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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
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)…
The Betjeman Letter
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 31, 2006
British papers have been reporting details of a literary hoax. The characters involved aren't that well known (at least to me), but the punchline is kind of amusing. Two years ago A.N. Wilson, biographer of poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, found a love letter written by the poet. Or, at least, he thought he had. Turns out the letter must have been deliberately planted to embarrass him because a journalist found a coded message inside of it. The Guardian reports: The telltale sign that the letter is a joke is that the capital letters at the start of each…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (6)
Alex Boese Quotes
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Much to my surprise, I came across this page of "Alex Boese Quotes" on thinkexist.com. I was kind of flattered to find it, even though I'm sure the page was created by a computer trawling newspaper articles, and despite the fact that the three quotes (which I do recognize, and which I did say) are completely unmemorable. I think I've said some better things in my life. For instance, the first sentence of Hippo Eats Dwarf is better: "We live in a hippo-eats-dwarf world." And what about this quote from page 12 of Hippo Eats Dwarf: "The fact is that men possess all the biological equipment necessary to produce breast milk." That's a quote…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (15)
Did Einstein Consider Geography More Difficult Than Physics?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 25, 2006
Status: Hoax The following quotation is widely attributed to Albert Einstein: "As a young man, my fondest dream was to become a geographer. However, while working in the Customs Office, I thought deeply about the matter and concluded that it was far too difficult a subject. With some reluctance, I then turned to physics as an alternative." Did he ever say it? No. Nor did he ever work in the Customs Office. (He worked in the Patent Office.) In an article in the Toronto Star, Sharon Burnside traces how the quotation became attributed to Einstein in the first place. Apparently it…
Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 22, 2006
Status: Linguistic puzzle Check out these parsing challenges over at linguistlist.org. It took me a good 15 or 20 minutes to figure out why they make sense. (Though I'm sure some people will figure them out immediately.) The first one is this sentence: Dogs dogs dog dog dogs. It's a legitimate english sentence. To figure out how this is so, it helps to compare it to the sentence: Cats dogs chase catch mice. (They both share the same structure.) The linguist list folks then point out that the word 'buffalo' can also serve as the basis for a similar sentence: Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (33)
Status: Clever marketing scheme Kathleen McGowan claims to be a descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. That belief would make her no different than all the other people in this world suffering from delusions of grandeur, except that she's managed to leverage her extraordinary claim of ancestry into a major book deal. Simon & Schuster will soon be publishing her novel, The Expected One, with a print-run of 250,000 copies. The book is a loose fictionalization of her claim. She wanted to publish it as nonfiction but explains that she couldn't do so because "she couldn't make public the sources she developed while researching and writing her book." Many might view McGowan's novel…
Wraith Picket Experiment
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 19, 2006
Status: Literary Hoax The Weekend Australian recently announced the results of a literary experiment. They took chapter three of celebrated Australian writer Patrick White's novel The Eye of the Storm, changed its title to The Eye of the Cyclone, changed the names of the characters in it, and changed the name of the author to Wraith Picket (an anagram of Patrick White). Then they submitted this to twelve Australian publishers. Ten of them rejected it, and two never responded. One reviewer wrote that "the sample chapter, while reply (sic) with energy and feeling, does not give evidence that the work is yet of a publishable quality." This particular brand of literary hoax has…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (8)
Article About Plagiarism Plagiarized
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 09, 2006
Status: Purposeful plagiarism A hoax? A ploy? A gimmick? I'm not sure what to call this. Check out this piece by David Edelstein on plagiarism. Now read this, which reveals that Edelstein's piece on plagiarism was, except for the first and last lines, entirely plagiarized from other sources. Very clever! Seriously -- that's pretty neat. Very meta. (This post was plagiarized from Penguins on the Equator... and thanks to Joe Littrell for the heads up about the New York Magazine piece.)
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (5)
Did Idaho Get Its Name As A Result Of A Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 26, 2006
Status: Undetermined Following a post about how California got its name, Boing Boing added an interesting reader comment alleging that Idaho got its name because of a hoax: "When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested 'Idaho,' which he claimed was a Native American term meaning 'gem of the mountains'. It was later revealed Willing had made up the name himself, and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado because of it. Eventually the controversy was forgotten, and modern-day Idaho was given the made-up name when the Idaho Territory was formally created in 1863." I had never heard this before, so I did a…
Categories: Literature/Language, Places Comments (11)
JT Leroy: The Movie
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 09, 2006
Status: Movie planned about a recent hoax Variety reports that the JT Leroy hoax is already heading to the big screen. The Weinstein Company has committed to making a film about Laura Albert's elaborate deception. (Laura Albert was the woman who invented the JT Leroy character.) The time between the hoax being exposed and a movie deal about it being inked seems to have occurred incredibly fast. What is it... a month or two since the hoax was confirmed? The dust has barely settled. I hope the movie is good. In its favor is that hoaxes seem to…
Vietnam Deems Grapefruit Site Too Cocky
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 16, 2006
Status: True The internet is full of many unfortunate urls that can be read in two ways. Some of the urls intentionally have double meanings, some don't. For instance, viagrafix.com (via grafix / viagra fix) was an unintentional oversight, but powergenitalia.com (powergen italia / power genitalia) was a deliberate joke, as is penisland.net. Apparently Vietnamese sites are prone to the same problem. For which reason, Vietnamese regulators have rejected the website name www.buoi.com.vn. The BBC explains: A website hoping to promote grapefruit in Vietnam has been banned from using the fruit's name because of official fears of a mix-up with a penis. The Vietnamese for grapefruit, buoi, sounds different…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (5)
Comic Book Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 13, 2006
The Comics Should Be Good blog is creating a database of comic book urban legends. I don't recognize all the names and characters referred to, but it makes for interesting reading anyway. Here's a few samples (full explanations for all of these at Comics Should Be Good): Wolverine's costume was patterned in part on the uniforms of the Michigan Wolverines football team. (False) Joker was originally killed off in his SECOND appearance! (True) Wolverine was initially intended to be a genetically mutated wolverine. (True) Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston invented the polygraph test! (False) Marvel Comics licenses the use of the…
Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 07, 2006
Status: Final nail in coffin of JT Leroy Just in case there was anyone who still doubted that JT Leroy was a hoax, the deception has finally been admitted to by an insider, Geoffrey Knoop. Knoop was the partner of Laura Albert, the woman who (it can now definitely be said) wrote all of JT Leroy's books. The face of JT Leroy, whenever Leroy made any public appearances, was Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey's half-sister. Geoffrey Knoop has said: "The jig is up... I do want to apologize to people who were hurt. It got to a level I didn't expect." Knoop also says that he doubts Laura Albert will ever admit to being JT Leroy: "For her, it's…
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