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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Pranks
The Pulling Up Piccadilly Prank
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 06, 2012
I recently received the following email from Marjorie: In the late 50's, on the morning of April 1, a group of Sydney City Council workers went with jackhammers and other machinery and started an approved excavation in the middle of George St. (the main drag). Hoaxers from Sydney University called the police and warned them that a group of Uni Students dressed as Council workers were tearing up George St. They simultaneously went to the site and warned the workers that a group of students, disguised as police, were on their way to disrupt the job. The result was, understandably, chaos in the main street. I was told about this when I was about 19, (1963) but never…
Categories: Pranks Comments (0)
The Society for Insulting Women and Frightening Children
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 15, 2012
The Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1873 includes an article about the mathematician/inventor Charles Babbage. In this article, there's a page-long footnote discussing some hoaxes, and at the end of this footnote, there's a brief reference to the existence of a curious group that called itself the "Society for Insulting Women and Frightening Children": What is this Society? I haven't been able to find it mentioned anywhere except in this Smithsonian Report. But it sounds like a clandestine group of 19th-century pranksters. The footnote is signed "J.H.", which I assume stands for Joseph Henry, the Secretary of the Smithsonian…
Categories: Pranks Comments (2)
Texas Roof Tiger
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 19, 2012
Add this to the 'Things on Roofs' file: Police in Houston, Texas received reports of a tiger sitting on the roof of an abandoned hotel. The animal was causing a bit of a traffic jam as drivers stopped to look at it. But upon investigation, it turned out to be a toy tiger. I'm assuming it was the work of a prankster, who's now out a pretty nice stuffed animal. Link: BBC News.
Categories: Animals, Pranks Comments (7)
Car lands on roof of house—real or fake?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 18, 2012
About two weeks ago a story hit the news wires about a car that landed on the roof of a house in Fresno, CA. The story goes that Benjamin Tucker stole the car, was driving fast, but lost control as he was going round a corner and hit some landscaping rocks, causing the car to become airborne. And it flew through the air until it landed on the roof of a nearby house. The autoshopper blog points out that this chain of events is highly improbable: Let’s put…
Categories: Pranks Comments (8)
Cows In The Library
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 25, 2011
Apparently Bethel College in Kansas has a history of pranks. Enough so that there's now a website dedicated to collecting all the pranks perpetrated there. The site has a great name: CowsInTheLibrary.com. The name refers to an actual prank at Bethel, but also (perhaps unintentionally) gives a nod to Neil Steinberg's classic book about college pranks, If At All Possible, Involve A Cow. Bethel's most famous prank is Herman Bubbert, a fictional student "who began appearing on class rolls and in the pages of local newspapers sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s." Bubbert is now the curator of Cows In The Library. (via mennoweekly.org)
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Coning: A Strange New Prank
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 22, 2011
Coning (or cone-ing) involves ordering an ice-cream cone at a fast-food drive-thru window, and then taking it by the ice cream instead of the cone when it's handed to you. If you do a search for coning on youtube, you can see a lot of examples of it. Even Justin Bieber is a fan of coning. It's a strange prank because it inverts the typical logic of pranking. Usually pranks involve humiliating or one-upping a victim. For instance, a victim sits on a whoopee cushion, prompting everyone to laugh at him. But in the case of coning, the prankster pays for the ice cream cone and then proceeds to ruin his own cone by grabbing…
Categories: Pranks Comments (7)
Sussex Zebras
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 22, 2011
Unidentified pranksters broke into the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Uckfield, East Sussex and transformed "Ant" the donkey into a zebra by spray-painting stripes on him (express.co.uk). Ant wasn't hurt in any way, though the spray paint reportedly had a strong, unpleasant smell. The RSPCA condemned the prank: "It's shocking people would think it was funny to spray-paint a donkey in this way. We take reports of animals being painted very seriously." This prank immediately reminded me of the tradition of Tijuana Zebras, which I last posted about back in 2006. I noted then that the Tijuana tradition of painting donkeys to look like zebras was dying out, but…
Categories: Animals, Pranks Comments (2)
The Script Kiddies Strike Again
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 12, 2011
There's a long history of hoaxers finding ways to slip fake stories into newspapers. Back in 1864 Joseph Howard tried to manipulate the New York stock market by sending fake Associated Press telegrams to newspaper offices. The telegrams claimed Lincoln had decided to conscript an extra 400,000 men into the Union army. Several papers printed the fake news. The stock market panicked, because the news suggested the Civil War was going to drag on for a lot longer, and Howard (who had invested heavily in gold) made a nice profit. During the 1870s and 1880s, Joseph Mulhattan (a very odd character) made a kind of career out of tricking newspapers into printing fake stories. One…
The Secret Meaning of Hanging Shoes and Hats
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 08, 2011
Here's an example of how people can interpret what is basically the same phenomenon in very different ways. Yesterday, kcautv.com (Sioux City, IA) reported that the Sioux City police were concerned about shoes hanging from power lines, noting that far from being just a harmless prank, the dangling shoes have a sinister meaning. They "give the alert that there is drug activity here. That you can find your drug needs at this location or in this area." (I've blogged about Secret Powerline Codes before). However, over in Olney, Illinois (home of the white squirrels) a couple woke to find 31 hats hanging from a tree in their front yard. Instead of worrying that…
Categories: Pranks Comments (6)
GOP URL Shortener put to unintended use
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 15, 2009
Yesterday the GOP debuted its own URL shortener. Wired.com describes the results: Almost immediately after it launched yesterday, pranksters began using the service to link to controversial or ironically-intended websites such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. GOP.am started blocking such links apparently at some point Tuesday morning, and the GOP.am homepage is now offline. Possibly the first branded URL shortener (Google also launched its own URL shortener yesterday afternoon), GOP.am was designed by the R.N.C.’s new…
Categories: Politics, Pranks, Websites Comments (1)
A fork in the road, literally
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 06, 2009
A few days ago a fork appeared in the middle of a Pasadena road. It's located, appropriately, at a fork in the road, where Pasadena and St. John avenues divide. From the Pasadena Star News: It turns out the fork is an elaborate - and expensive - birthday prank in honor of the 75th birthday of Bob Stane, founder of the Ice House comedy club, who now owns the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena... The wooden fork, is "expertly carved and painted," to look like metal, Stane said. "It's anchored in…
Categories: Art, Places, Pranks Comments (6)
Treasure hunt prank, from beyond the grave
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 05, 2009
Patty Henken found a small envelope in a rocking chair she bought at auction. In the envelope was a key and a note giving her directions to where $250 in U.S. gold coins was supposedly buried in a lead chest. The note was signed "Chauncey Wolcott." There was also a request to contact the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, if the treasure was found. The Associated Press tells the rest: With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill... The dig turned up nothing but bricks and old bottles. Henken planned…
Categories: Death, Pranks Comments (12)
The Lying Down Craze
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 10, 2009
An internet fad that managed to escape my attention is the "lying down" craze, in which people post photos of themselves lying face down, hands against their sides, in unusual locations. This sounded like fun to a group of British doctors and nurses: "The staff were pictured face down on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and the air ambulance heli-pad during a night shift at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts." Their mistake was to then post the photos on Facebook. Seven of them have now been suspended pending disciplinary hearings. [sun.co.uk]
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks Comments (5)
Wave of Hotel Pranks
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 10, 2009
As noted by Beasjt in the forum, there's been a case of a phone prankster tricking a couple into smashing up a hotel room by telling them there's a gas leak. I reported a case of an identical prank in April. The Boston Herald describes these incidents as part of a "wave of hotel pranks": The Monday incident follows others from around the country: In Arkansas, a caller posing as a sprinkler company employee convinced a motel employee to do more than $50,000 in damage to a motel as part of…
Categories: Pranks Comments (9)
Woman “prank calls” her own grandmother
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 06, 2009
Calling a store and asking "have you got Prince Albert in a can" is a prank call. Calling your grandmother 45 times and saying "You're going to die" is not a prank call. It's a sign of serious psychological issues. [google] A 21-year-old woman faces felony charges after allegedly prank-calling her 69-year-old grandmother 45 times in one day, threatening to kill her. The woman faces five felony counts including harassment. A criminal complaint said she told police she was "bored" and "wanted to have some fun." ... The criminal complaint said the suspect told investigators she wanted to scare…
Categories: Pranks Comments (3)
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