The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie — 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…
Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2005.   Comments (37)

Another Belle de Jour Theory — 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.
Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005.   Comments (3)

Batman’s Greatest Boner — 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…
Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005.   Comments (49)

MPAA Ratings Crackdown — 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…
Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2005.   Comments (21)


Atlanta Nights — 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…
Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2005.   Comments (6)

Stoned Student Tackles Oedipus — 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.…
Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2005.   Comments (17)

Remote Autographing Device — 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…
Posted: Tue Jan 11, 2005.   Comments (2)

Overpriced Amazon Items — 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…
Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004.   Comments (10)

Pertannually Insubdurient — 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…
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004.   Comments (10)

Seize The Day, Then Die — 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…
Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2004.   Comments (11)

Who’s Buried in Yeats’ Grave? — 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…
Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2004.   Comments (21)

The Klingon Hamlet — 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?'
Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2004.   Comments (4)

Weird Amazon Reviews — 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…
Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2004.   Comments (2)

Anne Rice on Amazon — 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…
Posted: Tue Sep 28, 2004.   Comments (10)

Phony Honor Killing? — 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…
Posted: Sat Jul 24, 2004.   Comments (4)

Harry Potter Hoax — Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé. Could this be the title of the next book in the Harry Potter series? It sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but over at Mugglenet, a site for Harry Potter fans, someone calling themselves HPstorge claims to have found a way into a secret area of J.K. Rowling's site where this new title was supposedly revealed. The new title is apparently going to be officially announced on July 1 (we'll just have to wait and see what happens). HPstorge placed screen…
Posted: Sun Jun 27, 2004.   Comments (7)

The Journal of Liwwat Bocke — Liwwat Bocke was a German woman who moved to Ohio as a young woman during the nineteenth century. From the 1820s until the 1880s she kept a journal of her experiences... a journal that eventually spanned 1100 pages, all of which is written in a dialect of northern Germany known as Plattdeutsch. When historians discovered her journal during the 1970s they thought it was a remarkable find, sure to shed valuable light on the history of the settlement of Ohio. But now they're not so sure.…
Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2004.   Comments (43)

Has Microsoft translated the Iliad into Messenger Speak? — The news that Microsoft has produced a 'messenger speak' translation of Homer's Iliad has been all over the wire services, but is it true? I thought it must be a joke when I first read it... another example of satire being treated as news. But I should have known better. It's Microsoft, after all (they're good at taking great things and making crappier versions of them... sorry, as an Apple user I couldn't resist the obvious joke). So yes, they really did do it... though they only…
Posted: Thu May 27, 2004.   Comments (1)

Emily Chesley Reading Circle — Emily Chesley was a "speculative fiction writer of the late Victorian period (who lived for some time in the London, Ontario region), who has been long-overlooked by Canadian literature." She was also a "poet, social activist, explorer, aviatrix, and 92-year-old pole vaulter." The Emily Chesley Reading Circle is a "group of 'scholars' and bon-vivants" who get together to study and help promote her work. So far, they've been quite successful. They've even managed to get an abridged…
Posted: Tue May 25, 2004.   Comments (1)

BirdTyping — Roman Kingsley is an Australian man who has trained geese to do skywriting, or 'birdtyping' as he calls it. Impossible, you say? Not at all, according to Kingsley. As he says in this interview, "It normally takes about three months to train the birds to spell out a word. Once each bird knows the letter, they have to know where in the word that letter occurs. But I’m hoping to speed it up more in the future. The curved letters, you know, like o, c, and b take the birds a bit longer. But…
Posted: Wed May 19, 2004.   Comments (1)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.