Is the U.S. Senate secretly working for Team Affleck? Certainly not, but they couldn’t have helped Argo more if they’d tried. Heading into prestige pic season, Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty looked like a strong contender for several top prizes. Then came the controversies over the film’s inaccuracies and its portrayal of torture, culminating in a formal investigation by the U.S. Senate into the Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal‘s relationship with the CIA.

All that hoopla may have crippled the film’s awards chances, and indeed it walked away from Sunday’s Oscars with just one lone Oscar for sound editing. Naturally, the Senate has now dropped its probe into the matter without revealing any of its findings. Hit the jump for more details.

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Oscar loves a good historical drama, and this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees has plenty that fit that mold, whether realistically (Zero Dark Thirty) or metaphorically (Beasts of the Southern Wild). But few of the films can actually boast of having made history.

In depicting the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln has helped to ratify the legislation in Mississippi. And yes, I do mean Lincoln the film and not Lincoln the sixteenth president. Read more after the jump.

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Normally, when a presidential administration blatantly ignores the will of the people, it’s cause for public outrage. In this particular case, though, we think we’ll let it slide.

Despite the fervent pleas of thousands of citizens, the White House has opted not to go ahead with the building of a Death Star after all. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they let the nation’s geeks down in friendliest way possible. The official response to last month’s petition starts with a tongue-in-cheek title — “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For” — and only gets better from there. Hit the jump to read more.

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Jonathan Trappe has a simple goal: fly across the Atlantic. Something that happens dozens of times per day by multiple airlines might not seem like a big deal, but Trappe wants to do it alone and in a boat lifted only by balloons. He’s a professional Cluster Balloonist, similar to Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s Up. Recently, just for fun, Trappe duplicated Carl’s feat by taking a small house up in the air tethered only by balloons. That might sound impressive, but his previous trips across the English Channel and the Alps are slightly better.

After the jump, read more about his feats, see videos and photos of his Up inspired trip. Read More »

The horror genre is obviously great for instilling lifelong phobias in little kids or giving your date an excuse to snuggle in closer during the scary bits. But did you know that all that terror can also do wonders for your waistline? So claims one recent study, which found that 90 minutes of a scary movie could burn as many calories as a half-hour walk.

I can’t promise you that the research is scientifically sound and peer reviewed and all that stuff, so you should take the results with a grain of salt. As far as excuses to go to skip the gym and catch up on American Horror Story instead, though, you could do way worse. Hit the jump to read more and find out exactly which titles offer the best non-workouts.

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And here we thought the Alamo Drafthouse was zealous about rooting out cell phone use in theaters. But even their strongly worded PSAs and strict ushers seem downright passive compared to what one theater in London’s Leicester Square is doing.

The Prince Charles Cinema is said to be employing volunteer “ninjas” to regulate good behavior among the audience. The term “ninja” is being used loosely here — they’re really more like glorified ushers in black skintight bodysuits — but whatever you want to call them, it’s certainly an interesting way to keep the peace. More afer the jump.

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Comic fans all know that Superman‘s Earthly origin began in Smallville. It’s there that his ship, sent from the planet Krypton, landed and was discovered by Ma and Pa Kent. The story is over half a century old and, like most comic book origins, completely fictional. Smallville doesn’t exist and while stories in the ’80s revealed its location as Kansas, Superman fans don’t have an official tourist attraction to visit and pay homage.

One Kansas resident is trying to change that. Comic book artist Christopher Wietrick has begun a campaign to have his hometown, Hutchinson, legally renamed Smallvile. He has several reasons why and after the jump, you can read more about it. Read More »

Unfortunately, in the year 2012 humans are still firmly planted on the ground. Cars have tires, sneakers have treads, and the only way to travel in the air is a very expensive ticket. Hoverboards are nowhere to be found and flying cars are still mostly science fiction. An amalgamation of the two, though? It’s closer than you think.

A California based company called Aerofex has solved a design issue inventors had in the 1960s and have now, yes, created a machine that is basically a bulky and slow but real-life version of a speeder bike from Return of the Jedi. Check out images and video below. Read More »

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