The Quick 10: 10 Honored Animals

It's no secret that I'm a little obsessed with our three dachshunds. They're so dang cute and quirky I just can't help myself. Be that as it may, I can't say that any of them deserve to be knighted anytime soon"¦ protecting the household from a leaf blowing across the yard? Stopping enemy postmen from leaving the porch domain and entering the house? Fastest consumption of food? Yeah, I'm not seeing any of those categories qualifying for a Purple Heart. But some animals have been promoted into ranks usually reserved for humans "“ here are 10 of them.

1. Nils Olav. He was already a king penguin, but Norway's King Harald V. Loudon made Mr. Olav a knight as well. He had been the King's Guard mascot since 1972 (technically, the penguin recently knighted was Nils Olav III "“ they keep replacing him when he dies, like Lassie or Shamu) and already had lots of honors under his belt, including promotions to honorable regimental sergeant major and honorary colonel-in-chief. But in 2008, the King saw fit to dub him Sir Nils Olav for his years of service and dedication to the country.
2. Incitatus, Caligula's horse. And I think we pamper our pets. Legend has it that Incitatus had a stable made of marble and had a collar festooned with precious gemstones. Incitatus had 18 servants and enjoyed oats with gold flake mixed in. Preposterous? Maybe. But according to some sources, Caligula actually made Incitatus a consul of Rome shortly before his death, an action that was reversed practically before Caligula's body was cold. Other sources say that there was merely an attempt to make the horse a consul.

3. Guinefort is the only canine to ever be sainted, even if he was done so by the public instead of the Church. Guinefort, a greyhound, belonged to a French knight. The story goes that the knight walked into his son's nursery one evening and couldn't find the infant "“ however, he did find Guinefort with blood smeared all over his face and believed that the greyhound had mistaken his son for a snack. He drew his sword and killed the dog. Then his son started crying; he found him under an overturned cot with a dead snake. Guinefort had saved the baby from certain death and was rewarded with his own demise. The knight and his family immediately erected a shrine to the misunderstood dog and after "miracles" started happening at the shrine, locals declared Guinefort the patron saint for the protection of infants. The Catholic Church hated this and spent hundreds of years trying to get people to stop calling the dog "Saint." The trend persisted until the 1930s and then seemed to die out; you don't hear much about Saint Guinefort these days.

4. Teka. Can a dog give CPR? Jim Touzeau will tell you they can. Touzeau suffered a massive heart attack in his Queensland, Australia, home in 2007 and was motionless on the ground when his Australian cattle dog stepped in to save the day. He climbed on to his owner's chest and jumped on him with his full weight, barking all the while. Medical experts don't know that the "jumping" actually restarted Touzeau's heart, but the activity and the noise did revive him enough to get help. "She must have been thinking, "˜I better wake this fella up or I won't get dinner,' Touzeau said. Teka was later awarded the RSPCA's (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Purple Cross "“ the highest award it can give.

5. Treo. Just earlier this year, it was announced that Treo, a black Lab, will be given the canine equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the Dickin Medal, for his service to British soldiers. Since 2005, Treo has been sniffing out landmines and bombs hidden by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Both Prince Charles and Gordon Brown have met Treo and commended him on a job well done.
6. William of Orange. William of Orange won a Dickin Medal for his services during WWII, but he wasn't sniffing out bombs "“ William was a messenger pigeon that managed to get a message back to his home base during the Battle of Arnhem, a battle fraught with communication problems. The message William carried is said to have saved the lives of more than 2,000 British soldiers.

7. Taffy IV. Surprisingly, goats have been in the British military since 1775. Apparently a wild goat wandered onto the battlefield during the Revolutionary War and ended up being adopted by the soldiers. Taffy saw "active service" in WWI in the Retreat from Mons, the First Battle of Ypres, and the Battles of Festubert and Givenchy before his death in 1915. As a result of his battles, Taffy IV may be the most decorated goat in history "“ he received the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
8. Endal. When Endal's disabled owner was hit by a car in 2001, the golden retriever immediately pulled his master into a recovery position and covered him with a blanket. As if that weren't impressive enough, Endal then found his owner's cell phone. No, he didn't call the police, but he did jam the phone into his master's face until the man regained consciousness and could call for help. Endal received a PSDA Gold Medal for his hard work, which is the equivalent of the George Cross (which is the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross).

9. Wojtek. OK, it doesn't appear that Wojtek actually received any military honors, but his story is too good to leave out. The Syrian Brown Bear cub was adopted by members of the Polish II Corps during WWII. He famously helped move incredibly heavy boxes of ammunition as if they were nothing. Members of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company eventually began to see him as one of their own and he earned the nickname "Soldier Bear." When the 22nd Artillery Supply Company was demobilized, Wojtek retired happily to the Edinburgh Zoo and lived there until his death in 1963.
10. Lex. Lex is the first-ever military dog to receive early retirement to go live with the family of his handler, who was killed in action in Iraq in March 2007. Marine Cpl. Dustin J. Lee was killed in a rocket attack; Lex was also severely injured by the shrapnel. He was allowed to go home to Cpl. Lee's family in December 2007 and was awarded an honorary Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.

OK, so my dogs haven't been awarded a Purple Heart"¦ I think I'm going to go give them some extra cuddles anyway. Have a good weekend, _flossers, and if you have any heartwarming animal stories for us, be sure to comment below.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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