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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Yet Another Literary Hoax — One week after Misha Defonseca confessed that she didn't really grow up with wolves, as she claimed in her memoir of her childhood in war-torn Europe, another literary hoax has surfaced. Love and Consequences, by Margaret B. Jones, purports to be a non-fiction memoir of the author's life "as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods." In reality, as the NY Times reports: "Margaret…
Posted: Tue Mar 04, 2008.   Comments (9)

Hoax Holocaust Memoir — The big news in the world of hoaxes, revealed last week (and already posted in the forum), was the revelation that Misha Defonseca's best-selling, non-fiction memoir of growing up in war-torn Europe turns out to be fiction. (Thanks to everyone who forwarded me links to the news.) Defonseca's memoir, Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years (also titled Surviving with Wolves), describes how when she was a young child her Jewish parents were seized by the Nazis, forcing her to wander…
Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008.   Comments (19)

Why do we encourage children to be gullible? — Tom Bell, in the Agoraphilia blog, asks an interesting question. Why does children's fiction promote credulity as a virtue? Children's fiction employs this trope so often that it fits a formula. A wise character tries to convince the protagonist that something wonderful will happen if only he or she will earnestly believe an improbability. Consider, for instance, how Yoda tells Luke to cast aside all doubt if he wants to levitate his x-wing from the swamps of Dagobah. "Do, or do not.…
Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008.   Comments (27)

Quick Links: Feb 1, 2008 — Dave, the forecasting pig "'Darke County Dave,' a local hog, will opine -- or oswine -- on America's economic outlook on Friday, the Ohio treasurer's office said. In his inaugural outing, Dave will choose between a trough of sugar or one of sawdust to gauge the the economy's future course at the event in Greenville, Ohio, northwest of Dayton." (Thanks, Gary) How to say "Mr. Rose Apple Nose" in Thai sign language "Sign language interpreters in Thailand have run afoul of some ruling…
Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008.   Comments (8)


Loch Ness Monster Poetry — In the article about the Loch Ness Monster in the hoaxipedia, I've posted some Nessie haiku contributed by readers. I'm quite proud of my own contribution: Lurking in the deep, centuries old. Addicted to tourist sushi. But far more accomplished poets have also been inspired by Nessie. Glasgow's poet laureate, Edwin Morgan, included a poem, "The Loch Ness Monster's Song," in his 1970 collection Twelve Songs. Here it is: Sssnnnwhufffffl? Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl? Gdroblobblhobngbl…
Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008.   Comments (8)

Quick Links: January 14, 2008 — Nuclear Reactor in Garage A 22-year-old man was boasting on an amateur science blog that he had built a mini-nuclear reactor in his garage. His boasts earned him a visit from federal authorities who determined that he didn't actually have a nuclear reactor. But he did have some kind of strange experiment going on that, had it continued, "would have been a cleanup issue." (Thanks, Joe) Dead Man Cashing Check Scam "Two men were arrested on Tuesday after pushing a corpse, seated in an…
Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008.   Comments (2)

Fake is Japan’s Annual Symbol — The Japan Kanji ability assessment association has selected the Chinese character meaning "fake" as the symbol that best describes Japan in 2007. Xinhuanet.com reports: The result represented Japanese people's anger over the society's darkness exposed in 2007, including a series of financial scandals involving Cabinet ministers, the Social Insurance Agency's blunder of losing about 50 million pension records and some well-know food companies' forgery of production dates. My wife was…
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007.   Comments (2)

Spammed by the Disinformation Company — Authors love to read reviews of their books, especially positive ones. So, as an author, it's difficult to resist the temptation to periodically check out the Amazon page for your book, to see if readers have posted any new reviews of it. However, in Hippo Eats Dwarf I pointed out the danger of taking such reviews too seriously because so many of them are posted either by friends of the author -- or by rivals. In fact, I actually invited people to post fake reviews of Hippo Eats Dwarf.…
Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007.   Comments (6)

What’s in a name — Qamar Mohammed Malik, a Pakistan-born engineer, submitted his CV to the Amec Group construction company, but was told that the company had no suitable vacancies. He then submitted a similar CV with inferior qualifications, but using a fake Welsh name, Rhyddir Aled Lloyd-Hilbert. This time he was told there was a job vacancy and was offered an interview. Malik has now filed a lawsuit against the Amec Group, accusing the company of racism. The company defends itself, saying that, ""Mr…
Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007.   Comments (7)

Insulting Surnames — The Vancouver Sun reports that linguistics researchers believe that many common surnames began as insults. For instance, centuries ago a guy might have been nicknamed "John the Bastard," and the insulting epithet would become his last name, adhering to all his descendants (until someone eventually changed it): there is a whole category of names that are believed to have been given to children abandoned to orphanages - including the French name Jette (meaning "thrown out"), the Italian…
Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007.   Comments (18)

The Happy Endings Foundation — The Happy Endings Foundation believes that all children's books should have happy endings. Those that don't should be banned. The organization was (supposedly) started seven years ago by Adrienne Small after she noticed that her daughter seemed miserable after reading Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Mrs. Small plans to rewrite the Lemony Snicket books to give them a happy ending. Some upcoming events planned by the Happy Endings Foundation include a Halloween "fun…
Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2007.   Comments (1)

Man hits head - Suddenly knows English — Cranky Media Guy forwarded me this article on Ananova.com about a Czech speedway rider who suffered a concussion during a race, was knocked out, and woke up speaking perfect English, with a posh British accent... even though he barely spoke a word of English before. His command of English only lasted for 48 hours, at which point his memory returned, as did his native Czech, and his English disappeared. CMG is skeptical. He says, "The Foreign Accent Syndrome mentioned in the last…
Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2007.   Comments (9)

Mayor Bans “I can’t” — In an effort to instill a can-do attitutde in his workers, a Russian mayor has "ordered his bureaucrats to stop using expressions such as 'I don't know' and 'I can't.'" Seems like a double-plus ungood policy. How should they respond if asked, "Can you say 'I can't'?" Link: cnews.canoe.ca
Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2007.   Comments (5)

What will J.K. Rowling write next? — At the Edinburgh International Book Festival crime-writer Ian Rankin recently announced that he had some inside intelligence about what fellow Edinburgh resident J.K. Rowling was planning to write next. This announcement was then printed in the Sunday Times: The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Ian Rankin, a fellow author and neighbor of Rowling's, as saying the creator of the "Harry Potter" books is turning to crime fiction. "My wife spotted her writing her Edinburgh criminal detective…
Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2007.   Comments (14)

Author pretends to have book selected for Oprah’s Book Club — Author Bill Schneider claimed on his website that his most recent (self-published) novel, Crossed Paths, had been selected for Oprah's Book Club. He also claimed that Oprah had interviewed him on her show. To prove this, he posted a full, five-page transcript of the interview. Turns out none of this was true. A spokeswoman for Oprah Winfrey said, "He is misrepresenting himself and he has no relationship with Oprah's Book Club." Schneider, who also is director of the Office of Tourism…
Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007.   Comments (3)

Poe Toaster Revealed — RainOubliette has beaten me to the punch and already posted about this in the forum, but I've been getting so many emails about it that it obviously belongs here on the front page as well. For decades a mysterious figure has visited the grave of Edgar Allan Poe in Westminster Churchyard, Baltimore on the anniversary of Poe's birthday and placed three roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave. The figure has become known as the "Poe Toaster." Now a man, Sam Porpora, has…
Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007.   Comments (6)

To Embiggen — Scientific American reports that a nonsense word from The Simpsons has made its way into a scientific paper. Stanford University physicist Shamit Kachru managed to slip the word "embiggen" into a journal article titled "Gauge/gravity duality and meta-stable dynamical supersymmetry breaking." The word embiggen first appeared in a 1996 episode of The Simpsons. It was used by Jebediah Springfield in these lines of dialogue: Jebediah: [on film] A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2007.   Comments (20)

Wayne Redhart’s Amazon Reviews — Many of you may remember Amazon reviewer Henry Raddick. Sadly, Raddick hasn't reviewed any books since 2003. But a new Raddick has emerged: Wayne Redhart. At least, Redhart seems to be doing what he can to fill the void left by Raddick. And I was quite pleased to discover Redhart has reviewed Hippo Eats Dwarf. Here's his review: Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. by Alex Boese Edition: Paperback Price: £6.26 A fine guide, 29 Jul 2007 Covering such diverse…
Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2007.   Comments (1)

Jane Austen Rejected — Could Jane Austen, one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the English language, get published today? To find out, David Lassman, director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, typed up some opening chapters of her books, added a cover letter with plot synopses, and sent them off to publishers. He changed the titles of the works, renamed the characters, and called himself "Alison Laydee," but otherwise he didn't change Austen's prose. Here's the rather predictable result of…
Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007.   Comments (11)

“The Secret” — Yes, it's another questionable literary enterprise. You've probably heard of "The Secret," a self-help book/cultural phenomenon. As with any such thing, it's Oprah-approved. "The Secret" claims to reveal a Secret of the Universe, which is (SPOILER ALERT!) that you can have whatever you want, if you just think about it REALLY HARD. OK, that's a wee bit flip, but that really is the gist of the "secret." Well, you also have to be a good person and you can't wish for bad stuff, but…
Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007.   Comments (32)

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