Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Avoiding seriousness and going straight to Snopes.

I've already practically set my LiveJournal aflame with my unpleasant "anti-Obama" rant this week (which was not, really, what it seemed - long story short: I was called a bigot by someone who barely knows me simply because I said I would choose not to vote for Obama, were I an American citizen; that led to me flying off the handle and writing a scathing post that puzzled many of my actual friends, but it's all water under the bridge now. Anyone who knows me is smart enough to know that I choose not to live my life being racist, and I would certainly never dislike a political candidate - or ANYONE! - because of his heritage!). For that reason, I'm staying light and fluffy today. It's Wednesday, a.k.a. Hump Day, and we all know that there's nobody who doesn't need amusing linkspam when faced with that dreaded Middle-Of-The-Week fatigue.

Today's theme revolves around a collection of my favourite urban legends. On the very off chance there are some of you who aren't familiar with the Snopes.Com website, I shall enlighten you. Snopes is, arguably, the largest database on the 'net for urban legends of every kind, proving or disproving the authenticity of those annoying email petitions we all get forwarded to us, discussing age-old rumours about Richard Gere's "gerbil experience", debunking myths about 9/11 (and in some cases shocking us by proving they're true)... It's a goldmine of fantastic trivia and interesting information. If you've ever wondered, say, if Jane Fonda was in fact anti-military during the Vietnam War, Snopes is the place to go to find out the whole story, and from whence some of our most pervasive and accepted-as-fact urban legends really originated.

Enough of my blathering. Let's get to the list! (Note: Each link will open in a new window, just FYI.)

  • The Rabbit Test - why do we use the phrase "the rabbit died" when referring to a positive pregnancy test?

  • Facebook vs the FBI - the truth behind whether or not your computer can become infected with the Storm Worm virus via Facebook.

  • Charlton Heston's Basement - just how many guns did they pry from his cold, dead hands?? (Poor taste. I know. Sorry. Couldn't resist!)

  • A Teacher's Assignment Saves A Suicidal Student - this is among my favourites, and every teacher reading this should take note. You only think you're not getting through to them.

  • Is That A Condom In Your Hair? - There's a possibility that your new hairband is made outta rubber(s), folks.

  • Palatial Prison - If there really IS a prison that looks like a 5-star hotel, I'll confess to anything! Jail term = spa day!

  • Getting The Point(s) Of Canada's Flag - Someone took the time to count the points on our maple leaf and then announce that each one of the total 11 represents one of our provinces/territories. Can't say it ever occurred to me to study our flag that closely!

  • Angry Golfer: A Bad Sport, Indeed - There's a story going around about a golfer who got so angry about his lousy shot that he threw his club...and it hit him. Dead. Buh-bye.

  • Dear Google: PLEASE HIRE ME - Check out the amenities afforded to the staff of Google. Can these photos possibly be legit? Read and find out. (I know someone who works for Google. I wonder if they ever have Take A Friend To Work Day...?)

  • A List Of Old Wives' Tales - If you ever thought your grandmother was pulling your leg about certain things - like the "no swimming for one hour after eating!" rule, or the idea that bubble gum takes 30 years to digest (I myself was traumatized by this one for years) - you'll want to see where these adages originated, and whether there's truth to any of them.

  • Inboxer Rebellion: Enough With Those Stupid Forwards Already!! - I doubt there's anyone with an email address who hasn't gotten at least ONE message saying something like, "Forward this to 25 people, and Bill Gates will send you $1,000!" This Snopes entry explains just how dumb you have to be to actually believe those claims, and why.

  • Disarmed - Two guys take their arm wrestling a little too seriously, and...well, it's all fun and games until someone loses a limb. This can't possibly true...or is it??

  • This Goes Beyond "Break A Leg!" - How many actors have died right while they're performing in front of an audience? (And did the patrons get their money back?? What a rip-off!)

  • The DARWIN AWARDS - I love these. This link shows the 2003 list of honourees (for those who don't know, Darwin Awards are "given" to people who died/got injured/were arrested because of something incredibly stupid they've done; these morons prove Darwin was right about "survival of the fittest"). You can also find several other years' lists here, along with an explanation of which are real and which are not. Phony or legit, though, they're almost always hilarious. (Or maybe I'm just demented.)

  • Completely Freakish Tales - These stories range from things like the lawyer who fell to his death from a highrise building while doing a presentation on the safety of its windows, to a story about a kid who died from trying a new dance step (I assume it wasn't the Macarena, as I fail to see how that could be fatal), to the reported cases of people literally laughing themselves to death.

  • 9/11 Rumours - We've all heard them. Muslims being warned to avoid Lower Manhattan on September 11th. The winning numbers for the New York State Lottery that day were 9-1-1. Starbucks had to pull an ad campaign that was creepily reminiscent of the planes hitting the towers (and also charged rescue workers $130 for bottles of water). The people of Gander, Newfoundland flung open their doors and welcomed thousands of stranded Americans. A Canadian police officer was suspended for helping out at Ground Zero. Osama bin Laden is the owner of Snapple. So what's true and what isn't?? You'll be surprised.

  • Jack Benny's Eternal Gift - Is it true that the actor/comedian/musician arranged to have a single red rose delivered to his wife every day after he died?

  • A Little Boy's Gift Of Life - I admit, I cried the first time I read this (not knowing whether it was true or not; I don't think it matters, really). A little boy agrees to donate blood (or is it bone marrow?) to his very sick little sister, and mistakenly believes it will kill him to do it...but he does it anyway.

  • The "Glurge" Collection - I strongly recommend you read all of these, actually. "Glurge" is a term used for stories that are sickeningly sweet, or that have a heavy-handed moral to them. Again, though, you'll be surprised which are true and which are not.

  • Another One For The Teachers - A story about how one teacher's assignment still affected her students decades later.

  • Film Follies - Read about all of your favourite gossip that has swirled around people like Richard Gere, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson, Charlie Chaplin and more; get the truth about whether or not the set of "Three Men And A Baby" was haunted by the ghost of a dead child; find out if Toronto's cleaning crew managed to ruin a movie set that had deliberately been strewn with garbage...

  • HALL OF HORRORS! - The freakiest urban legends, some horrifyingly true, can be found here. Cannibalism? Check. Zombies? Check. Be prepared to laugh, and then shudder.

  • Risqué Business, Baby - All of the steamy, kinky, and often embarrassing tales passed down over the years are listed on this page. You can even read all about Mick Jagger and the famous Mars Bar incident. Might want to shield your screen if you're at work, though. (Especially if you read the bit about the vending machines in Japan that sell the already-worn panties of schoolgirls. Gah?)

How d'ya like DEM apples?? I could have gone on for hours, but now that you've been introduced to the wonderful world of Snopes, you'll be able to find your own way around. It's an easy site to get lost in, believe me. And you can always start your journey with the oft-changing Top 25 Urban Legends; I guarantee it'll lead you into hours of entertainment!

Feel free to leave me a comment here if you find one that I failed to list & is worth noting. You can also ask me about your Need To Know urban legends, and I'll do my best to find out how much of it is true! In the meantime, I hope I've provided a bit of amusement for you. 'Tis my mission, after all, to be The Entertainer.

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