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The Lion of Gripsholm Castle

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Swedish blogger Ulrika Good posted a story about a king and his lion that captured the internet, and turned a Swedish meme into an international sensation. She later put up an English version to replace the rough Google translation many were using. King Frederik I of Sweden was given gifts from the Bey  of Algiers in 1731. These included a lion, another wildcat, three hyenas, and a freed slave who became the animals' keeper. The creatures lived out their lives at Djurgården, the Royal Game Park.

Quite a few years after the lion died, some of its remains were sent to a taxidermist to be mounted. All that was left was the pelt and some bones. The taxidermist was not at all familiar with this animal called a lion. So he did the best he could with what he had. There's always the possibility that alcohol was involved.

The Warner Brothers School of Taxidermy did not exist in the 1700s, but many have pointed out how the lion's face resembles a cartoon. Good compared it with the dog Dug from the Pixar movie Up! Others thought it resembled Snagglepuss.

King Frederik's lion is on display to this day at Gripsholm Castle, a former royal residence and now a museum in Mariefred, Södermanland, Sweden. Some have speculated that the taxidermist may have used heraldic lion images as a guide, like the carved lion at Gripsholm Castle shown here. That would at least explain the tongue. Image by Flickr user Groundhopping Merseburg.

Good also pointed us to the lion's Facebook fan page, where you'll find a wonderful collection of tribute images. The lion of Gripsholm Castle has found a home anywhere lions exist in pop culture.

He fits right in with the cast of The Wizard of Oz in this image by by Emelie Bäckström.

Our lion stars as Aslan in this poster for the movie Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Viktor Jungsand.

Our movie star has also appeared as Christian the Lion. Poster alteration by Dan Abrahamson.

Dan Abrahamson was also responsible for the fan page's profile pic, featuring the lion as Simba from The Lion King.

There are more references to Simba. Although he is a lion, he may have learned his facial expression from a hyena. Image by Vanitas Vanitatum.

Leo the MGM lion has been replaced in this new production card by Helena Lehmus.

This lion was there, along with what looks like his relatives, with Daniel in the lion's den. This image is from Vanitas Vanitatum. But these are only the images in which you would expect a lion to be. Others have the lion of Gripsholm Castle taking the place of various celebrities and figures from history, and set into various other ridiculous scenarios.

There are more images in a Fark thread about the lion, such as this portrait with Siegfried and Roy.

And so this Swedish meme is launched into the English-speaking world. If you ever find yourself in Sweden with time on your hands, you can still see the lion at Gripsholm Castle which is open most afternoons. However, photography is not allowed.

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EduardKhilFans, YouTube
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Pop Culture
Eduard Khil: The Soviet Union Pop Star Who Became a Meme
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EduardKhilFans, YouTube

If you haven’t seen Eduard Khil in the flesh, you may have seen any number of parody videos acknowledging his internet infamy. Shows like Family Guy and Jimmy Kimmel Live! have referenced Khil’s peculiar 1976 performance, where the Russian singer performs a non-lexical, vocable version of a song—a wordless, carbonated babble baritone that’s better seen than described.

Khil is the recent subject of a Google Doodle, the search engine's landing page spotlight on interesting figures in history, and it's led to another wave of publicity in what could be considered a third act in his long career.

Born in 1934, Khil’s hometown of Smolensk was eventually occupied by Nazi Germany: A budding performer, he sang for wounded soldiers at area hospitals. Though he later studied opera at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, he fell in love with pop music and pursued it as a career. In the Soviet Union, however, the kind of provocative lyrics and performances being seen in America were simply not possible: Anything even remotely sexual or suggestive would be censored. When he chose to sing about a cowboy riding home to his wife on the farm, he substituted the actual lyrics for nonsense syllables like “tra la la” or “trololo.”

Footage of his 1976 performance—where Khil appears in a muddy brown suit against a pallid backdrop while singing with great enthusiasm—eventually made its way online. Viewers were taken with his stage presence (he sometimes matched his eyebrows to the beat) and the fact that his “trololo” was an anachronistic reference to “trololol,” internet shorthand for trolling. American entertainers like Stephen Colbert latched on to the footage, and Russia even took note of the interest: The song was played during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In 2010, just two years before his death at age 77, news outlets began to reach out to the now-retired singer to get his reaction to the sudden surge in interest. "I'm very pleased, but I wasn't surprised because it is really a beautiful tune," he told Radio Free Europe in 2010. "I tried to make it cheerful. It's such a radiant song. Even though it was composed in 1966, it doesn't sound outdated."

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Getty Images
Leo Wins an Oscar: The Meme
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Getty Images

Leonardo DiCaprio has been on our screens (and in our hearts) since he was just a kid, and he's been earning Oscar nominations since he was a teenager. Starting with his Best Supporting Actor nod for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), to his more recent Best Actor nominations for The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and The Revenant (2015), the 41-year-old has proven to be a resilient and reliable leading man. And although there have been plenty of actors who take years to get their due, the good people of the Internet made DiCaprio’s lack of an Oscar a particular pet project.

Various Leo memes have been around since 2011, when Funny or Die remixed the movie J. Edgar (for which DiCaprio was nominated for a Golden Globe, but snubbed by the Academy) to tell the story.

In the years since, there have been plenty of jokes about Leo's quest for the elusive Academy Award. And then Sunday night, it happened.

Was it real? There was some doubt, especially when we recall what happened at the Miss Universe pageant when host Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner.

Other things could have gone wrong. After all, his Oscar win was for the movie The Revenant. Another possible outcome is illustrated in this flip book from The Flippist.

The original flip book is up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to the the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And then there’s this animation of the years-long saga.

DiCaprio seems to have a good sense of humor about his 20-plus year quest for an Oscar. After the ceremony, he was recorded joking about his lack of knowledge about post-winning protocol as his name was engraved on the statuette.

"You do this every year? I wouldn't know."

So, do you think that will be the end of the jokes? We doubt it.

The end of one meme is the beginning of another.

But all kidding aside, the award is official, and no one can take it away now. Jack Dawson finally won an Oscar, and you can get a custom T-shirt (design above) to celebrate. Congratulations, Leo!

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