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|•||Famous writers just have more readers 03/09/2014|
|•||Pretend chef on five morning TV shows 03/04/2014|
|•||Image of "Aurora from Space" going viral is a hoax 02/28/2014|
|•||Supposed Ghost Caught on Securtiy Cam at Britain Pub 02/22/2014|
|•||Anyone up for a challenge? 02/20/2014|
|•||Bruno Gröning Documentary Film 02/15/2014|
|•||Science, Pseudoscience, and Crap 02/04/2014|
|•||Fake Snow 02/03/2014|
|•||Tapeworms ≠ Weight Loss 02/01/2014|
|•||NASA sued for failing to investigate Martian Fungus 01/30/2014|
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Status: Weird, but realChristophe Thill sent me a link to Huggable Urns (they're teddy bears that hold cremains) along with the message: "This has to be a hoax? Right? Right?" Sorry, Christophe. I don't think so. The Huggable Urns look real enough, and if you click on the 'Buy Now' button on the products page, it takes you to a PayPal payment page, which is usually a good sign that a product is real.
Actually, although the huggable urns seem a bit ghoulish and tacky, they're not that bad an idea. They're better than many alternatives. For instance, my mother-in-law's ashes have been sitting in a plastic urn above the washing machine in our garage for the past two years. We just can't figure out what to do with her. So there she sits. And the award for the worst thing to do with someone's ashes has to go to Sandi Canesco of Australia. I write about her in Hippo Eats Dwarf. She had her husband's ashes injected into her breast implants. She said that "that way I'd never really have to part with him at all." I guess you could say that Sandi has her own unique version of Huggable Urns.
Status: Urban LegendA 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: Evidently this is the kind of ad that people love to hate. And this dislike has inspired a rumor that the kid in the ad is dead. (Google 'Frosties Kid' and you pull up page after page of rumors of his death.) There are two versions of the rumor:
1) That the kid committed suicide on account of the bullying he received since the ad aired.
2) That the kid was a cancer patient whose dying wish was to star in a Frosties ad.
I don't know who the Frosties Kid is in real life. So I can't prove that he's alive. But there's absolutely no evidence to support the claim that he's dead. Plus, the 'Frosties Kid Is Dead' rumor seems to be a new variation of the 'Death of Little Mikey' rumor (which alleged that Mikey, of the Life Cereal commercials, died after eating Pop Rocks). So I think it's safe to assume that the Frosties Kid is still alive. (Thanks to Dave Tolomy for telling me about the rumor.)
Update: As Dead-Eric noted in the comments, Scott Mills of BBC Radio 1 recently discussed the 'Frosties Kid Is Dead' rumor on his show. Mills received the following official statement from Kelloggs about the rumor: You can listen to an mp3 clip of this portion of the Scott Mills show here.
Status: Prank Gone WrongOne of the rules of pranking is that you should do no harm. This means no harm to others, nor to yourself. The two Russian soldiers who thought lying down across the highway would be a funny prank, should have given more thought to this rule. As reported by MosNews.com: I think these guys are good candidates for Darwin Awards.
Status: Strange NewsI note in Hippo Eats Dwarf that if you fake your death, you need to remain dead, which means staying under the radar. Ronald Wayne Blankenship hasn't followed that advice. Instead, after allegedly faking his death backin 1990, he's now decided to run for sheriff in Jefferson County... which is a good way to bring himself to the attention of the police who now want him to come in and have his fingerprints checked. Blankenship, meanwhile, is maintaining his innocence, insisting that he's not the same Blankenship who once faked his death: Well, this guy's explanation seems totally believable. But what's really strange is that he received 25.9% of the votes. (Thanks to Joe for the story)
Status: Strange but trueHere's the scene: a high school criminology class on a field trip to the local park. Their teacher has created fake bodies for them to find. But wait a second. One of those bodies looks awfully real. The AP reports: Reality has a strange way of doing that, intruding on our make-believe games. But I predict that it's only a matter of time before this particular event gets refictionalized as part of the storyline of a TV crime drama (probably CSI).
Status: HoaxThe latest false celebrity death rumor going around concerns Jaleel White (best known for playing Urkel on Family Matters). Supposedly he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. This rumor is old. It was first posted on my site over half a year ago (in the comments to my post titled 'Is this Jaleel White?'). It's no truer now than it was then. I have no idea why it's begun circulating again, but here are the main highlights from the hoax AP report: Like I said, this was all posted on my site over half a year ago. Which means that when people did a Google search for info about Jaleel White committing suicide, my site was one of the first they found. Because of this, my page about Jaleel White started to receive huge amounts of traffic. So much traffic that it was not only slowing the entire site down, but was also slowing other sites that were located on the same server at my web host. Nevin, the technical guy at my web host, has been exchanging emails with me about it all day. What we've done to try to ease the strain on the server is to automatically route people visiting the comments for that old Jaleel White thread to my page about false celebrity death rumors (which is a static page and therefore uses less of the cpu).
Status: HoaxEarly last month a number of British papers ran pieces about a Norfolk farmer selling execution equipment to dictatorships. For instance, this is from the Scotsman (May 12): Now we learn that Mr. Lucas's gallows trade is nothing more than a hoax. At least, so says his business partner. UPI reports: I suppose this is an example of gallows humor.
Status: ObituaryGeorge Lutz of Amityville Horror fame has given up the ghost. He died of a heart attack in Las Vegas on May 8. George and his family lived in the house in Amityville, New York for four weeks in 1975 before supposedly being driven out of it by repeated paranormal occurrences (weird sounds and voices, green slime dripping from the ceiling, etc.) They left the house in a hurry, but weren't so scared that they weren't able to return and hold a garage sale. Personally I think the Amityville Horror story is complete baloney, but reportedly George Lutz always swore what happened was real. But then, he had so much invested in the tale (both emotionally and financially) that he would swear it was real. (Thanks to Joe for the link.)
Status: Joke ballotReuters reports on a case of a dead guy who was temporarily in the running for Italy's president:
For a second I thought this was some kind of allusion to Napoleon Dynamite. But that's Vote for Pedro, not Vote for Padre Pio. The similarity is coincidental, I'm sure. (Thanks to Big Gary, who has a knack for finding these 'dead guy running for office' stories.)
Apr. 9, 2006: Dead man runs for New Orleans Mayor
Status: Probably an urban legend mistaken as newsThis could be the next big thing: Soylent Green Human-Flavored Rum. Reuters reports: You could prepare a dinner starting with human-flavored tofu, seasoned with some human-hair soy sauce (and a little bit of bread made from human hair as a sidedish), and then wash it all down with this human-flavored rum. Yum! (Thanks to Big Gary for the link.)
Update: As Joe points out in the comments, this story sounds an awful lot like the tapping the admiral legend, which involves Admiral Nelson's body being preserved in a cask of rum while at sea, and the cask slowly being drained by sailors on the voyage home. World Wide Words points out that: "Jan Harald Brunvand, the American academic who has made a lifelong study of such legends, has told versions in one of his books, including a related one dating back six hundred years about some tomb robbers in Egypt. Other tales tell of containers holding similarly preserved bodies of monkeys or apes that spring a leak on their way from Africa to museums; the leaking spirits are consumed with a gusto that turns to horror when the truth of the situation emerges." So given the relatively flaky source on the Reuters story (a Hungarian website), it's probable that whoever runs the Hungarian website got taken in by an urban legend, and then Reuters in turn was taken in by it.
Status: StrangeI've heard of faking the death of people, but I've never before heard of a case of someone faking the death of an animal. Until now. The Chicago Sun Times reports on this bizarre case of a Pennsylvania couple who thought the vet had euthanized their epileptic dog, but then found out he had only pretended to do so:
A couple who thought they were watching their epileptic dog being euthanized actually witnessed a simple sedation procedure concocted so the veterinary clinic could later give the canine to another owner, they claim in a lawsuit... the lawsuit says, the dog was given a sedative to make it appear she was dead. The clinic then gave Annie to a new owner, Gene Rizzo of northeast Philadelphia, who cared for the dog until he had her euthanized Nov. 2.
I just don't understand the motivation of the vet here. Was he trying to make a buck by selling someone a sick dog? Or did he not think the dog was sick enough to be euthanized, but didn't want to tell that to the couple?
Status: Joke campaignTwenty-five people are campaigning to be mayor of New Orleans. One of them is legendary rhythm-and-blues musician Ernie K-Doe. His wife insists that he deserves to be mayor because "He gets the job done. The guy has soul." He also happens to be dead, which, I suppose, makes him perfect for the job (resistant to corruption-- especially if he was embalmed). Unfortunately he's not actually on the ballot, so his supporters will have to stage a write-in campaign. Though he could be a beneficiary of ghost voting, a practice not unknown down there in Louisiana. (Thanks, Big Gary)