Inarguably the most well-known Wookie in the Star Wars universe, Chewbacca also bears a strong resemblance to another popular creature in American culture -- the towering, hirsute cryptid known as Bigfoot. So much so, in fact, that during filming the studio (allegedly) became very concerned for the safety of Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca onscreen. While filming Return of the Jedi in the forests of the California redwoods, guards accompanied the costumed Peter Mayhew so that Bigfoot hunters wouldn't shoot him. So what's the big deal with California and Bigfoot? Tune in to find out.
Born in Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from obscurity during the French Revolution, crowning himself Emperor of France in 1804. This brilliant, ruthless tactician changed the course of French history. Despite his meteoric rise and bloodied fall, Bonaparte still needed to grab lunch once in a while. That's when the rabbits got him.
California was admitted to the United States as the 31st state in 1850, but it acquired its unique name much, much earlier. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the strange story behind California's name, from the fiction that inspired it to the loss and rediscovery of the story and, of course, adventures on a legendary Amazonian island.
Like many ancient cultures, the civilizations of Mesoamerica had a vast and rich history of unique cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies, some of which may seem bizarre to people in the modern day. In this episode, Ben and Noel examine a common practice from ancient Mayan culture: the ritual alcohol enema.
Today Vermont is known for its progressive politics, beautiful forestry, Bernie Sanders and Ben and Jerry's. It's not a state you'll hear much about outside of the US and, for many Vermont natives, that's just fine. But once upon a time, Vermont was a very different place -- in fact, for a number of years, it was an independent Republic. How did this come about? How did it become part of the modern United States? Tune in to find out.
Located about 1500 miles to the east of the Phillipines in Micronesia, Guam is a small US territory with a tiny population, beautiful beaches and an incredibly complicated history. For almost four centuries it was a colonial possession of Spain -- but that all changed in 1898, when Guam, in a strange series of misunderstandings, became a possession of the American government. So what exactly happened? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the bloodless, somewhat ridiculous, capture of Guam.
In 2012 a student in Salinas, California, startled genealogists when she claimed that all Presidents save one were actually related. Could it be true? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into this strange claim, separating fact from fiction while tackling what it means, exactly, to be related to someone. (It's all relative.)
Despite being pretty rare in comparison to other denominations, the U.S. two-dollar bill is one of the most storied notes in American folklore. So why do some people think it's lucky? Why do others think it's bad luck? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the bizarre evolution of the two-dollar bill.
The Day of the Dead is a longstanding traditional celebration in Mexico, and currently hundreds of thousands of people associate it with a gigantic parade -- you know, like the one they saw in the James Bond film ''Spectre''. There's just one strange twist about that parade: before the movie, the procession didn't exist. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the weird evolution of this event from fiction to the real world.
It's become one of the strangest anecdotes in modern American history -- numerous sources will swear to you that, in a last-minute panic before reaching customs, legendary musician Louis Armstrong had Richard Nixon's unwitting assistance smuggling a hefty amount of marijuana through US customs. It's bizarre (and pretty hilarious) if true... but how true is it? Tune in as the guys get to the bottom of this bizarre American fable.
Progress versus preservation: It's one of the eternal dilemmas found throughout every instance of human civilization. Should we embrace disruptive thoughts and science that challenges our beliefs, or should we cling to the comfort of the status quo? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the tragic and inspiring stories of books that were banned not for racy, fictional scenes -- but for furthering our understanding of the universe and our place within it.
It's often been said that "the art of losing isn't hard to master", and humanity overall seems to have a knack for losing everything from car keys to entire civilizations. Join Ben and Noel as they travel (vicariously) to South America and delve into the story of two nations who, eventually, lost an entire waterfall.
It's a grisly death familiar to many fans of fiction and fantasy -- a hapless, greedy villain meets their end by having molten metal, often lead or gold, poured upon them or down their throats. But was this morbid means of execution ever used in real life? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the deadly science of real-life murder by molten gold.
First things first: You may think Kentucky Fried Chicken is popular in the States, but we've got nothing on Japan. Join the guys as they delve into a story involving baseball, fried chicken, superstition, curses and drunken revelry in today's episode on the Hanshin Tigers and the infamous Curse of the Colonel.
Nowadays airships are seen as historical relics or novelties meant to fly overhead during sports games. However, not so long ago, the US military thought airships might be the future of warfare. Today the guys delve into the strange history of the USS Akron, an airship designed not just to carry human beings -- but to carry planes as well. Learn more about the construction of the Akron (and why it's not aloft today).
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the most storied institutions of its kind in the United States, and it's chockful of priceless objects from across the span of history and the globe. However, investigators only recently discovered a grisly secret hidden within one of the dioramas. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the macabre secret of the Carnegie Museum.
Simeon Ellerton spent years building a house out of stones he found and carried home, one by one. Rejected by his one true love, Edward Leeskalnin spent decades erecting a bizarre monument for her, built of giant coral stones in Florida. But what exactly motivated these guys? How did they stick with their strange obsessions, and what mysteries surround them in the modern day? Tune in to learn more.
Today the United States Military Academy at West Point is known as one the country's top-notch training institutions, but back in 1826 it was home to a night of pure egg-nog-fueled pandemonium. Join Ben and Noel as they retrace the drunken, crazed steps of cooped-up cadets who decided to fight the power one Christmas.
The 36th President of the United States is often recalled as a complex, flawed individual responsible for profoundly important legislation. However, he was also a notorious telephone fanatic, installing loads of phones in both the White House and his Texas ranch. Here's the kicker: He recorded almost everything.
World War I was a devastating catastrophe, the likes of which the world had never before encountered. The chaos swept across Europe, and whether on the battlefield or at home no one was left untouched. Yet the war had another, unexpected casualty: the sausage industry. Join the guys as they explore how Germany's rush for air superiority deprived the average German citizen of one of the country's best-loved traditional foods.