Book ‘World According to Star Wars’ connects intergalactic saga to real-life

Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm.

Hey there, young Padawan. Today’s your first day toward becoming a Jedi Master.

Not really, but today could be your first day toward becoming a master of all things “Star Wars.” I’m sure you fancy yourself a pro already, but the book “The World According to Star Wars” seeks to teach you more.

Released May 31, the book by New York Times bestselling author Cass R. Sunstein explores the saga’s lessons as they relate to real-life. From parenting to constitutional law, Sunstein dives into the world of “Star Wars” on the deeper level you’ve always longed for.

To read up more on “The World According to Star Wars,” check out this Time review. Below is an excerpt from the book.

Emperor Palpatine is able to rise to power only because of the ceaseless, pointless squabbling of legislative representatives in the Republic. He seizes authority as a direct result of that squabbling. (For some Americans in the twenty-first century, witnessing similar squabbling, that seizure of authority does not lack appeal.) Padme sees the problem: “I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in committee.” So does Anakin: “We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem, agree what’s in the interest of all the people, and then do it,” Padme wonders: “What if they don’t?” Anakin: “Then they should be made to.”

Mashup of Obama’s speeches makes for presidential cover of Rihanna’s ‘Work’

President Barack Obama speaks in the DNC event at the Austin City Music Hall on Friday, Mar. 11, 2016 RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
President Barack Obama speaks in the DNC event at the Austin City Music Hall on Friday, Mar. 11, 2016 RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It’s President Barack Obama like you’ve never seen him before.

In honor of Memorial Day, Youtube user Baracksdubs had a special gift for the internet — a mashup of Obama’s speeches that works almost perfectly to create a rendition of Rihanna’s hit single “Work.”

As you gear up to watch the video, check out both the POTUS‘ and Rihanna’s visits to Austin this year.

Texas man trapped by Brazos River flooding rides tractor to Whataburger

Gary Gostecnik delivers Whataburger to his neighbors trapped by the Brazos River Flooding. Photo via Dora Ann Gostecnik/@Dora_Ann_G

What’s a flood to a man in need of his Whataburger fix?

Gary Gostecnik, 71, of Pattison is a man accustomed to his daily meal from Whataburger. After the Brazos River flooding trapped him in his own home Friday though, he had to go without his “No. 1 with cheese, cut the onions, with extra tomatoes” for days.

“Every time I have talked to him since Friday, he has asked for Whataburger,” his wife Carol Gostecnik told The Dallas Morning News.

But the tipping point came Monday when Gary decided enough was enough. He pulled out a John Deere 8630 tractor and drove it through the surrounding flood and toward the Brazos River Bridge in San Felipe to meet his family before sending his wife to drive to Whataburger.

After receiving his burger, and a few for his neighbors, Gary made his way back home on his tractor and delivered the meals like a true Texas hero.

GIF shows eerie similarities between Austin’s Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe

Actor Elijah Wood attends the screening of ‘The Trust’ during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman.

Have you ever noticed the Boy Who Lived and Frodo Baggins have always looked a bit similar? Or at least, the actors who portray them do.

“Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe and Austin-resident Elijah Wood both stand under 5 feet 7 inches, have fair skin and large blue eyes. It’s not hard to see why people might get the two actors confused. But for anyone who argues they don’t see the resemblance, you might want to take a look at this GIF circulating on Reddit.

Created by someone a few days ago on Imgur, the GIF shows Wood morphing into Radcliffe, showing their rather creepy similarities. If you’re not paying close attention, you might just think it’s one of the actors changing expressions.


Not that this is the first time someone’s taken note of the pair’s resemblance. Here’s Radcliffe on “The Graham Norton Show” talking about one time a fan asked him to sign a photo of Wood.

Video shows ‘Beauty and the Beast’ trailers then and now

Youtube user Jace Diehl compared the animated and live-action trailers for “Beauty and the Beast.” Photo via Jace Diehl/Youtube.

The tale as old as time proves its timelessness in the new live-action trailer for “Beauty and the Beast.” But how does it compare to the 1991 animated trailer?

The answer is: beautifully.

Youtube user Jace Diehl created a clip-by-clip comparison of the two trailers, showing just how similar the upcoming new film is to the old one. From the opening shots of Beast’s castle to the text saying “Be Our Guest,” the trailers’ similarities are pretty thrilling.

Even actor Josh Gad, who will play LeFou, shared the video on his Facebook.

People speculate ‘Finding Dory’ trailer shows Disney Pixar’s first lesbian couple

Still from “Finding Dory,” showing Disney Pixar’s first lesbian couple. Photo via Pixar Animation Studio.

When the latest “Finding Dory” trailer came out last week, fans took special notice of one quick clip that made them speculate the possibility of Disney Pixar’s first inclusion of a lesbian couple.

At around 1:07 of the trailer, a little girl by a stroller drops her cup and two women help pick it up. Though the pair could simply be friends or one of the women might be a stranger passing by, some people are hoping that they’re the child’s mothers.

The theory surrounding the trailer comes at a time that fans are campaigning for Marvel to #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend and Disney to #GiveElsaAGirlfriend. If Disney Pixar has decided to show it’s first lesbian couple, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when the movie premieres June 17.

Guess what word Texans can’t spell

Well this is just S-A-D. The youngest Scripps National Spelling Bee winner is from Texas, but the rest of the state apparently can’t spell the word “niece.”

Google just released a study that pulled search trend data to find which words each state had the hardest time spelling. Texas was the only state that had trouble spelling the noun that defines the name of the daughter of one’s brother or sister, or of one’s brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

Google Trends

Using queries beginning with “how to spell” and then typing in the word in question, Google trend’s search engine was able to figure out each state’s biggest misspelling.

Some were understandable, like Utah and Arkansas’ trouble with “leprechaun.”

Others were a bit troublesome, like Alaska’s inability to spell “Hawaii,” or Massachusetts residents’ inability to spell their own state name correctly.

Check out the full list and methodology behind the map here.

Study: Texans can’t seem to find the internet


We all know the internet is a weird place. And according to Estately, Texas can’t seem to find it.

Using Google Autocomplete and Google Trends, the real estate website found that one of Texas’ top searches, compared to any other state, is “where is the internet?”

In a seriously amusing fashion, other things Texas seems to be concerned with include the following:

Am I a lesbian?  / Am I cool? / Am I a sociopath? / How does sex work? / Who is the best rapper? /  Who named Pluto? / Who qualifies for medicaid? / Who was the best president? / Do I have herpes? / How to meet men? / What is gun control? / What is jock itch? / Where is hell? / Where is heaven? / Why do I sweat? / Where is Johnny Manziel? / When is flu season? / When is Jesus coming? / Is Russia in Asia? / Can I vote? / How to yodel? / Which Pokemon are you? / Why are people so mean? / Why are we here? / How to get rich quick? / How to be the man? / Who is Putin? / Why is my hair falling out? / Why is my tongue yellow? / Why is my tongue white? / Do girls poop? / Do zombies exist?

But Texans aren’t the only ones searching things better left unseen. Estately’s research was a compilation of what every state in the U.S. searches more frequently than others. You can read the full list here.

Arkansas wants to know “why did the chicken cross the road?” California is concerned about when “kitten season” starts. And the people of Tennessee seem to be having a hard time, having asked Google “what is the clap?”

But I saved the best for last — Wyoming wants to know “what is Wyoming?”


What’s new to Netflix in June

Tim Murphy (JOSEPH MAZZELLO) hides from a vicious Velociraptor in Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking masterpiece "Jurassic Park in 3D". With his remastering of the epic into a state-of-the-art 3D format, Spielberg introduces the three-time Academy AwardAE-winning blockbuster to a new generation of moviegoers and allows longtime fans to experience the world he envisioned in a way that was unimaginable during the film's original release. Photo Credit: Universal City Studios, Inc. & Amblin Entertainment, Inc.
Tim Murphy (JOSEPH MAZZELLO) hides from a vicious Velociraptor in Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking masterpiece “Jurassic Park in 3D”. With his remastering of the epic into a state-of-the-art 3D format, Spielberg introduces the three-time Academy AwardAE-winning blockbuster to a new generation of moviegoers and allows longtime fans to experience the world he envisioned in a way that was unimaginable during the film’s original release. Photo Credit: Universal City Studios, Inc. & Amblin Entertainment, Inc.

Good thing you watched everything available on Netflix just in time for June’s new arrivals.

  • “Jurassic Park” (1993) Hold onto your butts. The original dinosaurs-are-back thriller will be available for streaming June 1, and — hey, why not — so will two of the three sequels: “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park III.”
  • “A Walk to Remember” (2002) If come June 1 you’ve finished streaming all three “Jurassic Park” installations and are looking to change up the mood, Nicholas Spark’s first tearjerker starring Mandy Moore will also be available.
  • “Spotlight” (2015) You don’t have to be in the biz to enjoy “Spotlight” when its released to Netflix June 22. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture the movie expertly tells the story of the team responsible for first exposing the Catholic priest child sexual assault scandal.
  • “Bo Burnham: Make Happy” (2016) Comedian Bo Burnham’s Netflix special will premiere June 3. You can watch the trailer here.

When it comes to television series Netflix users can expect a new season of the service’s very own “Orange is the New Black,” another installment of the seemingly unsolvable “Pretty Little Liars” mystery, the 12th season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and more.

Check out the Huffington Post for the full list of Netflix’s June debuts.

An appreciation: Long live the Texas horny toad

A Texas horned lizard basks in the sun at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso. Photo by Pam LeBlanc.
A Texas horned lizard basks in the sun at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso. Photo by Pam LeBlanc.

By Dave Thomas

Rare, almost anachronistic, the short-legged, stout creature will puff up when agitated and give you one hell of a glare when truly annoyed. It looks rough as a bucket of rusty nails, but is secretly one of the calmest critters around.

Wait, was I talking about the horny toad or myself? If it’s hard to tell, it’s easy to know why I love the disappearing saurians.

The state reptile of Texas is officially called the Texas Horned Lizard (or phrynosoma cornutum if you are feeling it). But there’s no reason — save for a little puritanical hand-wringing — not to call it a horny toad.

Longhorns are mighty symbols of our cowboy past, and armadillos are snuffling, shuffling Texan mini-tanks, but there’s something special about the horny toad. Click here to read an excellent and lengthy treatise by Texas Monthly — Our Toad to Ruin.

But if you want the short version, here are 3 things you should know about the horny toad.

A Texas horned lizard, hanging out with some harvester ants.
A Texas horned lizard, hanging out with some harvester ants.

They are disappearing fast — and might not come back

In the 1950s, horny toads were common across Texas, and Texans were shipping them off as fast as they could — from boys looking to make a nickel, to pet store owners looking to make a buck, they were plucked from the ground by the hundreds of thousands and sent nationwide, dead or alive.

Combine that with the steady march of development and the invasion of the fire ants — which were deadly to both the horny toad and its main food source, the harvester ant — and the reptiles were dropping off rapidly by the end of 1960s. The Legislature passed a law in 1967 protecting the critters, but it was too late.

Today, the horny toad is a threatened species and is rarely seen.

They squirt blood from their eyes

I did mention that their first defense against predators is to puff themselves up like a bristly balloon. But if that doesn’t work, an aggravated horny toad can send a stream of blood from the corner of its eye up to five feet away. Understandably, this freaks out some predators, while it is said to be foul-tasting to canine attackers.

One particularly famous horny toad inspired an animated icon

It was 1897 when an unlucky horny toad was sealed up in a cornerstone/time capsule during construction of the courthouse in Eastland.

More than 3 decades later, when the courthouse was demolished, the critter was said to have been found alive, a little worse for wear, but alive. Promptly named Old Rip, it was an instant celebrity (sort of like the Kardashian of its day) and went on a nationwide tour, including a stop at the White House where he met President Coolidge.

Unfortunately, for Old Rip, he expired after only 11 months of fame, and was embalmed and put on display in Eastland, only to have his corpse kidnapped in 1973. Old Rip was eventually returned — or not, some suspect it was an imposter.

Whether it was a hoax to begin with, or even if the horny toad mummy on display today in Eastland isn’t actually Old Rip, the story did give us one inarguable benefit: It sparked the creation of Michigan J. Frog, star of one of the finest Warner Bros. cartoons, “One Froggy Evening.”