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Bizarre

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From ancient Greece, where small fried fish were peddled, to Aztec marketplaces, where tamales, insects, and stews were a delicacy, ready-to-eat street food sold by vendors has been around for centuries. It’s still a staple of many cities today. Whether you want a hot dog, taco, or something more unique, there’s a food truck for that.

These days, many who have taken to the profession have indubitably experienced their share of ups and downs, predicated on a volatile economy and uncertain monetary prosperity. The following ten entries examine several unsavory street vendors who boiled over in events too bizarre and disgusting to comprehend or imagine prior to eating.

10 A Spicy Sriracha Shower


You never know when you might cross paths with an unhinged individual destined to ruin someone’s day. For Carlotta Washington, her run-in with Islam El Masry turned into a racist food fight after she attempted to pay for her lunch in quarters in June 2018. El Masry, the owner of Small Pharoah’s halal cart in Portland, Oregon, became so perturbed about Washington’s change that he responded in the only eloquent way he knew how: by calling her the “n-word,” a “stupid f—ing b—” and demanding that she “get the f— away” from his cart.

As if his romantic tirade wasn’t classy enough, El Masry took his fury a step further by and hurling a Gatorade bottle at her. Not long after that, he proceeded to douse Washington in sriracha. Numerous onlookers came to Washington’s defense as she sobbed in disbelief, covered in hot sauce. Three police officers arrived on scene a short time later and arrested the temperamental vendor on misdemeanor harassment and assault.

Incensed by the vendor’s demented actions, local residents began harassing the owner of an Egyptian food cart in downtown Portland the following day. The only problem was that it was a completely different individual with no association to the sriracha-wielding cook. Some 15 to 20 people holding signs shouted obscenities at Gharib Muhammad’s wife as she operated their food cart. One man staed, “I remember what you did yesterday.”[1]

9 ‘Can I Get A Large Coke?’


When approaching the food truck of Johnny B. Jones (aka “Big Dad”) in Springfield, Tennessee, one could order a burger and fries with a side of cocaine. It eventually became public knowledge that the beloved neighborhood cook was offering hot dogs along with the daily special, his infamous booger sugar. Booked into Robertson County jail on a six-count indictment in spring 2018, the 57-year-old could very well be trading in his apron for a fashionable orange jumpsuit.

Jones’s dire predicament began following a joint investigation by the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Police Department’s narcotics division nearly a year prior to his arrest. It seems that arrogance was more of a factor than logic for the peddler, as detectives observed an innumerable amount of transactions at Big Dad’s stand, all while he turned famished frowns into smiles and, perhaps, rapid heartbeats. “It was a shock to us, what we found out,” said Detective Houston Evans. “I’m sure everyone else who heard about this is shocked, as well.”

The distinctive red and yellow truck that had become so loved by Springfield locals throughout the years is now a grim reminder of the growing drug problem throughout their state. In a final twist of irony, Jones’s home-style cooking food truck was situated near one of the most laughable localities, a police station and sheriff’s office.[2]

8 Daily Specials

A woman in Long Island was smoking more than just sausage when she converted her hot dog truck into a miniature brothel. In 2012, Catherine Scalia, 45, decided to expand her business by handing out suggestive cards titled “Strips-R-Us” and advertising a “topless cleaning service” and “one-on-one strips.”

Disgruntled and nauseated neighbors not privy to her marketing strategies eventually complained to authorities, stating, “In the summertime she’s out in her bra and panties. It’s disgusting. She’s filthy, she’s dirty. How could men take that?” In her own defense, the mother of four contentedly gloated about her professionalism and unyielding restraint when it comes to children, asserting, “I zip up when I see kids.” In spite of such morality, Scalia soon found herself inside a jail cell after offering one of her daily specials to an undercover police officer.

This was not the first time that her flesh-peddling ways led her to the slammer. Scalia was arrested eight years prior after performing sexual acts on her co-chef in the “captain’s chair” of the same hot dog truck. According to one local resident who observed several satisfied clients blissfully leave her establishment, “They seemed pretty happy. Now I can see why.” One can only hope that her proficiency in cleaning is as highly regarded as her “home cooking.”[3]

7 The Hot Dog Nazi


Michael Anderson of M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs in Anchorage, Alaska, garnered quite the reputation after serving up sizzling hot dogs with an attitude. Known as “the hot dog Nazi,” Anderson was infamous for his strict rules (such as refusal to serve anyone talking on a cell phone) and his tendency to lose his cool if customers dared to stray from his stringent regulations.

His bizarre tirades became endearing to local residents for nearly 20 years. That was until he was charged for unwanted sexual contact with a teenage employee in 2015. Ironically enough, the incident occurred near Anderson’s pushcart, situated in front of the old Federal Building, of all places. According to Anderson’s accuser, he coerced her with alcohol before touching her “down there.” In addition to his appalling advances, the 54-year-old vendor took a liking to gorging on marijuana brownies while on the job and washing it down with pints of vodka.

With several charges stacked against him and his reputation in shambles, Anderson killed himself in 2016, one day before he was set to go to trial. To date, the vacancy on the infamous corner he stood on for over two decades echoes a sobering memory of a troubled and wasted life.[4]

6 Virgin Boy Eggs

An unmistakable, pungent aroma reminiscent of a nursing home is what you can find permeating the streets of the Chinese city of Dongyang. As local residents flock to their neighborhood vendor, buckets of boys’ urine boil over as eggs are soaked and cooked in the fragrant yellow “broth.” The unique snack, popular for its “fresh and salty taste,” is a local tradition that has been passed down by ancestors for centuries. “Virgin boy eggs,” as they’re so eloquently named, are claimed to have remarkable health benefits. Gallons of piss are collected from primary schools and used as the main ingredient by egg vendors throughout the city.

Virgin boy eggs are not only served up on street corners but in residences as well. In those instances, the magical yellow liquid is personally collected by locals from nearby schools under the guise of a therapeutic appetizer. “If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke. These eggs cooked in urine are fragrant,” said egg vendor Ge Yaohua. “They are good for your health. Our family has them for every meal. In Dongyang, every family likes eating them.” Interestingly enough, government officials listed the nauseating treat as part of the city’s cultural heritage, ensuring its popularity and consumption for centuries to come.[5]

5 Satay Chicken

“Satay chicken, not dog?” asked a skeptical tourist on a Bali beach after purchasing mystery meat from a vendor. “I’m happy just as long as it’s not dog,” the man said before he naively devoured poor Lassie. Sadly, such revolting grub is commonplace in Indonesia, where dogs are tortured prior to their slaughter for human consumption. An investigation led by Animals Australia found that vendors throughout Bali have been deceptively selling canine meat to unsuspecting tourists under the guise of chicken. “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realising is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served,” Animals Australia’s campaign director Lyn White said.

In a place where dog meat is legal, hoards of unscrupulous vendors hunt, steal, beat, hang, or poison the canines in order to turn a quick profit. An unapologetic 83-year-old, for example, resorted to snatching an average of 12 dogs a week due to the fact that he could not find another source of income. After capturing his prey, be it an older dog or a puppy, the elderly man described bludgeoning the animals with a metal pipe in a nonchalant fashion without the slightest hint of remorse.

As grotesque as his method is, it is far more troublesome that countless vendors have been known to use cyanide as a means to kill. Dr. Andrew Dawson of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre stated that its use poses a significant threat, considering that, “Cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog’s body. The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat.” To date, no human deaths have been reported from the consumption of dog meat in Indonesia, yet. Time will tell.[6]

4 A Special Ingredient

As if urine-soaked eggs weren’t stomach-churning enough, a 59-year-old paani puri vendor in India was arrested in 2011 for adding his own special flavor to his sauces. Naupada resident Ankita Rane, 19, began keeping a close eye on vendor Rajdev Lakhan Chauhan, who had a reputation for being “quite gross,” from the confines of her balcony. “We have seen him scratching himself or picking his nose if no one was around. I had always asked my friends to refrain from eating there, but they were so hooked to the taste that they rubbished whatever we said.”

That all changed, however, after Rane witnessed Chauhan urinating into his saucepans before blending his tangy delicacy into the paani puri mix or the neighborhood favorite, ragda. After several days of dousing his utensils with golden showers, the saucy street vendor was filmed in the act. The video was then shown to local residents. When neighbors in the area learned of Chauhan’s special ingredient, they surrounded his cart and took turns beating him up before dragging the devious urinator to the police station.

When questioned, Chauhan simply stated that he had nowhere else to pee and that urinating into the pans kept the residential streets of Bhaskar Colony clean. Despite his righteous intentions, police decided to detain Chauhan but were confused about what to charge him with: “In the end, all we could book him under was the Bombay Police act for urinating in public places.” Chauhan ultimately pleaded guilty and was fined 1,200 rupees before being let off with a warning.[7]

3 Turf Wars


In 2016, when ice cream man John Cierco pulled up to his “favorite spot” in New York City, a sense of ire pulsed through his veins upon finding a pretzel vendor encroaching on “his” corner. Moments later, the pretzel peddler was pummeled over the head with a baseball bat.

Such barbaric acts over turf become surprisingly commonplace when profit-oriented territory determines ones success. In spite of cities not dictating certain locations for food carts or trucks, unwritten rules have allowed vendors to virtually own particular spots for decades on end. This has spawned violent turf wars by established vendors, who see newcomers as competition in a desperate economy.

In 2012, bullets flew outside Yankee Stadium when 52-year-old Horace Coleman shot two competitors multiple times with a .357 magnum. According to witnesses, Coleman, known on the streets as “Ace,” had been at war over his sidewalk turf for quite some time. “They were trying to bully him out of his spot,” said Coleman’s friend Gracie Olivera; that is until the pistol-packing vendor—dressed in a pinstripe suit, a flamboyant derby hat, and gold-framed sunglasses—took matters into his own hands. “He didn’t say anything. He walked up, pulled out and started firing. Bang! Bang! Bang!”[8]

2 Human Tamales


Working on an anonymous tip in 2004, Mexican police raided the home of a tamale vendor suspected of having a dismembered corpse in his kitchen. Upon the discovery of carved-up body parts, detectives noted that the appetizing ingredients were in the process of being boiled on the stove with herbs and spices.

The homicidal vendor, who worked as a butcher for eight years, vehemently denied using human meat in the tamales that he sold from his cart. Nonetheless, police took it upon themselves to test the tamales for human remains as opposed to taking the word of a man halfway into the process of filleting a fresh cadaver. According to the resourceful chef, he killed the unidentified man in a drunken argument the day prior to seasoning him for lunch.

Following an analysis, police found no trace of human flesh in the food. However, police claimed to have found “other materials” and ingredients suggesting that the unorthodox cook was preparing to make a “new batch” of tamales while in the vicinity of his decomposing, edible victim, or soon-to-be cuisine.[9]

1 Tarek El-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi

The only vendor on this list worthy of accolades is Tarek el-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi, who, on December 17, 2010, set himself ablaze, igniting a revolution. Working as a vegetable seller in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, Bouazizi’s dream was to save enough money to purchase a food truck. Sadly, the 26-year-old’s hopes and aspirations came crashing down when a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed vegetable cart and his produce. To add insult to injury, the officer slapped Bouazizi, insulted his dead father, and spat in the scrawny vendor’s face.

After his complaints to local municipality officials fell on deaf ears, a humiliated and dejected Bouazizi doused himself with fuel in the town’s square and set himself on fire. As Bouazizi clung to life in the hospital, outrage erupted throughout the country over the high unemployment, corruption, and autocratic rule.

Following his death on January 4, 2011, Bouazizi became a legend, with his martyrdom symbolizing the people’s struggle for survival and how it has shaken despotic Arab governments in what many have referred to as the “people’s revolution.” In response to the growing protests, Tunisia’s President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia On January 14, 2011, bringing an end to his dictatorship after 23 years of power.[10]

Adam is just a hubcap trying to hold on in the fast lane.


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General Knowledge

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The Third Reich, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, ruled Germany for 12 years. Their reign of terror changed the world forever.

Many Germans were deceived by Hitler. In the early years, they embraced him as the savior who would pull Germany out of a long economic depression and make their country great again. There was a lot of emphasis on national pride. The Nazi Party promised young Germans a new future in a brand-new Germany, and millions of children eagerly joined the Hitler Youth and similar clubs. Not only were the outings fun, but the youth enjoyed wearing uniforms, waving flags, and earning badges.

But not all of the young people in Germany and other Nazi-occupied areas were deluded by the propaganda. In a time when free speech could have deadly consequences, some wrote and distributed pamphlets denouncing the Nazi regime. Others hid Jews or spied for the underground. Some even stole weapons and sabotaged Nazi operations.

Here are their stories:

10 Helmuth Hubener

In 1939, the Nazis passed a law banning all foreign radio broadcasts, even threatening people with execution for listening to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other Allied broadcasts.

In 1941, 16-year-old Helmuth Hubener (center above) began secretly listening to the BBC. As he listened to British war reports and compared them with German reports, he discovered that he had been deceived. The BBC reported victories and defeats on both sides of the war. The German news only reported German victories.

He held a secret after-hours meeting with his two best friends, Karl-Hinz Schnibbe (right above) and Rudolf Wobbe (left above). All three were fascinated by the broadcast. Helmut located a typewriter, carbon copy paper, and a swastika stamp. He wrote essays including “Hitler the Murderer” and “Do You Know That They are Lying to You?”[1]

Hubener enlisted his two friends to distribute the flyers. They placed them in apartment buildings, mailboxes, and telephone booths. As a result, the Gestapo arrested all three. They were found guilty of high treason, and Hubener was beheaded on October 27, 1942, aged only 17.

9 Hans And Sophie Scholl (The White Rose)

As a young lad, Hans Scholl eagerly embraced the Hitler Youth. He became a squad leader of 155 boys. He formed an elite squad to train future leaders for the Fatherland. Eventually, however, he became disenchanted.

In 1942, Hans and a few of his med school classmates started the White Rose. Dismayed by all the surrounding propaganda, they wanted to challenge people with the truth. They printed thousands of leaflets on a hand-crafted duplicating machine, stuffed them into stamped envelopes, and addressed them with random numbers from the phone book. Sophie Scholl, Hans’s sister, soon joined the White Rose. Sophie believed that Hitler was trying to destroy Christianity and replace it with Nazism.

When Hans and his friends received orders to spend their semester as medics on the Russian Front, the White Rose temporarily stopped production. Being on the front lines gave these students an even greater desire to wake up the German people. They had seen horrendous conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto. They knew the German army was losing the war, even as German papers boasted of victory. When they returned to school, they stepped up their operation with renewed zeal.

On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie arrived early in the morning to distribute White Rose pamphlets in the classroom buildings at Munich University. Eager to share all the leaflets, they climbed to an atrium above the building and tossed the remaining pamphlets to the floor just as students entered the building.

They were spotted, however, and a Nazi officer arrested them. After a four-day trial, Hans and Sophie were beheaded by the Gestapo. Sophie’s final words summed up her mission: “But what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”[2]

8 Knud Pedersen And The Churchill Club

Knud Pedersen, 14 years old, was outraged when the Germans invaded Denmark in 1940. In less than one day, Denmark surrendered to the Nazis. In 1941, Knud (upper right above) and seven classmates at Aalborg Cathedral School formed the Churchill Club, named after one of their heroes, Winston Churchill.

They began their war with blue paint in broad daylight. They poured paint on German roadsters that lined the streets and splashed paint on German barracks and Nazi headquarters. They turned newly placed German road signs in the opposite direction or sometimes destroyed them. They told their parents they were playing bridge.

All club members pledged to create acts of sabotage. They stole weapons from the Germans and used them to make explosives. They stored the weapons in the Cathedral School. When the Gestapo uncovered the weapons at the school, all eight members of the Churchill Gang were arrested and sent to Nyborg State Prison.[3]

In 1942 and 1943, most of Denmark’s resistance came from the Churchill Club. By 1944, Denmark became known for its underground. Smuggled guns were buried in people’s gardens. Underground newspapers revealed the truth about the war, and massive labor strikes challenged German authority.

7 Irene Gut

Irene Gut (later Opdyke) became the live-in housekeeper for Major Eduard Rugemer, a prominent Nazi. Already involved the Polish resistance, she soon began sheltering 12 Jews in the former servants’ quarters located in the basement of the house.

All went well for eight months, until Major Rugemer found three Jews in his kitchen. After getting over the initial shock, he offered Irene a deal: The Jews could stay if she would be his mistress. Irene, though shocked and humiliated, agreed.

Irene confessed the arrangement to a country priest. Years later, she would remember his judgement: “I was expecting him to say ‘Well, you had no choice, a human life is more important’ but instead he told me that I had to turn everyone out, that my mortal soul is more important than anything else. Well, I could not agree with this.”[4]

Irene Gut Opdyke spent the last 30 years of her life traveling the United States to tell her story to American schoolchildren.

6 Stefania Podgorska

At age 14, Stefania Podgorska was living with the Diamants, a Jewish family in Poland. When the Diamants were forced into the ghetto, they begged Stefania to stay in their apartment. Stefania smuggled food into the ghetto. Eventually, Mrs. Diamant was sent to Auschwitz.

One night, several weeks later, Max Diamant (Mrs. Diamant’s son) knocked on Stefania’s door. He had jumped off a train bound for a concentration camp. Even though she knew she could face the death penalty, she began hiding him. His brother’s fiancee escaped the ghetto and also moved into the house. In a short time, 11 more Jews were living in the attic.

For the last eight months of the Occupation, Stefania was ordered to allow two German nurses and their boyfriends to live in her house. The Jews remained in the attic, quiet and motionless, until the war was over. They all survived.

After the war, Max Diamant, her first tenant, changed his name to Josef Burzminski and asked Stefania to marry him.[5] They moved to the United States.

5 Diet Eman

Diet Eman was planning her wedding when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. She watched the soldiers marching into the Jewish neighborhood. They broke windows and set synagogues on fire. Her friends received official deportation letters. They were expected to report to the railroad station with a single suitcase. She knew they would be sent to concentration camps.

She and her fiance joined the Dutch Resistance. They located hiding places for Jews and stole identification papers and ration cards from the Germans. They assisted downed pilots in Nazi territory. As Diet biked across Holland, she sent reports to the Allies of German troop movements.

In May 1944, Eman was arrested and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. After four months, she managed to convince the Gestapo that she was harmless and feeble-minded. When they released her, she returned to resistance work.[6]

4 Hortense Daman

Hortense Daman (later Clews) was only 14 when Germany occupied Belgium. She began her resistance work delivering La Libre Belgique (The Free Belgium), an underground newspaper. Soon, she was carrying critical messages across the country.

Hortense became an excellent courier, able to remain cool under pressure. It was difficult for German officers to take the beautiful blonde seriously. Since her mother owned a grocery store, delivering food became a convenient cover for her spy work.

Before long, she was also delivering explosives. One day, she was delivering grenades hidden under a load of eggs. When intercepted by a German officer, she offered him some eggs (a great delicacy during the war.) He snatched the eggs from her hand before waving her away.[7]

Hortense and her parents were betrayed and arrested. Hortense and her mother were sent to Ravensbruck, her father to Buchenwald. Hortense became the subject of horrific experiments while incarcerated. Miraculously, however, she and her parents all survived.

3 Fernande Keufgens

In 1942, Fernande Keufgens (later Davis) boarded a train headed to a German munitions factory in Poland, which she had been drafted to work at. She had been told that her father would go to prison if she did not get on the train. She and three others, however, jumped off the locomotive before it crossed the German border.[8]

After jumping from the train, Fernande walked for miles through the countryside to find her uncle Hubert, a devout priest working for the Army of Liberation, a Belgian resistance group. She begged him to let her join the resistance.

She delivered false identification papers and food stamps to help Jews escape Belgium. She was accosted many times by the Nazis. Because she spoke German, however, officers were more likely to trust her.

2 Swing Youth

On March 2, 1940, German police raided a dance party in Hamburg. They found teens dancing to forbidden swing music from Great Britain and the United States. The young people wiggled and gyrated. They formed circles with jumping and clapping. Girls were wore makeup and painted their nails.

The Swing Youth rejected the Nazi lifestyle. They clearly preferred British and American culture to German nationalism. They rejected wearing uniforms, marching, drilling, and regulated hairstyles. Even though most Swing Youth did not openly criticize the Nazis, the Third Reich considered them a threat to the Nazi philosophy.

Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, ordered all leaders of the Swing Youth to be sent to a concentration camp. A special youth camp was opened for them in Moringen in 1940. A camp for girls opened in 1942.[9]

1 Edelweiss Pirates

The Edelweiss Pirates began as a hiking group in the 1930s. They also rejected the strict rules and regimentation of the Nazi party. They dropped out of school to avoid the Hitler Youth programs and became skilled draft-dodgers. Many of these teens were raised in Communist families, and almost all grew up in poverty. Many had seen their parents arrested and even murdered for their political views.

The Edelweiss Pirates often fought street battles with the Hitler Youth. They were easy to spot with their long hair and brightly colored shirts. They wore the Edelweiss emblem on their collars or hats. “We wore our hair long, we had a knife in our sock and he would not march.” stated former Edelweiss Pirate Jean Julich.[10]

As the war progressed, they became more involved in resistance activities. They produced anti-Nazi graffiti and stole food and explosives to supply adult resistance groups. They found shelter for German army deserters. Jean Julich and his friends threw bricks through military factory windows and poured sugar into the gas tanks of Nazi vehicles. The Gestapo often rounded up gang members, shaved their heads, and then released them.

They also faced more serious consequences, however. The Gestapo arrested Julich and his friends for their alleged involvement in a plot to bomb the Cologne Gestapo headquarters. At 15, Julich was sent to a concentration camp, where he endured beatings, starvation, and typhus until the Americans liberated him in 1945. The Nazis executed Julich’s friend, Barthel Schink, along with seven adults and five other “pirates.”

Lou Hunley has enjoyed sharing books with children as a teacher and children’s librarian. She created Librarian Lou, a blog about children and young adult books. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys playing pickleball, biking, and zip lining.


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Lifestyle

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We all love a good cup of coffee to start off the morning, but this beverage can be used in several other ways. Just like coffee is good for our bodies, it has other benefits that can make our lives easier.

Next time you think about throwing those used coffee grounds away, think again. They can be recycled and used throughout your home or garden. Here are 10 creative ways to enjoy coffee besides drinking it.

10 Insect Repellent

Mosquitoes are pesky and annoying. The little bloodsuckers can ruin a relaxing night outdoors. You will find yourself busy swatting them away instead of enjoying the time with friends and family.

Coffee grounds are an unusual solution to this annoying little problem. According to the EPA, coffee grounds are a safe and effective way to repel mosquitoes and other troublesome insects. A study also showed that coffee grounds and caffeine could kill larvae by preventing the development of adult mosquitoes. The insects were not able to build a resistance to coffee.

To burn coffee grounds to use as a repellent, start by grabbing your used grounds and placing them in a bowl covered in foil. Once the grounds have dried, burn them like incense. It is best to choose a spot upwind of your location, and you can add fresh bay leaves to the fire for extra repellent.[1]

This is a cheap and effective way to prevent those bothersome insects from ruining your night.

9 Stain Wood Furniture

Everyone is always looking for DIY projects around their house. Staining wood furniture is one of the many projects that people attempt to tackle. There are a lot of manufactured wood stain products on the market, but you won’t need to buy any of them if you have coffee at home. The method of staining wood with coffee is natural and chemical-free, and the finish is exceptional. The coat will also get darker as it becomes older.

To stain wood with coffee, simply start by brewing a pot of coffee. Then allow it to cool. The stronger you brew, the darker the stain will be. Use fine sandpaper to sand the surface that you plan to stain. Pour the cool coffee into a plastic container along with alum to help it adhere to the wood.

Use your sponge, rag, or cloth to spread the coffee over the wood surface. Don’t worry about using too much because it will absorb. Let the wood sit for 10–15 minutes, and you can repeat if you would like the wood to be darker.[2]

How satisfying is it to know that you stained your wood furniture with a natural and nonchemical substance found in your home!

8 Create Air Freshener

We are always coming into contact with unpleasant smells, whether it is from the kitchen, bathroom, living room, or even your vehicle. Sometimes, you have to freshen up those areas with an air freshener.

Don’t have one handy? Make it yourself from coffee found in your home. Most air fresheners only cover up the odor, but an air freshener made from coffee can absorb the odor to keep it away.

Coffee beans act like baking soda does in a fridge. They help to absorb the smell and eliminate it. An air freshener can be easily made from coffee grounds to help any area smell better. All you need is a pair of old socks, your favorite brew, and a tall glass or cup.

Stick the sock down in the glass, and roll the excess over the outside of the glass. Then pour some coffee grounds or beans into the sock, pull the sock out, and tie it in a knot. Stick the air freshener anywhere that needs some help. For those who want to get fancy, you can stick the sock in a decorative bowl to hide it.[3]

7 Dry Rubs For Steak Or Chili

We all love to consume our favorite coffee in drink form, but did you know that it is also delicious to eat? If you have extra brewed joe or grounds lying around, you can spice up almost any food. Coffee is a spice that brings rich, deep, and earthy flavors to food. You’ll mostly find it on red meats and desserts to add an espresso-like taste.

Coffee can be added to a marinade for roast meat, braising liquid for beef short ribs, barbecue sauce for grilled chicken, a sauce for fried eggs, or a pancake topper. You can even mix it with your favorite spices to create an amazing dry rub for burgers, spice-crusted pork, or lamb.

Using coffee while cooking can really add the extra flavor to make many dishes pop. There are several recipes available if you are looking to experiment with cooking with coffee.[4]

6 Exfoliate Your Skin

Not only does coffee have some great benefits for the inside of your body, but it is also valuable for your skin. The grounds can help balance the pH of the skin. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants that battle free radicals and is a great product to exfoliate the skin. It helps you to shed dead and dry skin to reveal a glow, and it adds extra shine to your hair.[5]

Many of the ingredients you need to make a face mask or exfoliating face scrub are found in your home. Making a scrub with natural properties will be beneficial to your skin as it eliminates lines and dry skin. Coffee can also be mixed to create body scrubs, hair masks, and foot scrubs.

Try making a homemade mask or scrub one day, and you will be amazed at how well it treats your skin.

5 Compost And Fertilizer

Instead of letting your old coffee grounds end up in a landfill, use them in your garden and compost pile. Using coffee grounds in your garden helps to add nitrogen to your compost pile.

You can simply throw the grounds into your compost pile, or they can be used as a fertilizer. Using grounds as a fertilizer adds an organic material to your soil, which improves drainage, water retention, and aeration in the soil.

Coffee grounds can even repel slugs and snails in the garden. If you want to add coffee grounds to your compost or fertilizer, stop by your local Starbucks. Participating stores give out free bags of used coffee grounds as part of their Grounds For Your Garden program.[6]

The company does this to recycle and help reduce waste. Use this organic resource in your garden to help reduce the amount of products going to a landfill.

4 Clean Out Garbage Disposal

Since coffee is a great deodorizer like baking soda, it can be used to freshen up garbage disposals. They often start to release an unpleasant smell, and coffee grounds are an excellent solution to this problem. You don’t have to waste good coffee for this little DIY trick. Used grounds are just fine.

To make a garbage disposal cleaning pad, you will need coffee grounds, Epsom salts, baking soda, and vinegar.[7] Once you properly mix the ingredients, you will use a measuring spoon to create the small cleaners and allow them to dry overnight. Then you can drop one in your garbage disposal when needed. Turn on the disposal and water to enjoy a wonderful new smell coming from your kitchen sink.

3 Coat Sidewalks During Winter

If you live in areas that experience a lot of snow during the winter, then you probably know all about using salt on your sidewalks. Salt is effective in melting the ice to prevent slipping, but it can be destructive to the environment. Salt can also restrict plants from absorbing the proper amount of water and nutrition. If you are looking for a safer alternative to salt, try using coffee.[8]

You probably had a hot cup of brew to help keep you warm on those winter days. Save the coffee grounds, and generously sprinkle them across the snowy sidewalk as you would salt. The grounds work just as sand or salt would and give you the opportunity to walk across the sidewalk. The acid of the coffee even helps to melt away the snow more quickly.

Save those coffee grounds to stay environmentally friendly during those snowy days!

2 Wash Your Hair

Instead of drinking coffee, try throwing it on your hair during a shower. There are many advantages to washing your hair with coffee because it has a lower pH than water. The rough grounds exfoliate the scalp and stimulate hair follicles to help growth. Coffee is found in many shampoos now because of the benefits it provides.

The caffeine in the coffee is great for your hair, too. It helps stimulate the hair roots and may deter baldness and hair loss. The caffeine will block the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and enables hair shafts to grow faster.

It also has a way of making your hair shine more. You can use coffee to make a hair rinse to enhance hair color and texture, a hair mask to make it softer and shinier, and a hair oil to stimulate the roots of the hair.[9]

1 Protect Dog From Fleas

Everybody loves a good cup of coffee, except fleas. They hate coffee, but they do love your dog. If you notice that your dog is itching from those pesky fleas, then save your coffee grounds from that cup of joe you had this morning. The grounds can help to get rid of the fleas when mixed with the dog’s shampoo.

Start by giving your dog a bath as usual. After you have shampooed Spot, generously rub the coffee grounds through the dog’s hair. Then rinse the grounds from the animal’s hair and be sure to look for those loose grounds that haven’t shaken off. The coffee will act as a natural repellent and help remove the fleas that were annoying your dog.[10]

I’m just another bearded guy trying to write my way through life. Visit me at www.MDavidScott.com


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Science

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Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.

The last full week of July was marked by tragedy. An inexplicable shooting in Toronto, a dam collapse in Laos, and a horrific wildfire in Greece all wreaked havoc on humanity. But while sadness was part and parcel of this week’s news, there were more upbeat stories, too—alongside plenty that were just straight-up newsworthy.

10 A Devastating Wildfire Killed Scores In Greece

It was one of the worst wildfires to ever hit Greece. On Monday afternoon, a blaze started in the village of Mati on the edges of Athens. Thanks to the dry conditions, it quickly became an inferno. The coastline, the nearby countryside, and some districts of the capital were engulfed in fast-moving flames. At the time of this writing, over 80 have been confirmed killed, with another 40 still missing.

Among the dead were tourists and children, including one group of 26 charred bodies found clutching each other at a cliff’s edge. They are thought to have been a family. In many ways, it could have been even worse. Extremely close proximity to the sea allowed hundreds of people to escape the fire by running into the ocean.

An investigation has now been opened into the possibility of arson. Greece has a track record of wildfires springing from attempts to clear forest land for new buildings. It could be that the deaths of these 80 people rest on the conscience of a single idiot.[1]

9 A Mass Shooting Caused Grief (And Mystery) In Toronto

On Sunday night, Faisal Hussain took a gun and walked onto busy Danforth Avenue in Toronto. There, he opened fire, killing one teenage girl and one child and wounding 13 others before committing suicide. He left in his wake not only heartbreak, but a horrible mystery.

While many mass shootings appear to be motiveless (we still don’t know why Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in Las Vegas last year), the actions of Hussain seem almost cruelly unfathomable because there are perhaps too many possible motives to count.[2]

He was friends with some Islamic extremists, yet the police say it wasn’t a terrorist attack. He was on the fringes of Toronto’s gang culture, yet the shooting was too random for gang violence. He was mentally ill, yet doctors believe that it was not to a degree that might have triggered a massacre.

Ultimately, we may never know why such bloodshed came to Toronto on Sunday. All we do know is that, for whatever combination of reasons, two people are now dead because of Hussain.

8 We Heard The Shocking Details Of MGM’s Plan To Sue The Vegas Shooting Victims

For centuries to come, this will be the lawsuit that gets trotted out whenever anyone wants to prove that the legal system is screwed beyond hope. At a press conference on Monday, we learned the shocking details of MGM Resorts International’s plan to sue the victims of last year’s Las Vegas shooting. Filed in court last week, MGM’s lawsuit would drag survivors of America’s worst-ever mass shooting through the trauma all over again.[3]

MGM is not seeking money from the victims. Instead, it is seeking to avoid having to pay damages to those who were wounded—some 850 people. MGM contends that the shooting was an act of terrorism. As a result, they believe that they are not liable under a federal act passed after 9/11. This is despite both federal and local authorities saying that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was not a terrorist.

To call this lawsuit insane would be an understatement. Aside from making MGM look like the bad guys in a Hollywood flick about heartless corporate scumbags, it will ensure that many of the survivors are forced to relive the massacre in court.

7 We May Have Discovered Liquid Water On Mars

This week, a group of Italian scientists published a paper that could well change how we view our solar system. They discovered an underground lake of liquid water on Mars. If confirmed, the finding could represent our best chance for locating alien life in the near future.

Briny water isn’t unheard-of on the Red Planet, but it has previously always been either seasonal or frozen inside chunks of ice. This lake would be unique because it seems to be in a permanently liquid state. A stable source of water is one of the essentials for life (as we know it) to arise.

If the lake is for real, though, getting to it will be a problem. It exists 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mi) below the surface of the Martian south pole, a tall order for exploring.[4]

6 Hackers Stole Data On A Quarter Of Singapore’s Population

It was the eye-watering numbers that really made it headline news. Last Friday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared that a massive cyberattack had hit the country’s biggest health provider, making off with the data of 1.5 million patients—over a quarter of the city-state’s population. While the majority of those targeted only had their most basic details stolen, another 160,000 had details about their prescriptions snatched.

Although the main focus was on the numbers, perhaps the most chilling part was the political nature of the breach. Prime Minister Lee was among those targeted, alongside several other ministers.[5]

Lee claimed that the attack was seemingly carried out with the backing of a nation-state, likely one looking for embarrassing or blackmail-worthy material. With a number of countries recently flexing their hacking muscles on the world stage, identifying the culprit could be even harder than it seems.

5 A Secret Recording Embarrassed The White House

Forget Stormy Daniels. The big sex scandal to hit the White House now goes by the name of Karen McDougal. On Wednesday, a secret recording from 2016 was broadcast on CNN, detailing a conversation between Trump and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, about paying hush money to McDougal over a kiss-and-tell she planned to publish in the National Enquirer.

The real story of the tape wasn’t its contents. Although it appears to confirm that Trump had an affair with McDougal, it offers no evidence that he actually broke the law by authorizing hush payments. No, the real story was the tape’s origins. It was released by Cohen.

A longtime lawyer for Trump, Cohen was disgraced during the Stormy Daniels scandal and forced to walk away from the president. Now he appears to have decided to turn on his old boss, and he presumably has the tapes to make Trump’s life very uncomfortable. He’s also hired lawyer Lanny Davis, a Democratic stalwart and Clinton ally who specializes in attacking Republicans.[6]

It seems likely that this tape is just the opening salvo in an upcoming Trump-Cohen war.

4 A Bizarre Scandal Threatened To Bring Down Emmanuel Macron’s Presidency

Whatever you may think of him, French President Emmanuel Macron is usually adept at staying on top of things. Which is part of what makes the huge scandal currently rocking his presidency so bizarre.

On May 1, Macron’s personal bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, was filmed impersonating a police officer to rough up two rock-throwing protesters. The government was told, and Benalla was given a slap on the wrist. The footage was then made public last week, and people began to ask why Benalla hadn’t been punished properly.

Macron’s response? He fell completely silent for five whole days.[7]

If there’s one thing that Macron likes to do, it’s talk. Endlessly. So his sudden absence made journalists wonder if there was more to the story. They started digging and discovered that Benalla was being paid an inflated salary of €10,000 a month. He also had his own government car with a siren for cutting through traffic and his own key to the house shared by Macron and his wife in northern France. Clearly, something very unusual was up.

Benalla has since been fired, but the scandal is being compared in the Paris press to Watergate. A vote of no-confidence in Macron has been arranged, but don’t expect it to succeed. He will almost certainly survive this scandal. His reputation may not.

3 Colombia’s Ex-President Stepped Down To Face Bribery Charges

For a country with a long track record of impunity for the rich and powerful, it was a bombshell moment. On Tuesday, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe stepped down from the Senate to face charges of corruption and witness tampering. His summons marked the first time a Colombian court has ever asked an ex-president to testify.

The charges are largely of Uribe’s own making. For years, the former president has been suspected of funding right-wing death squads to carry out atrocities. Those charges are unproven. But when lawmaker Ivan Cepeda tried to open an investigation in 2012, Uribe demanded an investigation into Cepeda.

Colombia’s Supreme Court dismissed the charges against Cepeda. In reviewing the case, however, they found evidence that Uribe had bribed witnesses. Cepeda was cleared, and a case was opened against Uribe.[8]

Now that he’s left the Senate, Uribe’s case will be transferred to the Public Prosecution Service, which critics say will be far easier for the former president to pay off. Yet his resignation still marks a defeat. Uribe was one of the most powerful anti–peace deal voices in Colombia. His exit makes it far less likely that the deal will be undone.

2 A Laos Dam Collapse Killed Scores

At the time of this writing, we still don’t know the true death toll. After a hydroelectric dam failed in Laos on Monday night, it unleashed a torrent of water that obliterated entire rural communities and caused catastrophic flooding even over the border in Cambodia. As of Thursday, the number of the dead stands at 27. But with hundreds of people missing, it is thought that the final toll could be as much as 10 times higher.

In addition to this, 3,000 people are currently trapped by floodwaters and awaiting rescue. Meanwhile, some 6,000 families have been displaced in Laos, with even more displaced in Cambodia. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said it could be the worst natural disaster to hit Laos in decades.[9]

However, “natural” may be a stretch. Warnings about the dam had been sounded leading up to the disaster, but it seems that nobody did a damn thing.

1 Pakistan’s Election Descended Into Violence And Scandal

Everyone was braced for it, but still the violence was shocking. Pakistan went to the polls for a general election on Wednesday in the shadow of a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed a candidate for former cricketer Imran Khan’s populist nationalist PTI party.

As the polls opened, a further spate of shooting and bomb attacks killed another 33 people. Crazily, this wasn’t even the most controversial part of the election. That came when the PML-N party claimed that the military had rigged the vote.

This isn’t as wild a claim as it seems. Pakistan’s military is notorious for coups and meddling in civilian politics. However, it’s also a claim clearly designed to help the ruling PML-N ignore results which currently have it in second place behind PTI. In a terse press conference on Thursday, PML-N said it would refuse to step down, adding that every other party running aside from PTI was alleging election interference, too.[10]

If a so-called “soft coup” has indeed taken place, it would mean that this election failed to deliver Pakistan’s second ever civilian transfer of power. Whatever the truth, it now looks certain that Khan will be the next prime minister. His stated plan to turn Pakistan into an “Islamic welfare state” will have repercussions for years to come.


Morris M.

Morris is a freelance writer and newly-qualified teacher, still naively hoping to make a difference in his students’ lives. You can send your helpful and less-than-helpful comments to his email, or visit some of the other websites that inexplicably hire him.

Read More: Urban Ghosts


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Bizarre

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The story of the Amber Room has all of the elements of an Indiana Jones film: the bounty of kings, the spoils of war, theft by dastardly Nazis, a tireless search by the Soviet Union, mysterious deaths, and a priceless treasure waiting to be found.

Construction of the opulent “Eighth Wonder of the World” began at the command of the king of Prussia in 1701. Although estimates of its size vary, the Amber Room was believed to span about 55 square meters (592 ft2) after 18th-century renovations. It contained over six tons of amber backed by glittering gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

As a peace symbol between allies, the Amber Room was moved from its place in Charlottenburg Palace twice—once to Winter House in St. Petersburg and then to Catherine Palace in Pushkin. As an act of war, the room was moved once more before being lost forever.

In 1941, invading Nazi soldiers tore down the room, packed its panels into 27 crates, and shipped it to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany. When the city was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943, the room went missing.

In subsequent years, governments, historians, archaeologists, bounty hunters, and treasure seekers alike have sought it out, interviewing thousands of witnesses, poring over records, digging up locations all over Europe, and spending fortunes along the way. As of this writing, the room has never been found.

10 Unmoved From Kaliningrad, Germany

Although the prominent theory holds that the Amber Room must have been destroyed by the bombs which rained down upon the city then called Konigsberg, some evidence contradicts this. In over 1,000 pages of reports compiled by the decade-long Soviet investigation, no witnesses attest to any unusual odors as the city burned. Officers involved in this investigation believed that it would be impossible to miss the equivalent of 6 tons of incense burning at once.

In 1997, a German raid in Bremen lent credence to the idea that the room had survived the bombing.[1] One of its Florentine mosaic panels turned up for auction. After its seizure, the panel was authenticated but the seller claimed ignorance as to its origin. His father, a deceased Wehrmacht soldier, never shared the secret of the panel, not even with his own flesh and blood.

9 Hidden In A Silver Mine On The Czech Border

Helmut Gaensel was a bounty hunter. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the bounty he hunted was the bejeweled panels of the Amber Room. Former SS officers living in Brazil had tipped him off to a location. According to them, the panels were deposited in the 800-year-old Nicolai Stollen mine near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic.

Gaensel was not the only man to hear the tale. While he and a team of engineers, mining experts, and historians attempted to dig into the mine from the German side, a rival group led by Peter Haustein, then mayor of the town of Deutschneudorf, tried burrowing in from the Czech side. Though the competition led to international headlines and legal headaches, neither team proved successful.[2]

8 Covered In A Murky Lagoon

The mayor of the Lithuanian town of Neringa believed that the Amber Room was hidden beneath the dirty waters of a nearby lagoon. According to Stasys Mikelis, SS soldiers were seen attempting to hide wooden crates in the shoreline near the end of the war. They did not count on rising sea levels to submerge their loot.[3]

Not only did Mikelis believe it, he assembled a research team in 1998 to find it, hoping to put his town on the map. His dream was not realized.

7 Lost In A Bavarian Woodland

Georg Stein was a strawberry farmer and an avid treasure hunter. His heart was set on finding the Amber Room, but he got too close according to some sources.

Stein claimed to have discovered a secret radio frequency and to have listened to the last-known communication about the transfer of the Amber Room. This message was reportedly sent from the Castle Lauenstein on the border of Thuringia on a direct shortwave to Switzerland.

Stein then arranged to meet a “search competitor” in Bavaria. The meeting was not to be. In 1987, Stein was found dead in the woodland.[4] His body was stripped, his stomach slashed open with a scalpel. The death was ruled a suicide.

6 Beneath Wuppertal, Western Germany

Pensioner Karl-Heinz Kleine believes that he knows the location of the Amber Room and who hid it there. According to Kleine, the Nazi’s chief administrator in East Prussia, Erich Koch, secreted the treasure in his hometown of Wuppertal in the industrial Ruhr area.[5]

It would not be a far stretch to imagine it of Koch. Even the Nazis were appalled by his brazen thefts and use of concentration camp inmates for personal gain. Koch was tried for corruption before a Nazi court in 1944 and sentenced to death. Later reprieved, he returned to favor and continued amassing his personal fortune until the end of the war.

Once captured in Poland, he was sentenced to death for the murder of 72,000 Poles and for sending another 200,000 to labor camps. But he escaped his sentence yet again. Koch’s ill health prevented Poland from carrying out his death sentence, and he lived in prison for 27 years, unrepentant to the last.

5 Shipwrecked In The Baltic Sea

The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff on the night of January 30, 1945, was the worst disaster in maritime history. Under the press of the Red Army and rumored defeat, a great evacuation of German civilians began on the Baltic Sea. Every seaworthy vessel was placed into service.

So it was that the Wilhelm Gustloff, a luxury liner designed for fewer than 2,000 people, carried 10,582 shivering evacuees on that fateful night. It was flanked by only one military escort, which stood no chance when a Soviet submarine fired three torpedoes at the Gustloff. Each torpedo hit its target. An estimated 9,343 people died that night, half of them children.

The exact location of the Gustloff has long been known and searched. But some still claim that it may contain the hidden remains of the Amber Room. As the wreckage of the Gustloff is recognized as a war grave, diving to it, penetrating it, or both is illegal. But a lack of resources has left Polish authorities unable to protect it.[6]

4 Aboard A Ghost Train, Walbrzych, Southwest Poland

It has long been said that a Nazi train loaded with treasure was lost in secret tunnels under a mountain in Walbrzych. Nobody knows the name of the train, its mission, or from where its precious cargo came.

Some speculate that the lack of written evidence of the train strengthens their hypothesis. Secrecy, the theory goes, was more important than paperwork, even to the Germans. Some theorize that the train may have carried the stolen wedding bands and other personal jewels of interned Jews, while others insist that the train bore the crated panels of the Amber Room.[7]

In 2015, two men, a German and a Pole, claimed to have found the train. The local government of Walbrzych refused to comment on the matter except to warn that the train may be booby-trapped by mines if it exists.

3 In a Bunker In Mamerki, Northeastern Poland

In 2016, officials of the Mamerki Museum reported to have found a hidden room inside a World War II–era bunker using geo-radar. Bartlomiej Plebanczyk of the museum believed it possible that the panels of the Amber Room were hidden inside.

His theory was based upon the testimony of a turncoat Nazi soldier. In the 1950s, the former Nazi told Polish soldiers that he had witnessed heavily guarded cargo trucks delivering their load to the bunker in winter 1944.[8]

2 Buried In Tunnels Under The Ore Mountains In Eastern Germany

In 2017, treasure hunters Leonhard Blume, Peter Lohr, and Gunter Eckhardt claimed to have deduced the location of the room via archival and radar sleuthing. Both the East German and Russian secret police held years-long searches for the Amber Room. It is from their records that these men reportedly found a clue as to the room’s whereabouts.

Eyewitnesses claimed that a shipment of crates had been hidden inside the tunnels. The entrance to the tunnels, they said, was then blown up. Blume, Lohr, and Eckhardt eagerly surveyed the “Prince’s Cave” near the Czech border, and the results were astounding.

Mr. Blume said, “We discovered a very big, deep, and long tunnel system and we detected something that we think could be a booby trap.” Their search continues.[9]

1 A Secret Russian Location Known By Stalin

The impending raid of Winter Palace was known to the officials and curators of Catherine Palace. According to the official record, they attempted to disassemble and hide the Amber Room. When the brittle panels began to crumble, they chose to wallpaper over them instead. But they could not outwit the Nazis, who discovered the trick almost at once.

This conspiracy theory holds that Joseph Stalin fooled the soldiers after all. The panels they stole were replicas, while the real Amber Room had already been shipped off and hidden elsewhere. If true, the Amber Room may have been cleverly saved, only to be lost forever.[10]

Olene Quinn is the historical fiction author of The Gates of Nottingham and Prince Dead. A self-described armchair historian, she resides in Northern California.


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Before he sold the rights to Disney, George Lucas had his own vision for a new Star Wars trilogy. He had a lot written. He’d already created an outline for the trilogy, worked with Michael Arndt to write an early script, and approved concept art for the movies that, for a time, he was going to make himself.

We’ll never get to see Lucas’s version of those films, but little details have slipped out. The people who have seen his ideas have had a hard time keeping their mouths closed—and thanks to them, we have a decent idea of what a new Star Wars trilogy would have looked like with George Lucas at the helm.

10 Luke Would Be A Father

Back in 1983, Mark Hamill let a little hint about Lucas’s dream for a new trilogy slip: Luke Skywalker was to be a father.

At the time, Hamill expected to start filming in the year 2000, and while it took a lot longer than that for Star Wars: Episode VII to hit theaters, Lucas never seems to have given up on that part of his dream. Time and time again, he’s said that his trilogy was supposed to focus on Darth Vader’s grandchildren—which Lucas made clear didn’t just mean Leia’s children but Luke’s, too.[1]

“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems—it’s not about spaceships,” Lucas told CBS when Disney’s movie came out. Clearly, Lucas wasn’t happy with what had hit the screen. He told them: “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing.”

Lucas seems to hold a bit of a grudge about it. When Vanity Fair magazine gave him the chance to ask new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams a question, an irate-looking George Lucas asked: “What happened to Darth Vader’s grandchildren?”

9 Darth Talon Corrupts Sam Solo

The villain in Lucas’s movies, according to Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo, was going to be pulled out of the pages of a Star Wars comic book. She was a red-skinned alien named Darth Talon, and she was going to corrupt Han Solo’s son.[2]

In Lucas’s script, Solo’s son—who he called “Sam”—wasn’t going to start on the dark side. He was going to start the movie as, basically, another Han Solo. Lucas’s writer, Michael Arndt, described him as “pure charisma,” and the art shows him looking almost exactly like a young Han Solo, with the same jacket, blaster, and everything.

Darth Talon was going to be a seductress. An early storyboard shows her luring a Jedi monk out of a bar, sleeping with him, and then apparently leaving him for dead. She would be the one who would lure young Sam Solo into the dark side.

Apparently, Lucas wanted Talon to talk like Lauren Bacall. While writing the script, he visited LucasArts game studios and told them to work Darth Talon into an (ultimately unreleased) game.

“He likened Darth Talon to Lauren Bacall,” one of the developers has said. “He actually did an impersonation of her. It was supposedly the weirdest impersonation of a ’40s actress going, ‘Don’t you know how to whistle? Put your lips together and blow.’ ”

8 A Teenage Hero Named Kira

Lucas’s heroes were going to be kids, according to J.J. Abrams. They were to be “very young,” apparently in their early teens—one of the first ideas Disney nixed.

The story, according to writer Michael Arndt, was supposed be the origin story of a young female Jedi named Kira—a character who, over time, evolved into Disney’s Rey.[3] She was, according to writer Michael Arndt, a “scavenger” and a “loner, hothead, gear-headed badass.”

Her age is a bit hard to nail down. Despite Abrams’s comments, Lucas has said that the Skywalker children, in his movie, were going to be in their twenties, leading some to say that Abrams wasn’t telling the truth.

It’s possible, though, that Abrams and Lucas were both telling the truth. Lucas only said that the Skywalker kids would be in their twenties—and there’s every reason to believe that Kira wasn’t a Skywalker.

Michael Arndt has said that, even while working with Lucas, Kira was meant to be “the ultimate outsider and the ultimate disenfranchised person.” That strongly suggests that she wasn’t a Skywalker—and that J.J. Abrams was telling the truth, that Lucas’s version of Rey was going to be an angry teenage girl, caught up in the throes of puberty.

7 Luke Would Be Modeled On Colonel Kurtz

In George Lucas’s version of Star Wars VII, Kira was going to meet Luke Skywalker, who would reluctantly train her in the ways of the Force.

It was going to have more or less the plot we saw in Star Wars: The Last Jedi—but Luke would be an even darker character than the one we saw. According to Phil Szostak, the author of The Art of The Last Jedi, George Lucas wanted to model his Luke Skywalker on Apocalypse Now ’s Colonel Kurtz.[4]

As in the Disney movie we saw, George Lucas’s Luke Skywalker was going to be living in exile in the first Jedi temple. He’d already approved the design, which was to look like a golden bell perched on the edge of a cliff.

Kira would waste no time getting to Luke Skywalker. Michael Arndt summed up the script, saying: “[Kira] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass.”

Finding Skywalker wouldn’t be much of a problem in Lucas’s film. In his version, R2-D2 was fully functional and had a working map of every Jedi temple readily at his disposal.

6 The Whills Who Control The Universe


One of the many moments in The Phantom Menace that infuriated everybody was the idea that the Jedi had a “midichlorian count.” Fans almost universally hated the idea that the Force had some scientific, biological explanation.

If you complained about it, you might be happy to know that George Lucas heard your grumbling. He knew people hated the midichlorians. He just didn’t care.

Lucas was dead set on doubling down on the idea with his new trilogy. His final trilogy, he’s said, was “going to get into a microbiotic world” where we’d see the creatures that control the force. “I call them the Whills,” Lucas explained.[5] “And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”

He already knew we weren’t going to like it. “A lot of the fans would have hated it,” Lucas admitted, “but at least the story whole story from the beginning to the end would be told.” According to Lucas, “If I’d held onto the company I could have done it.”

5 Felucia: The Mushroom Planet

Another little detail leaked by Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo was one of George Lucas’s planned locations: a strange, alien planet called Felucia.[6]

Felucia isn’t a wholly new location. It very briefly appeared in Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith and showed up a few times in the TV show Clone Wars. In Lucas’s sequel trilogy, though, it would have been a major location.

It’s a planet overrun with jungles of towering mushrooms and ferns, all growing in every color of the spectrum. The gigantic, neon-colored mushrooms that fill the planet can shoot out spores and toxic puffballs and even eat human beings whole.

Its natives, the Felucians, are a people in constant tune with the Force who live in the densest jungles of the planet. They share their homes with strange, translucent-skinned aliens, including tube worms, wild alien birds, and gigantic larvae with tiny legs that can be ridden like horses.

It’s not entirely clear what would have happened on Felucia, but Hidalgo says that Lucas’s movies would have brought us further into the planet.

4 Luke Trains Leia In The Ways Of The Force

When The Last Jedi came out, Mark Hamill made a comment that revealed two huge plot points from Lucas’s outlines. “I happen to know that George didn’t kill Luke until the end of [Episode] Nine,” he told an interviewer, “after he trained Leia.”[7]

Kira wasn’t going to be Luke’s only Padawan, it seems—Luke was going to be spending either part of the last movie or possibly even the entire trilogy training his sister, Leia.

In another interview, Hamill built on the idea. “I always wondered [ . . . ] why [Leia] wouldn’t fully develop her Force sensibilities,” he mused. “That’s something George Lucas addressed in his original outline for 7, 8, 9.”

The suggestion seems to be that, by the end of the ninth movie, George Lucas was going to have turned Leia into a fully trained Jedi with fully developed Force sensibilities. And then, for whatever reason, Luke would have died, perhaps leaving Leia to take his place as a Jedi knight.

Whatever Lucas’s plan was, it was definitely very different from what we saw. “They’re not following George’s ideas,” Hamill complained. “It seems like a waste.”

3 Luke Enters Another Plane Of Existence

“What happens to Luke afterward is much more ethereal,” George Lucas once said, describing his plans for the future of Star Wars. He made the comment way back in 1978, but by then, he already had, as he put it: “a tiny notebook full of notes on that.”[8]

It’s hard to say what Lucas meant by “ethereal,” but Mark Hamill, who’s heard Lucas’s visions for the films, has dropped a few hints. He’s said that Luke Skywalker was going to be on “another plane of existence” in the new trilogy. From the wording, it seems like Skywalker was supposed to become something more than a Force ghost like Obi-Wan.

Whatever the idea was, Lucas seems to have had it for a very, very long time. Mark Hamill says that way back in 1976, when they were still filming the first Star Wars, Lucas asked him: “How’d you like to be in Episode IX ?”

Lucas spelled out a little hint of his early vision: “You’ll just be like a cameo. You’ll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.”

2 Han Solo Dies

Not every idea George Lucas had would have been cut. According to Harrison Ford, Han Solo’s death was in the new trilogy from the very start.

“It was mentioned, even in the first call, that he would not survive,” Harrison has said. To him, it was a selling point: “So I said ‘okay.’ ”[9]

There’s a good change Lucas only wrote Solo’s death in to make Harrison happy. While working on Return of the Jedi, Lucas reportedly brushed off a suggestion that he kill of Luke or Yoda, saying: “I have always hated that in movies, when you go along and one of the main characters get killed. This is a fairy tale. You want everyone to live happily ever after.”

Lucas needed Harrison on board, though, and so, as soon as he called him, he pitched the idea of Han Solo’s death. There’s no word on whether Lucas would have actually killed him off in the new trilogy, but Solo’s son was supposed to be a likable hero for most of the first movie. If he did kill his own father, it would have been that much more shocking.

1 An All-Wookiee Spin-Off Film

Lucas’s plans didn’t end with Episode IX. In 1978, during the early days of Star Wars, he planned on making, in his words: “three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films.”

That meant three spin-off films—including one about Wookiees. Lucas said: “When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else.”[10]

Apparently, with Lucas at the helm, instead of Rogue One and Solo, we would have gotten a spin-off movie that looked something like the Star Wars Holiday Special, expect without any humans. Instead, from the sounds of it, it would just be an hour and a half of big, hairy monsters incomprehensibly growling at each other.

He was also going to make “a film about robots,” again, “with no humans in it” through the whole hour-and-a-half run.

Of course, that was 1978. Lucas’s vision almost certainly evolved from those half-baked ideas and would have changed even further while he sat down and tried to make the movies.

Since George Lucas will never make the films, we’ll never know for sure what they could have been. We only have a few scraps of information, with our imaginations left to fill the rest in.


Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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