Abstract: The Milky Way provides an opportunity for a close-up investigation of the complex processes of galaxy and star formation. I will discuss recent efforts to do this by using rare, but important, probes of these phenomena. In the first portion of the talk I will present results on hypervelocity stars primarily from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The distribution of these stars, in physical properties and in space, allows us to place interesting limits on star formation and dynamics at the Galactic Center as well as the possibility to constrain the shape of the Milky Way's dark matter halo. I will discuss progress we have made toward these goals. In the second portion of the talk, I will discuss how one can use RR Lyrae stars to probe the outer halo of the Milky Way and find new and distant substructures that are difficult to probe by other means. Our recent confirmation of a distant structure in RR Lyrae stars highlights the power of this approach to unraveling the outer halo and showcases exciting possibilities for future all-sky time-domain surveys.