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Folklore/Tall Tales
A few months ago one of the site-related projects I was working on was revising the Tall-Tale Creature Gallery. Before I got totally sidetracked by having to focus on my next book, I managed to add quite a few new creatures to it. I also added a feature allowing people to post haiku about the creatures, thus returning to the theme of hoax haiku first seen here two years ago.

I didn't expect to get many haiku contributions. After all, I hadn't told anyone that I had updated the gallery, and it usually only gets a few visitors. But to my surprise people have found it and have been posting haiku. So I wanted to give a heads up about it here on the front page in case anyone else feels like trying their hand at poetry. Here are a few examples of contributions so far:

The Tree Squeak
Tree hugging tree squeek
why do you squeek so loudly
hush I cannot think.

The Haggis
Shy, furry haggis
lover of the highland glens
stay safe in your den

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Eight armed octopus
Swinging through the trees above
what on earth was that?

Eventually I want to integrate hoax haiku throughout more of the galleries, but that will have to wait until I have more time. Though I definitely plan to add it as a feature to the Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes before next April 1, so if anyone wants to start posting haiku in the comments there, feel free to do so. A few of the hoaxes in the 'Hoaxes Throughout History' Gallery also have haiku in the sidebar: The Shroud of Turin, Pope Joan, The Feejee Mermaid, Cardiff Giant, Piltdown Man, Cottingley Fairies, Loch Ness Monster, War of the Worlds, and Bigfoot.
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Literature/Language, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 05, 2006
Comments (16)

image Banana Phone
Disguise your mobile phone as a banana. Admittedly a pretty stupid product, and yet I want one. Too bad I'm one of the last people on Earth not to own a mobile phone. (via OhGizmo)

5Lb Fat Replica
image Amazon is selling a "A grossly dramatic replica of 5 lbs. of fat." However, gift wrapping is not available for this item, so you can't send it as a mean gift to someone you don't like. The one reviewer for this item gives it "Bonus points for the realistic blood vessels!" I don't know if this is at all related to the Pet Fat gimmick that someone was marketing a few years ago. (via J-Walk)

Hodag Search
The town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin is holding an open casting call "for people who have the best Hodag stories or "sightings" of the mythical creature." Video of people telling the stories will be used in an upcoming TV ad campaign. For some reason, I have a vision of Ellen Feiss doing these ads: "And the hodag was going, like, bleep-bleep-bleep-bleep."

Digital Beautification
Researchers have developed a "digital beautification" algorithm that, when applied to a photograph of a human face, can make that face look "more attractive in just a few minutes without significantly altering the person's appearance." The algorithm and software was developed by Tommer Leyvand of Tel Aviv University in Israel. My problem when anyone takes my picture is my complete inability to smile on command for the camera. If I try to fake a smile I get a maniacal grimace look. If this algorithm could do anything to fix that, I'd definitely use it.
image
Categories: Body Manipulation, Folklore/Tall Tales, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 14, 2006
Comments (12)
Status: New Book
Kurt Kortenhof has sent word that his new book, LONG LIVE THE HODAG — The Life and Legacy of Eugene Simeon Shepard is now in print. For anyone interested in hoaxes, tall tales, and folklore, I figure it should be interesting. I've already ordered a copy.

For those who don't know what the Hodag is, it's a creature native to Wisconsin. It's said to have the head of a bull, the back of a dinosaur, and the leering features of a giant man. You can still find it featured on many Wisconsin postcards. Here's the book description:
Eugene Shepard was perhaps Wisconsin’s greatest prankster. His most famous accomplishment, the 1896 capture of the Hodag, created a legacy in and around Rhinelander, Wisconsin that has endured for over a century. Although other publications offer brief discussions of Shepard and his Hodag, Long Live the Hodag! is the only study dedicated to a detailed investigation of the Hodag and the Life and Legacy of Eugene Simeon Shepard.
This revised and updated edition incorporates previously unpublished historic photographs and new archival research, including a 1963 interview with Eugene Shepard’s son Layton, into the original 1996 version. In addition, this edition highlights Shepard’s talents as a humorist through the inclusion of more of his cartoons, hand-written photo captions, and an appendix of three of his lengthy writings.
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Wed May 10, 2006
Comments (2)
Status: Tall-tale creature
image I've found another beer to add to my list of hoax-themed beers: Boonville Beer. Its label shows a picture of a bear with antlers. I was having a bottle of this beer (the outmeal stout) out on the patio this afternoon, saw the antlered bear, and got curious. A quick internet search revealed that the creature isn't actually a bear. The Anderson Valley Brewing Company website explains:

It's not a bear. Bears don't have antlers. Of course not. Who ever heard of such a thing? It is, however, a BEER. The Legendary Boonville Beer to be exact. Barkley, by name, who could be considered a cross between a bear and a deer (thus a beer). Barkley and his brethren are often seen about Anderson Valley by lovers of truly fine beers (especially if they've had a few).

The beer itself was pretty good, though I usually prefer stouts that have more of a chocolate flavor.
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 09, 2006
Comments (2)
Status: Undetermined
image Some residents of Mobile, Alabama are claiming that a leprechaun is loose in their neighborhood. It shows up in the branches of a tree at night. Apparently it can't be photographed, but the thumbnail shows an "amateur sketch" of what people say it looks like. The NBC 15 news broadcast that covered this interesting phenomenon reports that: "eyewitnesses say the leprechaun only comes out at night. If you shine a light in its direction, it suddenly disappears." Make sure that you catch the guy who appears towards the end of the report who has "a special leprechaun flute which has been passed down from thousands of years ago from my great, great grandfather who is Irish."
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 23, 2006
Comments (51)
Status: Real
image Science has long recognized the existence of the fur-bearing trout, which lives in the rivers and lakes of North America. Now its Pacific cousin has been found: the fur-bearing lobster (scientific name Kiwa hirsuta). According to the BBC, "A US-led team found the animal last year in waters 2,300m (7,540ft) deep at a site 1,500km (900 miles) south of Easter Island, an expert has claimed. Details appear in the journal of Paris' National Museum of Natural History."

So what is the purpose of the fur? Scientists speculate that "the 'hairy' pincers contained lots of filamentous bacteria... The bacteria detoxify poisonous minerals from the water, allowing K. hirsuta to survive around the vents."

An interesting theory, but it seems to me more logical to assume that its luxuriant coat developed to protect it from the cold waters of the depths, as is the case with the fur-bearing trout.

[Note: Despite what the above text might imply, fur-bearing trout are a tall-tale. Furry lobsters are real.]

(Thanks to Kathy for the link)
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 08, 2006
Comments (14)
Status: Tall-Tale Photo
It's good to see that people are still making whopper hopper photos. (via Daily Owned)
image
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 20, 2006
Comments (2)
Status: Tall Tales
I don't know when the Chuck Norris facts first appeared on the internet. Many of you might already be aware of them. But just in case you're not, they're worth a look. Here's a few of the facts:

• Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
• The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
• If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.

Chuck Norris is aware of these "facts" being spread about him. So far, he has generously allowed their authors to live.
Categories: Celebrities, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 13, 2006
Comments (280)
Status: Probably a hoax
image Andy Park claims that he celebrates Christmas every day:

Since "becoming Mr Christmas" in 1993, the 45-year-old electrician has eaten 109,500 sprouts. He devours 25 of them with a full roast-turkey dinner daily before watching a recording of the Queen's speech, sherry in hand... So deep is his love for Christmas that, over 12 years, he reckons he has consumed 4,380 turkeys (one a day), 87,600 mince pies (20 a day), 2,190 pints of gravy (half a pint a day), 26,280 roast potatoes (six a day), 30,660 stuffing balls, 219,000 mushy peas, 4,380 bottles of champagne, 4,380 bottles of sherry and 5,000 bottles of wine. He has given 21,900 presents, mainly to himself, and spent £12,000 on lights and effects. "I've spent about £250,000 celebrating Christmas for the past 12 years," he said. "I've also got through 36 ovens and 42 video recorders by watching the Queen's speech as well as Christmas films." His daily routine consists of breakfast - six mince pies and a turkey sandwich - then doing his work as an electrician until about 11.30am when he returns home to cook his roast.

However, MSNBC smells a rat, suspecting that Park is lying about his daily Christmas celebration in order to help sell a single he's just released, titled "It's Christmas Every Day." Keith Olbermann reports (the relevant section is about halfway down on the linked page):

Certain things didn‘t seem to add up. How could he afford all this? How come he wasn‘t morbidly obese from all those Mince pies? How come we only heard about him during the holiday season? This demanded a “Countdown” investigation... Our suspicions began when the German TV network ZA DA F (ph) went to visit him celebrating Christmas. And its people came back with a distinctly punked feeling. First off, the man asked for 200 pounds for the interview. That‘d be about $350. Then he asked for more money. Then he screwed up his own shtick about his supposedly endless Christmas...
His local newspaper, “The Wiltshire Times” tell us it has given up trying to do any stories on this man. Apparently, their photographer has shown up at his house several times, unannounced, in hopes of catching him celebrating. Yet, Mr. Christmas has not even let him in the door. So what exactly is going on here? This might shed some light. His latest video for his latest Christmas single. And it is just about as bad as his Christmas sweater. So there it is Andy Park, media hustler. We‘re obviously outraged on behalf of ourselves and all other media giants who got even slightly taken in by this clown.


(Thanks to Joe Littrell for the link.)
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 17, 2005
Comments (18)
Status: Real
image In June 2004 the New York Times published an article about alibi networks, which are informal networks of people who will provide excuses for each other:

Cellphone-based alibi clubs, which have sprung up in the United States, Europe and Asia, allow people to send out mass text messages to thousands of potential collaborators asking for help. When a willing helper responds, the sender and the helper devise a lie, and the helper then calls the victim with the excuse -- not unlike having a friend forge a doctor's note for a teacher in the pre-digital age.

Apparently someone thought this would be a great basis for a business and launched AlibiNetwork.com, which describes its mission as being: "To invent, create and provide personalized virtual alibis for people wishing to anticipate and justify absences." As far as I can tell, this company is absolutely for real. Their most frequently requested alibi is "a phone number in any area or country code staffed by an operator trained in accents pretending to be a hotel receptionist." This will set you back $275. I assume that someone who really doesn't want to get caught during a weekend tryst, might consider this worth the price. Of course, the question lingering in the back of the mind of its customers must be: could an alibi service ever transform into a blackmail service?
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 22, 2005
Comments (4)
In Jackalope news: a Minnesota woman found in her yard a dead rabbit with horns growing out of its head, exactly like a jackalope. A veterinarian declared that it had been infected by Shope papilloma virus, "a highly contagious disease that causes rabbits to grow things on their head and face that look like horns." The veterinarian's explanation is, of course, part of the continuing conspiracy to conceal the existence of jackalopes from the general public.
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 07, 2005
Comments (23)
Here's an unusual urban legend that I haven't heard before. It involves a group of students at Texas A&M University who are sharing a house together. It's in the genre of 'roommate horror stories'. According to the story, one of the students is an entomology major and keeps a collection of giant Africanized cockroaches in a terrarium. But during a party the terrarium breaks and the roaches escape, only to start breeding like crazy in the house. To solve this roach problem the students set loose some baby armadillos (since armadillos eat roaches). But soon the armadillos start breeding, without making much of a dent in the roach population, until eventually the house is full of a lot of roaches and a lot of armadillos. At this point the roommates decide to get some shotguns and shoot all the roaches and armadillos, but only succeed in busting up the house. And to make a long story short, the armadillos eventually start tunneling beneath the house, creating a sink hole that causes the entire building to collapse and fall into the ground. So in other words, the animals win in the end. The students are left with a bill for $25,000 in damages, courtesy of the landlord.
Categories: Animals, Folklore/Tall Tales, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 09, 2005
Comments (15)
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