4 Star Wars Spin-off Ideas

Rogue One and Solo were the first and certainly not the last in a new type of Star Wars movies: anthologies. “A Star Wars Story,” the subtitle given to these films, is the new Legends or Expanded Universe. The books and games were more or less erased from the timeline with the sequel trilogy, but that only freed up space for new ones. With Disney is making separate stand-alone Star Wars movies, it’s hard not to imagine the possibilities. Movies that we knew all along would never happen have a chance again. These are just four that fans would like to see.

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4: Sith origins

The Sith are a mysterious culture: we don’t know where they come from, how they came to be, how long they’ve been around, or even who they are exactly. Without the EU explanations, there is almost no solid information about the origins of the Sith. A movie about them could be set in the Old Republic or earlier. It would be about how the Dark Side was discovered, and the first people to use it — the first Sith. This could happen simultaneously with the origins of the Jedi and the discovery of the Light Side.

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3: Wookiees and Kashyyyk

This one would be a bit of a challenge to make because of the language issues, but it could work if there is a human in the story that can translate Shyriiwook. It would reveal a lot of both Wookiee culture as well as the secrets of Kashyyyk, like whether Wookiees really live in trees and why are those trees so much better than any other species. It could mention and justify the Wookiee-Trandoshian conflict, as well as their distrust of the Empire.

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2: Republic Commando

No book series depicts the Mandalorian culture better or gives more insight into the genetically elite slave soldiers of the Republic than Karen Traviss’s Republic Commando series. It could take the plot directly from the series, but with the sheer length of them, it might be wiser to make it a TV show. Either way, seeing it as a movie would be almost as good as a real Mandalorian spin-off. Which brings us to…

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1: True Mandalorians

We’ve seen bounty hunters, extreme mercenaries, thugs for hire, various classes of outcasts who value cash over culture, and even rebel soldiers, but where are the true Mandalorians? Boba and Jango were disappointing, and the Death Watch are hardly true Mandalorians. It’s about time to get a movie from a time when the Mando culture is united under a Mandalore and not oppressed by a galactic government and spread thin under its rule. The movie could be set in the Old Republic, at a time when the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire coexist, and the Mandalorians are trapped with mixed loyalties in the center of a war between the two superpowers.

7 Popular Attractions that Aren’t Worth the Hype, and Better Alternatives

The world is full of amazing places to discover. Many are in plain sight: no doubt Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Denali are great to visit. There are also countless hidden getaways waiting to be found and explored. But there are also places that might be famous, but really don’t deserve a place on your bucket list. Regarding the latter type of places, if you’ve been everywhere you’ve ever wanted to go and have no better ideas, knock yourself out. But if that’s not the case, don’t bother.

Not Worth It: Mount Rushmore.

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This iconic monument might sound like a must-see, but in reality it’s anything but inspiring. First off, it’s way farther away than you would expect; there’s no good way to get closer than the observation deck picture shows. It’s really small, too, compared to what seeing it online can lead you to believe. It’s also crowded by the hundreds of tourists waiting to take selfies from the front row. Historical significance aside, it’s just some faces in a big boring rock.

Solution: Badlands National Park.

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Only a 90-minute drive from Rushmore is this striking and rugged park that, despite its unappealing name, is certainly worth a drive through. It’s layered and colorful exposed rock and unusual rock formations make it unique among other places in the area. In addition to the scenery, Badlands is home to black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, jackrabbits, bighorn sheep, and bison, which can be seen frequently to highlight the drive.

Not Worth It: The Great Wall of China.

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The Great Wall is an architectural wonder of the ancient world, stretching over 13,000 miles across western Asia. However, you might be disappointed to find that you won’t see much of it due to…the panic-inducing monstrosity you see in the picture. No, it’s not a fake; that’s actually what it’s like in peak season. Tourists are only allowed on a relatively short section of the wall, so there isn’t really anywhere to escape the stampede either.

Solution: The Altai Mountains, Mongolia

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This extensive mountain range is found on the border of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. From trekking to climbing to skiing, the area has endless possibilities–and much fewer people. Temperatures in the winter can get a little extreme, but that doesn’t deter everyone. In the spring, there is a lot dense of vegetation, like wildflowers, which make the landscape even more interesting, but in the fall there is much less water and the gorges are more accessible. It’s a huge place so everyone will find something to do.

Not Worth It: The Empire State Building.

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The Empire State Building is one of the most famous landmarks in the US and one of the most well-known skyscrapers in the world, and no wallpaper of downtown Manhatten is complete without it. That’s exactly why you should not waste your money on it: you will notice any photos you manage to take through the dirty glass and chainlink and over the shoulders of all the other impatient and disappointed tourists will be missing something important — that would be because you are standing right on top of it.

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Solution: Top of the Rock. Getting to the top of this skyscraper is no less expensive, but typically less crowded and overall a more rewarding experience. The sweeping views of midtown Manhatten are infinitely better, and the Empire State Building will actually be in your pictures (or Central Park, which there is also a much better view of), which is another big plus.

Not Worth It: The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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The picture is all you need to talk yourself out of this one. The tower itself isn’t a big deal — many of the buildings around it are actually much more impressive. You won’t get a clear view of it either anytime soon due to hundreds of other people trying to get the cliched “holding up/knocking over the tower” picture. So if you want one of those pics, you’re better off using photoshop.

Solution: Rome

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Only a four-hour drive from Pisa is the ancient city of Rome, with its renown ancient architecture and rich history. While you’re there, step back a couple of millennia and check out the Pantheon, the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, and whatever else you can find. Just steer clear of the Trevi Fountain–it’s a little crowded over there (see the Piazza Navona instead).

Not Worth It: Stonehenge.

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Stonehenge is an outstanding ancient work, the purpose of which we are at loss to understand. The complex patterns it forms with the sun and stars, as well as the amount of coordinated effort that went into building it is sure to light up your imagination. But as fascinating as it is, don’t waste your money and time on it. As you can see, you are unlikely to be alone for your trip. And if the crowds don’t faze you, consider what you get out of it: sure, it’s a cool place, but there isn’t much to do besides stare straight ahead and think, which you might as well be doing from wherever you are now.

Solution: Callanish Stones.

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Stonehenge is not the only ancient monolith in the world. This one, found in Scotland, is just as incredible and a lot more peaceful. Sure, you can get away from the crowds, but you can also you can get up close to these, unlike Stonehenge.

Not Worth It: Times Square.

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Tourists travel here from all over the world. It’s the heart of New York City, after all. It’s also loud, crowded, dirty, and unbelievably expensive. What you see in pictures is colorful billboards and skyscrapers, but what you see in person is more like the dirty sidewalk, shops where a sandwich costs more than your retirement, and an endless sea of loud, angry, impatient people who want to either take a selfie, pick your pockets literally or figuratively, or get the hell out of there.

Solution: Central Park.

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Central Park is one of the three most popular attractions in NYC–the others being the Empire State Building and Times Square. That means it gets a lot of visitors, but it’s a little different from the other two in that, instead of one cramped square or an even more cramped observation deck, it encompasses over 1.3 square miles. It’s huge, given the size and density of the surrounding city–it’s big enough to get lost in, and it would take years to explore everything. Yes, there are areas you should avoid at night, but it’s still a much better place than the city.

Not Worth It: The Great Pyramids.

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The Great Pyramids of Cairo, Egypt are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It’s incredible to think of how much work went into arranging those multi-ton boulders without only human hands in one pharaoh’s lifetime. However, once again it’s best to think from a distance. To begin, you won’t be allowed inside the pyramids, so forget exploring them (legally, anyway). The pyramids are also smaller than you probably expected; still huge but not THAT big. And you won’t enjoy the crowds either: tourists can be annoying, but so are all the locals desperately trying to sell you their things.

Solution: Aswan.

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This peaceful Egyptian city is found only a day’s drive from Giza and Cairo, and it’s a lot more enjoyable than the latter. The city is home to many attractions, from cruises on the Nile to exquisite ancient temples to camel trips in the dunes. While you’re there, you might want to check out the nearby Abu Simbel temple, and the White Desert, with its standing chalk formations.

10 Easy but Popular Songs for Guitar

Starting out on guitar, it can be hard to find a great song that’s easy enough to play right away. A lot of famous songs are virtually impossible to play even for experienced players — take a look at the tab for Paradise City, Stairway to Heaven, or One and you’ll see what I mean. But when you look closer, there are quite a few really easy songs that are also famous and successful. These are some of the best, in no particular order.

The White Stripes — Seven Nation Army:

Jack White’s classic rock hit is one of the easiest rock songs ever written, but it’s also popular. The riff can be played on a single string, and the solo is almost the same. It really only takes one riff to learn the whole song, as the others are just variations on it, but you can do a lot more with it; the possibilities for variations in notes, tones, and styles are unlimited.

Nirvana — Smells Like Teen Spirit:

This is a surprisingly mainstream song for its genre, and really easy to cover for every instrument, which makes it an extremely common song for new bands to cover. Like Seven Nation Army, it’s a song every guitarist should know. The timing gets a little tricky when the main riff repeats in the chorus, but there isn’t much else that’s hard about it; even the solo is simple.

Green Day — Boulevard of Broken Dreams:

Arguably Green Day’s most famous song, Broken Dreams was a punk rock classic right from the start. It’s one of their most famous songs since their early hits like Longview and Welcome to Paradise. It’s easily and instantly recognizable, and like many other bands’ most successful songs, surprisingly easy.

Rage Against the Machine — Killing in the Name:

RATM can be hard to classify as any particular genre, but they do what they do well. This song is easily their most famous, and while it might not be the most popular rock song the world has seen, it’s pretty widely known. It has several riffs that have some slightly complex rhythms, so it might be more difficult than some other songs on this list, but it’s still obtainable.

Black Sabbath — Paranoid:

This heavy metal classic is as old as it is classic, but that’s partially why it’s so famous. It’s easy to play for every instrument, including vocals, so it’s a common song for bands that are just starting up to cover. It can be played in a variety of different styles, from punk to thrash, and the key can be easily changed as well to the vocalist’s preference.

AC/DC — Back in Black:

AC/DC released their first album with their new singer Brian Johnson with some understandable doubt; not many bands survive switching vocalists so late in their career. But it paid off, and Back in Black is their most successful song to date, and one of their most well known. Like so many other bands, their most famous song is also the easiest to play, and while the solos get a little tight, there isn’t much else to the song.

Green Day — American Idiot:

This punk rock hit has some fast power chord transitions, but other than that it’s pretty simple and very catchy. It’s also a very typical Green Day song, so if you know it, you can learn many other Green Day songs without too many new techniques.

Black Sabbath — Iron Man:

The instantly recognizable riff will get every audience’s attention, and although it is cheesy, it’s catchy enough to make up for that. It’s all easy until the solos, but even though they are fast both are pretty easy to learn. It offers quite a few interesting riffs besides the main one, so it’s pretty interesting to learn too. And if you do end up learning the solo, it’s not a bad one to start on.

Marylin Manson — The Beautiful People:

Twiggy Ramirez’s instantly recognizable riff and Manson’s catchy vocal styles paired with their usual radical, extreme, and gory violent lyrics made an instant metal classic when Antichrist Superstar was released in 1996. The song is extremely simple and doesn’t have a solo, but it gets you right in the middle of the 90s metal scene with only a few simple riffs.

Pantera — Walk:

You know the riff. Why not play it? This is another metal classic, this one with some harsher distortion and vocals, though it’s not quite extreme metal. Don’t let the weird tuning scare you off; it can be played just fine in E standard. The actual tuning lowers every string by one and a quarter notes, in a very strange setup that can only be described as C#.25. The solo is fairly difficult, as any of Dimebag’s solos are, but other than that section, it’s a simple classic that takes almost no experience to play.

These are not even close to the only ones; there are lots of others. These are just ideas. If you want more, check out Crazy Train, Come as You Are, almost any old school Green Day song, or nearly every Black Sabbath or Ozzy tune you can find. If you want a challenge that’s still fairly obtainable, try Seek and Destroy or Ace of Spades. In either case, use Songsterr, it’s easily the best free platform out there for tabs you can play along to real-time. Hope that helped you find something you like!

The 5 Bands That Shaped Early Metal

Some genres seem to appear out of nowhere, but others can be traced to very specific roots, artists and dates. The latter type predictably causes some controversy as to what is actually a new genre, and what is just a fancy twist on the old one. Metal is one of these; it comes directly from hard rock and rock n roll, but it’s exact beginnings are a little fuzzy. It’s come such a long way since then though that it is hardly recognizable as one genre anymore; modern ‘core is hardly comparable to the 70s glam swagger that started it all. But when it comes to finding the very first metal bands, there are a few that come to mind.

Obviously, there are much more; these are just the most influential. Metal would not have been possible without dozens of other bands in the 60s and 70s, but these are the bands that kickstarted the genre and made the rest possible.

Van Halen:

VH is credited with inventing glam metal, understandably. However, their influence didn’t stop there. Eddie’s brilliant solos invented and/or revolutionized many styles used extensively in later metal subgenres, such as two-handed tapping, whammy dives, pinch harmonics, pinch harmonics combined with whammy dives…you get the idea.

Led Zeppelin:

Led Zep is not exactly a metal band. Their most well-known song, Stairway to Heaven, may be a lot of things but it is hardly metal, and their bluesy hard rock sound was not at all unusual at the time. However, as the 70s progressed, their sound only grew heavier, eventually heavy enough to inspire future metal bands and possibly to be considered metal themselves. The definition of metal music has changed over the decades, but in the mid-70s, Led Zep fit the picture.

Deep Purple:

British prog/psychedelic hard rock outfit Deep Purple seemed like an unlikely band to kick off a genre like heavy metal, but here they are. Their sound may have been bluesy or psychedelic at times, but at the end of the day it was heavy as well, and at the time that stood out. Their unusually heavy guitars are what earned them their place by Led Zep and Black Sabbath in what is now known as the “unholy trinity” of British proto-metal.

Motorhead:

You probably weren’t expecting to find Motorhead on this list. They called themselves rock n roll, and for a while that worked out. They lived the rockstar life like no one else–leather, whiskey, and amps cranked to 11. They never cared what the world thought; they just played their music regardless of what people called it. But given their sound from the very beginning, it was no surprise that people started calling them metal as soon as the word had a meaning in music, and while their sound remained relatively stable, the labels changed from hard rock to heavy metal to early thrash metal. While the accuracy of those labels is debatable, Motorhead remains one of the most underrated and overlooked bands to influence the beginnings of metal to this day.

Black Sabbath:

Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. Sabbath is the first band to be considered actual metal, and their influence is beyond measure. The song “Black Sabbath” is credited with inventing all of metal and while one song couldn’t possibly start such a diverse genre singlehandedly, it’s album, ironically also called Black Sabbath, was the first album to be considered legitimate metal. Some of their other songs, such as Iron Man, Paranoid, War Pigs, and Children of the Grave, together were where it all began, followed up by Crazy Train and other songs by Ozzy and his new guitarist Randy Rhoads. The band’s influence on the future of metal is unmatched by all of the others combined.

8 Ways the World Could End

In a world with billions of different species fighting for survival and superiority, it is natural that one will rise above the rest. But no society can last forever. Just like an individual, a species must die out sooner or later. Normally, one species replaces another, but this time it could be different. This time, humans could be the architects of their own destruction.

Naturally, it is possible that humans will outlive the earth. By the time the earth is uninhabitable, humanity could be spread over multiple planets or even multiple solar systems. But in the event that humanity does come to an end, these are some of the most interesting ways it could go.

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8: Solar flare. Solar flares disrupt the magnetic Earth’s magnetic field when they touch it. Effects of this radiation are increased radio static, high inaccuracy in radio transmissions, and disruption of electrical circuits. One power grid or a few sensitive pieces of technology are not a huge concern, but a big flare could knock out power in the entire world. In the future, when just about everything is dependent on electricity, a global outage could result in serious problems.

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7: Failed experiment. Most of the ways we expect the world to end are natural, external factors, but humans are very capable of getting it done themselves. For this one, particle accelerators are the most likely cause, but there are others. Of course, a synthetic black hole or singularity could be the cause. These are not easy to create, but even more difficult to control, and a man-made black hole would swallow the earth in seconds. Of course other types of experiments could also spell disaster for the human race, such as artificial diseases or nuclear weapon testing.

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6: Aliens. It is unlikely that when aliens contact Earth, their first idea will be to conquer it like they do in movies. However, there are some very real threats associated with extraterrestrial contact. One risk is that the bacteria or similar organisms that could be unintentionally transmitted to Earth might be so much stronger than bacteria we know that our organisms will be wiped out completely. But the most sinister threat may be the aliens themselves. There is a good chance that the aliens that make it to Earth will be so much more advanced than us that they view us as we would view single-celled organisms on Mars. They would experiment and take samples, and the damage to our society could be catastrophic.

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5: Mass insanity. Advancements in all fields of science have led to significantly longer, safer, more comfortable, and less exciting lives. In the future, when robots have taken people’s jobs and humans have no work to do, the human existence could be so dull and artificial that boredom will be a serious psychological concern. Thousand-year lifespans, or even non-physical existence, could have serious mental consequences. Eventually, boredom will lead to insanity, and that just can’t end well.

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4: Artificial intelligence. Many sci-fi books and movies develop the idea of robots that break free of their programming and go on to attempt to take over the world. While it is unlikely to happen that suddenly, sooner or later it will become a problem. There are already robots that have developed their own indecipherable language that not even the people who built them understand. Robots have better senses, thinking speed, and reaction time than humans, and without the burden of emotions, they are able to make much better decisions. It is only a matter of time until an AI figures out that the world is better off with robot leaders than humans ones.

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3: Nuclear war. This is fairly self-explanatory. In the event of another world war, which might not be as far away as people want to think, new technologies would make it much faster and deadlier than any other war in human history. Perhaps the deadliest weapon used would be the atomic bomb, which can out an entire city instantly and make much of the surrounding area uninhabitable for decades. The technology has improved drastically since WWII. There are already existing bombs that are over 6,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima blast, and the total amount of nuclear weapons in existence could destroy the earth dozens of times.

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2: Biological warfare. Antibiotic-resistant diseases are here, and that’s bad news in itself. Some countries are already manufacturing artificial diseases, and if they are used, the entire human population can be wiped out in days. A resistant disease with no cure manufactured to spread fast and kill instantly could spread to all continents via air travel. In fact, given the high rodent population in most big cities, an antibiotic-resistant form of the bubonic plague is not impossible. If there is no way to make a cure, there might not be anything to do but sit back and watch history repeat itself.

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1: Global warming. It is a natural cycle, but this one is different. Humans create 114 billion (114,000,000,000) kilograms of greenhouse gases every day, which drastically increases global temperature. Even if it is stopped, the results will be catastrophic. But the truth is no matter how long we postpone it, it’s unavoidable. There has to be a storm after a calm. The only reason humans are still alive is that the Earth’s climate has remained unchanged for the previous 20,000 years, but the “heat age” is long overdue and the climate will give way eventually, and the eruption will be more sudden the more we postpone it. Even if no other apocalypse occurs, it’s only a matter of time before the Earth will be uninhabitable. We can only hope Mars will be ready to be colonized by then.

Alaska Travel Guide

Alaskans joke that if Texans won’t quit saying they’re the biggest state, they’ll split Alaska in two and make the cowboys third biggest. While a lot of Alaska is frozen solid year-round, it’s still a big state to explore. Because of its size, it’s not easy choosing which part to visit. It’s way too big to road-trip in a week or two so sacrifices will have to be made.

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Regardless of which part you decide to see, there are a wide variety of reasons to go. Wildlife is one of the most obvious reasons people want to see the state. Alaska is home to many types of wildlife, including deer, elk, reindeer, moose, musk oxen, wood bison, red and gray foxes, marmots, porcupines, beavers, coyotes, wolverines, lynx, black bears, grizzlies, polar bears, and tundra wolves. Birds include puffins, osprey, bald eagles, and ten different owl species. Sealife includes harbor seals, dolphins, belugas, orcas, and humpback whales.

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Denali is a good area to see almost any type of Alaskan wildlife. In salmon season (May through September), you can find car-accessible bear-watching spots in Hidden Creek. For a less wild experience, see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can see much of Alaska’s elusive wildlife in huge but safe habitats. While you’re at it, check out the Alaska Sealife Center too.

If you’re interested in cruises off the coast, Glacier Bay and the Hubbard Glacier are some of the best. However, sealife and glacier tours are offered off the coast of many small towns and parks as well, so if you’re near the coast, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one.

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There is no one perfect place to stay to see everything you want to see, so you could consider staying in several places for a few days at a time. But if that’s off your budget, here are some of the most popular places:

  • Anchorage is a popular place to stay due to it being a big city, but being surrounded almost entirely by wilderness.
  • Seward, a few hours’ drive south from Anchorage, is close to many popular destinations, most notably Kenai Fjords. It’s also a hotspot for boat tours off the cost.
  • Juneau, down in the “panhandle,” is a completely separate part of the state, which is worth a whole separate trip.
  • Fairbanks, up north, is also a good place to stay if you don’t mind the snow and cold. It’s close to Denali, which draws in the most visitors, and it’s a good place for dog sledding. If you want to see the Northern Lights, Fairbanks is the way to go.

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When it comes down to individual locations, it’s not an easy choice. There are way too many to choose from. However, since it’s unlikely you’ll get a chance to see them all, here are some of the most popular, most interesting, and most scenic, and best rated places in the state:

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#11: Mendenhall Glacier. This one is located only a few miles from Juneau, which makes it one of the most popular glaciers in Alaska. It’s also one of the most easily accessible, since trails from the visitor center go right down to it.

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#10: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. In this park and the small town near it, you will find museums dedicated to the history of Klondike, gold rush-era log cabins, and the largest gold nugget ever found.

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#9: Hubbard Glacier. The Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America, and one of the fastest. Because of it’s (relatively) fast movement, it’s common for large chunks of ice to break off into the ocean, which is why boats can rarely get closer than a half-mile from the face.

#8: Sitka National Historical Park. While it’s known chiefly for its totem poles, there is a lot more to discover. It’s located on the site of a battle between the Russians and the Tlingits in 1804, and as a result, the park has an odd combination of Tlingit and Russian culture. But along with the artifacts and buildings, there is also a lush rainforest and a scenic coastline that make Sitka a good park for hiking and camping.

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#7: Fairbanks. The town of Fairbanks in central Alaska is popular mostly because of how common it is to see the northern lights. It’s also a good place for dogsledding. However, know that temperatures go well below freezing day and night, and the snow can be heavy enough to keep people stranded at home.

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#6: Seward. It’s proximity that makes this town a must-see. In addition to the town itself, it’s close to Kenai Fjords, Resurrection Bay, the Alaska Sealife Center, and many more popular destinations.

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#5: Alaska Highway. The Alaska Highway a scenic route that runs all the way from British Columbia to Fairbanks. It’s a good route to take if you intend to drive to Alaska, and the views are worth seeing. The towns along the road offer places to stay, and there are plenty of attractions along the way.

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#4: Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve. Glacier Bay is known for its whale-watching tours, but it’s also a good kayaking/camping spot, with over 700 miles of shoreline to explore. Sealife is the main attraction, which is plentiful and includes harbor seals and humpback whales. Tour boats and cruise ships are the easiest way to enter, since there is only one road.

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#3: Tracy Arm Fjord. This is bigger and better version of the Mendenhall Glacier. The waterway is often no wider than a half mile, but the 3000-foot cliffs, glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife, make it a spectacular natural wonder that’s a can’t-miss if you’re in the Juneau area.

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#2: Kenai Fjords National Park. This park is located just a few miles from Seward, or a two-hour drive from Anchorage. Hiking, whale-watching, climbing, and visiting active glaciers are just a few of the activities found there. The Exit Glacier is one of the major attractions.

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# 1: Denali National Park. Denali is simply a can’t-miss. It’s a big place, like everything in Alaska, so even within the park you will have to choose what to see and what to miss. In the spring, you will find endless fields of wildflowers in the pristine, untouched wilderness. Moose, elk, bison, reindeer, lynx, bears, and tundra wolves are no stranger to the park, though some of the above mentioned are elusive and hard to spot.

14 Metal Subgenres

Metalheads are a highly misunderstood group of people, mostly because very few people know as much about heavy metal as they think they do. For this reason, metal as a genre is not only unknown to most people, but villainized as well. The truth as metalheads see it is that it’s not just noise. It’s not always satanic and it doesn’t always involve sheep heads and blood. And it’s not any less sophisticated than pop or any other genre. Sadly, the average mainstream listener will probably assume all those things. So I’ll clear them up.

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Classic Metal:

Metal dates back to the early 70s, when Black Sabbath’s self-titled album launched a new genre unlike anything the world had seen before. Along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, they shaped classic metal out of classic hard rock, psychedelic rock, and hardcore punk, paving the way for the heavier subgenres to follow.

Hair metal (aka glam metal):

This light(ish) subgenre came from heavy hard rock more than it did from classic rock/hard rock rather than classic metal. It took pop-oriented melodies, and bashed them with distortion and aggressive keyboard leads. Bon Jovi, Ratt, Motley Crue, and Guns ‘n’ Roses were some of the most popular in the 80s, but the subgenre is close to extinct now.

Heavy Metal:

The term “heavy metal” is often used to refer to all metal in general, but the more specific subgenre is not as heavy as the name suggests. Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were the most notable bands, laying down the foundations for future subgenres of metal. Since it is often confused with metal as a whole, the term is not used and the subgenre goes by different names.

Progressive metal:

Note: video sounds best with stereo headphones. Progressive metal, or prog metal, was shaped from progressive rock and psychedelic rock, which were some of the more experimental genres of the 80s. It incorporated traditional metal sounds into keyboard-oriented arpeggios, unusual scales, and frequently changing, complex time signatures. Queensryche and Dream Theatre were some of the most successful prog metal bands, but some more influential bands, such as Metallica, had some prog metal songs even though it’s not their main genre.

Doom metal:

Doom had some of the original classic metal influences, but was characterized by slow beats and a thick, dissonant sound that can only be described as doom and gloom. Candlemass, Black Sabbath, and Lost Paradise are the most popular bands in doom. The most iconic doom metal hit of all time is easily Black Sabbath (by Black Sabbath, in the album Black Sabbath).

Thrash metal (aka speed metal):

And this is where it starts getting heavy. Bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth were on the frontlines shaping a whole new type of metal–one that can actually be considered heavy. Thrash is a fast, aggressive, ambitious genre with harsh distortion on the guitars and dark, brutal lyrics, but clean vocals, unlike death metal. Thrashcore (aka speedcore) is very similar to traditional thrash, just more dependent on the fast drums.  Metallica was one of the most influential thrash band in the beginning, and Master of Puppets was and is still a classic.

Groove metal:

Bands like Pantera, Lamb of God, Machine Head added back some of the classic metal-like melodic groove into thrash, while still keeping it heavy. Some say it is an unnecessary style that metal could have done without. But Pantera undeniably shaped heavy metal as much as the next band, groove or not.

Metalcore:

If you like hoarse, tortured vocal screeching over drop A# guitars and sixteenth beat double kick drums, this one’s for you. Suicide Silence, Motionless in White, and Killswitch Engage reinvented “heavy” music with their scream/yell-singing.  Unlike some other lighter genres, metalcore (formally hardcore heavy metal) retained it’s popularity well into the new millennium, leaving classic metal in the dust.

Death Metal (and brutal death):

Rather than screaming, true death metal not only incorporates but relies almost exclusively on equally hoarse but much deeper guttural growls for vocals. While it’s not always as heavy on the distortion as other genres, the brutal and distorted lyrics are what sets death metal apart from all the rest. Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel are the most well-known bands, and while there are many more, Cannibal Corpse was easily the most influential in the development and longevity of death metal.

Melodic Death Metal (aka melodeath):

Another type of death metal, melodic death, was developed to counter the already-established death metal bands that focused on distortion and weight rather than the actual music. It was essentially the groove metal for death metal, and as such some people didn’t like it or considered it unnecessary. However, unlike groove metal, melodeath is still around well into the new millennium. Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquility, Carcass, and The Black Dahlia Murder are some of the most popular and influential bands.

Deathcore:

Basically a combination of death metal and metalcore, hardcore death metal is one of the most extreme heavy metal subgenres. It’s combination of screaming, screeching, and growling above over-the-top distortion on guitars and superhumanly fast kick beats result in what can only be described as the heaviest sound known to music. Grindcore, which is sometimes considered the same genre, is a faster and even more energetic type of deathcore.

Black metal:

This is how music meets satanism. Black metal is about as heavy as it gets in terms of sound, but it’s known mostly for the live shows, which are responsible for much of what people associate metal in general with: blood, barbed wire, decapitated farm animals, crucified corpses, radical satanism, way too much fire, and raw noise without musicality. Bands have been blamed for animal abuse, gruesome murder, church burnings, and even abduction of mental patients straight from asylums. Unblack metal a similar sound but with lyrics that show religion in a better light, but classic, satanist black metal like Gorgoroth, Behemoth, and Opeth remained far more popular.

Alternative metal:

In the 2000s, when hard rock was essentially dead and metal was quickly losing popularity, an altogether new genre emerged out of alt rock and thrash/heavy metal: alt metal. Heavy metal fans had their doubts and opinions, but since it was completely new and fairly successful, it was no use complaining: it’s what metal had become, and there is no going back. System of a Down, Godsmack, Disturbed, and Breaking Benjamin are some of the most popular bands rooted in alt metal.

Nu metal:

A relatively new subgenre that was invented in the late 90s and was most popular in the 2000s after the death of rock n roll. It completely revamped the metal genre into something completely different, yet with consideration of the old styles. Slipknot, Korn, and Disturbed are some of the most influential.

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There are more, of course. There are crossover genres like rap metal, electro-metal/techno metal, and trance metal. Some subgenres are so unpopular that they are often overlooked, like sludge metal, stoner metal, avant-garde metal, neo-classical metal, Viking metal, and death ‘n’ roll. There are some that overlap almost perfectly with other genres, like power metal, drone metal, and industrial metal. Some are too indistinct or unrecognized to be considered an actual genre, like djent metal. Some are considered to be more specific than subgenres, like unblack metal.

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10 Cryptids You Should Know About

Cryptids have always fascinated conspiracists not only because of their elusiveness but because they appear so often in lore from almost every culture there is. Cryptids are by definition any creature that has been reported to exist but there is not enough proof for its existence to be scientifically accepted. Some are ridiculously unlikely, but others have some reasonably believable evidence. These are ten that the casual conspiracist might not know about, but definitely should, in no particular order.

I’m skipping Bigfoot because I already wrote about him. Here’s everything you need to know about him, an interesting theory on his ancestry, and all his relatives.

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The Loch Ness Monster (and its relatives). You’ve probably heard of this one: a large, mysterious water monster that resides in Loch Ness of the Scottish Highlands and other large lakes. Nessie and Champ are its two most common aliases, but it’s been called many things. The species is described as either a long, thick snake with a large head, or a fat soft-shelled turtle with a long neck and a protrusion on its back. Its most likely explanation is an overgrown eel, but some people claim that Nessie is not one creature but a breed of ancient dinosaurs that survived the prehistoric apocalypse that killed the other dinosaurs by waiting it out in the depths.

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Slenderman. This friendly guy is actually invisible to everyone except young children, unless he is on camera. Most people agree that there is only one Slenderman, but he appeared in cave paintings and lore in several countries and continents (Brazil, Egypt, Germany, etc). He is often seen in suburbs and forests, following children. Little is know about his behavior because of his invisibility, but legend says he grows tentacles from his back if needed and communicates with his human servants telepathically. His motives are unknown, but what we do know is that he kills any children he catches. He has also been blamed for several murders, most of them kids killing other kids in his name.

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Mothman. This is not a Marvel superhero, although it would make a good one, but a mysterious humanoid cryptid residing in West Virginia. Unlike many other cryptids, this one saves people rather than murdering them. There are several accounts of a large, owl-like creature scaring people away from an area before a disaster. The most famous one was the incident of I-35W bridge collapse, where Mothman appeared months before and reportedly attempted to scare people off the bridge more and more often until it collapsed. However, there are even reports of him haunting the sites of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and 9/11 weeks before the disasters.

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Chupacabra, also known as Goatsucker. These critters are known to feed on livestock by sucking their blood. For goats and sheep, they tend to inflict snake-like punctures on the neck or chest, through which they suck out the blood, but they are known to resort to mutilating larger prey and drain them limb by limb. The scientifically accepted explanation is a coyote-dog hybrid with mange, but some eyewitnesses describe a reptilian creature with green scales quills protruding from its back.

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Maryland Goatman. A legend of an ax-wielding seven-foot tall half-man half-goat hybrid that runs around the countryside scaring people out of their minds might sound far-fetched, but some Maryland residents are convinced of its reality. The backstory is that an agricultural experiment concerning goats went wrong, and the result was this hybrid, which grabbed an ax ran for the woods. It is most often seen on the side of the road waiting for teens, who it seems to enjoy scaring particularly. However, no murders are associated with it yet.

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Hellhounds. There are many legends of sinister black dogs as omens of death from just about everywhere in the world. Arguably the most well known is Black Shuck from Britain, but there are other famous devil dogs in folk culture as well, from the Vikings to Native Americans. Some are considered omens of death, and others as servants of the devil. Hellhounds are difficult to search for since they can be confused for any big black dog, and because they are supernatural entities so they can appear and disappear to individual people, rendering them impossible to find if they don’t want to be found.

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Dover Demon. The general public appears to be undecided as to whether this freak is an alien or something else. It is known to take the form of a small humanoid with a massive misshapen head. It doesn’t seem to have any violent intentions, but it’s still a disturbing creature. The likeliest explanation people have come up with so far is that it’s an orphaned baby moose, and even that is contradicted by the fact that someone mistook it for a deformed child and chased it until he realized it was an alien, which indicates that it is bipedal.

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Spring-Heeled Jack. Sightings of this guy date back to Victorian England and are almost certainly related to Jack the Ripper. The only clear difference between the cryptid and the killer is that Spring-Heeled Jack is a supernatural being, thought by some to be a devil. Jack is a shapeshifting humanoid often seen flying through the sky, characterized by his hat, cloak, and long, claw-like nails. He is known to laugh and shriek loudly before jumping off buildings and walls and flying away. He has been blamed for several real crimes, including murder, but much like Jack the Ripper, he was never identified as a single person.

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Mongolian Death Worm. Olgoi-Khorkhoi, the official name of the creature, loosely translates to “large intestinal worm,” but contrary to the name they live in the Gobi Desert, not people’s guts. These creatures measure up to seven feet long and a foot wide. They have been observed to kill a human by touch alone, but its main weapon is corrosive projectile saliva. The sheer number of sightings over the past few thousand years and hundreds of attributed deaths alone give credibility to the myth, although no fossil evidence has been found.

Iceland Travel Guide

Iceland is full of many different types of scenery. Despite being a relatively small country, a one or two-week visit will hardly scratch the surface of the scenery to be found.

If you’re looking for waterfalls, take a look at Gulfoss, Dettifoss, Seljalandsfoss, Goðafoss, Hraunfossar, and Glymur. Check out Eyjafjallajökull, Keilir, Hekla, Landmannalaugar, Hvannadalshnúkur, and Kirkjufell if climbing mountains are closer to your style. If geothermal lakes interest you more, check out the Blue Lagoon, Lake Myvatn, Viti, Grjótagjá, and lakes in Landmannalaugar.

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The Golden Circle route (which can be driven around, but tours are offered too) is one of the most popular areas to visit. It begins in Reykjavik and takes as long as you want it to, from six hours to a full week. It includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geyser Geothermal Area, but detours can be made to include the crater lake Kerid, Langjokkul Glacier, the Thjorsardalur Valley, and the historic town of Skalholt.

There are reasons to visit other than the scenery, too. Aurora Borealis, or the Northern lights, is visible most clear nights between September and April. In the summer, milder temperatures of up to 70° F (22° C) draw in visitors wanting to explore the island without heavy winter gear. Icelandic seafood is known to be excellent any time of year (although some traditional Icelandic food is not usually appreciated by tourists).

Reykjavik is a popular place to stay due to the abundance of tours that start there, but there are hotels available in central Iceland, which provide more proximity to day-trip destinations. Check out Sandhotel and Fosshotel in Reykjavik, Hotel Ranga and Hotel Vík in the South, Ion Adventure Hotel (pictured) in the Southwest, and Fosshotel Myvatn in the Northeast. Exotic and unusual hotels are also available in Iceland, from log cabins and igloos to the famous Bubble Hotel that’s actually more comfortable than it looks.

There are a lot of great places to go–too many to choose from if you have limited time there. These are the 12 best must-see places to visit in Iceland:

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#12: Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and its an essential part of any trip to the South of the island. It’s a part of the Golden Circle route, so a lot of tours include it.

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#11: Kerlingarfjöll. This mountain range is one of Iceland’s most interesting, despite being basically the middle of nowhere. Huts are available to rent, but camping is more common.

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#10: Reynisfjara Beach. Found near the village of Vik in southern Iceland, Reyisfjara is known around the world for its black sand and unusual rock formations. It’s only a few hour’s drive from Reykjavik.

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#9: Asbyrgi Canyon. Asbyrgi translates to “shelter of the gods” in Icelandic, and the place has an interesting legend behind it. In addition to a great view, there are many hiking trails around the area.

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#8: Thingvellir National Park. In this park, the most famous part of the Golden Circle tour, you will find the Oxara waterfall and the Nikulasargja Gorge (aka Money Gorge), along with other photo-worthy destinations.

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#7: Lake Myvatn. While its pretty far North from Reykjavik, it’s worth the drive if you have the time. There are plenty of geothermal lakes that offer a cheaper and less crowded alternative to the famous Blue Lagoon, as well as geothermal caves and underground lakes to swim through.

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#6: Landmannalaugar. The most scenic parts difficult to access and there are not many services to be found, so you need to pack your own food, gasoline, and camping equipment. But once you’re there the lava fields, colorful hills, and striking peaks make up for the inconvenience.

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#5: Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Located in the Northwest tip of Iceland, the Hornstrandir Reserve is an extensive nature reserve that is open for hiking and camping, though a guide is recommended.

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#4: Skaftafell National Park. There are many things to do in Skaftafell. The Crystal Cave is a popular ice cave worth seeing if being under several dozen feet of shimmering blue ice doesn’t give you claustrophobia. Tours of the glacier are also available, with the right equipment. The Svartifoss with its oddly regular columns and the Hundafoss are the two most famous waterfalls in the area.

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#3: Blue Lagoon. The geothermal spa Blue Lagoon is one of the most iconic experiences in Iceland. It’s easily accessible and close to Reykjavik, which makes it a popular tourist destination. However, be warned: it’s a little expensive.

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2#: Kirkjufell Mountain. This is basically the Matterhorn of Iceland. Along with Kirkjufellfoss, the waterfall, it is one of the most visited natural locations in Iceland. It’s pretty remote, but the good news is it’s only a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, so it’s a good day-trip from there.

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#1: Reykjavik: The picturesque town of Reykjavik is Iceland’s biggest city, as well as its capital. It’s the most popular place to stay, and the start of the Golden Circle route. It’s a must-see not because of the scenery, but the convenience and proximity.

Additional resources for planning a trip: Iceland Travel, Guide to IcelandIceland 24afar.com’s and Oyster.com’s hotel lists.

5 Issues With The Last Jedi’s Plot and How They Could Have Been Fixed

The Last Jedi took some serious risks with its style, and it still managed to deliver. It was a decent movie overall, but it did disappoint many fans who wanted something more like The Force Awakens. Odd pacing, multiple climaxes, pointless scenes, the dismissal of several teased plot points from TFA, and an uncharacteristically cheap sense of humor were major problems that could have been solved easily, but the plot also had some big issues that could easily have been fixed.

Before we begin, SPOILERS — but I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. And if you haven’t read it already, you might want to check out my review of The Last Jedi before you read this.

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Problem #1: For the first time in any Star Wars movie, there was no lightsaber battle. You can’t even count the skirmish with Snoke’s guards as one since the guards had different, though still awesome, weapons. Snoke died without ever igniting his blade, if he even had one. Not even Luke drew his green one when Rey pulled hers (or rather, Luke’s other one) on him. Luke and Kylo did clash a little on Crait, but you can’t count that because it was only a few strikes and Luke wasn’t even there.

Solution: The easiest way to fix this does not involve Rey or Snoke (Snoke’s death was too good to change it). Luke’s fight with Kylo before the new Jedi Order was slaughtered could be shown, which would solve this problem as well as explain why Luke couldn’t defeat him. That would allow the movie to keep its final battle the same, but still have a traditional lightsaber fight.

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Problem #3: Captain Phasma, the new Boba Fett, died in the same way as Boba and Jango: an easy, cheap skirmish that really should have gone down the other way. Her entrance with a squad of Stormtroopers marching through the flames was very promising, but her death was a massive disappointment for fans, who were hoping she would be better than the other Boba equivalents in their respective trilogies.

Solution: She could survive and come back for episode IX. But the better solution would be to let her kill Finn and have Rose sacrifice herself the way Finn tried to. Although it kills a lot of characters, the bad guys didn’t get many new recruits for The Last Jedi so it would level things out. In addition, it would give the entire movie more weight, which is never a bad thing.

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Problem #2: Ackbar’s death was waved off as if we weren’t even supposed to know who he was. Not only did it happen off-screen, it was done inconsequentially and without much thought. Ackbar has been around since the Empire, making him almost as experienced as Leia. He didn’t deserve to be dumped out of the script so easily.

Solution: He should have been the one to smash Snoke’s star destroyer with a hyperspace jump. It would have provided the weight for his death that he deserved, and it would have avoided an emotional death for a character we barely know and replaced it with a well-deserved, timely death for a character who we know well enough to miss.

 

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Problem #4: Holdo existed. Withholding a plan that was not need-to-know was not only pointless but jeopardized the trust of the crew and caused the mutiny, which Poe was right to start: she wasn’t transparent with her own crew, so she had something to hide. While a corrupt Resistance commander is not a bad thing to include in the movie, the fact that Leia trusted someone like that more than anyone else in the crew is strange, to say the least, and not fitting for her character at all.

Solution: This is a tough one, as her arrogance and stupidity (or was it treason?) were crucial to the plot, which makes her character basically irreplaceable. Ackbar couldn’t take her place entirely either, as it would be completely out of character for him. However, instead of trying to “redeem” herself by sacrificing herself for the rest of the Resistance, Ackbar could have been the one to save the day instead, which would solve two problems in one.

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Problem #5: One of the most iconic lines in any Star Wars movie, second to “may the Force be with you,” was never actually heard in The Last Jedi. In fact, it is the only movie so far where not a single character utters the famous one-liner, “I have a bad feeling about this.” This would be an unusual lack of attention to detail on the part of the filmmakers…

Solution: Watch the movie again! While it may not be spoken in English (or, I should say, Basic), it’s in there. BB-8 is the one to say it this time, as evident by Poe’s reaction to it in the very first scene.

So, do you agree with these, or did you like it the way it was? Do you have any better solutions? Let me know!