BEWARE: Spoilers ahead for season 6.
The GOT bot is a new chatbot on Facebook messenger who can help you catch up on Game of Thrones trivia, timelines, and characters. It will also tell you jokes and show you pictures. Of course, you have to ask the right questions to get the information you want. And the information you want might be beyond the GOT bot’s knowledge or pay grade. (No predictions, no season 7 spoilers, no theories).
If you ask about a character who has the same name as another character (I tried “Brandon Stark”) the GOT bot will start with the oldest one (“Bran the Builder”).
I couldn’t find Brandon Stark, older brother to Eddard. I found Bran Stark only by typing “Bran,” not “Brandon.”
Locations seem to be a problem as well. When asked “Where is Arya?” the GOT bot cracked a joke about Westeros not having Citymapper yet, and then tried to distract me with pictures of baby dire wolves. It worked.
Nor did it have much to say about what is going on with individual characters; if you want to know what someone was up to last season, you have to watch the whole recap. Which isn’t really a big deal.
Typing the name of a major character will return a brief bio, and asking for more shows what info is available: Grey Worm’s available information includes photos, dead or alive, titles, lovers, house, and actor.
Searches need to be spelled correctly. I spelled Targaryen wrong (on purpose. For science), and the bot did not respond until I corrected the spelling. This could make things difficult if you didn’t read the books and don’t want to Google correct spellings for every name (try spelling Daenerys or Daario Naharis off the top of your head).
Speaking of Daario Naharis (Daenerys’ mercenary boy toy who was played by Ed Skrein in season 3, and Michiel Huisman from Season 4 onward), why are all of the pictures of Huisman? Am I the only one who preferred Skrein, and was confused when season 4 brought some stranger pretending to be Daario?
I had fun with the GOT bot, and I think it could help for quick searches. However, for more in-depth information, I still recommend going to the HBO.com extras for free refreshers.
Stranger Things season 2 is coming out October 27, and it looks every bit as creepy and amazing as season 1.
Netflix has announced the official release date for the second season of Stranger Things, and it’s set to coincide with Halloween, which is the time frame the episodes also span. “The world is turning upside down,” says the trailer, and the silhouette in the roiling red clouds looks a lot more serious (not to mention bigger) than the Demogorgon from the first season.
According to the synopsis, “it’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.”
The second season features 9 episodes, as well as performances by Paul Riser and Sean Astin in addition to the regular cast of Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, and Caleb McLaughlin.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the show creators revealed a few details about where the show’s characters are now, approximately one year after the events of last season. Will is having flashbacks and visions but is unable to tell if they are real, or an effect of the PTSD from being taken to the Upside Down. Sean Astin plays Joyce’s new boyfriend, and Paul Riser plays the new director of the Hawkins Institute, where the portal to the Upside Down is still open. But what comes out of it won’t all be monsters, though creator Matt Duffer wouldn’t elaborate on what “different kinds of horror” are in store for the town of Hawkins. But he did make clear that there are still enough unexplored facets of the story for several more seasons.
One thing is certain: the characters from season 1 are still reeling from dealing with the Demogorgon last season, and certainly not prepared for the doom that is about to descend upon them. Will was absent for much of the first season, but he will be the center of the second, and apparently, Noah Schnapp is every bit as talented as his co-stars. But this Will is a different person after what happened to him, as is everyone, and much of the conflict comes from the emotional trauma, coping, and loss. A few newcomers (with the worst timing ever) will be moving to town as well.
Working with such a young cast on an ongoing project has challenges, as anyone who has watched Harry Potter or Game of Thrones knows. “As much as I would love to have it be Christmas right after that, it’s just not feasible, so we’re going to skip a year. They’ll be a year older, and all their changes they’re going through, we’ll take that into account and kind of work that into the show,” says Duffer.
Reports that this season will be darker and creepier than the already-pretty-dark-and-creepy season 1 mean that I already know what I am watching during Halloween.
Have you watched Stranger Things season 1? What did you think? Any theories about what’s going on, or where Eleven is right now? Tweet at me!
Everyone is talking about Castlevania, and after watching the series on Netflix last weekend, I can see why. Sometimes my job is hard: lots of research and lots of brainstorming unique ideas to write about. Sometimes I just want to watch Netflix instead. Sometimes I do watch Netflix instead. Sometimes I find an excuse to call watching Netflix “working.” This is one of those times.
Is this just another show about vampires?
According to the IMDB series synopsis, “a vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” By that description, it could be any vampire movie. But fans of the Castlevania series of video games (which is the number one source material for the show) have certain expectations for this series, not the least of which is wall chicken.
Producer Adi Shankar doesn’t know about the wall chicken quite yet, but he’s not about to let gamers’ expectations go unmet. Expect Easter eggs from the games, and a soundtrack with “the heavy metal electro guitar vibe found in the early games.”
Shankar said in an interview for Collider.com: “The goal is to bring hard hitting anime to the America and be America’s first animated series for adults.”
To an outsider, it may appear that the series is trying to get onboard with the huge audience for dark fantasy (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings), vampire shows (Angel, Buffy, Underworld), or Japanese anime (Akira, Ghost in the Shell). And maybe that is what made 2017 the time to release this show. But the show was being conceptualized in 2005. That’s right: this has been in the works for 12 years; before the wave of dark, medieval magical beasts took over our entertainment.
It’s an animated series, but it isn’t for children
It may go without saying, but I’m going to say it: this cartoon is not for kids. The creators have called it “R-rated as ****,” and it totally is. Profanity and entrails abound, as one may have come to expect from a show about hunting vampires. The Castlevania target demographic is made up mainly of those who played the original game (Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, 1990), which puts the average age around late-20s at a minimum.
The cast of the show is excellent. Adi Shankar is an executive producer (The Grey, Dredd, Judge Dredd: Superfiend, The Punisher: Dirty Laundry). Richard Armitage (Thorin from The Hobbit) voices Trevor Belmont. James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica) voices Alucard. Graham McTavish (Dwalin from The Hobbit) voices Dracula. The series is written by Warren Ellis, a seasoned comic book creator who has written for animated series (X-Men, Justice League, Wolverine) as well as major motion pictures (Iron Man 3, Red). Emmy-award winning Trevor Morris is in charge of the soundtrack (Dragon Age: Inquisition, Immortals, The Tudors).
The first season only has four 30-minute episodes, but a second, 8-episode season has been confirmed.
How well does it reflect the games?
Season 1 is dedicated to fleshing out the main players in a way that wasn’t really possible in the video game, and I am a fan of the slow revelation of backstory over the course of several episodes.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned, I am reminded more of the Japanese anime series’ the show animation takes inspiration from, rather than the Castlevania games. This may come as a disappointment to fans of the games, as the original music was iconic, and has been reprised many, many times in different styles. A big part of the nostalgia for gamer fans is wrapped up in the original soundtrack, though it is possible the show creators were unable to license the original music from Konami. This may be the reason that the show, despite maintaining the integrity of the original game canon, has garnered some fan comments that it doesn’t really feel like Castlevania.
Even so, it is great for many other reasons: the animation is great, and even haunting at times. Fans of Japanese anime will enjoy the style. The storytelling is deft and rich, and the voice acting is top notch. This is, without a doubt, one of the best video game adaptations to date. A+, highly recommend, would watch again.
What, you didn’t think you would survive, did you? Statistically speaking, those who live in Westeros are far more likely to die horrifically than survive. When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die, and there are a lot of losers. But you get points for style.
In the world of storytelling, the path not taken has always held a powerful interest for the audience. DVD extras contain alternate endings. Fanfiction explores what might have been if the characters had made a slightly different choice. Open world video games and tabletop RPGs invite the player to take control of the story, and the player decisions shape the narrative. So why not movies? Why not shows?
Netflix, streamer of thousands of movies, purveyor and maker of shows, says why not indeed? And who would be more enthusiastic about this new format than kids? Kids these days: they think everything is a screen, they try to swipe book pages. They want to interact and participate, and Netflix is making that possible with new interactive shows Puss in Book (released June 20th) and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile (set to release July 14).
These shows are an experimental push, and if they are well received, we may begin seeing more interactive media on Netflix aimed at an older audience.
How does it work?
Each show has a number of binary choices that can be made at various junctures in the story, such as whether the bears are friendly or mean, whether Puss in Boots should kiss the queen or shake her hand, and whether to fight or make friends with various opponents. Some choices result in the same outcome either way, and some send the story in a new direction, complete with new ending. Anyone who has ever read a story from the Choose Your Own Adventure series, popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, is familiar with the format, and the writers for Buddy Thunderstruck call the structure a “string of pearls,” in which the character hijinks vary, but the core progression of the story—the string tying it together—does not.
This kind of episode takes significantly more work to write, animate, and produce than a traditional linear story, but promises more entertainment as well: the idea is that the kids can go back and watch it again, making different choices, until they have experienced all of the different story lines and endings.
What could be the future of interactive stories?
The implications of this new-to-tv format are awesome. Anyone who enjoys non-linear story-based video games already knows what I’m talking about. Player/viewer choice does more than increase the entertainment factor: it invites the audience to become a character in the story, and could create a more immersive experience. Think about how much entertainment the audience could get from a single show or movie if the story were even more non-linear than the “string of pearls” model, allowing more than one core story line, and more than two branches from each decision. Of course, the amount of work that would go into a more sophisticated choose-your-own-adventure Role Playing show or movie would be substantial, but so would the market for it.
With competition between media streaming companies at a fever-pitch, those of us excited to see television and movies experimenting with this exciting new structure can’t help but watch with bated breath. May the best media streaming service/production company win!
1 terabyte is a lot: that’s 1000 gigabytes, and will be plenty of data for some customers, while some may need larger amounts. Cord cutters who consume a lot of HD video may fall into that category, and an additional 50GB of data costs $10.
Don’t know if you can be a cord cutter on 1 terabyte? Cord Cutters News has a guide.
Of course, gaming can use a lot of data, or hardly any, depending on what you are playing. Downloading files, games, patches, and DLC uses a lot of data. Surfing the web uses varying amounts of data, especially if you are on YouTube or an image-heavy site like Facebook or Instagram. Even streaming audio can use more data than you expect if it’s high-fidelity audio. Skype or other Voice over Internet Protocols (like chatting on Xbox Live or PlayStation) can use up data quickly too. This handy article by nbnco.com expands on that.
Everyone’s internet usage patterns are different, and it’s hard to tell you how much you need without taking lots of things into account. So you have 3 options:
1: Track your data usage over time. This is the most accurate way to tell what you are really using, especially if you are looking at several months of data use. I recommend at least 3. Check with your service provider to see if your records are available.
2: Need internet now, and don’t have time to compile the numbers? You can try to estimate what you use. This is going to mean some research and some generous estimations. How much time do you spend streaming videos? No really, how much? How much time on online games? How much time on social media? Keep in mind this is a daily average, and this is for everyone in your family, not just you. So unless you are keeping a close eye on everyone, chances are that you don’t really know.
3: Just find a provider that doesn’t cap data. This is what I would do—and I bet you know which company I would choose, don’t you? (You don’t? Easy Internet Now, of course!) But here’s why:
- Easy Internet Now has low prices. Think you have to pay a bunch to get a fast, reliable, unlimited connection? Nope.
- You get a free modem. Say what now? I like free. Free is good.
- In the internet age, this shouldn’t have to be difficult. Easy Internet Now is easy to contact, easy to set up service with, easy to get support from. It’s part of the name for a reason.
- AND NO DATA CAPS! The only caps are when I use CAPS LOCK (HIGH FIVE FOR THE AWESOME JOKE! Come on, don’t leave me hanging!)
- Easy Internet Now uses the same network as AT&T. This is because we buy wholesale and re-sell, but without a lot of the strings and unpleasantness of a larger company. We’re proud to be a middleman!
- You don’t need a contract or a credit check. This is a prepaid setup. Services for payment. Easy peasy.
Cox service area that will get the data cap (the names in bold are areas also served by Easy Internet Now:
- Cleveland, OH
- Las Vegas
- Omaha, NE
- Sun Valley, ID
AT&T and Easy Internet Now service area:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
So by now, I hope you know that if you are getting a data cap, there’s no need to panic. Just assess your internet needs, and if you need to switch, there are options. Option. There is one option. No more. (Easy Internet Now, I mean).
The top 3 streaming services—Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu—are always looking for a way to one-up the others, and Hulu may have found a way to come out on top.
Hulu is currently negotiating with HBO for access to its on-demand content and live TV, and the clock is ticking: will they be able to get access before the July 16th release of Game of Thrones Season 7?
Currently, customers can access HBO:
- Through cable providers.
- By subscribing to HBO Now.
- Through Amazon Channels: Amazon users can access HBO for an additional $14.99 per month through Amazon Channels, or purchase individual episodes.
Hulu already offers Showtime for an additional $8.99. It is possible that they may either offer HBO at an additional cost as well, or raise their prices once HBO is in the bag—especially considering the legions of rabid fans who will descend on the service for GOT season 7, if nothing else—but if Hulu maintains their low subscription, they will be offering access to HBO’s premium content for the lowest price in town. And that price includes all the excellent content that Hulu already offers.
Hulu also now has content from HGTV including popular shows, like:
- Property Brothers and PB Buying and Selling
- House Hunters, HH International, and HH Renovation
- Love It or List It
- Flea Market Flip
- Design on a Dime
- Flip or Flop
The thing that may differentiate the three streaming services the most is their original content. Each service makes their own movies and shows, and some of them are really great. In this contest of companies, the viewer is the winner. But to get to see all the most popular shows and movies coming out, you need access to all three services. Otherwise, you have to decide who has the original content you are most interested in.
Here are some of the most popular original shows on each platform:
- Stranger Things
- Orange is the New Black
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
- Arrested Development
- House of Cards
- 13 Reasons Why
- The Crown
- Sneaky Pete
- The Man in the High Castle
- Red Oaks
- Ripper Street
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- The Path
- The Mindy Project
Don’t know which service is right for you, or what other shows and movies are available? That’s ok, it’s hard to keep up because the shows on each service change so often. Consider this guide.
So far, my favorite shows are Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Stranger Things. What are yours? Tweet your show recommendations @willreadforfood or @easyinternetnow. (Please, no spoilers. Be cool.)
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s YouTube will launch a live TV service featuring U.S. broadcast networks and cable channels to attract young fans of online videos to a pay television package, YouTube executives said on Tuesday.
The new offering, called YouTube TV, will compete with other services fighting to attract mobile-loving younger audiences who dropped pricier, traditional cable and satellite packages or never signed up in the first place.
YouTube TV will be delivered over the internet and debut in the coming months at a cost of $35 a month for six accounts, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki told reporters at an event in Los Angeles.
YouTube TV subscribers will be able to watch original programming that appears on YouTube Red, a subscription service that includes movies and shows starring popular YouTube video creators.
The development of the live TV package is an attempt to sell a new service to viewers hooked on YouTube’s free videos.
“Millennials love great TV content, but what we’ve seen is they don’t want to watch it in the traditional setting,” Wojcicki said.
YouTube TV will feature Walt Disney Co’s ABC, CBS Corp’s CBS, 21st Century Fox’s Fox and Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBC plus cable channels including ESPN, USA and FX. It will launch initially in select U.S. markets.
The offering will compete with services such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony Corp’s PlayStation Vue. Those packages sell for roughly $20 to $65 a month. Hulu also is developing a live TV service.
All of the live digital services provide TV networks an avenue to make up for their loss of customers to “cord cutting,” or the dropping of pay TV. Channel owners say they earn as much or more for each subscriber on a live digital service as they do through cable or satellite packages.
YouTube executives said they aimed to make the YouTube TV app easy to use across mobile devices, desktop computers or an Internet-connected televisions. Users will be able to record programming on a cloud DVR and watch it for up to nine months. Engineers also are incorporating technology from Google, such as the ability to voice search TV shows through a Google Home device.
“Even though we are in this golden age of content, the current TV age isn’t doing it justice,” said Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer. “We feel we are in a great position to reinvent the way TV works.”
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)