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About Shadow Squadron

Hey! I'm a Star Wars fan. I like rock music. I play electric guitar. I write a blog That's all.

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!

8 Types of Bigfoots

Everyone knows about the legend of Sasquatch: a tall, hairy ape-man that roams the forests of the Pacific Northwest. But what most people are familiar with is only one type of Bigfoot. Whether they are a separate species, subspecies, or just a different variety, there are others. Almost every culture in the world has one legend or another of an elusive ape-man that can never be captured but is sighted occasionally, deep into the wilderness. These are the eight most common.

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Sasquatch, a name that is almost interchangeable with Bigfoot, is actually a more specific term for the North American variety. Sasquatches have been around for as long as humans, according to Native American legends, and are thought to have crossed the Bering Strait along with people and other animals. They were generally considered to be a spirit of the forest, but they were also reportedly spotted on rare occasions as a physical creature.

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Wendigo is a Native American Legend about a spirit that manifests itself in the form of large animals, often as a Sasquatch. It is said to have an insatiable hunger to devour mankind, and true to the legend, whenever it is reported to show up, unexpected and violent deaths follow. Some say it is a vengeful spirit, while others claim to have encountered an interdimensional being, but either way, it is an example of a Bigfoot relative that is from out of this world.

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Skunk apes are almost exactly the same as Sasquatch, with a couple exceptions. First, they live in the bogs and swamps of Florida rather than forests and mountains. Second, they stink. The stench has been associated with methane-filled bogs, but some say it comes straight from the beasts themselves.

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The Grassman is another name for  Sasquatch, but more specific. Grassmen reside in only in Ohio and some neighboring states. They feed mostly on livestock, but also hunt in the Appalachians and eat plants from the forests.

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Yeti, or Abominable Snowmen, reside in the Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet. Some say Yeti are the original variety of Bigfoot, and the others diffused and evolved from them. They are characterized by white or yellowish-white fur and a stockier build than Sasquatches. They are often confused with the Arctic variety of Sasquatch, which has a similar color but is found in the far north of North America.

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Yeren are another mysterious ape-like creature rumored to inhabit rural southern China. They are even more closely related to the North American Sasquatch than their neighbors, the Yeti. They are known to be malevolent to humans and even to eat them, and there are legends that Chinese travelers in the mountains wore tubes on their arms so they can slide out of them and escape when the Yeren captures them. It is more likely that these “tubes” were intended to prevent frostbite.

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The Mapinguari (aka Maricoxi) is another possible bigfoot relative living deep in South American rainforests. Some say it’s humanoid, while others describe a partially bipedal bear-like creature with sloth claws. Whether it is a Bigfoot relative or a remnant of an ancient species of megafauna thought to be extinct is heavily debated. The scientifically accepted explanation is that it might be a giant ground sloth, which was previously believed to be extinct.

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Yowie, Squatch’s violent Aussie cousin, has been reported to exist in the bush well before Australia was discovered. The Aboriginals described ape-like beast found in the forests near the coast that had lived there for as long as they had. Yowies are thought to be considerably more violent toward humans than Squatches, although they have not been reported to have eaten anyone yet.

There are others, too. The Almas of Kazakhstan, the Orang Pendek of Sumatra, the Chuchunaa of Siberia, and the Ebu Gogo of Indonesia are all considered subspecies of Bigfoot, but are too elusive to find good evidence or pictures. Still, it can hardly be a coincidence that every part of the world has some sort of legend of a Bigfoot. In fact, that may be the single best evidence of their existence.

2017: In Review

In case you missed any, these are 8 of my most successful posts this year.

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The Disneyfication of Star Wars. It’s irreversible, but it might not be bad news.

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Marvel vs DC. This one was bound to happen. Justice League further justified the conclusion.

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Why Thrawn is still the best Star Wars villain. Because he is.

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8 Reasons Why Rock Should Still Be Popular. Because it’s so much better than modern pop.

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How Cats are Turning Us Into Zombies. Read it and it will make more sense.

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Regarding Bigfoot. The worlds greatest hide-and-seek champion, according to a comment I got.

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8 Reasons Why Jedi Are EVIL. An unusual opinion, but logical if you think about it.

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The Last Jedi: Perfect or Terrible? Better than The Empire Strikes Back or worse than Attack of the Clones?

The Last Jedi: Perfect or Terrible?

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It’s here. The movie we’ve spent most of 2017 waiting for finally arrived last week. The hype was almost as good as it was for the Force Awakens, and it should be. There was plenty to look forward to in the tenth movie of the most popular movie franchise to date. But just like when the prequels came out, some people are disappointed. In contrast to the rotten tomatoes score of 93, Metacritic gave it an 86, and IMDb a surprisingly low 7.8. So why didn’t people like it?

Before we can discuss that, this review contains just about all of the main SPOILERS for the movie.

For starters, the Disnification was obvious even more than in The Force Awakens. Porgs, while popular, were obviously something only Disney would put in a movie. The same goes for the ice foxes, formally called Vulpex, and even the “master codebreaker” looked like something out of a cartoon. On the other hand, some of the other creatures, including the Fathiers and the Caretakers, are distinctly the style of Lucasfilm and the original trilogy. While Disney’s influence does change the tone, it’s not necessarily a bad change, just different.

The big deal for some was that The Last Jedi tied off many of the loose ends presented by The Force Awakens too easily. It was almost like Rian Johnson simply discarded JJ Abrams’ ideas to support his radically different ones on how the sequel trilogy should go. Even if his idea was better, the change created some serious inconsistencies, and even plot holes.

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Several characters were severely undeveloped and died prematurely in terms of the storyline. Such was Captain Phasma, aka Boba Fett 3.0. She is without a doubt the closest thing to another Mandalorian: just like Boba and Jango, she was introduced as a badass villain and quickly became popular among fans, only to die in a thoroughly disappointing way without doing much more than looking cool. Supreme Leader Snoke also died too easily. Despite all of the internet’s promising theories on his identity, Snoke is just Snoke: a menacingly powerful Dark Side user who appeared out of nowhere, attempted to take over the Galaxy, and died without so much as a fight. That is not to say that his death was bad; in fact, it was very well thought out. But there was so much left to do with him it was unfortunate that he was killed off so fast.

Leia’s stunt is another divisive factor. Theoretically, Leia is Force-sensitive, but not nearly as much as Luke, or she also would have been trained by Obi-Wan and Yoda. Naturally, using the Force to fly while nearly dead, stuck in a freezing vacuum, and without any previous training came as a bit of a surprise, but it got the point across: Leia is not done yet. If that was the intention, it was executed well, as unexpected as it was.

There are other issues, too. The Knights of Ren, briefly seen in Rey’s vision in The Force Awakens, were explained away as Jedi who joined Kylo after he massacred those that would not. Rey’s parentage, though it might have significance later, was also a letdown.

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But we can’t forget the good things. The showdown on Crait was well done, and the snow-covered salt flats were a nice colorful addition. Chewie and C-3P0 are still around. The Rey-Kylo team up and their connection through the Force were good ideas. The dreadnaught, the walkers, Kylo’s TIE Silencer, the Resistance bombers, and all the rest were great new additions to the fleet of different vehicles already around. Yoda showing up was a good idea even though he did look a bit like a puppet. The Force and the Jedi were also portrayed and used differently, although that could be good or bad. Luke’s Force projection stunt was an interesting twist, and his death was fitting.

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The Last Jedi was different from any other Star Wars film so far, and that threw some people off. It took Star Wars in an unexpected direction that hadn’t been done before. But in the end, it was a good movie. As with the prequels, it’s different because it makes it interesting. The next trilogy or the anthology movies that have already been announced will also be different, and some people won’t like it, but if all the movies were the same style invented in 1977 it would get dull and pointless. This one was an experiment, and it worked out pretty well. It still felt like Star Wars, and as long as Disney keeps future movies in the franchise that way, not much can go wrong with them.

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Avengers: Infinity War Trailer Breakdown

The new trailer for Infinity war was out this week, and people liked it. And they should. In a single movie, Marvel brings together every hero in the cinematic universe and pits them against the most powerful Marvel villain so far and his army of aliens. Here’s the trailer, in case you haven’t seen it:

The truth is, there is so much to in this trailer that there is no way I can mention everything in one post. But I can try.

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Strange is back, and he’s bringing his friends. Dr. Strange has been a bit of an oddball so far. He is far more powerful than just about any Avenger, and even with his cameo in Thor: Ragnarok he was held back and mysterious. Maybe that will change now that he is fighting alongside the “mainstream” Avengers.

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It appears Vision has found a way to give himself synthetic skin. It will be interesting to see if it is a disguise, a human form, or a transfer of consciousness. Either way, an android becoming a human is pretty damn cool.

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Loki’s up to no good, as usual. He has his hands on the Tesseract, which he presumably took with him as Asgard was destroyed. We don’t know everything that it can do, but as we saw in The First Avenger, it is not too be messed around with. And it’s hard to imagine what else Loki might be doing with it, if not messing around.

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Looks like Spidey has an Iron Man suit. As you can see on the knee pads and eyes, it’s completely robotic, but it’s still flexible–does that make it the best Iron Man armor so far?

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Tony’s back to bust hulks, in what looks like a modern version of the Hulkbuster. There is a rumor that the guy inside is actually Banner, not Stark, because he doesn’t want to be Hulk again, but still wants to smash things.

 

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Is this the death of Vision? The Stone in his forehead gave him his power, so if it is ripped out, that might be the last we see of him. He is definitely worth keeping an eye on, with the new skin and all.

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Predator, is that you? Probably not. To be honest, this is a very dull and generic movie alien: green, big, misshapen head, marginally intimidating teeth…let’s just hope they’re gonna be better than all the other ones.

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Thanos looks like a force to be reckoned with. The only question is, if he brought an army to do the dirty work, how powerful is he really? Hopefully, he is a badass as well as a mastermind. We’ll see.

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The Black Panther movie isn’t out yet, so it’s hard to tell who the army is, but they look like they can beat up a handful of aliens.

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There’s a lot to see here. Bucky has his arm back, as expected. War Machine is flying again, which is unexpected given his injuries from Civil War. The Hulk is pissed off again, even though Banner said he never wanted to be Hulk again after Ragnarok–maybe the Hulkbuster suit failed him, it really was him inside. There is someone new between Panther and Cap, though she might not be new after Black Panther. But the most interesting thing is Cap’s pitch black suit. It looks like the black Superman suit, just with more tech. In reality, the reason for the color would be that there was no time to paint it, but in a movie it makes you think. Has the first Avenger lost his patriotism after all? In Civil War, he chose independence over the law, and you could tell it was hard on him. Maybe he became a darker hero after that.

Why the Clone Wars is NOT a Kids Show, In 15 Pictures

The Clone Wars is a one-time love-it-or-hate-it deal. Many people understandably have issues with it, and it’s been called a “kiddie show” even by fans of the movies. The combination of an animated format, cheesy music, and cartoonish antics have earned it enough hate to be dubbed as “not true Star Wars” and “just a bit of fun for kids.”

This is not true. The show might even be less kid-friendly than the movies. Sure, it has no blood, but it’s still a dark, violent show, and many scenes have more weight about them than a small child can comprehend. This is true especially for children who have not seen the movies because they are targeted to a slightly older audience, and because some are PG-13 (such as Revenge of the Sith, the end of which is essential to understanding and enjoying the depth of the Clone Wars). Here’s why toddlers should stay away from this show, for better or worse.

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Jedi training ordinary Separatist citizens to riot and rebel against their government and become notorious terrorists and extremists
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A dozen people decapitated because they refused to join a terrorist cell
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A terrorist group of so-called Mandalorians casually torching up a village of innocents to show their strength
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A cyborg about to decapitate a psycho on screen for all those toddlers to see
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A lizard-person hunting enslaved kids for sport
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An alien zombie with a worm up its nose, straight from your nightmares
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A worm that enters through your nose or ears and turns you into a zombie before eating your brain completely
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Clones fighting their comrades on orders of a fallen Jedi
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The same Jedi slaughtering his own men
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Clones executing clones for questioning risky and ruthless orders from the same Jedi
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A guy committing suicide after terrorists took over his planet
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A twi’lek committing suicide
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Anakin, forced to either kill his master, kill his apprentice, or complete his turn to the Dark Side
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A lecture on war budgets and corrupt governments that every six-year-old will understand and enjoy, as told by a homicidal terrorist mastermind
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And finally, foreshadowing of Anakin’s fall, the rise of Darth Vader, and the beginning of an era of evil for the galaxy

…and all that is only a small sample of the hidden darkness in this seemingly innocent cartoon. If your kid wasn’t messed up before…

The fact that it is for an older audience could be good or bad. It’s good because if you enjoyed it, you don’t have to be ashamed of actually liking a kid show. It’s bad because it shows what a dumb move it was to try to sell toys from it, and because it proves that Lucasfilm was just too lazy to produce it in live-action. It also brings up the question of just how much more enjoyable a TV-14 live-action show would have been instead of a TV-Y7 cartoon, for both the Clone Wars and Rebels.

Still not convinced? Watch the show again and see for yourself.

5 Best Fighting Bot Designs

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Remote control robot fighting is a strange but exciting hobby. Every robot is unique and loaded with weapons and features, and often takes years to build. The fights are short, intense, and satisfyingly violent, and many bots go down in a blaze of glory–sometimes literally–after only a few minutes in the ring.

When building one of these machines, many factors must be considered, such as ground clearance, stability, weight, speed, maneuverability, protection, and effective weapons. The rules to the competitions are mostly just common sense: no lasers, radioactivity, explosive projectiles, self-destruction, etc., so there are few limits to what can be done. Flamethrowers, chainsaws, and missiles are all part of the deal.

These are five of the best designs for fighting bots that I could find, considering results from real competitions, as well as the potential or theoretical effectiveness since these are design ideas, not specific bots.

 

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BETA

5: Hammerers

Characterized by one powerful hammer on top, these are formidable bots loaded with power. They have a sturdy base with no weak points and one powerful arm on top. It can be loaded with a hammer, ax or saw, but whatever it is all the power in the robot is behind it for one lethal blow that will smash anything in its path.

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Bronco

4: Flippers

Flippers, aka launchers, don’t have any flashy weapons like hammers or blades, but what they do have is just as effective. An entire section of the hull thrusts upward, hurling anything on it into the air. It is also used to flip itself up if it is turned upside down. The hydraulic motor responsible for the thrust is powerful enough to toss around just about any bot in the weight limit.

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Road Rash

3: Grapplers

These scorpion-shaped bots grasp their victims with steel claws that can pierce the armor, and lower their “tails” to destroy them. The tail can be anything from a hammer to a saw to a spear, or anything else that can do damage. The power of the weapon is less dependent on the weight because it can use the enemy as balance, but even so, they are typically less powerful than hammerers. Nonetheless, by trapping its opponent in its claws, it ensures that it gets off multiple hits from the same angle, causing maximum damage with minimal effort.

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Cobalt

2: Blade spinners

While many are small, these are powerful bots. Their rotating blades or bars can reach speeds high enough to launch opponents into the air. Because they are flat, most can be driven upside down. Their strong armoring protects them from heavy weapons like hammers and axes, and their blades can rip up bots twice their size with a single hit.

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Minotaur

1: Tub spinners

These are one of the simplest types of fighting bots, but they do very good in battles. The key to their success is the speed of the cylinder and the durability. High-speed cylinders cause severe damage even on well-built robots and occasionally they even light others on fire with the sparks created by the friction of the cylinder against the opponent. Their flat, aerodynamic hulls optimize airflow and downforce so they are fast and stable. The weight of their armor is no disadvantage with a powerful motor, and it helps them stay on the ground and avoid getting tossed around by bigger bots. Most can take direct hits from heavy weaponry such as hammers. Many have no assigned top or bottom, so they are at no disadvantage when flipped upside down. Combined with a virtually indestructible body, these are dangerous bots with a good record.

What do you think? Which bot would you bet on? Do you have better ideas?