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To solve online, click the link below the puzzle.
How to play
The next Nexus4 will be posted 9/5
Solve online (thanks to J. Eric Ivancich)View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Straight Outta Compton
Starring O’Shea Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins & Paul Giamatti
Directed by F. Gary Grey
Release date August 14, 2015
Spawned from the mean streets of Compton, California, in the late 1980s, the controversial original “gangsta rap” act N.W.A. sent shock waves across America and spawned a commercial empire.
Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren created tough, provocative, dangerous-sounding music that modeled and mirrored the harsh realities of their time and place: drugs, crime, violence, racial discrimination, police brutality. How dangerous-sounding? Well, even their name had to be muzzled (the letters stood for Niggaz With Attitude), and one of their most “popular” songs, “F— the Police,” caught the attention of the FBI.
N.W.A.’s rags-to-riches rise from the “ghetto” of southern Los Angeles County to the top of the music world is a classic tale of ambition, vindication and escape. Their crash-and-burn breakup—into angry bits of bruised egos, bad decisions and broken, betrayed friendships—was the fractured flip side to a decade of high living, heavy partying and the huge sprawl of the musical juggernaut they’d built from scratch.
Straight Outta Compton captures that—much of it, anyway. The beats are fly, the story is nitty-gritty and the timing is spot-on, with the movie’s release coming at a moment in time when a growing movement in America pushes back, once again, against police violence against unarmed blacks.
A young cast of newcomers does a fine job portraying the group. O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of real-life rapper Ice Cube, plays his own father, and he certainly looks the part—he’s almost a perfect clone. Jason Mitchell is electrifying as Eazy-E, the diminutive, street-hustling, dope-peddling “investor” who became the frontman of N.W.A. after hooking up with Cube and production wizard Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins).
The two other members, DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), are relegated to the sidelines, however. Maybe that’s because executive producers Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the wife of the late Eazy-E were more interested in telling “their” story.
Paul Giamatti’s towering white swoop of a hairpiece competes for attention in his role as Jerry Heller, the manager who steered the group to stardom—and into a crooked contractual labyrinth that eventually split them apart.
The movie credits N.W.A. as the architects of hardcore, “real” street rap. But it doesn’t depict them as saints: They spew profanity, take drugs, sling guns and indulge in the orgiastic excesses that you might expect of cocky young rock gods. There are moments of humor to lighten some of the heavier moods. At two and a half hours, it gets a bit overloaded in the final stretch with plot offshoots and cameo appearances by characters playing rappers Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur and record producer “Suge” Knight, depicted by the film as a bullying, brutish thug.
But in its recreations of live performances or studio sessions, and in other moments when its explosive songs kick it, the movie really comes alive, reminding us of just how shocking, raw and impactive N.W.A.’s music was 25 years ago—and how powerfully it echoes even today.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Angie Schum in Brownwood, Texas, writes:
My father-in-law once posted a quote from you on his fridge, and I’d love to find it again. It referred to having far too much to do versus having enough time to do everything. Can you publish it again?
Here it is:
I love having ten times as much stuff to do as I can possibly find time to do. That way, I can pick the one-tenth that I want to do most. But if I have only enough to just occupy all my time, I’m stuck doing all of whatever stuff it happens to be.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
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To solve online, click the link below the puzzle.
How to play
The next Nexus4 will be posted 8/30
Solve online (thanks to J. Eric Ivancich)View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Who’s hangry? The Oxford English Dictionary released a list of roughly 1,000 new words added to their website. Among them: hangry, awesomesauce, fangirl and mic drop.
Find out more about the new words here. And be sure to use at least one in a sentence today.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the untimely death of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughn, who along with four other people (including the pilot) was killed in a helicopter crash on August 28, 1990. But Vaughn isn’t the only musician gone too soon. Here’s our tribute to some other music-makers whose lives (and careers) were cut tragically short by plane crashes.
On October 12, 1997, singer/songwriter John Denver, a pilot with more than 2,700 hours of experience, was killed when his experimental Rutan Long-EZ plane crashed into Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California. Denver was the only occupant of the aircraft. He had recently purchased the Long-EZ aircraft and had taken a half-hour checkout flight with the aircraft the day before the accident. The NTSB showed that the leading cause of the accident was Denver’s inability to switch fuel tanks during flight. Witnesses saw the airplane in a steep nose-down descent, some estimated the plane’s height at 350 to 500 feet while heading toward the shoreline. Eight of the witnesses said that they heard a “pop” or “backfire,” along with a reduction in the engine noise level just before the airplane descended into the water.
On February 3, 1959, the “Oh Boy!” and “It’s So Easy” singer chartered a plane with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens (who was onboard after winning the seat in a coin toss with guitar player Tommy Allsup) and The Big Bopper (who, incidentally, took Waylon Jennings’ seat) following a show in Clear Lake, Iowa. Though the pilot was not certified for instrument-reliant flights, he took off in inclement weather. The plane went down in a cornfield shortly after takeoff, taking the lives of all onboard. The incident would go on to be known as “The Day the Music Died.”
The famed country crooner was in Kansas City, Kansas, to perform a benefit for the family of disc jockey “Cactus” Jack Call who had died in a car accident a month earlier. The next day, she was informed she would not be able to fly out of the local airport as it was fogged in. Fellow performer Dottie West asked Cline to join her and husband, Bill, for a road trip back to Nashville (a 16-hour drive), but Cline refused, saying, “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time.” A day later, she boarded a plane bound for home. After refueling in Missouri, the Piper aircraft made its way to Dyersberg, Tennessee. Though the pilot was not trained in instrument flying, he told the Dyersberg airfield manager, “I’ve already come this far. We’ll be there before you know it.” The plane took off at 6:07 and crashed shortly after in inclement weather only 90 miles from its destination. Cline’s recovered wristwatch had stopped at 6:20PM.
The folk singer known for hits like “Time in a Bottle” and “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” boarded a flight in Natchitoches, Louisiana, after performing at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum. Croce, charter pilot Robert N. Elliott, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, and road manager Dennis Rast were all killed when their plane (bound for a show in Sherman, Texas) failed to gain enough altitude to clear a pecan tree at the end of the runway and did not maneuver to avoid it, even though it was the only tree for hundreds of yards. It was reported as dark, but with clear sky, calm winds, and over five miles of visibility with haze. Croce, who was only 30 at the time, was pronounced dead only an hour after leaving the stage.
At the height of her career, singer and actress Aaliyah boarded a flight out of the Bahamas where she had been shooting a music video for her song “Rock the Boat.” Joined by friends, record execs and stylists, the singer had a flight scheduled the following day, but the group decided to leave immediately after they wrapped early. The last-minute airplane was smaller than the Cessna 404 on which they had originally arrived, but the whole party and all of the equipment were accommodated on board. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, about 200 feet (60 m) from the end of the runway and exploded. Aaliyah and the eight others on board were all killed. According to findings from an inquest conducted by the coroner’s office in The Bahamas, Aaliyah suffered “severe burns and a blow to the head,” in addition to severe shock and a weak heart. The coroner theorized that she went into such a state of shock that even if she had survived the crash, her recovery would have been nearly impossible. It was later determined that the plane was over its maximum takeoff weight by 700 pounds and was carrying one excess passenger. Eerily, the 22-year-old may have predicted her own death: A month prior, she shared thoughts that something bad was about to happen to her, saying, “Someone’s following me and I don’t know why. I’m scared. Then suddenly I lift off. Far away. As if I’m swimming in the air. Nobody can reach me. Nobody can touch me.”View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
When it comes to home renovation, Property Brothers twins Jonathan and Drew Scott have become identical icons for residential makeovers. So, when I caught up with Jonathan Scott for my podcast Whine At 9, I couldn’t help but ask for some dorm decorating advice for college-bound students. Scott was quick to oblige—offering up tips from cleaning and clutter management to inexpensive decor solutions.
The first step on, or before, move-in day involves cleaning. While this might not be a task embraced by college kids (or at least not mine), Scott stresses the importance. “Deep clean before you get any of your stuff in there, because you know somebody’s probably spilled some tequila in there,” explains the contractor with the award-winning sense of humor. One of his favorite “go to” cleaning tools is Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, which tackles dorm bathroom soap scum with just a little effort. I believe this might be the perfect tool for the unenthusiastic college cleaner, but in the back of my skeptical mind, fear that parental enthusiasm for cleaning products far exceeds the probability of student usage. But if there’s a good solution, maybe our college kids will cross over to our side—which would be the clean one.
Watch Property Brothers on HGTV.
Says Scott, who lived on campus with brother Drew for the first two semesters of college, “It’s not just a matter of scrubbing it clean, it’s also a matter of finding clever places for storage.” In addition to under-the-bed storage, the Scott brothers also had a desk that collapsed down against the wall when it wasn’t being used. Unlike some college graduates, Jonathan doesn’t seem to have any complaints about his former roommate, describing Drew as the “cleanest guy in the world.”
College expenses can make most students and parents leery of costly dorm decorating. Scott suggests students continue looking for clever solutions and take on weekend projects that will result in inexpensive, re-furbished decor. The renovation guru says sanding down and repainting old coffee tables, side tables, and lamps often yields picture-perfect furnishings everyone will love. I agree, then realize if Jonathan Scott ever decides to give up his day job, he’d be a parent’s answer to the perfect resident advisor. Dorms would be transformed, and there’d be no evidence of tequila anywhere.
Get more tips from Jonathan Scott in this Parade.com story.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
A father and his 9-year-old son recently set out to shape every U.S. state out of different foods, with a punny twist (think Swissconsin, Piedaho, and New Jerky).
The dad, Chris Durso, is the creator of Foodiggity.com, a quirky food culture blog. He and his son, Cameron, create all the states, and Durso photographs them and posts them on Instagram.
Launch the gallery to see some pun-tastic selections from The Foodnited States of America.
Fifteen cheers for Friday! And while we’re at it, a cute photo for every cheer! Launch the gallery and enjoy.
Click here to see “National Dog Day Afterparty” and check back every weekday for a new Daily Cute!View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
When Jeff Varner first laid eyes on Colby Donaldson on Barramundi Eve, all he could see was teeth — superhumanly straight, pearly white, cowboy hero teeth.
Those teeth would go on to enjoy a second-place finish worth $100,000, a brand new motorcycle, a cameo on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a don’t-blink-and-you-still-won’t-believe-it turn in Wes Craven’s Red Eye, a reality television hosting job on Top Shot, two return trips to Survivor — and, most impressively in Australia, an epic individual immunity run, unprecedented at that early point in Survivor history, unmatched until Season 10, tied by a few, surpassed by none.
Colby, talking through those perfect Texas teeth, would also call out eight words that would haunt Varner for the next fifteen years: “Come on over to the dark side, Jeff.”
Varner had been standing on top of a pole in the middle of the water for the past four hours, trying to alphabetize the 50 states, all in the name of his life in the game. If he surrendered, his odds of surviving the night would be slimmer than Mitchell Olsen. He would doom not only himself, but the four other Survivors he had lived with as Kucha over the last 21 days. The reasons to stay on that pole were many. The reasons to hop off were two: Exhaustion, and peanut butter.
Jeff Varner leapt off the pole and dove head first through door number two. The rest is ancient Survivor history.
These days, on the other side of the dark side, Varner knows the danger of peanut butter better than anyone else on the cast of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, having willingly bowed out of his then final immunity challenge for a big bowl of the stuff. Years later, peanut butter and Survivor remain as close as ever, at least at Ponderosa — and it’s grossing Varner out, big time.
“It’s disgusting here,” he tells me when we speak in my cabana. “People here are slathering it on pancakes.”
In the real world, Varner says, he cannot stand the smell of peanut butter. He cannot stand the look of it. “I feed it to my dog every day and I kind of gag every time I give it to him,” and not a fake psyche-out-Tina-Wesson sort of gag. But Varner is not in the real world right now. He’s back on the beach, on the cusp of playing Survivor again after a 15-year layoff. Varner is aware that peanut butter might be on the menu at some point in the next 39 days. He’s heard that Survivors crave it out in the game. “I’m interested to see if I do.”
Over the next several minutes, Varner goes into extreme detail about his Survivor past, the people he’s up against in Second Chance, the schemes he’s cooking up, the deals he already has in place — but throughout the talk, he keeps coming back to one line: “This is my second chance.” These are not just words for Jeff Varner. They are his everything right now.
“It hit me hard yesterday,” he tells me. “I cried on the beach yesterday, and I don’t know why. Just the notion that I’ve waited all this time, and I’m not here because I want to be here, and I’m not here because Mark Burnett wants me here — I’m here because millions of people want me here. It just means so much more. It was an intense moment that just smacked me.”
Varner still has the troublemaker charm he boasted back in season two of Survivor, but he’s a different sight now. He’s bigger, for one. He speaks fast, but stops here and there to catch his breath. His voice booms in moments, and becomes a whisper in others. Here, he’s quiet, as he summarizes his mission statement: “I can’t jump off a pole for anything. I’m not just letting myself and my family down. I’m letting millions of people down.”
Returning to Survivor after 15 years, with millions of people on his back, and a million dollars at stake, Varner knows that it’s go time. In fact, it’s been go time, for weeks now, well before he and the 19 other Second Chancers arrived in Cambodia, and well before they were finalized as the season’s official cast.
“It might be harder than it is out [on the beach],” Varner says when I ask him about navigating the pre-game process, sifting through interviews, fielding phone calls with the prospective contestants. “You don’t know who is going to get picked, you don’t know how you’ll be set up once you’re picked, and you don’t know what to do.”
Varner and the other Survivors are on lockdown right now, and are not able to speak to each other until the game begins. But he does not need to hear words in order to hear his opponents loud and clear.
“It’s all about body language,” he says. “I brought a body language book with me written by FBI experts about how they cracked cases. I’m reading about fingers, and hands, and toes, and legs, and arms, and I’m studying all these people while I’m reading it, and it’s [expletive] fascinating.”
Case in point: Spencer Bledsoe. The young lad from Survivor: Cagayan, and the youngest contestant on Second Chance, is the first person Varner mentions when I ask about who he’s observing.
“Spencer is textbook,” says Varner. “He is territory. He’s big, he’s long, he’ll stand with his arms and he walks like this.” Varner pantomimes Spencer’s stride for half a second, and then continues without skipping a beat. “He takes up a lot of space, which means, ‘I am the master. This is my game. This is my land. [Expletive] you all.’ He does a lot of crotch framing, which means he’s in charge.”
Varner stops for a quick breath. “Spencer thinks he has this game down pat,” he says. “I think Spencer could be the first one voted out of here.”
I ask him why he thinks that — is it because of how he perceives Spencer’s attitude? Varner smiles and shakes his head.
“No,” he says. “It’s because I’m going to try.”
ON THE NEXT PAGE: The Once And Future Varner
Mind Your Body with Stephanie Stephens features celebrities age 45+ who share their latest projects, healthy living secrets and more.
This holiday season will be merrier when NBC airs Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors on Dec. 10. The storyline and the cast are already music to the ears of viewers who want more solid family entertainment. Currently shooting in Atlanta, the tale is set in the Great Smoky Mountains, as Jennifer Nettles tells us in this video, along with her cast-mate Ricky Schroder.
Tagged as “an inspiring true story about the power of love, faith and family,” the TV movie tells the story of Dolly’s childhood in 1955. It’s the first of several movies about her upbringing.
We’ll relive her ninth year, as portrayed by the adorable eight-year-old Alyvia Lind as young Dolly. Nettles plays Dolly’s mother, Ricky plays her father, and Gerald McRaney reigns as her grandfather.
From Rags to Riches
The show’s title is taken from Dolly’s song of the same name, which you can watch her perform here. It’s also the title of her eighth solo album, released in 1971. She reportedly wrote it in 1969 on the back of a dry-cleaning receipt belonging to country legend Porter Wagoner. At her theme park, Dollywood,in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., diehard fans head for the Chasing Rainbows museum, displaying the coat her mother made for her from rags.
At NBC Universal’s Fall Press Tour, Jennifer and Ricky stopped by to talk about their roles in the holiday special. Jennifer, lead singer for on-hiatus Sugarland, just signed with Big Machine Label Group. Early this year, she debuted on Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago, the musical that’s been on The Great White Way for decades—and she earned rave reviews.
How They Stay Looking Great
Actor and director Ricky, now 45, is best known for his roles on Lonesome Dove and NYPD Blue. His riveting six-part action adventure documentary series, The Fighting Season, aired on DirecTV in June. Ricky executive-produced the series and worked as a cameraman, spending more than 100 days with our troops in Afghanistan. No doubt being a part of Coat of Many Colors will be a less harrowing entertainment outing for him, and his fans can’t wait to see him on TV again.
Now see what Jennifer and Ricky have to say about their new project, and how they stay healthy and fit with undoubtedly demanding schedules. Then watch the show this holiday season, which will trace the theme Dolly echoed throughout her famous song:
It is true we had no money but I was rich as I could be,
In my coat of many colors momma made for me,
Made just for me.
Stephanie Stephens is certain that at age 45+, the best time of our lives is now! So what are we waiting for? She writes, produces, and hosts her multimedia channel, Mind Your Body TV, featuring timely health and lifestyle blogs, podcasts, and videos—also seen on YouTube and syndicated by AOL/On.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Have you seen the award-winning movie Muffin Top: A Love Story? It’s a body-image romantic comedy that tells the tale of Suzanne, whose husband dumps her for a younger, thinner woman. According to Cathryn Michon, the star, writer, and director of the movie, “She goes on a hilarious self-esteem shame spiral that ultimately causes her to become a happier, more authentic version of herself.”
Michon spoke with Parade about the movie as well as what’s coming up in the future.
What gave you the idea for the movie Muffin Top?
What gave me the idea to marry, badly at 23 years old? Whatever gave me that bad idea, gave me this great idea: a breakup causes you to get insecure about your body – and that is so worth getting past. But you don’t have to be in a breakup to feel insecure. Life as a woman – in America or the world – also causes you to get insecure about your body.
Muffin Top is all about learning to laugh at ourselves, and ultimately to love the skin we’re in. Love hurts; cake helps.
Why did you want to make this movie? Why is it important? What message did you want audiences to take from it?
The last movie I saw out of Hollywood that was honest about women’s self-esteem issues about their bodies was Bridget Jones’ Diary, and that was like, 15 years ago. Hollywood movies are specifically designed to make women feel terrible about themselves. They present an airbrushed image of perfection that no one can live up to – even the women in them don’t look like that in real life.
I wanted to make a movie that was honest, and funny about that. Life is too short not to enjoy. Love yourself now, not 5 pounds from now.
This is the first rom-com to have a soundtrack completely done by women. Did you specifically choose to do this?
This is the first rom-com to have an all-female soundtrack and score. It started to come together because I was hiring a lot of women on the film. Then I realized that for this one element, I could hire all women, and both make history while having a great soundtrack and score.
Our film’s composer, Michelle Featherstone, is an absolute genius – a great composer and great singer. Every other artist in the film is brilliant also. Truly, when you hire only women, you get an embarrassment of riches because show business is so sexist. There’s a lot of underused talent out there in front of and behind the camera.
Have you done comedy before?
I’ve spent my career doing comedy; that’s basically all I’ve done. I came out of the Touring Company of The Second City in Chicago. I’ve written for great TV comedies like Designing Women and South Park. I’ve written a bestselling critically acclaimed comedy memoir, The Grrl Genius Guide to Life (HarperCollins, 2001) which became a TV show (Grrl Genius at the Movies on AMC).
I’ve been an actress in comedy (I star in the upcoming feature film Cook Off! with Melissa McCarthy), and I’ve been a stand-up comic for years. My parents told me you can’t earn a living being the funny kid who interrupts the teacher, and they were so wrong. Still, I encourage you to tell your kid the same thing. Nobody becomes good at comedy by being encouraged; they become good at it by being discouraged.
You and your husband, W. Bruce Cameron, wrote the screenplay together. What was it like working together?
Muffin Top was adapted from my novel The Grrl Genius Guide to Sex (With Other People) (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). Though we are both writers on our own, my husband, Bruce, and I love to write for the screen together. We are the screenwriters of A Dog’s Purpose, adapted from his novel of the same name that is being made by DreamWorks into a feature film. Oscar nominee Lasse Hallstrom (Cider House Rules, Chocolat) is directing, and Dennis Quaid is starring.
What do you have coming up in the future?
Bruce and I are currently writing a comedy about gay marriage. I’ll be directing that film as well.
I’m honored to be one of the 4 percent of feature film directors who are women, but I’d also like to help a few more girls get in the boy’s club with me.
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Besides Michon, Muffin Top also features David Arquette, Dot Marie Jones, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Haylie Duff, Diedrich Bader, Markie Post, Marcia Wallace, Retta, Maria Bamford, Melissa Peterman, Cris Rose, Phil LaMarr, and Gary Anthony Williams, among many others.
Muffin Top: A Love Story is on Starz On Demand through August, and premieres on Netflix on August 30. You can also see it on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Vimeo, among others. Check MuffinTopMovie.com for listings.
See the award-winning trailer for the film here:
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Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski is the award-winning author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box, writer of the award-winning humor column, Wojo’s World®, and a future award-winning stand-up comic and speaker. She would love to see more “real” women in Hollywood movies, muffin tops and all. For more Wojo and lots of funny stuff, check out her website at www.wojosworld.com.
View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
If you want more of a challenge when walking, Mushir Hassan, M.D., at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, suggests these adds.
Adding a weighted vest or handheld or ankle weights can help you burn more calories. But “be careful they don’t disrupt your normal, natural movements,” he says. Fitness Gear 10 lb Adjustable Weighted Vest ($40, Dick’s Sporting Goods)
Walking with poles, or Nordic walking, is good for engaging all the major muscle groups. “Recent studies have shown that Nordic walking burns more calories, increases oxygen consumption and can be more efficient than normal walking,” says Hassan. OS2 2 Piece Telescoping Pole Set ($90, walkingpoles.com)
Mix up your usual pace by slowing down then speeding up—slow for 10 minutes, fast for two. Brief bursts of speed can double your calorie burn.
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This perfect snack for students comes from Stephanie Banyas’ new cookbook Treat: 50 Recipes for No-Bake Marshmallow Treats (Clarkson Potter).
After-School Power Bar Treats
Combine oats and sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Grease bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch glass or nonstick baking dish with 1 Tbsp butter.
Melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add marshmallows, reduce heat to low, cover and let stand 3-5 minutes or until marshmallows soften. Add peanut butter and vanilla; stir until smooth. Gently fold in cereal, toasted oats and sesame seeds, peanuts and raisins.
Scrape mixture into prepared dish and spread evenly with a piece of wax paper. Firmly press down on the mixture to make it slightly compact. Let stand for 30 minutes or until firm enough to cut.
Serves 16-24.About the Author
Credit Line: Recipes reprinted from Treat by Stephanie Banyas. Copyright ©2015 by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Photos by Davide Luciano. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ Key Tags
“Walking takes us to places that no other modes of transport can access, into communities and environments where roads simply do not go,” says Barry Stone, editor of 1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die (Universe). He should know. This prolific travel writer has been hooked on hiking since he and his wife tackled the Tea House Trail in Nepal on their 1993 honeymoon.
Inspired? Try one of these easy trails from 1001 Walks. You’ll find something that suits you, whether you’re looking for a hike that’s uphill or as flat as a pancake, near the seaside or inland or even in the city or in the dead of winter.
Hall of Mosses Trail
Olympic National Park
Port Angeles, Wash.
Start/End: Hall of Mosses Visitor Center
This mossy green, fern-filled, storybook-worthy path winds through the Hoh Rain Forest.
Red Beds Trail
Devils Tower, Wyo.
Start: Devils Tower Visitor Center
Walk here for great views of Devils Tower, the ancient volcano selected as the first U.S. National Monument in 1906.
Start: Boston Common visitor center
End: Bunker Hill Monument
This walking history lesson takes you past 16 historic Revolutionary War sites, including Paul Revere’s home.
Bayfield Sea and Ice Caves
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield, Wis.
Start/End: Meyers Beach
In the summer, you’ll see lovely scenery, but this short hike truly shines in the winter when the ice puts on a real show.
Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Start/End: Cinnamon Bay campground
This rugged, shady flat Caribbean trail takes you inland through groves of bay rum trees.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
It stretches more than 2,180 miles, through 14 states, over some of the world’s oldest mountains, into forests thick with oak, across grassy balds dotted with huckleberry and into sheer wilderness. Its beauty will etch itself onto your heart, and its challenges may break it. The Appalachian Trail “has this aura about it,” says Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Ronald Tipton, 67, whose thru-hike (covering the entire trail in a single, long trip) at age 29 changed his life. “There’s no other hike like it in the world.”
Almost 3 million people a year walk some portion of the A.T., whether it’s a thru-hike, a one-mile loop on the River Trail in Falls Village, Conn., or the 870 miles Bill Bryson tramped in 1996 before documenting his experiences in A Walk In the Woods, the New York Times bestseller soon to be released as a movie. Yet only a small fraction—fewer than 1,000—complete the A.T. in any given year, including section hikers (people who hike in bits and pieces over months or decades). This year, some 3,000 people will set out to thru-hike, but barely a quarter will finish.
And yet people still set off into what Bryson calls “the vast tangled woods that have been frightening sensible people for three hundred years.” Why do they do it?
“If you talk to 100 hikers, they’ll have 100 reasons for being there, but they all tie in to finding the time and space to solve problems and emerge at the end completely different people,” says author David Brill, who thru-hiked in 1979.
Here are a few stories of the real people who have answered the call of the A.T.
On Sean Gobin’s last day in the Marine Corps, he drove out the gates of Camp Lejeune and straight to Springer Mountain, Ga., the southern end of the A.T. “It was something I always wanted to do,” says Gobin, 39.
Then he started hiking. “I realized it was a transformative experience, especially coming off my third deployment,” he says. “The physical activity of hiking every day, plus being out in nature, helped me de-stress mentally, physically and emotionally.”
Even more restorative was the camaraderie he found with other hikers on the trail. “After three deployments, you’ve been exposed to the very worst of humanity. Meeting all these people who were so incredibly supportive really helped change my perspective on the inherent goodness in people.”
Gobin completed the A.T. in October 2012, and went on to found the Warrior Hike “Walk Off the War” program, which provides equipment, supplies and support to a number of returning veterans each year so they can thru-hike the A.T. or one of five other National Scenic Trails in the U.S.
Vickie Holloway, 51, is a massage therapist from Clarksville, Tenn., whose husband, a Sergeant First Class with the Army’s Special Ops Aviation Regiment, is often deployed to unknown locations for 30 to 45 days at a time. To distract herself from his absence, she section-hiked 35 miles of the A.T. this summer with her dog, Max. The hike helped Holloway confront two of her greatest challenges: fear of the dark and shyness. The people she met on the trail and at the shelters were welcoming. “There’s something magical about the A.T.,” she says. “It’s beautiful and great for grounding.”
The Wilderness Lovers
Ron Tipton was already interested in environmental issues when he set out to thru-hike the A.T. in 1978. But by the end of the hike he knew he wanted his future work to “be about protecting wild lands.” Two months after completing the trail, he took a job with The Wilderness Society. “I came full circle,” he says of the 35 years from his thru-hike to his position with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “I started at age 29 and spent my 30th birthday in a spring blizzard near Clingmans Dome [in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park]. It was a moment in life. It was extraordinarily life-changing. ” Sticking it out is a matter of “how much you want it.” As he marched through one of the coldest, wettest springs on record, he often thought, Why am I doing this? “The end of that thought is I really want to. I want to be part of something unique.” Tipton was one of just 77 people to thru-hike that year.
David Brill’s thru-hike in 1979 at age 23 set the stage for a life-long love of wilderness. He has since hiked Mount Rainier and Mount Denali, and written books about his treks, As Far As the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker (University of Tenn. Press) and Desire and Ice: A Search for Perspective Atop Denali (National Geographic).
Brill remembers “dazzling shooting stars” and sitting on a mountaintop with the fog layer 100 feet below, “as if someone had poured cream into a bowl of blueberries. There’s a strong spiritual component to hiking the trail,” he says. “Everybody awakens spiritually a bit.”
The ‘Because it’s There’ Backerpacker
Last April, longtime hiker and outdoor sports enthusiast Ashli Baldwin, 26, quit her job at the outdoor co-op REI, shouldered her pack and set off for the trail. Baldwin (trail name: “Katniss Neverclean”) expected the rigors of carrying a heavy pack, hiking difficult terrain and battling weather. But she wasn’t prepared for some of the mental challenges.
“When you’re hiking 20 miles a day it’s beautiful, but a lot of it is learning to be OK with being alone in your head,” Baldwin says. The hike changed her in ways she didn’t expect. “I’m much slower to make decisions; you learn that things tend to sort themselves out on their own. I’m much more self-assured.” And the friends and “trail family” she made along the way will stick with her for life. “There are no computers, no cellphones to distract you, so when you sit down to dinner at night you talk to each other about your experience that day, where you’re headed the next day. Your whole life encompasses something that sounds so simple, but it’s everything you have.”
The Bucket List Hiker
In 2013, Jane Congdon, 69, read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild chronicling the author’s thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, then devoured 38 other hiking books. “I was just fascinated,” she says. So she researched equipment, made a schedule, got a physical and, this year on March 30, stepped onto the A.T. with a friend.
After all the reading she’d done, Congdon thought she knew what to expect. “But I really didn’t know anything,” she says. She folded up her tent when it was still wet with rain, and spent the next night with water dripping onto her and her sleeping bag. She pushed so hard at first that she got exhausted and had to walk 20 steps, then rest, another 20 steps, then rest. She had to watch her feet every step to avoid tripping on the trail’s many rocks and roots. A month into the hike, her friend had to leave because of a family member’s illness.
“The first night by myself, I woke up and thought, Do I really want to do this hike alone?” In the morning, she pressed on. She had a token—a little blue stone with a rabbit etched on one side, a gift from a friend. “It was supposed to be some kind of spirit guide. So when my hiking partner left, I talked to the rabbit. I’d say, ‘Ms. Rabbit, that shelter ought to be over the next rise, don’t you think?’ We made it through the Smoky Mountains.”
And nothing prepared her for the experience of what she saw. “I will never look at a mountain the same way again.” Congdon (trail name: “E.B.” for “Earlybird”) had finished more than 800 miles of the trail at press time, and was heading back out to hike some more.View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+