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Animal Magnetism: 9 Critters that owe their names to celebrities

Having a street or a college dorm named after you has never seemed that impressive to me. You simply drop an overflowing briefcase on the right desk, and it's basically a done deal. And while having a theme park or a capital named after you (Dollywood? Monrovia?) is certainly more remarkable, nothing seems as impressive to me as winning the hearts of those surly biologists, who have the power to name a creature after you forever. The following are just a few of the lucky animals to have been blessed with celebrity names.

cover.gif1. Gary Larson
The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson has a biting louse (Strigiphilus garylarsoni) named for him. According to Wikipedia, Larson wrote, "I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along."

2. Bill Gates
Believe it or not, Microsoft's main man has a Costa Rican flower fly named for him (Eristalis gatesi). When I was thumbing through my internet, I saw several places claim inner_img_f8de6bbdc2ccf4af.pngthat the honor was thanks to his "contributions to dipterology." I'm guessing that means financial contributions, and not field work, or the effects of Microsoft Word on the discipline. But you can never be sure with these things.

3. Paul Allen

Not to be outdone, his sidekick Paul Allen also has a fly named for him (Eristalis alleni). Somehow Allen ended up with the prettier of the two species, perhaps in compensation for his slightly smaller bank account. [see pic at top]

4. Harrison Ford
If you're in the mood to catalog Harrison Ford's many accomplishments, you should know031212harrisonfordi.jpg that he has not one, but two species named for him. That's right, Han Solo himself lays claim to both a spider (calponia harrisonfordi) and an ant (pheidole harrisonfordi), thanks to his involvement in conservation work and narration of documentaries. As of yet, there's been no motion to name any snakes after him, though.

BECKER_Boris_1989_SF_L.jpg 5. Boris Becker

Being an Ivan Lendl fan, I was a little disturbed by Boris Becker's Bufonaria borisbeckeri, a bursid sea snail. Still, that was so many Wimbledons ago, and I can't hold a grudge forever. After all he's done for the game, I think the least he deserves is a sea snail.

6. James Brown

Talk about putting the might back in mites! Nothing shakes like the Funkotriplogynium iagobadius. james-brown.jpgAccording to my web research, the naming is definitely superbad: Iago = James, badius = brown. Who said taxonomists don't got soul?

7. Jerry Garcia

I wasn't that surprised to learn that Elvis has a wasp named after him, or that the Beatles have a shaggy nematode named after them thanks to their moptops, but whodathunk Jerry Garcia would have an insect in his honor? In any case, it's pretty funny that some pot-smokin' taxonomist decided to name the wood 'roach' cryptocercus garciai after the high-flyin' Grateful Dead guitarist.
Bush&Cheney&Rumsfeld.jpg8. The Current Administration
Apparently, these names aren't always flattering. I was kind of shocked to learn that some scientists wear their politics on their labcoat sleeves... and even worse, that they use their powers to poke fun! Such was the case with Agathidium bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi, which are now all scientific names for types of slime mold beetles.

9. Hugh Hefner
Of course, sometimes the admiration, the species and cleverness tie up really nicely, as in Hef's case. The Playboy magazine founder has an endangered rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) named for him. I once read an interview where Hugh Hefner revealed that his best pick-up line was "Hi, I'm Hugh Hefner." Perhaps the line will help the endangered bunnies mate like, well, rabbits.
hugh-hefner.jpg

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Food
How to Make Miles Davis’s Famous Chili Recipe
STF/AFP/Getty Images
STF/AFP/Getty Images

Miles Davis, who was born on May 26, 1926, was one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century, and changed the course of jazz music more times in his life than some people change their sheets. He was also pretty handy in the kitchen.

In his autobiography, Miles, Davis wrote that in the early 1960s, “I had gotten into cooking. I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes. But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles's South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers."

Davis didn’t divulge what was in the dish or how to make it, but in 2007, Best Life magazine got the recipe from his first wife, Frances, who Davis said made it better than he did.

MILES'S SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO CHILIK MACK (SERVES 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

John Szwed’s biography of Davis, So What, mentions another chili that the trumpeter’s father taught him how to make. The book includes the ingredients, but no instructions, save for serving it over pasta. Like a jazz musician, you’ll have to improvise. 

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

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4 Fascinating Facts About John Wayne
Fox Photos, Getty Images
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Most people know John Wayne, who would have been 111 years old today, for his cowboy persona. But there was much more to the Duke than that famous swagger. Here are a few facts about Duke that might surprise you.

1. A BODY SURFING ACCIDENT CHANGED HIS CAREER. 

John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team. He also lost the football scholarship that had landed him a spot at USC in the first place. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera; he had his first leading role in The Big Trail in 1930.

2. HE TOOK HIS NICKNAME FROM HIS BELOVED FAMILY POOCH. 

Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”

3. HE WAS A CHESS FANATIC. 

Anyone who knew John Wayne personally knew what an avid chess player he was. He often brought a miniature board with him so he could play between scenes on set.

When Wayne accompanied his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while she played in amateur tennis tournaments, officials would stock a trailer with booze and a chess set for him. The star would hang a sign outside of the trailer that said, “Do you want to play chess with John Wayne?” and then happily spend the day drinking and trouncing his fans—for Wayne wasn’t just a fan of chess, he was good at chess. It’s said that Jimmy Grant, Wayne’s favorite screenwriter, played chess with the Duke for more than 20 years without ever winning a single match.

Other famous chess partners included Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, and Robert Mitchum. During their match, Mitchum reportedly caught him cheating. Wayne's reply: "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."

4. HE COINED THE TERM "THE BIG C."

If you say you know someone battling “The Big C” these days, everyone immediately knows what you’re referring to. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term, evidently trying to make it less scary. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was with lung cancer in the early 1960s, Wayne called a press conference in his living room shortly after an operation that removed a rib and half of one lung. “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image,” he told reporters. “Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.”

Wayne's daughter, Aissa Wayne, later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer,” even when he developed cancer again, this time in his stomach, 15 years later. Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.

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