Pirates of the Seven Seas – Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Truth

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Pirates Facts

Pirates have fascinated the masses for hundreds of years. Romanticized in fiction, the image of a pirate has crystallized into a bearded, peg-legged man, with a funny hat and possibly a parrot on his shoulder. The pirate was almost relegated to a quaint decades-old obsession until Disney revived the swashbucklers by rebooting a Disneyland ride into a multi-billion dollar movie franchise. The films star Johnny Depp, pretending to be Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, or as Roger Ebert once wrote, “channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly.”

 So with that in mind, we will charge and plunder our way through 10 surprising pirate myths, facts, and misconceptions.

10. Pirates Were Part of the Normal Economy

In the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, the pirates were literal immortal ghosts that had no need for the world of mankind. There is a myth that pirates were outcasts and pariahs but like any criminal now or in the past they needed to sell their booty. While pirates did get some gold and diamonds, that was far from their only plunder. Most of what pirates stole and looted was anything that ships had, like water, food, soap, timber, salted fish, and supplies for the New World colonies. The most coveted of all prizes was medicine.

With all these goods pirates needed a place to sell them, and there were plenty of ports, pirate and otherwise that encouraged pirate trade. Often pirates were sanctioned by their home countries, like the English Privateer, and their “letter of marque” gave them the legal right to capture ships from enemy nations. With this they could legally sell their booty to their homeports. Privateering, which was similar to today’s version of military contractors, “spurred the growth of Atlantic cities from Charleston to Dunkirk.” Non-nation criminal pirates had no shortage of middlemen and smugglers who would take their tons of stolen salted fish off their hands and integrate it into the local economy.

9. Wore Jewelry to Improve Their Eyesight

Those brave souls who step off the sturdy earth onto a rickety boat to righteously sail the rough seas have always been a superstitious bunch. Bananas famously are taboo on the open sea and are thought to bring doom upon all those on the boat. Real sailors will quickly throw a banana overboard ASAP. Sailors are just as superstitious with their good luck talismans.

Famously bad luck on land, black cats are a seen as signs of good luck at sea with sailors having a black cat on board. There are even those who have their wives have a black cat at home to get a double dose of good fortune. Pirates were no exception to superstitions of the seas. According to the Journal of the American Optometric Association, pirates heavily pierced their ears in hopes that it would improve their eyesight.

8. Pirate Ships Were Democratic

Pirates in the movies are often portrayed as mafias with a head criminal ruling their ship with an iron fist. In real life, pirate ships had surprisingly democratic micro-societies. During the golden age of piracy, over 100 years before democracy took hold in America, sailors on legitimate sailing ships were little more than slaves. The captain controlled everything and in the British Navy, it was even worse. Sailors lived under terrible conditions; conditions so bad that the only way to get new crew members was to pressgang or kidnap innocent people from whatever harbor the ship entered.

This kind of life paled in comparison to pirate ships, where democracy thrived. Not only did pirates share the wealth of their plunder but they voted on everything. They held elections on where to sail, where to strike, what to do with prisoners, and even whether or not to impeach and replace their captain.

7. Pirate Health Insurance

Sailing hundreds of years ago was tough. Piracy, which involved violent resistance and sparse prey, was even tougher. If they weren’t dealing with malnutrition or scurvy pirates had to deal with the normal hazards of the seven seas like storms and new tropical diseases. As outlaws, they also didn’t have a military organization or state to fall back on. Since the pirates were in it together they also banded together forming collectives with health care. If there was an injury on board a ship or while seizing a vessel pirates could depend on each other for monetary support.

In the Caribbean, a pirate group operated that called themselves The Brethren orBrethren of the Coast (they appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean series). One of the most famous pirate captains of this group was Henry Morgan. Morgan offered the following compensation for injury: a right arm was worth 600 pieces of eight, a left arm 500, a right leg 500, a left leg 400, and an eye 100 pieces of eight. In 1600 one piece of eight was about a modern £50 note, so the pay out for a right arm was 600 pieces of eight, the equivalent of £30,000. Even crazed scourge of the sea Blackbeard cared enough for his crew to seize three French surgeons to provide medical care.

6. Pirates Raided Only Ships… Or Not

Merriam-Webster says the definition of a pirate is someone who engages in piracy, or an act of robbery on the high seas. Water thefts, according to the dictionary. But the true mavericks they were, pirates didn’t limit themselves to just looting and pillaging on the high seas. No, when they had the means pirates would attack targets on land, too.

There have been a number of invasions by pirates. One pirate warlord, Edward Mansvelt, controlled a 1,000-men strong pirate army that landed and attacked the Spanish in what became known as the Sack of Campeche in 1663 (now a city in Mexico). Pirate Lord Henry Morgan led another Pirate army 50 miles inland to attack Puerto Principe (now Camagüey in central Cuba). If the prize was high enough pirates had no problem leaving their ships to pillage the land lubbers.

5. Pirates Are Not Forever

The pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean were doomed to an immortal purgatory sailing the seven seas forever, but real pirates had a less permanent legacy. Piracy was often seen as a way to increase their standing in mainstream society. Spend a few years in a high-risk occupation and then take your plunder and improve you and your family’s position in life.

That was certainly the case with Woodes Rogers (he’s the dapper gent on the right in the above painting). He sailed around the world, paid for from all the ships he plundered along the way. He even had enough time to rescue Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish sailor that Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is based on. After he came back home he hung up his pirate standard and became the Governor of the Bahamas. His past didn’t stop him from trying to stamp out local pirates. Not all pirates became politicians, but many parlayed their ill-gotten gains into an easy life back in normal society.

4. Pirate Tropes

Our word for pirate didn’t have a standardized spelling until well into the 18th century. In historical archives ocean raiders, or what we call pirates, were spelled as “pirrot,” “pyrate,” or “pyrat,” which is probably where parrots became an associated pirate trope. Other fictional tropes were that pirates buried treasure, a fiction created by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island.

The 1950s Disney movie of the same name also created what we now know as pirate talk. For the film, Robert Newton, the pirate star of Treasure Island used an exaggerated version of his southwestern England hometown West Country dialect. Pirates also didn’t have peg legs, and the skull and crossbones flag was just one of many pirate flags used in pirate history.

3. Cannonballs are Spheres of Death

In the age of sail, the preferred means of attack was the cannon. Modern pirate movies have their share of implausible Michael Bay explosions. They also show how each cannon hit causes thousands of serrated pieces of wood to fly into the fleshy, exposed skin of sailors and pirates alike. Yet compared to their fictional Hollywood movie stars, the pirates of old had one less thing to worry about.

As proven by Mythbusters the wooden shrapnel didn’t have enough velocity to penetrate the exposed skin, or for their test, dead pigs. They did discover, however, the gunpowder explosion of a cannon gave the metal cannonballs enough force to rip through the bodies of at least four people, as demonstrated by the unfortunate pigs that took their place.

2. Pirates Aren’t a Relatively Recent, Caribbean Thing

For as long as there has been wealth there have been people that will take that wealth. Robbery and banditry have to be one of the oldest jobs in history, although not the oldest job. That would be ladies of the night. In the same vein of thought, as long as there have been ships there have been people who are willing to take whatever is on that ship. Starting 1200 BC the Egyptians feared a mysterious group of people only known as the “Sea Peoples” that swept over the known world like black death, destroying everything they touched.

Later, in 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates while traveling to Rhodes. Upon hearing their ransom demand, Caesar got insulted and told them to double the asking price for his life. The pirates got their money but after he was released Caesar returned with a fleet of ships and captured and crucified every one of his pirate captors. In the Mediterranean, during the 15th and 16th centuries, there were two groups of pirates that were mirror images of each. The Barbary corsairs were Muslims who raided Christian commerce while the Knights of Saint John were Christian pirates who raided Islamic ships, “mirror image[s] of maritime predation, two businesslike fleets of plunderers set against each other.” The official hymn of the United States Marine Corps even has a line, “to the shores of Tripoli” that’s about the Battle of Dernain 1805, where US Marines attacked a pirate stronghold during the First Barbary War. While the west is more familiar with the Pirates of the New World, Pirates are found throughout history and all over the world.

1. Pirates Still Exist

Pirate movies inevitably always focus on pirates with swords and sailing ships, but pirates still exist today. We don’t just mean the infamous Somali pirates that plagued the Horn of Africa a decade ago (although there was recently an attack after five years of no incidents). Pirates on the other side of the Atlantic have stepped up their attacks in places like Nigeria. Even outside of Africa there is piracy; or rather, piracy never went away. In the early 19th century famous Pirate Queen Madame Ching, or Ching Shih, ruled the waves with hundreds of ships, crewed by thousands of pirates. Not far from Madame Ching’s haunt is one of the busiest shipping straits in the world, the Strait of Malacca. Through this 550 mile-long sea lane, thousands of ships travel and are easy targets for modern day pirates.

Dozens of attacks and hijacking take place every year, although coordinated patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are trying to put a stop to it. Hitting a little closer to home is piracy on Falcon Lake, which straddles the American and Mexican border. The lake is a result of Falcon Dam on the Rio Grande which was built in the ’50s. After the Mexican side descended into the anarchy of the drug wars small boats full of pirates would prey on fishermen and pleasure boats, as well use the boats to smuggle drugs into the US. Piracy is not something that was stamped out hundreds of years ago. It still exists, to this day, even in America’s backyard.


Pirates of the Seven Seas

– Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Truth

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

…In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault…

But, as the other girls are swallowing her stories whole, wishing that that young space cadet across the room were with them, Dashing Deker is probably telling his own tales of romance and upcoming conquest to his buddies.

“She’s a little on the immature side,” Deke relates to his friends, “kind of spoiled maybe, I don’t know. But she is fun to hang out with and you have to love those boobs!”

It’s a good thing nobody in the girl-gaggle can read lips.

The rest of the night falls more into the lines of expectation, when nearing the end of the night some serious posturing is taking place on the dance floor. The frenzied techno-muzic is reduced to belly rubbing ballads; where pelvis-grinding is an art form and tonsil-hockey the standard form of communication.

Deke McKinney’s hormones are not completely dormant, though his thoughts are about the approaching ranch where Braden King has set out the hors d’oeuvres and programmed the gaming system.

Susannah Grisbaum is not entirely pleased with the nonfictional version of her evening with Deke, or the pace at which her fantasies are coming true… or not. Her fib-flaunting talk among the girls is not exactly a replacement for the “real thing”; like a Coca Cola without the carbonation.

She is about to add some hot fizz.

“I’m going to get out of this dress.” She helps herself to the bathroom and slips on an oversize, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault. It won’t be so hard to make it sound like Deke is trying to take advantage of her underage assets. So while he touts the deli tray, she dials her father’s voicemail and the speakerphone is set to “deceptive”.

“Can we sit on the couch and watch a movie, like an on-demand dusty like Les Miserables or Twilight; yeah Twilight and you can be my Edward.” She refers to the teen movie classic.

“I like Bella, sure we can do the vampire thing,” he pounds the remote keys with the skill of a video master. “Here we go. I cannot remember the last time I saw the original.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 195


page 233

Contents TRT

 

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.


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– A Star Wars Fix

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 132

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 132

…“Russia is like a bastard cousin; you have to invite them to family gatherings, but you serve them cheap beer instead of fine wine…

 

“I have fashioned a schematic for you to forward to the crew of the New Mayflower, if it’s not too late. They must construct a circuit in that vehicle with an anti-laser deflection field. I can be fairly positive that Sang-Ashi’s path may be on an intersecting course.”

“They have had a small shadow following them ever since they got a million miles past the moon. Do you have any idea what that could be? Does Sang-Ashi have a twin?” asks Roy Crippen.

“I know that the Russians were ready to launch their own probe, Uralsk I think it’s called, but I only know this because of a launch conflict with an astronaut exchange to the old International Space Station.” ISS is still in orbit, though its usefulness has long since been relegated to space lab experiments. “They claim that it is headed for Uranus, but if that was the case, they’ve missed their mark by 10 million miles, like they were aiming for the elliptical, but used parabolic calculations.

“Can they be that bad? They are truly like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

“They will claim to have had Mars in mind the whole time, who would know the difference. And I don’t think any harm can come from a country whose Soyuz continues to be the workhorse of the ISS, ever since the United States stopped the shuttle program. Regardless, my system must be implemented.”

Russia is like a bastard cousin; you have to invite them to family gatherings, but you serve them cheap beer instead of fine wine.” United States’ relations with the Great Sleeping Bear has been as chilly as the original Cold War, but has warmed since they put Putin in the ground in 2028.

“Okay Aldona, I will forward this plan to Rick Stanley, before they go into hyper-sleep.” Roy Crippen trusts this man’s insider instincts, even though the verdict is still officially out on the fate of SC1. “As for you, my friend, I am getting you an office at Lovell and your family will be set up here at Elgin—you are officially onSOL-logo the payroll, with an eye on placing you in the SOL Project.”

“Do you mean speed of light?”

“Can you dig it Mr. Afridi?” Roy is retro-hip.

“Working for NASA seemed like a foolish dream to me and now it has come true!”

“We can use your expertise and any tidbits about the Korean factor.” —


THE RETURN TRIP

Robert McCall, NASA Artist (1919-2010)

Episode 132


page 162

 

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TV and Movie Fact-Check – WIF Edu-tainment

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Fan Fact-check About

TV Shows and Movies

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Most films and TV shows take place within the confines of their own fictional universe, which differs from our own in varying ways. Even shows that do seemingly take place in our world, like Friends or The Office, are dramatically different to the reality we all know when you take the time to do the math. Not sure what we mean? Well, why not think about the fan calculations that show that…

 10. Rocky is Filled with Marathon-Running Superhumans

Within the Rocky cinematic universe, Rocky Balboa is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all-time. The films tell us Rocky is held in such high regard not for his finesse or skill (in fact that explicitly go out of their way each film to show that Rocky blocks haymakers with his chin), but because he’s made of granite and impossible to knock out.

In the film Rocky Balboa, in which Rocky makes a comeback at about 60 years old, the film makes it clear that his only advantage is his power and ability to take a hit over a much younger boxer. Which doesn’t make sense when you realize a fan worked out that for the now iconic montage sequence in Rocky II, where Rocky runs through Philadelphia, the supposedly made-of-cast-iron boxer sprints for over 30 miles. By analyzing the landmarks shown during the montage a fan worked out that Rocky punch-sprints his way through a marathon and a half, across uneven ground, and still possesses enough energy at the end to sprint up a giant flight of stairs.

This isn’t just unbelievable, it also means that not only is Rocky a world-class boxer with near unrivaled stamina and ability to take a blow, but one of the finest long distance runners to have ever lived… and it’s never mentioned in the movie. Meaning either Rocky had no idea being able to sprint 30 miles and then win a heavy-weight boxing match was a big deal, or more amusingly, that nobody in his universe think it’s impressive. The latter of which is more likely, because for the entire montage Rocky is followed nearly the entire way by a large crowd who run the exact same distance, meaning Rocky’s fictional Philadelphia is filled with random people who can sprint 30 miles like it’s no big deal.

9. The Walking Dead – 99.9998% of the World is Dead

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According to the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, the universe the characters inhabit, prior to being overrun with shambolic reanimated corpses, was identical to our own save for the fact it didn’t contain any zombie related media. This is why no character on the show ever uses the term “zombie” in any comic or episode.

This is important, because it’s one of the only real clues Kirkman has ever given about the world of TWD, leaving most everything else about it (including the source of the outbreak and even the date it occured) a mystery. This irked some fans, who decided to use what little information the comics and show reveal to work out exactly how many people the show’s zombie apocalypse killed.

One fan in particular, Matt Lieberman, scoured TWD media. Through searching the background of shots with calendars, and noting clothing styles and technology used by the characters, he discovered that the zombie outbreak likely occurred sometime in January 2012. By taking the global population from this time, and a quote from Kirkman saying zombies outnumbers humans “5000 to 1” when the outbreak went global, he was able to discern that only 1.4 million people survived the initial outbreak globally. When you take into account the fact 70% of the characters in TWD die during the series in a country filled with guns, Lieberman additionally calculated that if you extrapolate these figures globally, by the start of seventh season, only about 400,000 people are still alive. That’s roughly 0.0002% of the world’s population.

8. Chandler Bing is Obscenely Wealthy

chandler

There’s a running joke in Friends where nobody is quite sure what the character Chandler Bing does for a living. He clearly works an office job of some kind, and it obviously makes him quite a bit of money, seeing as how he lives in a big-ass New York apartment, pays for his extravagant wedding with his savings, and loans his friend Joey $120,000. Wait, what?

Throughout the series, Chandler lends his roommate Joey a lot of money as well as paying his share of the rent on their apartment for three years. This is clearly established and commented upon in several episodes. In one episode, Joey insists on paying this money back. Chandler works out the rough amount, writes it on a piece of paper and hands it Joey, who sees the figure and immediately backs down.

A Reddit user, curious about what this figure was, calculated the square footage on Chandler’s apartment for the average rent, along with the minimum cost of the other things he buys for Joey like professional headshots and elocution lessons. The minimum figure they come up with for this is $120,760. Remember, this is money Chandler basically gives away to a down-on-his-luck friend who never pays it back in just over three years. That’s approximately $40,000 per year the Chan Man gives away like it’s nothing, meaning he’s presumably earning at least 5 times that. Then again, it’s no wonder he doesn’t seem to mind, considering that another fan worked out that…

7. Every Character in Friends has a Ton of Sex

friends

The average number of sexual partners a person will have in their lifetime is a figure that’s difficult to pin down, with various sources claiming that the number can be anywhere between 4 and 8 for women and 7 and 11 for men. This said, most sources agree that around 10 is a safe estimate for most of the population over their lifetime. Every character in Friends blows this figure out of the water.

Between the group of six, a Reddit user (it’s always a Reddit user who calculates this stuff) figured that they have approximately 138 combined, different sexual partners. That’s more than 20 each, doubling the top end of the national average. While Joey and Phoebe make up the bulk of this data, accounting for 51 and 32 occasions of being joined at the hip, respectively, even Chandler – a character who is married for five seasons – still manages to have sex with 11 partners.

Ross, on the other hand, a total jerk who treats women like crap, manages to convince 14 women to do the horizontal hug with him. Just think about that for a second. In theFriends universe, Ross has convinced more people to have sex with him in four years than 90% of people reading this will in their entire life.

6. Harry Potter Couldn’t Afford a London Flat with his Vault Full of Gold

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Throughout the Harry Potter series, a rarely mentioned plot point is that the eponymous Harry has a giant vault filled to the brim with big gold coins. Despite having enough cheddar to fund endless magical cocaine and hooker parties, Potter never once decides to use the money to splurge and buy magical supplies that could help defeat wizard Hitler. This may have something to do with the fact that in reality, Harry barely has enough money to afford a crappy 1-bedroom flat.

 You see, although the Galleons in Harry Potter are described as being made of gold, according to JK Rowling they’re only worth about $7 each. A fan took this information, as well as a screenshot from the first film showing the vault (the films were all overseen by Rowling herself), to work out roughly how much money the boy wizard actually inherited from his parents. The answer? About a quarter of million pounds.

This sounds like a lot until you realize that in the UK, this amount of money would barely be enough for Harry to buy himself a half decent London flat. If you’re thinking “maybe the money is worth more in the wizarding world so he’s probably still considered fairly rich,” remember that in the books Harry notes that even if he emptied his entire vault, it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a Firebolt, which could be likened to the wizarding world equivalent of a fancy sports car.

So in other words, Harry, the savior of the wizard race, barely had enough money to buy himself a second hand Ferrari after killing wizard Hitler and watching the only living relative he liked die.

And hey, speaking of fictional net worth…

5. The Simpsons Live Better Than You

simpsons

For most of the show’s run, the Simpson family has been portrayed as an average lower-middle class American family. Numerous jokes are made in various episodes that the family is, if not poor, at the very least struggling financially most of the time, with Marge once claiming to feed the entire Simpson family on 12 dollars a week. Which is unusual, seeing as Homer earns a fairly decent wage and the house they live in is massive.

The average wage of a nuclear safety technician (Homer’s job for most episodes) is about $82,000, or about $30,000 more than the average American family earns. Which, among other things, explains how the family has basically trekked the entire globe during the series. However, the most ridiculous thing the Simpsons own is their house.

Again, the Simpson home is often shown as being in a state of poor repair, but even so, it’s almost big enough to be considered a mini-mansion. The house contains at least four bedrooms, several bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a rumpus room, a sitting room, a sauna, and enough lawn space to build an Olympic sized tennis court.

The house has variously estimated to be worth, $300,000, double that of the average American home with at least 3 times as much space.

4. Jim from The Office Wastes Most People’s Savings Being an Awful Colleague

While the American version of The Office has been praised by critics and fans for many reasons over the years, arguably one of the show’s most popular elements is the relationship between the characters Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) and Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson).

Most of the character’s interactions revolve around the various pranks played by Jim, which vary in the scope and complexity from simple pranks involving putting his stapler in some Jello, to learning morse code.

A Reddit user (we told you) decided to calculate just how much money Jim wasted basically being an ass to his co-worker and found that, at minimum, he invested $5,000 of his hard earned money playing pranks on a guy he claims not to like. This is 5 times more than most Americans have in their savings account, and Jim pissed it away on making one of his co-worker’s lives just a little bit more difficult for his own amusement. Which, when put that way, makes Jim seem like a bit of a tool.

3. Movies have Spent Billions Rescuing Matt Damon

This entry’s a little different from the other in that it takes into account information from different movies, all of which involve Matt Damon. Specifically, movies involving Matt Damon being rescued from some kind of danger or peril, such as Saving Private Ryan and The Martian.

According to a Quora user with either too much time on their hands or a huge Matt Damon man-crush, within the confines of the fictional universes of Damon’s movies, an estimated $900 billion has been spent rescuing his dumb ass. In our world, this equates to $729 million worth of movie budgets on the various films he’s appeared in that have been spent exclusively on rescuing him from some kind of danger.

2. Walter White Makes $5 Per Second

Exactly how much money Walter White makes while he’s breaking all that bad is never actually fully established in the show. Even the character admits that after a certain point, he simply stopped counting. Fans, however, have worked out from that episode with the giant money pile, and Walt’s own comments to other characters, that he earned about $80 million in two years.

An enterprising Reddit user (we really weren’t kidding) went right ahead and used that impressive figure to calculate how much Heisenberg earned per hour. The final figure they came up with was about $5,000 an hour, every hour, for two years straight. Or $5 per second.

But here’s the thing: seeing as for most of the show, White was basically doing regular shifts making his meth, it’s possible to work out how much more he earned than an average person. Assuming Walt was working the average amount for an American man, which is apparently 34 hours per week, Walt was earning about $23,000 an hour. Taking into account the average American wage ($24 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), Walter White earned 95,000% more than the average American per hour. Not a bad paycheck, all things considered.

1. Someone Figured Out the Main Character of Game of Thrones with Math

What sets Game of Thrones apart from other shows is that it doesn’t really have a main character, instead following the stories of multiple characters of seemingly equal importance who can be killed off at any point.

This didn’t sit well with a math nerd named Andrew J. Beveridge, who used a mathematical formula usually reserved for studying terrorist cells to map out every relationship in the entire series to determine who the most mathematically important character was. By carefully analyzing every interaction between characters in the books, Beveridge was able to accurately pin down which one was the most important to the overall progress of the plot by their connections to other characters, the result? It’s Tyrion, the wine-drinking (P)imp with a silver tongue.

Meaning yes, it has been proved with math that Peter Dinklage is awesome.


TV and Movie Fact-Check

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– WIF Edu-tainment

Air Force One Fun Facts

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Things You Probably

Didn’t Know About

Air Force One

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Air Force One, a.k.a. that enormous plane that carts the president around, is one of the most enduring symbols of American power. To this end, the planes carrying the Air Force One designation are filled to the brim with bleeding edge technology and a bunch of other cool stuff we’re going to talk about… well, right now. For example, did you know…

 10. There are Massive Rolls of Carpet for it Lying Around Somewhere

most of the things aboard Air Force One come fitted as standard, like bulletproof windows and, we presume, high-tech anti-ninja technology, the President and his spouse have some control over what the interior of the plane looks like so it better suits their tastes. Much like a fancy car, the President, or more specifically the First Lady, can choose the color of the interior of the plane. To this end, they can make it as pimp or spartan as they like.

This, coupled with the fact the plane is specially equipped with the ability to communicate via everything from morse code to email, and can fly thousands of feet higher than even most military planes, means it could theoretically stay aloft, beaming down freedom, forever. In reality the plane could probably only stay aloft for a few months before it needed to stop for food (in a pinch even this could be delivered in mid-air), which is probably a good thing considering…

9. It Can Fly Forever

In the event these systems all fail, Air Force One is built sturdy enough to weather an undisclosed number of direct missile hits and could probably smash into the ground at Mach 3 and still not kill anyone aboard. Not that you’d ever get anywhere near the plane, given that it can fly in the upper stratosphere and secretly call on supersonic jets to aid it over any allied country. Even if you managed to do enough damage to hurt the President, he’d probably be fine, because it can stay in the air forever.

8. Everybody Aboard is a Picky Eater

Like with everything else, no expense is spared when it comes to the kitchen aboard Air Force One and prior to a flight, secret service agents will painstakingly seek out and purchase the freshest, highest-quality ingredients one at a time from nearby stores to minimize the risk of the President being poisoned.

The gourmet chefs working aboard Air Force One are said to be able to cook virtually any foodstuff known, are trained in virtually all culinary disciplines, and have access to every kind of cooking implement possible (except a deep fat fryer, for safety reasons). This is an issue because the most popular foodstuff aboard is burger and fries. Yes, despite Air Force One being basically a flying 5-star restaurant, most people aboard, including the President, normally just order burgers and sandwiches.

While the food has gotten healthier, mostly thanks to the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama, it’s noted that journalists still mostly opt for sandwiches, coffee and soda, with the kitchen going as far as stocking peanut butter for especially picky eaters who don’t want to eat any of the fancier fare Air Force One’s chefs can cook up. While officially Air Force One does serve balanced meals, anecdotally most people just eat junk food, partly because everyone except the President is charged for their meal, with the exception of a free bag of M&M’s every person aboard is given after a flight.

Not that the President is immune from encountering food they don’t like. For example, George H.W. Bush is said to have literally ordered that brocoli be banned from Air Force One because he hated it that much, once stating: “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

7. They Destroy Everything that Doesn’t Work

As a symbol of the American presidency, most everything aboard Air Force One is fittingly adorned with either the presidential seal, the current sitting president’s initials, or both. On top of this, every item aboard is polished, cleaned and meticulously maintained to avoid the embarrassment of a foreign leader or diplomat being given a chipped mug to drink out of, or a journalist tweeting a picture of a dirty towel. You know, stuff that would make the President and, by extension, America look bad.

To deter thieves, extensive checks are carried out on everyone leaving Air Force One and you can be sure anyone selling an official Air Force One toilet roll holder on eBay would be soundly detained and questioned by the FBI. As an added measure, anytime anything stops working on Air Force One or becomes unacceptably damaged or dirty, it is quickly removed, pulverised into dust and then burnt. An extreme measure we’ll admit but one that ensures the air of mystique about the impossibly high-standards aboard Air Force One is maintained. Hey, speaking of that…

6. Every Member of the Staff Could Kick Your Ass

 Like any plane, Air Force One has flight attendants and other staff who perform basic custodial duties aboard the plane, like telling you where the emergency exit is and handing out little bags of peanuts. Unlike a regular plane, these staff members are all highly trained military personnel with spotless records, who are carefully screened and subsequently trained to handle nearly any conceivable emergency. As a result, every member of the crew aboard Air Force One is well versed in emergency survival techniques, weapons handling, and generally messing up your day.

In other words, every member of staff aboard Air Force One, from the pilot to the guy who cleans the toilet, could snap your neck with a rolled up newspaper or beat you to death with a shoe without breaking a sweat. Essentially, while flying through the air in his big plane, the President is surrounded by an entourage of highly capable killing machines who also just so happen to be able to make a mean margarita or whip up a steak on the presidential grill. As if this wasn’t enough, when he takes off he is also…

5. Being Watched by a Special Team of Snipers

The President is an important dude, and spends much of his time being flanked, shadowed and watched over by an elite team of bodyguards versed in 80 plus ways to obliterate a human testicle at 80 yards, with their eyebrows. Specifically, whenever the Commander-in-Chief is about to board Air Force One, though, he is also being protected by a special team of sharpshooters armed with 50 caliber sniper rifles. Why 50 caliber? So that in case someone tries to hijack the plane, they can shoot through the normally bulletproof windows and decorate the cockpit with the part of their brain that thought hijacking Air Force One was a good idea.

These snipers are amongst the best, if not the best the US has at its disposal, and are said to be able to hit a target the size of a dog’s butthole from a half mile away. Their identity is obviously a secret, and they’re additionally used to protect the President during speeches and possibly while he checks his mail. And while we’re on the subject of secrets…

4. Who Made the Toilet is a Big Secret

As noted, everything aboard Air Force One is (usually custom) made to the highest possible standard of quality, using the finest available materials. Now, you’d think any company making a product that was being used aboard freaking Air Force One would boast about that fact because, well, why they hell wouldn’t you? As it turns out though, no company involved with manufacturing anything involved with the plane is permitted to advertise that fact, mostly due to it being a possible security risk, and partly because it’s kind of tacky. This means that we have literally no idea who made the toilet, or indeed any item aboard Air Force One.

The government is such a stickler for this that it sent a very stern letter to the company that manufactured the oxygen masks aboard Air Force One after they advertised that fact in a magazine in 2001. This is a shame for the companies who do make the items aboard Air Force One, because along with being associated with the presidency, they would also get to advertise their products fly…

3. On a Nuclear Bomb-Proof Plane

Like the staff, Air Force One is prepared for virtually any possible emergency scenario and is equipped to deal with nearly any potential threat, from a rogue jet firing sidewinder missiles at it, to a nuclear explosion. Along with being immune to the effects of an EMP blast, such as one produced by an exploding nuclear warhead, Air Force One is shielded against conventional damage in the form of bulletproof plating and flares to deter heat seeking missiles.

 But here’s the best part: after the First Lady or President picks out a particular style of carpet or type of soft furnishing they want to decorate the plane with, some hapless sap from the Secret Service has to go get a special fire-retardant version specially made, because regular carpet is seldom thermite proof. Because everything aboard Air Force One has to be spotless, this carpet is replaced frequently, leading to a massive stockpile of it being kept in a secret location in case someone spills beer all over the floor or something.

 2. There’s a Special Fridge Full of Blood on Board

The full specs of Air Force One have never been disclosed but we do know that it has a fully stocked medical bay staffed by seasoned medical professionals. So prepared is this medical bay that it carries, at all times, an emergency supply of blood, drugs and vaccines for most known diseases, poisons and illnesses and is specially stabilized so that doctors aboard could give someone open heart surgery during an emergency take off. You know, if they really had to.

Even better, if they had to, all the potential assassin would see is a fiery ball of freedom ascending to the heavens because…

1. Air Force One is Polished to a Mirror Sheen

The extreme efforts the government goes to in maintaining Air Force One can be no better summed up than by the exterior of the plane itself, which is said to be polished to such an offensively bright mirror sheen, you can use it to make sure your hair is suitably on point.

 Though it’s likely few people reading this will ever get all that close to Air Force One, people who have are often shocked by just how perfectly clean and shiny the exterior of the craft is, with some noting that workers sometimes wear sunglasses while polishing, buffing and otherwise maintaining it. Are there more interesting facts about Air Force One? Probably, but we think the fact that the plane is maintained to such an extent it could potentially blind foreign leaders with sheer bling is a pretty strong note to end on.

Air Force One

Fun Facts