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A No-Spoilers Review of Tonight's Game of Thrones Premiere

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Tonight, Game of Thrones returns for its fourth season. The episode airs at 9pm ET/PT on HBO, Sunday, April 6.

Because executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have requested that we don't spoil any plot twists or spoilers, our review of tonight's episode must be curtailed. So here, I present the most spoiler-free GoT premiere review I can manage.

Tywin Lannister

Is alive and making weapons. Or rather, paying others to make weapons for him. (See also: 7 Secrets of a Game of Thrones Weapons Artist.)

Tyrion Lannister

Is doing odd jobs for his dad. It's not easy being the Hand's errand-boy (sorry, I mean Master of Coin), being married to a distraught child bride, and having to manage his increasingly bold mistress Shae.

The Dornishmen (and Women)

Are coming. (Kind of like Winter, but with more characterization.) Well, they're pretty much here now, and that could be a problem in the long term. There's some lightweight sexposition featuring these new characters.

Daenerys Targaryen

Has dragons that are growing up. And is surrounded by various men who want to give her advice and/or date her and/or impress her. She is not impressed.

Ser Jorah Mormont

Has two lines.

The Red Wedding

Was not a dream, and has bummed out a bunch of people. On the bright side, there's a new wedding coming up in King's Landing in a fortnight! Yay, weddings!

Sansa Lannister (nee Stark)

Is extra-bummed due to the recent death of most of her remaining family in the aforementioned Red Wedding. She could really use a break. Will she get a break? Magic 8-Ball says: outlook not so good.

Ser Dontos Hollard

Is drunk. (You'll be forgiven if you don't remember this fellow when you see him.)

Jon Snow

Knows nothing. And is about to go on trial for all the crazy nothings he's done on the wrong side of the Wall.

The Wildlings

Know plenty, but are freaked out by the arrival of the Thenns. (Because everybody knows the Hornfoots hate the Thenns.)

Ygritte

All I'm saying is that Jon Snow had better watch out because his ex is manufacturing an alarming number of arrows.

Samwell Tarly

Has two lines, and one's a zinger.

The Commanders of the Night's Watch

Are ticked at Jon Snow for pulling the various hijinks he's been up to.

Brienne of Tarth

Is "just marvelous." Has made various promises/vows regarding Renly and the Stark children in previous episodes. She's looking to keep them.

Ser Jaime Lannister

Has a new haircut! Is still missing a pretty important hand. He's not a confident lefty yet, but he's trying. His dad is still tough on him. Will he keep his promise to protect the Stark girls? Is that even possible? Also, he's in charge of security for the upcoming wedding. That sounds like fun.

King Joffrey Baratheon

Is still a jerk. He's even mean to his uncle/father Jaime. He's getting ready for his wedding. Yay, weddings!

Margaery Tyrell

Is getting ready for her wedding. But she needs a new necklace! Who will find her a necklace befitting a queen? (Tune in next week to find out.)

Olenna Redwyne

Is helping sort out this necklace business.

Cersei Lannister

Drinks more than she used to.

Sandor Clegane (The Hound)

Is a stupendous badass.

Arya Stark

Is rapidly becoming a stupendous badass. Who wants her very own horse.

Arya Stark's Enemies

Should watch out, because, you know, "Valar Morghulis."

Bran and Rickon Stark, Osha, Jojen and Meera Reed, etc.

Presumably exist. Can't really tell ya.

Hodor

Hodor? Hodor. (Spoiler: Hodor?)

All in All

Game of Thrones has so many moving parts that it can be hard to keep track of all the subplots and familial relationships. This first episode is mainly about establishing where the various major characters are (notably excluding the Greyjoys and the non-Arya Stark kids) and what they're up to.

This episode is an appetizer sampler offering a little bit of everything, but not too much. The episode runs long, filling out a full hour, because we have to see at least enough of each of the above-listed characters (except Hodor, because Hodor) long enough to establish their current position on the global chessboard.

Relatively speaking, this episode is light on sex and violence, but heavy on exposition. Having said that, there is still sex and violence, the latter being the most interesting development in the episode. But, this being ultra-spoiler-free, you're just gonna have to wait and see. Here are some trailers to help you while away the few hours between now and tonight's premiere:

And if you need to refresh your memory, consult The Game of Thrones Viewer's Guide, including episode recaps, character studies, and plenty of maps.

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The Funniest Word in the English Language? 'Booty,' According to New Survey
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Some words, regardless of their meaning, are simply more chuckle-worthy than others. To determine which expressions in the English language are truly the most comical, Smithsonian reports that psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK conducted a survey in which they asked people to rate the “humor value” of a sampling of chosen words. They recently published their findings in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The researchers selected nearly 5000 words, and then used Amazon’s online crowdsourcing tool Mechanical Turk to ask more than 800 individuals to rank the humor value of 211 randomly chosen words from the list, on a scale from 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous). Likely not surprising to anyone with younger siblings, the funniest word ended up being “booty,” with an average ranking of 4.32. In descending order, the remaining top 12 words—which all received a score of 3.9 or higher—were “tit,” “booby,” “hooter,” “nitwit,” “twit,” “waddle,” “tinkle,” “bebop,” “egghead,” “ass,” and “twerp.”

Why these words are so funny remains fuzzy. But when they analyzed their findings according to age and gender, the researchers did find that sexually suggestive words like “orgy” and “bondage” tended to tickle the funny bones of men, as did the words “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn,” and “raccoon.”

Meanwhile, women tended to laugh at the words “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” “momma,” and “sod.” As for people under the age of 32, they were amused by “goatee,” “joint,” and “gangster,” while older participants liked “squint,” “jingle,” “burlesque,” and “pong.” Across the board, all parties were least amused by words like “rape,” “torture,” and “torment.”

Although humor is complex and dependent on elements like syntax and delivery, the study's researchers say that breaking comedy down to single-word units could demystify its essence.

“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” said Tomas Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case. Humor is an everyday aspects of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations.”

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Watch the Original Spinal Tap Short Film
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Spinal Tap formed in 1979, five years before the classic film This is Spinal Tap premiered. They performed on TV and began developing their personas as idiotic heavy metal monsters.

When the band, along with director Rob Reiner, went to pitch their mockumentary to production companies, nobody "got it." It wasn't clear what an unscripted comedy pseudo-documentary would feel like. So Reiner asked for the screenplay fee—$60,000—to be paid up front as a budget for a short proof-of-concept film.

That skimpy budget went a very long way, allowing the group to produce The Last Tour, a 20-minute Spinal Tap film exploring some of the plot (and many of the songs) that appeared in the later film This is Spinal Tap. There's a surprising amount of concert footage, as various bits that were repeated in Tap (some interview clips were even used in Tap unaltered).

The Last Tour is delightful because it shows a well-developed idea being implemented on the cheap. The wigs are terrible, the sound is spotty, but the vision is spot-on. The characters and the core story of the group (including a string of dead drummers) is already in place, and we get to see the guys improvise together. Tune in (and be aware there's plenty of salty language here):

(Note: Around 4:38 in the clip above, we see Ed Begley, Jr. as original drummer John "Stumpy" Pepys in the "Gimme Some Money" video. Stumpy died in a gardening accident, of course.)

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