Xref: info.physics.utoronto.ca alt.answers:4829 alt.folklore.urban:164423 news.answers:30431
From: email@example.com (Terry Chan)
Subject: alt.folklore.urban Frequently Asked Questions [Part 2 of 4]
Date: 7 Oct 1994 21:00:30 GMT
Organization: Department of Redundancy Department
Expires: 31 October 1994
Reply-To: TWChan@lbl.gov (Terry Chan)
Summary: Urban legends supported, challenged and debunked
Please read before posting to AFU
7 October 1994
This is part two of the four part Frequently Asked Questions
list for alt.folklore.urban. This section contains various
administrative and other oddly interesting information
pertaining to AFU.
TWO NOTES TO NEW READERS:
- We encourage you to post any stories you suspect may be an UL. Funny
or whatever. Details matter! Please try to give as much as possible.
BUT, be advised that many of the stories in the FAQ have been hashed
over. If you wish to debate them, be prepared to substantiate your
- 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. Of course, there is no good reason why
doing so should be a capital crime (virtual or otherwise), though you
do leave yourself open to scorn, ridicule, and bad breath if you do
use them. BTW, it's no big deal. Get a life.
A NOTE TO OLD AND WOULD BE OLD READERS:
- If you must troll, bear in mind that trolling outside of AFU
is pretty weak.
The purpose of summarizing these frequently-seen legends is to provide
a guide to veracity and their experience in this newsgroup. Most ULs
cannot be traced back to original true incidents, but some, particularly
the more recent ones can be. There are ULs which may, coincidentally,
have a true manifestation, but a true manifestation does not deprive a
UL of its legendary status. However, since many if not most ULs are
false, where possible, I include a comment referring to a true incident,
subject to sufficient evidence, of course.
A DIGRESSION ON URBAN LEGENDS AND "FALSEHOOD"
Occasionally, there is a post to the effect of: "That actually happened
you st*p*d, f*ck*ng, b*st*rds, Jan Harold Brunvand is Polish, 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 thusly:
"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, _Curses! Broiled Again!_, p. 282
Veracity is interesting but far from the only thing when it comes to
the study of urban legends.
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_
Related newsgroups to consider when posting an article which may be
- 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?]
- alt.folklore.ghost-stories [Spooky!]
- alt.folklore.suburban [Joel Furr moderated, low-volume group.]
- alt.folklore.info [Terry Wood moderated, very low-volume group.]
- alt.folklore.military [What exactly is "Puff the Magic Dragon" about?]
- alt.fan.cecil-adams [For those who want the dope, straight or 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]
- rec.arts.startrek.misc [Anything about "Lost in Space" will do.]
NOMINATIONS FOR THE OFFICIAL MOTTO OF A.F.U.
[One free clue: if youse post with one of the following in your article,
youse takes youse chances in this newsgroup.]
"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 USE[less]NET 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
"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."
"My girlfriend has seen people doing this. Sources don't come more reliable."
"If you doubt this crap, Ive [sic] got a copy I could quote."
"I heard the story. It wasn't cocaine, it was a cat."
"Exaggeration makes a better story."
"Yup. I've heard that one too so it must be true."
"I didn't keep any references as I didn't think it would be a subject on AFU."
"I do not post speculation or bullshit to this newsgroup."
"Sounds like bullshit to me."
"I must say, with all due respect, the tone of your reply is typical of
much of the dialog that goes on on this network and newsgroup. Any
apparent weakness or oversight, real or not, becomes the occasion for
an attack on the basic intelligence of the person who reveals it -- in
this case the lecturer whose talk some fifteen years ago I sketchily
"I can't remember where I heard that, so it must be true."
"Your intuition is excellent, but another viewpoint could be helpful."
"...you're still wrong, even taking your pedantry at face value."
"Well, this has nothing to do with San Francisco or pus, but..."
"Yes a film of that does exist. Some kids I once knew in high school
once saw it."
"[f]rankly I couldn't give a fig what you all say, this happens[...]"
"Home address and plane fare on request, punk."
"If it isn't true, it should be, and if we could afford it, it would be."
"Why don't you just select your silly MOTTO and get on with it."
"i wasnt thinking...obviously this doesnt matter to my point..."
"I believe it because I have already heard other versions of it..."
"I'm extremely sceptical about this being an urban legend; after all,
the fellow who sent _me_ the letter is an attorney."
"If you mess around with a really great screw you're in danger of
losing your ass?"
AFU MAN OF THE YEAR
- B1FF (1990)
- STella (1991)
- Trelford Pinkerton (1992)
- Phil Gustafson (1993)
- Terry Chan (1994)
- Lee Rudolph (Reigning chump^H^H^Hampion)
SPECULATION ON CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK'S MIDDLE NAME
- "Tin-Plated Dictator with Delusions of Godhood"
OFFICIAL AFU MASCOT
- My pet King snake, Elvis
- Peter's pet dalmatian dog, Pixel
- snopes' pet cat, Snopes
- little gator's non-biological gator, harvee
- Cindy's pet troll, Steinar
- Nigel's pet human, Joel Furr
- Weasels! Weasels! Weasels!
HACK ETYMOLOGIES FOR THE WORD 'POSH'
- Puke On Shoes Here
- Port Out, Starboard Home
- Passed Out, She Hurled
- Post Office: Shergold's Hospital
- Pulmonary -- Oxygenated Supply to Heart
- Port Out, Sherry Home
- Prow Outward, Stern Homeward
OFFICIAL AFU PHOTOGRAPHERS
- Dan Wright and Patrick S. Clark
OFFICIAL AFU HATCHETMAN
- Ray "Not Dick" Depew
OFFICIAL FOOD OF AFU
- Chicken Mole'
- Red Velvet Cake
- Poinsettia salad
- Kentucky Fried Chicken
- little gator's Deep Sh*t Cookies
OFFICIAL BIG DIC OF AFU
- The OED or Winston Churchill (tie)
NOT THE OFFICIAL SONG OF AFU
- She Bop
The Frequently Asked Questions List has been maintained by Terry
Chan since July 1991. Its inception and spirit was due to the
efforts of Peter van der Linden in February 1991.
This Frequently Asked Questions List is a publication of AFU, Inc.,
a wholely owned subsidiary of Old Hat Enterprises, Inc. Please
contact Terry Chan at TWChan@lbl.gov or Peter van der Linden at
firstname.lastname@example.org for licensing and duplication rights.
Copyrighted 1991-94. All rights reserved by Terry Chan (email@example.com).
Energy and Environment Division | Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory |
Berkeley, California USA 94720 | No, please, after you...