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10 March Madness Tournaments (other than Basketball) for 2013

March Madness is never limited to basketball. It's a good thing, too, as this Kentucky fan does not want to talk about basketball. There are plenty of tournaments you can participate in, or just watch, even if you don't know a thing about basketball. March Madness bracketology has invaded the field of movies, TV, science fiction, cooking, and other fields dear to the hearts of internet users. Let's look at a few of them.

1. io9's March TV Madness

Vote for the best science fiction TV show ever in the io9 March TV Madness tournament! Sixty-four shows, both old and new, are competing for the title. So far, Star Trek has trounced ALF (no surprise), and The Walking Dead beat Being Human. That's just the first of the elimination round matchups. Voting in the second half of the first round will be Thursday. Check out the full size bracket; what is shown here is a small portion.  

2. This is Madness

Lucasfilm is presenting their own tournament to determine who is the favorite character in the entire Star Wars universe. The bracket is divided into the Light Side and the Dark Side, guaranteeing matchups between the two in the final four and possibly the championship game. No seeds or odds are apparent, but the way the brackets are laid out, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Han are all in same region, so only one of those can make it to the final four, but Darth Vader vs the Emperor will be a possibility. Voting in the first round began Monday, and the final matchup is on April 9th. Vote now for Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Qui-Gon Jinn and Asajj Ventress vs. Darth Maul in today's matchups.

3. Best College Eats

This one is liable to bring back some good memories, wherever you attended college. Or plan to. The Cooking Channel has a bracket pitting the 32 best foods available near college campuses. Read about each offering here. Even if you don't participate in the tournament, you may find a great place to eat!

4. Teen Movie Madness

Forever Young Adult is staging a tournament to determine the best teen movie ever. You can see the entire bracket in the round two results post. Yesterday was the The Molly Ringwald Division Semi-Finals, and today we have the The Freddie Prinze, Jr. Division Semi-Finals

5. Animal March Madness

Buzzfeed Animals wants you to help select the most promising animal species, barring dogs and cats and a few other animals that have already seen more than their share of internet fame. Sixteen species are represented in the bracket, with four already eliminated. The aim is to select which animal will be the "next big thing" on the internet. Keep up with the current open categories here

6. Hot Dog Madness

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is asking you to decide which hot dog is best, pitting different sausages against each other on one side of the bracket and different styles of dressing a dog on the other side. See the bracket here. Vote in the matchups at Facebook and win prizes just for voting!

7. The 2013 Worst Company In America Tournament

Consumerist holds an annual tournament to decide which company is the best at instilling hatred in their customers in the Worst Company In America Tournament. Companies appearing in the bracket for the first time this year include Carnival Cruises, J.C. Penney, and Anheuser-Busch. Today's matchup is between Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, which will most likely be won by which company has more customers. Follow the progress of the tournament here

8. Middle-Earth March Madness

TheOneRing.net presents the 2013 edition of Middle Earth Madness, with a whole new infusion of characters from The Hobbit movie, in addition to old favorites. The bracket's four divisions are: The Shire, Erebor, Angmar and Mordor. Voting is now open in the first round. Follow the progress of the tournament here

9. The Ultimate Sitcom Smackdown

Vulture once again hosted a tournament about TV, this time to decide the best sitcom of the past 30 years. Unfortunately, you can't vote in this tournament, as the champion was announced yesterday. However, each round comes with an extensive breakdown of each show's strengths and weaknesses, which is fascinating for sitcom fans.

10. Pope Madness 2013

People will make a tournament bracket out of anything, and the process of selecting the next Pope was just too tempting to resist. The Pope Madness bracket is divided into four regions, including the tri-state regional, which contains four men not actually considered "papabili" (two are deceased). This is another example of March Madness tournaments not coinciding with the NCAA tournament because the basketball tournament is so late getting started -and the papal conclave was quicker than expected. The rounds have wonderful names, the best being the Sweet Sistine. Each candidate came with Vegas odds, but you might notice that the eventual winner, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is not in the bracket at all.

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Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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holidays
8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good so as to deserve their Christmas gifts often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.

1. KRAMPUS

As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior.

Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. In modern times, people can spend as much as they like to become the best Krampus around—and the tradition is spreading beyond Europe. Many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.

2. JÓLAKÖTTURINN

Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. He is not a nice cat. In fact, he might eat you. This character is tied to an Icelandic tradition in which those who finished all their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not (although this is mainly a threat). To encourage children to work hard, parents told the tale of the Yule Cat, saying that Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas—and these children would be sacrificed to the Yule Cat. This reminder tends to spur children into doing their chores! A poem written about the cat ends with a suggestion that children help out the needy, so they, too, can have the protection of new clothing. It's no wonder that Icelanders put in more overtime at work than most Europeans.

3. FRAU PERCHTA


Flickr // Markus Ortner

Tales told in Germany and Austria sometimes feature a witch named Frau Perchta who hands out both rewards and punishments during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany on January 6). She is best known for her gruesome punishment of the sinful: She will rip out your internal organs and replace them with garbage. The ugly image of Perchta may show up in Christmas processions in Austria, somewhat like Krampus.

Perchta's story is thought to have descended from a legendary Alpine goddess of nature, who tends the forest most of the year and deals with humans only during Christmas. In modern celebrations, Perchta or a close relation may show up in processions during Fastnacht, the Alpine festival just before Lent. There may be some connection between Frau Perchta and the Italian witch La Befana, but La Befana isn't really a monster: she's an ugly but good witch who leaves presents.

4. BELSNICKEL

A drawing of Belsnickel.
Lucas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Belsnickel is a male character from southwestern German lore who traveled to the United States and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch customs. He comes to children sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur. Belsnickel carries a switch to frighten children and candy to reward them for good behavior. In modern visits, the switch is only used for noise, and to warn children they still have time to be good before Christmas. Then all the children get candy, if they are polite about it. The name Belsnickel is a portmanteau of the German belzen (meaning to wallop) and nickel for St. Nicholas. See a video of a Belsnickel visit here.

Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are similar characters from German folklore who dole out beatings to bad children, leaving St. Nicholas to reward good children with gifts.

5. HANS TRAPP

Hans Trapp is another "anti-Santa" who hands out punishment to bad children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. The legend says that Trapp was a real man, a rich, greedy, and evil man, who worshiped Satan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was exiled into the forest where he preyed upon children, disguised as a scarecrow with straw jutting out from his clothing. He was about to eat one boy he captured when he was struck by lightning and killed—a punishment of his own from God. Still, he visits young children before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare them into good behavior.

6. PÈRE FOUETTARD

The French legend of Père Fouettard, whose name translates to "Father Whipper," begins with an evil butcher who craved children to eat. He (or his wife) lured three boys into his butcher shop, where he killed, chopped, and salted them. St. Nicholas came to the rescue, resurrected the boys, and took custody of the butcher. The captive butcher became Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas' servant whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.

7. THE YULE LADS

The Jólasveinar, or Yule Lads, are 13 Icelandic trolls, who each have a name and distinct personality. In ancient times, they stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so they were used to scare children into behaving, like the Yule Cat. However, the 20th century brought tales of the benevolent Norwegian figure Julenisse (Santa Claus), who brought gifts to good children. The traditions became mingled, until the formerly devilish Jólasveinar became kind enough to leave gifts in shoes that children leave out ... if they are good boys and girls. 

8. GRÝLA

All the Yule Lads answer to Grýla, their mother. She predates the Yule Lads in Icelandic legend as the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don't obey their parents. She only became associated with Christmas in the 17th century, when she was assigned to be the mother of the Yule Lads. According to legend, Grýla had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder. As if the household wasn't crowded enough, the Yule Cat also lives with Grýla. This ogress is so much of a troublemaker that The Onion blamed her for the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

A version of this post originally ran in 2013. See also: more Legendary Monsters

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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