Baylor University used puppets to announce its newly signed football players

National signing day is when high school athletes sign letters of intent to play for specific university. It's a big enough deal for college football fans that ESPN was updating it class rankings every hour. (Apparently Clemson did well, and USC did poorly.)

Each school wants to get as much attention as possible. This year, Baylor announced each player with two tweets, one a traditional highlight reel, and another featuring puppets:

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Microtransactions overwhelmed the Disney cinematic universe

Writing for the Washington Post, Gene Park argues that Star Wars has been at its best in recent years the closer the product has been to a video game. He praises the narrative in the game Fallen Order, and the game-like structure in the show The Mandalorian. Rise of Skywalker fails, he says, partly because it mostly takes the bad aspects of video games:

The Macguffin chasing/fetch quests aren’t the only problem associated with bad gaming practices. There are also the “microtransactions” and DLC-like elements required to fully appreciate the main property. The modern day Star Wars moviegoer is now required to read the comic books and watch the old “Clone Wars” cartoon (now available on Disney+!) to fully appreciate the import of items and characters making sudden appearances in this universe.

...

Sure, the experience of investing this much time and money can be satisfying and sometimes pays off. But it isn’t enough to have seen all eight movies before seeing this one. “The Rise of Skywalker” is overstuffed with references to the past, and also to future potential franchises and brand opportunities. It’s glaringly more obvious that these new films are not meant to be definitive, tell-all works, but rather a jumping-off point for other properties.

You can read his entire review here.

On the same topic, the opening crawl itself refers to something that happened in last weekend's Fortnite/Star Wars tie-in:

Disney is an investor in Epic Games. Read the rest

Jack Russel Hurdle Racing

Jack Russell Hurdle Racing is a lightning fast race where the dogs leap over three obstacles while chasing lure, and then cram through the narrow finish arch. The television broadcast that was on over the weekend was as well-produced as a premier NFL game:

Here's an older video featuring almost twelve minutes of Jack Russell Hurdle Racing:

It's just one of several events at the Incredible Dog Challenge, including agility, diving, and fetch, Read the rest

Longtime Fantasy Flight employees get their likenesses added to the company's games

What a terrific perk, after five years of working at Fantasy Flight Games, employees gets their likenesses added to a game. Below are four examples from the Shadow of the Beanstalk Android sourcebook:

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As some may know, after five years of working at FFG our employees are put into one of our games as a thank you for their amazing work. Today, we would like to share a couple of the fantastic employee-art pieces that appear in Shadow of the Beanstalk, the Android sourcebook for Genesys! #Android #Genesys #RoleplayingGames #TabletopGames #LifeAtFFG

A post shared by Fantasy Flight Games (@fantasyflightgames) on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:14pm PST

Five more examples are collected at Board Game Atlas. Read the rest

Enjoy a full ride through of the new Star Tours adventure

Ahh, Kef Bir and Exogol, sure to become cherished locations in Star Wars lore, are now the featured destinations in Star Tours. Disney says Star Tours now offers more than 100 storytelling combinations, but "for the next few months we’ll exclusively feature the destinations inspired by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

If you'd like only a glimpse of the new destinations, enjoy this promotional video:

And if you'd like the full experience, find someone to shake your chair, and enjoy:

Speaking of Star Tours, here's a lengthy editorial arguing that Star Tours is a better attraction than Galaxy's Edge's Millennium Falcon:

The themes of Star Tours include things like “the bad guys just hijacked my vacation,” being a tourist in the galaxy, and how one person can make a difference in the grand scheme of things (even if they didn’t realize it). Comparatively, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run’s themes are much more shallow, including “I flew the Millennium Falcon,” smuggling to enrich yourself, and targeting guests for ridicule.

(Via Polygon.) Read the rest

A Carnival cruise ship hit another Carnival cruise ship and narrowly missed a third

While attempting to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, the Carnival Glory struck the Carnival Legend, and then narrowly missed a third ship. Turn up the volume on the video to hear the eyewitnesses' excitement at getting video turn to horror at realizing their own danger, and then return to enthusiasm for getting more video.

"You got the video?"

"He's going to hit us next!"

"Why are you yelling?!"

"He's going to hit us, get your videos."

ABC has a statement from the cruise line:

"We are assessing the damage but there are no issues that impact the seaworthiness of either ship. We have advised guests from both ships to enjoy their day ashore in Cozumel," the statement added.

Here's the overhead view of the collision:

And here's a close up of the damage:

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Hellboy 25th Anniversary art show

The Hellboy 25th Anniversary show opened December 14th at Copro Gallery. The artwork above is by Dos Diablos; David Igo, Kelly O'Neill, Anthony Mestas; and Natalie Hall. Here are a few more gems from the show:

Mike Mignola.

Chet Zar.

Amilcar Fong, Casey Love.

Bill Sienkiewicz. Read the rest

The 1994 Denise Richards movie where Paul Walker's brain is inserted into a T-Rex has a new gorier version

Tammy and the T-Rex features Denise Richards (Tammy) and Paul Walker (Michael) as young loverbirds. After Michael is badly wounded by Tammy's ex-boyfriend, a mad scientist seizes his brain and inserts it into a robotic T-Rex.

The movie was filmed with an R rating in mind, but the violence was removed for its initial release. That missing footage has now been reinserted to form the "gore cut." Birth Movies Death explains:

While the body count in the kids’ version is (and I suspect I’m recalling correctly here) zero, the “Gore Cut” sees nearly ten minutes of additional footage added to the film, dotting the running time with deaths but mostly contributing two absolutely wonderful added/extended sequences. The best is a sublime bit of surgical slapstick in which Michael’s brain is profoundly mishandled on its way to its dinosaur housing, creating a surprising amount of chaos in a surprisingly small operating theatre. The other comes mid-film, as Michael’s Rexed-out rage increases and he rampages through a high school kids’ party. High schoolers get stomped on, chomped, and killed in more inventive ways I won't spoil, with a surprising quantity of blood spilled and laughter released. It’s amazing this material was cut, given how expensive it must have been, but on the other hand, it’s amazing the movie was even produced in the first place.

The gore cut will be streaming on Shudder in January. Read the rest

The Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercial that implies Fred poisoned Barney

This commercial packs a lot of narrative into 29 seconds. Fred feeds Santa, Barney burglarizes Fred's home to steal food, and Santa convinces Fred to forgive Barney. Well, Fred seems to forgive Barney, but watch him only pretend to eat a mouthful of cereal at the end:

Spotted by Michael Blaiklock, who has correctly been haunted by the implications of the commercial for years:

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The best sports gifs of the decade

SB Nation asked for recommendations for the best sports gifs of the decade, and boy they got some terrific responses.

Elite skill:

The exact opposite:

Extreme effort:

Irrepressible exuberance:

Unwarranted confidence:

Live broadcast moments both goofy:

and mysterious:

Enjoy many more responses here. Read the rest

Rian Johnson posted a director's commentary track for Knives Out

Knives Out is currently sporting a well-deserved 97% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes, and now there's a solid reason to see it again in the theater--Rian Johnson created a director's commentary track:

I’m thrilled to announce the #KnivesOut in-theater commentary! Yes, now you can enjoy another round of whodunnit goodness with me squawking in your ear. Did this on Bloom & Looper, happy to try it again. Audio file and instructions here.

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Tenet movie new Nolan's Christopher for trailer shifting-time the Here's

You don't have to hunt Youtube for bootleg copies of the teaser for Christopher Nolan's new thriller Tenet anymore. The official trailer has been posted:

It may or may not be a story about the incredible power of palindromes. The expected release date is July 17, 2020. Here's the poster:

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The Ikea that exists outside of normal space

Writing for EGM, Alexis Ong looks at Neurocracy, SCP Foundation, and other gameful hypertexts. It reminded me of SCP-3308, which describes a disturbing Ikea.

The location seems to be a typical Ikea, but once you enter, you're transported to an infinite space that looks like, but is not quite an Ikea:

SCP-3008-1 is inhabited by an unknown number of civilians trapped within prior to containment. Gathered data suggests they have formed a rudimentary civilisation within SCP-3008-1, including the construction of settlements and fortifications for the purpose of defending against SCP-3008-2.

SCP-3008-2 are humanoid entities that exist within SCP-3008-1. While superficially resembling humans they possess exaggerated and inconsistent bodily proportions, often described as being too short or too tall. They possess no facial features and in all observed cases wear a yellow shirt and blue trousers consistent with the IKEA employee uniform.

SCP-3008-1 has a rudimentary day-night cycle, determined by the overhead lighting within the space activating and deactivating at times consistent with the opening and closing times of the original retail store. During the "night" instances of SCP-3008-2 will become violent towards all other lifeforms within SCP-3008-1. During these bouts of violence they have been heard to vocalise phrases in English that are typically variations of "The store is now closed, please exit the building". Once "day" begins SCP-3008-2 instances immediately become passive and begin moving throughout SCP-3008-1 seemingly at random. They are unresponsive to questioning or other verbal cues in this state, though will react violently if attacked.

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The Photo Roulette app sends a random photo from your phone to your friends

Here's a terrifying new game that's one of the most popular apps in the United States, Photo Roulette. Up to fifty players allow the app to access their photos. Each round, a random photo from one of the player's galleries pops up on everyone else's phone. Players then race to guess whose photo it is.

Julie Jargon rounded up some horror storiesfor the Wall Street Journal. Here's one:

“I was kind of freaked out by it so I went to my camera roll to make sure there wasn’t anything embarrassing and I didn’t see anything too bad,” she said.

But when she joined the game, the app displayed a photo of her Social Security number.

And another:

Emma Romney, a 20-year-old college student from Spokane, Wash., was playing Photo Roulette with her cousins, uncle and father during a road trip recently when a selfie she had taken a few years ago came up in the game.

Read the whole article here, including a look at what information is shared with the app developers. Read the rest

UPS Dogs is an Instagram account where drivers share photos of dogs they meet on their routes

You can view the photos on Instagram or Facebook:

UPS drivers deliver packages all day long. During each day, drivers encounter many dogs, most friendly and some not so nice. When time permits, drivers snap a photo and send it in to UPS Dogs.

Plenty of UPS superfan dogs:

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My boyfriend and our girl, Nori, out delivering packages in Dayton, OH.

A post shared by UPS Dogs (@upsdogs) on Dec 18, 2019 at 3:29am PST

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Rutt Ro! 🤣 Molly Cle Elum, Washington.

A post shared by UPS Dogs (@upsdogs) on Oct 24, 2019 at 6:34pm PDT

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We met a fantastic UPS driver downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan today! Denny (dog) helped himself inside the truck and wanted to sniff all the packages for Christmas goodies. :-)

A post shared by UPS Dogs (@upsdogs) on Dec 18, 2019 at 2:53am PST

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Our dogs Luna & Bergen adore their UPS delivery man Sean, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada! Here they are giving Sean his Christmas card.

A post shared by UPS Dogs (@upsdogs) on Dec 15, 2019 at 2:04pm PST

But it's not just dogs. Goats, turkeys, and more make an appearance:

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This “dog” jumped in my truck before it even stopped. I had a hard time convincing him he couldn’t go with me 😊 Mill Creek, WV. #ups

A post shared by UPS Dogs (@upsdogs) on Jul 15, 2019 at 5:06pm PDT

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When you pull up to your stop and their newest "Dogs" jump in to investigate your truck.💕

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Look at this complicated robot designed to discourage use of e-signatures

Traditionally, people in Japan used personal seals called hanko for signing important documents. But increasingly banks and government bodies have permitted use of digital signatures instead. Some are dedicated to preserving hanko culture, leading to stories like this:

The official website of new Japanese information technology minister Naokazu Takemoto has been unviewable for the past few months, raising concerns among social media users over his ability to handle the portfolio, it was learned Friday.

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In a news conference a day earlier, Takemoto said online administrative procedures and the country’s practice of using hanko (personal seals) should coexist.

The Diet in May enacted legislation that simplified procedures related to events such as changes of address, death certificates and property inheritance through online administrative procedures, rather than forcing citizens to go to government offices, fill out forms and stamp paperwork using hanko.

Takemoto, who heads a group of lawmakers working to protect the nation’s hanko culture, said: “The two should not be regarded as conflicting things. We have to think about how to let them flourish together.”

Now, Denso and Hitachi have announced a robot that can stamp documents:

The robot “COBOTTA”, which automatically signs contracts and electronic documents, contributes to the automation of office operations in response to customer needs for operational efficiency, labor savings, and productivity improvements.

I can't tell whether this hanko-bot is intended as a joke, but there are also robots for making dumplings:

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Baby Yoda in his floating bassinet paper toy

Although you won't find any official toys of "the Child" from Disney's The Mandalorian in stores yet, you can decorate your tree with this authorized papercraft version of Baby Yoda in his floating bassinet. All you need is scissors, glue, and a healthy amount of some patience to get all the fiddly bits stuck together. Read the rest

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