Your Weekend Nerdout: Yes, We'll Watch This Movie About Elvis Meeting Nixon
Sadly, no undead mummies in this one
Happy weekending, our nerdly brothers and sisters! How About we do a Nerdout that only has one Star Wars story in it for a change? Weird, huh? Let's get to nerding.
Elvis & Nixon: Ultimate Crimefighting Duo of 1970
Things we have already learned from the trailer for the upcoming film Elvis & Nixon, due out April 15: The bizarre photo of the two meeting in the Oval Office in 1970 is the "most requested photograph at the National Archives." That alone seems like a good enough reason to make a movie about the time Tricky Dick met the King. While this is a thing that really happened, Rolling Stone informs us that the movie is "semi-fictional," although the True Story is plenty weird enough. Shortly before Christmas 1970, Elvis showed up at the White House to ask a little favor of Richard Nixon: deputize Elvis as a federal anti-narcotics agent. Elvis collected law-enforcement badges, and according to Priscilla Presley, apparently believed that if he got an official Federal Narc badge, "he could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs." Nixon aide Egil "Bud" Krogh, who put the meeting together on short notice, made notes on the conversation:
"Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. The President then indicated that those who use drugs are also those in the vanguard of anti-American protest."
"I'm on your side," Elvis told Nixon, adding that he'd been studying the drug culture and Communist brainwashing. Then he asked the president for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
"Can we get him a badge?" Nixon asked Krogh.
Krogh said he could, and Nixon ordered it done.
Yeah, that's a premise for a movie, all right. Kevin Spacey plays Nixon, and Michael Shannon is Elvis. It's directed by Liza Johnson, who directed 2009's terrific In the Air, so we're thinking this thing might be pretty good, even if it's not as faithful to the historical facts as the 2002 documentary Bubba Ho-Tep, a movie about that time when Elvis (Bruce Campbell) and John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) teamed up in a nursing home to fight a killer Egyptian mummy.
Mark Zuckerberg To Girls: Let your Nerd Flag Fly
Do not fear the Dork Side
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did a pretty cool thing last week. It didn't even involve what he's best at making: A) Money; or B) inexplicable changes to Facebook privacy settings. In reply to a very chatty post on his own Facebook page where he offered his goals for the new year (build a home AI system for himself and make sure it's not the foundation for Skynet), a woman said that she always encouraged her granddaughters to date nerds, because who knows, that nerd could grow up to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg gently suggested that maybe grandma might shift her focus a teensy bit:
[contextly_sidebar id="p8VnSExOxd5AJehIwi4XZLRCZjzr5Q80"]That comment alone is probably good for getting him out of a few years of purgatory. Nicely done, Mr. Zuckerberg. It sure beats hell out of the science museum that offered robotics, chemistry, and astronomy classes for Boy Scouts, and "Science with a Sparkle" classes for Girl Scouts.
Little Kids Play Rammstein; Facebook Goes Nuts
Speaking (loosely) of Facebook, here's some random internet weirdness for you. Some person with the username "Peanut Butter Wolf" posted this clip on their Facebook page, and damned if it didn't suddenly get shared over 90,000 times, with something like 7 million views. Which is more than people liked Zuckerberg's shout out to the nerd girls, even. As a whole bunch of people noted, it would have been nice if the guy had also named the band and linked to them, instead of just saying "Wish they headlined Coachella" (happy ending: after several days, "Peanut Butter Wolf" did include that link, and balance is restored to the Interwebs).
And who are these fresh young voices? They call themselves "Children Medieval Band," and the video is from 2012; the gutarist is Stefan, then aged 9, and his sisters on the keyboard and drum were 8 and 5, respectively. Their Rammstein cover went sorta viral back in 2012, and they were invited to open for the real Rammstein at a concert in Denver. The kids are still studying music, and Stefan notes that their favorite bands include "Beatles, Cream, Stranglers and Rammstein." Be warned, however: "We don’t like frivolous or evil rock." And yes, they have an album as well as a bunch of videos on the YouTubes. Rock on, little dudes.
Jerk Falcons Imprison Live Birds In Rocks For Handy Snacking
Nature is an asshole
Nature is amazing and also really gross sometimes. An ornithologist working on the Moroccan island of Mogador claims to have discovered the first known example of raptors doing a kind of ranching: Abdeljebbar Qninba of the University of Rabat found that Eleonora's falcons on the island appear to keep small birds trapped in crevices for easy access to feed to their chicks. Qninba and his colleagues
noticed a number of small birds stuck in deep cavities. On closer inspection, he noticed that the helpless birds had their flight and tail feathers removed. They couldn’t move their wings or use their dangling legs. The birds appeared terrified, and sought any opportunity to escape.
Qninba concluded that the falcons
were deliberately storing the birds as a means of maintaining live, fresh prey. This behavior may allow falcon parents to stay near their nest, and still have a meal close by to nourish their offspring. It’s also possible that the falcons are giving their young chicks an opportunity to kill their own prey.
He also reported that the birds were trapped in the rocks before the falcons' eggs hatched; local fishermen told him they'd known about the phenomenon for years. Not everybody in the ornithology world buys his conclusions, however, according to New Scientist:
Rob Simmons of the University of Cape Town in South Africa is sceptical. “I don’t believe a falcon has the cognitive ability to ‘store’ prey like this,” he says. “I think the birds’ prey may simply be escaping and finding refuge.” Raptors often start plucking their prey before they kill them, so the injured birds may simply be escapees.
Qninba agrees that more research is necessary on the falcons' behavior; it will be especially telling if they start demanding subsidized grazing rights. In the meantime, Donald Trump is already calling for all Morroccan birds of prey to be barred from entering the United States. "President Obama won't call these birds radical Islamic raptors, but I will. These are very bad birds. I will stop the falcons. And I will take their oil."
Fine Here Is Your Star Wars Story. It Is About Merchandising.
It's round. You could play it on the Millennium Falcon's game table. Just let the wookiee win.
Hasbro got itself into some deep bantha poodoo with Star Wars fans when it released a Monopoly game tie-in to Star Wars: The Force Keeps Saying It Will Awaken But Then Dozes Off Again that left out one of the movie's central characters: Rey, the plucky scavenger gal who wakes up the Force (shut up, that's not a spoiler). The game only included four character tokens for players to pass Galactic Go with, and they were all boys: Finn the disillusioned Stormtrooper, Luke Skywalker, Emo villain Kylo Ren, and Darth Freaking Vader, aka Dark Lord Of Not Even In This Movie (no, not a spoiler either. You saw Jedi ages ago. Stop that).
The fans were Not Pleased, and grumped mightily on the galactic CommNet or Twitter or whatever, with #WheresRey hashtags and indignant blog posts about Hasbro's apparent assumption that no one would want to play the girl. A Hasbro spokesperson told Entertainment Weekly that Rey had been left out of the game piece lineup to "avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance.” The spokesdroid didn't say how her inclusion as a game piece in a Monopoly spinoff could have been a movie spoiler, but that was the best Corporate could come up with at the moment.
After sensing millions of nerds crying out, Hasbro eventually turned to the Light Side and relented, announcing last week that an updated edition of the game would include Rey. In another statement to Entertainment Weekly, the HasbroBot said,
We love the passion fans have for Rey, and are happy to announce that we will be making a running change to include her in the Monopoly: Star Wars game available later this year.
You know what that means: the Rey-less games will be yoooge collectors' items, so go buy them now! In online forums, fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic warned Star Wars fans that Hasbro can't be trusted, and will no doubt insist on turning Rey into a magical Princess with a castle playset.
More Sci Fi and Fantasy TV Than You Can Shake A Lightsaber At
Just to make sure you don't miss anything that people will be posting spoilers for on Twitter anyway, the nice kids at io9 have compiled what looks to be a comprehensive list of science fiction and fantasy television shows for 2016. It's got your new shows (if we're lucky, Seth Rogen's adaptation of Garth Ennis's Preacher comical books will arrive in 2016 and won't suck), your reboots (do we really need a new X-Files? No, but on the other hand, Cigarette Smoking Man!), as well as your returning series (we hear people like that HBO one with the dragons and the thrones. And moar Venture Bros!). They also include Mythbusters for some reason, which we're pretty sure is neither science fiction nor fantasy. But they blow stuff up, so we're OK with that.
Excitement: SyFy will be adapting The Magicians, Lev Grossman's lovely novel about a kid who discovers he has magical powers, goes to a special college for magicians, and has actually read all the science fiction and fantasy novels that characters in these things have usually never heard of. Spoiler: Conquering magical kingdoms isn't necessarily as delightful as it seems in books, and magical combat might leave you with a bad case of wizard PTSD.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.