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Game of Thrones killed traditional TV

By: Adam Proteau Special to the Star | Photo MACALL B. POLAY / HBO

Decades ago, you could watch a show safe in the knowledge the actors starring in it would be key cogs for years and years, but you’ll get no such guarantee these days. That’s because TV has entered the age of sudden death. And the wildly successful Game of Thrones (Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO) has paved the way by swinging the meanest scythe, killing off characters with no regard for the audience’s affection (or malice, as the case may be).

As we’re seeing in the first episodes of its fourth season, Game of Thrones isn’t shying away from its reputation as the medium’s bloodiest production: it’s ramping up the body count. In seasons 1 through 3, fans had to wait until closer to the finales for the untimely ends of characters; this year, we’re just three episodes in and there’s already been a jaw-dropping death, with rank villain King Joffrey murdered by an unknown poisoner.

It wasn’t long ago the death of a character on a hit series meant one of two things: an actor’s contract demands were sufficiently exorbitant to offend the producers and get them written off the show; or an actor actually had died and their role wasn’t recast.

The predictability of most series was wonderful for a star looking to lock into a multi-year, multimillion contract but significantly lowered the stakes of the plot.

“As a reader, or as a viewer of television and film, I always like unexpected things,” Martin told Conan O’Brien last June. “We’ve all seen the movies where the hero is in trouble. He’s surrounded by 20 people, but you know he’s gonna get away ’cause he’s the hero. You don’t really feel any fear for him.”

You definitely feel fear watching Game of Thrones. Series producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have cultivated an aura of constant dread and, after last season’s infamous “Red Wedding” and this season’s “Purple Wedding,” viewers are justified in worrying about the future of anyone onscreen. But the increasing appeal of Game of Thrones and its method of doing dramatic business has caused other series to follow its approach.

The new direction of the modern drama is a nod to the bleak world we inhabit: a world where we don’t have to leave the house to learn gruesome details about sudden and awful events that change the lives of humans in an instant. The Disneyfied happy ending works for kids but rings hollow for the rest of us.

Game of Thrones has demonstrated we can have dramatic TV fantasies without them being preposterously fantastic. It has raised the bar for televised tension and rendered obsolete the traditional limits of what a series could do.

If audiences are asked to believe anything is possible, the least storytellers owe us is a demonstration it’s true. Game of Thrones recognized and embraced that notion, and TV drama is eternally better, if not safer, for it.


ESPN error fried Raptors-Nets Game 1 clocks

Article: By: Sports Reporter | Photo: David Cooper / Toronto Star

After all the complaints about it not being available in Canada, maybe this is why ESPN isn’t welcome north of the border.

According to Raptors officials, an overexuberant ESPN worker — trying to fix a problem with the broadcast of Saturday’s Raptors-Brooklyn Nets playoff opener — plugged a cord into the wrong socket, frying enough circuits to cause the shot and game clocks on the baskets to go dark for the last quarter and a half.

“Let’s just put it this way: they are not the World Wide Leader in electricians,” a source said, mocking ESPN’s contention that it is the World Wide Leader in sports television.

The farcical turn of events forced players, coaches and referees to rely on sporadic clock countdowns by public address announcer Herbie Kuhn on each possession for the last 18 minutes of Game 1, the Raptors’ first playoff appearance since 2008.

It did not have a direct impact on the result, but it was amateurish and off-putting to players who are used to looking at a clock rather than listening to a voice.

“It really is different when you can’t see,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said Sunday.

As the Raptors practised at the Air Canada Centre, electricians were working feverishly to rewire the circuit cooked by ESPN. Raptors officials said Saturday the issue would be resolved, and approved by the NBA, before Tuesday’s second game of the series.

Time to exhale

With the emotional, intense playoff debut out of the way for the Raptors, there seemed to be a sense of calm around the team during a light workout session on Sunday.

“Our guys were focused. I thought they came in playing hard,” said coach Dwane Casey. “I thought there was so much hype with the playoffs, the first playoff series, we were a bit wide-eyed and bushy tailed.

“But with that said, as the game went on I thought we got more comfortable, and in Game 2 I know we’ll be different. I think Game 2 is a whole different animal. The newness and the shiny part of the playoffs is worn out by Game 2 … it’ll help our whole team.”

It wasn’t like the Raptors cowered — they were in a tie game with six minutes left despite playing poorly — but they were caught a bit off-guard at moments.

“Yeah, I think the bright lights will dim a little bit for everyone … the first game is always tough at home and we’ve got a bunch of young guys,” said Kyle Lowry.

Great escape

Nothing like a little solitude to make the sting of a poor playoff debut go away. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who went through a difficult 3-for-13 shooting day in first post-season game, spent Saturday night getting away from it all.

“I sat in my room the rest of the day,” he said. “I didn’t leave the room. I didn’t turn the TV on… . I just cleared my mind.”

There is no doubt the Raptors need to figure out how to get him more space to operate against multiple Nets defenders, though.

“Spacing has to be better for him because they’re loading up. They’re bringing two and a third guy over into his area,” said coach Dwane Casey. “We’ve got to do a better job of giving him space to react. The screens have to be more physical, more meaningful, than just going over there and hoping he hits me. Our big guys have to set man-sized screens for him to get open.”

DeRozan did toy with the idea of some extra work early Sunday morning, but decided he needed a mental break.

“I really thought about it,” he said. “About 1 a.m. I was going to come back, but I was like: Don’t put too much pressure on myself. Just get my rest, regroup today. We’ve got two days until we play, so just get ready. I try not to think so much or stress myself out, but just relax.”

Urgent security update

Bad news. A major vulnerability, known as “Heartbleed,” has been disclosed for the technology that powers encryption across the majority of the internet. That includes Tumblr.

We have no evidence of any breach and, like most networks, our team took immediate action to fix the issue.

But this still means that the little lock icon (HTTPS) we all trusted to keep our passwords, personal emails, and credit cards safe, was actually making all that private information accessible to anyone who knew about the exploit.

This might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere—especially your high-security services like email, file storage, and banking, which may have been compromised by this bug.

You’ll be hearing more in the news over the coming days. Take care.

El impedimento de salida a Juliana Deguis

Si realmente son alrededor de veinte mil personas las nacidas en territorio dominicano de padres extranjeros en situación migratoria irregular, como ha dicho la Junta Central Electoral, ¿ustedes verdaderamente creen que la patria está en peligro por reconocerles a estas personas y a su descendencia la nacionalidad dominicana que claramente les corresponde?

El verdadero peligro, con el que hemos vivido desde principios del siglo XX,  ha sido y es el flujo migratorio irregular desde Haití  hacia República Dominicana, sin control de ninguna especie, del cual nos hemos beneficiado todos, incluyendo empresarios, militares, políticos y sobre todo el gobierno dominicano, pues sin la mano de obra haitiana no se hubiese construido la República Dominicana que hoy conocemos.

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Do More Faster: 10 Best Apps & Tools

Five-time entrepreneur Frank Addante lists the digital gems that help him be organized and save time.

1.  Organize your email: Sanebox

Sanebox uses algorithms to organize your email into what’s important and what’s not. I was skeptical and had trouble giving up control of my inbox, but now I’m hooked. 

Tips: Trust it. Check @SaneLater twice a day, @SaneBulk whenever you feel like reading newsletters or promotions, and @SaneBlackHole for all the junk you never want to see again.

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First day of spring: Google Doodle celebrates the spring equinox

Also known as the vernal equinox, the 20 March is the first day of spring.

During an equinox, the Earth’s north and south poles are not tilted toward or away from the sun. This phenomena occurs twice a year: on 20 March and on 22 September.

English Heritage have confirmed that, weather permitting, Stonehenge will be open from the start of the equinox at 5:45am until 8:30am, to allow Druids and Pagans to gather and see the sun rise above the ancient stones, according the IB Times.

Druids and Pagans will celebrate the ancient Saxon goddess Eostre, who symbolises fertility and new beginnings.

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