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Someone pasted part of my April Fools list into an email, and this is circulating around Europe. It has the subject line: Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time.

Whoever is responsible for doing this, used my email address in the "From" field. I know this because I'm being swamped by bouncebacks from people who are not in their office, or whose server is rejecting the message.

I'm hoping the email doesn't have a virus attached to it, but my fear is that it does. There's a link at the bottom of the email inviting people to "Read all the other Doaxes," and this link leads to a suspicious-looking document hosted on secure.filesanywhere.com.

I just want to say, to anyone who might have received this message, that I have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I'm also powerless to stop it.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 01, 2008
Comments (4)
April 1st is approaching, which means that the Museum will probably experience its annual surge of traffic that results in pages loading incredibly slowly or not at all. I'm going to do whatever possible to stop the site from crashing on April 1st, though I'm not sure how much I can really do.

I've already moved most of the images to a separate server, to reduce the strain on the main server. I'm also going to temporarily eliminate avatars in the forum. I'm not deleting them. They just won't show up until I reactivate them after April 1st. Unfortunately, because of the way the forum software works, I can't move them to a different server. They're either served up by my web host, or they're not served up at all.

I'm also tweaking settings in the blog software. If it can be easily done, I might turn off commenting on April 1st. Better to have new visitors be able to see something, but not leave comments, than not see anything at all because the page won't load.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 25, 2008
Comments (10)
When someone wants to rent a midget, I'm apparently the first person they contact. I say this because I receive A LOT of email inquiries from people wanting to rent midgets, such as this one I got yesterday:

do you know any midget strippers that would do a wake up at a bachelor party

or this one from a few weeks ago:

Do you know if I could get 2 male midgets at my Lounge for a party this Friday Jan 25th in Chicago IL.  I would appreciate a response.

It's my fault. I posted about a rent-a-midget service years ago, and ever since then the emails from people seeking midgets to rent have continued to trickle in, usually at the rate of about one a month.

I also receive many inquiries from people who want to buy tapeworms for the purpose of dieting, who want to know if I sell marzipan babies, who are looking to buy a fake sun roof, or who want to join the Nigerian navy.

I'm really missing out on good business opportunities by not offering these services.

Once upon a time I was receiving emails almost daily from people seeking fake doctor notes, but no longer. Apparently someone has usurped my position as the preferred source of information about this product.
Categories: Business/Finance, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 25, 2008
Comments (7)
Sorry if I caused anyone vertigo. I decided to move the sidebar over to the left side of screen since, visually, I think it makes more sense to have it lined up beneath the museum banner. Nothing else has changed.

It should only take a few moments to regain your bearings.

Update: Ignore what I said above.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 21, 2008
Comments (22)
Long-time forum regular LaMa (aka Marco Langbroek) has made it onto the news in the Netherlands! Thankfully, it's not for anything bad. He was interviewed in his capacity as an amateur satellite tracker (in Dutch a "satellietspotter") about that satellite the pentagon is planning to shoot down. Marco writes:

Been on the Dutch 10 pm TV news by our National broadcaster NOS today. Had a cameraman and reporter visiting me for that early this evening.
It concerns an item about the spy satellite USA 193 that the US navy is going to knock from the sky with a missile. I am one of the amateur satellite trackers who has been tracking this thing.
The broadcast can be seen here:
http://player.omroep.nl/?aflID=4329874
The (short) item starts at 2m30s in the record, and my (even shorter) appearance in it at about 3m25s. It shows me behind my desk in my home giving my take on what I think is the real reason behind this exercise, and then it shows me doing some (mock) observations from my home.
As it is in Dutch, you won’t understand a word though…

Marco's right. I didn't understand a word. But it looked to me like he knew what he was talking about. And that's what's important.

But now I'm dying to know -- what is the real reason they're shooting that thing down?
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 20, 2008
Comments (18)
Two weekends ago I got a chance to meet John Baker -- better known in the Hoax Forum as the moderator Tah. He was in San Diego with his family on vacation. We had lunch and then took the ferry across San Diego harbor. I had a great time.

John's back home now and emailed me this snapshot of the two of us posing in front of the San Diego skyline. (I'm the short one — and I'm six-feet tall!) Our wives and John's daughter are out of view behind the camera.

The only negative is that it was early February so I, thinking it would be chilly down on the water, had come dressed in black jeans and a sweater. It turned out to be 80 degrees that day, so I had shed the sweater by the time this picture was taken. But I was still pretty hot.

I've now met all the forum moderators in person, except for MadCarlotta, Maegan, and Myst (who hasn't been around in ages). I can confirm that they're all the nicest, most intelligent group of people you could imagine.

John also sent a picture of what he suggests might be Nessie in the bay. He notes, "Anne [his wife] seemed to think it was just two seals looking for fish, but I know better!"


Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 20, 2008
Comments (12)
I'm a Mac user, and I recently decided to upgrade to the new operating system, OS X Leopard. I thought it would be relatively simple to upgrade. But it wasn't. I've spent the last two days stuck in front of my computer working out all the kinks. So I thought I'd post a warning to help any other people in a similar situation avoid the mistakes I made.

My big mistake was apparently my choice to simply upgrade the existing system. It took an hour or two to complete the installation process, but then, instead of seeing an improvement, the performance of my computer slowed to a crawl. It was like swimming through molasses. I kept getting an endlessly spinning beach ball whenever I tried to do anything. A few times the finder froze. I have a relatively new computer -- an intel mac mini -- so the hardware should have been able to handle the upgrade. I was thinking, "Wow, this new system sucks!"

After some slow searching on the internet, I discovered that other people had been reporting the same problem. The solution was that instead of simply upgrading the system, you had to do a clean install. This meant wiping out everything and starting new. So that's what I decided to do. The problem was, this meant backing everything up first -- something I should have been doing on a regular basis anyway, but hadn't been.

So I spent an entire day backing stuff up, doing a clean install of the system, and then reinstalling everything.

Long story short, I'm back in business, and the new operating system works really well. But it took me two solid days of messing with this to get it to work.

Obviously the experience of others may vary. But I'd definitely recommend doing a clean install right away, and not even thinking about choosing the "upgrade" option. But now that the system is working correctly, I do like it.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 19, 2008
Comments (14)
Authors love to read reviews of their books, especially positive ones. So, as an author, it's difficult to resist the temptation to periodically check out the Amazon page for your book, to see if readers have posted any new reviews of it. However, in Hippo Eats Dwarf I pointed out the danger of taking such reviews too seriously because so many of them are posted either by friends of the author -- or by rivals. In fact, I actually invited people to post fake reviews of Hippo Eats Dwarf. (You need to go to the early reviews to find the fake ones -- they're obvious when you see them.)

Inviting people to post fake reviews seemed appropriate for Hippo Eats Dwarf, since that book is all about fakery, but it didn't seem to fit for Elephants on Acid. So I never asked anyone to post a review. But when I last checked Elephants on Acid's Amazon product page, I discovered that a fake review had found its way on there anyway. Or rather, a spam review. But the identity of the person posting the spam surprised me. Here's the latest review of Elephants on Acid, posted by "DISINFO CEO":



The review follows the tried-and-true formula of comment spam. A meaningless platitude, followed by a plug for the product the spammer is trying to promote, which in this case is a book by Mark Pilkington. But if you check out the page for Pilkington's book, you'll discover that DISINFO CEO has posted a review there as well -- and in that review he pretty much reveals that he's the publisher of Pilkington's book!



In other words, someone who appears to be the CEO of the Disinformation Company is leaving comment spam on Amazon -- on the page for my book! I've never had any contact with the Disinformation Company, but I am aware of them and had always thought they published some interesting stuff, which is why it really surprised me that THEY, of all companies, would do something that tacky. The irony here is that DISINFO CEO, on his profile page, claims his nickname is "DeathToSpammers".

The possibility that DISINFO CEO is actually someone with no affiliation to the Disinformation Company crossed my mind, but what would be their motive to do this?

I clicked the link to flag DISINFO CEO's review of my book as inappropriate, since I think it's obviously spam. If Amazon agrees, the review may no longer be there by the time you read this.

Update: Amazon has deleted the spammy review. An irony is that I actually thought Pilkington's book sounded really interesting, so I ordered it -- but I ordered it from a used bookstore, so the Disinformation Company won't get any money from the sale. Ha!
Categories: Literature/Language, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 07, 2007
Comments (6)
I received a couple of emails this morning along the lines of: Hey, the Guardian just published a list of the top ten weirdest experiments of all time. It sounds a lot like your list of the top 20 most bizarre experiments. They're not ripping you off, are they?

It's nice that people are concerned, but there's no need to worry. I haven't been ripped off. After I posted my top 20 list back in September, New Scientist contacted me asking if I would like to create a shortened version of it for their magazine. I was more than happy to oblige, and the resulting article will appear in the Nov. 3 issue of New Scientist.

Apparently New Scientist circulated a pre-release version of this article to the media, and it's been picked up by a lot of British papers: The Daily Telegraph, The London Times, and the Daily Mail.

I've also found it in the South African Independent Online, the Sydney Morning Herald, and PhysOrg.com.

Here in America, the Hartford Courant had an article about my book, focusing on the creepy experiments to coincide with Halloween.

So there's been some good publicity. Hopefully it'll help sell a few books.

And speaking of publicity, I'll be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies bookstore at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18th. It's a bookstore that specializes in horror, so the first chapter of my book (the one with all the Frankenstein-style experiments) should hopefully find a receptive audience there. If you live in the L.A. area, come on by and say hello.

Update: My publisher also tells me that Playgirl magazine plans to review Elephants on Acid (probably because it has a chapter on weird sex experiments). Thankfully, they're not planning a photoshoot of the author to accompany the review. But I will be able to tell people that I've been featured in Playgirl.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 01, 2007
Comments (6)
San Diego is on fire again. I've been watching the TV most of the day, tracking the progress of the fires. It's amazing how many people have been evacuated and homes have been destroyed. From what I hear, many more people have been affected by this fire than by the fire back in 2003.

I'm lucky that where I am in San Diego (relatively close to downtown), I'm not in any danger. All that I'm dealing with is the smoke. But that's pretty bad. The air smells strongly of it, and if you're outside for any length of time you start to feel it in your lungs.

Here's a photo I took a few minutes ago from my roof (looking west). You can see the layer of smoke hanging over the city. But still, the smoke is not as bad where I am as it was during the 2003 fire. Compare the photo below to the photos I took during the 2003 fire.

Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 23, 2007
Comments (12)
My publisher is looking for approximately 20 volunteers willing to participate in a campus book drop guerilla marketing effort for my new book, Elephants on Acid. Their idea is to have people leave copies of the book in highly visible places, such as on college campuses, where someone else will pick it up. Hopefully this will help spread the word about the book.

I'm not sure how many sales these book drop efforts actually create, but it's worth a try (especially since my publisher is the one paying for it!). If you volunteer, my publisher will mail you a free copy of the book. Of course, it's not a copy you can keep forever. The idea is to leave it somewhere after you've finished reading it. And yeah, it's all on the honor system, so you could just keep the book. But that would be dishonest!

Contact me by email if you'd like to volunteer. The only conditions are that you have to live in the U.S. or Canada. (Sorry, it's not being published anywhere else yet.) And we're also looking for some geographic variety, so that we don't get twenty people all in the same city.

UPDATE: So I've now already got all the volunteers I need. Thanks to everyone who's agreed to help out. And sorry if you wanted to volunteer, but are only reading the post now. You can always buy the book and leave it somewhere. wink The geographic location of volunteers turned out to be well distributed, just by random chance. The largest concentration of volunteers was in Missouri, but there's not enough Missourians to warrant dropping anyone for that reason. After all, It doesn't hurt to have a couple of the books circulating in the same state.

UPDATE 2: One other thing. A couple of people mentioned that the books should be marked in some way to prevent people from simply selling them on eBay. I assume the publisher is going to do this, but I'll point it out to them, just in case this possibility never occurred to them.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 10, 2007
Comments (13)
I was browsing the web a few days ago when I came across a guy who was posting lots of great hoax-related articles to the Associated Content site. He seemed to know all kinds of fascinating, obscure things.

That guy was Elliot Feldman. I emailed him and asked him if he'd consider posting some articles here to the Museum of Hoaxes. Luckily, he agreed. So I want to introduce everyone to Elliot. We should be getting to read his articles regularly from now on.

Elliot says that he was a game show writer for 25 years. Shows included the Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Nickelodeon's Double Dare, and (yes, it's true) That's My Dog. He published his first novel, Sitting Shiva, in 2003. You can buy it at Amazon.

Elliot is also a cartoonist. You can check out some of his comics at detroitcrazy.com and scene4.com.

He supplied four facts about his life, half of which are fake. You have to guess which are the true Feldman Facts and which are the fake ones:

• He once dressed in a molting chicken suit and was beaten to death by San Diego Padres fans.

• He was a cartoonist long before he was a writer.

• His first TV job was as a (blank) for The Match Game.

• He is currently searching for the Loch Ness Monster in Florida.

Elliot's first article, posted in the Hoaxipedia, is about John Howard Griffin, a white man who had his skin darkened so that he could pose as a black man.

He promises future articles about subjects such as thirties and forties con artist Titanic Thompson, golf hustlers, pool hustler Minnesota Fats, con artists who have sold landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge, and Bob, Ivan Stang, and the Church of the SubGenius.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 28, 2007
Comments (12)
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