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Category: Literature/Language
Man names son “Carter Barack Obama Sealy”
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 21, 2008
A Broomfield, Colorado man got his name in the local newspaper for claiming he had named his new son Carter Barack Obama Sealy. He also said that his two other children were named Brooke Trout Sealy and Cooper John Elway Sealy. Supposedly he had a deal with his wife. She got to choose the kids' first names, and he got to choose their middle names. The children's grandmother spilled the beans on the father, notifying the paper that the names were not real. The guy's wife explained that the fake names were her husband's idea of a joke. She added, "My husband's an idiot."
Longitude Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 18, 2008
The story of the 18th-century contest (sponsored by the British government) to find a solution to the problem of how to determine longitude at sea has received much attention, mostly due to Dava Sobel's best-selling book about it. But Pat Rogers argues in the Times Literary Supplement that Sobel (and just about every other historian who has written about the subject) has fallen for a hoax. Specifically, all of these historians have described one Jeremy Thacker as an inventor who, early in the contest, almost found the solution to longitude. But Rogers argues that Thacker didn't exist. He was merely a literary joke,…
Writers are skeptical of $250,000 prize
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 25, 2008
An article in SFGate.com describes how the owners of FieldReport.com devised what they thought was a sure-fire way to generate interest in their literary site. They decided to offer a "$250,000 prize for whichever short nonfiction piece received the highest ranking from the site's users by Jan. 1, 2009. A series of $1,000 qualifying prizes would be awarded in the months leading up to the quarter-million-dollar payout." Problem is, no one believed them. "We got this dead-face, 'My-god-you-guys-must-be-Nigerian-scammers' reaction," he said... In a neat ironic twist, one of their few…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (1)
Ken Campbell and the Royal Dickens Company
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 11, 2008
Ken Campbell recently died at the age of 66. The Telegraph's obituary describes him as "an actor, writer and director of wilful eccentricity" who worked in experimental theater. However, he was perhaps best known for a hoax he pulled off in 1980, when he sent around letters announcing that the Royal Shakespeare Company was renaming itself the Royal Dickens Company. I couldn't find a good description of this hoax online (and, unfortunately, I've never gotten around to writing one up... so many hoaxes, so little time). So here's an account of the hoax from Nick Yapp's book Great Hoaxes of the World:
It’s Right-Sizing, not Down-Sizing
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 11, 2008
Media Agency Carat recently decided to lay off some of its employees. PowerPoint and Word documents somehow leaked out detailing how management planned to inform employees and clients of the decision. They offer an example of corporate b.s. at its finest. Details include: • The agency wasn't going to be down-sizing. Instead, the documents repeatedly described the moves as a "right-sizing" of the agency. • Clients were to be informed of the "staffing change" with this script: "Mary Smith will be moving off your business. Now that we understand your business better, we are replacing her with someone whom we feel will be a better partner for you." • The remaining…
Huge advance allows 93-year-old author to move into larger home
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 12, 2008
It's been the feel-good story in the news during the past few days: 93-year-old Lorna Page was living in a retirement home small apartment until she secured a large advance for her thriller, A Dangerous Weakness. Amazingly, it was her first book! The money has allowed her to buy a five-bedroom house, and she's invited some of her friends from the living in a retirement home to come live with her. But Ray Girvan of Apothecary's Drawer Weblog asks a good question. Where did this huge advance come from, given that AuthorHouse is a self-publishing firm? They don't pay huge advances.…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (7)
Gays must leave the plane
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 29, 2008
Posted recently by Tobester in the Hoax Forum: I couldn't resist doing some research on this. Here's what I found. a) It's definitely an urban legend. b) I can't find any record of it ever appearing in the New York Times. c) The earliest mention of it I can find in print dates back to July 10, 2000, when it was discussed in the Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, in a version circulating back then, they were identified as the source of the tale. They denied this, pointed out the tale was an urban legend, and noted that in earlier…
Hair of the Dog… or Lord Byron?
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 22, 2008
Female fans of Lord Byron would often send him locks of their hair. In return he would send them a lock of his own. But a new book claims that what Byron often sent was a lock of fur from his pet newfoundland dog Boatswain. From Times Online: John Murray VII, chairman of his family’s publishing house, which was founded in 1768 and worked with Byron, said the story had been passed down through the generations. Murray said the fans to whom Byron sent the hair would have been under the impression that it was his, “but it sometimes…
How Knoop Became JT Leroy
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Laura Albert created the character of JT Leroy, and wrote the books that appeared in his name. However, Albert's sister-in-law, Savannah Knoop, played the part of JT whenever he was required to make an appearance in real life. Now Knoop has authored an account of what it was like to play JT. It'll be published in October by Seven Stories Press. From the publisher's website: In January 2006, The New York Times unmasked Savannah Knoop as the face of the mysterious author JT LeRoy. A media frenzy ensued as JT’s fans,…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (6)
Was Shakespeare a Jewish Woman?
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 28, 2008
There are many theories about the true identity of Shakespeare. A new one (at least, new to me) is that Shakespeare was actually a Jewish woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier. This argument is made by John Hudson, author of a forthcoming biography of Bassano (who was the first woman to publish a book of poetry in England). Haaretz reports: The theory rests largely on the circumstances of Bassano's life, which Hudson contends match, much better than William Shakespeare's did, the content of "Shakespeare's" work. But Hudson has also identified technical similarities…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (11)
Milfs Appalled by Racy Books
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 06, 2008
Heraldnet.com (the newspaper of Snohomish County) recently ran this story: Mom appalled at racy books in store for teens at Alderwood mall By Scott Pesznecker Herald Writer LYNNWOOD -- Marci Milfs went to Urban Outfitters to find clothes for her teenage son. She was surprised to find sexually charged books that she believes have no place in a clothing store for teens and young adults. On one end of the spectrum was "Porn for Women," a photo book showing men doing housework. On the other was "Pornogami: A Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for…
It’s a cab, innit
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 15, 2008
Many British papers have reported the humorous story of a young woman who called the operator trying to order a cab, but instead had a cabinet delivered to her home. Her problem was too much Cockney, and too little Queen's English. From Ananova: the Londoner, 19, wanted a taxi to take her to Bristol airport, and first used the Cockney rhyming slang "Joe Baxi". When the operator told her she couldn't find anyone by that name, the teen replied: "It ain't a person, it's a cab, innit." The operator then found the nearest cabinet shop, Displaysense, and put the…
Real Book, Fake Author
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 07, 2008
The novel Charm has already sold more than 100,000 copies. It debuted at No. 13 on the New York Times best-seller list. However, its author, Kendall Hart, isn't real. Hart is a character on the ABC soap opera "All My Children." As this NY Times article puts it: "It has Kendall’s name on the cover but the name of the actual writer is being kept secret." This is why writers get depressed. They work hard to produce good books, which end up in remainder bins. Meanwhile, people flock in droves to buy a book just because it has the name of a soap opera character slapped on the front cover. These kind…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (8)
Identifying Memoir Hoaxers
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 05, 2008
Margaret Soltan makes an interesting observation on her blog about all the recent memoir hoaxers. She writes: Consider these author photos of a few (there are many more) recent memoir hoaxers.  What do they have in common?  They all say:  Look directly at my big sad eyes.  I have deeply suffered. Perhaps we can ask legitimate writers to assume a different pose.  That way we can identify the hoaxers. The authors shown are, from left to right, Margaret Seltzer, Norma Khouri, Helen Demidenko,…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (4)
Yet Another Literary Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 04, 2008
One week after Misha Defonseca confessed that she didn't really grow up with wolves, as she claimed in her memoir of her childhood in war-torn Europe, another literary hoax has surfaced. Love and Consequences, by Margaret B. Jones, purports to be a non-fiction memoir of the author's life "as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods." In reality, as the NY Times reports: "Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her…
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