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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 23, 2005
I received the following email from Joe Mason. Instead of summarizing it, I'll just cut-and-paste the whole thing: Amazon has a listing for "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie". The book also has a homepage at http://www.hamsterhueypress.com/, and it's listed as being written by "renowned story teller" Mabel S. Barr. Hamster Huey is, of course, the fictional book written by "Mabel Syrup" in Calvin and Hobbes. It looks like somebody with a vanity press has ripped off the title (I don't think titles are copyrightable, so this may even be legal). This version of "Hamster Huey" certainly…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (37)
Another Belle de Jour Theory
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 07, 2005
The Book Club blog has collected together more information than you'd ever want to know about the Belle de Jour blog, the supposed online diary of a London call girl that recently was published as a book. About a year ago there was a lot of speculation that Belle de Jour was really Sarah Champion, a 33-year-old music journalist. Now the Book Club blog is speculating that Belle is really a writer named Lisa Hilton.
Batman’s Greatest Boner
Posted by The Curator on Sat Mar 05, 2005
A series of scans has appeared on the scans_daily LiveJournal blog, apparently from an early Batman comic (Batman #66). It details a 'boner' made by the Joker, and his subsequent efforts to force Batman 'into a boner'. The word boner is repeated so often that it seems like it has to be a joke, especially when you read lines such as "Gotham City will rue the day it mentioned the word Boner!" Perhaps someone photoshopped the word 'boner' into an issue of Batman. But I don't think so. I think it's real, although I can't be sure since I don't have a copy of that…
Categories: Art, Literature/Language Comments (49)
MPAA Ratings Crackdown
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 17, 2005
Archives of fanfiction on the net have traditionally grouped stories according to rating (i.e. X, R, PG-13, PG, and G), so that everyone knows what to expect before they read a story. But it turns out that their use of the rating system may be illegal. A few fanfiction writers have apparently begun receiving cease-and-desist notices from the MPAA demanding that they stop using the rating system since it's the intellectual property of the MPAA. The people receiving these notices can hardly believe they're real. And other people are puzzled as well. Riba Rambles summarizes: Some are wondering if this isn't a hoax. Not only has this practice [i.e. rating fanfiction] been going…
Atlanta Nights
Posted by The Curator on Sun Feb 06, 2005
A group of science fiction writers accused book publisher PublishAmerica of being a vanity press in disguise (i.e. a publisher that would print anything, for a fee). PublishAmerica fired back by calling the writers a bunch of 'literary parasites'. This inspired the writers to exact revenge. They pooled their talent and jointly authored a truly awful book that they called Atlanta Nights. The authors (each of whom penned a different chapter) had instructions to write as badly as they could. In addition one chapter was left blank, another was repeated verbatim, and a final one was pure gibberish. The writers then submitted this book to PublishAmerica to see if the publisher would indeed accept anything. Predictably, the manuscript…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (6)
Stoned Student Tackles Oedipus
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 13, 2005
This link (warning: Not Safe for Work because of language) ranks high on the stupid meter, but I'm posting it anyway because it reminds me of the days that I worked as a TA in a freshman writing program at UC San Diego. It's supposedly a student essay that some guy wrote while high and then handed in... and despite this sorry excuse for an essay he passed the class, because attendance counted. Is the paper real? That's hardly worth speculating about since there's no evidence either way. It would be easy enough for someone to fake this (get out a red pen and mark up a paper), but I also remember seeing many papers that were worse…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (17)
Remote Autographing Device
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 11, 2005
The novelist Margaret Atwood, having grown tired of attending book signings in cities throughout the world, has invented a strange new device that may eliminate author appearances altogether in the future. It's a remote autographing device. The author sits in the comfort of their home and talks to a tv screen. In a bookstore thousands of miles away a fan talks back. If the fan wants an autographed book, the author simply scribbles something on a tablet. The tablet then transmits this scribbling to an in-store machine that produces an identical copy of the message in a book that the fan can take home. It reminds me of a high-tech version of Jefferson's polygraph machine. I…
Overpriced Amazon Items
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 14, 2004
How much would you pay for a one-page pdf file discussing the delayed launch of Sony's PlayStation Portable in North America? What about $750. That's the price it's going for on Amazon. But maybe it's worth it, because it has received quite a few five-star reviews. For instance, D.C. McKinney says that it's "Definately a good read and well worth the price of admission! This gem of a find is a must for anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in delays in the world of Sony Electronics." (for some reason I suspect that some of the reviews are tongue-in-cheek). But if you do download the pamphlet and enjoy it, then you might want to check out…
Pertannually Insubdurient
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 01, 2004
EU bureaucrats are a perpetual target for humor. Here's the latest one. Supposedly they decided to remove the word 'pertannually' from the EU constitution, having decided that it was incomprehensible and meaningless. And what did they replace it with? The much clearer term 'insubdurience'. One source for this story is John Humphrys, a political journalist who's just written a book Lost for Words, about "the demise of the language." The tale also pops up in this Guardian article. The story could very well be true, but it also sounds suspiciously like one of those Euromyths that have become so popular. For instance, there's the Euromyth about the supposed new EU law that forbids bananas…
Seize The Day, Then Die
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 19, 2004
I thought I had some strange teachers in my time, but none as strange as this Manchester teacher who told her students that a meteor was going to hit the earth in a week and they were all going to die. Her point: to motivate them to 'seize the day'. The logic seems to be 'make them think they're going to die so they appreciate what they have.' Kind of like that guy who tried to save his marriage by electrifying his wife in the bathtub. On a completely unrelated note, the widespread use of the phrase seize the day (from the latin carpe diem) is a pet peeve of mine, since…
Categories: Death, Literature/Language Comments (11)
Who’s Buried in Yeats’ Grave?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 27, 2004
William Butler Yeats is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern poets. He's also my favorite poet (and we happen to share a birthday!). When I spent a semester studying in Ireland fifteen years ago I made a special trip to visit his grave located just outside of Sligo. It's well worth a visit, even if you couldn't care less about Yeats, because the scenery there is stunning. But now I find out that Yeats may not occupy that grave. Instead, it may be a random Englishman named Alfred Hollis who's buried there. According to this article on Eircom.net it's very likely that a mix-up occurred when Yeats' remains were moved from France to Ireland in 1948.…
Categories: Death, Literature/Language Comments (21)
The Klingon Hamlet
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 07, 2004
Great literature always is best read in its original language. No matter how good a translation is, it will never be able to perfectly capture the nuances of the original. I realized this when I read the Aeneid in Latin during high school, and that's why I'm now going to have to bone up on my Klingon so that I can read Hamlet in its original language. "taH pagh taHbe." Doesn't that sound better than 'To be or not to be?'
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (4)
Weird Amazon Reviews
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 04, 2004
Stephen Eckett's book on Online Investing is full of practical info such as "how to import web data into a spreadsheet - quick ways to copy text from a web page - using more than one ISP - minimising connection charges - speeding up browsing - improving download speeds." Which is why it seems odd that the reviewer for The Daily Telegraph would declare this "the funniest book I have read for ages." Or that The Scotsman reviewer would declare "I laughed out loud on every page." Hmm. I think Amazon got their reviews mixed up. Specifically, I think they mixed up the reviews for The Life & Death of Rochester Sneath with Stephen Eckett's investing…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (2)
Anne Rice on Amazon
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 28, 2004
Did Anne Rice really post an angry, rambling message on Amazon slamming those who have written negative reviews of her latest book, Blood Canticle? The post in question (you may need to scroll down a bit to find it... it's the one posted by 'Anne Obrien Rice') appeared on Sep. 6, and it truly is a piece of work. It starts off by denouncing the "sheer outrageous stupidity" of the negative reviews, then informs the reviewers that they're simply projecting their own limitations onto her work, and ends up assuring them of the "utter contempt" she feels for them. Oh, and the message also challenges anyone who doesn't like the book to send it to her…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (10)
Phony Honor Killing?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 24, 2004
Norma Khouri's bestseller Honor Lost (published in Australia where Khouri now lives as Forbidden Love) tells the story of a Jordanian 'honor killing.' Dalia, a young woman, falls in love with a Christian man and is murdered for this transgression by her father in order to defend the 'honor' of the family. It's a shocking story, and Khouri has always insisted that it's entirely true. She claims that she lived in Jordan for many years and personally knew Dalia. But the Sydney Morning Herald has done a lot of investigative work into Khouri's background and is now alleging that Khouri's story is far more fiction than fact. They put it…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (4)
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