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Category: Literature/Language
The Diamond Club—an erotic literary experiment
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 10, 2012
Justin Young and Brian Bushwood, of the NSFWshow podcast, were intrigued by the success of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. They were particularly impressed with how many books were selling well for no other reason, apparently, than that they looked Fifty Shades of Grey. So they decided to conduct an experiment — to find out whether an ebook could succeed simply by resembling Fifty Shades of Grey. They came up with a title for their novel, The Diamond Club. They also sketched out a rough outline of a plot: When Brianna Young discovers that Roman Dyle, the man she built a relationship…
The Origin of the Word Quiz
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 10, 2012
'Quiz' is a relatively new word. It first came into use in the late 1700s, making it a little over 250 years old, and there's a curious story about how it came into being. The tale goes that it emerged from a wager made in 1791 by Richard Daly, manager of the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Daly bet his friends that within 48 hours he could make a nonsense word be spoken throughout Dublin — specifically, a word having no meaning nor derived from any known language. His friends took him up on the bet. So Daly sent out his employees to write the word "QUIZ" in chalk on doors, windows, and walls throughout Dublin.…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (0)
Brief Answer: No! Longer Answer: If you do a search for the phrase, "The best things in life make you sweaty," you'll find quite a few sites (facebook and tumblr pages especially) attributing this quotation to Edgar Allan Poe. There's even a short article at the Richmond County Daily Journal which uses this supposed Poe quotation as its lead. Of course, Poe never said this. Nor was it the kind of thing he would have said. I doubt Poe was a big fan of sweating. His greatest passions were writing and drinking. Neither of those activities make you sweat much. I'm not sure where the quotation (and…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (5)
Naked Came the Stranger: the x-rated movie
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 17, 2012
As I noted in my previous post, Mike McGrady, creator of the 1969 "Naked Came the Stranger" literary hoax, died recently. A little-known footnote to this hoax is that it inspired an x-rated movie in 1975. Here's the trailer for that movie. (It's pretty much safe for work.)
RIP Mike McGrady
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 17, 2012
Mike McGrady was the mastermind behind the Naked Came the Stranger hoax of 1969. His aim was to show that any book with enough sex scenes, even if lacking in any other merit, could sell well. And the book he created to prove this point did sell well. Although its sales had a lot to do with the fact that McGrady's sister-in-law, the attractive Penelope Ashe, posed as its author. Which shows that the good looks of an author can definitely sell books. And, of course, the book sold even better once it was exposed as a hoax, demonstrating that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Mike McGrady Mike…
Hungary’s president steps down after plagiarism scandal
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 03, 2012
Did he not intend to plagiarise, or did he not intend to get caught? Hungary's president steps down after plagiarism scandal telegraph.co.uk Last week Semmelweis University revoked Mr Schmitt's doctorate after a special committee concluded he had copied "word for word" large chunks of his 1992 thesis on Olympic history. In parliament the 69-year-old president reiterated claims he made on Friday that had not intended to plagiarise and that examiners should have raised any problems with his thesis at the time... (Thanks, Joe!)
In my article about the origin of April Fool's Day, which I wrote a few years ago, I noted that the first explicit reference to April 1st being a day for pranks can be found in a poem written in late-medieval Dutch (around 1561) by Eduard De Dene. The title of the poem is "Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach." Marco Langbroek kindly translated this for me as: "Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April." But it recently occurred to me that although I knew about the poem, and had the title translated, I had never seen the full text of the poem itself. And in fact,…
The Markham Plagiarism Case
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 14, 2011
QR Markham, author of the spy thriller Assassin of Secrets, has been accused of plagiarism, as people identify multiple passages in his book that originally appeared elsewhere (such as in books by Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum). The publisher (Little, Brown) has recalled all copies of his book. And it turns out that a Huffington Post article written by Markham also used the words of someone else. So Huffington Post removed all articles by him. In other words, things aren't going well for Markham. But what makes this case strange is an article in the New Yorker by Macy Halford, speculating that Markham (which is the pen name of Quentin Rowan) deliberately used other…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (4)
Sons of Clovis
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 24, 2011
There's a new hoax-related book out that sounds interesting: The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adore Floupette and a Secret History of Australian Poetry by David Brooks. From the Sydney Morning Herald review: At the heart of the book is the famous Australian hoax, the Ern Malley affair, in which two young, still-forming poets, McAuley and Stewart, fabricated the raw, working-class identity Ern Malley, only to have him die tragically young, leaving behind his book of experimental poems, The Darkening Ecliptic (1944). Equally - and this is where the detective work really kicks in - the book is also about a late- 19th-century literary hoax that…
Dobrica Cosic Doesn’t Win the Nobel Prize
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2011
Serbian media reported Thursday that one of their own countrymen, writer Dobrica Cosic, had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he hadn't. Soon after, the Swedish Academy announced the real winner: Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. The Serbian media reported Cosic as the winner because they had all received an email, seeming to come from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, announcing Cosic as the winner. The email linked to a website, nobelprizeliterature.org, that seemed to confirm Cosic as the winner. However, both the email and the site were fakes. (link) Apparently Cosic is a strong Serbian nationalist. The Economist describes him as, "the intellectual godfather of the…
Bunga Bunga
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 17, 2010
The news from Italy is that Silvio Berlusconi has been engaging in some wild "Bunga Bunga" parties. Or so says a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer who attended one of these parties. No one is really sure what a Bunga Bunga party entails, except that Berlusconi apparently learned the practice from Muammar Kaddafi, and it has something to do with sex. On Slate.com, Brian Palmer explores the mystery of just what Bunga Bunga might be. The leading theory is that it derives from an old joke in which some western explorers are caught by a primitive tribe and offered a choice between Death or Bunga Bunga. I've actually…
Welsh road signs
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 29, 2009
The BBC reports that Welsh-language road signs mysteriously appeared on the Longthorpe Parkway in Cambridgeshire. They suspect it was the work of a practical joker. Presumably a Welsh practical joker.
The Apple
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 18, 2009
A few months ago it was revealed that Herman Rosenblat had invented his story about how he met his wife while he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and she was a young girl from the nearby village who would give him apples through the fence. The revelation caused his book deal to be canceled. But Gawker reports that York House Press is now turning his tale into a book anyway... they're just clearly labeling it as fiction. And they paid someone else to write it. I think I understand York House Press' reasoning. They must have been impressed…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (8)
Smell of Books
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 07, 2009
Hoax Website: The smell of books aroma spray. "Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book. Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible. Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or an iPhone using Stanza, Smell of Books™ will bring back that real book smell you miss so much."
Another fake Holocaust memoir
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 30, 2008
The Curse of Oprah Winfrey has struck again. The Curse is that anyone who appears on her show to tell about their painful yet inspiring personal history, later is revealed to be completely full of BS. People who make multiple appearances on her show are even more likely to be struck by the curse. The latest flap is that Herman Rosenblat and his wife, who claimed to have met when he was a child in the Buchenwald concentration camp and she was a town girl who would throw food over the fence for him, made up their tale of young romance. The truth is that they first met on a blind date in New York. Rosenblat's publisher…
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