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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Pranks
The Traveling Gnome Prank
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Prank Wayne Johnston's garden gnome disappeared. Then he began receiving letters from it posted from all corners of the world. Being a police officer, Johnston launched an unofficial investigation into who was responsible for his gnome's abduction. It turned out almost all his friends were, including those who had been helping him with his investigation. So this is another instance of the traveling gnome prank. I know that this prank was featured in the 2001 French movie Amelie. It was also further popularized by a Travelocity ad campaign about a traveling gnome. But what I'm not sure about is whether this prank was popular even before Amelie. Have people been sending gnomes around…
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks Comments (21)
Biker Hits Pothole
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Real Everyone is linking to these photos of a biker hitting a pothole in the rain and taking a nasty spill. They were taken by Liu Tao for the Beijing Youth Daily. The thing is that Liu knew the pothole was there and, instead of telling people about it, just waited for someone to fall into it so that he could get his shot. Which kind of makes this a photo sequence of a prank in action. Beijing Youth Daily readers have apparently been outraged by the photos, writing in that Liu is "disgusting" and "should really be condemned."
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks Comments (22)
School For Pranks
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 09, 2005
Status: True (news item) A couple of people emailed me about this. (Thanks to everyone who did!) The artist Ray Beldner has been teaching a class at St. Mary's College titled "Pranks: Culture jamming as social activism." One of the class requirements is to try to hoax the media. One hoax created by the students involved "the distribution of a news release touting a fictional bar to be opened near the Moraga campus." However, the media didn't fall for it. (Evidently it wasn't sensational or salacious enough... make a story sufficiently shocking or weird and the media will usually print it first and ask questions later.) Not everyone is happy with the class. A professor…
Categories: Pranks Comments (5)
Smoot Retires
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 08, 2005
Status: Update about a classic college prank NPR reports that Oliver Smoot has retired from the board of the American National Standards Institute. Fans of classic college pranks will recognize Smoot as the official unit of length of the Harvard Bridge. Here's what Neil Steinberg writes (in If At All Possible, Involve A Cow: The Book of College Pranks) about how the Smoot came into being: In the fall of 1958, the pledge masters at MIT's Lambda Chi Alpha house, dreading the approaching freeze, charged their pledges with remedying the bridge situation. They gave them the task of marking off the…
Categories: Pranks Comments (4)
Grandma Steals Baby Jesus
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Status: True Virginia Voiers, a 70-year-old grandmother, has been charged with stealing baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. "It was a lark, it wasn't any serious stealing,'' Voiers told the Lovely County Citizen newspaper of Eureka Springs. "My granddaughter commented that no one had taken the baby Jesus this year and said, 'Grandma?' I said, 'Oh, what the heck.''' Usually, the baby Jesus is returned by the thief. Voiers said her Saturday caper was the first time she'd taken anything from the nativity. "I didn't know we had a tattletale downtown,'' said Voiers, who is also a…
Categories: Pranks, Religion Comments (13)
Why did the gnomes cross the road?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 18, 2005
Status: Prank Eighteen garden gnomes were found lined up in the Australian town of Warrnambool, waiting to cross a road. The police stated: "Right on the crossing, there was some on one side and some on the other side patiently waiting for the traffic to stop," he said. "At this stage we believe it's just a school prank but obviously the owners of the garden gnomes wouldn't appreciate their property being stolen from their gardens. They're just gn-one (gone)." The gnomes were taken to the police station where they were given a cup of tea. However, the police were unable to fingerprint them. (One of these days I really need to…
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks Comments (10)
Skype Prank
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 07, 2005
Here's a prank perpetrated on the Skype system (an internet-based phone and chat service) that proves you never know who you're talking to online: A profile is put up with a girl's name and picture, and put in "Skype me" mode. Within minutes some seedy guy will invariably try calling/chatting, and there's a little program I made running the whole time which will partner up people 2 at a time, and send messages from the first person to the second, & vice versa. This way both people think they're talking to a girl, when they find out, well, they're not normally too happy about it... It reminds me of the VixenLove program…
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Pranks Comments (10)
Hoof Hearted
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 25, 2005
I received this email from "Doctor Psi": I remember a British horse race in which one of the entrants was named 'Hoof Hearted'. This horse was obviously named so as to cause the maximum amount of amusement when listening to the commentary! Anyway, I was looking for a picture of said horse to show a friend, and found the following website: It looks genuine, but I can't believe that these guys haven't stopped to think just how their business name sounds when spoken at a slightly quicker tempo than usual! It took me a few seconds to get the double meaning, but I…
Categories: Animals, Pranks Comments (44)
Fake Registration Day
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 25, 2005
A movement is underfoot to undermine news sites that require registration in order to read their content by submitting fake registrations en masse: We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they collect. On November 13th we will each register an account using fake details at one or more of these top 10 offending sites: While sympathizing with the sentiment, I see a couple of problems with…
Categories: Advertising, Pranks Comments (15)
Noisy Neighbor Revenge CD
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 05, 2005
I have noisy neighbors, so I've often fantasized about a product like this. It's a noisy neighbor revenge CD that plays loud, annoying sounds such as a newborn baby crying, a drill, a domestic squabble, or the phone ringing. Put it in your stereo, point the speakers at the neighbor's house, and have your revenge. A set of earplugs comes with the CD. My neighbors (college-age kids renting the house next door) have been fond of doing things like blasting rap music at midnight, or playing games of wiffleball in their backyard at 3am. I initially tried asking them to shut up, which worked in…
Categories: Pranks Comments (32)
Senior Ceiling Mural Prank
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 05, 2005
This is pretty cool. Instead of doing a typical obnoxious prank, a senior class in Vermont painted a celestial mural on the ceiling of the main lobby of the school. Normally the rule with pranks is that, to be judged successful, they should annoy, shock, irritate, or poke fun at someone. But I think that surprising people is just as valid a reaction. And what's more surprising than a random act of art? The class of 2005 painted a large celestial mural on a ceiling in the main lobby of the school during the holiday weekend, Principal Peter Evans said. Evans said when he returned to school on Tuesday, he looked up at the…
Categories: Art, Pranks Comments (28)
Scientists Walk of Fame
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 09, 2005
I'm a little late on this one, but better late than never. On May 4 Caltech students transformed the Hollywood Walk of Fame into the "Illustrious Scientists Walk of Fame": Students literally covered over 500 of the celebrity stars on Hollywood Blvd. with prestigious scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, David Baltimore, Richard Feynman, Madame Currie... The prank was meant to coincide with the Commemorative U.S. Postage Stamp of preeminent Caltech physicist Richard P. Feynman.
Categories: Pranks, Science Comments (8)
Caltech Vs. MIT
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 12, 2005
A group of Caltech students heads to MIT to throw down the prank gauntlet. They spend the weekend handing out t-shirts to prefrosh that read "MIT" on the front and "because not everybody can go to Caltech" on the back. During the night they spell out the letters C-A-L-T-E-C-H on an MIT building using a low-power laser. They also hang a banner on the MIT dome, changing its name from 'Massachusetts Institute of Technology' to 'That Other Institute of Technology.' They now await MIT's response. (make sure to check out the page of pictures of the pranks).
Categories: Pranks Comments (5)
Stripping For Money Prank
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Richard Brown was under house arrest after posing as a sheriff's deputy in 2002, but even from his home he still managed to get into trouble. The news article describing what he did is a little confusing, but from what I can gather he called up restaurants and told the employees that he spoke to that he was a DJ, and that if they came to his home they could win $50,000. Once they arrived he told them that they had to pass a challenge to win the money. They had to strip naked, then walk out to their car and drive away. He got two people to do this. The third person noticed he was wearing a…
Categories: Pranks Comments (7)
Garden Gnome Liberation Front
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Wikipedia has a brief blurb about the Garden Gnome Liberation Front. This is a political movement dedicated to liberating gnomes from the gardens in which they are imprisoned. Members of the liberation front remove gnomes from gardens and either take them out to the woods to set them loose, or smash them to set their spirit free (personally I think taking them out to the woods sounds like the more humane option). I wonder if they've ever considered taking them to the underwater gnome garden. Anyway, this is an international movement. The American group calls itself Free The Gnomes. The Italian…
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks Comments (40)
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