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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Places
Ocean Dome — Status: Real place (fake beach) A couple of people have sent me these pictures of an artificial dome-covered beach.... located a few yards away from a real beach! Yes, it's a real place. This is Ocean Dome, located outside of Myazaki in Japan. Its motto is "Paradise within a paradise." David Boyle, author of Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life (which is a pretty good book, by the way), has an article about it on his website. He speculates that it's possibly the…
Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2006.   Comments (10)

Feckenham’s Declaration of Independence — Status: Hoax Earlier this spring, while digging up an oak tree, residents of Feckenham (a small British village) discovered an 800-year-old scroll written by King Henry III. The scroll stated that the village should remain independent forever. This prompted the villagers to declare their independence from Britain, set up border-patrol checkpoints around the town, and lower the taxes on beer. The Ottawa Citizen reports: The scroll, of course, is a joke. The story started earlier this…
Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2006.   Comments (4)

Book A Fake Vacation — Status: Weird News The Los Angeles Times reports about a Russian travel agency, Persey Tours, that sells fake vacations: For $500, nobody will believe you weren't sunning yourself last week on Copacabana Beach, just before you trekked through the Amazon rain forest and slept in a thatched hut. Hey! That's you, arms outstretched like Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic, on top of Corcovado! Persey Tours was barely keeping the bill collectors at bay before it started offering fake…
Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006.   Comments (23)

Bicycle-Eating Tree — Status: Real The bicycle-eating tree is probably familiar to most residents of Washington, since it's located on Vashon Island, Washington (and won a 1994 contest to select the most unusual places or events in the Washington-Oregon area), but it's new to me. Apparently someone, decades ago, left their bicycle leaning against the tree, and as the tree kept growing it enveloped the bike and now lifts it seven feet off the ground. I think it's amazing that a) the tree actually grew around…
Posted: Sat Jul 01, 2006.   Comments (48)


Religious Devotees Worship Phony Phallic Symbol — Status: Strange News Inside the Amarnath Cave, located in Indian-administered Kashmir, can be found the ice Shiva Linga, one of the holiest objects in the Hindu faith. Basically it's a large, naturally occurring, phallus-shaped ice stalagmite. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to visit it each year, despite a high amount of terrorist activity in that area. (Wikipedia has an entry about it.) But this year the pilgrimage has been marred by allegations that the Shiva…
Posted: Fri Jun 30, 2006.   Comments (3)

Nigeria Warns of British Conmen — Status: Strange News Nigerian travellers have been warned by their government to watch out for conmen while in Britain: Fraudsters in Britain might pour tomato juice or other substances on your dress and then offer to help remove it, robbing you in the process, the information ministry warned in its first-ever travel advisory obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The conmen, who are mainly white, but also include east Europeans and north Africans, might also pretend to pick up an object from…
Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006.   Comments (7)

Yellow Lines Become Wobbly — Status: Strange phenomenon The residents of Aqueduct Street have an unusual problem. Their lines are going wobbly. Specifically, the double yellow lines on their road. When the city laid down the lines earlier this month, they were straight. But now they've begun to take off in random directions. At first some suspected the work of a prankster, but apparently the truth is much more sinister: The lines are doing this of their own accord! This idea really appeals to me. Double yellow…
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006.   Comments (13)

Fake Happy Families Sell Homes — Status: Strange, but true California realtors have devised a new way to sell homes. They're hiring actors to play "happy families" during open houses: Attractive film and stage actors are cast in the roles of cheerful-looking parents and their angelic children, recreating scenes of domestic bliss that they hope will impress prospective buyers... With Hollywood just down the road, there is no shortage of photogenic and unemployed actors, for whom the alternatives are normally bit parts…
Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006.   Comments (9)

Inflatable Pub — Status: Strange, but real Speaking of fake Irish bars, now it's possible to have an instant fake British pub, anywhere you like. It's advertised as "the Worlds first fully functioning Mobile Inflatable Pub." This comes from the same people who brought us the world's first inflatable church. Ideally it should come with a bartender who fakes a British accent.
Posted: Sun May 14, 2006.   Comments (3)

In Memory of Father Noise — Status: Believed to be a hoax Here's an interesting news report from Ireland: It has emerged that a joke bronze plaque found on Dublin's O'Connell Bridge has been there for three years. The plaque claims to mark the spot where a Father Pat Noise drowned when his carriage plunged into the Liffey, in suspicious circumstances, in 1919. But Dublin City Council says the priest is a fictitious figure, and wants the mystery sculptor to come forward. The plaque is arousing great public…
Posted: Tue May 09, 2006.   Comments (11)

Did Idaho Get Its Name As A Result Of A Hoax? — 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.…
Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006.   Comments (11)

Giant Laser — Status: Real Found on Flickr: a cool picture of a giant laser beaming out of the MMT Telescope, on top of Mt. Hopkins in Arizona. The guy who took it, Filip Pizlo, says it's not photoshopped, and I'm willing to believe him, if only because when I was a grad student at UC San Diego there was a green laser beam similar to this visible in the sky over La Jolla almost every night. I never figured out where it was coming from or what the purpose of it was. It couldn't have been coming from…
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006.   Comments (18)

Fake Zebras Face Extinction — Status: News Thanks to Big Gary for sending me this story about Tijuana's fake zebras, which are facing extinction. The Tijuana zebras are donkeys painted to look like zebras. Tourists like to get their picture taken with them. It's a decades-old tradition. The Reuters article explains: "It all started in the 1930s when someone decided to paint the donkeys up with stripes so that they'd look better in black-and-white photographs," recalled Jorge Bonillas, a sprightly 75-year-old who…
Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2006.   Comments (8)

Welcome to Detroit — Status: Prank Columnist Tom Greenwood of the Detroit News reports that a sign has been spotted "attached to an authentic Michigan Department of Transportation post on southbound Interstate 75 at the Oakland/Wayne county line." It reads: Welcome to Detroit. We hope you survive. There's no word on how long this has been up, or for how long. Of course, fake road signs have been a popular prank for quite some time. There's the fake road sign project in Lyons, France, in which "105 street…
Posted: Sat Apr 08, 2006.   Comments (5)

Ballymena Boots Hang From Power Line — Status: Prank Power company workers in Ballymena (Northern Ireland) were amazed to discover five pairs of shoes hanging from a power line along the road between Larne and Ballymena. Ballymena Today reports: Electricity engineers could only look skyward in bemusement at the bizarre sight of the shoes and boots hanging from the line, baffled as to who, why and how this was done. The inspiration for the prank may have come from the fantasy film Big Fish. In the film, the most memorable…
Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006.   Comments (14)

Leprechaun Loose in Alabama — Status: Undetermined Some residents of Mobile, Alabama are claiming that a leprechaun is loose in their neighborhood. It shows up in the branches of a tree at night. Apparently it can't be photographed, but the thumbnail shows an "amateur sketch" of what people say it looks like. The NBC 15 news broadcast that covered this interesting phenomenon reports that: "eyewitnesses say the leprechaun only comes out at night. If you shine a light in its direction, it suddenly disappears." Make…
Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006.   Comments (51)

Fake Irish Pubs — Status: Ersatz Irishness Perfectly timed for St. Patrick's Day, Austin Kelley has an interesting article in Slate.com about the faux Irish pub revolution... i.e. how Irish pubs slapped together with off-the-shelf charm and quaintness have been popping up in cities all over the world. The term I've heard to describe this phenomenon (which Kelley doesn't mention) is To Irishise, meaning to transform a bar, with the help of interior design specialists, into a fake Irish pub. Kelley traces…
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2006.   Comments (14)

Philippine Urban Legends (Jose Rizal was Jack the Ripper) — Status: urban legends An article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer records some Philippine urban legends: the "White Lady" of Balete Drive, Robina Gokongwei's "snake twin" lurking in department store dressing rooms, the elusive "kapre" that lives in an ancient mango tree near the Emilio Aguinaldo house in Kawit town, and Andres Bonifacio's love child from a place aptly named Libog (now Santo Domingo) in Albay province. None of those mean much to me. But most of the article is devoted…
Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006.   Comments (190)

Mexican Row Houses — Status: Real This looks like a painting, or a picture of toy houses, but apparently it's neither. These are real houses. The picture was taken by a Mexican helicopter pilot. (I can only find his last name, which is Ruiz Oscar Ruiz.) He writes of this picture: "REAL PICTURE! 300+ low income homes in Ixtapaluca, complex has more than 10,000!" The link goes to his gallery of aerial photographs of Mexico City. This photo is nine rows down on the right.
Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006.   Comments (32)

Painted Room Illusions — Status: Real These photos show rooms painted in such a way that, if you stand in the correct place, a pattern will appear. Despite looking photoshopped, they are real. The painted rooms are the creations of artist Felice Varini. On his website you can find more examples of his art if you search around long enough (and struggle through the incredibly bad navigation). Varini writes: The painted form achieves its coherence when the viewer stands at the vantage point. When he* moves out of…
Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2006.   Comments (11)

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