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April 2004
image My last shred of faith that there is anything real remaining on the internet has now gone. Wedding dress guy has turned out to be a hoax. Like seemingly everyone else on the internet, I recently checked out his eBay auction of his ex-wife's wedding dress. I read through his rant about his ex-wife and enjoyed his remarks, such as his statement that he was selling the dress "to get enough money for maybe a couple of Mariners tickets and some beer." I also laughed at the pictures of him posing in the white dress. I didn't suspect that the story was a fake (I should have known better!), which of course it is, as Nicole Brodeur uncovered in this Seattle Times article. Wedding Dress Guy is named Larry Star. He mentioned a sister in the story, but she doesn't exist. He mentioned that he had no kids with his ex-wife, but he does. I guess this is another case of how you can sell anything on eBay, as long as you weave a good story around it. And the dress did sell: for $3,850. For that price, the buyer gets a used wedding dress and a phony story. It's amazing what some people will spend their money on.
Categories: eBay, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 30, 2004
Comments (55)
image The Australian Museum has determined that a bone in its possession, that sports an arrow sticking through it, did not come from the leg of Captain James Cook. Strike all that. My mistake. The arrow is made out of bone, and this bone was long rumored to be a bone from Captain James Cook's leg. But it appears that the bone is actually from some kind of sea mammal.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 29, 2004
Comments (1)
Here's a question that the world's greatest minds have yet to answer: are pop stars who appear to be dumb really that dumb, or are they just faking it? For instance, does Britney Spears really not know who Yoko Ono is, or is she just pretending not to know in order to cultivate her airhead image and generate free publicity? Nancy Snow, a professor at Cal State Fullerton, says it's all an act: "People at that level are always 'on' — they know what they're saying... it's kind of a sweetheart deal between them and the media. It really helps to feed the publicity machine." (via Sexy Pop Culture)
Categories: Celebrities
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 29, 2004
Comments (5)
You may know Stephen Hawking as the brilliant theoretical physicist and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time. But did you also know that in his spare time the man is a gangsta rapper? Perhaps you're familiar with his album, A Brief History of Rhyme. Hawking's other career as a 'lyrical terrorist' is lovingly explored on this fan site, MC Hawking's Crib. Yeah, it's a hoax, but it's amazingly detailed, even including MP3 samples of Hawking's songs. (And thanks to Bill Boldt for gently pointing out to me my initial misspelling of 'Mic').
Categories: Entertainment, Science, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 29, 2004
Comments (3)
image Operation Take One for the Country (or OTOFTC) has been getting a lot of publicity lately. It claims to be "a movement of like-minded women (women predominantly as of right now) who have covertly organized into groups to frequent eating and drinking establishments near armed service bases where troops are preparing to ship out overseas, and take one for the country, so to speak." In other words, they pick up soldiers in bars and sleep with them. This has been generating a lot of cries of hoax. For instance, Single Southern Guy notes that there's a transcript of a radio interview with two of the OTOFTC participants on the site, but the radio station that supposedly conducted this interview doesn't appear to exist. My thoughts on this? First, even if it's not real, this will obviously immediately inspire 'Operation Pretend You're a Soldier.' Second, women sleeping with departing soldiers certainly lies well within the realm of possibility. The real question is whether it's being done on an organized basis with entire sororities and the like participating, as this site claims. That seems less likely. Sure, some women may joke that they're participating in OTOFTC, but that doesn't really constitute a covertly organized movement. It seems more likely that this is a cute idea that someone is using to sell some t-shirts and bumper stickers.
Categories: Military, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 29, 2004
Comments (5)
image A few days ago I posted about the controversy brewing around the Hot Abercrombie Chick (or HAC, for short). The HAC appeared to be an extremely photogenic young female blogger whose blog was rapidly increasing in popularity. But then rumors started to circulate that she wasn't a she at all. She was a he. And the blog's popularity appeared to be due to manipulation of the way blogs are tracked. Justin Foster and Cameron Marlow have done some impressive internet detective work and traced down who the HAC most likely is: a guy living in St. Louis named Daniel Zeigenbein. They did it by uncovering the IP addresses that the HAC had left behind when posting on message boards, and they all originated in St. Louis. That just happens to be where Daniel Zeigenbein lives. Daniel was mentioned in one of the first posts on the HAC's blog, and Justin and Cameron had long suspected he was the real HAC. Making it even more suspicious, Daniel had a blog that he abandoned right before the HAC started up hers.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 28, 2004
Comments (0)
image A merkin is a pubic wig. The term is also sometimes used as slang/shorthand for 'American.' Apparently actors doing nude scenes sometimes wear merkins. Heidi Klum did a scene involving an oversized, obviously fake merkin in the movie Blow Dry. But where, you might wonder, could a casual curiosity seeker ever get their hands on such a thing? Just head on over to the American Merkin Company (not safe for work, but only mildly so). Their motto is 'Handcrafting merkins for over 150 years,' and they offer a full range of this product in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Or at least, so they claim. They display a number at the bottom of their webpage which you can call and order some up (1-877-508-6307). I couldn't contain my curiosity about whether this company was for real, so I dialed them up, only to reach an operator who had never heard of them. So I guess the American Merkin Company is a hoax. Their motto should have been a tip-off.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 28, 2004
Comments (1)
image Some say Andy Kaufman died on May 16, 1984. Some say he didn't. But whatever the case may be, Kaufman said that if he did fake his death, he would return 20 years later, and May 16, 2004 will be the 20th anniversary of his 'death.' In honor of this, Comic Relief will be holding an 'Andy Kaufman: Dead or Alive' show at the LA House of Blues on May 16. Perhaps Andy himself will put in an appearance. (Thanks, Julie)
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (1)
Here's an inventive scam. A Miami couple placed ads in newspapers offering $5000 a week for the job of chauffeuring strippers around. They got 43 applicants to wire them deposits of almost $1000 in order to secure this nonexistent dream job. Of course, they could probably have said, pay us $5000 a week and we'll let you drive strippers around, and they would have still netted some victims.
Categories: Con Artists, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
image This is good. Some guy has created a program that lets you put whatever text you want on the sign held by those kids posing in the desert with an American soldier.
Also, Salon.com recently had an article about this picture, although I didn't think it was a particularly well researched article. The author tried to argue that the new ease with which images can be manipulated somehow poses a dangerous threat. It contains statements such as:

There was a time when photographs were synonymous with truth -- when you could be sure that what you saw in a picture actually occurred.

Oh, really? What period in history was that? Images have always been manipulated, and people have always known it can be done.

Then he warns that a doctored photo might be used for political dirty tricks, going on to state:

If a doctored photo ever does lead to the defeat of a political candidate or some other disaster -- puts the wrong guy in jail, say -- one immediate consequence might be a quick decline in the trust we have in pictures.

Reading this, I can only assume he doesn't know anything about the history of photography. What about the Tydings Affair, when Senator Tydings lost his 1950 Senate reelection bid because of a doctored photo? And William Randolph Hearst, of course, was notorious for using fake (or misleading) pictures in his newspapers for political purposes.
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (46)
As Gawker reports, a great 'take-this-job-and-shove-it' email has been making the rounds recently. It's penned by Bob Rubenstein, a publicist for a record label, who lost his job soon after the lead singer of the band he was supposed to promote, Pre)Thing, died of a heart attack. Bob, embittered for being fired, dishes some dirt on the company he was canned from, revealing how they brought in a psychic to talk with the departed spirit of the singer to see if he'd be willing to do any interviews with music journalists, via the psychic, from beyond the grave. But it turns out there's more to this story than Gawker realized. Rolling Stone reveals that the Bob Rubenstein email is actually a hoax created as an ingenious viral marketing campaign in order to get the word out about Pre)Thing, since their lead singer really did die recently and therefore really can't do publicity. (via BoingBoing)
Categories: Advertising, Death, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
image A link to this story alleging that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has declared himself gay has been spreading around via email. Of course, it isn't true. After all, it's a Global Associated News story (Global Associated News being a website that allows you to create your own fake news stories). But it looks real enough to have been convincing quite a few people.
Outsports.com reports that they've been receiving many inquiries about it.

Update (May 7, 2004): As this rumor has continued to spread via the internet, Michael Vick felt compelled to call into a radio show in an effort to end the gossip.
Categories: Sports, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (43)
If you're going to cheat on your tax forms, you might as well do it big, like this university cafeteria worker did. She claimed to be a Hawaiian princess and managed to get a $2.1 million refund from the IRS. The only thing is, she really believes she is a Hawaiian princess. Her defense lawyer argues that she suffers from an "irrational insistence upon an identity that is not her own." Maybe she's the second coming of
Princess Caraboo.
Categories: Business/Finance, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
I'm a few days late noting this story, but I had to mention it anyway. One volume of the forged Hitler Diaries was recently sold at auction in Berlin, fetching around $7700. If there really was such a thing as a brick-and-mortar Museum of Hoaxes, I would have definitely put in a bid for it.
Categories: History, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
image Are you a woman who needs a really good divorce lawyer? Then check out the law firm of Katz, Cohen & Phelps where their motto is "Is he cheating? Let's nail him." Actually, that's not really a law firm. It's just another fake website used to promote an upcoming movie, in this case The Laws of Attraction starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan. In this case, it's a really half-hearted attempt at a fake website. I mean, that's obviously Julianne Moore posing on the website, and they stuck a movie rating on at the bottom of it. Still, it continues the trend of using fake websites to promote movies.
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
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