Monday, December 31, 2007

Immigrants' Tent City on Store Roof

The Island Packet [Hilton Head Island - Bluffton, SC]
26 August 2007

Immigrants living on the Bi-Lo roof?


Hey, did you hear about the tent city on top of a grocery store on Hilton Head Island? It's a group of immigrants living above the Bi-Lo supermarket on Pope Avenue -- or maybe it was the one in Port Royal Plaza ... no wait, it was the Harris Teeter. [...]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

City Fables (Playboy, 1957)

Playboy, November, 1957, pp. 50-1.


three modern, metropolitan folk tales

By Hoke Norris

Fables, traditionally, are little moral tales; but time changes all things, and in our own time, among the complex denizens of urban communities, a new kind of fable has been going the rounds: a kind of amoral -- or even immoral -- tale, usually involving infidelity. You have undoubtedly heard, and told, some of them yourself; others may have escaped your attention. Here are three of the best, collected and retold by Mr. Hoke Norris[.] [...] Says Norris: "I got the fables from men who swore they were true. Not that they personally knew the principal actors, you understand, but the fellow who told them said the fellow who told them..." Thus are all fables, moral or otherwise, born and propagated.

[A wife instructs the man with whom she is having an affair that if her husband ever answers the phone when he calls her, he is not to hang up, but "to make up an apocryphal number and ask if this was that one." It soon happens that the husband instead of the wife does indeed answer the phone, and the man asks if he has correctly dialed Chester 3-0912. Yes, says the husband. Taken aback, the man then asks if it is the Gibraltar Life Insurance Company. Again the husband responds affirmatively. After a pause, the man inquires, "Is Mr. Smith there?" He is informed that he is speaking to Mr. Smith. Outwitted, the man hangs up. "Wrong number," the husband coolly remarks to his wife.]

[A cheating husband tells his wife that he is having an affair with his secretary, an admission that she thinks is a joke. Whenever he says he is having dinner with his secretary, or taking her on a business trip, his wife laughs, and so does he. One day she suggests that they buy a new car, but he says they can't afford it because he has lost thousands of dollars betting on the horses. She thinks he is joking about this, too, but he shows her the check stubs. After this, when he announces that he is taking his secretary out to dinner, his wife's laughter is hollow.]

[The last tale involves an expensive ermine jacket given to an adulterous woman by her lover. To disguise its provenance, she deposits the jacket in a locker at a railway station and then tells her husband that she found its key in the street. He takes up her suggestion to go to the locker to see what it contains, but after taking the jacket, he gives it to his lover. His wife must be content with the box of chocolates that he claims to have found in the locker.] [Ernest Baughman, Type and Motif-Index of the Folktales of England and North America, K1581.12 (a, b)]

Saturday, December 29, 2007

9: Benazir Bhutto's Unlucky Number

The Post [Pakistan]
29 December 2007

Doomed number nine haunted Benazir's life:SMS

Amir Nafees

LAHORE: An SMS carrying information about number 9 that it was the most unlucky number in the life of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairperson Ms Benazir Bhutto remained the talk of the town. [...]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mount Allison Anecdotes

Donald Wells MacLauchlan, Mount Allison So Fair. Sackville, New Brunswick: Mount Allison University, 1980. ISBN 0-88828-029-7

[Agnes Trueman, wife of George J. Trueman, President of Mount Allison University (1923-45),] was a lovely lady from Upper Sackville stock. She was very well-liked by all but was quite noted for unusual remarks. For example, when the hostess at a tea party she attended asked her how her tea was, she replied, "Oh, it's just the way I like it, cold and weak." At another party she remarked to another lady, "I've been wanting for years to tell you how much I admire that dress you are wearing." [P. 9]

Dr. Harold Bigelow, Mount Allison professor of chemistry and Dean of Men in the 20s and 30s [...] was truly one of those "absent-minded professors." [...] [Pp. 10, 11]

Near the end of his teaching career his memory failed him even more. He was walking down town and as he was passing one of his honors chemistry students, he suddenly looked at his watch and exclaimed to the boy, "Shouldn't you be in the Chem. 6 class right now?" The student replied, "Yes, but I thought I'd skip it today, but shouldn't you be up there teaching it?" [P. 12]

[Allen Gornall, class of 1936,] tells about [Bigelow's] umbrella. Quite frequently the professor would leave it behind some place but one Sunday returning from Church, he proudly said to his wife, "Well, this is one time I remembered to bring the umbrella home." But she gave a sympathetic smile and said, "Harold, you did not take your umbrella to church today!" [P. 13]

William Thomas Ross Flemington was President from 1945 to 1962, after serving as Principal Protestant Chaplain overseas with the Canadian Army. [P. 16]

I enjoyed an incident he related to me. In his capacity as Principal Protestant Chaplain Overseas during the last War, he was on one occasion, crossing the Atlantic on a large warship. On ships large enough to carry a ship's Chaplain, the latter would always say Grace, but if he were absent it was the duty of the Captain. Ross described the proceedings at his first meal. As he entered the ward-room to take his place the officers were all standing quietly behind their chairs awaiting the Captain's arrival. When the Captain arrived, the following brief dialogue ensued: Captain: "Is the Chaplain present?" An officer: "No, Sir." Captain: "Thank God". Certainly a short blessing, although somewhat ambiguous. [P. 18]

There is a story Ross Fleminton [sic --bc] told us on one occasion that really bears repeating.

He related that he was on a train a while ago, and seated opposite him were two U.N.B. [University of New Brunswick -- bc] students who obviously knew who he was, although they did not speak to him. The boys started a loud conversation that ran as follows: 1st boy: "Where are you heading for anyway?" 2nd boy: "Oh, I'm going as far as Vancouver, because I want to get as far away from any Mount Allison fellows as I can -- and where are you going?" "Well," replied the 1st boy, "I'm going all the way to Tokyo because I'm sure there will be hardly any Mount A boys there."

Then Ross told us he leaned across the aisle and said to the boys, "Why don't you fellows go to Hell, there won't be any Mount A people there!" [P. 19]

A peculiar phenomenon occurred in one of Prof. [Roy] Fraser's classes which proved to be an interesting problem for research. One of the girls in a biology class would come in each morning and give a gasp and jump from her seat when she sat down. It was obvious that she was getting a shock. He had her sit in other seats and still she experienced the same disturbing experience while other students at the same desk did not feel anything. At last the Professor deduced that an electric charge was being created by the rubbing of her silk bloomers, or whatever underpants were called at that time, and it was discharged when she touched the metal of the seat. The other girls, however, wore similar underthings, so why was she unique? Finally he hit upon the solution -- she was knock-kneed! [P. 23]

There are many tales told of the old days on the campus. I cannot vouch for the authority of the following, but it was told to me as a true incident. There was some gathering at Mount A which was attended by the Anglican bishop, and he was put up for the night in residence. Arrangements were made for him to be served breakfast in his room.

Next morning a kitchen-boy took up the tray. He was quite nervous about it all but had been carefully briefed what to say when he would knock on the door. He was told that if the guest asked who it was, his reply should be: "It's the boy, M'Lord." So all the way up the stairs the lad kept saying over and over, "It's the boy, M'Lord." Arriving and knocking, he was greeted by: "Who is it?" and his immediate response was: "It's the Lord, m'boy!" [Pp. 51-2]

I think the following was at Mount A, but it may have happened elsewhere. A young lady in the library stopped the librarian passing by and asked "Where can I find this book?" She pointed to a line in an index book that read "How to Hug," and was quite disappointed when she learned these were just letters forming part of the index. [P. 182]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Will on the Chest

Playboy, May, 1954, pp. 41-2.


[No byline]

[...] [Photographer Lejaren] Hiller recalls one experience in his career that fairly well illustrates the sort of unbelievable life he has led. He was sent down to Greenwich Village to photograph a man for an advertising testimonial. The man absolutely refused to have his picture taken, but since Hiller had come all that way for nothing, the man invited him in for a couple of drinks. After the couple, they had a couple more, and a couple more after that. The alcohol made them chummy and the man suggested they throw a party.

"Why not," said Hiller. "You call your friends and I'll call mine."

They had a party.

Hiller's next recollection was noon the following day. He got to his feet, found his hat and coat, the door, and a taxicab. The cab took him home.

In his apartment, he headed for the shower. Under the cool current, he thought of his hat, and removed it. This reminded him of his clothes, so he stepped out of the shower. Undressed, he glanced in the mirror and was surprised to note writing across his bare chest. He tried to read it, but it appeared backwards in the mirror and he was too tired to try and figure it out. He'd just crawled into bed when the phone rang. It was a friend from the party with some rather startling news. Their late host had put a gun in his mouth, after the party, and blown his head off. Returning from the phone, Hiller again thought of the writing on his chest. With the help of a second mirror to correct the reversed image in the first, he was able to read: "I hereby bequeath all my worldly possessions..." Hiller stopped reading. It was the last will and testament of the guy who'd blown his brains out -- scrawled across Hiller's chest. [...]

[For a longer version of this anecdote, see H. Allen Smith, The Compleat Practical Joker (NY: William Morrow & Co., 1980), 303-5. It doesn't appear in the 1953 edition.]

Playboy Party Schools Article & Beltless Pants

Athens Banner-Herald [GA]
15 Sept. 2007

Huckaby: Party school rankings nothing more than an advertising gimmick

Darrell Huckaby

[Some believe that Playboy once published an article on party schools but omitted a certain university because the magazine refused to rank professionals with amateurs. The columnist receives evidence that the basis for this belief is a print ad (suspiciously undated) for Jaymar Sansabelt slacks.]

The Capital Times [Madison, WI]
26 December 2007

Doug Moe: The big 'Playboy party school' mystery tied to beltless pants?

Doug Moe

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bad Potato

National Lampoon, Dec. 1991, p. 75.


The San Francisco Chronicle, in an item on the retirement of airline purser Jerry Rand from Pan Am, recalled this encounter between Rand and "a bitchy woman passenger":

The woman, after a stream of complaints, hollered, "Steward, this potato is BAD."

Rand walked over to the woman, picked up the potato, then whacked it with a spoon, saying, "Bad potato, bad potato, bad potato."

Hoboken Monkey-Man

Hudson Reporter [NJ]
23 December 2007

Ever heard of the 'Hoboken Monkey-Man'?

Residents recall mythical primate who terrorized kids

By Madeline Friedman
Reporter staff writer

Twenty-five years ago, hysteria hit the hallways of Hoboken's schools. At least, according to Weird New Jersey Magazine, kids became so terrified in 1982 of the mysterious "Hoboken Monkey-Man" who supposedly had killed a teacher, that the city's Police Department created a special task force to deal with mounting fears.

However, dozens of residents and police officers said last week that only part of the story published by Weird New Jersey is true. [...]

Crystallised Fruit

Sunday Telegraph [UK]
23 December 2007

Sandi Toksvig: peace on earth and a box of fruit

[...] There is a wonderful story, which may or may not be true, but is worth telling anyway, about a similar litany of desires. According to urban legend, during the yuletide of 1948 a Washington DC radio station asked ambassadors from a number of countries in the capital their preferred Christmas gift, and the replies were recorded for a special holiday broadcast.

The expected answers were intoned: 'Peace throughout the world,' from the French ambassador; 'Freedom for all people enslaved by Imperialism,' from the Russian; and then a call went through to Sir Oliver Franks, the representative of Her Majesty's Government.

'Well, it's very kind of you to ask,' he replied. 'I'd quite like a box of crystallised fruit.' [...]
Russ Merifield, Who Said That? Memorable Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes Selected from The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1903 - 2003. Mary Byers, ed. Toronto: The Empire Club Foundation, 2003, p. 225.

June, 1973

William Rees-Mogg, MA, Editor, The Times of London

We had an unfortunate Ambassador [in Washington] who got things wrong with the press….He was telephoned and asked what he wanted for Christmas and innocently enough replied. He tuned into the radio the next day to hear the following statement read out: The Russian Ambassador says that for Christmas he wants peace on earth. The French Ambassador wants friendship between nations; but the British Ambassador wants a box of crystallized fruit. The British Ambassador was the only one of the three who got what he asked for.
Pass the Port: The Best After-Dinner Stories of the Famous. Cirencester, UK: Christian Brann, 1976, p. 45.

The Late Sir Michael Cary, K.C.B., Formerly Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence.

The British Ambassador was in Washington some years back. About a fortnight before Christmas he was rung up by the local T.V. Station.

"Ambassador," said the caller, "What would you like for Christmas?"

"I shouldn't dream of accepting anything."

"Seriously, we would like to know and don't be stuffy. You have after all been very kind to us during the year."

"Oh well, if you absolutely must, I would like a small box of crystallised fruits."

He thought no more about it until Christmas Eve when he switched on the T.V.

"We have had a little Christmas survey all of our own," said the announcer. "We asked three visiting Ambassadors what they would like for Christmas.

"The French Ambassador said: 'Peace on earth, a great interest in human literature and understanding, and an end to war and strife.'

"Then we asked the German Ambassador and he said: 'A great upsurge in international trade, ensuring growth and prosperity, particularly in the underdeveloped countries. That is what I wish for Christmas.'

"And then we asked the British Ambassador and he said he would like a small box of crystallised fruits."
Nigel Rees, The Guinness Book of Humorous Anecdotes. Enfield, UK: Guinness Publishing, 1994, p. 73.

A former British ambassador to France was asked by Paris Match what he would like for Christmas if he could have absolutely anything he wanted. The ambassador at first demurred and said no, no, he couldn't possibly, but eventually made his choice. The next issue of Paris Match duly carried its feature 'What the world would like for Christmas' in which Mikhail Gorbachev said he wanted an end to the arms race, Ronald Reagan opted for peace on earth, and so on. Finally there was the British ambassador: 'A small box of crystallized fruits, please.'

This joke made an appearance late in its life in Lynn Barber's column in The Independent on Sunday on 29 December 1991. I was well familiar with it, as Jonathan James-Moore, later to become the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment (Radio), used it invariably as his warm-up joke in the early 1980s. The earliest version of it I have found occurs in Pass the Port (1976), but it also appears in Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Diplomats (1977) where it is told as the result of a Washington radio station telephoning various ambassadors in December 1948. In this version, the British ambassador, Sir Oliver Franks, was the one who said, 'I'd quite like a box of crystallized fruits.'
[An overlong version of this anecdote, involving a Canadian ambassador, appears in John Robert Colombo, The Penguin Book of Canadian Jokes (Toronto: Penguin Books, 2001), pp. 475-7.]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Grateful Terrorist

News 10 [Syracuse, NY]
22 December 2007

Terror hoax

By: Web Staff

An urban legend has reached across the Atlantic and arrived in Syracuse for the Christmas season and it is fueling much buzz in the area.

It is the story of a man who is shown kindness by a cashier at a store, in this case a shop at Carousel Center, and later returns to warn the cashier of an impending terror attack. [...]

The Post-Standard [Syracuse, NY]
22 December 2007

Police: No terrorist plot against Carousel Center

Posted by Delen Goldberg

Crucified Santa

Kitsap Sun [WA]
22 December 2007

Strange Santa Scene Makes Bremerton Man's Comment on Christmas


Santa's keeping watch over a West Bremerton neighborhood in a way that has some offended and everyone else at least a bit curious about the motive.

In the front yard of a house on the 300 block of Olympic Avenue stands a crucifix about 15-feet tall, bearing Santa Claus in place of Jesus. [...]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coyotes Introduced to Kill Deer, Ohio

Telegraph-Forum [Bucyrus, OH]
21 December 2007

Crawford County residents worried about coyotes

By Kimberly Gasuras
Telegraph-Forum staff

[Mike Schiefer, a hunter who lives on Ohio 4, "thinks coyotes were originally brought into the area 10 or 15 years ago. 'Rumor has it that a trucker was in the area who said he had a load of coyotes to drop off here, because of the high number of car-deer accidents.' "]

Serial Killer Rumors, Florida

Tallahassee Democrat [FL]
20 Dec 2007

LCSO: E-mails Are 'Blatant Lie'

Maj. Mike Wood of the Leon County Sheriff's office handed out the following e-mails at a news conference Wednesday to refute their validity. [...]

[E-mails claim that a Florida serial killer cuts off head, limbs, of victims.]

"Medical Myths," BMJ Article

British Medical Journal
22 Dec. 2007, 335(7633):1288-89.

Medical myths

Rachel C Vreeman and Aaron E Carroll

[People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day; We use only 10% of our brains; Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death; Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser; Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight; Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy; Mobile phones create considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals.]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gang Initiation at Wal-Mart Rumors, NC

The News & Observer [Raleigh, NC]
19 December 2007

Police refute gang initiation rumor

From Staff Reports

A rumor circulating in Durham about a gang initiation planned at a Wal-Mart appears to be an urban legend, police say. [...]

WWAY-TV [Wilmington, NC]
19 December 2007

Law enforcement: Wal-Mart rumor is urban legend

SHALLOTTE -- Rumors about gang initiation rituals that target women are circulating in Columbus and Brunswick Counties.

Every person NewsChannel 3 asked told a different version of this rumored ritual. The basic premise is that gang initiates need to kidnap and harm a single white woman in a parking lot or gas station in order to become members. [...]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thieves Puncture Tires in Shopping Center Parking Lot

Kansas City Star [MO]
17 December 2007

Widespread e-mail not factual, but still encourages shoppers' vigilance


[An e-mail claims that thieves are puncturing the tires of vehicles in the parking lot of Kansas City's Metro North Shopping Center, then robbing the drivers as they attend their flat tire. A police officer says "the story was somewhat bogus."]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deer Population Secretly Controlled

The Post-Standard [Syracuse, NY]
16 December 2007

Legends abound about who controls deer population


[...] Each year, [said David Riehlman, senior wildlife biologist for the DEC's Cortland office,] disgruntled or misinformed hunters point to so-called "urban legends" to try to explain or rationalize what's happening with the deer population. [...]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gang Initiation Rumors, Memphis, TN

WMC-TV [Memphis, TN]
14 Dec 2007

Memphis Police downplay gang initiation rumors

Memphis Police say an email being forwarded in Memphis and surround areas warning of possible gang initiation dangers is likely untrue. [...]

Eyewitness News [Memphis, TN]
15 December 2007

Police Say Gang Initiation Email a Hoax

Reported by: Dana Rebik & Adrienne Phillips

Memphis Police say a frightening email, and some text messages, circulating [in] the Mid-South is a hoax. The emails and messages claim gangs are initiating new members by making them flag down women, ask for directions, then shoot them. [...]

Gold Menorah Kept by Vatican

The Jewish Standard [NJ]
14 Dec. 2007

Myths and the menorah

By Lois Goldrich

Some contend that the gold menorah from the Second Temple is hidden in the basement of the Vatican.

But according to Steven Fine, this is just an urban myth. [...]


Biblical Archaeology Review 31, no. 4 (2005), 18-25, 62-3.

The Temple Menorah—Where Is It?

By Steven Fine

Giant Human Skeleton Discovered

National Geographic News
14 December 2007

"Skeleton of Giant" Is Internet Photo Hoax

James Owen

The National Geographic Society has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant reports and pictures. [...]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dog Bites Penis Stuck Through Fence Hole,25197,22925782-12335,00.html

The Australian
14 December 2007

Puppy latches on to urinating man's member

By staff writers

A DRUNKEN man urinating through a fence got a nasty surprise when a playful puppy in the adjoining lot latched onto his member. Kann Veasna took a break from drinking wine at a street stall to relieve himself through a hole in a fence, according to news agency DPA. [...]

[Compare this report to the folk cartoon of a boy who sticks his penis through a hole in a wooden fence and gets it bitten by a goose. See Alan Dundes & Carl Pagter, Never Try To Teach a Pig To Sing (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), 378-81; J. M. Elgart, Over Sexteen (NY: Grayson Publishing, 1951), 27. -- bc]

Gershon Legman, More Limericks (New York: Bell Publishing, 1980), p. 415.

A knot hole he happened to see,
So he stuck his dink through it to pee.
Then he gave a loud yell:
"Whoop! Damnation!! Hell!!!"
(On that side of the fence was a bee.)

[From 1888.]

Students Spike Teacher's Coffee with Visine

Casper Star-Tribune [WY]
14 December 2007

Prank with eye drops could result in criminal charges

Star-Tribune capital bureau

CHEYENNE -- A prank in which Visine is slipped into an unwitting person's drink to induce severe diarrhea is cropping up in Wyoming, and a Cheyenne teacher was hospitalized this week after becoming the latest victim.

Jo L. Miyamoto, 58, a substitute at Johnson Junior High, ingested the eye drops after they were slipped into her coffee by a student on Monday, police said. [...]

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
14 December 2007

It's no joke

Prank harms local teacher

By Becky Orr

CHEYENNE - An apparent prank being pulled by a Johnson Junior High student on a long-term substitute landed the teacher in the hospital Monday. [...]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Patient Misunderstands Doctor's Advice

National Lampoon, Oct. 1984, p. 22.


Urging that doctors provide more explicit instructions for the use of drugs, Hospital Pharmacy magazine reported: "A patient visited his physician with a complaint of excessive sweating from his axillae. The doctor wrote a prescription for aluminum chloride solution. He handed the prescription to the patient and said, 'Rub this under your arms twice a day.' The patient left the office only to return a few days later. The patient complained to the doctor that he continued to have the sweating problem. He also asked for a new prescription slip. The old one had by now become smeared and tattered from rubbing it under his arms."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Safe Way to Cook Pizza

The Timaru Herald [New Zealand]
7 December 2007

Safe way to cook pizza

[An American tourist at the Hermitage Hotel in New Zealand put a frozen pizza in the room safe, which she mistook for a microwave oven, claims hotel general manager Denis Callesen.]

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Did Astronauts Have Sex in Space?

The Guardian [UK]
6 December 2007

Sex in space. Or not

Did astonauts have sex in space? And why are people interested in this subject now?

Jon Henley


Astronauts have never had sex in space - Russian expert

MOSCOW. Dec 5 (Interfax-AVN) - Russian experts have denied foreign media reports claiming that U.S. or Russian astronauts have had sex in orbit. [...]

[Below is the recycled article that is the basis for the current controversy.]

The Guardian [UK]
24 Feb 2000

Astronauts test sex in space - but did the earth move?

Jon Henley in Paris

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Folklore Forum

Folklore Forum, volumes 1-35 (1968-2004), are now available for free viewing on-line. See

Some articles involving contemporary legends:
F. A. de Caro, 1969. "J.F.K. Is Alive: A Modern Legend." Folklore Forum 2(2):54-55.
Rosan Jordan de Caro, 1970. "Sex Education and the Horrible Example Stories." Folklore Forum 3(5/6):124-7.
William Hugh Jansen, 1973. "The Surpriser Surprised: A Modern Legend." Folklore Forum 6(1):1-24.
Janet Dressler, 1975. "Exempla Usage in Catholic Parochial Schools." Folklore Forum 8(4):130-41.
Jean-Bruno Renard, 1991. "LSD Tattoo Transfers: Rumor from North America to France." Folklore Forum 24(2):2-26.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bucket of Eyes

[On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia. The resulting explosion leveled much of the city and killed an estimated 2,000 people. Fred Rockwell's account of the aftermath of the disaster, in a letter dated December 12, 1917, was sent to "two brothers, one of whom was the grandfather of Globe and Mail employee Lynne Wilkins." -- bc]

The Globe and Mail [Toronto]
1 Dec. 2007, p. F12.

Flying babies, shards of glass and a bucket of eyeballs

[...] A dozen people I passed on the street had no other marks on them except black eyes caused by the concussion, which in several cases I am told popped their eyes right out.

I heard of a chap going into a temporary dressing station in the North End with one of his eyes in his hand and inquiring whether they could do anything for him. Woolley, a soldier who lives in our street, tells of being in one of the hospitals and seeing a surgeon operating on a man's eyes. At the doctor's side was a bucket nearly full of eyes. [...]

I give these stories for what's its worth as I cannot vouch for them. [...]

Stuart Trueman, Tall Tales and True Tales from Down East. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1979, p. 141.

"It is told that a Moncton physician [helping out after the Halifax Explosion] suffered a nervous breakdown, aggravated by the fact that near him stood a pail full of staring eyes -- taken out without anaesthetics."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Exploding Cell Phone Battery Kills South Korean


The Korea Times
28 Nov 2007

Man Killed in Suspected Phone Battery Explosion

By Cho Jin-seo
Staff Reporter

A 33-year-old excavator driver was found dead on Wednesday in Cheongwon, North Chungcheong Province, after a suspected cell phone battery explosion, police said. [...]

Associated Press
29 Nov 2007

Report: Phone May Not Have Killed Worker


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The South Korean man whose death was initially blamed on an exploding cell phone battery appears to have died from another cause, according to a news report Thursday. [...]

New York Times
30 November 2007

A Death-By-Cell-Phone Story Falls Apart

By Patrick J. Lyons

Colombo City's Water Supply Poisoned

Daily Mirror [Sri Lanka]
30 November 2007

Rumours flow like river, but water is safe

By Supun Dias and Shane Seneviratne

Amid rumours flowing like a river that the water supply had been poisoned, the Water Board reassured yesterday that the supplies were safe for drinking while an expert said it was virtually impossible to obtain large quantities of deadly poison to contaminate the water. [...]

Toilet Paper Hoarding Rumors, Venezuela

30 November 2007

Venezuela makes stink over toilet paper hoarding

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan businesses spent years conspiring against President Hugo Chavez, but the government now says they have found a new way to play dirty -- hiding toilet paper to sway Sunday's vote on expanding Chavez's powers.

Venezuelans have been buying large amounts of toilet paper on rumours it could be the next hard-to-find thing amid shortages of products like milk and meat that businesses attribute to price controls but the government blames on high demand and hoarding. [...]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bosom Serpent

National Lampoon, October 1975, p. 24.


Fifty years ago this month, Roosevelt Berg was taken ill while visiting his sister in Minneapolis. Her home remedies failed, and Berg writhed in agony with severe stomach pains. At the advice of the family physician, Berg entered the hospital. His persistent stomach-ache baffled the entire staff of Swedish Hospital doctors, and they scheduled an operation. But Roosevelt Berg cheated the M.D.s out of their fee when, moments before the operation, he passed an ugly lizard, eight inches long, with claws like a bird and green as grass. Doctors believe that the young man had swallowed the lizard in a drink of water about two and a half years ago, and it had been growing steadily ever since.

Roosevelt Berg regained his strength, but vowed never again to drink water in the dark. Murray County Herald

The Barrel of Apples

National Lampoon, February 1979, p. 89.


The following happened to a Canadian apple farmer: he attached a rope to a barrel and secured a pulley to a high branch in an apple tree, ran the rope through the pulley, raised up the barrel, and tied the other end of the rope to the trunk of the tree. He then climbed up the tree, filled the barrel with apples, climbed down, and untied the rope from the trunk. Failing to anticipate that the barrelful of apples was heavier than himself, and refusing to let go of the rope, the farmer was pulled off the ground. He collided with the descending barrel and severely injured his shoulders. Continuing his ascent, he banged his head on a branch at the top of the tree and jammed his fingers in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground, the apples were spilled, which lightened the barrel and then caused the barrel to descend. Halfway down, the farmer was again struck by the barrel, this time severely bruising his shins. He was further lacerated when he landed on a section of his own truck rigging. At this point, the farmer finally let go of the rope, releasing the barrel, which fell directly on his head. The farmer was hospitalized. PCA/FLBA Farming

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Cursed Delhi Purple Sapphire

Sunday Times [London, UK]
25 November 2007

Out of the cupboard and calling to you: the cursed Delhi Purple Sapphire

A gemstone `stained with blood and dishonour' haunted anyone who owned it. This week it goes on show for the first time

Steve Farrar

Some 34 years ago Peter Tandy, a young curator at the Natural History Museum, happened upon a jewel while working among the great lines of mineral cabinets. From a scientific perspective, the stone was nothing special, though its setting was rather bizarre, bound by a silver ring decorated with astrological symbols and mystical words with two scarab-carved gems attached. It was a typewritten note that accompanied the jewel, an amethyst known as the Delhi Purple Sapphire, that caught Tandy's eye.

"This stone is trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonour of everyone who has ever owned it," said the note, which had been written by Edward Heron-Allen, a scientist, friend of Oscar Wilde and the amethyst's last owner. It carried a curse and had left a trail of bad luck and tragedy. [...]

Chinatown Tunnels, Fresno (2),1,4072794.story?track=crosspromo&coll=la-headlines-frontpage&ctrack=1&cset=true

Los Angeles Times
26 November 2007

An urban legend has resurfaced

A dark crawl space may be evidence of vast underground tunnels in Fresno's old Chinatown. The finding creates a buzz -- and a backlash.

By David Pierson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Babies and Broomsticks

National Lampoon, November 1976, p. 36.


One of the reason's for India's overpopulation problem is that it is often difficult to make the natives understand how to use birth control methods properly.

Recently, a family planning worker showed residents of a rural village how to use condoms by unrolling one over a broomstick handle.

Returning to the village a year later, the worker found a large number of new babies.

The natives were as puzzled as he. Before intercourse, they had dutifully put condoms on their broomsticks. Unknown source

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thieves Steal Dead Pet Rabbit

Ananova [UK]
23 November 2007

Thieves steal dead pet

Muggers snatched an Austrian woman's handbag unaware that it contained nothing but a dead rabbit.

The two thieves struck as Hilda Morgenstein, 42, was about to catch a train at Baden to the countryside with her daughter to bury the pet.

She said: "They saved us the trip - I told my daughter they were angels and were taking bunny to a better place."

Police are still searching for the pair and the remains of the rabbit.

Art or Trash?

The Scotsman [UK]
23 November 2007

It's in the bag if you keep an open mind


THERE'S a story that circulates on the subject of contemporary art, that an artist made an installation out of rubbish which appeared in a London gallery with a hefty price tag attached. All was well until the cleaner came and threw it away.

I've heard several versions of this story over the years, naming different artists and different galleries, affirming that it has now reached the level of urban myth. It's hardly surprising: people like the joke. You have to be a highly cultured person, it implies, to tell the difference between contemporary art and rubbish. [...]

[Another interpretation is that sophisticated museum-goers are unable to see the obvious difference between art and trash, whereas an uncultured worker can. Not overly refined myself, I always thought that was the point of the story. Ms. Mansfield, an arts reporter, interprets it differently. -- bc]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Eastern European Immigrants in UK, Rumors About,,2215099,00.html

The Guardian [UK]
22 November 2007

They come over here ...

... take our jobs, eat our carp and lose all our £50 notes. They even steal our unwanted clothes. But can all that is written about eastern Europeans really be true? Tim Dowling looks at the outrageous claims made about Britain's newest arrivals [...]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cat Rescued, Run Over by Firemen

The Bridgeport Post [CT]
19 September 1970.


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) -- A crew of firemen was dispatched Friday to rescue a cat from a tree. Mission accomplished, the cat was released. As the fire truck started back to the station, it ran over the cat.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Exploding Toilet (1970s)

The National Lampoon, September 1975, p. 20.


A housewife in Akron, Ohio began spraying her hair, only to discover that the button on the can was stuck and couldn't be shut off. She continued to spray her hair until it had the consistency and texture of portland cement. Then she ran into the bathroom and sprayed the rest of the contents of the can into the toilet bowl.

That evening, when her husband arrived home from work, he went into the bathroom, made himself comfortable with his evening paper, and lit up a cigarette. He dropped the lit match into the bowl. The next thing he knew, an explosion hurled him into the wall, broke his nose, knocked him unconscious, and gave his posterior second degree burns. Akron Beacon Journal

The Charleston Gazette [WV]
4 December 1975, p. 1B

The Gazetteer [Column]

James Dent

[...] Frankly, I believe the following story to be apocryphal although a fellow worker says two school teachers swore on a stack of approved textbooks that it was true.

A lady, wife of a Charleston area businessman, was in her toilet spraying her hair when the lock on the aerosol can became jammed and she was unable to shut the gadget off. Thinking quickly, she pointed the can down the commode and let it blast away until it finally gave out. Moments later, her husband entered the bathroom and took a seat. He lit a cigarette and tossed the match down the commode wherein the fumes from the hair spray still were lurking.

The resultant explosion lifted him off the bowl and hurled him against the bathroom wall, fracturing several small bones and severely burning his sitting apparatus. An ambulance was summoned and as the attendants were carrying the moaning patient to the vehicle, they asked how the accident had happened. Being informed, they laughed so hard that they dropped the stretcher and the poor victim suffered an additional broken leg. [...]

National Lampoon, May 1976, p. 32.


A dragline operator in Belle Glade, Florida, was so proud of his new 750 Honda that he invited a neighbor over to show off the machine. As the two men were standing on the patio admiring the motorcycle, the new owner went to press the electric starter button in order to prove how quietly the engine ran.

The motorcycle was in gear, and plunged through a glass door into his living room, dragging him along with it. He was taken to the hospital, where he received treatment for numerous cuts on his arms and face.

Meanwhile, his wife was sopping up gasoline that was seeping from the motorcycle, which was lying on its side in the living room. She flushed some gasoline-soaked paper towels down the toilet.

Her husband returned home, saw his new motorcycle and the shattered patio door, and took shelter in his bathroom. He lit a cigarette and sat on the john, dropping the match into the toilet bowl. The paper towels had clogged the pipes, and the match detonated the gasoline. The explosion blew the commode to pieces and propelled the man into the air, inflicting third degree burns on his exposed underside.

His wife called for an ambulance. Because of the burns, the attendants had to carry him spread-eagle, face-down on the stretcher. As he was being carried inside the hospital, one of the attendants tripped, and the stretcher crashed to the ground.

The fall left the owner of the new 750 Honda with a broken leg. Palm Beach Post Times

Tunnel Connects Monastery & Nunnery

Harry Price, The Most Haunted House in England. London & New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1940, p. 26.

The remains of a portion of an underground tunnel can be seen in the farmyard of Borley Rectory. Apparently it had caved in at some period in the remote past. It is impossible to trace it very far, and no one appears to know for what distance it is blocked. Future investigators might well make it their business to explore this tunnel. But portions of the tunnel -- or a tunnel -- have been discovered in various places in a direct line between Borley and Bures, a township seven miles from Borley, on the River Stour, and partly in Essex and partly in Suffolk. Bures is six miles south-east of Sudbury and the remains of a nunnery or similar religious foundation have been found there. The story is that a secret passage or subterranean tunnel led from Borley Monastery or castle to the nunnery at Bures. Whether this tunnel -- of small, ancient bricks -- was used as a means of escape from some possible danger, or for some military purpose; or whether it was constructed as a purely domestic arrangement between the monastery and nunnery, is a matter of conjecture.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dog Droppings Stolen

The Modesto Bee [CA]
15 November 1974, p. A7.

Mugger Gets A Surprise Package

LOS ANGELES -- A mugger attacked Mrs. Hollis Sharpe. It was, she said, a terrifying and painful experience -- he broke her left arm.

But, despite terror and pain, Mrs. Sharpe was able to recognize a kind of ironic, theatre-of-the-absurd justice in what happened.

As has been her habit for years, Mrs. Sharpe was walking her 7-year-old miniature poodle, Jonathan.

Mrs. Sharpe is a woman of sensibility and consideration. She always carries a plastic bag and a newspaper with her on her nightly walks.

When Jonathan does what dogs do, Mrs. Sharpe carefully scoops it up with the newspaper and drops it in the bag for sanitary disposal later.

"You have to think of your neighbors," she said.

Plastic Bag

Jonathan had done what dogs do Wednesday night, and Mrs. Sharpe had done what women of sensibility and consideration do, and she was carrying the plastic bag in her right hand when the mugger jumped out of a car and grabbed her.

She screamed, winced in pain and fell.

The mugger, a tall young man in a gray topcoat, snatched the plastic bag from Mrs. Sharpe and ran to his car -- only later to discover the nature of the loot.

"I only wish," said Mrs. Sharpe, "there had been a little bit more in the bag."

Italy's "Black Cat Day" Aims to Halt Killings

17 November 2007

Italy's "black cat day" aims to halt killings

ROME (Reuters) - Saturday is "black cat day", in Italy, an initiative by an
animal rights group to try to stop the killing of thousands of the cats by
superstitious citizens convinced they bring bad luck. [...]

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Human Ashes Spread at Disneyland

Mice Age [blog by Al Lutz]
13 November 2007

A Pirate's (After) Life For Me

Speaking of vandalism, there's been a growing list of incidents perpetrated on attractions at Disneyland that are not only illegal but that are increasingly, well... let's just say disturbing. The big problem isn't graffiti or hot-to-trot teens in a back row, it's park visitors smuggling in the cremated remains of their loved ones and then spreading the ashes inside a favorite attraction. [...],0,5347524.story?coll=la-home-center

Los Angeles Times
14 November 2007

From ashes to ashes, at Disneyland

Surreptitious scattering of people's remains at parks, golf courses and other unusual posts may be growing.

By Kimi Yoshino, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

ABC News
16 November 2007

Disney Disputes Pirate Ride Ash Scattering

Police, Disney Staff Found No Evidence of Human Remains on Popular Pirates Attraction


Friday, November 16, 2007

Empty Beer Barrels Spur Plymouth Rock Landing

Philadelphia Daily News
16 November 2007

Joe Sixpack
by Don Russell

The Mayflower beer tale takes a hit

IT IS ONE of the grand chapters of America's storied beer history: Having survived more than two brutal months at sea in their voyage to the New World, the Pilgrims finally set anchor at Plymouth Rock, forced to find dry land because their barrels were empty. [...] Unfortunately, according to Chicago author Bob Skilnik, it's a myth. [...]


Beer & The Pilgrims

By Bob Skilnik

Tunnel Rumors, Wesleyan University

The Wesleyan Argus [Wesleyan University, CT]
16 November 2007

Underground tunnels remain mysterious, enticing

By Anna Mageras
Contributing Writer

[The tunnels under Wesleyan University have inspired many rumors, such as the belief that years ago two undergraduates lived there to avoid paying housing fees; that a shooting range once existed there; and that the tunnels were used to transport opium in the nineteenth century.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Turkish Clothing Firm's Profits Aid PKK

Asia Times [Hong Kong]
15 November 2007


Internet myth mauls Turkish clothing firm

By Fazile Zahir

[It is rumored that "the well known Turkish clothing firm LC Waikiki...has been sold to Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman to take a seat in the Turkish Parliament." The company's profits now go to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and "anytime someone buys an LCW garment they are paying for a bullet that is being shot back into the heart of the Turkish nation."]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

China Recycling Used Condoms as Cheap Hair Bands

China Daily
13 November 2007

Outrage over use of recycled condoms

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)

Used condoms that have been reprocessed into rubber bands and hair ties have been sold in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, raising concerns about public health. [...]

China recycling used condoms as cheap hair bands

12 November 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Wallet Thief

New York Times
1 June 1972, p. 45.

Well, Anything Can Happen (And in This Town It Does)

By Michael T. Kaufman

This is a collection of stories currently being told around town. Unlike many events described in stories New Yorkers hear and tell, these actually happened. In each case they were traced to either a participant or first-hand observer. Names have been omitted in some cases because they were not known, in other to protect the innocent, the guilty and the embarrassed. What do these stories prove? Nothing.

On a recent Wednesday morning, a tall, burly insurance salesman was minding his own business, standing by a pole near the center doors of an IRT Broadway local, on his way to work near Wall Street.

As the train stopped at 79th Street, a well-dressed, smaller man entered the car, bumped into the tall man, turned and retreated from the car. The insurance man instinctively reached to his inside breast pocket, realized his wallet was missing and, as the doors were closing, reached out and grabbed the smaller man by his jacket collar.

The doors closed, with their rubber edges around the big man's wrist. The train started, and the man still held tightly to the jacket of the man on the platform.

Suddenly the jacket tore and the man in the car was left holding a few inches of dark blue material. The rest of the way to the office he thought dark thoughts and considered moving from a city where one cannot ride subways without having one's pocket picked.

His mood lasted until he got to his office where, a few minutes after he arrived, his phone rang. It was his wife. She called to tell him he had left his wallet at home. [...]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Suitcase Nukes Said Unlikely to Exist

Associated Press
10 November 2007

Suitcase Nukes Said Unlikely to Exist


WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of Congress have warned about the dangers of suitcase nuclear weapons. Hollywood has made television shows and movies about them. Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency has alerted Americans to a threat - information the White House includes on its Web site.

But government experts and intelligence officials say such a threat gets vastly more attention than it deserves. These officials said a true suitcase nuke would be highly complex to produce, require significant upkeep and cost a small fortune. [...]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Al Qaeda Will Attack Shopping Malls During Christmas Season,1,1284690.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Los Angeles Times
9 November 2007

L.A. terrorist threat discounted

The FBI and police say a warning that Al Qaeda may attack shopping malls is based on an unsubstantiated report.

By Greg Krikorian, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The FBI and Los Angeles police Thursday downplayed the significance of an unsubstantiated counterterrorism warning that Al Qaeda may target shopping malls in Los Angeles and Chicago this holiday season. [...]

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tobacco Companies Trademark Marijuana Names

National Lampoon, May 1970, p. 37.

The Gall Street Journal

[Douglas Kenney's parody of The Wall Street Journal contains this short item.]

What's News

Business and Finance

The cigarette industry denied that its trademark applications for the names "Acapulco Gold," "Panama Red," and "Vietnamese Green," all commonly used terminology for marijuana, in no way indicated an interest in the legalization of the drug. "By claiming the rights to these names," explained a PR representative, "we are simply prohibiting their use by irresponsible parties who may wish to crassly exploit the youth market with this untested and possibly harmful substance." [accessed 8 November 2007]

Acapulco gold

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[...] The popular culture interest in this strain was reinforced by the frequently played and quoted advertising parody performed by comedians Cheech and Chong with the refrain "No stems no seeds that you don't need, Acapulco Gold is (inhale) badass weed." Rumors abounded in the 1970s, perhaps predating this skit, that a major tobacco maker had trademarked the term "Acapulco Gold" and was prepared to sell cannabis under that brand name after the coming legalization. [...]

[The track, "Acapulco Gold Filters," appears on Cheech and Chong's self-titled debut album from 1972.]

Chris Barnett, "Who'd Profit From Legal Marijuana?", Playboy, March 1980, pp. 202, 204.

Pop quiz: What would happen if marijuana were legalized? The usual answer: Tobacco companies would reap a multibillion-dollar harvest. They already have the expertise, the rolling machines, the trademarks, the distribution system -- and they're secretly buying up land, just waiting for the big day.

If that's what you think, you flunk. Although the black-market marijuana industry is probably half as big as the tobacco industry (bigger than that, if you believe the DEA figures), there isn't a shred of evidence that tobacco companies are ready to pounce on pot.

And no hints are to be gleaned from talking with the tobacco companies themselves -- they absolutely refuse to discuss the subject. [...]

Not surprisingly, such silence only fires up the often-repeated rumors that every tobacco company has a secret research-and-development marijuana lab buried somewhere deep in its corporate bowels or in some abandoned missile silo in New Mexico. [...]

[Industry experts] laugh at the one marijuana myth most often bandied about; namely, that tobacco companies have quietly trademarked the choicest brand names -- words like Maui Wowee and Colombian Gold -- that would have a familiar ring to heads and straights alike. It's a legal impossibility, they point out. Under Federal law, you cannot register a trademark for an illegal product. Nor can you reserve a trademark long before the product hits the market place. (Actually, Acapulco Gold has been registered as a legal trademark -- but not by a tobacco company. Charmer Industries of Long Island City, New York, owns the mark for an Acapulco Gold tequila it distributes primarily in the Northeast.)

University of Kentucky Drops Holocaust Studies

University of Kentucky News
8 November 2007

University Debunks Holocaust E-mail Rumor

Allison Elliott

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 8, 2007) - The University of Kentucky has announced that a rumor, claiming the school has removed Holocaust material from its curriculum, is not true. The false claim has been circulated via e-mail. [...]

Forward [NY]
5 Dec 2007

University Dispels Rumor Spread Online

By Rebecca Spence

Officials at the University of Kentucky are trying to dispel a myth circulating on the Internet that it has canceled its Holocaust-related classes due to pressure from Muslim students. [...]

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Re: Jenkem

[An intrepid (and sadly defunct) newspaper often reported on the dangers of dung sniffing, but its warnings went unheeded by the mainstream press.]

Weekly World News
22 July 1997 [Reprinted 28 March 2000]


By Mike Foster

KANSAS CITY -- The widespread fad of cow manure sniffing has claimed its first lives: A pair of teenagers who had become addicted to the bizarre practice.

Authorities say the unidentified teens, a 17-year-old male and his 15-year-old girlfriend, suffocated when they attempted to enhance the intoxicating effects of methane gas released by the decaying feces by inhaling it in a small, airtight meat locker.

And the recent tragedy may be only the first of many, police, school officials and parents fear.

"Manure sniffing has reached epidemic proportions nationwide and thousands of addicted youngsters are showing signs of serious brain damage -- it was only a matter of time before something like this happened," declared Tammi Factos, presidents of Mother Against Manure, a group dedicated to eradicating the nasty habit.

"We can expect to see more death and heartbreak down the road."

Manure sniffing, or "snorting secondhand grass," as aficionados call it, has been steadily growing in popularity in the Midwest and South over the past four years.

Young people have found they can get a cheap high by plopping a bowl over a fresh, steaming pile of cow manure, sticking straws through the bottom of the bowl and inhaling the methane gas through the straws.

The nutty craze has now become so common that experts fear it could end up turning much of Generation X into a bunch of drooling, fried-brained bull crap junkies. [...]

Weekly World News
10 Oct. 2000


By Richard Bennet

BERLIN -- Thrill-seeking European teenagers have found a revolting new way to get high -- they smoke dried poop like it's going out of style!

Nobody knows just how, when or where the sick but legal fad got started.

But concerned authorities estimate as many as 200,000 kids light up each and every day in England, Germany, France and the Netherlands alone. [...]

Dried cow dung is the poop of choice among aficionados. But bird, frog and even dog droppings are gaining popularity, authorities and users report. [...]

Weekly World News
3 September 2002


By Justin Mitchell

TUCSON, Ariz. -- America's teens are turning away from pot, cocaine and other "old" drugs in favor of a cheap new legal high: Lizard dung! [...]

Weekly World News
11 March 2003


By Mike Foster

ABILENE, Texas -- So many U.S. teens are now getting high from sniffing manure that horrified educators, family values advocates and law enforcement officials are calling for a ban on the stomach-turning practice. [...]

It was in the early 1990s that recreational manure-sniffing first surfaced in the U.S., believed to have been brought over by Malaysian immigrants.

Enthusiasts say that breathing in fumes from fresh cow dung induces a natural high more potent than heroin or cocaine -- not to mention cheaper.

Since then, the craze has grown steadily, especially in the Southwest. Educators say they've seen the "corrosive effects" of the trend, claiming the manure-sniffing fad has led to increased truancy and vandalism.

"You'll see a bunch of kids cut class and head out back to the pastures," says a high-school teacher in Abilene.

"They come back with a glassy look in their eyes and a stupid smile on their faces. You look at their shoes and you know exactly what they've been up to." [...]

Weekly World News
17 June 2003


By Brenda Merlin

AMSTERDAM -- Thrill-seeking European teenagers have found a revolting new way to get high: They smoke dried poop like it's going out of style.

Nobody knows just how, when or where the sick-but-legal fad got started. But worried authorities estimate as many as 200,000 kids between the ages of 11 and 19 light up each and every day in England, Germany, France and the Netherlands alone. [...]

Early studies suggest cow dung and other forms of feces contain a host of dangerous psychoactive substances that are formed during the digestive process.

One of those is a precursor to Ecstasy, an amphetamine-like drug that can damage the brain and central nervous system with just one "trip." Another is strikingly similar to the wildly hallucinogenic, LSD-like compound found in morning glory seeds. [...]

A 14-year-old girl in Frankfurt, Germany, actually jumped to her death from the balcony of an 11th floor apartment after telling friends she was going to "fly to the Bahamas" to ask reggae great Bob Marley to play a few tunes at her 15th birthday party.

"This young lady was an honor student, but in a dung-induced stupor, she forgot three things," says Dr. DuPont.

"One, Bob Marley was from Jamaica, not the Bahamas. Two, he's been dead for decades. And three, she couldn't fly.

"Dung not dangerous? Think about this young woman's story and you tell me."


6 Nov 2007

'Drug' Made From Human Waste Causing Stink on Web, in Law Enforcement

An implausible story about a natural high derived from human waste is causing a stink on the Internet and has forced a local sheriff's department to issue a warning about the "drug."

The Collier County Sheriff's Office in Tampa, Fla., recently released a bulletin warning of a new drug threat in America - jenkem - made by fermenting human feces and urine and huffing the gas produced. [...]

Internet pundits were quick to jump on the intelligence briefing, noting that the photos and descriptions of the high jenkem produced came from "Pickwick," a contributor to the Web site, who later admitted his "use" of jenkem was faked using flour, water, beer and Nutella. [...]

5 Nov 2007

Are local kids using human waste to get high?

The Smoking Gun
5 Nov 2007

New Drug Alert!
Florida sheriff's bulletin warns of purported new human waste high

[Displays copy of Collier County Sheriff's Office Information Bulletin, "New Drug -- JENKEM."]

Gang Initiation Rumor, Florida

St. Petersburg Times [FL]
7 November 2007

Scary story isn't true, police say

By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN, Times Staff Writer

[...] The story, according to the e-mail: A woman who was jogging on Brightwaters Boulevard in Snell Isle was driven off the road by a black car. Then, a crazed man jumped out and chased her until another driver stopped to help. The would-be attacker got in his black car and escaped.

When the woman filed a report, a police officer supposedly told her that there had been similar incidents and that it may be a gang initiation ritual in which men rape women and take a garment of clothing as proof. [...]

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Topless Fish Store Workers

Daily Telegraph [UK]
6 November 2007

Don't die in parliament, says stupidest law

By Gary Cleland

[A Liverpudlian by-law that allows women to go topless in public only if they work in a tropical fish store was voted the third-most absurd British law in a survey held by UKTV Gold, a British television channel. A spokesman for the Liverpool City Council, however, said, "It's something that has been heard of before and does crop up from time to time, but it is absurd. It is a myth and totally made up. It has no basis in fact."]

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hold the Onions

Dion Fortune, Psychic Self-Defense. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1993 [orig. ed., London, 1930], pp. 182-3.

Among country people, an onion is sometimes placed in a vase on the mantelpiece as if it were a hyacinth bulb when unpleasant visitors are expected, and solemnly burnt in the kitchen fire as soon as they have departed, it being believed that the onion tribe have the property of absorbing noxious emanations. It is curious to note in this respect that in one coal mine to my knowledge the miners are forbidden to take onions down into the workings as part of their dinners because the onions absorb the underground gases and become poisonous. My informant told me that he and others had smuggled onions down and learnt from bitter experience the wisdom of this rule.

[It is (or was) a widespread Anglo-American belief that onions can absorb harmful germs or effluvia. -- bc]

Politician's Address to Prisoners

4 November 2007

Silly Derrick, sensible Mike, sorry Bruce

Dawn Ritch, Columnist

[...] Derrick Smith really is a silly bird, too timid to get into trouble. No amount of make-up or ministerial office can mask that fact. He ought not to be a politician, much less Minister of National Security. But as a friend of mine, who has no regard for politicians has said to me, "What else is he suited for?"

In what may be an apocryphal story going the rounds, the new Minister of National Security addressed the inmates at the prisons when he first took office. He is said to have told the assembled population, "Nice to see so many of you here." [...]

The New Yorker, 24 Feb. 1945, p. 68.


[A 1941 anecdote: New York Governor Al Smith supposedly addressed prisoners at Sing Sing as "Fellow citizens," tried to correct himself by calling them "Fellow convicts," then said, "I'm glad to see so many of you here." In 1944 Lester Hunt, Governor of Wyoming, claimed he had once made the same verbal gaffes while making an official visit to a penitentiary.]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween Candy (Update #2),0,7536522.story?coll=kwgn-home-2

KWGN-TV [Greenwood Village, CO]
3 November 2007

Needle found in Halloween candy

Boy's treat turns out to have a nasty trick inside

by Laura Main, News2

LITTLETON (KWGN) — A Halloween treat turned tricky for 11-year-old Tommy de la Cruz of Littleton when, he said, he found a needle hidden inside a fun size Milky Way bar he got while trick or treating. [...]

The Times [Munster, IN]
2 Nov 2007

Mom reports tainted Halloween candy


[An unidentified Valparaiso-area woman notified the police that "her daughter found a small blue pill with C-5 imprinted on it -- a pill later determined to be the antihistamine Clarinex -- inside a box of Graveyard Goodies candy."] [London, ON, Canada]
3 November 2007

Possible acetaminophen pill found among child's Halloween candy

London police are reminding parents to check their children's Halloween candy after a small, white pill was discovered in one child's bag of chips. [...]

Friday, November 2, 2007

Nostradamus Predicted Halloween Campus Massacre

Crimson White [University of Alabama]
2 November 2007

'Prophecies' unfulfilled

Night passes without havoc at Tutwiler

Martha Gravlee
Staff Reporter

On Wednesday night, female students strolled out of Julia Tutwiler Hall in groups of five and six. Some carried only purses, and some had a change of clothes draped over their arms. A few even carried overnight bags.

Tutwiler is the subject of an infamous prophecy, supposedly made by Nostradamus, which predicts a mass murder at a women's residence hall on Halloween. [...]

Al Qaeda to Launch Cyber-Attack on Nov. 11,2933,307601,00.html

FOX News
2 November 2007

Report: Al Qaeda to Launch Cyber-Attack on Nov. 11

By Lisa Vaas

Al Qaeda plans to launch an electronic Jihad on Nov. 11, attacking "Western, Jewish, Israeli, Muslim apostate and Shiite Web sites," according to an unconfirmed report. [...]

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Al Qaeda declares Cyber Jihad on the West

October 30, 2007, 9:23 AM (GMT+02:00)

Fish Preserved with Formalin

Daily News [Dar es Salaam, Tanzania]
2 November 2007

Formalin laced fish a hoax, says minister


THE government has refuted reports that some traders used formalin, a hospital body preservation chemical, to prolong the shelf life of fish catches. [...]

Halloween Candy (Update)

Hamilton Spectator [ON, Canada]
1 November 2007

Anti-smoking pills, nail in apple found in kids' Halloween candy in Hamilton


HAMILTON - Police in Hamilton are warning parents to sift through their children's Halloween candy after one child received Zyban pills as a treat and another was given an apple embedded with a nail. [...]

WSYR-TV [East Syracuse, NY]
1 Nov 2007

Prescription Pills Found in Halloween Bag

New Hartford, Oneida County (WSYR-TV) - Police in Oneida County say prescription pills were found in a child's Halloween bag during a routine candy check. New Hartford Police say the pills were the allergy medication Zyrtec. [...]

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Candy,0,1326877.story?coll=orl_news_util

Orlando Sentinel [FL]
1 November 2007

Teen finds razor blade in Halloween candy bar

Katie Fretland and Walter Pacheco
Sentinel Staff Writers

A boy Wednesday found a small razor blade inside a candy bar he picked up in Minneola on Halloween night. [...]

KOLD-TV [Tucson, AZ]
1 November 2007

Needle Scare In Walgreens Candy Aisle

By Suleika Acosta, KOLD News 13

Candy sales were halted at the Walgreens store at Grant and Swan for a few hours on Halloween after a package of one-and-a half inch sewing needles was found on top of a package in the candy aisle. One needle was missing from the package. [...]

WANE-TV [Fort Wayne, IN]
1 November 2007

Police Investigate Tampered Candy Case

(Warsaw - WANE) A Warsaw family had a Halloween scare last night when they found out a piece of their child's candy had a piece of metal inside.

Andrew Hicks just returned home from trick-or-treating with his kids when he noticed that the wrapper of a "Reese's" peanut butter cup was partially open.

Inside the package, an industrial staple was embedded in the side of the chocolate. [...]

Marilyn Monroe's Corpse Enjoyed by Undertakers

Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2007 17:03:59 +0000
From: popbitch
Subject: "Crouching tiger, leaping lemur"


01.11.07 ISSUE 373

>> Some like it cold <<
Marilyn will be turning in her grave

We heard an amazing story from an aging playboy this week. Some years ago, this upper-crust chap was chatting up a buff black man in a bar and the conversation turned to their occupations. The American said he was an undertaker. And that it was to his funeral home that Marilyn Monroe was brought on her death. And he went on to confess that all the local undertakers then took turns to have sex with her corpse.

[Popbitch is a weekly UK email newsletter of celebrity gossip, much of it salacious and much of it untrue. Its web page is]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hansom Dump

H. V. Morton, Ghosts of London. London: Methuen & Co., 1939, pp. 51-3.

[Albert] Frisbee is one of the last three hansom cab-drivers in London. He was driving a hansom forty years ago, when there were over fifteen thousand horse-cabs and hansoms on the streets of London. His old badge number is 14,037. [...]

I asked Mr. Frisbee if he could buy six hansoms anywhere to-day, and he shook his head.

'Not for all the gold in the Bank,' he replied.

All those thousands of 'London gondolas' have vanished in our time. The taxicab, slowly at first, and then swiftly, drove them from the streets.

'There used to be a tale,' said Mr. Frisbee, 'that somewhere at Hendon all the thousands of hansom cabs were lying in a huge dump, waiting to be broken up. And I believe it was a true story. That's what happened to them. They were sold for one pound and two pounds apiece. They were broken up for the glass, the springs and the woodwork.'

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hawk Snatches Toy Poodle

30 October 2007

True nature saga, or tall talon tale

By Lisa Heyamoto

Story appeared in METRO section, Page B1

[According to Betty Cooper, publicity coordinator at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, California, "an employee was walking the center grounds when he was flagged down by [a] hysterical woman, who claimed a hawk had made off with her toy poodle."]

Pensacola New Journal [FL]
8 November 2007

Pet owners fear flying menace
Hawks believed to be attacking city's small dogs

Thyrie Bland

First it was coyotes, and now ... hawks?

Some Gulf Breeze residents are worried that birds of prey are swooping down from the sky to attack their pets. [...]

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Ghostly" Hand Steers Car

Liverpool Echo [UK]
29 October 2007

Spooky sailor's story that raised a raucous laugh

by Linda McDermott, Liverpool Echo

[An "allegedly true" story told at the Royal Naval Association's annual dinner concerned a drunk hitchhiker who, after getting into the backseat of a slowly passing car, discovered the car had no driver, just a ghostly hand reaching in through a window and turning the steering wheel. The frightened man jumped out of the vehicle and staggered to the safety of a nearby bar. Two men later entered the bar and one of them, seeing the hitchhiker, exclaimed, "There's the idiot who jumped into our broken down car while we were pushing it!" See ]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ritual Cat Sacrifices on Halloween

National Geographic
26 Oct 2007

Ritual Cat Sacrifices a Halloween Myth, Experts Say

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News

[Many animal shelters halt adoptions of black cats in the weeks preceding Halloween. The article features a photograph of a dead black cat, duct-taped to a cross, which had been left at an Iowa City animal shelter in 2004.]

Fermilab Bison Are Radiation Detectors

Columbia Spectator [Columbia University, NY]
22 Oct 2007

Taking America Beyond the Standard Model

By Elizabeth Wade

The first things you notice at Fermilab are the buffalo. After building the world's most powerful particle accelerator underground, the physics lab decided to turn the land above it into a prairie preserve populated by a herd of American bison. A suburban legend floats around the surrounding town of Batavia, Illinois, that the bison serve the same function as canaries in a mine, with the physicists keeping tabs on the animals' well-being in order to monitor the lab's radiation. [...]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fatwa: Rumor-mongers Must Be Flogged

Gulf News [U.A.E.]
25 Oct 2007

Rumour-mongers 'must be flogged'

By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent

Cairo: A top cleric has drawn fire from journalists for demanding that rumour-mongers be flogged 80 times in compliance with the Sharia. Mohammad Saeed Tantawi, Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, made the suggestion during a recent function attended by President Hosni Mubarak. [...]

Tunnels Under Novi High School

Novi News [MI]
25 October 2007

Ghostly tales in Novi

By Chris Jackett

[...] Rumor has it there are tunnels running under [Novi High School] that are filled with equipment that malfunctions and causes temperature changes throughout the school. The descriptions on make it sound as if a large generator or fan is hidden below the school, causing vibrations and sounds while sucking items under doors. [Kathy Mutch, chair of the Novi Historical Commission,] claims the existence of such tunnels alone is myth.

"The tunnels are not there. There'd be no reason," she said.

Odd Names

Nashville Scene [TN]
25 October 2007

The Name Game

by Lindsay Ferrier

[Article on "craziest kids' names" that were submitted by readers includes dubious ones like Orangejello and Crystal Meth.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Cow-eating' Trees of Padrame'Cow-eating'+trees+of+Padrame&Title=Southern+News+-+Karnataka&Topic=0 [India]
23 Oct 20007

'Cow-eating' trees of Padrame


MANGALORE: Carnivorous trees grabbing humans and cattle and gobbling them up is not just village folklore. Residents of Padrame near Kokkoda in Uppinangady forest range sighted one such carnivorous tree trying to dine on a cow last Thursday. [...]


San Francisco Chronicle
27 October 2007

The Dirt: Myths about man-eating plants - something to chew on

Ron Sullivan, Joe Eaton, Special to The Chronicle

Giant Snake Killed on Golf Course

Macon Telegraph [GA]
24 October 2007

Oakview rattlesnake rumor just an internet hoax

Big snake e-mail not true, Macon man says

By Keich Whicker

[...] For the past few weeks, Hill said, he has been bombarded with inquiries about an e-mail and accompanying picture circulating in Middle Georgia that supposedly shows a groundskeeper who works at the [Oakville Golf Course] holding up a huge snake killed on the eighth hole with a two-iron. [...]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fort Pierce Mansion, Florida

Fort Pierce Tribune [FL] 23 October 2007

Mansion's 'history' makes for quite a tale in Fort Pierce

By Alexi Howk

FORT PIERCE -- Al Capone never hung out at the hilltop mansion just north of 25th Street on the west side of U.S. 1.

It was never a bordello. A male client was never shot on the seventh step by his wife coming down from an upstairs bedroom. The Germans never used the mansion to communicate with submarines offshore for the purpose of espionage. [...]

Slavery Law Rumor Irks Decatur Officials

Officials seek to abolish rumor saying it's still legal in Decatur

By Evan Belanger

[Decatur city officials are bothered by rumors that the city has never "repealed the city codes allowing and governing slavery on a local level."]

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chinese Tattoos in the News

Dorset Echo [UK]
17 Oct 2007

Mum's not the word on tattoo

By Juliette Astrup

A Poole woman who thought she had "Mum" tattooed in Chinese symbols on her back has spoken of her shock at being told it actually read "Friend Come Hell." Mum-of-one Charlene Williams, of Canford Heath, had the tattoo done on her lower back four years ago. [...]

The Mirror [UK]
19 October 2007

Girl's 'evil' Chinese tattoo

A teenager who had "mum" tattooed on her back in Chinese letters was horrified to find it really said: "Friend from hell." [...]

[See the Dorset Echo for a photograph of her tattoo. Will future versions of this report describe it as saying "Fiend from hell"?]

The Sun [UK]
22 October 2007

Tatt's ink-redibly unfunny


PROUD Vince Mattingley showed off his Chinese writing tattoo spelling his name for 26 years – until someone pointed out if actually spelt COCA-COLA. [...]

Hanzi Smatter
25 October 2007

Tatt's ink-redibly unfunny

By Tian

[In his blog "dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture," Tian reprints the Sun article and states that the two characters mean "crooked official."]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Abraham Lincoln's View of Corporations

Pat Robertson, The New World Order. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 265-6.

There is no hard evidence to prove it, but it is my belief that John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Lincoln, was in the employ of the European bankers who wanted to nip this American populist experiment in the bud.

While still in office, Lincoln saw clearly what would happen after his time; here are his words:

The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace
and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more
despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy,
more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a
crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to
tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have
been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will
follow, and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the
prejudices of the people until the wealth is
aggravated [sic -- bc] in a few hands and the
republic is destroyed.

Are these the ravings of a lunatic? No, they are the judicious and heartfelt words of a patriot, a friend of the people, a man of faith who dreamed great things for America and suffered profoundly over its pains.

[The Lincoln quotation is spurious. See, e.g., <>.]

Hillary Clinton Snubbed Gold Star Mothers

St. Petersburg Times [FL]
21 October 2007

Everything moves faster by e-mail, including false charges

It's much harder for candidates to defend against attacks now that they move through the ether.

By BILL ADAIR, Times Washington Bureau Chief

[A much-forwarded e-mail claims that Senator Hillary Clinton once snubbed the Gold Star Mothers, a group of women whose children were killed while serving in the armed forces.]