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The Weekender: Slot machines, Periscope pirates, and solar flight

What to do, see, and read this weekend

Hello fellow weekend-goers, and welcome back to The Weekender. This week, we played the slot machines in Vegas, we learned how the Age of Ultron villain was built, and we talked to the pilot about to spend five days alone on a solar airplane. We'll also be setting you up for a stellar weekend back on this terrestrial plane. So sit back and take a journey with us.

Do this

Cinespia Cemetery Screenings, Los Angeles, California

This marks the first weekend of summer movie nights in LA’s Hollywood Forever cemetery. Who doesn’t want to curl up on a blanket surrounded by famous dead people and watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind?


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Engineers of Addiction

Slot machines used to be a sideshow to casinos' table games. Now, they're the main attractions. Here's how the companies that make slot machines have engineered the perfectly addictive products — and how their knowledge is starting to move on to mobile games.

A pilot is about to spend five days alone over the Pacific in a solar airplane

If flying a plane for five days straight without any backup sounds difficult, well, it should. The high-stakes endurance feat is part of a plan to circle the globe in one of the most ambitious planes ever built — one entirely powered by the sun. We spoke with the pilot flying it to hear about the techniques he's using to stay alive.

Without government help, rural Nepalese try to move past a devastating earthquake

Greg Sandoval reports from Nepal on the steps rural villagers are taking to rebuild their lives after the deaths of family members and neighbors and the destruction of their homes. With no response from the government, it'll be up to residents' resilience to rebuild.

Age of Ultron: How Industrial Light & Magic built a robotic killing machine

When you make an emotional robot the villain of your movie, it means that some incredible visual effects will be needed to pull it off. We spoke with the effects studio behind Ultron to find out what went into making an evil robot feel so real.

Periscopes, pirates, and pugilists: the battle between TV and live streaming apps

Was Periscope really the winner of the Mayweather–Pacquiao fight? Not quite. Periscope, Meerkat, and other live streaming apps are making it easier than ever to find pirate video streams, but it's not a new problem — and it's one that broadcasters already have ways to fight.

The oral history of Redman’s notorious MTV Cribs episode

Chris Faraone talks to MTV executives and rapper Redman about one of the first episodes of Cribs that was uniquely unluxurious.

Redman: While everybody was trying to show a lavish house, the lavish life of living, that’s not always the case. Not every entertainer’s living lavish. They may have a more lavish set on the street, but it’s still real for a lot of cats out here in the entertainment game. We’re okay, but we’re not rich, and that’s what I wanted to display to my fans... I always try and think about what the 'hood would say when I do things.


This is how Las Vegas protects Floyd Mayweather

Diana Moskovitz reports on the ways in which the Las Vegas judicial system prevented Floyd Mayweather from seeing any consequences for his history of domestic abuse.

By far the lengthiest file I got—a full 18 pages—was from 2011, when Floyd was charged with two counts of misdemeanor harassment after threatening two security guards over parking tickets. The criminal complaint said Mayweather told them that his crew had guns and Mayweather would call them to come over and “take care of” them.” Mayweather was found not guilty, although not before Mayweather’s legal team offered a bizarre solution, one guard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Would the guard want the case dismissed if in return Mayweather “apologized, shook his hand and gave him tickets to his next fight”? (He declined.)

A Day in the Life of Pinterest

The New Yorker
Monica Heisey imagines Pinterest as a person.

Back in her kitchen, she starts the evening’s work: repurposing things. She repurposes a chandelier into a centerpiece, an unwanted blanket into a whimsical teepee, a large can into a slightly smaller can. It feels good to recycle. “Come at me, Martha Stewart. I freaking dare you,” Pinterest thinks, as she paints the final chevron on what used to be a useless old ladder. Now it’s a cool ladder. She lights a few homemade beeswax tapers. She takes one to her fire pit and ritualistically burns many copies of House & Garden. The light flickers across the metallic temporary tattoos she has applied to her collarbone as a fun, affordable twist on glitzy jewelry.

The Man Who Became Big Bird

Jessica Gross interviews Caroll Spinney, the man who played Big Bird.

Big Bird was kind of a goofy guy when they started, but a couple months into the show, I decided that instead of just a dumb, goofy guy, he should be a child, learning. And I think that was a better idea. Then children could identify with Big Bird, which indeed they did and they still do. It’s kind of an unusual situation, since at this point I’m about 74 years older than the character I play.

I Was a TaskRabbit Butler

Daniel Hirsch answers a TaskRabbit ad looking for a butler..

No, my Master didn’t require me to wear a uniform, but he did speak nostalgically about the family home, in which the servants wore crisp white outfits. I veered towards a kind of polished business casual, and on days where I had to drive him around, I wore my jauntiest cap. Like many a recent Silicon Valley transplant, my Master shared a surely costly, though not overwhelmingly fancy, two bedroom apartment in Russian Hill with another European Google co-worker.

Listen to this

Hop Along - Painted Shut

This Philly foursome’s sophomore effort is so good. Frontwoman Frances Quinlan has a voice that stretches like saltwater taffy on a metal machine, working its way around swarms of angry guitars like a sedative.

Best Coast - California Nights

This LA-based twosome hide their feelings of confused romance and muddled self-confidence in waves of surf-inflected pop musings.

Play this


This little game is a good way to kill an hour or two. Slide around as one big ball that can only get bigger by eating lots of smaller balls. Other players around the world also roam around trying to eat you. It's, uhhh, like, a metaphor... for capitalism.

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What's more terrifying than girlhood and boarding schools that specialize in dance? Dario Argento's 1977 horror film Suspiria, which might give you nightmares, but also might saturate your gentle dreams in deep reds and blues.