A FAQ for the Holidays
19 December 1992
Official Usenet Alt.Folklore.Urban Frequently Posted Legends
"Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an
affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be
divested from a crutch."
-- James Baldwin
This is alt.folklore.urban -- the newsgroup where nonsense is revered
as an artform, and debunking has been taken to new heights.
The group has broadened out from a place for discussing urban legends
(ULs) to a place for confirming or disproving beliefs and facts of all
kinds, including origin of vernacular ("The whole nine yards", "Bob's
your uncle", "Sniping like a bald giraffe"), common scientific fallacies,
obscure points of history, stories of pranks, the best way to shave,
and so on. In other words, it's a great place to get a reality check
on anything that "a friend" told you, or to compare notes about odd things.
As a result, you will find items which are in the classic urban legend
mold (e.g., food contamination legends), as well as old wives tales, and
other oddball facts, trivia, and stories.
A note to new readers: the weasely :-) symbol is frowned upon in this
group. Any questions, see Phil Gustafson who will gladly rearrange your
diodes for you (and charge you two-fifty for it since there's such a
The purpose of summarizing these frequently-seen legends is to provide
a guide to veracity and their experience in this newsgroup. While many
if not most ULs cannot be traced back to any original true incidents,
such a connection may be established for some of the more recent ones.
Also, there are classic ULs which may, coincidentally, have a true
manifestation. As noted in the following paragraph, a true manifestation
does not deprive a UL of its legendary status. However, since many if not
most ULs are false, where possible, I am including a one-liner (or so)
noting a true incident, subject to sufficient evidence of course.
A DIGRESSION ON URBAN LEGENDS AND "FALSEHOOD"
Occasionally, someone will post something to the effect of: "That
actually happened you st*p*d, f*ck*ng, b*st*rds, Jan Harold Brunvand
is all wet, the FAQ list is wrong, the sun rises in the West and it's
not an urban legend." As noted elsewhere in this list and by astute
individuals on the net, an UL does not have to be false. If we take
the example of "The Unsolvable Math Problem" (see below), we find that
mathematician George Dantzig is the probable individual involved. So is
this story no longer an UL? Jan Harold Brunvand addresses this issue
"Despite finding its [The Unsolvable Math Problem] apparent
origin, I continue to accept anonymous versions as legendary.
"An oral story is a story, whatever its origin. As long as a
story continues to circulate in different variations, partly
by word of mouth, we may regard it as folklore. But probably
'The Unsolvable Math Problem' legend should no longer be
discussed as strictly 'apocryphal,' since we now seem to have
found its source, and the deviations from the original incident
are easily recognized and are not excessive."
- JHB,_The Choking Doberman_, p. 282
Veracity is interesting but far from the last thing when it comes to the
study of urban legends. Other comments welcomed.
MEANWHILE, BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM . . .
I have also begun to collect references to specific volumes of JHB's to
document various classic ULs. This is a slow and on-going process.
Acronyms for Jan Harold Brunvand's books in the list below are:
TVH - _The Vanishing Hitchhiker_
TMP - _The Mexican Pet_
TCD - _The Choking Doberman_
CBA - _Curses! Broiled Again_
TBT - _The Baby Train_ (forthcoming, March 1993)
Related newsgroups to consider when posting an article which may be "folklore".
- alt.folklore.computers [guess what this one is about?]
- alt.folklore.science ["Does hot water freeze faster than cold?" Heh]
- alt.folklore.college [Lots of the same old stuff, but why not?]
- sci.skeptic [for those with lots of time on their hands]
- alt.tasteless [frequently more appropriate than not.]
- alt.usage.english [pretty self-explanatory, dontcha think?]
- alt.flame [just a thought else hold that thought]
- alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.d [the others are for *pictures* only.]
- alt.religion.kibology [the mother of all newsgroups]
NOMINATIONS FOR THE OFFICIAL MOTTO OF A.F.U.
"It could have happened, so it must be true."
"Sorry to inject some facts into this newsgroup..."
"It COULD have happened so it MUST have happened"
"I read it on USENET so it must be true."
"You st*p*d f*ck*ng b*st*rds..."
"The way I heard it..."
"I read it in the paper..."
"I think it's stupid. We collect all these business cards, and it turns
out nobody wants them."
"No Facts but..."
"And as for the voracity [sic] of the source, this is my GRANDMOTHER
you're talking about."
"True story as far as anyone knows. No particular reason why it should
"I can't vouch for the veracity of your story. But there's enough stupidity
out there that I'll believe it."
"He might have. That alone is enough to prove..."
"Are you saying that some soaps are not detergents but that no detergents
are soaps?" [Happy, Chuck Adams? Sheesh!]
"Well, looking at my couch, I could see how this would happen"
"Excuse me. But can anyone tell me what's going on here?"
"I'm not making this up. I've seen a wargame of the battle of Stalingrad
which includes an optional counter for mine dogs, so it must be true.
"I will not describe it so don't even bother asking me about it."
SPECULATION ON CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK'S MIDDLE NAME
OFFICIAL AFU MASCOT
- My pet King snake, Elvis
- Peter's pet dalmatian dog, Pixel
- snopes' pet cat, Snopes
- little gator's bio-challenged gator, harvee (sorry, no use of
the "s" word here)
- Cindy's pet troll, Steinar
HACK ETYMOLOGIES FOR 'POSH'
- Puke On Shoes Here
- Port Out, Starboard Home
- Passed Out, She Hurled
- Post Office: Shergold's Hospital
- Pulmonary -- Oxygenated Supply to Heart
OFFICIAL BIG PETER OF AFU
- Peter van der Linden
OFFICIAL FOOD OF AFU
- Chicken Mole'
- Red Velvet Cake
- Poinsettia salad
- Kentucky Fried Chicken
- little gator's Deep Sh*t Cookies
Okay, the major categories are:
- The Misappliance of Science
- The 'Plane Truth (What goes up...)
- Does Not Compute
- Twinkie Twitter
- Mysterious Medical Maladies
- Wind Powered Fantasies
- Stupid Academia Tricks
- Stupid People Tricks
- What's in a Word?
- Reefer Madness
- How Firm is Your Foundation?
- Kill Your Television!
- Astonishing Antipodean Antics
- Lewd Food
- Snuff Movies
- Upstanding Legends of the Penis and Scrotum
- Hide the Salami
- Disney Dementia (and other amusement park legends)
- Question Authority!
- Wild Life in the Fast Lane
- Legends About Natatory Capabilities of Large Anthropoid Primates
- Astounding Avian Anomalies
- Doggie Style and Cattie Wumpus
- Other Animal Crackers
- Arthropod Crackers
- Some References and Credits
Key to one liners below:
T = 100% scientific truth
Tb = believed true, but not conclusively proven
F = 100% falsehood
Ft = A classic urban legend with a true occurence or discovered origin.
Fb = believed false, but not conclusively proven
U = unanswered and may be unanswerable
P = Maybe it didn't happen, but it's scientifically possible
(used extremely sparingly, where the opposite is expected,
as it could apply to just about every legend)
There is a comment, "*", on certain lines in the FAQ. This indicates
that there is further information on this point available via anonymous
ftp. Thanks to the great generosity of CatStyle (Jason R. Heimbaugh)
and the Grate State of Illinois. The site name is cathouse.aiss.uiuc.edu
(126.96.36.199). The subdirectory is /misc/fun/urban.legends. For our
overseas folk, Haakon "YuNoHoo" Styri has also established a mirror site
at balder.nta.no (188.8.131.52). The subdirectory there is
/pub/alt.folklore.urban. Many thanks for their efforts.
THE MISAPPLIANCE OF SCIENCE
F.*You can make as much ice faster by starting with warmer water.
T.*Boiled water freezes faster than ordinary water at same initial temp.
T.*Hot water evaporates while freezing, producing 75% of ice in 90% of time.
F. A penny falling from height of Empire State building will embed in pavement.
[Yeah, yeah, if you check out Matt Groening's stuff in the _Life in Hell_
strips, you'll find a number of these.]
T. There is no truth to the rumor that James "T." Kirk's middle name is Terry.
T. Coriolis force affects fluids if you take incredible pains to isolate it.
F. Bath water drains the other way round in other hemisphere, due to Coriolis.
Fb.Microwaving your panties kills yeast infections (cold spots in oven...)
F. Coloring your CD's rim with (special) marker will enhance sound quality.
F.*CDs are the size they are because it could hold Beethoven's 9th symphony.
F.*People explode/boil/something in the vacuum of space.
F. Eelskin wallet demagnetizes bank cards (nope, but magnetic clasp might).
F. Daylight sky appears dark enough to see stars from bottom of deep well.
T. Venus and perhaps a few other bright stars/planets can be seen in daylight.
F. Bubbles in bubble wrap contain a cheap, but toxic gas.
U. East German secret police "bug" factory now uses skills to make hearing aids
F. Hot-drying acid-washed jeans "re-activates" the acid (Nope, but might shrink)
F. Ontario Hydro mandated poor installation,so copper fails as often as Aluminum
T. Fluorescent lamp will light up when held near high-voltage line.
T. You sure can raise bloody hell asking about physics/chemistry on AFU.
Tb.Fluorescent light will break down vitamins in clear milk containers.
F. Fluorescent lights leach vitamins from your body
Tb.Leather saddles used to be treated with llama dung to avoid scaring horses
Tb.The spec. for leather saddles got copied for leather jackets...
T. 3M "post-it" notes were invented & marketed as an unofficial project
T.*Subliminal messages in advertising are ineffective, but outlawed anyway.
["Media Sources and Business Legends" in TCD]
U. Filamentous phage M13 obtained from lab's letter rejecting the transfer!
T. Long term storage of paper in a PVC envelope is harmful (fumes degrade it).
T. Some combinations of metal tooth fillings can receive radio signals.
F. Printer/copier toner is carcinogenic. [But be careful about breathing it.]
F. The moon is larger near the horizon than up in the sky due to refraction.
T. The above is due to an optical illusion.
T.*Indiana House Bill #246 of 1897 would've set pi=3.2, killed in state Senate.
Fb.Some state (e.g., Kansas) once considered a bill setting pi = 3.
F. US and Russia won't destroy their cultures of smallpox for fear of bio- war.
F. Taking baking soda as an antacid is bad 'cause CO2 can rupture your stomach.
U. Hypnosis is a fake! Net says "Yes, no, zzzz". [But does remove warts.]
F. Flowers are bad in hospital rooms because they suck oxygen out of air.
Fb.People only use 10% of their brain capacity (whatever that means).
F. If the entire population of China jumped up at the same time: a) the Earth's
orbit would be disturbed, b) the entire US would be swamped by a tidal wave.
Fb.If all the Chinese screamed at the same time, people in the US could hear it.
U. This message is costing the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
T. There was a natural nuclear reaction in Africa long ago [NOT an explosion.]
F. Swimming right after eating will cause cramps and you'll drown.
F. Squeezing out the air from a partially consumed soda bottle will keep soda
from going flat.
F. There are workmen who died building Hoover Dam and were entombed in it.
F. I deleted all references to Kibo from the FAQ list.
F. There is a pillar in India made of metal found nowhere else in the world.
Tb.Tomatoes are not vegetables, they're berries. [Thanks, Scott C.]
Tb.Women workers in old watch factories got poisoning by licking brushes used
for applying radium compound to watch faces.
U. Deckard was a replicant.
F. Large telescope mirrors often become distorted due to glass flow.
F. You can see glass flow in the windows of old buildings.
Tb.MRI used to be called "Nuclear MRI", but "N" was dropped due to nuke fear.
T. Nobody came up with any good stuff on the origins of Daylight Savings Time.
THE 'PLANE TRUTH (WHAT GOES UP...)
T. 800ft diameter asteroid passed within 500K miles of hitting earth in 1989.
T. Confused pilots occasionally land on tiny strip short of correct airport.
T. F51D plane can flip due to engine torque. (A. Frisbie posted pilot's manual!)
Tb.US Govt fixed plane transponders always report positions (catch drug imports)
T. Airforce/manufacturers tests planes by firing chickens from special cannon.
Tb Cessna planes aren't sold in the US anymore due to threat of liability suits.
T. Beechcraft and Mooney still make & sell planes in the US however...
T. Pilot can discreetly signal a hijack by setting the transponder to "7500"
Tb.Leave flaps down when off the active as a request for armed intervention!!
F. The Great Wall of China can be seen with the naked eye from the moon.
T. Many manmade structures can be seen with the naked eye from Earth orbit.
F. Shuttle crew did secret experiment on how to make love in zero gravity.
Tb.Jet lag is exacerbated by alcohol consumption.
T. Parachute mishap brought down a Cessna (gently) on a novice's parachute.
F. Airlines use a gas to keep passengers mildly sedated and less troublesome.
U. Similar story as to why cabin pressure is lower.
Fb.Both pilots on airliner end up locked out of cockpit in lavatory mixup.
["Death and Danger in the Air" in CBA]
U. In 90% of plane crashes, the words "Oh sh*t!" appear on the flight recorder.
DOES NOT COMPUTE
T. Apple use a Cray to design hardware systems; Cray use an Apple...
T. Prodigy grabs large sectors of the disk, containing data from deleted files.
F. Prodigy slyly reads your disk & nefariously uploads your top secrets to IBM.
F. Stories about Seymour Cray's strange hobbies (annual boat burning etc).
F.*The FCC is proposing a modem tax (Nope, the proposal died in 1987).
T. Bill Gates has $750K Porsche 959 he can't use; no type compliance,no license!
U. New computer system "lost" a Montgomery Ward Calif warehouse for 3 years...
T. "q=q++;" is an undefined statement under ANSI C (same object modified twice).
T. Calling "#" a pound sign as in common US parlance really riles some folks up.
T. "#" is frequently referred to as a "hash" mark outside the US.
F. Russian/Chinese mechanical translator translates "out of sight, out of mind"
into "blind and insane". Also "Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"
as "the drink is good but the meat is rotten."
T. Terry Wood proved that it's not easy to shut down the net. (Although saying
that 'Lost in Space' was better than 'Star Trek' [TOS] comes close.)
U. IBM ordered a whole bunch of "THIMK" signs; but printer changed to "THINK".
Fb.Dave Manley will never get in the FAQ list.
T. "animal or vegetable shortening" on ingredients list == LARD
F. Hostess snacks (Twinkies, Cupcakes, etc.) aren't baked! They set,like jello
Fb.Twinkies eat mold... If mold grows on a twinkie, the twinkie digests it...
MYSTERIOUS MEDICAL MALADIES
U. Woman had "tree in the bedina" -- potato used as pessary, sprouted...
U. Woman had "Smiling Mighty Jesus" -- spinal meningitis.
U. Woman had "sick as hell anemia" -- sickle cell anemia
U. Woman named child "Nosmo King" after sign on delivery room door.
F. There is a special ward for "Newky Brown" addicts in Newcastle General
F.*Person's hair turns entirely white "overnight" from stress.
T. Some people sneeze when exposed to bright light ("photic sneeze effect").
Tb.You can catch diseases (crabs, lice, herpes, VD, etc) from public toilets.
Tb.Patient died when intravenously given Kaopectate.
U. FDA approval causes cancer.
U. Ed Zotti is Cecil Adams (or is it Cecil Adams is Ed Zotti?).
Tb.Drinking large quantities of deionized/distilled water over a long period
of time can screw you up due to ion imbalances.
F. Hair/nails continue to grow after death.
T. They appear to as the corpse shrinks.
F. Woman sees doc with irritated eye. Sez she a male stripper rubbed his pouch
in her eye. Doc nods, checks, and removes a louse from it.
F. "Ear lobe" repair is booming in NYC because thieves rip earrings off women.
F. Thugs hide under cars in malls and cut ankles of women returning to cars.
[Above two in TBT, forthcoming]
Tb.Rat(s) eat face of child while child is near adult in poor side of town.
F. An autopsy reveals big hairballs in lungs of a man who breathed in bits
of hair while he worked, and thus suffocated him.
F. Girl dies of big hairball in stomach from chewing on ends of her braids.
[Above two in "The Hair Ball" in TMP]
T. Fin-de-siecle Frenchman,Petomane,got rich farting as music hall act. Fartist.
U. Blowback (blowforward?) from ignited fart, singed frat-boy's intestines.
U. Vet cut vent-hole in cow's flank, lit escaping gases, burned down barn...
Tb.A patient's intestine explodes from cauterization during surgery due to gas.
T. A patient's intestine exploded during a colotomy.
STUPID ACADEMIA TRICKS
NOTE: Many university-based ULs are passed continually. Before posting, check
out the references below and in Appendix B of JHB's textbook which has a
survey of academe ULs by Barre Toelken.
T. Prof lists famous unsolved problems;student thought it was homework- solved!
(Student was George Dantzig.) ["The Unsolvable Math Problem" in CBA.]
Fb.Student cheats on exam, asks "do you know who I am?",jams paper in exam pile!
["Bluebook Legends" in TMP]
Fb.Professor jostled; misses watch; grabs back from jostler; later finds at home
[Variation of "The Jogger's Billfold" in TCD]
F. College roommate commits suicide, gets you an automatic "A" for courses.
["The Suicide Rule" in CBA.]
T. Student gets tuition $ by asking for $0.01 from each person via newspaper.
Tb.Students find rolled-up carpet; take and unroll in dorm room to find a body.
Fb.Student kills self during exam by putting 2 pencils in nose and hitting desk.
T. People's lawn gnomes/elves stolen; owners were sent letter/pics from exotic
locations with the ornament. ["Roaming Gnomes" in CBA]
T. Famous UL researcher misspells the subtitle of a Star Trek film in a book.
F. Two co-eds alone in dorm; one goes to study; other in room; roomie hears
heavy dragging sounds; blocks door; hears scratches; waits til morning;
opens door to find other co-ed with ax in head who was scratching for help.
["The Roommate's Death" in TVH and TMP]
Fb.Students buy a barber pole and drive the town. Stopped continually by police.
F. Girl is alone at home/dorm with dog; sleeps; hears noise and a dripping
sound; is frightened but reaches to dog and feels a lick; goes back to
sleep. In morning, finds dog hanged in shower and note under bed which
says "humans can lick too." ["The Licked Hand" in TCD]
Fb.Prof. gives "announced" quiz to surprised class after putting ad in paper.
Fb.Prof. allows students to "bring in what they can carry for exam"; student
carrys in a grad student" (variation on allowing use of "Feynman").
Fb.Prof. nails exam thief by cutting bottom 0.5" of exam to find longer answer.
Fb.Philosophy prof.'s 1 word exam: "Why?". "A" to student who replies "Why not?"
[Many, many variations].
Fb.Low grading prof. grades same exam in successive semesters; gives higher
grade each time. 4th time around (or so), writes: "Like it more each time".
Fb.Student submits 20 yr old paper for class; prof. gives "A"; says he always
liked it but he only got a "B" when he wrote it. [The above 6 are in
"College Con Artists and How They Operate" in CBA]
T. Prof Donald "Art of Computer Programming" Knuth's 1st publication was in
MAD mag. (MAD #33 "The Potrzebie system of weights and measures")
Fb.There are plans to erect a statue to Ted Frank at Rose-Hulman Inst. of Tech.
F. Frat holds blood drive. Some grossly high % of frat donors are HIV positive.
STUPID PEOPLE TRICKS
T.*Craig Shergold, UK cancer kid,sought postcards, overwhelmed with 33 million.
T.*Craig Shergold, UK health plan wouldn't operate;Kluge paid; tumor was benign!
T.*Lousy quality CS GIF courtesy of Phil Kernick available via anonymous ftp.
T. Craig Shergold's 13th birthday was June 24, 1992. From now June 24 is AFUday.
Tb.Craig Shergold lives in an "unsalubrious" section of town.
T. His name has been misspelled several times in various pleas.
T. But he sure as heck doesn't want or need any more cards now.
T. See _The Guinness Book of Records 1992_, p. 207.4 for his listing.
T. See 19 July 1990 _NY Times_ (p. 24), _People_ magazine 10 June 1991, p. 63.
T.*Check the afu anonymous ftp site for sources and references.
T. Cards that are sent to the hospital no longer go to him.
T. A variation of the above now includes a call for business cards.
[Classic American UL in this genre is "Postcards for Little Buddy" in CBA]
Tb.John Slater thinks Craig doesn't live in an "unsalubrious" area anymore.
U. Errol Flynn was invited to "black tie" party; went nude, except for black tie
T. Some beggars with "will work for food" signs are just extra sympathy scams.
T. People have been injured by rocking a vending machine that falls on them.
Fb.Man's house demolished after friend placed ad in paper for a joke.
Fb.US GI captures Iraqi soldier - they knew each other from Chicago.
F. Special chemical for swim pools, turns bright color on contact with urine.
F. "3 Men & a Baby" has a scene with a real ghost in it.
Fb.Wife sprays toilet with flammable bug spray, husband shits, smokes, explodes.
Wife sprays toilet with flammable hair spray, you know the rest, etc.
["Hilarious Accidents" in TMP. Variations in TVH.]
Fb*Aluminum ring pull tabs are collected & exchanged for dialysis machine time.
["Redemption Rumors" in TMP]
T. The Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, MN is collecting tabs for their
own kids needs as of 3/92. Thanks to Shawn Brawnhart, firstname.lastname@example.org,
E. David J. Tearns, and me for following up on this.
F. Chanting "Mary Worth" before a mirror summons dead spirit at slumber parties.
Related to famous La Llorona legend? ["I Believe in Mary Worth" in TMP]
Fb.Male athlete cheats drug test with wife's pee; test shows he's pregnant.
T. Infirm, elderly, obese alcoholics have set themselves on fire occasionally.
F. People occasionally spontaneously combust and burn to death. Whoompfh!
F. Cabbage Patch dolls are possessed by the devil.
F. Kid sends broken Cabbage Patch dolls sent back. Death certificate sent to her
["The Cabbage Patch Tragedy" in TMP]
Fb.Couple stays in odoriferous hotel room;informed next day of body in mattress.
F. Someone is crushed to death trying to shrink blue jeans by wearing in tub.
["Product Defect and Liability Legends" in TCD]
F.*Tourists' room is burgled, later finds snaps of "toothbrush up thief's ass".
Perry Pederson (email@example.com) claims to have seen such pictures
from his mother-in-law's Mexico vacation in June 1992.
F. Two guys see kid fishing; kid says fish aren't biting but worms are; on way
back; they discover kid slumped over; worms were baby water moccasins!
["The Can of Snakes" in TMP]
F.*Eskimos have some megaboss number of words for snow.
Fb.Child's foot/leg is amputated after pumping Reeboks shoes too tight.
F. Dr. C. Drew, a plasma researcher; bleeds to death when hospital turns him
(a black man) away. [Similar story with death of Blues great Bessie Smith.]
T. For some reason, some folks kill snakes by grabbing tail and "snapping" them.
T. "Chicken sexing" is big business. Started by Asian family.
T."little gator" S. Mudgett is mentioned in one of Cecil's books.
F. Folks find casks of wine in cellar of old house. Tap and drank from several
of them. Later, preserved body of original house owner found in cask.
[Body in the cask motif may find some basis in old story of Admiral Nelson
of Battle of Trafalgar. His body was shipped back in wine/rum cask. Upon
arrival in UK, cask was low/empty. "The body in the cask" in TCD.]
F. Boyfriend tells girlfriend they're through and she should pack up and out
while he goes on a long trip. He returns to find her gone and phone off
the hook connected to the "time" recording in Japan/some far away place.
["The Lover's Telephone Revenge" in CBA]
F. Helicopter fights forest fires by scooping water from lake. Charred body
of scuba diver found in ashes. ["Death and Danger in the Air" in CBA]
F. Ship captains, on their own authority, can perform marriages.
F. Fat person on ship/airline toilet has intestines sucked out due to vacuum.
U. Brian "Allah Mode" Scearce manages the "Hors de Combat" female mudwrestlers.
Fb.Some guy in a foreign country teaches the locals that a certain obscene
handsign (to him) was actually a welcoming gesture. Locals all pose for
pictures while making the gesture.
F. Woman on bus raises a man's hand and asks "Who does it belong to? It was
on my butt." Several red-faced men get off at next stop.
T. Jan Harold Brunvand's son, Erik, teaches at UU and even read a.f.u. Sheesh!
F. Halloween sadists randomly give poisoned candy to children.
T. A Texas child was poisoned by his father on Halloween in 1974.
[Above two are in "Halloween Sadists" in CBA]
F. Woman frequents tanning salons; develops funny smell; innards cooked!
["Curses! Broiled Again" in _CBA_]
T. A guy goes a-shooting at Saguaro cacti; hits one. It falls and kills him!
["The Plant's Revenge" in _CBA_]
F. Someone couldn't call for help because they couldn't dial the "11" in "911".
["Dial 911 for Help" in TCD]
T. Lots of people comment on the FAQ list without actually reading it.
Tb.People were frequently mistaken for dead and were buried alive.
Tb.Edison's last breath is kept in a jar in Michigan. (Well, sort of).
Tb.Elvis lives near Palo Alto, works for Sun, and speaks w/an English accent.
Fb.Co-ed loses tampon inside prior to blind date; worried; sees school intern;
is acutely embarrassed. Her date shows up; it's the intern!
Fb.Young man buys condom from pharmacist; in his embarrassment, boasts of his
date. When he picks her up, the pharmacist/dad answers the door!
["The Blind Date" in TMP]
F. Bride at big wedding thanks each person, then thanks groom for sleeping
w/maid-of-honor. Then throws bouquet, etc. ["The Bothered Bride" in TMP]
F. Kid in Michael Jackson's commercial breaks neck and dies from: breakdancing,
OD, hit by motorcycle. Kid is Alfonse Ribera. Rumored of many kids on TV.
[See "Michael Jackson's Dancing Partner" inTMP]
F. First 7 numbers on bar code of "Thriller" album is Michael Jackson's phone.
["Michael Jackson's Telephone Number" in TMP]
F.*Phil Collins' song "In the Air Tonight" is about a death witnessed by Phil.
T. Sheesh! This was even mentioned in _Parade_ magazine.
T. Crotch seam rivet in 1st Levi's dropped due to pain from standing near fires.
F. Several suburban white women visit big city. They nervously enter hotel
elevator which has a black man and a dog. He says "Sit Lady!" and they
all promptly sit on the floor but he was talking to the dog! [The guy
in question has been Lionel Ritchie, Reggie Jackson, and Eddie Murphy.]
F. Couple hires hippie-type babysitter. Later, mother calls and sitter says
everything is fine; she's stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven.
Mom worries since they don't have an turkey; parents rush home and find
that stoned sitter has (or is about to) put baby in the (microwave) oven.
["The Hippie-Babysitter" in TVH.]
F. "Clever" babysitter stops baby crying by holding its head in oven.
["The Clever Babysitter" in TMP]
U. A plain-Jane coed is invited to a special night out by a BMOC. As she
gets ready, has bad gas from lunch. Date arrives before she can get relief,
so plans to do so in car before he gets in. She does it, and quickly rows
down window. When date gets in, he says, "I'd like you to meet Tom and Mary
in the backseat." ["The Fart in the Dark" in TVH.]
Fb.Family visits wilderness park. They see bears and want to get "cute pictures"
of bear w/child so they smear honey on his cheek. Bear eats child's face.
F. Bride's father at wedding goes to pay band, but realizes wallet is missing;
has to take up collection from guests. While they watch a videotape of
wedding later, groom/'s father is caught lifting bride's father's wallet!
["Sex Scandals" in TCD]
Tb.Some guys who make $ recycling aluminum strip a house with new siding.
Fb.Bill Nelson was a big, dumb crew guy at MIT in the 60s.
Tb.People (mostly guys) have been electrocuted pissing on a subway's 3rd rail.
WHAT'S IN A WORD?
[Try checking out the OED and the Dictionary of American Regional English
for etymological history; _The Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang_,
by Eric Partridge (abridged by Jacqueline Simpson). Penguin books. For
you other types, there's always alt.usage.english.]
F.*The etymology of the 4-letter word "f*ck" is an acronym of old. [e.g.
"Fornication Under Consent of the King.]
T. Lord knows, there're lots of variations of initials/names for "Jesus Christ".
F. 'HAL' in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" was derived from letters for "IBM".
Tb.The expression "86" (to put the kibosh on), originated in 1920s diner slang.
P. This expression originated from Kibo's writing of a shell for Bell Labs.
T. A.J.Balfour appt'd Secretary Ireland by Uncle Bob.Nepotism? Bob's your uncle.
T. JF Kennedy said "Ich bin ein Berliner." Could be either "I am a native of
Berlin" or "I am a jelly doughnut." Berliners knew what he was talking about.
T. Hebrew was considered as official language of the US. [Guess what happened?]
F.*German was once within one or two votes of becoming the official US language.
T. Fijian on the AT&T ad says ""Bula vinaka, beachside!" ("hello, thanks").
T. Many languages don't pronounce foreign words/phrases as they really are.
Tb.US Civil War Gen. Hooker is the source for a common term for streetwalkers.
F.*Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet.
T.*Thomas Crapper did exist and made improvements to modern flushing mechanisms.
F.*The word 'crap' is derived from Thomas Crapper.
F. Otto Titzling invented the brassiere.
F.*The words to "Louie, Louie" are dirty. [Thanks to Maiko Covington for lyrics]
F. "Posh" is from "Port Out, Starboard Home" from Colonial English days.
T.*"Hamburgers" and "Frankfurters" are named after cities in Germany.
T.*"In like Flynn" is from Errol Flynn's acquittal on statutory rape charges.
T.*"Okay" is from Martin 'Old Kinderhook' van Buren and an weird fad.
Tb.Warren Burstein posted some urban legend stuff once or twice.
F. "Nylon" means or stands for something.
T. Dave Manley thinks in rot-13 mode.
F. Jack Kerouac wrote that "Pig" stands for "Protector of Immutable Government".
F. "Furrfu" honors Joel Furr. Sheesh!
HOW FIRM IS YOUR FOUNDATION?
F. Building is built backwards. Public criticizes; Architect commits suicide.
Tb.There have been buildings built backwards.
F. Various university libraries sink; books heavier than architect thought!
F. Same as above, but pool not library, weight of water, not books.
Ft.Lots of bldgs (malls, etc.) are sinking into the ground.
[See "Back to the Drawing Board--Some Architectural Legends" in CBA]
T. Some universities, cities are riddled with semi-secret utility tunnels.
T. Clouds and other weather can transpire in the upper parts of high structures.
Fb.RC Church building plans reviewed by Pope/Vatican; response was "we are not
angels"; plans had no loos!
Fb.Bldg collapses due to gas explosion from buried dead elephant under it.
T. Soldiers break step when marching over bridges (trivially observed).
U. Bridge falls down if soldiers don't break step when marching over.
Fb.Bridge falls down due to resonance if soldiers don't break step marching over
Broughton suspension bridge, England, April 14 1831, fell under soldiers
march, but prob just overloaded, not resonating. M Brader posted Times story!
F. Otherwise sound bridge falls down if soldiers don't break step marching over.
(There have been no documented instances of this)
KILL YOUR TELEVISION!
Fb."Newlywed Game" husband televised response that the strangest place they
made love was "That'd be the butt, Bob."
F.*The UK cartoon series "Cpt. Pugwash" had character names w/double entendres.
T. Woman has epileptic seizures upon hearing Mary Hart's [ET anchor] voice.
Tb.Parents get a video for children. Find it was recorded over old porn tape!
F. Johnny Carson said he'd pet Zsa Zsa's pussy if she'd move her cat.
F. JC said to Jack Nicklaus' wife that her kissing his balls before a golf game
must "make his putter stand up." [or was it Arnold Palmer and his niblick?]
F. JC gave out his AT&T card number for free calls since he won big settlement.
[Also said of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Sammy Davis, Jr, Robert Redford,
and Burt Reynolds.]
F. David Letter tells audience to say "Hi" to Paul Shaffer 'cause Dave's
contract says his butt can't be shown on TV.
[Above four from "Talk Show Tales - 'Dave's Behind' in CBA]
T. Charles Lasner still lives in the '60s.
F.*Kid tells Bozo the Clown to "shove it"/etc. after kid drops egg in game.
F.*BtC interviews kids on show. One kid says "Cram it, clown!" Is removed.
F.*Some kid's talk show host says "That ought to shut the little bastards up!"
on live TV/radio. [Above three from 'Bozo the Clown's Blooper' in TMP]
F. Soupy Sales was canned for telling kids to send him pieces of paper with
pictures of dead presidnts from their parents' dresser drawers on his show.
T. He was suspended for a week.
F.*"Blue star" or cartoon character (esp. Mickey Mouse) tattoos laced with LSD
is sold at schools