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The following cease-and-desist letter, supposedly written by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart to John McCain, has started doing the rounds. Warning: NSFW language!



Is it real? Well, the Wilsons did email out a statement asking the Republican campaign not to use their music, and in a phone interview, after the Republicans used their music anyway, Nancy Wilson said, "I feel completely f--ed over."

However, the article above seems to be satire. It comes from Seattle's The Stranger newspaper and ran as their "New Column" feature, which usually is a spoof piece. (Thanks, Big Gary!)
Categories: Music, Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 23, 2008
Comments (5)
You have missed your chance to bid on an "Air guitar owned by JFK":

Extremely rare oppurtunity
up for auction is the only air guitar known to have been owned by US president

JFK President kennedy was under constant stress from political rivals and upsets, so its only natural he would have taken up playing air guitar

Many silent and melancholy impromptu jam sessions haunted the air in Kennedy's office as US president

it was discovered recently in a cold storage unit in its case

the atmospheric conditions left the case with some of the usual imperfections found in aging vintage sound equipment, but the guitar itself (a red solid-body electric resembling a Mustang) is as it was in kennedys hands

Kennedy entertaining premier Khruschev in a moment of naive peacefulness with his faithful air guitar.


(Thanks, Joe! via wonkette)
Categories: eBay, Music
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (8)
Maxim recently published a review of the Black Crowes' new album, Warpaint. It didn't like it much, giving it only 2.5 stars out of 5.

There was just one problem. The album hadn't been released yet, and advance copies hadn't been made available. So how had the Maxim reviewer heard the album? Turns out he hadn't. Maxim explained to the Black Crowes that the reviewer made an "educated guess." Maxim later released this statement: "It is Maxim's editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine and we apologize to our readers."

Nothing new here. As I point out in Hippo Eats Dwarf, reviewers are notorious for not listening to albums or reading books before they review them. As the Scottish reverend Sidney Smith famously remarked, "I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so."

The Kirkus review of Elephants on Acid had me wondering if the reviewer had actually read the book. It was a pretty good review (the reviewer described the book as "One of the finest science/history bathroom books of all time"), so I didn't want to make a fuss, but in summarizing the contents of the book the reviewer gave this description:

Some of the many highlights: a 1931 test to determine whether it's possible for a chimp to raise a human baby; a 1977 examination on the validity of scratch-'n'-sniff paper; a gentleman who, in 1928, proved males could be multi-orgasmic to the tune of six ejaculations in 36 minutes;

That's all completely wrong. The 1931 experiment was to see if a chimp could be raised as a human, not the other way around. The 1977 experiment had nothing to do with scratch-n-sniff paper; it involved pretending to transmit smells over TV sets. And the multi-orgasmic male experiment occurred in 1998, not 1928. But like I said, the reviewer seemed to like the book, so I'm not complaining.
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 27, 2008
Comments (8)
The Patry Copyright blog has posted details of an interesting copyright case: United States v. Chalupnik. It doesn't, strictly speaking, have anything to do with hoaxes, except that it raises the question of whether there actually was a crime committed, or whether it's an example of a big corporation trying to invent a crime. Here are the facts, as summarized by William Patry:

defendant was an employee for the U.S. Postal Service. BMG Columbia House is a mail order operation selling CDs and DVDs by mail. Many of these discs are undeliverable. Rather than pay the postage to have them returned to it, BMG Columbia House instructed the Postal Service to throw them away. The Postal Service did throw them away. Defendant then retrieved them from the trash and sold them to area stores, netting $78,818. A surveillance camera showed defendant retrieving the items and he was arrested; he was originally charged with felony mail theft, but then pleaded guilty to misdemeanor copyright infringement. The trial court sentenced defendant to two years probation and ordered him to pay $78,818 to BMG in restitution. Chalupnik appealed.

So the guy took the CDs out of the trash and resold them, prompting BMG to complain that he had caused them lost sales. Does this mean that if I threw away a box full of my books, I could sue anyone who found them in the trash and sold them? That doesn't seem to make sense. After all, I threw them away, presumably forfeiting my ownership of them.

The court overturned the defendant's sentence on appeal -- but it sounds as if he still might face some other form of sentencing.

The complicating factor here is that he was a post office employee, and thus was obligated to honor the post office's promise to BMG that it would actually throw away the material.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (24)
In this video some guy, who calls himself One Man Sho, sings gibberish while performing various actions such as knocking over wooden blocks and drinking a glass of orange soda. Then the video plays in reverse to reveal that he was actually singing the national anthem backwards.

It would be possible to fake this. For instance, you could dub over the voice, though I imagine it would be a technical challenge to match the dubbed voice to the movement of his lips. Or you could sing gibberish and then dub over the reversed portion of the video. So I downloaded the video to check that the second half really is the first half played in reverse. It is.

So I'm concluding that the video is real. This guy actually memorized how to sing the national anthem backwards. An impressive, but odd talent.

Categories: Music, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Comments (13)
Caught Lipsyncing
Amusing video on youtube of a guy caught lipsyncing. I like how he tries to pretend that nothing happened.


Live Frog in Lettuce
Yet another case of a family finding a live frog in their lettuce. The amazing thing is that instead of trying to sue someone, the family has adopted the frog as a pet. They call him "curious."


Fake Leg as Weapon
"Police said Donna Sturkie-Anthony took her elder sister's prosthetic leg and beat her with it."
Categories: Food, Law/Police/Crime, Music
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 25, 2008
Comments (4)
Tickle Me Counterfeit
Authorities are warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake Tickle Me Elmos showing up on store shelves this Christmas. How can you tell the difference between the real and the fake? For a start, the fake Elmo is called "The Laughing Doll." Also, oddly enough, the fakes are more expensive than the real thing.

Phony Doo-Wops
Doo-wop groups from the 1950s and '60s, such as the Drifters, Coasters and Platters, are complaining that they're going broke. They can't compete against all the phony groups pretending to be them who perform for less.

Underwater Scottish Gnomes
At the bottom of Loch Fyne can be found a secret garden inhabited by 40 gnomes. Apparently underwater gnome gardens are popping up all over the world. I last posted about one at the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District.

Ingenious Disguise
After police pulled Robert Sadlon over for a broken taillight, Sadlon fled the scene on foot. He later reported his truck as stolen. The same cop who had pulled him over went to his house to investigate. There he found Sadlon, who now claimed to be a different man. He had disguised himself by shaving his mustache and changing his clothes.

Climate Change Culture Jamming Hoax
It appeared that a group of major corporations, including Chrysler and Dow Chemical, had gotten together to pledge to eliminate all their emissions in the next 50 years. It turned out that the pledge was an elaborate hoax engineered by a grassroots activist group called the International Rising Tide Network.
Categories: Gnomes, Law/Police/Crime, Music, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 04, 2007
Comments (0)
Here's an unusual theory. David Alice, webmaster of dianamystery.com, argues that the singer Morrissey (formerly of The Smiths) predicted the death of Princess Diana. I would dismiss it all as an elaborate joke, except that the guy seems really serious about it.

The crux of his argument (at least in the video posted below) is that one of the songs on The Smiths' album The Queen is Dead, speaks about two people getting killed together in a car crash. And this song was released as an exclusive single in France. He comes up with a variety of other clues and weird coincidences, all equally farfetched.

The guy's theory is like a strange inversion of the Paul is Dead rumor, in that the Paul is Dead rumor involved people combing through the Beatles's music to find clues referring to a car crash that had supposedly happened in the past, whereas this guy is desperately searching through Morrissey's music to find evidence that the singer was providing clues about a car crash that would happen in the future.

Categories: Death, Future/Time, Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 11, 2007
Comments (13)
Mark Singer has written an article for the New Yorker about the Joyce Hatto hoax, that was revealed earlier this year. I was busy finishing Elephants on Acid when it was making headlines, but Flora posted about it.

Hatto was supposedly a virtuoso pianist, whose talent was discovered only very late in her life, when she was already in her seventies. She was notable for being able to masterfully play a wide variety of works, including compositions by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. But it turned out that her husband had been taking recordings of other pianists and claiming they were recordings of Joyce. Singer tries to understand what motivated Hatto's husband to do this. It's a good article. Definitely worth a read.
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 27, 2007
Comments (4)
image Marie Digby has been one of YouTube's greatest stars. She started posting videos of herself performing covers of popular songs. Just her sitting in front of the camera, singing away and playing the guitar. Soon her videos were getting millions of page views, and her popularity allowed her to get a track on iTunes.

This success endeared her to the internet, who saw her as one of their own. She was a real talent who had succeeded on the strength of her ability alone. She wasn't one of those creations of the recording industry's hype machine.

But an article in the Wall Street Journal reveals that she actually was a creation of the recording industry all along.
a press release last week from Walt Disney Co.'s Hollywood Records label declared: "Breakthrough YouTube Phenomenon Marié Digby Signs With Hollywood Records." What the release failed to mention is that Hollywood Records signed Ms. Digby in 2005, 18 months before she became a YouTube phenomenon. Hollywood Records helped devise her Internet strategy, consulted with her on the type of songs she chose to post, and distributed a high-quality studio recording of "Umbrella" to iTunes and radio stations.

The record label devised the strategy of building buzz by posting amateur-style videos of her on YouTube, and her connection with the record label was hidden or downplayed.

Marie Digby, in response to the article, has apparently been claiming that she never hid her connection with Hollywood Records, but from the quotations in the article, it certainly appears as if she constantly presented herself as a "lucky nobody" who just posted some videos online and then got noticed.

Well, at least it was really her singing in the videos. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 07, 2007
Comments (5)
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