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I've been pretty busy lately, what with Hippo Eats Dwarf appearing in bookstores this week, and I've also been updating portions of the site to get ready for April Fool's Day. That's why posting has been kind of light. Anyway, I'm going to be doing a bunch of radio shows this week, so I've posted my schedule below. If you get one of these stations listen in and see if whomever I'm talking to manages to stump me (DJs seem to love to flip to random pages of my book and grill me on whatever they find there, as I struggle to remember what I wrote a year ago). If you live in San Diego, I'll be doing a book signing at the downtown Borders this Saturday. I'm also doing a bunch of taped radio shows, but I haven't included those in this list since I don't know when they'll be broadcast.

Tuesday, March 28
Cincinnati, OH: 8:40 - 8:55 am, WKRC-AM
Cleveland, OH: 9:10 - 9:30 am, WMJI-FM (Tentative)

Wednesday, March 29
San Diego, CA: 9:30 to 9:40 am, KPRI-FM

Thursday, March 30
San Diego, CA: 7:40 am, KUSI-TV News
Winston-Salem, NC: 3:33 - 3:43 pm, WSJS
Fargo, ND: 3:00 - 3:30 pm, North Dakota Public Radio, "Hear It Now"
Lexington, KY: 4:30 - 5:00 pm, WLAP-AM
Nashville, KY: 5:20 - 5:35 pm, WKCT-AM

Friday, March 31
Wisconsin: 7:00 - 8:00 am, Wisconsin Public Radio "Conversations with Joy Cardin"
Tucson, AZ: 8:20 - 8:35 am, KNST-AM
Denver, CO: 9:00 - 10:00 am, KOA-AM "Mike Rosen Show"
Chicago, IL: 1:35 - 1:50 pm, WILL-AM (NPR)
Knoxville, TN: 2:30 - 3:00 pm, WNOX-AM "The Phil Show"
Bloomington, IL: 4:00 - 4:20 pm, Radio Bloomington

Saturday, April 1
Palm Springs, CA: 10:30 - 11:00 am, KNWZ-AM "On the Mark"
San Diego, CA: 2:00 - 3:30 pm, Book signing at Borders, 668 6th Ave. (Downtown)
Chicago, IL: 10:00 pm - 10:30 pm, WGN-AM "Nick Digilio Show"

Monday, April 3
Cleveland, OH: 11:00 - 11:30 am, WWOW-AM "Louie Free Radio Show"
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 28, 2006
Comments (8) has started shipping copies of Hippo Eats Dwarf. So anyone who pre-ordered it should be receiving it soon. This also means that people can now post customer reviews of it on Amazon. Obviously there are no reviews of it yet, and the book looks kind of lonely without any. This has given me an idea for a contest.

I point out in Hippo Eats Dwarf that a significant number of the customer reviews on Amazon are fake (glowing reviews posted by friends of the author, or by the authors themselves). I also point out that it's quite common for reviewers to never read the books they're reviewing. As the Scottish reverend Sidney Smith once said, "I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so."

Given this (my general skepticism about Amazon reviews), I'd like to have some fun with the reviews of Hippo Eats Dwarf. Here's my idea. I'll send a signed copy of the book to whomever posts the most creative customer review of it on Amazon by the end of this month. (This may produce some interesting stuff, or it may not. We'll see how it goes.) You'll need to acknowledge your review here in the comments section if you want to win the prize (unless your Amazon screen name is the same as your Museum of Hoaxes screen name... or I believe it's also possible to send reviewers email through Amazon). You'll also need to have an Amazon account (which, I believe, requires a credit card I was wrong about the need for a credit card. You can create an Amazon account with an email address alone... and Amazon doesn't verify the address).

Just to clarify: I'm not looking for phony glowing reviews. Instead, I'm looking for imaginative reviews in the spirit of great Amazon reviewers such as Henry Raddick. Post a review that accurately describes what the book is about. Or imagine what a book called Hippo Eats Dwarf might be about (ignore the subtitle), and write a review of that. Write your review as a limerick, or a haiku. Whatever you want. Just make it interesting. Points definitely go for humor. Hopefully I won't get in trouble with Amazon for this.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (29)
I've just received a few copies of my book, Hippo Eats Dwarf, from my publisher. This is the final version that will be on sale in stores in a few weeks. It's great to see the book finally done and in print!

Anyway, since I have a few extra copies, an idea occurred to me. Why not give them away? But not as prizes. Instead, give them away to volunteers on the condition that, once read, they're passed along to someone else. Each person who gets the book will write a note in it saying where it's been and also try to send a picture of the book back to me. This way I can create a visual diary of the adventures the books have as they (hopefully) travel around the world. I imagine it as a book version of the traveling gnome prank. The experiment will be to see how far the books can travel, and for how long.

I've decided to give away ten books. If you're interested in participating email me your address. (Don't leave your address in the comments!) I'll send a book to the first ten people who respond (though I'm giving priority to the moderators, if they want to participate). [Update: I've now got the ten volunteers!] I'll also keep a wait list of people willing to receive the book, so in case someone can't think of anyone to pass it along to, they can contact me and I'll give them a name to send it to.

I figure the worst that can happen is that someone will keep a book. Which is why I'm 'setting free' more than one book. But if people do play along, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

To start the ball rolling, here's a picture of Hippo in my backyard in San Diego, posing with a few friends. (Yeah, I need to mow the lawn.)

Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 24, 2006
Comments (17)
Here's a request for help that I received today from a researcher at a TV production company:

I work in the Development Department for a Production Company called North One TV. We're currently working on an idea for a show that uses science to hoax people. Obviously there are many fantastic science based hoaxes that have been performed through out history. What we're thinking is we could use one or two of the more famous hoaxes to break up the show. The main crux being a presenter fooling people on the street or in a studio, by confounding them with science? Unfortunately this is where we are struggling slightly. Do you know of any simple, experiment based tricks, common misconceptions, science based tom-foolery that would fit the bill. It could be things that are small and relatively simple to elaborate, but visual Science Hoaxes. Any input you guys at the museum might have would be greatly appreciated...

I get so many requests for research help from TV studios, I should probably start charging them consulting fees. But I'm a lousy businessman, so instead I give them all kinds of help for free. Anyway, does anyone have some ideas for this guy? I can't think of anything off the top of my head, though it sounds like what he's really interested in are science pranks.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 21, 2006
Comments (22)
image I received this unusual request in my email today:

My name is Beatriz Damiani and for 20 years I have devoted myself to collecting "keyrings", being my collection, at present, of more than 5600 units from 184 different countries all over the world. Within my collection one of the most important, as well as interesting sets, is the one of "Museums". After long years of hard but enjoyable work, I have been able to obtain keyrings from most Museums but I still lack one from yours. The possibility of incorporating this keyring to my collection would mean a lot to me, that´s why being impossible to obtain it in Argentina, I dare to write to you with this enquiry. Thanking you for all the kindness with which, according to your possibilities, you will consider this letter and loking forward to hearing from you soon.

You can check out Beatriz's keyring collection here. It's quite extensive. (Museum keyrings are four rows down on the left.) Unfortunately I don't have anything to send her. Nor does Cafepress do keyrings, so I can't even create something for her. Pity. It would be cool to have a Museum of Hoaxes keyring. Anyway, her request reminded me of that guy who wanted an entry ticket to the Museum of Hoaxes. I'm still intending to create some MOH tickets (bearing the message: "Admit it. You're gullible.") and send one to him, but I haven't found a printer who can create them. (Though I haven't actually looked very hard yet.)
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 21, 2006
Comments (8)
image The saga of the magicSHELF continues. I received my own magicSHELF in the mail yesterday, courtesy of linkydinky, and put it up today. Here I am posing with it. I placed it across from my desk. It's definitely odd to look over and see some books floating there. But I like it. It's kind of cool.

I added a short review of the magicSHELF to my original post about it. While I don't reveal how it works in the review, I do try to strike a balanced tone, pointing out that you could make one of these yourself with enough effort (and time spent searching around hardware stores). I also add a disclaimer, noting that in return for letting linkydinky quote me as saying that the magicSHELF is real, he links back to this site and mentions my book. So hopefully that steers clear of any ethical pitfalls.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 02, 2006
Comments (7)
So I've been in contact with Uncle Url of Linky Dinky, and as a consequence I've become a firm believer in the brilliance and ingenuity of the magicSHELF. Everyone needs to have one of these! Well, that may be, but the behind-the-scenes story is that Uncle Url and I have worked out a deal. He's sending me a magicSHELF (and an extra one which I can give away as a prize). I'm going to test it out and verify that it does indeed work as advertised. Then he'll be able to use me as an objective, third-party endorsement. In return, when he mentions my endorsement in his newsletter, he might also mention that I have a book coming out. So it's like a cross-promotional deal. The catch is that I can't actually spill the beans on how the magicSHELF works, in order to maintain the air of mystery about it. [It is a magic trick, after all, and it's not good form to reveal magic tricks.] So I can say that it works, but not how... though it's really not too hard to guess how it works, so I don't think I'm keeping a big secret. However, by mistake, I already spilled the beans. So I now have to "reclassify" that information. Everyone please forget what I posted two days ago. (Oh, and expect to see me soon on one of those late-night infomercials: It slices! It dices! It's the incredible magicSHELF!")

Update: Uh, yeah. Before anyone else accuses me of being "Bought for 4 pieces of aluminum" (ouch, that hurt), let me point out that this is a magicSHELF we're talking about. I really do think it's a fun, cute, novelty item. (I've always been a sucker for stuff like this. As a kid I was a huge fan of the clapper and chia pets.) It's not like I'm lending my name to promote Lifewave Energy Patches. The magicSHELF is real and really does work, despite being of mysterious workings. And sometimes it's better to let certain things (Santa Claus, jackalopes, magicshelves) maintain a bit of mystery, rather than ruthlessly exposing their inner workings. Plus, having linkydinky mention my book in their newsletter is an incredible opportunity to get the word out about it (I worked pretty hard on it, so I'd like to give it every chance to do well), and refusing this opportunity in order to uphold the principle that the secret of the magicshelf MUST BE EXPOSED just seems kind of idiotic to me.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 26, 2006
Comments (27)
The first review of Hippo Eats Dwarf is in. Actually, it's not so much a full review as a descriptive blurb, but it's what the reviewer from Booklist wrote. (Booklist, from what I understand, is read mostly by librarians and bookstore owners.)

Boese, Alex. Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. Apr. 2006. 288p. illus. Harcourt, paper, $14 (0-15-603083-7). 001.9. From the author of the entertaining Museum of Hoaxes (2002) comes an even more entertaining follow-up. The book is a reasonably thorough, not to mention playful, guide to fakery. Advertising posing as legitimate news stories, nonexistent movie reviewers, fraudulent sales pitches, reality television, imaginary Internet bloggers, phony celebrities—they're all here, and plenty more, too. The book also features a series of "reality rules" (#5.2: should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created) and several "case files" that use real stories to illustrate various kinds of fakery (like the professor who fell for the Nigerian bank scam). Boese, a self-described "hoaxpert," keeps us on our toes by slipping in real-but-improbable events among the fakes and challenging us to see if we can tell the difference. All too often it's impossible to know whether something he describes is bona fide or bogus, and that's Boese's point: we need to stay on our toes, if we want to avoid getting fooled. —David Pitt
YA: Is there a teenager who wouldn't be interested in a hippo eating a dwarf, even if it was fake? BO.

The comment at the end, I'm assuming, is a supplementary remark made by the young adult reviewer. My publisher tells me that Playboy has also indicated they're going to review Hippo Eats Dwarf in their May issue (on newsstands in April), which will give me an excuse to buy the magazine and tell my wife I'm only reading it for the review. Giant magazine, which I hadn't heard of before, has also indicated they'll review it. Anyway, if you have any inclination to buy the book, think about pre-ordering it. I won't pretend to understand the economics of the publishing industry, but I've heard that bookstores and publishers care a lot about pre-orders. (Probably because it makes them more confident that the book will sell well, and thus more willing to devote marketing dollars to it, in the case of publishers, or to stock it, in the case of bookstores.)
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 24, 2006
Comments (5)
Happy New Year everyone. My new year's resolution is to be more productive, procrastinate less, post more often, and resurrect that email newsletter which I've started and let lapse numerous times. I'll start implementing these resolutions as soon as I finish watching the first season of Lost, which I got for Christmas on DVD. One has to have priorities, after all.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 02, 2006
Comments (4)
I've been ignoring the internet for the past few days because I've been too busy eating, drinking, and opening presents. So I'll wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas now, or whatever holiday you celebrate: Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia—for all those ancient Romans out there (since I studied Latin for eight years, I consider myself an honorary ancient Roman)— or nothing at all.

Although I was trying to ignore the outside world, it did manage to briefly track me down. A reporter from the Washington Post called to talk about the case of fraudulent cloning research in South Korea that's been making headlines. Here's what I said (that made it into the article):

The stem cell case has parallels with some earlier hoaxes, according to Alex Boese, who studies and writes about such cases. In the Piltdown man claim, for example, the British researchers may have been motivated in part by national pride. "At the time, it was assumed that whatever country discovered the missing link would be the root of mankind," Boese said. "Maybe in this case South Koreans wanted to prove their scientific credentials."

I'm putting together a list of the top ten hoaxes of 2005, which I hope to have posted by Jan. 1. I think the South Korean cloning case deserves a place on the list. Another contender is the Kodee hoax (which I never posted anything about at the time because I was too busy finishing my book), in which the Southern Illinois University student paper invented an elaborate story about an 8-year-old girl, Kodee, struggling with her father being overseas in Iraq. If you have any other suggestions for hoaxes that should make the top ten list, let me know.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 26, 2005
Comments (11)
I said that I would decide who should win the caption contest today. But I'm having a tough time making a decision because there are a number of good entries. So I've decided to make the contest more democratic and let the winner be decided by a vote. I've selected my top eight choices. Pick your favorite, and cast your vote. I'll let the voting run for a day or two.
Update: As of Dec. 23, Kieran won the vote . Congratulations!

Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 20, 2005
Comments (14)
And the winner of the 'contest to pick a contest idea' was... ME!!! Yeah, apparently my proposal to have a caption contest was the overall favorite. So I'll be keeping the copy of the book (at least for now... I'll probably give it away later).

Anyway, now on to the real contest. I've selected an image. The challenge is to think up a caption or accompanying text for the image. Or, if you're so inclined, you can photoshop the image. I don't mind. Just do something creative with it using whatever tools you have at hand (either words or an image editor). But if you photoshop the image, you'll need to upload it to a web server (such as one of the free image hosting sites) so we all can see it.

The prize will be a copy of A Treasury of Deception by Michael Farquhar ("Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History's Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes, and Frauds"). (I promise I won't award the book to myself in this contest.)

Here's the image:


I'll decide who the winner is on Dec. 20.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 16, 2005
Comments (54)
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