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Flying too close to the sun, or, how I met Grumpy Cat

Her birth name may be Tardar Sauce (sic), but the Internet has rechristened and reclaimed her as its own – and you and I know her as Grumpy Cat. Yes, that all too lovable cat curmudgeon has risen to Web infamy since her owner posted that disgruntled mug on Reddit this past fall, and we all fell in love.

gc memeThe rest, as they say, is (meme) history.

Naturally, Grumpy Cat is making an appearance at SXSW at the Mashable House, which went whole hog on the meme madness, featuring appearances from Scumbag Steve and the Nyan Cat creator as well. But these humans have nothing on the queue Grumpy Cat earned; the line wrapped around the block. In the rain. Even VIP badge holders were waiting, umbrellas or no, for a glimpse of Grumpy Cat.

Including me.

Doors opened at noon, local time, so I figured showing up around 11:30 a.m. to see, allow me to remind you, a cat, was more than generous. I was very, very wrong. The line was already wrapped around the corner, with somewhere around 100 adoring fans in front of me. Some were wearing Grumpy Cat shirts. Others practicing Grumpy Cat faces. All were ready to worship at the Grumpy Cat shrine.

Fortunately, I snagged a bracelet that let me skip a considerable part of the line (no shame) – but it deposited me into yet another line, this one approximately 40 people long. At this point, I’d been waiting for about an hour-and-a-half to meet a cat.

But I wasn’t alone – hardly. It was almost like the reception line of a coronation; people weren’t banshee-screaming like Beyoncé had just walked in, they were quietly waiting for their turns to greet the King (Queen?). The King of the Meme. The cat King of the Meme – which in Internetland, is the equivalent of Jesus. 

Finally, I made it inside the doors and out of the rain. I was briefed on the rules as my turn neared: No touching. One person at a time. I was told I may not interview Grumpy Cat. I wouldn’t dare, anyway. One look at that icy stare and I’d be silenced.

And then, my turn. I stepped up to the throne pillow upon which Grumpy Cat sat, held there by two handlers. Yes, two. A few things you may not realize about Grumpy Cat: She is very, very tiny. Almost kitten-sized, actually, which just makes her perma-disapproval all the more adorable. She is also very sleepy, as the entire time I was inside the building, I did not see her open an eye. (My theory: sedatives. This remains unconfirmed.) Oh, and she is a she. Apparently most people assume Tardar is a male.

I handed my phone over to the rep snapping photos. I positioned my face next to Grumpy Cat, and attempted to mimic her.

grumpy cat

It was all over so fast. My moment in the sun with Grumpy Cat came and went before I even knew what was happening. At the end of all this, I’m both embarrassed and thrilled by my meme-meeting. But I regret nothing. Here’s to you, Grumpy Cat: You are a SXSW treasure.

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Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
MoviePass CEO Stacy Spikes on how film can win the TV market back

Last month's Oscar awards was a hoot to follow, but if there's one thing we noticed, it's that host Seth McFarlane's background is not in particularly in film. Rather, his career is embedded in animated TV series like Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. This seems to be the telling signs that the television market and its characters are becoming more cinematic. If you look at shows like Fox's The Following or AMC's The Walking Dead, you'd realize the high quality of production in these series and how they're more like movie episodes than an average TV show. So if we can watch movies in 30, 45 minute segments at a time in the comfort of our own home, how are movie theaters going to win its viewers back from the likes of cable, streaming subscriptions, and on-demand videos?
Stacy Spikes, CEO of the MoviePass app that allows members to watch an unlimited amount of movies per monthly fee, has a few thoughts. (If you're unfamiliar with the service, check out our full MoviePass hands on and interview.)
In order to fight back the television industry, film makers not only have to put out better content, but find a way to make the movie going experience more beneficial as a social experience.
Digital Trends: It's obvious film is have to do a lot more than rehash movies from famous books and fairy tales if they want to win back viewers from the television market. What else can they do to bring back the golden years?
Stacy: Better content is so important, but there are also cycles. I think more with television, it's finally fell on its own with reality TV - but you can only watch so much of that for so long. Another thing with reality TV is the aftermarket for it is not as strong. Another thing is, people weren't working as much in theatrical - so you saw a lot of writers, directors, producers move over to TV so they can keep working since the cycles are shorter. But in the long run, people want to see their stuff on the big screen, and the move is cyclical. Eventually, I believe things will move back over.
DT: MoviePass has been around for about half a year now. What sort of trends have you seen about moviegoers in this strong TV market under the concept that they can theoretically watch movies unlimitedly (per flat rate cost)?
Stacy: The data is good, largely we are looking at 70 percent male, 30 percent female of the audience who go to the movies. We're heavily concentrated on the top ten ADI (area of dominant influence) markets. Behavior is also interesting, we see a 64 percent increase in people going to the movies [with MoviePass]. They also buy concessions at a higher rate given the fact that they are conceptually going to movies for free and are not fronting pocket cash.
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DT: What do you plan to do with this data? Pocket it for your app's improvements or sell them to film market researchers?
Stacy: We're holding on to the data to build more MoviePass features at this time. At some point, we're gonna figure out how to package it in an intelligent ways to help studios and theaters better market themselves and drive better traffic.

DT: MoviePass is one of the first apps to tie in geolocation data in a debit card system. What benefits and effects will this have on moviegoers and local businesses as opposed to TV viewers who stay at home?
Stacy: We have a patent on this system, and we think this could radically change the film industry. It can also change retail related to the film industry, so in the future, perhaps you can gain points that can be activated on your card. Certain retailers that are near the theaters can opt in and offer discounts. There are a lot of advantages in that mall ecosystem that we can one day use in an intelligent way. 
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DT: So, if you've been at the theaters to watch Lord of the Rings, local businesses can say, "Hey, maybe you'll wanna eat after the three-hour show?"
Stacy: Exactly! This notion is so unique. And if you start to frequent that place, they'll know and perhaps give better discounts. Most people tend to go to the same set of theaters in the same area. It's exciting to see how we can let this thing socially loose.
Thanks to Stacy Spikes for speaking with us at SXSW.

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"I used to go into my parents' cameras and delete photos of me and my sisters," Social Media editor Molly McHugh says. Gulp. "No one needs to see pictures of me dressed as Annie!"
Nonjudgmental, Irina nods and says it's a fine confession. She feels bad for Molly's parents and their memory keepsake, but no penance here. "What about you, Natt?"
This is being recorded. This is probably going to be published. People who knew me will hate me for this, but here goes.
"When I want to flake out of meeting up with people, I lie and say I have other plans and fake Foursquare check into places to make it seem like I was elsewhere," I confess. I'm sorry guys, sometimes a girl just needs a night in with herself! Even Molly seemed like she was judging me, but Irina seemed excited. "Oh, that's a good one!" she says as I wonder if she'll share this story anonymously with her next passengers.
At last we arrive at our destination and Irina lets us off easy. After all, she'll be running all day and night until Sunday night (March 10), so she'll have plenty more riders who are sure to have made worst ways with technology.
As for me, the confession felt good. But friends who've made it to this last line of the article will definitely delete me off Foursquare.

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Elon Musk.

UPDATE: After more than an hour of Musk taking questions and with around 3 million people listening live, the interview came to a close at 10:10 p.m. PT.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk agreed to an interview with the BBC on Tuesday night. It took place at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco with BBC journalist James Clayton and was streamed live on Twitter Spaces, the platform's audio chatroom feature.

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