institutions, large-scale civic structures and tax-paying, in favour of holing up in a woodland fastness following only ones raw sense of personal rightness. It unnerves me to read the famous line in Civil Disobedience, That government is best which governs not at all. It sounded good once; now it evokes the kind of thinking that considers public healthcare an evil.

Others have raised milder doubts. After Walden came out, Thoreaus friends and critics alike voiced surprise at the books portrayal of a proud recluse, when they knew that Thoreau had gone on doing regular handyman work around Concord during those years, as well as popping home once a week for dinner prepared by the family cook. Friends visited him all the time, despite his lack of a full set of forks. He was a frequent visitor to other households so much so that Emersons young son Edward was surprised to learn that Thoreau had been officially resident at the pond during a time when he thought the writer was living with them.

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Dedicated to simplicity a replica of Thoreaus house on Walden Pond. Photograph: Alamy

In her superb new biography, Laura Dassow Walls defuses such cavils with a wry, understated humour. No other male American writer, she says, has been so discredited for enjoying a meal with loved ones or for not doing his own laundry. That quiet male is characteristic; like Thoreau, Walls lets her sharpest observations slip through to the readers consciousness without touching the sides. The observations and interpretations are not hammered home, yet they are persuasive. She gives us a Thoreau who is more interesting, more intellectually curious and more subtle than I (for one) had given him credit for despite his unsettling side, or perhaps because of it. Exploring his environmentalism and radicalism, she shows us why he might be worth reading differently in the 21st century.

The standard biographical way-stations are all covered. Walls explores Thoreaus childhood in Concord, his far from glittering years at Harvard, where he felt out of place (though he did master five languages and would spend his Walden evenings reading Homer in Greek), and his early attempts at schoolmastering. She then focuses on his writing life. Walls inspires us to read not just Walden, but his lectures, his essays and especially his journal.

This downright weird journal forms a backbone to his life and in Wallss biography is a theme in itself. He began it while under Emersons spell, opening it by quoting a question asked by his mentor: What are you doing now? Do you keep a journal? Later, his journal-keeping picked up tempo by adapting a modest volume of Nature Notes kept by his brother, John, who had died horribly from tetanus following a slight skin cut. Where John simply noted what he saw, Thoreau took it into a different dimension. Walls describes the uncanny feeling she had looking at this notebook, where Henrys raw and angular handwriting spills down the page, ripping open a vortex in Johns tidy checklist.

Later, Thoreau repurposed the journal as a professional naturalists log, but combined this with an attempt to capture every moment of each days experience, writing pencil notes almost continuously and transcribing them the next morning. (He used Thoreau family pencils, incidentally: their fortune had started from a graphite find, and he continued to work out ways of refining the pencils hardness.) By delicately juxtaposing her stories, Walls implies an intriguing possibility as to why this shift of style may have occurred. At around the same time, his friend Margaret Fuller had died in a shipwreck with her family, leaving Thoreau in grief. He wrote to himself: If you can drive a nail, and have any nails to drive, drive them … Be native to the universe. Perhaps, faced as well with the loss of his brother, Thoreau was attempting the impossible with his journal: to capture and preserve every scrap of experienced existence before it vanished.

Walls biography allows Thoreau to breathe his own air on her pages, while turning her critical gaze on each of the public roles he played as political activist, mystic, tax refuser and environmentalist. In the end, they all come together in Thoreau the writer the person who said: A man writing is the scribe of all nature he is the corn and the grass and the atmosphere writing.

Writing, for Thoreau, meant living with full attention and awareness living deliberately at every moment, in the sense of applying proper deliberation to his life. It meant, Walls says, living so as to perceive and weigh the moral consequences of our choices. If this isnt a reason to see Thoreau as a man with something to say to our times, I dont know what is.

Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls (Chicago, 26.50). To order a copy, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of 1.99.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/10/henry-david-thoreau-a-life-by-laura-dassow-walls-review

Luc Besson on turning Rihanna into a 28th-century Cleopatra and being stood up by Prince

From The Fifth Element to Lucy, Bessons gender-splicing sci-fi films have never played by Hollywoods rules. Now hes taking the biggest gamble of his career by sending Cara Delevingne into space in Valerian

No one needs a hit right now more than Luc Besson. His production company, EuropaCorp, recently posted record losses of $135m. He was ordered last year to pay nearly half a million dollars after being found guilty of plagiarising John Carpenters Escape from New York in his 2012 screenplay Lockout. And his new futuristic adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is the most expensive independent movie ever made, with a budget of around $200m. The film needs to crack at least $400m worldwide (like his Scarlett Johansson action fantasy Lucy) to push the company back into the black. Right now, that looks as far fetched as any of the films 28th-century intergalactic escapades. Valerian had a dismal $17m opening weekend in the US last month. In Germany, it landed in third place behind Despicable Me 3, which had already been on release for three weeks.

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Luc Besson. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

There are glimmers of hope. France welcomed the movie enthusiastically last week, as it usually does with anything by the Parisian film-maker, giving it the second-best opening day of the year. But these are still fraught times for Besson. Its difficult launching a film like this, the embattled 58-year-old director says when we meet in a London hotel. The big studios dont leave you any room. They love to take all the space. He is a stocky bear of a man but today he looks small and sheepish with unkempt hair, a more-salt-than-pepper beard and a T-shirt bearing the title of the movie on which his reputation rests.

Besson had tried to get Valerian made for seven years. Its my baby. Probably my most important one. He gives a soft heh-heh. Its kind of crazy. Adapted from the comic strip Valrian and Laureline, the film presents a jubilant, noisy, gaily-coloured alien world. Flirting and bickering their way through it are a pair of young law enforcers, played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, investigating an attack on a peaceful planet. The movie opens with a warmly funny montage of interspecies etiquette, as scientists and astronauts encounter various alarming extraterrestrial counterparts throughout the centuries.

Thats the stuff that makes it real. I wanted to imagine the future positively. Today people look around them and say, Oh shes black or hes homosexual or this one is too old, this one too young. Theres always some barrier to make others difficult to be with. Imagine now that we have to deal with 8,000 different species coming from space. Suddenly anyone terrestrial will look like my brother. So the film is my way of saying, Are you sure its so difficult to live together? Really? How comfortable will you feel when you have to deal with these guys?

Bessons equally out-there 1997 adventure The Fifth Element was progressive in its view of race and gender, placing in the traditional damsel-in-distress role a priapic African-American man (Chris Tucker). The new film goes further, enabling several characters to personify male and female simultaneously. Society is structured around the differences between men and women, but if you have too much difference, there is trouble. I think the artistic part is more feminine. I have the feeling that I have been using that side of myself since I was 10. That was the age he got hooked on Valrian and Laureline. It was the first time I had ever seen a couple where the woman was so in charge. That was a big influence. He grins. Look at me. I am like the guy who cuts down trees in Canada. A lumberjack? Yes! Im the lumberjack. But inside I have the sensitivity of a woman.

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Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element. Photograph: Allstar/GAUMONT

This claim is hard to reconcile with the man who bashes out coarse action thrillers beginning with T: Taxi, Taken and Transporter can all be attributed to, or blamed on, him. Thats Besson in hack mode, as a one-man script factory, whereas the films he chooses to direct (such as the hippy-dippy diving drama The Big Blue and the hitman buddy movie Lon) tend to be more nuanced. There is certainly tenderness in Valerian, which is dedicated to the directors father, who died last year. It was Besson pre who first introduced him to the Valrian and Laureline comics. I dont think he ever offered me a novel in his whole life, he laughs. But he bought me so many comic books. Another absent figure looming large over the movie is David Bowie, whose song Space Oddity rings out during the opening sequence. I was trying to find a good moment to call him to show him how the song fitted into the film but he died before I got a chance.

They last met when Bowie provided one of the voices for Bessons animated adventure Arthur and the Invisibles. Indeed, the director has a penchant for directing musical performers, including Rihanna and Herbie Hancock in Valerian and Madonna, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Snoop Dogg in Arthur and its two sequels. The Fifth Element also featured a cameo by Tricky and very nearly starred Prince in the Chris Tucker role.

Ah, Prince, sighs Besson, ruefully. I love him but it was impossible. He said yes to the part. You make a meeting for Monday at noon and he turns up on Tuesday at six. Or he cancels three times. Always so charming and sweet but the reality of musicians doesnt fit with film. I warned him a few times and he said, But this is my tempo. Finally, I asked him: Do you mind if we just do something less big another time? Working with Rihanna, who plays the shape-shifting dancer Bubble in Valerian, was more straightforward . He took particular pride in getting her to deliver lines from Anthony and Cleopatra. For me thats the ultimate pleasure Rihanna, the queen of music, as Cleopatra. Its the sort of mix I love. We can all listen to reggae music in Greenland while eating sushi. We are allowed to do whatever we like!

If this is Besson thumbing his nose at critics who accuse him of being lowbrow, then it wont be the first time. In his 2013 black comedy The Family, Michelle Pfeiffer blows up a shop in rural France because the owner is heard disparaging America. I am Michelle in that scene, he says. Ive heard so many French people saying, Oh, the Americans dont have culture. I want to say, When is the last time you went to the Louvre? Shut up!

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Jean-Marc Barr and Jean Reno in The Big Blue. Photograph: Columbia/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

His career can partly be explained as a populist lashing out against the cinephile country of his birth but it is also the revenge of the nerd. Bessons parents divorced when he was a child and dumped him in a boarding school while they started families with their new partners. When he realised he wanted to make films, he was mocked by his friends. They said: Oh, youre gonna work with Alain Delon, are you? He felt completely alone. Youre by yourself. Youre too weird for girls. The two subjects I could talk about were dolphins and movies. The girls actually ran away when they saw me.

Out of these feelings of isolation came his witty 1983 debut, The Last Battle, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by mute, scavenging survivors. The first scene shows the hero having sex with an inflatable doll, a moment I had always taken to be a screw-you to the establishment which had denied Besson entry to film school because his influences (Spielberg, Scorsese, Milo Forman) were too mainstream. But he corrects me. The message of that scene was exactly the same as Valerians: look after what youve got before you lose it. It was a way of saying to people: Be careful. If you destroy everything, this is what youll be left with. Earth will be dying and you will be all alone, fucking a plastic Barbie.

Perhaps that message extends also to Bessons own future. A bruising for Valerian would still knock the stuffing out of EuropaCorp. But thats unlikely to hamper someone as passionate and eccentric as Besson: he has been making films for too long now to start playing it safe. My dreams are my dreams, he says proudly. I wanted to do Valerian for the longest time. I wondered, Can I do it? But once I get started, Im like the English foxhound: I will never let go.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/03/luc-besson-valerian-interview-cara-delevingne-rihanna