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The Karaoke World Championships begin streaming today: Here are 5 songs we don't want to hear

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The next time you’re belting a Journey tune while trying to keep your balance and not spill your third drink, don’t be embarrassed the next morning, stand tall — you were simply cross-training.

That’s right, singing poorly and loudly is all part of the long, hard fitness journey to sing-song domination at the 2013 Karaoke World Championships. File this one under: Things We Did Not Know Warranted Championship Competitions, But What The Hell. After all, a little karaoke competition with a very big title can’t be that far-fetched, considering we live in a world that validates far sillier fare, such as tournaments for extreme ironing, Rock Paper Scissors, and weirdest individual on TLC.

This year’s Karaoke World Championships, which features amateur singers from 32 countries, takes place in Lappeenranta, Finland. The competition begins today and runs until Sunday. You can watch it streaming today (see below). Last year’s 2012 World Champion was from Spain. ¡Ole!

In the world of karaoke, as in road-trip playlists, song choice is important. You’re not just singing for yourself, you’re singing for the audience’s enjoyment too. Pick a lovesick ballad that showcases your pipes, you risk making your friends feel empty and loathsome of your talent. Here are five songs I hope we won’t be seeing in the championships:
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'Arrow': Should Steven McQueen play Nightwing? -- POLL

I feel powerless. As I type this, potentially criminal casting conversations could be taking place concerning one of my favorite shows, and I can do nothing about it. Correction: I can do one thing about it, and that one thing is write. So call me The Scribe, give me a fancy new mask, and throw me into the action, because I’m ready to save Starling City.

Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but superheroes need big entrances. Here’s the situation: My team has detected some casting rumors surrounding Arrow and the potential addition of Nightwing. Apparently, word is going around Twitter town that The Vampire Diaries‘ Steven McQueen has been campaigning for the role. I was able to dig up some proof in order to properly assess the situation. My findings are as follows:
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'Selfie' beats out 'twerk' for Oxford 2013 Word of the Year

We are a generation obsessed with abbrevs. So why wouldn’t we take something regal-sounding, like “self portrait,” and turn it into something we can easily text or hashtag? Enter the “selfie.”

Sure, selfies aren’t typically as refined as, say, a Van Gogh self portrait, but they are a trend, so much so in fact that “selfie” beat out “twerk” for Oxford Dictionaries 2013 word of the year. Selfie, which Oxford claims was first introduced to the lexicon in 2002, is now officially a word of the English language, where it sits beside 2012’s “GIF.”

So in honor of the word of the year, we’re taking a quick trip down a selfie-filled memory lane. The art of the selfie is something many celebs have perfected over the past year. First up, there are those who take the traditional, long-armed approach, like say, Miley Cyrus.
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'How I Met Your Dad': Could this work? Challenge accepted

I spent a significant portion of my evening shower on Friday thinking about this How I Met Your Mother spin-off business. (You didn’t really need to know that, but in the spirit of open idea exchange, I was compelled to put my thoughts into proper context.)

I know the idea for How I Met Your Dad, the series that on Friday was ordered to pilot by CBS, has been met with a chorus of negativity. But as a person who hates being wrong about things — especially related to television — I try to wait a beat before joining a mob of naysayers. (Or any mob, for that matter.)

I shared with a friend my intentions to approach the idea with optimism but was promptly asked a loaded question: “Do you really think this could this work?” The question stayed with me all day until I arrived at this: There’s no way for me to know if a female-led spin-off of HIMYM will work, but how great would it be if somehow the crazy idea did work?

I’m as sad as anyone to be saying farewell to the gang at MacLaren’s in 2014, but I also acknowledge that it’s time. That said, more than the gang themselves, I’m going to mourn the experience of watching. I’ve so enjoyed becoming part of what I considered to be a very cool segment of people who salute when someone uses the world “general” or understand what it means to be “lawyered.” That special language is all part of a world-building that is, quite honestly, a rarity. And while I know the spin-off would not exist in the same world, I’d love nothing more than to visit another planet in the HIMYM galaxy and find it to be just as magical.

So, with that preamble — which went through my head during the shampoo phase, in case you’re wondering — here’s what I see as the biggest challenges and some ideas on how the spin-off could overcome them.
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'The Voice' fans get a bigger voice: Will you use the Twitter 'Instant Save' tonight?

For the first time Tuesday night, social-media-happy fans of The Voice will have the power to save a contestant in the live eliminations with the “Instant Save.”

Voting via Twitter, you can prevent one of the bottom three singers from going home. Here’s how it works: During the live broadcast, host Carson Daly will give a signal for viewers to start casting their votes. For five minutes only, you can save your artists by tweeting their official keyword (which is their first name) with hashtag #VoiceSave. According to the official rules on the NBC website, retweeting someone else’s already-composed tweet counts as a vote, but only one tweet per Twitter ID will count. The singer with the most tweet-votes remains, and the other two will go home.

Here’s Carson Daly explaining how the Twitter save works:
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Ranking 'The Voice' Top 12: Is this season a man's game to win? -- POLL

Voice fans: I know it’s a tad early in the game, but is season 5 shaping up to be the most interesting season of the highly rated reality competition yet?

After the reveal of last week’s top 12, it’s apparent that this season is already breaking two important trends. One, with only four female singers remaining, is it safe to say we can expect The Voice to be a male one? There hasn’t been a male winner since season 1’s Javier Colon and season 2’s Jermaine Paul. Factors of probability aside, has there ever been a season with male singers of this caliber of talent? Week to week, I find myself scurrying from Matthew Schuler’s indie-rock power-ballad camp to favoring James Wolpert’s versatile vibrato, to even rooting for clutch player Will Champlin, who many times seemed a goner without a coach’s save. Now I’d wouldn’t be so careless to rule out Tessanne — who’s been a favorite this entire season — but it’s not going to be easy for the powerhouse diva to steamroll past these guys. This talent pool runs deep.

Secondly, in addition, to the dearth of ladies in the competition, there’s also a noticeable lack of a female country singer. As my colleague Samantha Highfill wrote in her analysis of season 4’s artists, The Voice looked like it was on the the fast track to becoming a single-genre show with the purpose of exclusively catapulting country singers. While there’s nothing wrong with discovering another country star, this departure can only signal good things for Voice viewers. It will force Blake to rejigger his coaching sensibilities, give more screen time to idiosyncratic voices, and make it more fun to watch without the looming threat of winner déjà vu.

Here’s a refresher on the current top 12 (and the order I would rank them):
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Lesbians react to 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' sex scene: 'That's a classic move' -- VIDEO

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Blue Is the Warmest Color is more than a graphic 10-minute sex scene between its two heroines. The three-hour French coming-of-age drama and Palme d’Or winner explores the origins and eventual dissolution of a romantic and emotional relationship between the teenage Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and the 20-something Emma (Léa Seydoux).

Still, we can’t stop talking about that scene. After it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, praise and critiques poured in and continued when the film finally hit theaters this fall. EW’s film critic Owen Gleiberman discusses the varying responses at length here.

Posture magazine, a small arts publication for the LGBT crowd, decided to actually show the scene to a group of gay women and talk to them about it. The responses are varied, but none believe that the extended scene represents either an ideal or a reality. One of the recurring criticisms is how outmoded Léa Seydoux’s Emma looks with that blue hair. Also, according to one of the women in the video, something that they do “has never happened once in the course of human history.” Can you guess what that might be?

Don’t worry (or get excited, depending): The movie might be rated NC-17, but this video is safe for work. There’s just some heavy breathing and moaning and some fairly explicit discourse about lesbian sex, so you might want to put on some headphones.
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Ben McKenzie talks young fame on 'The O.C.': 'Of course you make mistakes'

Ten years after The O.C. became nothing short of a phenomenon, fans are still dying to know what went on behind the scenes. Who let the fame get to their head? Was the set full of bagels, bikinis, and good times? And after Tate Donovan spoke to Vulture back in August about how some of the show’s young stars became “very tough to work with,” more rumors started swirling. Luckily, one of those “young stars” has now offered a bit of perspective from his years spent brooding, punching people, and stealing our hearts.

Ben McKenzie, who of course played Ryan Atwood on the hit show, recently went on the Nerdist podcast Making It With Riki Lindhome, where he talked about everything from growing up in Texas to the “whirlwind” that was The O.C.

After being cast “with maybe like a week or two” before the pilot was shot, McKenzie was quite literally thrown into the world of Josh Schwartz’s Orange County. “We wrapped on Friday, and we were picked up on Monday,” he tells Lindhome. “They started building sets, and we were on the air in August … and we did 27 episodes our first year.” As Luke so elegantly put it 10 years ago: Welcome to The O.C., bitch.
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Adapt This! Pulp's 'Common People'

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There’s nothing new under the sun — but somehow, these awesome properties have never been adapted for screens big or small. Psst, Hollywood: Let’s change that.

It’s the plot of Titanic. And The Notebook. And Aladdin. Also, Good Will HuntingPirates of the Caribbean, Wild at Heart, Say Anything, A Knight’s Tale, Atonement, The Great Gatsby, The Princess Bride and thousands of other stories that we’ve seen and read time and time again.

She’s rich (and beautiful). He’s poor (and beautiful). And he worships the privileged ground she walks on. Obviously they must end up together.You’d think that all love stories were really about class.

Because what’s more appealing than a tale of a scrappy, devilishly handsome fellow from the wrong side of the tracks who lusts after the privileged, sheltered beauty raised with silver spoons and gold forks and strands of pearls and eventually wins her pretty little heart?  No, not a reverse gender take. We’ve seen that a million times too. (Hi, Love Story, Pretty Woman, Maid in Manhattan, etc.)

Maybe what we need is a devilishly handsome fellow from the wrong side of the tracks who realizes that the privileged, sheltered beauty raised with silver spoons and gold forks and strands of pearls was full of sh-t? That’s why we should adapt Pulp’s “Common People.” Here’s my modest proposal.

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Swedish cinemas give movies a 'Bechdel' rating: Good idea?

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We all know the Bechdel Test by now, right? Well, if not, it’s cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s three-pronged test to judge female characters in movies. Do more than two female characters have a name? Do they speak to each other? And, if the two named female characters have a conversation, is it about something other than a man?

But the “test” has basically only existed as a discussion point that we blog about occasionally as we wax poetic on the state of substantive roles for women. A few Swedish art house theaters would like to change that.
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