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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Poe Toaster Revealed
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 16, 2007
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 stepped forward who claims to have been the original Poe Toaster,…
To Embiggen
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 01, 2007
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. Edna: Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield Ms. Hoover: I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word.Here's…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (20)
Wayne Redhart’s Amazon Reviews
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 01, 2007
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 topics as…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (1)
Jane Austen Rejected
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 20, 2007
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 Lassman's experiment, as described by the Guardian: the deception was not spotted and the rejection letters thudded on to Mr Lassman's doormat,…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (11)
“The Secret”
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jun 26, 2007
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 other than that, if you want it, you can and WILL get it. It's all based on the "Law of Attraction," which author Laura Byrne says…
JT LeRoy, phantom author (Updated!)
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Mon Jun 25, 2007
This is a weird one. A book allegedly written by a young man, JT LeRoy, made a sensation recently. JT was a truck stop hooker, got involved with drugs, was possibly transgendered and generally had a pretty screwed-up life. The book was billed as non-fiction, supposedly the true story of JT's life. Naturally, it sold very well. Oprah loved it, the movie director Gus VanSant and other Hollywood types were interested in it. Then the JT LeRoy saga started coming apart. Funny story, turns out there is no such person as JT LeRoy. Even funnier, also turns out that more than one person, some of them female, portrayed JT at book signings and other…
Winner and Loser Lane
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 14, 2007
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Lane family from New York City in which the father named one of his sons Winner and the other Loser. (Actually, the article is a few years old, but it was new to me.) At first the article struck me as sounding too weird to be true. Why would a father name his son Loser? But apparently it's true. At least, it's been reported elsewhere by credible sources, such as in this Slate.com article by the Freakonomics authors. The story is that the father, Robert Lane, decided to call his son Winner, thinking it would give the kid a boost in life. Three years later…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (12)
Quick Links: Jesus on Google Maps, etc.
Posted by Boo on Wed May 02, 2007
Jesus on Google Maps Brian Martin claims that he saw the shape of Jesus in the clouds above Mount Sinai. (Thanks, Madmouse.) Cat Gives Birth to 'Puppy' Following on from the Japanese poodle scam hoax, this made me laugh. A cat in Zhengzhou, China has supposedly given birth to a litter of four, one of which looks like a poodle. There are no pictures to accompany the article, however. (Thanks, Robert.) Sexism in Tetris It seems a lot of…
Did Mary Shelley Write Frankenstein?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 17, 2007
A book coming out next month, The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein, by independent scholar John Lauritsen, argues that Mary Shelley did not write Frankenstein. Instead, Lauritsen argues, the credit should go to her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Why? For one, Lauritsen suggests Mary was too young and inexperienced as a writer to have penned a classic like Frankenstein. (She was nineteen at the time.) Lauritsen also suggests that the language of Frankenstein sounds like something Percy would have written. The Sunday Times reports: He says some of the language,…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (16)
Quick Links: Save Boston, etc.
Posted by Boo on Tue Mar 27, 2007
Save Boston A little game based on the Boston bomb scare. Children’s TV Presenter Accused of Obscenity in Sign Language Mr Tumble, a presenter on the children's BBC programme Something Special has been greeting the viewers with controversial signing. The BBC claim that the misunderstanding was due to their use of Makaton sign language, as opposed to British sign language. (Thanks, Madmouse.) Man Banned From Pub for Farting Since Scotland's smoking ban came into force, an Edinburgh man's 'unbearable stench' has led to him…
Prank the Monkey
Posted by Boo on Fri Jan 05, 2007
SUMMARY: An interesting and informative read, and one that's sure to raise a few laughs. The Museum of Hoaxes awards it four out of five banana peels. Sir John Hargrave, as he’s now legally known, is host of the zug.com website. He has authored Prank the Monkey, a humourous book chronicling the various pranks, tricks and hoaxes he has perpetrated on deserving parties over the course of his prankster career. John says: ”It’s not that I have a problem with authority; it’s that I have a problem with senseless authority. I have no problems with rules, just ridiculous rules." Prank…
Quick Links: Pig-Tossing, etc.
Posted by Boo on Wed Dec 20, 2006
Pig-Tossing A number of incidents involving animal throwing have been reported in West Point, Miss., leading one to the conclusion that the sport is the new fad for those to whom cow-tipping is just too passé. Mayor of Lebanon Sends Chain Letter The Mayor of Lebanon was not available to comment after he discovered that the Make-A-Wish chain letter that he sent to 33 other businessmen was a hoax. Woman Sues Over Fake Avocado Dip A Los Angeles woman has filed a lawsuit against Kraft, claiming that what they label as guacamole... well, isn't.
Tall-Tale Creature Haiku
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 05, 2006
A few months ago one of the site-related projects I was working on was revising the Tall-Tale Creature Gallery. Before I got totally sidetracked by having to focus on my next book, I managed to add quite a few new creatures to it. I also added a feature allowing people to post haiku about the creatures, thus returning to the theme of hoax haiku first seen here two years ago. I didn't expect to get many haiku contributions. After all, I hadn't told anyone that I had updated the gallery, and it usually only gets a few visitors. But to my surprise people have found it and have been posting haiku. So…
An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 09, 2006
The literary world has been talking about a work of fiction that managed a brief masquerade as nonfiction. The book is An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin, by Rohan Kriwaczek. As the title suggests, it tells the history of that popular genre of music, funerary violin music. The Guardian reports: By the early 19th century, the book says, virtually every town had its own funerary violinist, but the tradition was almost wiped out in the Great Funerary Purges of the 1830s and…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (15)
Writer Behind J.T. LeRoy Comes Clean
Posted by Boo on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Laura Albert, the writer behind J.T. LeRoy, has finally confessed to the hoax. She says that her psychiatrist encouraged her to write when she was in therapy. In terms of her attitude to perpetrating a hoax, the article says: When asked if she felt any shame about misleading people, she replied: "I bleed, but it's a different kind of shame... If knowing that I'm 15 years older than (LeRoy) devalues the work, then I'm sorry they feel that way." Although it was fairly clear that the young man was fictional, even when Geoffrey Knoop (the partner of Laura Albert, and half-brother to LeRoy's 'public face', Savannah Knoop)…
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