Hiking Wisconsin – WIF Travel

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 5 Hikes

to Make

In Wisconsin

The truth is, we have a hard time imagining that you’d only ever hike five of Wisconsin’s gorgeous trails. The unparalleled beauty of Wisconsin deserved to be explored on foot, so lace up your hiking boots, and start with these five trails. We have a feeling that once you hike these, you’ll be hooked…and will be game for even more!

The creator of Writing Is Fun-damental is from Oconomowoc… no hiking trails but lakes, lakes and more lakes.

5. Trails at Rib Mountain

Hiking in Wisconsin

– WIF Travel


Beer Garden Heaven USA – WIF Travel

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THE  BEST

BEER GARDENS

IN AMERICA

Radegast
RADEGAST | COLE SALADINO/THRILLIST
barleygarden
BRILLIANCE PHOTOGRAPHY

BARLEYGARDEN

ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA

A fairly recent addition to the ranks of America’s finest beer gardens, having just opened in April 2017, Barleygarden’s made what could have been a fairly stale suburban outdoor shopping plaza/ mixed use development… legitimately cool? Part of that legitimacy comes from owner Kraig Torres, whose Hop City has been making Atlanta beer drinking craftier for years now, and having big-time local chef/butcher Kevin Ouzts in the kitchen turning out charcuterie-centric grilled cheeses doesn’t hurt, either. Throw in a two-tiered open-air patio and the fact that you can take to-go drinks throughout the development and… maybe the suburbs aren’t so bad?

 

bangers austin
BANGERS

BANGER’S

AUSTIN, TEXAS

With over 100 beers on tap and 30+ house-made sausages, the sprawling, perpetually thronged Banger’s isn’t just one of Austin’s best beer gardens. It’s also one of its best beer bars. And one of its best booze-soaking sausage parties. And its best dog-friendly drinkery. And a great brunch spot. And… look, this is is a must-visit spot no matter how you slice it. But you should be slicing it with a couple hundred other thirsty revelers on a patio lit by hanging lights on a cool Austin night. Oh, it’s also one of the best places to hang out on a cool Austin night. Did we mention that this place rules? Or that they have a fantastic brunch. Or firkin tappings? Or…

Radegast
COLE SALADINO/THRILLIST

RADEGAST

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Now pushing a decade of ably providing Williamsburg residents (and guests) with all the liters of beer, beer-absorbing brats, similarly functioning pretzels and time-passing card games they can possibly handle, Radegast remains a favorite of the neighborhood and, more (or less?) importantly,Thrillist editors. There’s live music daily (which may or may not include an accordion player jovially foot-tapping on your table). There’s a retractable roof ensuring that your biergartening plans remain steadfastly weather-proof. There’s a good time to be had, every time.

VBGB Beer Garden
VBGB BEER HALL & GARDEN

VBGB BEER HALL & GARDEN

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Being located adjacent to the NC Music Factory makes VBGB an essential Charlotte stop if you’re headed to a concert. But even if it was located next to a ferret-breeding center (good lord, no!), this sprawling beer garden would be a must-visit. Beers flow from 30+ local-centric taps into 12-, 18-, and 34-ounce glasses, the latter of which could seriously hinder or help your abilities to play giant Jenga, Connect Four, and chess. But if you really want to channel your inner Maverick, there’s also a five-court volleyball sandbox where you’ll be too busy executing wayward spikes to lament the fact that there’s no Goose (Island) around to help you out.

 

sheffields beer garden
WILL BYINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY

SHEFFIELD’S

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Sheffield’s has evolved as an establishment over the years, evolving from a craft-centric dive to… a craft-centric dive with a BBQ-based menu and a bar-within-the-bar dubbed “Beer School” that has its own tap list. But changes aside, the welcoming beer garden has remained its constant spiritual center (yes, even in the punishing winter). The shade-giving cottonwood trees and vine-covered walls make it feel like you’re enjoying a beer in a friend’s backyard… if your friend happened to have the space to stock some 200 varieties of beer, including 40 on tap. No one has friends like that, which is why Chicago has Sheffield’s.

Park & Field
PARK & FIELD

PARK & FIELD

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

When Park & Field in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood in winter 2016, it was abundantly clear that the colder months would just be a prelude to the real debut for the vintage-channeling sports bar, thanks to a simultaneously sprawling and cozy 6,000 square foot patio. OK fine, they didn’t necessarily wait entirely to use that outdoor space, thanks to some fire pits and Adirondack chairs, but beer-garden life is inarguably better when the sun is shining and you’re clutching a cold Half Acre and maybe some s’mores (yes, they still use those fire pits in the summer).

MECKLENBURG GARDENS

CINCINNATI, OHIO

Even tougher than Angela Merkel’s shoulder pads, this historic spot has survived for nearly 150 years — and not without a fight. When Prohibition came a-knockin’, Mecklenburg employed the services of a bootlegging boat to keep its customers hydrated. When it entered a ’60s slump, the management turned the place around into a Mobil (now Forbes) four-star restaurant and got the building on the National Register of Historic Places. And when debt closed its doors in 1982, it patiently waited for the current managers to come along and restore the place to its Bavarian glory. A story like that deserves a liter of Spaten. Lucky you, they’re happy to accommodate.

Truck Yard
TRUCK YARD DALLAS

THE TRUCK YARD

DALLAS, TEXAS

The grand beer garden tradition gets a healthy dose of ‘Murican influences at this 15,000 square foot space, styled with the finest trailer-park decor touches like crappy lawn chairs, spare tires, and scrap metal art. Even better? Food trucks slinging tacos and pizza are parked there every day, so you can go ahead and have another Shiner. Or another Community Mosaic IPA. Or another frozen trash can punch — beer gardens don’t have to be ALL about beer, you guys.

BAVARIAN INN

FRANKENMUTH, MICHIGAN

Frankenmuth is one of those weird wormholes of a town where most of the city is emulating a place halfway around the globe. But holy shit do they do it right. This is, in fact, a place sandwiched between Lakes Huron and Michigan where the men don lederhosen and the women squeeze into dirndls while carrying enough liters of beer to make a CrossFit enthusiast buckle at the knees… and that’s before they bring out an all-you-can-eat fried-chicken spread. Excessive? You betcha. But when you’re sitting on the humid patio of the massive property’s Schnitzelbank Bier Garten among hundreds of contented people with bellies full of beer and over-salted chicken, nothing else really matters… especially when the live polka band makes the rounds like a lederhosen-clad mariachi band.

The Rathskeller
THE RATHSKELLER

THE RATHSKELLER

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

“Rathskeller” translates to “basement beer hall,” but you’ll just have to overlook that as you resist the taxidermied charm of the moose heads lining the interior walls. The real attraction here’s the outdoor area, loaded with picnic tables and featuring a band shell for live music and plenty of thirsty Hoosiers. The beers are large, the people drinking them are friendly, and heat lamps stand guard to ensure the drinking continues deep into the night, even when the weather’s not ideal… weather seldom keeps a Midwesterner from a beer.

 

beer park vegas
ANTHONY MAIR

BEER PARK

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

You had to figure beer gardens would manifest themselves a bit differently in Vegas. Case in point: This Bud-sponsored, second-story oasis in Vegas. Because it has 100 beers available, including two dozen taps. But you should get bottles, since the tables have built-in ice troughs to keep them cold. The grounds are outfitted with turf. The open-air bar is surrounded by flat-screens. And there’s pool, cornhole, and giant Jenga. It’s like a high-tech biergarten theme park, and it’s incredible.

 

Estabrook Beer Garden
ESTABROOK BEER GARDEN

ESTABROOK BEER GARDEN

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

If you want to visit a quite literal beer garden, we direct you to Estabrook, a spot located in Estabrook Park along the Milwaukee River that’s so legit, it’s out of the public transit’s reach. (The official site recommends arriving by “foot, bicycle, automobile, kayak, or canoe.”) Estabrook prides itself on being a truly public beer garden, so patrons are encouraged to bring their own picnics or even steins. And if you’re not into providing your own food supply, complete the full-on Wisconsin picture and hit up the Friday fish fry.

 

the pharmacy nashville
MIMOSA ARTS

THE PHARMACY BURGER PARLOR & BEER GARDEN

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Slinging some of Nashville’s best burgers along with a murderers’ row of some of the finest German and Belgian beers available in Nashville, the Pharmacy would be a great bar even before you stumble onto the beer garden. This is a place that takes the “garden” part of that word mighty seriously, with tons of crowded tables shaded by overhanging trees and rows and rows of greenery. And at night, the place takes on an almost ethereal glow under the hanging lights. It’s kind of likeThe Secret Garden, though considering it’s always crowded, we’re guessing that the secret got blown long ago.

 

Bayou Beer Garden
BAYOU BEER GARDEN

BAYOU BEER GARDEN

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Surrounded with palm trees and rocking multiple flat-screens, the sprawling Bayou Beer Garden is like a glorious melding of beachside bar, sports-centric drive-in theater, and raucous New Orleans beer bar all rolled into one. The place rocks 180 global beers to choose from — including 24 rotating taps — that you can pair with everything from amped-up crab-cake bites to Disco Fries loaded with roast beef debris. And if for some reason you wandered into a beer garden with somebody who hates beer, the nearly identical adjoining Bayou Wine Garden helps you split the difference.

 

Prost!
PROST!

PROST!

PORTLAND, OREGON

Portland’s blessed with tons of great beer served at picnic tables. But Prost! has long been the king of local biergartens. It’s not just the fact that the dog-friendly outdoor deck is equipped with its own bar that serves up a wide array of German beers in its proper glassware, though that’s a huge plus. It’s also situated next to a food cart cluster where you’re welcome to go grab a sushi burrito or vegan BBQ if the excellent schnitzel from Prost! doesn’t do the trick. The joint — located on the wildly popular Mississippi drag of Portland hipness — also hosts a glorious Oktoberfest party, and the owners recently bought the entire property and the adjoining cart pod. If you don’t live in Portland, that just sounds like good business. In a neighborhood where beloved businesses are razed daily to make room for condos, it means that the carts — and the biergarten — represent a longtime anchor in a neighborhood whose identity changes with more regularity than this institution’s taps.

 

bohemian beer hall
FLICKR/WALLY GOBETZ

BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN

QUEENS, NEW YORK

Established in 1910, this Astoria institution has seen more beer-soaked nights than 35 frat houses combined. The place is owned and managed by a Czech and Slovak community group, and those influences are apparent in dishes like the fried muenster and drafts like Staropramen. Oh, and in the absolutely massive beer garden — the Czechs and Slovaks like beer, in case you haven’t heard.

BIERGARTEN

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

After six years in business, Biergarten has established itself as a big dog in a city that isn’t exactly hurting for great spots to drink beer outside. The extremely limited beer selection (don’t fix what ain’t broken) leans Bavarian, and comes by the liter or half liter. Food’s less traditional, with brats and currywurst holding court next to burgers and pretzel dumplings. And everything here is served up on a massive patio with a lone centerpiece tree holding court over everything from Friday movie nights to raucous happy-hour drinking.

 

Lowry Beer Garden
LOWRY BEER GARDEN

LOWRY BEER GARDEN

DENVER, COLORADO

Sure, this beer garden is situated on the grounds of a former Air Force Base, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get sweeping views of an old B-52 bomber (courtesy of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum next door) from any of the 225 seats outside. Colorado cools off when the sun goes down, but two outdoor fire pits, 16 taps of Colorado’s finest suds – Avery, Odell, and Left Hand among them — and a panoply of “creatively topped” brats and burgers — like the B-52 Bomber with double bacon, mushrooms, onions, and blue cheese — will keep you plenty warm if the beer doesn’t during one of the venue’s many outdoor concerts on a cool summer night.

rhein haus
COURTESY OF RHEIN HAUS

RHEIN HAUS

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Now that lawn darts have been outlawed, bocce ball has become the de facto sport for launching potentially injurious projectiles toward competitors, and it’s the game of choice at this Seattle institution. That mostly goes down at the courts inside this 420-seat beer hall, while the massive outdoor biergarten lets you cool off/calm your pulse after almost being beaned by a wayward ball over German-centric pints in the packed, sunny (well, it’s Seattle, so that’s relative) biergarten. Indoor or out, it’s the perfect collision between German food/drink and Italian sports that you never knew you needed.

 

american fresh beer garden
COURTESY OF AMERICAN FRESH BEER GARDEN

AMERICAN FRESH

SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS

You don’t necessarily expect to pair a trip to a top-flight beer garden with a trip to Legoland and maybe some sensibly priced khakis from J. Crew, but such is the existence of American Fresh, the cool kid in Somerville’s otherwise somewhat corporate-feeling Assembly Row development. Run by Somerville Brewing Company, it augments plentiful craft drafts with a funky, colorful space flanked by shipping containers supplying merch and sustenance (don’t miss the pretzel). Also, this beer garden’s equipped with a heated tent, and thus impervious to Nor’easters.

 

Dacha
DACHA

DACHA

WASHINGTON, DC

Opened back in 2013 by a couple of Russians with an affinity for German beer (you know, before “Russian” appeared in every fifth news headline), Dacha has become a DC day-drinking must thanks to an airy mural-backed beer garden where you can rest easy knowing you’re in equally good hands if you’re feeling like downing a crisp lager from das boot or helping yourself to something hop heavy. In a similar vein, the menu blends beer garden musts like pretzels that are equal parts large, soft, and delicious with less expected fair like rabbit croquettes and beer-braised goat poutine.


Beer Garden

Heaven USA

– WIF Travel

Spoiling Movies – Not Movie Spoilers

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Behind the Scenes

Facts

That Change

Famous Movies

It’s the sign of a well made movie when we can watch it without thinking about the fact it’s just an actor on screen reading lines. Sometimes, though, there’s stuff that happens behind the lens that completely changes how you see a given scene. For example, did you know that…

 5. RoboCop blew away all those drug dealers listening to a soft rock ballad

The film RoboCop follows the journey of an invincible sentinel of justice and righteous robotic backhands on his journey to discover what it means to be a man and solve his own murder. In one of the movie’s most awesome scenes, RoboCop casually walks into a drug lab and proceeds to shoot, like, 100 guys in the dong with his wicked-awesome auto pistol. There hasn’t been a more one-sided fight scene since Ryu got into a fist-fight with that car in Street Fighter 2 and throughout the whole thing, RoboCop never once seems challenged. Which may have something to do with the fact he was grooving to the dulcet tones of Peter Gabriel the entire time.

You see, the actor who played RoboCop, Peter Weller, admitted in an interview that during that scene, to drown out the sound of all the gunfire, he was actually listening to a walkman hidden below the suit’s helmet. That walkman was, according to Weller, playing nothing but Peter Gabriel’s Red Rain on repeat the entire time.

4. Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing a pair of fuzzy pink slippers when he detonated Alderaan

Prior to being resurrected and becoming a permanent resident of the Uncanny Valley inRogue One, Peter Cushing was best known for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope.Throughout that film, Tarkin establishes himself as a ruthlessly efficient leader and a bit of a dick, what with the whole “committing global genocide” thing he does just to prove a point.

If you watch the scenes Cushing appears in (in the original trilogy), you may notice that he’s only ever really shown from the waist up. This is because for virtually every scene he appeared in, Cushing was wearing a pair of fuzzy pink slippers while portraying Tarkin. Reportedly, because the boots he was given to wear didn’t fit. This means that Grand Moff Tarkin was such a badass that nobody, including Darth Vader, had the balls to call him on not wearing his uniform while he detonated Alderaan.

3. Christopher Reeve’s Superman had a big metal dong

To many people, Christopher Reeve is and always will be Superman, and his portrayal of the Man of Tomorrow is consistently voted one of the greatest interpretations of the character ever. Something that’s made all the more amusing when you realize that for every scene he appeared in as Superman, Reeve’s dong was being cupped by a big metal codpiece.

This is because the costume designer and producers for the various Superman movies couldn’t agree on one rather unusual issue: how big Superman’s penis should be. This argument raged back and forth until it was agreed that Reeve would wear a metal codpiece to give his package an aesthetically pleasing, but not distracting shape. Reeve apparently hated wearing the codpiece, especially because the actress who played Lois Lane would flick it between takes, as she liked the silly metallic twang it made. In other words, when you watch those old Superman movies, the reason Superman’s bulge never moves is because it’s made of metal! Gee, no wonder they call him the Man of Steel.

2. Whenever you see the back of Carl’s head in The Walking Dead, it’s a 29-year-old woman

The character Carl from The Walking Dead has all the personality and charisma of wet flannel wrapped around a stump of wood. He’s annoying, he never really does anything, and his floppy, impeccably coiffed hair breaks all sense of immersion because how does his hair look that well maintained in the apocalypse?

As it turns out, the reason for Carl’s luxurious flowing locks is partly because the actor’s stunt double is of the female persuasion. Yep, pretty much any time you see Carl from the back, he’s being played not by a teenage actor who grew out of his cute phase five seasons ago, but a seasoned female stunt actress who can do cool front flips. Which makes us wonder: why not just cast her as Carl? They already strayed from the comics by adding Daryl to the story, and everyone loved that. Why not double down by making Carl a girl, and have her drop-kick zombies into next week in every other scene? Don’t tell us you wouldn’t find that awesome because we only just thought of it and are already considering starting a petition on Change.org to make it happen.

1. Jason Voorhees ends most scenes by apologizing to the people he just killed

Jason Voorhees is one of cinema’s most omnipresent and terrifying villains, and he’s probably killed more teenagers with a big knife than most Call of Duty players. Over the years, Jason has been played by a lot of actors, most of whom are closing in on being 7 feet tall… and all of whom are absolute sweethearts.

The most famous of these is probably Kane Hodder, who portrayed the hockey mask loving immortal stab-man during the ’80s. Since retiring the mask, the cast and crew he worked with on those movies have waxed poetic about Kane’s tenure as the villain and his sense of humor when in costume. Things Kane would do to alleviate tension include ending scenes by excitedly disco dancing when he heard the word cut, and staring at members of the public, standing stock still between takes, to freak them out before walking over to shake their hand.

Another man famous for wearing the mask, Derek Mears, was similarly light-hearted when playing cinema’s most famous machete wielding murder, going out of his way to comfort actors he worked with and apologize for hurting them during scenes he was pretending to violently murder them in. So yeah, the next time you watch a movie with Jason Voorhees in it, there’s a fairly good chance the actor playing him ended whatever scene you’re watching by breaking it just all the way down and throwing out his best dance moves.


Spoiling Movies

– Not Movie Spoilers

Sith Lord Handbook – A Star Wars Fix

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Dangerous

Sith Lords

in the

Star Wars Universe

In a sense, the Jedi and the Sith are different sides of the same coin. They are the extremes of what some may say is the same ideology. The Jedi believe in control over themselves, their emotions, and control in everything else in the Galaxy through peace. The Sith, on the other hand, believe in power; power to shape the Galaxy as they see fit. And while the Jedi believe that anyone should have the power of control over their lives, the Sith believe that anyone should control the amount of power they can individually achieve.

 Now, there is a fine line between power and control, and in moderation, neither of them are evil. What makes the Sith evil, because all of them are, is the Dark Side of the Force. While the Light Side is channeled with feelings like serenity, honesty, empathy, and love, the Dark Side is accessed through fear, anger, hate, envy, and suffering. These negative emotions, further fueled by the Dark Side itself, are what make the Sith both so powerful, and extremely dangerous.

10. Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus

“He was one of the most brilliant Jedi I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.” – Jocasta Nu

Dooku was a great Jedi Master prior to turning to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Tyranus. He was Qui-Gon Jinn’s Master, and Padawan to none other than Yoda himself. Dooku was known for his calm and intelligent demeanor, being regarded as a great philosopher, politician, and warrior. Yoda considered him the Jedi Temple’s greatest student, as well as the Order’s greatest failure when he turned to the Dark Side. Nevertheless, he was highly apathetic towards all other forms of life, even as a Jedi, considering Qui-Gon’s love for all living things as his greatest weakness.

His faith in the Jedi Order diminished over the years, considering it to have become weak, easily manipulated, and ineffective. With the Jedi Order’s unwillingness to properly aid Qui-Gon after his discovery of the Sith and his subsequent death at the hands of Darth Maul, Dooku left the Order in search for the mysterious mastermind behind the attack. During his investigation he met Darth Sideous, who revealed his plans and civilian identity, and who then took Dooku as his Sith Apprentice.

Now known as Darth Tyranus, Dooku became the face of the Separatist movement and led the conflict against the Republic. As a lightsaber duelist, Dooku was almost unmatched and could easily hold his own against Mace Windu or even Yoda. He mastered the second form of combat known as Makashi, or The Contention Form. This style focused mostly on dueling and relied on elegant footwork and balance to outmaneuver the opponent and avoid disarmament. But while the form allowed the duelist to defend himself with minimum effort, it failed to gather momentum and finally overwhelm the enemy.

This was ultimately Dooku’s undoing at the hands of Anakin Skywalker. When it came to his Force abilities, he had great knowledge as a former Jedi. By channeling the Living Force he once healed himself from a deadly plague. He was a master of telekinesis, moving objects around and even making himself fly over short distances. After turning to the Dark Side, he learned how to hide his presence from other Force-sensitives, to use Force Lightning, Force Choke, and even to rip information from people’s minds.

9. Darth Bane

“The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor.” – Darth Bane’s apparition

Darth Bane was raised by his abusive father in a poor mining community, on a planet far in the Outer Rim Territories. He lived roughly 1,000 years before the events in the Star Warsmovies and would ultimately become the only Sith left in the galaxy. He was taken on by the Sith Brotherhood of Darkness, led by Skere Kaan, in a time when the Galactic Republic was weak and the Jedi overwhelmed. After learning of his Force-affinity, the Brotherhood taught him the way of the Dark Side and he quickly rose through the ranks.

Over time, he grew to despise his fellow Sith, believing the organization to be severely flawed and its leader weak. He believed that the weak should always serve the strong, rather than be treated as equals. And the Brotherhood endorsed equality among its members. Bane saw this as a serious disadvantage, since the Sith, fueled by their own desires, were subject to constant infighting and never focused their full attention on the Jedi. He devised a plan where Kaan and the Brotherhood would destroy themselves battling the Jedi, and he would remain the sole heir of the Sith legacy.

When this inevitably happened, with the end of the New Sith War, he created the Order of Sith Lords and implemented the Rule of Two. This doctrine stated that only two Sith should exist at any given time; a Master and an Apprentice. With it, the Sith would no longer get in each other’s way and the law of Survival of the Fittest would follow its natural path. When the Apprentice would become more powerful than the Master, he would kill him and take his place, allowing the Sith Order to constantly improve itself.

Though Bane never lived, or intended to see his design come to full fruition and finally destroy the Jedi Order, it did happen one thousand years later with the infamous Order 66. Bane was killed by his apprentice, Darth Zannah. Regardless of his death, Bane was known for his amazing lightsaber skills. During his training sessions, he would go outside in a heavy storm and deflect every drop of rain in his proximity, coming out of it completely dry.

8. Darth Plagueis

“Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise, he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such knowledge of the dark side; he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” – Palpatine to Anakin Skywalker

Darth Plagueis, also known as The Wise, was Palpatine’s Master. And like Palpatine described, Plagueis was killed by his Apprentice in his sleep, by using Force Lightning. What’s more, Palpatine killed him by first getting him drunk the night before he became Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Nevertheless, Plagueis was a great Sith Lord, regardless of his weakness of fully trusting his Apprentice.

Though skilled with the lightsaber, Darth Plagueis was never interested in using it. He was also exceptionally skilled with the Force, and was a true pioneer when it came in dealing with midi-chlorian manipulation. His greatest fear, above all else, was death. He wanted to break the Sith cycle of two by making himself and his Apprentice immortal, then defeat the Jedi once and for all, and rule the Galaxy for eternity.

In his years of studying the Force through the lens of science, he was able to channel it in order to bring others back from the dead. Ten years before the events taking place in The Phantom Menace, Plagueis, with the aid of his Apprentice, Sidious, attempted to create the living embodiment of the Force by making use of the Dark Side and Sith alchemy. In other words, they tried to create life directly from the Force itself.

The experiment didn’t work, however, and it even killed all of Plagueis’ other experiments. What’s more, during the Crisis on Naboo, he became aware of the existence of Anakin, who was what he initially intended to create. The Sith Lord concluded that the Force not only resisted his will during his experiment, but also retaliated by actually creating the Chosen One who was prophesized to destroy the Sith. Darth Maul was then sent to Naboo to capture Anakin and bring him to Plagueis, who would either take him for his own or kill him. But that didn’t happen, and Palpatine then decided to use Anakin against the Jedi by slowly corrupting him to the Dark Side.

7. Revan

“Savior, conqueror, hero, villain; you are all things, Revan… and yet you are nothing. In the end, you belong to neither the light nor the darkness. You will forever stand alone.” – Darth Malak

Revan is an extremely complicated character within the Star Wars universe. He was a Jedi Master and a Sith Lord, as well as a combination of both at the same time. For his many great deeds, he was held in high regard and seen as a legend by both the Sith and the Jedi in the centuries that followed, being awarded titles like the Revanchist, Revan the Butcher, Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Revan, the Prodigal Knight, or simply, The Revan. We can’t say much about him without having to go into great detail, and we’ll try to keep it short.

He lived during the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War, roughly 4,000 years before the destruction of the Death Star. He started out as a Jedi Knight, but was a vocal critic of the Jedi’s inactivity during the Mandalorian conflict. He became a famed Supreme Commander of the Republic Army in that war and personally killed the leader of the Mandalorians. Together with his friend and fellow Jedi, Malak, they went into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy, only to discover a reconstituted Sith Empire and were turned to the Dark Side by the almighty Sith Emperor Vitiate.

They were sent back to the Republic as Sith Imperial agents. The two managed to escape the Emperor’s mental control and started their own Sith Empire. He was, however, betrayed by his Apprentice and friend, Darth Malak, and was captured by the Jedi Bastila Shan. With his memory wiped clean, he was retrained as a Jedi. Later, Revan defeated his former friend and married Bastila Shan. But as his memories slowly came back, he ventured again into the Unknown Regions, where he was captured by the Emperor.

He was held in stasis for 300 years, being slowly tortured by Vitiate throughout this entire time. He escaped and tried to destroy the Sith Empire, but was defeated by an imperial strike team before he could do that. Nevertheless, he didn’t die, due to the torture he endured at the hands of the Sith Emperor splintering his mind in two; a light side and a dark side. Revan later tried to kill Vitiate at whatever the cost, forcing both the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic to join forces in stopping him.

6. Darth Nihilus

“He is a wound in the Force, more presence than flesh, and in his wake life dies… sacrificing itself to his hunger.” – Visas Marr

Darth Nihilus was one of the most powerful and feared Sith to have ever existed. His time as a Dark Lord of the Sith was during a period of great turmoil in the galaxy, following the Jedi Civil War. His journey on the path of the Dark Side began with the end of the Mandalorian Wars, where Revan employed a devastating superweapon known as the Mass Shadow Generator. This terrible weapon was used to annihilate the Mandalorians once and for all, taking a great deal of Revan’s forces, as well as hundreds of Jedi with it.

The weapon destroyed the planet of Malanchor V and everyone on it, leaving only Darth Nihilus as the sole survivor. He was not a Sith back then, but the excruciating grief he felt after the event made him into one. Nihilus began feeling the constant urge to consume Force energy as a result. Under the apprenticeship of Darth Traya and together with Darth Sion, they formed the Sith Triumvirate, and Nihilus became known as The Lord of Hunger.

With his constant craving for energy, he became a literal Wound in the Force. This phenomenon appears when great numbers of living beings are killed in an instant, like the case with the destruction of Malanchor V, as well as the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star. Darth Nihilus became a master user of a Sith ability known as Force Drain. With it, both Force energy and life are siphoned from a being, killing it in the process. And Nihilus used it like no one ever had. On the planet Katarr, he used this awesome power to kill everyone, including several hundred Jedi.

But this power made him completely addicted, and he would not stop using it until all life in the galaxy was gone. Even his body began turning into dark energy, and as a result, his spirit was leaving him. To counter it, he fused his spirit within his iconic mask and robes, anchoring him in the physical world. Now, even though he was skilled with the lightsaber and other Force abilities, his first and last line of attack and defense was the Force Drain. Though almost nobody could withstand it, Meetra Surik, a Jedi Exile, was immune to it and defeated him.

5. Darth Sion

“Yes…of pain he has learned much. Of knowledge, of teaching, he knows nothing.” – Kreia

Also known as The Lord of Pain, Darth Sion was a contemporary of aforementioned Darth Nihilus, and together with their master, Darth Traya, they formed the Sith Triumvirate. But unlike the other two, Darth Sion wasn’t excellent at either lightsaber combat or Force abilities. What makes him one of the most powerful Sith, however, even ahead of Nihilus, was his ability to… well, not die.

Though he was defeated many times, he was able to bring himself back by sheer will through the Dark Side of the Force. To achieve this power, he first became obsessed with pain and focused on it intensely. He was a pure warrior, tried-and-true. His task was to eliminate the remaining Jedi during the First Jedi Purge. As pain was his entire life, Darth Sion fed from it and the more pain he felt the more powerful he became.

He destroyed most of his enemies by coming back from the dead time and time again and defeating them with this literal immortality. Now, even though the Dark Side constantly brought him back, his physical body was, in fact, dead and decaying while Darth Sion was still in it. This made the pain even worse, which made him even more powerful as a result. He engaged Meetra Surik several times, always being defeated, but never killed. During these encounters, he developed some feelings for her and during their last battle, Surik persuaded Darth Sion to let go of his pure hatred. This finally made his spirit give in to the multiple injuries of his body, and die once and for all. In the end, the only one powerful enough to defeat Darth Sion was he himself.

4. Darth Vader

“Anakin, this path has been placed before you. The choice is yours alone.” – Shmi Skywalker

Darth Vader is one of the most famous Sith Lord that ever existed, as well as one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Born as the Chosen One, he became a Jedi prodigy. As Darth Sidious slowly corrupted him to the Dark Side, he eventually became Darth Vader. But Vader’s reputation was built from the ground up, not relying on his former prestige as a Jedi to build his persona. In fact, only a handful of people knew Darth Vader to be Anakin Skywalker.

Nevertheless, while he had the potential to become the most powerful Jedi that ever lived, Palpatine ensured it never happened. That, plus Anakin’s impatience, arrogance, and his crippling fear of losing loved ones. As a Sith, things are a bit more complicated. Much of what made him the Chosen One was lost when Obi-Wan Kenobi cut his limbs and left him to die face down near a river of lava. The Force needs living tissue for it to express itself in someone, and Vader was half machine. This diminished his Force abilities quite a bit, and is one reason why he’s not higher on the list (because we know you were expecting him to at least be in the top three).

But regardless of this serious disadvantage, Vader was capable of some feats of the Force few could match. Besides the Force Choke, for which he was famous and capable of using it on people many miles away, he also possessed the power of Force Lightning. However, he could never use it and was especially vulnerable to it. Darth Sidious made sure Vader’s armorcame with this particular disadvantage. The suit was also cumbersome and very uncomfortable to live in. And even though it weighed some 440 pounds, Vader was able to glide through the air and use Force Jump to great effect.

Initially limited by the suit when it came to his lightsaber skills, Vader later developed his own style of combat, bringing the suit and his many mechanical prosthetics to his advantage, overwhelming his opponent with sheer brute force. Vader was also capable of many other Force abilities, but he never was able to achieve his full potential as a Force-user, even as a Sith. While the suit and mechanical parts diminished his powers to a certain degree, the real reason for his failure was because he never accepted what he had become and what he had done to get there.

3. Tulak Hord

“If you were to face an ancient Sith Lord in combat, you would learn that we are as children playing with toys compared to the prowess of the old masters.” – Kreia, referring to Hord

Tulak Hord reined in a period long ago, and gained a reputation as perhaps the greatest Sith in history. He ruled the Ancient Sith Empire in a time when they hadn’t even encountered the Jedi. As he was developing into what he ultimately became, Hord was notorious and feared for his skills with the lightsaber. Over his many years and countless victories for the Sith Empire, he gained many titles like Lord of Hate and Master of the Gathering Darkness.

He became a Sith legend even when he was alive, with some saying that he could singlehandedly defeat entire armies on his own. He became skilled in Sith magic as well, being able to destroy armies even before his actual arrival on the battlefield. Over 100 worlds fell victim to his conquests. He was even able to bring down ships from space by using the Force.

It was also believed that Hord also discovered the secret to eternal life. He stored the information in Sith Holocrons – devices capable of storing large amounts of information – and then hid them in secret places on various planets throughout the galaxy. His hope was that only those who could match his power would be able to discover his secrets. But despite his power and seeming invincibility, Hord was killed by his Apprentice, Ortan Cela, who stabbed him in the back. The Apprentice was fully aware that he would never defeat his master in direct combat. Many years later, with the ensuing battles between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, many of Hord’s journals and records were destroyed.

2. Vitiate

“There is no death; there is only the Force — and I am its master.” – Vitiate

Without a doubt, Vitiate was one of the most ruthless and powerful Sith Lords to have ever existed. His reign as Sith Emperor lasted for 1,300 years, so we won’t go into too much detail. He was actually the first Sith Emperor in the Star Wars Legends and he possessed extraordinary Force abilities from the time he was a child. He murdered his entire family and even tortured his mother for several months before he actually killed her. This was when he was only 6 years old. He went on to basically enslave his entire planet and control their minds. In a mystic ritual, he was able to consume the Force and vitality of an entire planet’s population, making him more or less immortal. The planet, which became the capital of his Empire, was subject to constant rain and thunderstorms and members of the population became possessed by dark powers, brought on his mere presence there. He was also indirectly responsible for both the Mandalorian Wars and Jedi Civil War, simply by manipulating the minds of others.

After Revan’s nearly successful attempt at killing him, Vitiate began transferring his spirit and powers into host bodies. With this power, he was able to bide his time and become even more powerful in the Force. His ultimate goal was to bring the galaxy to peace; not by any conventional means, but rather by destroying it. He wanted both immortality for himself, and a devoid galaxy to rule over.

1. Darth Sidious

“The Chancellor loves power. If he has any other passion, I have not seen it.” – Mace Windu

Darth Sidious, or Chancellor and, later, Emperor Palpatine, was in fact the most powerful Sith Lord to have ever existed. It is said that he was able to master all Force abilities known, and then some. As a child, and even before, he know about his Force powers. And, oh yeah, he was a literal psychopath. He killed people on Naboo, but because of his family’s influence, the stories were swept under the rug. This mental instability is what made him in such a good politician in the first place, being able to rise in the Senate arena.

Under the tutelage of Darth Plagueis, he mastered the Dark Side and even killed his own father as a sign of good faith to his new master. He ended up mastering the lightsaber to a level where almost no one could challenge him. Only Mace Windu was able to defeat him, but it is possible that Sidious was holding back in that fight.

With his amazing intelligence, deviousness, treachery, and incredible acting skills, Palpatine was able to singlehandedly plot the demise of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order in one fell swoop, not to mention doing so to thunderous applause. Though the movies show him being flung to his death by Darth Vader in the core of the Second Death Star, Darth Sidious actually became a nexus of the dark side of the Force above the Ewoks’ Moon of Endor.

Now that Disney acquired the rights of Star Wars, the lore of the Extended Universe has changed. But in the original version, Sidious didn’t die completely. He was able to transfer his spirit into a clone and become more powerful than ever before. He was now capable of creating Force Storms, hyperspace wormholes capable of transporting things and people through the galaxy, and destroying entire planets, stars, and even the fabric of the space-time continuum. He was only truly defeated by Luke Skywalker when he momentarily severed Palpatine’s connection to the Force, and one such storm consumed him.


Sith Lord Handbook

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– A Star Wars Fix

Michael Jackson – The Thriller Handbook

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Thrilling Facts

About Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a man known for many things, including his music, his pelvis-centric dance moves, and the fact he was able to wear a fedora without looking like an idiot. But a man as complex and unique as the King of Pop could never be summed up with a list of just three things. So here’s a list of 10, starting with …

 10. He Personally Leaked Some of the More Bizarre Stories About Himself

Jackson, in stark contrast with the innocent child-like persona he adopted in public, was a calculating and efficient self-promoter behind the scenes. For example, he is known to have leaked several stories about himself to the press to ensure he continued to receive column inches in the world’s papers when he wasn’t actively making music.

Stories known to have been planted by Jackson himself include the one about him sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to make himself look younger; the news that he’d made a bid to purchase the skeleton of John Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man; and the fact he shared his bathroom with his pet monkey, Bubbles. While these stories undoubtedly gave Jackson unprecedented levels of media coverage, it eventually backfired when the press simply began making stuff up themselves, much to his annoyance. When the British media began referring to Jackson as “Wacko Jacko” he made the conscious and probably wise decision to stop leaking false stories to the news about his personal life.

9. He Wrote All of His Songs With His Voice

Despite being credited as the sole writer on virtually his entire discography and having a hand in the composition of much of the music to his back catalogue of hits, Michael Jackson rather surprisingly had little affinity for music. By this we mean that although Jackson understood how to compose a song, he could neither play an instrument nor read sheet music. To get around this, Jackson would instead compose his songs entirely in his head and then “sing” them to session musicians while recording his albums.

To this end, Jackson carried around a tape recorder with him at all times, and when inspiration struck – whether it be a musical hook or a guitar riff – he’d sing it into the recorder or, in the event of a bassline, beatbox it. Jackson would then layer all these elements together to create what amounted to acapella versions of his songs. Notoriously secretive, few examples of these recordings exist with there being, to our knowledge at least, a single recording of Beat It in which you can hear Jackson demonstrate this. He also demonstrated the technique in court to shut down a plagiarism suit.

As an example of just how talented Jackson was at emulating the sounds of various instruments with his voice, musicians who worked with him reported that he could “sing” chords and layer his voice skillfully enough to eerily replicate an entire string section.

8. He was an Actual King

For a guy known worldwide as The King of Pop, it’s kind of weird that few people ever talk about that time in 1992 when Michael Jackson actually became a real king.

You see, in the early ’90s Jackson embarked on a tour of Africa, during which he encountered a small kingdom on the Ivory Coast called Sanwi. The people of Sanwi were enamored with Jackson and the tribal chief told him that mystics had foretold that the singer was actually a direct descendent of the Sanwi royal bloodline.

So in a small, but nonetheless extravagant ceremony, the nation crowned Jackson King (an official title he had to sign papers to confirm) and even allowed him to sit in a golden throne set aside for royalty. Jackson’s official title was later reduced to Crown Prince, and his kingly duties were taken up by another man, but he was for all intents and purposes considered genuine royalty from that point on. Sanwi even held a royal funeral for him and declared two days of mourning when he died.

As for why you’ve probably never heard this, Jackson simply never talked about it. In an interview with Ebony magazine in 1992, Jackson was humble about his new found status as a king, telling an interviewer asking how it felt to be a real king:

“I never try to think hard about it.”

7. He Earns More Money Dead Than We Will Alive

Now you’d think that being dead would, for most people, put an end to their ability to make money. Employers are notoriously picky when it comes to hiring people who aren’t alive. Michael Jackson is an apparent exception to this rule, being recognized as the highest earning dead celebrity, earning close to a billion dollars in 2016, more than seven years after his death.

Jackson’s ability to earn unbelievably fat stacks of cash despite the normally insurmountable hurdle of being dead is mainly due to sales and licensing of the vast catalogues of music he owned. Along with his estate owning the rights to his own hits and albums, which continue to make millions, Jackson also bought the rights to his favorite songs during his lifetime, so he earned money when people bought those albums, too (most famously, he bought the rights to the Beatles catalogue in 1985, though Sony has since acquired full ownership, including Jackson’s remaining 50% stake last year). We don’t know if that’s smart or just selfish, but either way we’re mad impressed that a skeleton earns more than us thanks to business decisions it made a decade ago. Speaking of Jackson’s skeleton …

6. His Death Broke Google

Like the Moon landing and losing your virginity, the death of Michael Jackson is an event where you remember exactly where you were when it happened. It was a global event that resulted in an almost immediate outpouring of grief. We say almost, of course, because people had to check Google to make sure the news was accurate.

That’s not us being facetious, by the way. According to stats released by Google themselves minutes after news of the singer’s death broke, so many millions of people tried to search his name that it brought the monolithic website to its knees. Yes, Michael Jackson’s death caused so many people to panic and google his name that it broke Google!

Then again, this is hardly surprising given that a few months before his death news of him touring again caused …

 5. People Scalped His Tickets (That Didn’t Exist Yet) for Hundreds on eBay

News of Michael Jackson’s death was partly shocking because it occurred just weeks before he was due to embark on what he insisted was his last ever set of concerts at the London O2 Arena. The aptly named This Is It concert was set to be the singer’s last hurrah, and consisted of 50 straight sold out shows at the same venue, with people flocking from across the world to see it.

Initially the concert only had 10 shows booked, but the instantaneous selling out of tickets and tidal wave of complaints the venue received for not having enough prompted Jackson to schedule 40 more, all of which, again, sold out minutes after tickets going live.

Demand for tickets was such that Jackson’s official website offered fans a chance to enter a pre-sale draw, essentially securing them a chance to purchase a ticket ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to sit on the ticket website the day they were announced and hit refresh over and over. The offer crashed the website, with a reported 16,000 people trying to apply for the draw every second for several hours.

This unprecedented level of enthusiasm saw people who managed to secure a place in the pre-sale draw able to sell their tickets (which didn’t exist yet) on eBay for upwards of $500 a piece. Then again, it’s not surprising people were so keen to see Jackson perform considering he once …

4. Danced the Moonwalk So Hard Fred Astaire Called to Congratulate Him

Though he didn’t necessarily invent the Moonwalk (the genesis of the move is traced back to dancer Cab Calloway, and is thought to have been perfected by mime Marcel Marceau), he is arguably the person who showed the world just how cool it could look to see a man effortlessly glide backwards like he was just pushed onto a greased air hockey table.

Jackson reportedly learned the move from a pair of dancers named Casper Candidate and Cooley Jaxson, whom he saw perform it on the show Soul Train while sporting dangerously awesome afros. Jackson perfected the dance move and debuted his enhanced version atMotown 25 to a visibly and audibly shocked crowd who couldn’t believe what in the hell they were seeing.

Sitting at home watching the show was an 84-year-old Fred Astaire who, upon seeing Jackson glide across the stage, picked up his phone and called him to gush over how amazing it was. Jackson, a massive fan of Astaire’s, fanboyed down the phone for several minutes before quickly rushing to a nearby bathroom and vomiting in excitement.

3. The Glove was to Hide a Skin Condition

Few artists have a “look” as well defined and iconic as Michael Jackson’s. Everything from his pimpin’ fedora to his needlessly high socks have become ingrained in pop-culture as integral parts of the Jackson mythos. Arguably his singular most defining item of clothing though was his single glove.

Custom made by the same guy who made the gloves for Kate Winslet in Titanic, Jackson’s sported many different styles of gloves over the years. While many assumed that glove was simply for style, because it admittedly does look pretty fly, according to those close to Jackson it was actually used to hide the early stages of vitiligo (a disease which caused the skin to change color and often starts with unsightly blotches on the hands and feet).

While this became somewhat unnecessary in later years as Jackson’s skin tone changed from a deep chocolate, to a creamy mocha, to that of anemic skim milk, the glove was nonetheless an important tool used by the singer to hide something he felt self-conscious about.

2. He Composed an Unknown Amount of the Soundtrack for Sonic 3

Released in 1994, many fans of the blue hedgehog consider Sonic 3 to be one of the best games in the series, partly because it lets you play as Knuckles and partly because that soundtrack though. Well for any fans of the game, you may be pleased to know that Michael Jackson had a hand in creating it, though exactly how much is hotly debated.

The story goes that during development, Sega brought in Jackson to compose the soundtrack for the game, a move that was seen as being in no way weird in the ’90s. Shortly after production on the game began, though, the first allegations of child abuse were leveled at Jackson, prompting Sega to distance themselves from the artist. Today the company denies Jackson had anything to do with the game or its music.

This doesn’t exactly fit with other reports, though, which claim that Jackson had a direct hand in creating a number of tracks for the game, but ultimately became frustrated with the limited range of the sound chip in the Sega Genesis, leaving the project of his own volition. As a result the extent of Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 isn’t clear, but for anyone curious, the songs often thought to be the ones most likely to have been composed by Jackson, at least in part, are Carnival Night Zone, Hydrocity Zone, and Ice Cap Zone.

1. He Promised to Write a No. 1 Single… for Bart Simpson

Michael Jackson was a massive fan of The Simpsons, famously lending his voice to the episode “Stark Raving Dad“, which features a man who delusionally thinks he’s Michael Jackson, voiced by… erm… Michael Jackson.

It’s noted that Jackson personally reached out to the staff of the show to ask for a bit part and took his role extremely seriously, taking part in line readings with the rest of the cast and refusing the use of a special trailer set aside for him. During his time with the Simpsons staff, Jackson explained to Matt Groening that Bart was his favorite character and that he wanted to write the troublesome 10 year old a number 1 hit single. Groening laughed, assuming Jackson was joking. He wasn’t joking.

 Jackson, true to his word, went home and composed the basic idea for the song, Do The Bartman, a rap single from the point of view of Bart Simpson. Due to contractual obligations with his label at the time, Jackson had to remain uncredited as a composer, but went against his label’s stipulations and performed back vocals to the track because it’s not like anyone was going to believe the King of Pop would slum it with the voice cast of cartoon. Jackson, seemingly just because he could, also got Bart to namedrop him in the song he was singing in for no apparent reason. Sadly for Jackson the song never became a number one hit in the US, only topping the charts in territories like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Though that’s mostly because it was never actually released as a single in the States.

Michael Jackson

– The Thriller Handbook

Snacks from Around the World – WIF Fast Food

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Delicious Global

Snacks

You Should Try

There are many, many reasons to travel: to meet new people, to explore new cultures, to see awesome cities, to hike through spectacular scenery. But what about food? For some, sampling the cuisine of another country is like peeking inside the mind of an entire culture.

We’re not talking Michelin-starred, fancy, five course dining, either. From Europe, to Asia, to the Americas and Africa, some of the best eats on the planet are stuff you can pick up at markets and from street vendors. Here are ten delicious snacks from around the globe that will blow your mind and leave you craving more.

10. Okonomiyaki (Japan)

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It’s said that you haven’t really tasted Japan until you’ve tried Okonomiyaki. In the land of sushi, noodles and seafood, Okonomiyaki stands out by being exactly what you wouldn’t expect. A sort of cabbage-based pancake traditionally served with aonori seaweed flakes, bonito fish flakes, super-sweet mayonnaise and the heavenly Okonomiyaki sauce (not unlike the UK’s HP sauce with a hint of soy), this snack is eaten across the country by the truckload.

Garnish aside, it’s tricky to say what actually makes an Okonomiyaki. The name itself loosely translates as “what you like, grilled.” This means the combinations are essentially endless. You might nab a shrimp or octopus one in Osaka, then high-tail it to Tokyo for a pork filling. There are even local variations on how to cook it. Hiroshima style means putting the ingredients on top; Osaka style means mixing them all into the batter.

You can grab one of these taste-explosions at one of the many Okonomiyaki bars across the country. Just rock up, place your order and prepare to have your tastebuds blown.

9. BeaverTails (Canada)

beavertails

The standard joke is that America is a nation of bulging waistlines, while Canadians are svelte and trim. Judging by the existence of BeaverTails, the only rational explanation for this is that those north of the border are riddled with tapeworm. A fried dough pastry stretched into the shape of a beaver’s tail and loaded with more sweet stuff and condiments than you can shake a proverbial stick at, BeaverTails are a delicious heart-attack-in-the-making.

Just look at this picture, for example. Really, look at it. For those of you who hate right-clicking, it’s a pastry snack the size of your face, coated in chocolate and topped with Smarties (chocolate buttons that inexplicably aren’t available south of the Canadian border). It looks like everything you never knew you wanted while mildly drunk at an ice hockey game.

A branded snack, BeaverTails have only been around since 1978. But our sweet tooth would take them over poutine any day.

8. Kürtoskalács (Hungary)

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If you’re ever wandering around the top of Budapest at night, follow your nose to the ancient castle. That sweet, doughy smell tickling your senses and making your mouth water like Niagara Falls? That’s probably coming from the Kürtoskalács stalls. Known as Transylvanian Chimney Cakes, these Hungarian bad boys are even tastier than they smell.

Supposedly, the dish originated in modern-day Romania (hence the Transylvania part of the name), among the Hungarian community living there. Today, Kürtoskalács are called the oldest pastry in Hungary, and pop up at street food stands everywhere. So, you might be asking, what the heck are they? It’s pretty simple, really. Chimney cakes are made by rolling dough slowly round a wooden spoon (or similar vessel), coating the outside in sugar and oil and heating it over a fire. So you get a sweet, crunchy exterior and a warm, doughy inside. Just to send the calorie count even higher, plenty of Hungarians take them with chocolate spread.

The absolute best time to try Kürtoskalács is when it’s so cold out you can see your breath. Then the heat of the dough and the sweetness combine to feel like an elixir of life.   

7. Tamiya (Egypt)

tamiya

Everybody in the Middle East does falafel, and most countries do it excellently. No one, however, does it as well as the Egyptians. Only they don’t call it falafel, oh no. They want to keep a dish this good a secret. If you’re ever in Cairo or Alexandria (according to food critics, the two best places for Egyptian falafel), keep an eye out for Tamiya. It’ll change your ideas of just how freakin’ good falafel can be.

The secret here is fava beans. While most Middle Eastern countries use chickpeas to make falafel, Egypt bucks the trend by using fava beans. The result is a falafel that’s moister and lighter than anything you’ll find elsewhere. It’s cheap, too. Stalls will sell you a tamiya wrap for around the equivalent of 30 cents a pop. According to the experts, though, the place to head for is Mohammed Ahmed, a cheap eatery in Alexandria. There you can combine it with fuul (a bean paste) and eat yourself into a coma. In fact, tamiya is so cheap and delicious and plentiful that many joke Egypt is the best country for making vegetarians fat.

6. Red Red (Ghana)

red red

West African food is famous across the continent for its intense flavors and inventive style. But in West Africa itself, the country that takes the crown is probably Ghana. While there’s plenty to be said for Nigerian or Senegalese food, Ghana just edges its neighbors out the running. Part of the key to that success? Red red.

A kind of simple tomato stew made with black-eyed peas, red red is practically Ghana’s national dish. People eat it at home, on the way to work, while hanging out and at restaurants. The reason being that it’s delightful. The texture of the beans, combined with the vague, smoky flavor of the meat all combines to make a mouthwatering dish. Then there’s the red palm oil. Supposedly, the mixture of this oil with tomatoes is why the stew is called red red in the first place.

Although Ghanaians eat red red at pretty much any time, apparently the time to really appreciate it is breakfast time. It’s a fair point. We’re trying and we honestly can’t think of any better way to start the day than with a spicy, smoky, tomatoey African stew.

 5. Klobasa (Czech Republic)

kolbasa

The Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than literally any other country on God’s green Earth. Yes, that includes Ireland, Austria and Germany. As such, you’d expect their best street food to cater to the needs of drunks; i.e. warm, fatty and deeply delicious. Enter the infamous klobasa. A smoked, German-style sausage traditionally served with mustard and two slices of brown Czech bread, its 1:00 a.m. drunken street food elevated to an art form.

All this is a pretty recent development. In 1948, the Communists took over what was then Czechoslovakia and immediately started being jerks about it. One of the things they were jerky about was what people could eat. A book was published, called Recipes for Warm Meals. If you cooked and sold anything that wasn’t in it, you’d get yourself thrown in jail. Combined with meat shortages in the ’70s and ’80s, this led to Czech sausages almost vanishing. When the Communists were overthrown in 1989, Czechs went klobasa crazy.

Today, klobasa is so popular that English-speaking locals even runinternational blogs about where exactly to chow down on the best Czech sausage. One to study before you go.

4. Hormigas (Colombia)

ants

In the heart of Colombia’s Santander department sits a little, whitewashed village called Barichara. Legendarily beautiful, it looks like a slice of southern Spain relocated to South America. That’s not why people go there, though. For foodies and snack fans, there’s one overwhelming reason to visit this sleepy village. Barichara is where you can buy hormigas.

The slightly gross part first: Hormigas are ants. Specifically, they’re female leaf-cutter ants with a butt so big it could star in music videos. Harvested in the spring, they’re toasted with salt and served from little packets, just like peanuts. But this isn’t an entry we’ve thrown in just to make you go “eww!” Hormigas are considered a local delicacy, with high protein levels and aphrodisiac qualities. They’re so renowned that upscale restaurants across Colombia use them to make expensive sauces. But the best way to try them is to grab a pack in Barichara and chow on down.

Salty, earthy and a little strange, hormigas in Santander are traditionally eaten under the blazing sun with an ice cold beer. You take a sip of beer, eat an ant, then take another sip, and so on until the packet is empty.

3. Chilli Crab (Singapore)

chilli crab

Singapore is one of the smallest countries on Earth. How small? Well, you could fit the entire nation into Rhode Island four whole times and still have a bit of space left over (confused UK readers can replace “Rhode Island” with “Cornwall”). At such a reduced size, you might not expect any incredible foods to come out of Singapore, but you’d be wrong. The micro state’s chilli crab is some of the best street food in Asia.

The snack does what it says on the tin. A stir fried crab, coated in a sweet and super spicy sauce, it comes served with deep fried buns. But that explanation can’t convey just how tasty chilli crab is. CNN ranked it the 35thmost delicious food in the entire world. There are more shops, restaurants and stalls selling it in Singapore than there probably are people in Wyoming. People fly to Asia purely to sample it. That’s how good we’re talking, here.

Chilli crab is so widely available in Singapore that there’s no point in us telling you where to go for it. Just step off the plane and head towards the nearest group of people. We’re like 99% sure one of them will be able to point you to a stand within walking distance.

2. Tacos (Mexico)

tacos

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Tacos. Of all the street food in the world, they go and choose the dish that inspired the abomination we call Taco Bell. Well, hold your horses there, pardner. What you probably think a taco is, is light years from what you’ll get on a street in Mexico. Forget the Tex-Mex thing with the crispy shell, real tacos are as close to them as your fourth grade art project was to the Sistine Chapel.

Let’s start with the basics: Proper Mexican tacos come in a flat, homemade tortilla. They also contain more than just a begrudging serving of meat and some salsa. El Chupacabra’s taco stand in Mexico City, for example, claims over 100 different ingredients go into each and every one of their tacos…and that’s before you get onto the sides. Here’s a picture of their truck. See those endless vats full of sauces and garnishes and deliciousness? If you want to, you can pile in stuff from each and every one of those (plus many others off camera) to make a taco exploding with so many flavors you’ll wind up accidentally recreating that scene from When Harry Met Sally.

Basically, get away from the border cities, and tacos in Mexico go from being cheap junk food you eat when you hate yourself and no longer want your pants to fit, to awesome, working class street food that deserves its spot on this list.

1. Burek (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

burek

The Balkans have easily some of the best food in the world, and that includes the best street food. Pljeskavica meat patties in Serbia, shkembe chorba soup in Bulgaria…the list goes on. For our money, though, there’s one clear winner. Burek (also called Borek) from Bosnia-Herzegovina is perhaps the tastiest snack in the whole of the Balkan region.

Originally from Turkey, this pastry snack really came into its own in Bosnia, where it was brought along with Ottoman rule in the middle of the last millennium. Basically, you take some pastry, fill it with aromatic mincemeat, goat’s cheese, spinach and herbs, roll it up, lightly spice it, glaze with oil and bake until it is golden and delicious. The result is a kinda-sweet, kinda-savory dish that’s crispy on the outside, and has the consistency of al dente pasta on the inside.

 The best place to grab burek is on the streets of Sarajevo, where a serving goes for around the equivalent of $1.70. Awesomely, it tastes good both drunk and stone cold sober, meaning it’s probably, therefore, the most perfect snack in the entire world.

Snacks Around the World

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– WIF Fast Food

Trash Television – WIF Critique

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Pioneers of

Trash Television

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Tabloid television, or as critics refer to it, “Trash TV,” is made up of abrasive talk shows that set up confrontations and consciously try to be controversial and shocking. Despite being panned for their lowbrow nature and appealing to the lowest common denominator, tabloid talk shows have struck a chord with television audiences and have been popular for the past 50 years.

10. Phil Donahue

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1957, Phil Donahue went to work at a radio station in Cleveland. In 1963, he started one of the first radio talk shows, and in 1967 tried his hand at television with The Phil Donahue Show(later shortened to Donahue). His talk show format, which was targeted at “women who think,” was radical at the time because a big part of the show involved interacting with the studio audience. Audience members were able to ask questions or talk with guests and Donahue was more of a moderator than traditional talk show host. In 1972, the show went into national syndication and became hugely popular, forever changing the landscape of talk shows. For the first nine years it was on, Donahue won nine Daytime Emmys for Best Talk Show Host.

The show had rather taboo topics for the time; for example, the first guest on the show was an atheist. But it also covered other topics that were considered taboo, but in hindsight, were rather important to talk about, like women’s health. Donahue managed to stay on the air for almost 30 years, before getting cancelled in 1996. The problem was that the imitators of Donahue were willing to be more outrageous than him, and people simply weren’t watching his show anymore. Donahue went into retirement until July 2002, when MSNBC resurrected Donahue, but it was cancelled after eight months due to poor ratings.

9. Sally Jessy Raphael

After getting her degree in broadcasting from Columbia, Raphael (whose real name is Sally Lowenthal), went to work in Puerto Rico as a correspondent. After that, she came back to the United States to work in broadcasting. Over the course of three years, she was fired 18 times and she, her three children, and her husband/manager moved around a lot, sometimes sleeping in their car. In 1969, she finally landed steady work as both a morning anchor and an afternoon radio newscaster in Miami. In 1976, she moved to New York, where her popularity started to grow with audiences nationwide with her radio call-in show.

When Raphael was filling in as a substitute for a daytime talk show host in Cleveland, she caught the attention of Phil Donahue’s producer. He gave Raphael a chance with her own half hour talk show located in St. Louis. The Sally Jessy Raphael Show went on the air on October 17, 1983, and within six months, the show became nationally syndicated. She was a pioneer for women in the talk show industry, helping pave the way for the likes of Oprah (whose show debuted the following year).

Raphael, whose trademark red framed glasses became instantly recognizable, was known for taking a liberal stance on many topics like homosexuality, abortion, and premarital sex. This, of course, did not sit well with conservatives during the Reagan era. In the end, Raphael stayed on the air until 2002, when her show was cancelled.

8. Jenny Jones

In 1991, when The Jenny Jones Show went on the air, the daytime talk show circuit was pretty crowded. The host, Jenny Jones, was a comedian who became famous for her Girl’s Night Out comedy act that banned men from coming in. When the show started, Jones explained that it would be “part pajama party, part group therapy, part Oprah.” But, like many shows of the 1990s, after two years of low ratings, the show started to push the envelope. They started doing paternity tests, confronted bullies, and revealed secret crushes. While the show wasn’t anything groundbreaking, it was pioneering for an event that happened because of the show. It was a collision of “it’s only television” and the fact that the guests on tabloid shows are real people.

The controversial show was recorded on March 6, 1995, and was called “Same Sex Secret Crushes.” On the show, a gay man named Scott Amedure told an associate, Jonathan Schmitz, that he had a crush on him. Schmitz went on the show knowing he had a secret admirer, but was led to believe that it was a woman. At the time, Schmitz didn’t seem to be upset by the news, but said he wasn’t gay himself. That night, Amedure, Schmitz, and a mutual friend drank together. The friend claimed that after the taping, Amedure and Schmitz had a sexual encounter, but Schmitz denies that. Three days later, they were back home and Schmitz found a sexually suggestive letter from Amedure. After finding the letter, Schmitz bought a shotgun, went to Amedure’s house and shot him twice in the chest, killing him. In a 911 call, Schmitz blamed the show for the murder. After the murder, the episode was never aired.

At Schmitz’s trial, it was revealed he had a history of mental illness. He was given 25-50 years in 1996. Amedure’s family also sued The Jenny Jones Show and were awarded $25 million in 1999. The show was canceled in 2001, and Jones now hosts a cooking show.

7. Maury Povich

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in television journalism, Maury Povich started working as a reporter and newscaster in Washington, DC. In 1986, he became the host of a new tabloid news show, A Current Affair. Then in 1991, Povich got his first chance at hosting his own talk show, The Maury Povich Show, which ran for seven years. During that time, the climate of tabloid television was changing drastically and shows were given the choice: either follow the flow and dumb the show down, or lose in the ratings. Maury chose to devolve and the show, now just called Maury, re-launched in 1998 with thefirst show being “Who’s Your Daddy?” The use of DNA results would be one of their most common and popular shows. Other shows often feature lie detector tests, makeovers, possessive men, and wild teens.

Since changing the format, Maury has been a staple of the daytime talk show circuit and Povich is a pop culture icon, known for his famous expression when announcing the results of the paternity test. One of the most mind blowing things about Maury is that he was born in 1939, meaning that as he heads into the show’s 18th season in the fall of 2015, he will be 76-years-old.The show was renewed in 2014 for four more years.

6. Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris got his start in television in 1960 as the assistant to American Bandstand host Dick Clark. In 1965, Barris borrowed $20,000 from his stepfather and produced a pilot for his show The Dating Game. The game show involved a bachelor or bachelorette, who would ask three eligible single people behind a wall a series of question. The contestant would then pick one of them, and they would go on some elaborate date together. The show aired on December 20, 1965, on ABC and it was an instant hit. The next year, Barris made a show to pair with The Dating Gamecalled The Newlywed Game, where newly married couples were asked questions to see how much they knew about each other. It was also a big hit.

But the show that Barris struck trash gold with was The Gong Show in 1976. It was a “talent” show that was hosted by Barris himself. The premise of the show was that people performed an act for three celebrity judges. If the performance got to be unwatchable, a judge could bang a large gong to put an end to the act. One very notable controversy happened in 1978 when two 17-year-old girls came out, sat crossed legged on the floor andvery suggestively ate a popsicle. No one rang the gong, but two out of the three judges gave them low marks. Singer and actress Jaye P. Morgan gave them 10 out of 10, saying that was how she got started as well.

While The Gong Show was not a tabloid talk show like the other shows on this list, it was revolutionary in the fact that it used people that really didn’thave any talent. Many people went on the show and completely made fools of themselves in front of a national audience. This idea would of course be mined later for tabloid shows that would come later, not to mention shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent.

Barris also published an autobiography called Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he claimed that the entire time he was a television producer, he was also a CIA hitman. The book was adapted into a film in 2002, directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris.

5. Geraldo Rivera

Brooklyn native Geraldo Rivera got a law degree in 1969, but instead of entering the legal profession, he became a TV news reporter for New York’s WABC-TV. His breakout moment was in 1972, when he did an exposé on abuse against mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook School on Staten Island. From there, he went on to be a contributor for national news programs before joining 20/20 in 1978. He would only stay there for two years before he was fired over a disagreement about a story.

In 1987, Rivera got his own talk show, Geraldo, and it quickly gained notoriety for its controversial topics and guests. The most notable incident happened on November 3, 1988, on a show called “Teen Hatemongers.” On the heated show, a young man named John Metzger, who was the leader of the White Aryan Resistance Youth and the son of infamous white supremacist Tom Metzger, insulted Roy Innis, an African American man who was the national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Metzger said, “I’m sick and tired of Uncle Tom here, sucking up and trying to be a white man.” So Innis stood up, walked over and strangled Metzger. This led to a brawl where chairs were thrown and Geraldo’s nose was brokenduring the melee. When asked about the incident, Geraldo said that if there was ever a time for violence, that was it.

The brawl made national headlines and also gave the ratings a huge boost, because news of the brawl was made public before the episode aired. This brawl would of course lay the foundation for another, very controversial show just years later. And yes, we’ll get to that one soon enough. Geraldowas cancelled in 1998 and he is currently a contributor to Fox News.

4. Les Crane

After graduating from Tulane University and serving in the Air Force, Les Crane started off his career in broadcasting in the early 1960s as one ofthe first “shock jocks” on the radio. While tame by today’s standards, Crane would take calls from all over the West Coast of the United States and had no problem insulting and dismissing certain callers’ points of view; even going as far to hang up on some of them.

In 1963, Night Line… With Les Crane, later changed to The Les Crane Show, was first broadcast on ABC, at the 1:00 a.m. time slot. On the show, Crane was confrontational with guests that he didn’t agree with, but he also was pretty hip and cutting edge. For example, he was the first host in the United States to interview the Rolling Stones, and when Bob Dylan was 23-years-old, he appeared on the show and performed three songs. Crane also interviewed Randy Wicker, the first openly gay male on television. He also had some provocative newsmakers like Malcolm X, Governor George Wallace, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Crane’s show was popular, and in June 1965, he was moved up to 11:30 p.m. to compete against Johnny Carson. Crane, who was just 30 at the time, never really found an audience and was cancelled just a few months later. After losing to Carson, Crane tried another talk show (which also failed), and had some small acting parts. In 1980, he became the chairman of a successful computer software company called Software Toolworks, and passed away at the age of 74 in July 2008.

3. Joe Pyne

Joe Pyne served in World War II, and an injury led to part of his leg being amputated. In 1954, he got his start in television and by 1964, his television show was syndicated in 84 cities. On top of that, his hour long radio show was syndicated in 450 cities.

On his show, Pyne would chain smoke behind a news desk, not unlike Edward R. Murrow, but instead of asking questions, Pyne would actively look for confrontation and often found it. Pyne was one of the first people on TV to argue from his own viewpoint instead of being unbiased, which led to him openly insulting his guests while being cheered on by his studio audience. As for his guests, he would find the most extreme and outrageous people of the day, like the head of the Church of Satan or a man who had been married 17 times. As for why Pyne would argue with his guests, he said that he didn’t respect anyone who would agree to be on his show. We’re not sure if he was including himself in that statement, of course.

Pyne’s show ran until November 1969, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died at the age of 45 on March 23, 1970.

2. Morton Downey Jr.

In the fall of 1987, a new talk show aired on a local TV station in Secaucus, New Jersey. The show was similar to what Sally Jessy Raphael and Phil Donahue were doing, but the host was a combination of Les Crane and Joe Pyne. That man was 55-year-old Morton Downey Jr.: a chain smoking right winger who screamed, swore, and even got physical with his guests. The show was popular locally and went national a year later. The Morton Downey Jr. Show became a huge hit, mainly because Downey was loud, belligerent, and unapologetic. In fact, the show’s logo was a big mouth. Downey justified his show saying that yelling and confrontation was how a lot of Americans were raised.

When Downey had a guest on his show that he disagreed with (which was many of them), he would scream and blow cigarette smoke in their face while he was cheered on by his near rabid studio audience, which he called “The Beast.” Downey was completely open about his hostility to immigrants, gays, feminists and anyone with liberal leanings.

One notable guest that Downey had on many times was Al Sharpton, who made a name for himself on the show. An interesting story involving Downey and Sharpton was the case of Tawana Brawley. She was a black teenager, who was found wrapped in a plastic bag on the roadside in New York State in November 1987. Someone had written racial epitaphs on her body and she was covered in feces. She claimed she had been raped by a group of white officers. Her story made national headlines when Sharpton took up her cause. Downey confronted Sharpton over the validity of the story, and it turned out Brawley had set the whole thing up.

This story would prove to be important in the downfall of Downey, which started in 1989. It was hard booking guests for the show, because no one wanted to go on a show where they would be yelled at and insulted by Morton while he was being cheered on. It was great for the audience; not so much for the guests. In the summer of 1989, in a desperate attempt for ratings, Downey hosted a show at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, where he had a group of white supremacists “debate” representatives of the African American community (it was more of a screaming match than debate). A short time later, in San Francisco, Downey was found in a bathroom stall in an airport with a bruise on his face, his hair cut, and swastikas drawn on him with felt markers. Downey claimed that a group of skinheads attacked him. He even passed a polygraph, but all evidence indicated that Downey faked the attack. His show was cancelled shortly afterwards and a year later, he filed for bankruptcy.

In 1996, Downey was diagnosed with lung cancer and he immediately changed his stance on smoking, becoming a spokesperson for the American Lung Association. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 68. Downey is also the subject of the documentary Évocateur.

1. Jerry Springer

We’ve hinted at him through the whole list, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Jerry Springer is number one. The man is synonymous with trash television, and he seemingly embraces being king of rock bottom.

Born on February 13, 1944, to parents who escaped the Holocaust, Springer came to the United States when he was five-years-old. By 1968, he had his Juris Doctor, and that’s when he met Robert Kennedy, who was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. Shortly after the meeting, Springer started working on Kennedy’s campaign, but a few months after joining, Kennedy was assassinated.

Working with Kennedy encouraged Springer to get into politics. He ran for Congress in Ohio, but lost. In 1971, he won a seat on the Cincinnati city council, where he served for five terms. He even survived a sex scandal in 1974 when it was discovered that he had been with a prostitute (he paid with a personal check). In 1977, he became the youngest mayor in Cincinnati’s history. After losing the election for governor of Ohio in 1982, he was approached by a number of television stations to do a talk show.

In 1991, The Jerry Springer Show debuted and, at first, it covered political topics. Then in 1994, in order to boost ratings, a new producer from the tabloid The Weekly World News was brought in to adjust the show. Springer’s new premise was simple: bring out someone, have them reveal a secret, and then let the guests physically fight each other. The show was a hit and a cultural phenomenon for being so outrageous. In May 1998,The Jerry Springer Show became the number one show in the May sweeps, putting an end to Oprah’s 10 year run on top. The show was so popular, it even led to a horrible movie and an opera. Astonishingly, it also managed to lead to a talk show for Springer’s large, bald, and popular security guard on the show, Steve Wilkos (of course, the fact that Wilkos married Springer’s executive producer in 2000 probably helped him land his own show, too).

In 1999, the show was forced to stop showing violence. It was during this time that violence on TV was a hot button issue in the wake of the Columbine shooting. Yet, the show remained popular and is still on the air. The ban on violence seems to have been lifted and it’s as raunchy and trashy as it’s ever been. It is scheduled to be on the air until at least 2018.


Trash Television

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– WIF Critique