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Category: Urban Legends
Hanging Munchkin set for Stage Debut
Posted by Boo on Wed Aug 09, 2006
The well-known and much maligned Wizard of Oz urban legend – that of a scene in the film where one can ‘see’ one of the munchkins hanging himself at the back of the set – is the centre theme of a show opening in Dublin this week. Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has focused the play, depicting the lives of the actors who portrayed the munchkins, around the premise that the legend is true. The BBC quotes him as saying: "It's a persistent myth - the point about myths is they…
Foot Myths
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 02, 2006
image: bastetThe Xenna Corporation has issued a press release in which they detail a number of widely circulated myths about feet. These include: • If a person's second toe is longer than the others, they are dependable, conservative and keep their emotions in check. • If a person's third toe is bigger than the others, they're hot-headed and have a temper. • If a person has long toes, they're among the thinkers of the world. • If a person's feet are wide, they're a hard worker and have strong family values. • If a person's feet are narrow, they're shy and quiet. • If a person…
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…
The Frosties Kid Is Dead
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 07, 2006
Status: Urban Legend A recent ad for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes shows a blond-haired kid dancing around singing "They're going to taste great!" I think this is a British ad. At least, I've never seen it here in America. And all the references to it I've found occur in the British press. For instance, David Whitehouse writes in the Guardian: Pity the poor Kellogg's marketing department... all they wanted to do was make an advert in which a chirpy young scamp would skip his way through…
Categories: Advertising, Death, Urban Legends Comments (102)
Firediving Image
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 30, 2006
Status: Photoshopped A Brazilian ad agency (FCB Brasil) has created some pictures as part of a campaign for a diving magazine, one of which illustrates the firediving urban legend (in which a diver gets scooped up by a helicopter bucket and dumped onto a forest fire). The second picture shows a diver getting shot out of a dam. The tagline is "Read Before Diving." Cute. (via Coolzor)
The Million Dollar Space Pen
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 08, 2006
Status: Urban Legend Dwayne Day has an interesting article in Space Review about the urban legend of the Million Dollar Space Pen. I'm sure you've heard the legend before. It's the one in which NASA pays a million dollars to develop a pen that will write in space. The Russians, meanwhile, being a bit more practical and budget-conscious, just use a pencil for their space missions. The truth is that the space pen was independently developed in the mid-1960s by Paul Fisher of the Fisher Pen Company. He did it completely on his own, without prompting by NASA and without NASA money. It turned out to be a good pen, and NASA later started…
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (17)
Human-Flavored Rum
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 04, 2006
Status: Probably an urban legend mistaken as news This could be the next big thing: Soylent Green Human-Flavored Rum. Reuters reports: Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported... the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and paperwork of an official return. According to the website,…
Categories: Death, Food, Urban Legends Comments (15)
Collecting Junk For Charity
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 04, 2006
Status: Urban Legend The Oroville Mercury Register has an interesting article about the lost art of saving— how people don't save stuff the way they used to. A lot of people, myself included, save rubber bands and plastic bags in order to reuse them, but back in the old days it was common to religiously save string and tinfoil. The tinfoil, in particular, was a bit of a mystery since it never seemed to be reused. It would just accumulate, the ball of it growing larger and larger over the years. The author of the article (I can't find a byline) also notes the…
Categories: Urban Legends Comments (24)
Chapstick Lets You Cheat on Scantron Tests
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 11, 2006
Status: Urban Legend Here's an odd urban legend that I just stumbled across. Supposedly if you smear chapstick down the side of a scantron sheet (the kind used for standardized tests such as the SAT), the grading machine will mark all your answers correct. The theory is that the chapstick will interfere with the scanning light, confusing it into thinking that your answers are correct. Needless to say, this doesn't work. Some guy named Richard Mangahas has written a short article detailing all kinds of theories about ways to cheat on scantron tests, including: marking or deleting the black lines along the side of the page, filling in the bubbles with cross-hatches, or…
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (37)
The Tongue Map
Posted by The Curator on Sun Feb 26, 2006
Status: Urban Legend One of the many catalogs I receive is the Wine Enthusiast. On the inside cover of the catalog I received last week is a description of Symphony Stemware wine glasses which are supposedly "designed and shaped to enhance the best characteristics of every wine." Accompanying this claim is a map of the tongue with the following caption: "The specially designed shape of each glass directs the flow of wine to the proper areas of your palate, emphasizing a wine's best qualities and creating a balanced taste for maximum enjoyment." Symphony…
Categories: Food, Urban Legends Comments (30)
Philippine Urban Legends (Jose Rizal was Jack the Ripper)
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
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 to discussing two other Philippine legends that are of more general interest. The first one is that Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, "was the father of Adolf Hitler, the result of an indiscretion with…
Popular Myths in Science
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 18, 2006
Status: Urban Legends LiveScience.com has a list of the 20 Most Popular Myths in Science. Included in the list are classics such as these: It takes seven years to digest gum. Hair and fingernails continue growing after death. A penny dropped from the top of a tall building could kill a pedestrian. Humans use only 10 percent of their brains. You get less wet by running in the rain. Eating a poppy seed bagel mimics opium use. Oddly enough, they also throw a few strange-but-true items into this list of myths, such as these: Chickens can live without a head. Yawning is…
Categories: Science, Urban Legends Comments (17)
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…
Is Lip Balm Addictive?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 24, 2006
Status: Undetermined There's an old urban legend that states that the makers of lip balm (Carmex, specifically), add ground-up fiberglass to their product. The glass irritates people's lips, causing them to feel like they need to apply the balm again and again. There's another urban legend that states that lip balm interferes with the moisture sensors in the lips, causing lips to become dry and requiring more lip balm to be applied. Neither of these urban legends is true. Carmex debunks the fiberglass myth on their website, and the moisture sensor one is false because there are no such thing as moisture sensors in the lips. (At least, not ones that regulate the moisture levels of the…
Campus Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 19, 2006
Status: urban legends The Auburn Plainsman (student paper of Auburn University) has a short article about campus urban legends. The ones they list are: Endowment from old lady bans sorority houses: This UL seems to exist on every college campus that doesn't have sorority houses. It states that some rich old woman left a large sum of money to the college on the condition that they ban sorority houses, because she considered them to be brothels. The more likely reality, among those schools that have sororities but no sorority houses, is that women used to be required to live on campus. Once that rule was lifted, it was cheaper for sorority members to live…
Categories: Places, Urban Legends Comments (33)
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