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Hail to the King: An Elvis FAQ

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Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock n' Roll, would have been 74 years old today were it not for a bad night on the toilet in 1977. Even after all these years, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding the King, so for his birthday let's take a look at some of the myths that persist.

Was Elvis a DEA Agent?

Elvis was more straight-laced than the controversy surrounding his gyrating hips would lead you to believe. He hated the hippie drug culture and longed to become a "Federal Agent at Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Agency. At a 1970 meeting at the White House with President Richard Nixon, Elvis offered to become an undercover agent and "infiltrate hippie groups" for the government. Nixon was unsure if an arrangement could be worked out, but made Elvis an honorary agent and gave him a badge. While Elvis never conducted any official BNDD business, he was, in some small way, a narc. A drug-addled narc, but a narc nonetheless.

Are Elvis and (insert name here) related?

Southerners like Elvis are often the butt of jokes about family trees that don't fork, but Elvis' family branches out in some surprising directions. Genealogical research has placed Elvis as a descendant of Abraham Lincoln's great-great grandfather, Isaiah Harrison and a sixth cousin once removed from Jimmy Carter (both their family lines go back to Valentine Preslar, a German who came to New York in 1709).

Was Elvis one of a kind?

There can only be one Elvis, but he did have a (Elvis believed identical) twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, who was stillborn. Jessie, older than Elvis by a few minutes, was buried in a pauper's grave without a headstone in Priceville Cemetery near Tupelo, Mississippi.

Elvis' mother told him when he was young that when one twin died, the one that lived got the strength of both. Elvis got something else from his twin, too. When he was born, his parents chose "Aron" as his middle name, a non-traditional spelling similar to Jessie's middle name (birth records listed it "Aaron," and an older Elvis decided to use the traditional spelling.)

Did Elvis "shoot" Robert Goulet?

elvis-gun.jpgThe story goes that Elvis was watching TV one night when Goulet appeared on the screen. Elvis pulled a .357 out of his boot, shot the TV and supposedly said, "Get that @$*% outta' my house!"

Whether that's just some crazy story depends on who you ask. James Warner, the former Elvis expert at allexperts.com, has said that the incident stemmed from a time when Elvis was dating a woman who worked with Goulet. When Elvis was stationed in Germany while serving in the military, Goulet supposedly sent him a letter saying he'd "take good care of Anita" while Elvis was gone and the King held a grudge.

Goulet himself said that Elvis' associates told him that TV shooting was a common occurrence and Elvis didn't mean anything by it. In fact, he said in an interview that he and Elvis got along well (Goulet called him "charming and delightful") and described an encounter the two once had backstage. The singers were talking and at one point, Goulet commented on one of Elvis' rings. Elvis took it off his finger and put it on Goulet's, who kept it until it was stolen (he suspected his housekeeper).

Is Elvis still alive?

I haven't seen him, but if you have, now is the time to share.

If you've got a burning question that you'd like to see answered here, shoot me an email at flossymatt (at) gmail.com. Twitter users can also make nice with me and ask me questions there. Be sure to include your name and location (and a link, if you want) so I can give you a little shout out.

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entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

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Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
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Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

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