Trump Calls For Special Prosecutor For Clinton, ‘Watch’ Of Voting In Election

By Steve Holland

AKRON, Ohio – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump urged the Justice Department on Monday to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate if donors to the Clinton Foundation got special treatment from the State Department when it was run by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump made the appeal at a rally before thousands of cheering supporters in Akron, Ohio, as he tries to rebound from a slide in national opinion polls with little more than two months to go until the Nov. 8 election.

Trump accused former President Bill Clinton and his wife of turning the Clinton Foundation charity into a “pay-for-play” scheme in which wealthy donors, foreign and domestic, got favors from the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s 2009-2013 tenure as the country’s top diplomat.

Trump faulted both the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation for not indicting Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey cited her careless handling of classified emails but opted not to prosecutor her.

“The Justice Department is required to appoint a special prosecutor because it has proved to be, sadly, a political arm of the White House,” Trump said. “Nobody has ever seen anything like it before.”

Trump’s appeal came the same day a conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, released 725 pages of State Department documents, including some it said were examples of preferential treatment provided to donors at the request of former Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band.

Trump’s call for an independent investigation followed an announcement by the Clinton Foundation that it would no longer accept foreign donations should Clinton be elected president.

The Clinton campaign fired back at Trump, saying the foundation had already laid out “the unprecedented steps the charity will take if Hillary Clinton becomes president.”

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement that Trump “needs to come clean with voters about his complex network” of businesses that are in debt to big banks, including the state-owned Bank of China, after a New York Times report on the subject.

“Donald Trump should stop hiding behind fake excuses and release his tax returns and immediately disclose the full extent of his business interests,” Podesta said.


While keeping up the attack on Clinton, Trump in his speech also outlined some agenda items, as Republicans have been urging him to do for months. The more disciplined Trump followed a campaign shake-up last week that brought in veteran pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager.

But in a sign that organizational challenges remain, Trump canceled a rally planned for later this week in Las Vegas and postponed an immigration speech in Denver.

Earlier on Monday, Trump insisted he was not “flip-flopping” on immigration, despite a comment by Conway on Sunday that his plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants was still under review.

In his Akron remarks, Trump, struggling to broaden his support beyond the white working-class voters who have been his base of support, again urged blacks and Hispanics to give him a chance, saying: “What the hell do you have to lose?” repeating a line he delivered on Friday that was criticized by Clinton as “ignorant.”

Trump said Democratic politicians had not been able to stem crime and poverty in inner cities despite pledges to do every election year.

“I say it and I’m going to keep saying it and some people say: ‘Wow that makes sense’ and some people say: ‘That’s not very nice,’” Trump said. “And I say it with such a deep-felt feeling, what do you have to lose? We’ll bring jobs back. We’ll bring spirit back. We’ll get rid of the crime.”

Trump also urged his supporters to “watch” voting places on election day, seemingly alluding to his fears that the race could be “rigged.”

“When I say watch, you know what I’m talking about, right? You know what I’m taking about. I think you got to go out and you got to watch,” Trump said.

(Additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Lou Pearlman, The Man Who Founded *NSYNC And The Backstreet Boys, Has Passed Away And Reaction To His Death Is Mixed

This is an interesting (and probably expected) reaction.

Lou Pearlman, the man who founded *NSYNC, the

Pearlman, though, wasn’t just known for launching the careers of young men like Justin Timberlake.

He was also convicted of fraud, and sentenced to 25 years in prison back in 2008 after taking part in a massive $300 million Ponzi scheme.

The controversial music mogul’s cause of death was not revealed.

Upon hearing the news, the former teen charges that worked under Pearlman and achieved lasting fame and built their careers from the ground up, had mixed reactions.

Lance Bass, formerly of *NSYNC, shared his thoughts on Twitter (below):

Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away. He might not have been a stand up businessman , but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today wout his influence. RIP Lou

And other former artists under Pearlman’s care also tweeted their thoughts (below):


Related: Backstreet Boys Confirm Las Vegas Residency Trial Run!

Talk about mixed emotions, as Kirkpatrick says.

RIP, Mr. Pearlman.

[Image via WENN.]

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Mel Brooks Looks Back: Blazing Saddles Could Never Get Made Today

The 90-year-old comedy master opens up about his upcoming Blazing Saddles event at Radio City Music Hall, political correctness, and the state of comedy today. “>

In a world gone mad, Mel Brooks, now 90, is determined to get people back on his laugh track. Earlier this year, members of the Writers Guild of America voted for the 101 funniest screenplays of all time. Brooks was the only writer to have three scripts he wrote or co-wrote in the top 12: his Oscar-winning original screenplay for The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein.

On September 1st at New Yorks Radio City Music Hall, after a screening of Blazing Saddles, Brooks will discuss why the classic western sendup is still a riot 42 years after its theatrical debut. If that werent enough, a coffee table book of Young Frankenstein will debut this fall.

Brooks is one of precious few to capture the EGOT, taking home Emmy, Tony Grammy, and Academy Awards. Like Don Rickles, TonyBennett, and his close friend Carl Reiner, whoco- created the 2000 Year Old Man bits, Brooks represents an era of show business that will pass when they do. But until that day comes, this old man river of laughs just keeps rollin on.

What did Warner Bros. executives think when they first saw Blazing Saddles?

Mel Brooks: They wanted to bury me and the film. The head of distribution told the owners not to release the picture but they only did because it was already booked in theaters and they didnt have a picture they could replace it with. Only John Calley, an extremely filmmaker-friendly executive at the studio, championed it. The rest of the executives wouldnt acknowledge me on the lot even when Blazing Saddles became a huge money maker.

Why did they hate the film so much?

I actually got notes from the studio head in vivid detail who said, Lose the fart scene, cut out any racial and ethnicjokes, edit scenes where a horse and an old lady get punched, and my favorite note: Can you reshoot Black Bart with a white actor? If I had made their changes the film would have been just 14 minutes long! I stupidly threw all their notes in the trash. Imagine the book I could have written on them today.Then I had a screening on the lot for anyone who worked there, so the executives couldnt think I was faking the results. The screening provedeverything the big shots hated was funny beyond belief, and yet the big shots didnt believe the comic tastes of their own employees. I only got my first royalty check recently, which meant it took all these years to show a profit. Hopefully my next check will be inthree figures!

And Richard Pryor, of course, was your first choice for Black Bart.

The studio didnt want him because they said he was unreliable due to his personal problems. I fought hard for Richard and was going to quit the film but he told me not to because he needed his screenwriter fees to pay his mortgage. Then we had a long and expensive search to find the right actor for his part. When Cleavon Little auditioned, Richard was in the room and gave me a signal that he wasour man!

What other help did Pryor give you on Blazing Saddles?

When I was getting so much pressure to change the script due to it being offensive to blacks, Pryor stuck behind the work. He said the script, which three other people wrote besides us, was hilarious and if it was compromised in any way then we werent going to make the movie we all believed in.

But didnt you cut one big line from the final edit?

Yes. For some weird reason, and I still cant explain why well, theres a scene in Madeline Kahns dark dressing room where shes below framemaking Cleavon veryhappy. She tells him with satisfaction how big he is, and his initial response, which I cut, was: Youre sucking on my arm!

Whats the biggest misconception about Blazing Saddles?

That we shot it in black and white, then we later colored each frame with big crayons.

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Do you think Blazing Saddles would ever get made in politically correct 2016?


How do you feel about Hillary and Trump running for president in 2016?

I dont do political humor. Its too pass.

Who makes you laugh today?

Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K., Melissa McCarthy, and Harpo Marx.

What have you learned about pitching projects in todays Hollywood?

Never go to a studio executives office. If you go there, you have a big NO awaiting you. If they come to your office, youve got a 50/50 chance for a green-light for your project.

What was your most unusual pitch meeting?

I went to Alan Ladd, Jr., who was running Fox at the time, and pitched him Silent Movie. Even though Young Frankenstein had made him a lot of money, Laddie was very reluctant to do the picture. He said between the slapstick in that film and a non-talkie, it seemed like I really wanted to return to vaudeville, so he said no. I quickly told him I could get Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Marcel Marceau, Paul Newman, and Burt Reynolds, who was the hottest star in Hollywood at the time. I was lying of course, like Im doing to you now, but Laddie said hed make the picture if I got all of them. Newman loved the idea of driving a go-kart and not having any dialogue to memorize. I paid Reynolds $25,000 for a days work andthen told him I need him for three more days. Burt was having fun taking a shower with Dom, me, and Marty in the film, of course, I thinkso he stuck around.

Didnt you have a strange meeting when you tried to pitch Young Frankenstein to Columbia Pictures?

The short version is they wanted to make it but wanted to make it for two million dollars less than its small budgetmoney Fox made just on the 40th anniversary DVD. My last words at the meeting were, And were going to make it in black and white. As Im walking down the hall I realized I was being chased by thirty executives telling me I had no green-light if I wanted to make it in black and white. And this was when Blazing Saddles was making millions of dollars daily, moneythat somehow disappeared immediately whenIasked Warner Brothers when I would receive a royalty check.

With truly unlimited source material, why didnt you ever make a sequel to History of the World: Part I?

Nobody asked me to. The film madegood money. Id enjoy doing a sequel to that and Spaceballs. Theres still so much you can satirize in both movies.

Do you feel any of your pictures are underrated?

The Twelve Chairs. It was a nice, sweet film with a funny performance by Dom DeLuisehis best, I believe, other than whenmy wife Anne Bancroft directed him in Fatso. My favorite film nobody saw is Life Stinks. I play a multimillionaire who makes a bet with a peer that he can survive on the streets as a homelessperson. You root for this guy and you laugh with him, not at him. You know, basically all my films are about greed versus humanity. I never want people to leave one of my productions feeling depressed. If you come out of the play The Producers humming Springtime for Hitler and having a smile on your face, then Im a happy man. Do you realize the last time I was at Radio City Music Hall was when The Producers won more Tonys than any play in history?! That place is bigger than some New England states. Im going to be there with Blazing Saddles September 1st. I may be a 2,000-year-old man but I can still see empty seats. Since Im not getting paid for this fantastic interview Im giving you, then do your best to help me fill those seats. Is that too subtle?!

OK, but only if you answer one final question: Is it true that Dustin Hoffman was going to receive his first starring role in The Producers?

YES! Dustin came to my house late one night and threw pebbles at the windows of my upstairs apartment. Even then I knew better not to eat with anactor or give them my phone number. Dustin told me he had to drop out of my film, a movie I had spent years trying to get financing for, because he was going to Los Angeles to star in The Graduate. I yelled at him so loud it woke up my fellow renters. I screamed, You mean youre deserting me to spend the summer in Hollywood making love to the love of my life [Bancroft]? Then I gave him my blessing by adding, Good choice!

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How Rejection Made Me A Serious Writer

Getting told noby lovers, bosses, schoolsis never fun, but sometimes you have to hit bottom before you realize that becoming who you want to be is all on you after all.”>

Dont date someone you work with, because, if you date someone you workwith youve substantially increased the chances that you will get dumped while you are at work. I can give this advice because I once dated someone I worked with and then that person who I worked with dumped me at the place where we worked.

After-work drinks with a co-worker had led to making out, which led to a relationship.The sneaking around we had to do enhanced the fun. I fell hard. She did not.Three months in, she dumped me. At work.

The dumping wasnt a screaming match in the lobby or a crying session in the supply closet; because she did not want to make a scene, the breakup took place over Gmail chat. Because we sat in cubicles next to each other, this meant I was dumped remotely by someone five feet away. With nothing but a thin fabric divider between us, I could hear her typing before the words showed up on my screen. It was like hearing my killer load the bullets he was about to shoot me with.

The process took over two hours because workday tasks kept interrupting our breakup. Id go from typing a plea for a second chance by online chat, to helping a co-worker figure out why the printer wasnt working. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, PLEASE DONT LEAVE ME. I dont know Bob, did you try turning it off and on? I left early that day, with tears in my eyes, telling people on the way out that I was suffering from bad allergies. 

There was more rejection to come. A few months earlier, I had applied to MBA programs and over the course of the week following the breakup, I received rejection letters from all of them. Up to that point in my life, Id faced only minor rejection. Id gotten into all of the colleges to which Id applied, gotten every job Id gone in for, and been the one to end my previous relationships. Now, in the same week, a woman and several major American universities were telling me they didnt want me inside them.


From the time I readThe Great Gatsbyin eighth grade English, I wanted to be a writer. When it was time for college, I choose one with a film program, having decided that instead of writing the great American novel Id writethe great American blockbuster. I graduated wanting more than ever to be a screenwriter.

Heres what I thought would happen after film school: Id be at a party and Id meet the head of a studio and the studio prez would say, I like the cut of your jib, kid, why dont you write me a script, and then Id say, I dont know what a jib is, sir, but Ill take your money! and wed both laughand that summer I would learn about jibs while sailing with my new mentor (and his beautiful granddaughter) on his yacht theSarafina.

This didnt happen. Apparently, the heads of major media corporations dont attend parties where beverages are served in red Solo cups. I did find work in the film industry, but at an entry-level position for a small, failing film company. Five years removed from college, I was nowhere close to making a living as a screenwriter or any other kind of writer. 

During those post-college years I wasnt writing much. I couldn't get motivated. If I finished a screenplay, how would I sell it? I didnt have an agent or a manager and didn't know how to get one. I didn't know anyone important in Hollywood and, as every knows, its all who you know. (It didnt occur to me that if you know someone, you still have to have a good script to give them, which I didnt).

Since my lack of success clearly stemmed from my lack of access (and definitely not the fact that I wasnt writing), I came up with a plan to get around this problem:I would get my MBA, use that to get a job at one of the film studios,work my way to an executive position, and green-light my own scripts. Instead of being a starving artist, Id be a rich and successful artist/executive. How had no one else figured out this loophole?

I took the GMAT, collected letters of recommendation, and submitted my applications. I was excited forthe new era of my career to begin, especially once I got the new girlfriend, who I was sure would follow me to whichever school I decided to go to.

But then I got dumped. And denied. Unwanted for the first time in my life. It felt like a referendum on my very worth as a human being. The glorious future I'd been picturing for months disappeared, leaving a blank space.


Writers are the Michael Jordans of procrastination. (I was going to come up with something less clich than the Michael Jordan thing, but I kept putting it off). My attempt to get an MBA is proof of this, because thats all it was really, a very elaborate way to procrastinate. I didnt want to get an MBA, didnt want to be a businessman. I wanted to be a writer. That had never changed. I just convinced myself that business school was an easier way to become a writer than writing. (I know spending $60,000 and two years in business school doesnt seem easier than just writing, but the blank page can be very daunting.) With my (very ambitious) procrastination scheme a failure,I realized that to become a writer I was going to have to write. And probably like, a lot.

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I started doing it every day. I did not like it. Whenever Id thought about being a writer, what Id envisioned was the time when a writer is not writing. I'd picturedthe drinking, the awards, the witty banter with fellow authors, the summers on the French Riviera, the beautiful admirers. This was not that. This was me, alone, in my tiny New York apartment,working for a couple hours before I did a full day of work at my paying job.It was not glamorous or fun. It did not come naturally. It was hard, tiring work that drained me mentally and fatigued me physically. For the first month, I was popping Advil like an arthritic octogenarian because my wrists, back, and neck were so sore.

Fueled by wanting to prove the girl and the schools wrong, I kept at it, and the feeling that it was hard work faded as I got better. My aches and pains went away, as did the mental aversion to sitting down to start. Writing didnt become fun exactly, but the practice became fulfilling. On the good days, the session had a meditative quality, and on the bad days I was still glad Id made the effort. I began to feel a compulsion to do it every day, feeling grumpy when I had to skip.

I wouldnt see tangible, monetary success for years, but it was during that period that I became a serious writer. I dont say serious to mean I write weighty or important material (there ishonest to Godan eggplant emoji on the cover of my new memoir Available), or even to mean Im any good. When I say Im a serious writer, I simply mean I take writing seriously. Id been waiting to be discovered, to be hired, to be given permission to write, but the best thing about writing is that you dont need anyones permission. To be a writer, you just have to write. I finally understood that, despite never having been on anyones yacht. (Turns out, you can be a writer without knowing what a jib is.)


When we were breaking up that day, my soon-to-be-ex had told me she thought we made better friends than lovers. I had disagreed, certain we were in love, but she was right (were still friends now). And the schools had been right, tooit would have been a mistake for me to be there, I just didnt know it yet. Most of the time, when we get rejected, its for the best, it just hurts because the other party figured it out first. It sucks when they figure it out first. So Im glad the girl and the schools figured it out. If they hadnt, I might have spent the rest of my life procrastinating.

Matteson Perry is the author of Available: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Hookups, Love and Brunch. He is a screenwriter, performer, two-time winner of the Moth GrandSlam storytelling championship, and the host of the monthly Moth StorySlam in Los Angeles. His writing has appeared inTheNew York Times,McSweeneys,College Humor, and other publications. His work has been featured on NPR andFunny or Die. A Colorado native, Matteson lives in Los Angeles with his wife.

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Paul Manafort Failed to Tame Donald Trump, and Now Its Going to Get Real

Donald Trump was never really comfortable with Paul Manafort and his rules so he hired someone just as crazy and unqualified as he is to run his general election campaign.”>

Honey badger dont give a shitand Donald Trump dont give a shit now, either.

Breitbarts honey badger mottocreated by the fringe websites patriarch Steve Bannonmay well be the guiding principle for Trumps general election campaign, because on Wednesday, Trump lured Bannon away from the propaganda-as-news business and to the propaganda proper business when he announced Bannon would be the CEO of his White House bid.

Whether this is a sign of the campaigns internal disarray or an indication that Trump is getting smart is a matter of dispute among those inside and on the periphery of Trumps operation. But one thing is clear: Trump, with his polls sinking and his strategy of chaos backfiring with only 82 days until Election Day, needed to make a changeand fast.

Until 5:37 a.m. on Wednesday, Bannon was primarily known as the executive chairman of Breitbart News, the deranged, far-right publication founded by the late Andrew Breitbart that, in recent months, seemed to function as an unofficial arm of the Trump campaign. Breitbart frequently parrots his talking points and publishes articles with headlines like Politicos Army of Democrats Driving Anti-Trump Narrative and Exclusive: Donald J. Trump: Hillary Clintons Plans for More Illegal Immigration Into America a Disaster for Our Country.

But amid what is reportedly his intense dissatisfaction with the state of his sputtering campaign, Trump decided a cheerleader was exactly what he needed.

In a press release sent to reporters early Wednesday, Trump introduced Bannon as the CEO of his presidential campaign, a new position designed to bolster the business-like approach of the operation. Trump jointly announced that he had promoted strategist Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante who worked in support of and donated to Ted Cruz during the primary, to serve as campaign manager, filling the role vacated with the firing of Corey Lewandowski in late June.

The wisdom of hiring the mastermind behind Trumps Russia Today, a site that caters to people who already agree with and plan to vote for him, was not immediately clear on Wednesday. At this stage in the election, Trump should be making appeals to voters outside of his core constituency of white working- and middle-class voters who fear the country will slip away from them. He cant win with his base, which is narrower than Mitt Romneys was, alone.

Never mind that Bannon is not an experienced presidential campaign operative. A cargo-shorts enthusiast who looks like the spawn of The Dude and late-era Jack Nicholson, hes hopscotched among investment banking, TV production (earning some Seinfeld royalties in the process), and the far-right blogosphere with a penchant for conspiracy entrepreneurs.

These traits make him an obvious Trump hire, but not an obvious hire for someone who wants to win the general election.

But Bannon has a reputation for being what Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide, called an ideas guy. Another source with knowledge of the campaign machinations said Bannon was valuable because of his understanding of new media. In Trump Tower, the hope is that Bannon will help the campaign devise a more focused message that stays true to Trumps character, which the American public is intensely familiar with.

Trump won the Republican primary by following his gut, aided by a staff of amateurs who served only to act as yes-men and abided by the rule of Let Trump Be Trump. But it seemed obvious that strategy wouldnt work for the broader electorate. Thats partly why, in March, he brought on some experienced political operatives, like Paul Manafort, an establishment Republican whod worked for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, to help Trump professionalize his operation and soften the hard edges of his message.

In the new structuring, Manafort retains his title of campaign chairman, but the matter of his clout with the boss is uncertain. The decision to hire new strategists seemed to be an admission that Manafort had failed to change Trump, who at 70 is stuck in his ways.

Trump never really gave pivoting a shot. There were days when his output of outrageous statements was tempered somewhat, or when he dutifully recited words from a TelePrompterphenomenons. This reliably resulted in speculation that perhaps we were about to see a whole new Trump. But the statesman-ish act could only last as long as Trump could stand to exist without the sound of cheering from the fringe right and the cheap seats, which turned out to be not long at all. And when Trumps small compromises didnt result in improved numbers, it seemed he began to question the wisdom of the people advocating for them.

Caputo said he didnt buy the notion that Trumps decision to add more staff members reflected negatively on Manafort, with whom he is close. Caputo blamed that narrative on Lewandowski, who now works as a commentator for CNN.

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This is Coreys spin, on the record, Caputo said. Corey Lewandowski is working overtime to try to promote this buildup as Manafort on his way out. Corey Lewandowski is out, not Paul Manafort.

Reached for comment, Lewandowski denied the accusation that he had done anything to influence opinion on the subject.

I havent spoken to the media, and Caputo was fired, Lewandowski, who was also fired, said in a text message. I cant respond to something that is so patently false it shouldnt be reported because it can not be verified.

Caputo wasnt alone in blaming Manaforts obvious misfortunes on the former campaign manager, however.

Its not the demotion that Corey is spinning furiously, another source, who asked not to be named, said. The source admitted that Manafort might be disappointed on Wednesday, but only because of the media. Maybe hes disappointed that the mainstream media has taken the bait with Coreys spin, the source said.

Breitbart had neither independence nor integrity. Thats why its writers were told to take the word of Lewandowski over one of its own reporters when she alleged that she had been manhandled by the man.

Whatever the reason for Bannons hiring, in many ways it blows away the last remaining illusion that hyper-partisan media and hyper-partisan politics arent an explicit reinforcing extension of each other.

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Why I Watch People Play Videogames on the Internet

When I was a kid, I watched my older brother play horror games like Resident Evil, or Silent Hill. Young me was fascinated by these, but didn’t want to play them: Too scary, too mature, and anyway I was pretty sure Mom wouldn’t let me. So I’d creep into my brother’s darkened room on quiet weekend afternoons, and just watch. Plopped on his collapsing blue recliner, resting awkwardly against exposed wood slats, I would silently observe the nightmares he explored. Years later, I remember those times with my brother as some of the best we’ve ever had.

Nowadays, watching other people play videogames is a multi-million-dollar industry called Let’s Plays. They dominate YouTube’s top earner charts and have formed the broad template for streaming live gameplay on the website Twitch, which Amazon acquired for nearly $1 billion in 2014. Every now and then, an article in some local paper or business journal will pop up, listing the major players in the industry like Markiplier or PewDiePie and asking, with more than a little handwringing: How is it that an entire cabal of young entrepreneurs can make six figures just playing videogames in front of a camera?

Cue the touch of moral panic: What are our children even watching?

Well, they’re not just watched by children. In fact, the perspective of the viewer is suspiciously absent from most discussions of this new genre of digital media. Why do we watch Let’s Plays? Just ask us.


I first started watching Let’s Plays regularly about three years ago. I had just moved to a new city to work a lousy job. I was much lonelier there than I expected; the connections I thought I had in my new home proved to be more flimsy than I had anticipated. Old friends flaked, new friends were hard to come by. I spent too much time alone.

Videogames were a useful refuge, but playing them was still a solitary activity. But sometime during this period, I started watching The Game Grumps. Their setup was fairly typical for the genre: Two guys, animator Arin Hanson and musician Dan Avidan, play games while sitting in front of microphones and cracking jokes. It’s an even more niche take on MST3K, in 10-minute chunks.

The conversation ranges from juvenile to insightful, covering topics from game design and history to personal frustrations and dick jokes. It’s informal, two friends sitting on the couch together, talking shit and playing together, a casual afternoon on the couch retrofitted into an improv comedy routine.


Nearly immediately, I was hooked. I eked my way through their playthrough of the Gamecube’s Super Mario Sunshine, a game I remember fondly. Their experience with it brought all my memories rushing back. The intense frustration at the game’s steep challenge, the hours I spent just jumping off of walls aimlessly. Going back and playing Mario Sunshine again would require digging up a GameCube and a copy of the game, not to mention opening myself up to feeling the frustration the Grumps were taking upon themselves. Watching them play was a frictionless, distilled way to recapture that experience.

In a world where playing together on the couch is becoming rarer and rarer, YouTubers offer a substitute by straddling the line between reality stars, critics, and comedians. An open seat next to the play button. The tenor of conversation, for the Grumps and a lot of other Let’s Players, runs the gamut from irreverent to the personal, moving along the same uneven lines as real conversation with friends. A goofy reverie might turn into a confessional. It’s not community, exactly, but it’s a proxy of one, and I think it’s easy to devalue that unless you personally need it. Proxy communities, through mediated relationships and art, create a space for people to see themselves more clearly and to build a sense of connection with the broader world. When you’re in isolation, proxy communities can help you find real ones.


That’s what happened to Alyssa Sedillo, a twenty-something from Colorado who cops to watching LPs regularly. “Thanks to my depression, I struggle with being alone, but Let’s Plays help me feel like there is someone else in the room talking to me,” Sedillo said.

“The Let’s Play community has also brought me closer to people both online and off,” she said. “LPs are something my sister and I share, even though we’re living several states apart. LPs allowed me a connection to some of the more introverted students I encountered while working in public schools.”

“Growing up, I wanted to be a video game reviewer until I saw the level of hate women get in the field,” Sedillo said. Let’s Players like the immensely popular Markiplier offer viewers like her a place to safely sample and engage with gaming and the surrounding culture without opening themselves up to toxicity.

Her answers resonated with me, too. The gaming world can be polarizing and hostile. It’s not always a safe place to share enthusiasm, but so many Let’s Plays are nothing but.

A few years back, I spent a week at a friend’s house, a few of us crashing in sleeping bags on the floor. She had a Nintendo 64 and a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was the first game I ever beat, but I hadn’t had a chance to touch it in nearly 10 years. One afternoon, I sat with her and played while another friend of ours slept on the couch nearby. We spoke in hushed tones as he drifted, swapping memories of our first moments exploring the soaring greens of Hyrule Field, listening to the echoes of the past in the Great Deku Tree’s faded bark.

My sleeping friend told me, later, that he could hear us. Our low voices made him feel safe, he said, like the world was just as it should be. Like all he needed was friends and something to tie us together, and from that he had a home. Let’s Plays remind me of that moment, that connection. They conjure a shadow of it. They remind me that even a shadow of home is worth the time you spend in its shelter.

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The Rio de Janeiro Olympics Were Not a Disaster. Now What?

It wasnt perfect, but Rio de Janeiro pulled off the Olympics.

For all the hand-wringing, the problems that affected Olympians and tourists were relatively benign. Olympic pool water turned green. Some stadiums were largely empty. A few visitors were mugged, but the most harrowing tale — four U.S. swimmers pulled from their taxi and robbed at gunpoint — turned out to have been grossly exaggerated. And as for the Zika-virus paranoia, it will take time to figure out whether tourists contracted it at the games.

Spectators take a selfie picture during the Olympics closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 21.
Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

For many of Rios residents, Sunday nights closing ceremony signals a return to rising levels of crime and a country-wide recession. The massive investment in infrastructure and the hospitality industry that helped blunt the local effect of Brazils rising unemployment is finished. The 85,000 soldiers and police who flooded Rio to safeguard the sporting event will eventually return to their usual posts.

Robberies of high-profile athletes — real or imagined — were in many ways distractions for many of us who live here from the real story, said Robert Muggah, a security analyst at the Igarape Institute in Rio de Janeiro.

Reality Shock

While Rios murder rate is still low compared with a decade ago, violence is growing in the poor hillside communities known as favelas, and petty crime is on the rise from Copacabana beaches to the historic downtown. Rios next mayor and governor face hard decisions about the so-called pacification program in the favelas and charges of over-aggressive police tactics.

Back in 2009, when Rio won the right to host the games, the Olympics were expected to showcase Brazils emergence as a major economic force. Much has changed since then. The economy collapsed and improvements in security and poverty reduction were partly reversed. Even so, and in marked contrast to games held in other cities, the venues and infrastructure needed for the Olympics were completed largely on-time and with minimal drama, save for a subway expansion finished just days before the opening.

Thomas Bach
Photographer: Felipe Dana-Pool/Getty Images

These improvements in the infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro were desperately needed, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Saturday. All of this created thousands and thousands of jobs. Imagine where Rio would be without this long-term development program.

A report published by Fundacao Getulio Vargas economist Marcelo Neri, who served as a minister under suspended President Dilma Rousseff, also praised the impact of those investments. In particular, Neri found that Rios real household income experienced outsized gains in the seven-year runup to the Olympics.

Strategic Mistake

That may be so, but James P. Moore, Jr., managing director of the Business, Society and Public Policy Initiative at Georgetowns McDonough School of Business, says it is too soon to judge.

I predict that Rio will have been seen as a strategic mistake, Moore said by e-mail. This will not be a universal consensus, but I will guarantee that it will give developing countries food for thought in pondering the principle of buyer beware for years to come.

Light, a Brazilian electricity utility, said it has asked regulators to allow it to raise fees on consumers in part because of investments brought forward because of the Olympics.

There are yet some important questions that will linger after the end of the games, in which Brazil won a record number of seven gold medals. The Rio 2016 organizing committee is facing a serious budget crisis that will affect the execution of the final stage of its hosting responsibilities, the Paralympic Games, which begin Sept. 7. The committee is scrambling to fill the shortfall with cash injections from federal and local governments and new corporate sponsorship. Part of the operating budget comes from ticket sales, and Mario Andrada, a spokesman for Rio 2016, said only 12 percent of Paralympics tickets had been sold.

The Olympic park in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro.
Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Then theres the massive Olympic Park in suburban Barra. The government says it has a plan to transform it into a park and training area, but many question how much use venues such as the velodrome – an indoor bicycle track – will ultimately get in the years to come.

As for the Aug. 5-21 Olympics, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes will win praise for its execution as he looks ahead to his political future, according to Thiago de Aragao, a partner and director of strategy at political-risk consulting company Arko Advice. Paes said Friday that he was certain that it was good to have brought the Games to Rio. He praised the organizing committee for a fantastic job.

Its going to be seen as a success for him, said de Aragao, speaking in a phone interview from Brasilia. But these days of success and joyfulness are, to a certain extent, an island within an environment of public security problems, of very serious issues.

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After death of Lou Pearlman, former boy band member share mixed emotions

Image: Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Even if you obsessed about boy bands when you were a kid, you probably didn’t know much about the man who orchestrated them.

Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind bands like *NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys and O-Town, died on Friday, August 19, at age 62, while serving a 25-year prison sentence for running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Pearlman was convicted of fraud in 2008. According to Rolling Stone, Pearlman had stolen over $300 million from investors in his scheme.

While Pearlman’s legacy ended with a scandal, his career also brought happiness to thousands, if not millions, of teens in the late ’90s and early 2000s, while also launching the careers of several famous musicians.

Former boy band members have been sharing their thoughts on Pearlman’s death on Twitter. While many are ultimately mourning the loss of their former business manager, the mixed feelings expressed in their tweets clearly show how imperfect he was.

Former *NSYNCer Lance Bass possibly said it best: “He might not have been a stand-up businessman, but I wouldnt be doing what I love today [without] his influence.”

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Australian city transformed into NYC for the filming of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth hang out on the set of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ in Brisbane, Australia.

Pardon the residents of Brisbane, Australia for being just a bit excited. It’s not often you get to spot Thor at work.

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are in the city to film scenes for the latest instalment of the Marvel film series Thor: Ragnarok, with hundreds of onlookers trying their best to squeeze a glimpse of the stars on Monday morning.

Parts of Brisbane’s central business district has been blocked off and turned into New York City’s downtown for the film, which will be used for filming until Thursday, according to ABC News.

Thor: Ragnarok isn’t due to be released until November 2017, but in the meantime you can check out what they’ve been up to Down Under.

The cabs have been plucked straight out of New York City.

As have the traffic lights and the crowds.

Onlookers tried catch a glimpse of Thor. Don’t you people have jobs?

If you shout ‘Thor’ loud enough, you’ll get yourself a wave.

Maybe not if you shout out ‘Hemsy’, though.

Action! And the streets move just like New York City.

Oh nothing, just Hiddleston and Hemsworth hanging out on set.

But perhaps they’re better suited to selling newspapers.

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Pregnant Mom Working 2 Jobs Bursts Into Tears When Shes Finally Paid What She Deserves

On his popular CNBC TV Show “The Profit,” self-made millionaire Marcus Lemonis putshis own money on the line to fix small businesses that are failing. Lemonis knows that when you treat your employees with fairness and kindness,it makes themcare more about their jobs which in turn is better for business and productivity.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United States is dead last among developed countries when it comes to paid maternity leave. And Forbes reported that women with 12 weeks of maternity leave and fewer than eight weeks of paid leave are more likely to have more symptoms of depression. In 2015, Lemonis met with a woman preparing to take her maternity leave and struggling to make ends meet for her and her growing family.

Tami Forbes is a store manager at Key West Key Lime Pie Company. Despite the fact she handles everything from inventory to marketing, Tami is only paid $300 a week. At the time, she hadeight-year-old twins at home and was pregnant with her third child. Not only would she spend nine hours on her feet during the day, but the expecting momalso bartended to supplement her meager income.

“I’m gonna need your help before you leave. I gotta get some stuff done and you’re gonna be our leader here” Lemonis tells Tami in the clip below.“In order for you to have good piece of mind, I wanted to give you some money.”

Lemonisoffers Tami six months worth of pay, which is enough to make her break down in tears.

“It means everything, knowing that I have a salary when I come back a salary that I can live on, and still save money. … I’ve never had that,” she says.

But there’s an even bigger surprise in store…

This is exactly how more businesses should treat their hardworking employees.If you agree, please SHARE this touching moment with your friends on Facebook!

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