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6 Founding Members of the Internet Zoo

Some of the biggest internet sensations have been animals. If the world wide web had a zoo, who would be the founding members? These six, presented in no particular order, would be at the top of the list.

1. Badgers Badgers Badgers

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The flash animation Badgers was created by Jonti Picking of Weebl's Stuff. It was first published in September of 2003. The popularity of Badgers landed Picking a job with MTV Europe, for which he produced the cartoon series Weebl and Bob. There are now a host of badger derivatives for all occasions: zombie badgers, Badgers on a Plane, Big Ass Badgers, soccer badgers, a Harry Potter version, and Baby Badgers, featuring the plush badgers you can buy.

2. Dramatic Prairie Dog

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A 5-second video entitled Dramatic Chipmunk appeared on YouTube in the summer of 2007 and was immediately spread across the web. Further investigation revealed that the animal was actually a prairie dog that had appeared on the Japanese TV show Hello! Morning. The editing and addition of a dramatic crescendo made it "The best 5 second clip on the internet." The original video soon garnered 12 million views (and over 18,000 YouTube comments), and dozens of copies and remixes gained millions more. The popularity of this little guy faded fast as the web was oversaturated rapidly. There's only so much mileage you can get out of a 5-second clip, no matter how funny.

3. Viking Kittens

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Viking Kittens is a flash animation created by Joel Veitch of Rathergood.com in 2002. A pair of kittens sail their longboats and flash their weapons to "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. Viking Kittens disappeared from his site and are mentioned nowhere at all at Rathergood.com now, although you can find them in many other locations. The only reason ever mentioned is that the kittens used too much bandwidth, but there might be a licensing problem with the Led Zeppelin song. In any case, Veitch can't be blamed for wanting to promote songs he wrote himself, of which there are plenty.

4. Hamster Dance

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Deidre LaCarte designed the Hamster Dance in 1998 while an art student in Canada. It was a bid to draw traffic to her website, which, um, worked. The inspiration was her own hamster, Hampton Hamster. The song behind the 9-second loop is "Whistle Stop", performed by Roger Miller in the Disney movie Robin Hood. The web page drew thousands of visitors a day in 1999, which at the time made it the number one destination on the internet. The hamsters elicited giggles for a minute, then annoyance as they were emailed around the world (and still are). Several Hamster Dance songs have been recorded and became minor hits in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Hamster dance spinoffs found their way onto five albums (so far). There are many redesigns and new versions of the Hamster Dance at the official site.

5. Oolong the Pancake Bunny

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Oolong is the name of the rabbit in the picture captioned "I have no idea what you're talking about... so here's a bunny with a pancake on its head." Beginning in 1999, photographer Hironori Akutagawa trained Oolong to balance objects on his head and took pictures, which he posted on his website. He became an internet sensation in 2001 and built a fan base until his death in 2003. He was eight years old. Urban Dictionary defines "pancake bunny" as the patron saint of silence.

6. LOLrus

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The LOLcat universe has permeated the internet deeply with a vast array of funny cats, but the one who rose to the top of the popularity chain is not a cat at all! The LOLrus was a walrus who was charmingly attached to his most precious possession -a bucket. The original picture spawned an entire series of walrus macros, most captioned with something about the missing bucket. The original picture was of Minazo, an elephant seal (not a walrus at all!) who lived at the Enoshima Aquarium in Japan. Minazo died in 2005, but his legacy (and his bucket) lives on.

Who will the next inductees into the internet zoo be? There are quite a few famous animals who might deserve hall-of-fame status: Tubcat, Spaghetti Cat, Mocha the baby hamster, Oscar the death-predicting cat, Faith the bipedal dog, the Cadbury Gorilla, Tyson the skateboarding dog, Sugar Bush Squirrel, and the most popular of the LOLcats. What others would you suggest?

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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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