Hoax Museum Blog: Miscellaneous

Top 100 Fools, and other stuff

I haven't posted on the front page in far too long. But I haven't been ignoring the site. I was busy pursuing one of my own personal obsessions, which was to create a complete archive of the history of April Fool's Day. And I managed to do it. I've now got a fairly complete archive here on the site of the entire history of April Fool's Day, from 1500 to the present day. Check it out. I also completely overhauled the list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time. And with that out of my system, hopefully I can return to posting as usual!

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015.   Comments (3)

Error when logging in — People were reporting that when they tried to log in to the site, they received an error message. Although the login actually did work, despite the message. So I finally had the blog software people look into it, and they fiddled with some things, and it now seems to be working as it should. But if you're a site member, try logging in just to check that it works. If you still get the error message, let me know!
Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2014.   Comments (3)


Welcome to hoaxes.org, the museum's new domain name.

As far as I can tell, the museum appears to have survived its move in one piece. It seems that the old URLs are being successfully redirected to the new domain. However, I haven't yet tested if things such as RSS or member logins all work correctly.

I have to say, the transition, just to get to this point, wasn't easy. I spent the last two days banging my head against my desk, trying to master the byzantine complexities of apache, .htaccess pages, and so-called 'regular expressions' (i.e. apache server code gobbledygook), in order to get the redirect to work correctly.

The biggest problem was that I'm an absolute beginner at apache server code. But also, the blogging software I use and the way it was initially installed (in a subfolder) created some challenging special circumstances that I needed to figure out how to code around.

Unfortunately, the coding challenge isn't entirely over yet. Right now, the old server is sending all requests for museumofhoaxes URLs over to the new hoaxes.org server. But soon I need to have the museumofhoaxes domain name point directly at the new server, and this will require slightly different code in order have the redirect work. If this doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry. It wouldn't have made any sense to me either a few days ago.

I'm thinking of trying to find a programming student at UCSD who I can pay a few bucks to help me with this next step of the coding. Because I'm not sure I can figure it out on my own. Or rather, I don't really want to spend the time figuring it out, when someone who knows what they're doing could code it in seconds.

But if anyone out there knows apache and would be willing to give some free advice, let me know. I'd be forever grateful!

Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2014.   Comments (2)

The Museum of Hoaxes is Moving!

We're moving to a new server, because our old webhost is shutting down.

And I decided to use this opportunity to also change the URL of the site, from museumofhoaxes.com to hoaxes.org. Why? Just because it's shorter and easier to spell. (Over the years I've seen 'museum' misspelled in just about every bizarre way imaginable.)

Of course, all the old museumofhoaxes URLs will continue to work (fingers crossed). People will just be redirected automatically to the corresponding URL on hoaxes.org.

I was going to change the URL to hoaxes.com, which is available for purchase, but the guy who currently owns it wanted a ridiculously large amount of money for it, which put an end to that plan. Hoaxes.org, by contrast, was quite affordable. Plus, I figure that the museum is legitimately an organization, not a business. So it makes sense for it to have a .org suffix.

The migration process from the old to the new server has already begun — which means that anything posted here from now on has MISSED THE MIGRATION! It'll be deleted when I delete these old server files and hit the "automatic redirect" switch. So don't post any comments or forum posts until the site is live at the new URL, which should be in two or three days (because it takes some time for URLs to get processed through name servers, etc.). Or post them, but realize that they'll soon disappear.

See you all at the new server and new URL.

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014.   Comments (2)

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014.   Comments (6)

Real Simple Magazine — The Museum of Hoaxes got a nice little write-up in this month's issue of Real Simple magazine. I think they mentioned the "paranormal stuff" on the site (which, honestly, there isn't a huge amount of) because it's the October issue, and they were trying to tie it in with Halloween.

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013.   Comments (1)

Museum Mail: Hello, this is KBS 2TV quizshow program in South Korea —
Hello, this is KBS 2TV (Sunday 08:10) quizshow program in South Korea named ' 퀴즈쇼 사총사'.
We have made a couple of questions about the world's hoaxes and before we use this questions on the real show, we'd like to check whether this information is correct or not. We hope this page 'museum of hoaxes' can help us.

We've made two questions below.

<1> Every November, there is a unique contest named 'Biggest Liar in the World Competition' in England. This competition picks a man who lies best in limited 5 minutes. Except, they keep people who have 'this job' from participating this competition. What is this job?
(1) Lawyer (2) Doctor

<2> In 1962, It has been issue for a while that a Swede engineer in broadcasting company said every people in ordinary home could turn their monochrome television into color television by this way. What's the way that the Swede said?
(1) Paint their TV (2) Cover their TV with a stocking

We want to verify these questions are correct and have any errors.
We are wondering if the 'Museum of hoaxes' could answer our questions.

I checked with a Korean-speaking friend who tells me 퀴즈쇼 사총사' is a well-known quiz show in S. Korea. So I'm flattered they contacted the Museum.

I answered their questions. Would you be able to?
Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2013.   Comments (3)

Attention NYC Residents—Something to do on Feb. 23 — I'm passing along a message from longtime friend of the Museum, Bob Pagani:

A few weeks ago, I was invited by the Maccarone Gallery in NYC to come and talk about my friendship with Andy Kaufman as part of a celebration of Andy's life and work. I invited Alan Abel to stop by. He did and the two of us spent several hours talking to gallery visitors about Andy (I am the one who introduced Alan to Andy) and our experiences in the Wonderful World of Media Hoaxing.

Here's a link to a NY Times story about the exhibit:

The curator of the exhibit liked us so much that he invited us to come back for the second part of the celebration on the 23rd of this month, at the Participant, Inc. Gallery on E. Houston St. in NYC. Again we're going to talk about our experiences with Andy and all the things we've done to fool the media. It's going to be moderated by Cory Arcangel, a very interesting artist I'm looking forward to meeting.

The show will start at 8:30 PM on the 23rd and admission is free. I'm hoping that some of your readers from the NYC area will stop by. I think it's going to be a very fun show.

I live in San Diego, so I can't attend. But if you live in NYC, check it out!
Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2013.   Comments (4)

Looking for eye squirters — I assume this email was sent to me because buried in the Museum's blog there's a post about eye squirting. So I'm passing it along to you all, in case anyone is interested:

Hi! I'm the Casting Producer for a new television show with Talpa Media, the creators of "The Voice." We're bringing our Dutch hit, "Challenge Me" to the states and we’re looking for people who have the ability to squirt milk from their eye.

If chosen to be on the show, you'll have the opportunity win thousands of dollars AND gain national exposure for using the talents you already have!

Please contact me ASAP for more details.

If you want to squirt milk from your eye on TV, contact me and I'll give you the casting producer's email address.
Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013.   Comments (0)

Hoax Archive Makeover — My New Years' resolution was to start posting regularly again here, since it makes me feel sad and guilty when I neglect the hoax museum. It's just too easy, when other things demand my attention, to fail to look after the site, given that there's no boss (except my conscience) to tell me to get back to work.

Now I didn't post any updates for the first 24 days of the year, so it may seem like I already broke my resolution. But not quite. I took the time to give the Hoax Archive a big makeover, which was sorely needed, though it turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated. Since the Hoax Archive was the original core of the site... how this all got started and out of which emerged the book version of the Museum of Hoaxes... I have a strong, sentimental attraction to it and hated seeing it grow increasingly disorganized. Also, since I recently reacquired the full rights to the Museum of Hoaxes book, I can now legally have everything in the book up on the site.

My goal was to make the Archive look more like galleries that could easily be browsed, and less like a blog. So people can now click through the time periods, from the middle ages to the present, and get a quick visual sense of the character of each period. It's also now much easier to quickly find a hoax, if you know roughly when it occurred. Check it out and let me know what you think.

And now (hopefully) back to regular blogging! (Yeah, I say this every time I resume blogging after a long break, and each time I mean it. With any luck, this'll be the time I stick to my commitment.)
Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2013.   Comments (5)

Balloon Boy Trading Card — Back in June 2011, Richard Heene, of Balloon Boy fame, tried to sell the balloon he had used in his hoax. He hoped to get $1 million for it, but ultimately had to settle for $2500.

But the guy who bought it from Heene resold part of the balloon to the Topps trading card company, which has cut up the balloon into small pieces and glued them on to Balloon Boy trading cards. (link: Yahoo! Sports) It's part of a "used memorabilia" line of cards, but would also make a nice addition to their line of Great Hoaxes Trading Cards, released in 2009.

Since I'm a sucker for any (affordable) hoax-related memorabilia, I'll probably end up buying one of these cards.

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2012.   Comments (0)

Why Am I Still Getting Emails About Midget Rentals? — Apparently it's true that the internet never forgets. Seven years ago I posted about a company claiming to rent midgets for parties. In that post I didn't say I was renting midgets. I simply said there was a business claiming to rent them. In fact, I thought the idea sounded so odd that I had some doubts about whether the business was real. (And I probably shouldn't use the term 'midget.' I think 'little person' is now the preferred term.)

Anyway, soon after making that post, I started getting email queries from people interested in renting little people. In 2008 I first noted I was getting these strange emails, and I'm still getting them today, at the rate of about one every two months. Here's the latest I received, from a dental office in Atlanta:

Would you have a leprechaun available for Friday morning, March 16 for about 10 minutes in Atlanta? I’d like a little person dressed as a leprechaun to do a little walk through to kick off our meeting on Friday – it starts at 8:30am.

I don't know what there is in that seven-year-old post that makes people think I'm running a little-person rental service. Check back in another seven years to find out if I'm still getting the emails.
Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2012.   Comments (4)

A real-life Museum of Hoaxes — The Irish Times describes a real-life Museum of Hoaxes -- the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris:

As chief curator Claude d'Anthenaise explains, it's an experimental museum that likes to baffle the visitor. "I wanted to create a museum where the visitor would feel constantly disconcerted and lose his bearings – just like someone walking in nature," he says. "In a wild setting, you're confronted with all sorts of things you don't understand. You're not on your own territory."

So "totally insignificant, even repulsive" objects have been deliberately placed alongside art of the highest quality. Visitors often have to search out explanations for displays. There are hoaxes, traps and false leads. For example, a fake appeau – a device used to imitate the sounds of animals – is presented in what looks like a serious, scientific collection.

"In the hunting trophy collection, there's an animal that is actually an artistic creation. It's like a wild boar's head, which is completely imagined but plausible, all white, and it follows the visitors with its eyes. We can even make it talk as they pass. Sometimes the security guard will turn it on.

"Suddenly the visitor is confronted by this animal which is not fully dead. It invites him to challenge the entirety of the collection. He says to himself, 'if this is an invention, maybe other things are too'. So he observes them differently.

It sounds a lot like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA.
Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

Old Fulton NY Post Cards — There are some odd things about the Old Fulton NY Post Cards site. First of all, despite the name, it has nothing to do with old postcards. Second, it's full of strange animations. A goldfish floats around the screen, and there's a head with spider legs that crawls about. There are sounds (such as a cannon and fireworks) that play at random moments, and you can't turn them off.

But these odd things are just the wrapping around the true content of the site, which is 17 million pages of scanned, fully searchable pages of old New York state newspapers. All completely free. There aren't even any ads. If you like doing historical research, it's a goldmine. The site has been around for a while, but I just discovered it last month, and it's now become one of my favorite sites.


The really strange thing about the site is that it's been put together by one guy, Tom Tryniski, who runs the site off of servers in his home. To put this in perspective, Tryniski has managed to put together an online newspaper archive that's larger than the Library of Congress's newspaper archive. Much larger. And far more comprehensive.

Anyway, I've been finding all kinds of old hoax-related material on it, which is why I'm so excited about it. For instance, I found the original text (warning: pdf) of the man-eating tree of Madagascar hoax, published in the NY World on April 28, 1874, which I posted about last month.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've been finding the original texts of lots of old newspaper hoaxes -- stuff that I don't think anyone has seen for over 100 years. I'll be posting some of my finds in the next few weeks.
Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011.   Comments (5)

Cardiff Giant in Perth — Here are some pictures, courtesy of Nettie and Smerk, of the Cardiff Giant enjoying the sights in Perth. (Nettie sent me the pictures about three weeks ago, but Thanksgiving and the moon hoax distracted me. At least, that's the excuse for my slowness that I'm going with.)

So where should the Cardiff Giant go next? Any volunteers to host him? I'm hoping it might be possible to send him somewhere in the general neighborhood of Australia. Japan, maybe? I'll wait a week for responses, and in the meantime I'll also see if I can find any volunteers through non-MoH channels.
Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011.   Comments (6)

MOH chosen as one of America’s Kitschiest Roadside Attractions — It's official. American Express's Travel and Leisure Magazine has chosen the Museum of Hoaxes as one of America's Kitschiest Roadside Attractions. We're honored to be recognized in this way!

kitschy attraction

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011.   Comments (9)

MOH as one of America’s Great Roadside Attractions — I just received an email from someone who works at TravelandLeisure.com (an American Express Publishing site):
Currently we're putting together a photo gallery feature about America's Roadside Attractions and we're including the Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego. I'm working on collecting photos of the museum— overall interior and exterior shots are best. Please send a selection photos as soon as possible by the end of today/tomorrow morning at the latest.

Hmm. What should I send them?

Update: "Fred in na gadda da vida" suggested I send them this picture, which he kindly created. But I'd already sent them the three images on the 'About the Museum' page.

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011.   Comments (10)

New Site Design — Unless you're reading this post by RSS, you should be looking at my new site design, which I spent the past week working on. My design skills aren't that great, but I'm hoping it's an improvement over the old design. One of my main objectives was to emphasize that the site isn't just a blog and forum, but also has a large archive of info about hoaxes throughout history. Which is why I put the new archive links front and center.

One feature you may not notice immediately: when you load the site you'll currently see either a pair of jackalopes or nessie to the right of the main banner. I've set it up so that random images will load in this place -- and clicking on the images will take you to the article about whatever hoax they represent. I just need to make some more images to add into the random rotation.
Posted: Sun Aug 28, 2011.   Comments (11)

Updates to the Site — I spent the last five days updating the software that runs this site. It was a pretty nightmarish process. First the update changed every URL on the site. Once I managed to fix that, I discovered that the server was repeatedly crashing.

My webhost looked into the issue and found that spammers were trying to submit large amounts of comment spam, which was locking up the servers. (Most of the spam wasn't making it onto the site because the spammers apparently weren't filling out the captcha form, but I guess it was still putting a strain on the server to have to keep denying the spam.) So to combat this, I had to make one large change to how the site runs. From now on, only registered members can submit comments. In fact, only registered members will even be able to see the comment submission form.

Of course, this won't stop spammers from registering and posting spam. But it will stop the lazier type of spammers who simply direct their autobots at the site's comment form and blast away until the server collapses.

This change will mean that there will be far fewer comments on the site. And I know that some people are basically allergic to having to register for sites. But the spammers didn't leave me much choice. And it should make the site more spam free and thus more pleasant for people who do leave comments.

So the spam problem was addressed, but the servers were still freezing up. After a lot more investigation, one of the guys from the software company traced the problem to a bug with how the software was dealing with comment pagination, and he fixed the bug. So, at last, the site appears to be working. Fingers crossed.

I'll keep an eye on the comment pagination problem, and if it looks like it's not fully resolved, I'll simply turn off pagination for all threads and set the comment count high enough so that all the comments for most threads can fit on one page. For those few threads with a lot of comments, I'll ask people to continue the discussion over at the forum, because the forum's software doesn't seem to have the same problem with pagination.
Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2011.   Comments (7)

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