No. 38                                                                                                                   December 1995







Tom Pettitt:  The Hampstead Hogs

David Scrimshaw: Political Legend in Sri Lanka



People-hunters as tourists

Loginus's spear

backwards x-rays: mis-diagnosis

birdseed prank at college 

hiker's death by icy drink 

lawns as witch prevention 

more escaped video

computer game-madman

biscuit bullets



Casper the Friendly Motif? 

more on Bill Gates = 666 

Highway 666

"Magic" card hysteria

attempted "witch" book ban



Mile-high club

Procter & Gamble fights back

baby in oven

moggy in washer

organ sales again

rumour mongers write book 

AIDS Mary in Ireland?



Secret sex messages in Disney

and on Renuzit

LSD tattoos 

Bodmin's beast and others

$250 cookies

Japan's "pet bottles" on lawns 

Roswell UFO autopsies 

Kurt Cobain's angel 


non-Mexican Pets



Radnor truth test 

milk-drinking statues 

Navaho message to the moon

Jesus in stars

bizarre suicide?

chopstick wrappers for wheelchairs

"Goat Sucker" in Puerto Rico



ISCLR Meetings in Bath in 1996

Student essay award announced










The Hampstead Hogs:  Internationalizing an American Legend

Tom Pettitt

English Department, Odense University, Campusvej 55, 

5230 Odense M, DENMARK



       The notion of alligators living in the sewers of New York is more a rumour (an assertion backed by validatory explanation) than a narrative (with beginning, middle and end), but it is certainly one of the more familiar of the contemporary legends, a classic instance of that contamination of our civilized world by the wild and beastly which quite a few of the more specifically urban contemporary legends seem to reflect. [Brunvand's chapter on "Dreadful Contaminations"  in The Vanishing Hitchhiker bears this out.]  And like others of its kind (insects in hair; rodents in food and drink) the contamination has a human agency:  the alligators are not survivors from the time when New York was an untamed forest, but have been through a domestic phase as pets brought back as young from the Florida everglades, only to be flushed down toilets when they get too big or troublesome.

       The story is unusual in having some claim to historical authenticity, in that there are more or less convincing accounts of alligators really being seen in the New York sewers, for example in the 1930's. [Brunvand, VH 90-98]  A historical origin would not diminish the legendary status of later narrations, however, and becomes in practice as well as in theory an essentially secondary consideration if and when it can be documented that the rumour is merely a (geographically and chronologically) local variant of a more widespread and longer-lived basic belief, of the infestation of urban sewers by an animal which belongs elsewhere, but which might plausibly survive and breed in the environment they provide. [On the "historicity" of urban legends, Sanderson, 6-10.]

       That documentation is to date (or rather to my knowledge) limited, but convincing, and mainly comprises two apparently independent accounts of a rumour circulating in London in the mid-19th century that the sewers of Hampstead were infested with pigs, descendents of a pregnant sow which lost itself in the tunnels and produced its young deep underground.  The latter thrived on the filth and garbage to be found there.  A background of plausibility is provided by the ubiquity of the back-yard pig, being fattened for bacon, in many parts of London (in North Kensington reputedly outnumbering humans three to one), and by the sewers issuing onto the London rivers through unbarred archways. [On the numbers of pigs in London, Stallybrass and White, p. 147.]

       What is probably the most familiar account stems ultimately from the Daily Telegraph of Monday 10 October 1859.  Shocked by a particularly distressing child-murder, an editorial acknowledges that London has grown to encompass many different worlds, whose inhabitants are scarcely aware of the others, or of which they entertained strange notions:

This London is an amalgam of worlds within worlds, and the occurrences of every day convince us that there is not one of these worlds but has its special mysteries and its generic crimes.  Exaggeration and ridicule often attach to the vastness of London, and the ignorance of its penetralia common to us who dwell therein.  It has been said that beasts of chase still roam in the verdant fastnesses of Grosvenor Square, that there are undiscovered patches of primeval forest in Hyde Park and that Hampstead sewers shelter a monstrous breed of black swine, which have propagated and run wild among the slimy feculence, and whose ferocious snouts will one day up-root Highgate archway, while they make Holloway intolerable with their grunting. [Cited in Boyle, p. 204.]

Thomas Boyle found the notion sufficiently striking and symbolically appropriate to provide the title for his meta-scholarly account of the murky depths of Victorian civilization, Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead (1990), but his discussion, while highly perceptive in this respect [see pp. 206-229], has nothing further to add on the legend as such, and does not link it to the New York alligator rumour.

       There is also a much more substantial and circumstantial account in Henry Mayhews' massive documentary account of big-city life, London Labour and the London Poor, based largely on direct observation of and interviews with its subjects.  Among the scavengers who make a living by collecting valuable or re-usable materials amidst the city's multifarious waste-products are the "Sewer-Hunters", who scour the sewers for coins, cutlery and other objects (II, 150-55).  Not surprisingly they had a considerable corpus of rumours and stories about this underworld, for example about men being lost in the passages, or attacked by rats, and these included "a strange tale"

of a race of wild hogs inhabiting the sewers in the neighbourhood of Hampstead.  The story runs, that a sow in young, by some accident got down the sewer through an opening, and, wandering away from the spot, littered and reared her offspring in the drain, feeding on the offal and garbage washed into it continually.  Here, it is alleged, the breed multiplied exceedingly, and have become almost as ferocious as they are numerous. [II, 154-155]

       Mayhew goes on to note that while the story may seem "apocryphal" it "has nevertheless its believers".  It was evidently told with a degree of validating explication, for example as to why the pigs could never find their way out of the sewers (pigs are obstinate, and will always swim upstream).  The author's general attitude, however, is sceptical:

What seems strange in the matter, is that the inhabitants of Hampstead never have been known to see any of these animals pass beneath the gratings, nor to have been disturbed by their gruntings.  The reader of course can believe as much of the story as he pleases, and it is right to inform him that the sewer-hunters themselves have never yet encountered any of the fabulous monsters of the Hampstead sewers.  [II, 155]

       That the two accounts, although chronologically close, are independent is suggested by differences in vocabulary (e.g. "hogs" versus "swine") and detail (Mayhew's pigs are not specified as black, and are ferocious rather than monstrous).  The matter of whether their grunting is audible above ground is probably an aspect (on which they anyway differ) added by the writers for effect.

       Identifying this analogue may offer some significant insight into the story of the alligators in the sewers, which can be placed in a typology of legends and rumours on a number of axes, depending on what is perceived as its central or fundamental feature.  At a superficial level, it might be seen for example as merely one among many accounts of alligators encountered in unexpected environments (like streams and ponds) outside their normal habitat. [See Coleman, 335-338.]  On another axis, the rumour is probably a variant of the notion of a threat of some sort lurking within drains and sewers or other underground tunnels, exploited to good effect in Stephen King's IT (1986).   

       The Hampstead pigs, however, suggest that a different perspective may be more significant, and in this are supported by a less well documented rumour from the mid-1970s of a race of fierce cats (like the alligators, pets flushed down sewers) thriving (on rats) in the sewers of Montreal.  (This rumour, Carroll says, was "reported by a young businessman in his late twenties." [p. 60]  The Hampstead pigs, conversely, undermine Carroll's Freudian interpretation which requires that the rumour essentially involve the plausibly phallic alligator.) 

       The range of beasts (in the forms we have and in the other analogues which I predict are out there somewhere) is nonetheless limited to those which could plausibly thrive in an environment of water, garbage and rats but which would not normally (unlike rats) be found there.  The range of environments is correspondingly limited to systems of waste disposal constituting a hidden world about which rumours can be told:  a pile of dung beside a medieval cottage could not provide the locus for such a legend; a cess-pit just might.  Indeed in the light of the remarks immediately following the legend itself may require a psychological environment in which human waste is removed from the scene as quickly as possible and disposed of out of sight.

       The circumstantial details (which city; what animal) seem to be less important than a basic idea involving a double symbiosis between man and beast:  a domesticated animal reverting to the wild given the opportunity of the wilderness-within-the-city provided by the latter's system for disposing of human waste.  As Peter Stallybrass and Allon White suggest, in the discussion which first brought the London variant of the legend to my attention, this is an appropriate image for the bestial aspect of our nature, and of the nature around us, which we have suppressed or expelled precisely to achieve our urban civilization, but which never quite seems to go away [147].  Stallybrass and White argue persuasively that this marginalized world insistently resurfaces, for example as carnival images and Freudian neuroses.  We might now add as contemporary legends, some of which may qualify as "urban" not so much by their setting, as by helping us to process the sense that the pre-urban, the un-civilized, the im-polite (insects, reptiles, or rodents; corpses, nudity, or farts; the diseased, the mutilated, or the insane) will always seek to return from the periphery. (As Camille shows, this sense seems to have been operative even in medieval urban environments, and reflected in the grotesques in the margins of medieval manuscripts.)



Boyle, Thomas.  Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead:  Beneath the Surface of Victorian Sensationalism.  London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990.

Brunvand, Jan H.  The Vanishing Hitchiker:  American Legends and  Their Meanings.  New York:  WW Norton, 1981.

Camille, Michael.  Image on the Edge:  The Margins of Medieval Art.  Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard U P, 1992.

Carroll, Michael P.  "Alligators in the Sewer, Dragons in the Well and  Freud in the Toilet."  Sociological Review 32 (1984), 157-174.

Coleman, Loren.  "Alligators in the Sewers: A Journalistic Origin."  Journal of American Folklore 92 (1979), 335-338.

Mayhew, Henry.  London Labour and the London Poor, 2d ed, 1861- 62;  rpt. London: Cass, 1967.

Sanderson, Stewart.  The Modern Urban Legend.  Katharine Briggs Lecture 1.  London:  Folklore Society, 1982.

Stallybrass, Peter, and Allon White.  The Politics and Poetics of Transgression.  London:  Methuen, 1986.


[My thanks to Professor Lars Ole Sauerberg for bringing Thomas  Boyle's study  to my attention, and to Henrik Lassen for other references. - TP]



Legends About Local Politicians: Sri Lanka

David Scrimshaw

189 Lebreton Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7H7 CANADA


[This was originally posted on the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.suburban.   I'll try to get a copy of the note by Arthur Goldstuck, mentioned here, for next FTN -- PH]


       Since Arthur Goldstuck has reported some great contemporary legends about Nelson Mandela, I am put in mind of a series of legends about H.E. Ranasinghe Premadasa, the former President of Sri Lanka.  I lived in Sri Lanka for ten months in 1992.  Shortly after I arrived I started hearing stories about how superstitious he was.  The official spelling of Sri Lanka had been changed to Shri Lanka (this part is true) because the President's astrologers had advised him that "Sri" was unlucky for him (I have no idea how true this is, but well-educated, well-connected people told me it was true.  The presidential astrologers were said to drive around town in limousines.

       Then there was a joke.  The astrologers told the president he would have to take a bath in milk attended by seven virgins.  He did this but then it was discovered that one of the virgins wasn't a virgin.  The astrologers advised that the only remedy would be to take another bath -- this time in flower blossoms.  He did this, but one of the blossoms contained a bumble bee which stung His Excellency on the Presidential Privates.  His wife ran to the physician.  "Doctor, quick, give him something for the pain, but ... leave the swelling alone."

       The idea that H.E. might need some luck didn't seem far-fetched.  He'd overseen one of the most brutal campaigns of repression in today's world.  In the late 'eighties, there were more "disappearances" in Sri Lanka than in the rest of the world combined.  Premadasa had (it would seem) assassinated any political rivals who began to be too popular.  But he still seemed to be embattled on all sides and the civil war in the North and East wouldn't go away.

       Towards the end of my stay it got really weird.  Rumours of children being abducted started to spread.  Everyone knew of a friend who lived in another neighbourhood who knew someone whose young daughter had been taken on her way home from school.  The explanation for these abductions was that Premadasa had taken one of these milk baths with the virgins and, yes, one of them wasn't a virgin, but this time the cure was he had to make human sacrifices of a hundred or more virgins.  At first the story was that it was only girls, but then it became both girls and boys.  Children under thirteen were at risk.

       Parent began accompanying their children everywhere.  The woman who kept my house clean was late for work for two weeks straight.  Every day she had new details to add.  Meanwhile the newspapers had stories every day warning people not to spread rumours and informing them that there were no kidnappings.  I'm confident that there were no abductions.  I was doing volunteer work with some of the human rights agencies who were trying to get investigations into some of the 10,000 "disappearances" and they had no evidence that Colombo schoolchildren were being abducted.

       One day our housekeeper showed up on time.  There was no longer a need for concern;  the abductions had stopped.  Premadasa had sacrificed his required number of virgins and did not need any more. 

       H.E. Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed in a May Day suicide bombing about six months after this.






Hunting Human Beings

Adrienne Mayor

55 Aiken Ave., Princeton, NJ 08540 USA



       Has anyone heard of the following story causing outrage in Greece this past summer (1995)?  A friend of mine was in Delphi for a conference and it was all anyone could talk about.   According to my friend, an Italian tour operator was jailed this summer for leading bus tours to Bosnia.  Hunting tours.   Hunting for humans.  Basically, he would drive his van or jeep or bus, whatever, to a particularly chaotic war-torn area, to allow the tourists who had paid for the opportunity to shoot a human being for the thrill and without ever getting caught.  The US couple who related this tale believed it and were horrified.  But the more we discussed it the more skeptical we became.  We recalled the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" and the movie "The Naked Prey" (an Italian film, I think) which has the same theme, as well as the recent news item in the NY Times about a War Tourism agency based in New Hampshire that takes people (armed with cameras) to experience wars in third world or collapsing Soviet countries.    Have you heard of this story?


Alan Mays comments:

       Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is a frequently reprinted 1924 short story about General Zaroff, who has "one passion in life -- the hunt."  When famous big-game hunter Sanger Rainsford falls overboard and ends up on Ship-Trap Island, he finds himself the object of Zaroff's latest hunt.  Rainsford spends days on the run from Zaroff and his dogs, finally fooling the general into believing that he committed suicide [Reader's Digest (May 1980): 124-29].

       The Naked Prey is a 1966 film directed by Cornel Wilde in which a hunter, the leader of a nineteenth-century South African safari, is set free to serve as prey for jungle tribesmen after they kill the other members of his party.  After days of battling his pursuers and struggling to survive in the jungle, the hunter finally makes it to the safety of a fort [The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures: Feature Films, 1961-1970  (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1976): 754].

       Bill Sautter, "Bang for the Buck," New York Times Magazine (17 Sept. 1995): 24, describes War Tours Ltd., a Nashua, New Hampshire, company that for about US$6,000 "promises clients front-line battle exposure, including being shot at and viewing the effects of heavy artillery."  Destinations have included areas of armed conflict around the Indian Ocean and in the former Soviet Union.



Spear of Longinus

Ted Daniels, Millennial Prophecy Report,

Box 34021, Philadelphia, PA 19101-4021 USA



I'm looking for information about the legend, current at least in the Catholic Church, that the soldier who stabbed Jesus was a certain Longinus.  I've seen material claiming that the spear survives and in fact was the talisman largely responsible for Hitler's unaccountable rise. 



X-Rays Backwards

John P. Bushby, Department of Engineering Systems

Huddersfield University, Queensgate

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD1 3DH, United Kingdom

Email: "Bushby"<>


       Routine chest x-rays are a requirement of membership of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), for the sport often referred to as SCUBA diving in other countries.  If the result of the x-ray reveals nothing to suggest unsuitability for diving, a doctor will provide written confirmation of the fact, which is then passed on to BSAC.

       The x-ray in question was performed at the premises of a private radiologist.  After the film had been developed, the doctor asked the customer to remove his shirt for another chest x-ray.

       Understandably this caused him quite a degree of concern which was heightened when, after the second exposure had been completed, the diver was asked into the doctor's office.  The doctor held up the x-ray of a person who had a pacemaker, making it easy for the doctor to point out the position of the heart.  Holding up then the man's own x-ray, the doctor showed how his heart was on the opposite side.  He went on to explain the condition was not dangerous but that such people inevitably had their other organs reversed as well.  This knowledge might prove important at some time in the future.

       Relieved, the diver returned home and lost no time in telling friends and relatives about his discovery, only to receive a phone call later that evening from the doctor.  He apologized and said his nurse had placed the x-ray film in the holder the wrong way round on both occasions;  the man's organs were normally placed.

       This story has been discounted as ludicrous by at least one member of the medical profession who claimed to have heard similar tales previously.  Both film and holders are apparently designed to prevent their incorrect insertion.

       In this case, I can provide the name of the doctor, the address and even the date, since the man concerned is known to me and still possesses the receipt.  However, only the doctor himself could provide proof, since he (presumably still) has both x-rays.



Birdseed Prank

Alan E. Mays


       This story has appeared on a number of different discussion lists over the last few months.  This particular text (very similar to others) was posted on the UGA Humor List ( by Ian Chai ( 20 August 1995: 

An MIT student spent an entire summer going to the Harvard football field every day wearing a black and white striped shirt, walking up and down the field for ten or fifteen minutes throwing birdseed all over field, blowing a whistle and then walking off the field.  At the end of the summer, it came time for the first Harvard home football game.  The referee walked onto the field and blew the whistle, and the game had to be delayed for a half hour to wait for the birds to get off the field.  The guy wrote his thesis on this, and graduated.

Brian M. Leibowitz, author of The Journal of the Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery, and Pranks at MIT (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Museum, 1990), reported in a posting to alt.folklore.urban that this prank is not one that he came across during research for his book chronicling the fabled pranks perpetrated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology students over the years.  Another poster suggested that MIT had no department accepting theses on animal behaviour.

       Has anyone encountered the story?



Death by Iced Water: Bosom Ice-cube?

Michael Borek in Vancouver, British Columbia, contributes a story he is interested in.   He writes:

In the fall of 1991, when I did my B.C. hunters' certification course, the instructor mentioned a tale of a chap who drank from an icy-cold stream, later died, and during the autopsy was discovered to have a block of ice in his stomach and/or intestines.  The ice was given as the cause of death!  The instructor told the story as if he believed it.  I just thought, "What an arsehole," and ignored him.  He gave no reference.

Has anyone heard this story?  It seems to be fueled by the fact that running water can, like salt walter, be below freezing, but it also seems to be fueled by an (urban?) lack of outdoor experience.   It certainly parallels the various "Bosom Serpent" legends in which someone typically drinks from a stream and picks up an internal infestation of snakes. Paul Smith and Gillian Bennett list about sixty references for the Bosom Serpent in their Contemporary Legend: A Folklore Bibliography (New York:  Garland, 1993).



Lawns Prevent Witches

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive,

St John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8



       Along the lines of the popular belief in recent years that the phrase "rule of thumb" springs from an alleged law that men might beat their wives with sticks no larger than their own thumb, I've heard an explanation of mowed lawns.  The explanation was given to me by a young (early twenties) member of a St John's women's spiritualist group (of the "wiccan" sort, though that name is avoided by its members).  She told me she understood that during the witch-hunting years of the 17th century laws were passed in the United States requiring citizens to mow their lawns.  This allowed officials to see whether or not herb gardens were being cultivated.  If herb gardens were present on a property, they would be evidence of witchcraft.

       Reports of any cognate versions would be appreciated.


New Escaped Video Legend

[Michael Borek, in Vancouver, B.C., contributes a piece originally posted in late October 1995 to the RISKS computer List (which is distributed to the Usenet group comp.risks).  RISKS is a moderated digest which may be subscribed to at   Posted to RISKS by someone with initials PGN, it reads as follows.]

       An article by Brian McGrory entitled "E-Mail as evidence" in the Boston Globe,  19 October 1995, p. 1  (the article discusses this and also the issues about companies' right to read employee E-mail)  had the following anecdote, which seems made for RISKS:

       ... A high-level executive with a Manhattan health company had a new technology that allows users to tape themselves with a tiny camera built into their monitor, send it through the system, and have it appear on the recipient's screen as a talking, moving image [sounds like a Connectix camera on a Macintosh to me -- PGN].

       One night, arriving at her hotel, she flipped open her portable computer and began recording such a message.  Sitting before her laptop in the privacy of her room, she teasingly disrobed, performed what a corporate lawyer later would describe as a "shimmy," and purred to the intended recipient, a fellow married colleague, "Hurry to the hotel and here's what you get tonight."

       Problem is, she struck the wrong button on her computer, and the video flashed on the screens or more than 400 employees throughout her health company --  subordinates, bosses and people who had never met her before.

The article goes on to describe how bootlegged copies of the message were distributed around the company, and appeared on floppy disks sold at computer fairs.


[ Contributors to later issues of RISKS discussed the ease with which something like this can happen and in the 25 October 1995 issue of RISKS a second-hand story is told of a very similar thing happening during the development of the Internet technology of live local views.  A camera normally aimed out a window was aimed at a bed and what happened in the bed became available to be seen from all the Internet.  Through the month of October 1995, contributors to the Usenet group alt.folklore.internet had a continuing discussion of private email going public to the embarrassment and consternation of the correspondents.   See also Dennis Kneale's article in this issue's Recent Publications.  The Manhattan executive's story also  parallels closely many of the escaped home videotape stories, documented by Brunvand in The Baby Train (NY: Norton, 1993, pp. 61-63).  -PH]



Made Mad by Computer Game


Originally posted to the usenet newsgroup comp.society.folklore, 28 February 1995.  As this was posted without the author's full name,  I tried to contact the email address above, but to no avail.] Comp.-society.folklore is "a moderated newsgroup for serious discussion of computer history and folklore."


Subject:  Dangerous Computer Games ‑‑ a TROO (tm) Story

       This was not told to me in the context of an urban legend, but it has all of the makings.  A friend of mine used to work at a computer store  in Virginia Beach, and he says he was there throughout the incident,  which happened a couple of years ago.

       Sometime in the mid-eighties, a computer game came out for several computers called "Alternate Reality, the City," by Electronic Arts.   Anyone who's played it probably has a warm spot in their hearts for the game; the graphics were excellent, the adventure‑style gameplay was most compelling, and there was actually custom, well-written music as you played.

       One of the several unique features of the game was that you really didn't have a major objective other than staying alive and gaining strength;  you could go through your daily activities at ease -- explore, fight, etc., and never "finish" the game.  Some gamers I knew grew bored with it fairly fast, others kept playing for months.  The game was written such that new installments would be published and added as time went on.  Unfortunately, only one add‑on game was written, "The Dungeon," and it wasn't ported to as many platforms;  I never was able to get it for mine.

       Anyway, this friend of mine was working at the computer store when an overweight but normal‑seeming young man came in, and asked to buy a new computer, right then and there.  He wanted an Amiga, and he had a special request:  the sale was contingent upon being able to take it home with the game "Alternate Reality, the City" ready for playing.  This turned out not to be easy, since the Amiga's OS had been updated, and the game was no longer playable.  They also hadn't stocked the game for years.  Fortunately they were able to come up with a used copy of the game, and modify the machine to be compatible.  The young man pulled out a wad of cash, paid, and eagerly carried off the new system.

       About a week later, the young man's parents came to the store, and told them that they would have to return the computer system.  They said that their son had an unusual mental problem where he was normal most of the time, but when he started playing this particular computer game, he became completely absorbed.  He would skip meals, stop bathing, miss appointments, and ignore everything to the point of losing his health.

       They apologized, but claimed that they had a court order prohibiting any computer store to sell a computer and this game to their son, and that their son had tried the same thing at several other area stores.  On hearing this, the store accepted the used merchandise and refunded the money with their regrets.

       Well, that's the gist of it, quoting from memory.  I'd be interested in knowing if similar tales have gone out (aside from "D&D Suicide Pacts").  If this same youngster has pulled the same act more than once, chances are that word has gotten around.  And if it is (gasp) a UL, well, have at it!



"Biscuit Bullet" Stories Wanted

Jan Brunvand, Department of English, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA



       A woman is seen parked in a supermarket lot in the hot sun, slumped over the steering wheel of her car, her hand held to the back of her head.  A passerby offers help and is told, "I've been shot;  my brains are coming out the back of my head!  Call an ambulance!"

       The passerby rushes back to the store, dials 911, returns with the manager, and soon the police and an ambulance arrive.  Investigation reveals that a package of chilled biscuit dough has exploded in the heat, the metal top and the top biscuit striking the woman in the back of her head.  She had heard the pop, felt the blow, fingered the dough, then jumped to the wrong conclusion.

       Details vary:  place of incident, gender of helper, brand and type of biscuit dough, supposed reason for the attack, aftermath, etc.

       I am collecting texts and variations of this story, dated, if possible.  It seems to have been particularly popular in the Midwestern United States this past (very hot) summer and early fall (1995).  I will appreciate, and acknowledge, any further versions or information received.






Casper the Friendly Motif?

Bill Ellis

Pennsylvania State U, Hazelton, PA, USA



       I wonder how many folklorists went to see the current hit movie Casper the Friendly Ghost with their antennae on alert.  The storyline itself isn't much like traditional ghost stories (it spends a lot of time on some Victorian machine that somehow turns ghosts back into living humans).  But it does include some nice bits of folklore.  The opening scene is part of a legend‑trip, in which two high‑school kids slip into Whipstaff Manor, the local haunted site, then argue over who will take the photo that will prove that they went.  The argument ends when the camera is snatched from their hands and a voice says, "I'll take the picture!"

       And there's a "Big 'Fraid and Little 'Fraid" (AT1676A) moment when a preppie girl, intent on breaking up a party in the Manor, puts on a ghost outfit and looks smugly in the mirror, saying "This will freak them out!" Whereupon a real ghost looks over her shoulder and says, "Wanna bet?"

       But my favourite moment is the last scene, where Casper, having heroically given up his last chance to return to life, is rewarded by an angel with a few minutes of mortal existence.  Transformed into a rather handsome young teen, he arrives at the party being held downstairs. There Cat, the movie's 12‑year‑old heroine who has befriended the ghost, is sitting sadly by herself because, as the weird new girl in town, no one will dance with her.  The now‑human Casper walks smoothly up to her, takes her hand, and they have a rapturous slow dance together. Eventually the rest of the dance party turns to stare at them because, it turns out, they are both dancing a couple of feet above the floor.

       The clock strikes ten (the end of Casper's allotted time), and in the middle of a kiss, he turns back into a semi‑transparent ghost.  The rest of the party, dumbstruck, stares at them until Casper (who's been portrayed as always a little embarrassed at the reaction he gets from humans) says, "Uh...  boo?"  And with a collective scream the entire crowd races, leaps, and dives out of the mansion in a panic.

       How many folklorists recognized this whole episode as a close comedic transformation of G303. The Devil Haunts Dancehalls and its subsequent motif siblings?   The two narratives follow an identical format:  1) girl feels neglected at a dance;  2) a supernatural entity greets her and they dance together;  3) at the end of the dance he transforms, and his uncanny nature is obvious to the whole party;  4) they race out of the dancehall in a panic.  I was amused to find that even the motif of the two floating in mid‑air appears in some traditional versions of this story, e.g., the first text in Maria Herrera‑Sobek's "The Devil in the Discotheque" in Monsters with Iron Teeth  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic P, 1988): 148.

       And interestingly, there is a moment in the dance when Cat recognizes with whom she is dancing, and Casper says, wistfully, "Can I keep you?"   This bit was noted by one movie critic who was disturbed by the movie's slightly sinister moments that played with early teens'  fascination and even attraction to death.  One wonders what he would have thought if he'd realized that there is a pretty widespread "satanic" version of this episode.



More on Bill Gates = 666

Bill Ellis, Penn State U, Hazelton, PA, USA



       Here's another -- somewhat tongue-in-cheek -- variation of the Gates = 666 rumour (see FTN 37:  11), with an addendum new to me.  Again, watch out for that slippery shift between counting ASCII values and numerical values.  It comes to me from John Kane (

  ‑ ‑ The original email note follows ‑ ‑

Subject:  It figures.

       The real name of "the" Bill Gates is William Henry Gates III.   Nowadays he is known as Bill Gates (III), where "III" means the order of the third (3rd).  By converting the letters of his current name to the ASCII‑values,  and adding his (III), you get the following:

  B      I       L      L         G     A     T      E     S       III

  66 + 73 + 76 + 76   +   71 + 65 + 84 + 69 + 83   +   3   = 666  !!

       Some might ask, "How did Bill Gates get so powerful?"  Coincidence?  Or just the begining of mankind's ultimate and total enslavement???  YOU decide!

  M     S       ‑      D      O     S    <sp>   6      .      2      1

  77 + 83 +  45 + 68 + 79 + 83 +  32 +  54 + 46 + 50 + 49 = 666

  W      I      N     D     O    W     S      9      5   1.00

  87 + 73 + 78 + 68 + 79 + 87 + 83 + 57 + 53   +1 = 666



Navaho Council Doesn't Like Highway 666

John J. Kane,

New Hampshire Skeptics Society



       The American network television programme Hard Copy carried a report on 30 October 1995 that a local Navajo tribal council is considering petitioning the government to have U.S. Route 666 renumbered.  A high DWI [Driving While Intoxicated] accident rate and alcohol-related death toll has focussed attention on the road as a "highway of death."  A minority of locals have classic 666-phobia, and some native traditionalists blame the way the exit numbers run anti-sunwise, but more people are just fed up with the barbs and snickers about the number and want it to end.  Opinion is divided on whether the road will become safer with a new number.  [See also the article by Jim Carlton, cited in this issue's Recent Publications. - PH]



"No" to Witch Book Ban

According to a Canadian Press wirestory in the St. John's Evening Telegram ("School Board Won't Ban Witchcraft Book," 15 July 1995: 11) the school board of Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, discussed banning a novel for adolescents on the grounds of its promoting the wiccan religion.  In the book "a teenager with an alcoholic parent ... receives help from an aunt who is a practitioner of wicca."  The campaign against the book was led by Heather Stilwell, a former president of the (rightist) Christian Heritage Party. The board rejected her argument by a tie vote.



Magic Fantasy Game Panics

John J. Kane, New Hampshire Skeptics Society



    In a revival of the anti‑Dungeons&Dragons hysteria of the 1980s, the opponents of the fantasy genre and of wargaming have turned to the trading card game "Magic:  The Gathering" and identified it as a Great Threat To Delicate Youth.   Teens often spend large amounts of money on the card packs, which can be  bought in increments of $2 and occasionally contain rare cards.  A deck can be carried in a pocket, and a two‑player game takes only minutes.  Obsession with Magic burns up large amounts of money and time;  hence, legitimate parental complaints.  However, such complaints often mask phobias about a "game of violence" with "morbid imagery" dealing with "Black Magic", demons, etc.   The game IS based on magical combat between  dueling wizards, but its material is drawn entirely from literary fantasy.  

    The dislike of the game seems to be a mix of "it's an antisocial activity", "these kids are immersing themselves in violence", and "the game is demonically inspired".  Some of the groups opposing Magic     are allied with the Christian Coalition, including the Pound Ridge group covered in an article by David Corn "The Devil and Mr. G[ingrich]") The Nation Magazine 10 July 1995.  Some draw from the campaign against violent entertainment and have nonreligious roots.

    There has been little formal study so far, and no analysis of the  development of arguments against the game.  For an understanding of the  game itself, and the social environment of the national Magic gaming  community, the industry magazines Duelist and Pyramid are found in most baseball card and comic shops, which are listed in the Yellow Pages of many towns and cities.

    The designers, Wizards of the Coast monitor outbreaks.  Being at the front line, they receive accusing letters and biblical extracts from concerned parents and others. They have a  number of cases on file, and are prepared to provide source material on  incidents such as these:

April 1995, Concord N.H., Beaver Meadow elementary school:     In early April, an irate father who had just become aware of his sixth-grade son's involvement in Magic rallied a group to demand that the school  bar the game from school.  "To me this is the Devil," he was shown saying  on a Channel 9 TV news segment (with a closeup of horned Demonic Tutor card).  "To me it's  an introduction to Satanism, and I'm not happy with it."  This was followed  by four nasty articles in the Concord, N.H. Monitor, but media interest tapered  off after about three weeks.  There appeared to be no direct church  involvement, and the father and his supporters seemed only mildly  religious, and more concerned about links to "satanic" deviant  social/criminal activity.  He softened his position after a co‑worker  who was a Magic player explained the game's background and assured him  of the relative normality of the players.  

The Patent Trader  (of Pound Ridge, N.Y.) on 6 April 1995 carried another story.  A couple of "concerned moms" named DeBari and DiNasi  demand that Magic be banned from their kids' school.  They say, "It's a  destructive game and it pits evil against evil.  It calls on players to  do things like sacrificing."  School puts 30‑day ban on Magic pending  investigation.  Independent psychologist concludes that the game isn't  harmful.

This case is still pending. There's another big outbreak of foolishness  planned for November 21st.

 In Philadelphia, PA. , 13 September 1995, Caleb Fairley,  a 21 year old gamer, killed a mother and her daughter who stopped to buy baby clothes in his mom's shop.  He commits indecencies  with the mother's body and dumps the child's body somewhere else.   "Fairley kept to himself, staying in his room with vampire's costumes and outfits from Dungeons & Dragons."  Magic cards were found in his room and  for a while the papers in Philly were going to take up the Satanic Game angle.  They gave up and decided that Caleb's necrophilia would make a  better story angle.

 More information about the game itself, its distribution, and the panics is available from Jeff Harris, Wizards of the Coast, Box 707, Renton,  WA 98057 USA (email:



More Trading Cards

The American Realist Company (Box 95945, Hoffman Estates, IL 60195-0945 USA) has recently released a pair of trading card sets, each with forty cards (at US$15/set outside the USA, US$11 in the USA).  They are called "Myth or Real" and are based on "30 years of research by Loren Coleman, author of Mysterious America."  The cards include ones on Springheel Jack, the Loch Ness monster, the New Jersey devil and "places with devil names."





Mile-High Clubs

The mile-high clubs of legend may have come into being.  According to an item included in the 15 August 1995 edition (#38) of News of the Weird, under the heading "The Entrepreneurial Spirit," a service is now offered in at least four American cities by which a couple can rent an airplane in order to have sex while flying.  The cities are Hayward and Santa Monica, both in  California, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Meriden, Connecticut.  The hourly rates range from $199 to $279.


Procter & Gamble Fights Back

An Associated Press wirestory (carried in the Toronto Globe and Mail, 24 August 1995, p. B7:  "P&G Files Suit over Rumours") notes that an Amway salesman in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been sued by Procter and Gamble  for spreading devil worship rumours about the company.  They claim that he used Amway's voice-mail system to distribute the rumour to other Amway salespeople.  Amway dissociated itself from the rumours and offered to work with P&G to stop the rumours.  A P&G spokesman said that for fifteen years "people associated with Amway have played a role" in spreading the rumour.

       Michael Preston posted to the FOLKLORE Discussion List an appeal for any new reports of this rumour.  His address is Box 226, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309 USA.  His email address is



Baby Not Harmed By Waves

An Associated Press wirestory printed in the St. John's Evening Telegram, 7 June 1995 was titled "Man Accused of Putting Baby in Microwave." Datelined Bridgeport, Michigan, in the United States, it told of 22-year-old Gerald Salais who disciplined his 22-month-old daughter Jessica by stuffing her into his mother's microwave oven on 28 May.  "The over was not turned on and it was unclear whether the father intended to do so."  Jessica was bruised but otherwise not seriously harmed.  Bail was set at $5000.



Puss Not Harmed By Wash

A small item in the Guardian (7 October 1994) is entitled "Wash-day Kitten Comes Out Clean."  She needed a cleaning and a four-year-old put her there.  She was safely extricated from the locked (mid-cycle) washer by a fireman.



More Organ Sale Rumours

An Associated Press wirestory datelined Durango, Mexico ("Organ Sales Rumored in Mexico Baby Deaths," 12 June 1995) details the case of sixty-one baby deaths at a Mexican hospital and the belief by some parents that an organs racket was organized by the hospital staff.  An official investigation into the deaths found the hospital and its region are medically under-equipped and that poor staffing, too, was a contributing factor.


Rumour Mongers

       According to an Associated Press wirestory printed in the St. John's Evening Telegram 21 October 1995 ("Rumors of squirrel meat as dog food denied," datelined Austin, Texas), two brothers have made a habit of "tweaking humorless companies" with reports of false rumours.  Their most recent tweak was of Ralston Purina whom they told a rumour was circulating that the company was about to release a new dog food product called "Squirrel Blend."  Ralston Purina's letter humourlessly denied the rumour.   The brothers, James and Stuart Wade, have put together a book about such contacts between them and corporate America.  The title (Drop Us a Line ... Sucker), but no publisher, is given.


AIDS Mary in Ireland

A story in the Guardian (13 September 1995, p. 2) by David Sharrock and Maggie O'Kane ("'Aids Revenge' Shocks Ireland") reports a priest's claims that an HIV-infected woman had infected "up to 80 men" all from the same school.  The priest made the claim from his suburban pulpit in County Waterford on Sunday 10 September.  A few days later he was publically reprimanded by his bishop.  The priest then  told the press that he was "110 per cent certain that this is true."  Health officials and AIDS groups played down the rumour.  See also the article by Frank Johnson cited in "Recent Publications" in this issue of FTN.




It's All Around!

A humorous newspaper column by Tom Badcock in the St. John's Evening Telegram notes the rumours circulating in the Conception Bay North area of Newfoundland this summer that a cloud sequence in the movie The Lion King spelt "SEX" and that the wedding minister in Cinderella had an apparent erection.   "Telegram Forum: Disney's sexy messages revealed?" (23 September 1995, p. 4).



Renewed Rumours: Renuzit Denies It

       Randy Cassingham reports in his This is True (11 June 1995) that according to the Associated Press (no date, but within the two weeks prior) Nancy Dedera of Dial Corporation of the United States had to deny rumours that a tulip pictured on the can label of Renuzit Fresh Cut Flower air freshener is actually a penis.  "It's a tulip and nothing more," she said.  See also Leavenworth's article cited in "Recent Publications" below in this issue of FTN.

       According to This is True, the email-distributed weird-new compendium (10 September 1995),  "The American Life league,a Virginia-based anti-abortion group, claims that many of Disney's animated children's features contain subliminal sexual imagery.  The latest, they charge, is in The Lion King, where a cloud of dust over Simba spells out the word "sex."  In The Little Mermaid, a minister shows "obvious sexual arousal," while Aladdin contains a voice which whispers, "Good teenagers, take off your clothes."  A Disney spokesman says the claim are "ridiculous."  The source is an undated Reuters story.


Which is Worse, Then?

An Associated Press wirestory published in the St. John's Evening Telegram ("Kids Expecting Aladdin See Porno Flick Instead,"  4 November 1995: 29) tells of the eight- to twelve-year-old students of Public School 125 in New York City.  They crowded into the auditorium to see Aladdin on the big screens, and instead saw bits and pieces of an unnamed pornographic film.  "Administrators reportedly blamed custodians at the school."



More LSD Tattoo Rumours

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8 CANADA



       In early September 1995 the Blue Star LSD Tatoo rumour began again in Newfoundland and Labrador.  In 1992 it had been active as well and the Newfoundland Constabulary, the provincial police force, issued press releases to calm the panic.  This time it showed up on computer bulletin boards and newsgroups. 

       Posted was a summary of a  leaflet being distributed through church groups (including Sunday School teachers) and provincial government social workers (the acronym of the latter, DOSS, Department of Social Services, appears on some leaflets).  Geographically the spread was wide: St. John's in the east;  Labrador in the north and west, and throughout central Newfoundland (Grand Falls area, where the police reported getting almost a hundred calls in three days about it). 

       When the school year began in September, the leaflets appeared in elementary schools.  One St. John's parent told me his son's class  had been warned of the danger by their gym teacher.   The gym teacher in turn had been so instructed by his principal.

       I appeared on province-wide radio in late September to talk about the spread of these rumours, explaining to the host what was known about their genesis and evolution, as well as the lack of credibility given them by police and folklorists.  The programme I was guest on has very high "numbers" during that time period (supper hour) and probably was heard by a fair population of school teachers and social workers.  At the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive we've had no new reports of the rumour in the six or seven weeks since.

       The text given the Archive by Cecil Fry of Wabush, Labrador, follows.  He found it on his bulletin board at workwhere it had been posted by a co-worker whose child in turn  was given it a Sunday School. The RCMP is the Canadian national police force.  DOSS is the provincial Department of Social Services;  DOSSALL is their internal email code directing mail to every office in the province.    A secretary in the Division of Child Welfare told me (6 November 1995) that the alert probably came from her office:  "We send out a lot of alerts.  ... They used to go by fax but it's all by email now."

       A medical alert was sent out from the RCMP in British Columbia advising of a form of tattoo called "Blue Star" that is being sold to school children.  It is a small piece of paper containing a blue star.   They are the size of a pencil eraser and each star is soaked with L.S.D.

       The drug is absorbed through the skin simply by HANDLING THE PAPER!

       There are also brightly colored paper tattoos resembling a postage stamp that have the picture of one of the following:  Superman, Mickey Mouse, Clowns, Butterflies, Bart Simpson or Disney Characters.

       Each one is wrapped in foil.  This is a new way of selling acid by appealing to young children.  they are laced with DRUGS!

       If your child gets any of the above, DO NOT HANDLE THEM.  These are known to react quickly and some are laced with strichnine.

       Symptoms:  Hallucinations, severe vomiting, uncontrolled   laughter, mood changes, change in body temperature.

       This is very serious -- young lives have already been taken.  This is growing faster than we can warn parents and professionals.  get the word out about this danger to our children.

       Article from:  J. O'Donnel - Danbury Hospital, outpatient                  Chemical Dependency Treatment Service

       This article has already been sent to all offices of DOSS (DOSSALL), however feel free to share this information with anyone else.

*** end *** [sic]

I would appreciate knowing where the Danbury Hospital is, if any reader can identify it.



The Papers Love a Good Story

       This is True (1 October 1995) reports that, according to an undated Associated Press story, several news media reported as fact a satirical story originating in Heterodoxy which is published by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, California, with the aim to "skewer and ridicule the politically correct."  The story suggested that a man, lost in the hills of New York State, survived by cooking and eating squirrels. He cooked by means of the rays of the sun focussed through his eyeglasses.  Animal rights activists, said the story, complained that the man ate more squirrels than were necessary for his survival.  This is True says that Paul Harvey News and ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley" both reported the story as true.  [See The Cutting Edge in this issue of FTN for subscription information for This is True.]



Bodmin's Beast's End?

       The press of Britain continued this summer to report on the Beast of Bodmin Moor (clippings via Lizanne Henderson in Glasgow, Scotland).  The Times printed the now-famous 1993 photo of a cat atop a gatepost with the report that Charles Wilson, an Agriculture Ministry "wildlife expert," had measured the actual gatepost and found the cat to be somebody's moggy ("Brief Lives: The Beast of Bodmin"  23 July 1995).  The Herald  was somewhat less circumspect about roaming cats in two small items: "Panther Alert" (24 July 1995) and "Bodmin skull" (9 August 1995):  "a dozen black panthers could be loose in the highlands" said the first.  The second reported the skull of "an animal, believed to be a big cat, has been found ... near St Cleer on the edge of the moor where a panther-like animal is said to have killed sheep."

       A much longer article, about 300 words, complete with colour photos (including one -- not that of Moggy above -- of the Beast itself) is in Observer Life (3 September 1995).  "In Search of the Beast" (by Andrew Anthony; photos by George Wright) examines the zeal with which the Beast is being studied, or searched for, and the belief by some locals that there is a "cover-up."  It notes the report written by Charles Wilson and Simon Baker of the Agriculture Ministry ("The Evidence for the Presence of Large Exotic Cats in the Bodmin Area and Their Possible Impact on Livestock") and the fact that the above-mentioned skull, of a leopard, was planted.  A movie is being planned which involves bringing a pair of Masai hunters from Kenya.

       The Boston Globe (26 July 1995, p. 2) reported on the Beast in a story by Wlliam Miller, "London Faces Cornish Cat -- or Canard."  Miller noted the "undiluted Cornish scorn" that met the official report issued the previous week dismissing the Beast as a house cat or pet dog.  The London Times is quoted:  "No cat!  The ministry must be joking.... The real Beasts of Bodmin are the men from the ministry who declare that there is no such creature."



Non-Bodmin Beasts

On 5 October 1995, Cynthia Richardson ( contributed the following to the FOLKLORE Discussion List (

Here in Maine we also have had sightings of large cats -- cougars, bobcats, and mountain lions.  Their range has descended from Quebec and New Brunswick.  We have even had them in the suburban town of Cape Elizabeth.  A number of species of beasts, purportedly extirpated, have become "cosmopolitan" -- adapting to relationships with communities of humans.  With no bounties, we are able to redefine relationships.

The same day Patricia Uttaro (puttarro@mcls. of the Gates Public Library, Monroe County Library System, New York State,  contributed the following to FOLKLORE:

Recent sightings of a large kangaroo, or pair of kargaroos, have been reported by numerous residents of the western New York towns of Irondequoit and Webster, both suburbs of Rochester.  Local papers have printed several stories of these mysterious marsupial-like creatures bounding across roads and romping through a local park.  Local police and animal control officers have checked with area zoos and travelling circuses and found no missing animals. The sightings began in early summer 1995 (June or July, I think) and have continued to the present.  Can marsupials survive the usually severe winter weather experienced in Rochester?



Man in Black in Scotland

       Lizanne Henderson also sent a clipping regarding the press conference to be held on 6 October 1995 by "Zal-us, a mystery man who dresses immaculately in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie ... a member of the Council of Nine, a group which watches over the Earth and keeps an eye on its people."  He was scheduled to explain the "Bonnybridge Phenomenon."  Bonnybridge has the reputation of more UFO sightings than most British sites.  A Falkirk town councillor, Billy Buchanan, has been Zal-us's contact and has organised the press conference.  ("Planet earth is waiting for the man in black,"  The Herald, 12 August 1995.)  At press time, early November 1995, FTN has heard nothing more about Zal-us.   The Sunday Times in Scotland (8 October 1995) had an article on the Bonnybridge reputation:  "Pie in the Sky?:  Many Believe Bonnybridge is the World's UFO Capital but Behind the Claim Lies an Even Weirder Tale," by Allan Brown.  The "weirder tale" is that Buchanan is lobbying for government funds to set up a tourist attraction to bring in UFO-watchers.  In the two months between the Herald  story and that of the STS he had come to deny the Zal-us story.



More Cookie Bills and Recipes

       The Neimann-Marcus $250-cookie-recipe legend was found again circulating through the emails of the Internet in August and through mid-September.  Monica Gregory at Penn State University captured a version bearing many of the previous posters' names and addresses.  If you are interested in text evolution, this one may be of interest:  it spells "flour" as "flower" in the recipe.  I will not reprint it here but if anyone wants a photocopy, I will try to pass it along.  See also the article by Steve Harvey cited in this issue's "Recent Publications."

       And,  the Toronto Globe and Mail, was not always known for its credulity but just before this issue of FTN went to press they published "E-mail Justice: Neiman-Marcus Loses its Costly Cookies -- A cookie recipe mistakenly purchased from the bakery of an expensive Dallas department store ends up on the Internet" (11 November 1995: D5).  The bye-line is given as follows:  "By Andrea Brenton from a posting on the Internet, Dallas, Texas."  A full-text (and first-hand) legend is included, with three sentences of provenance:  "This account can be traced only so far as Ian Kelley  He would appear to be the second person to receive the posting.  SFUnicorn, the internet address of the originator, is incomplete."    A sidebar recipe for 112 cookies is given mainly in English measurements, but peculiarly with metric distances between the cookies and a Celcius cooking temperature.  - PH



"Pet Bottles" in Japan

James Kirkup

Edifici les Bons, Avinguda de Rouillac, 7, Les Bons,

Principality of Andorra


       The item on "lawn bottles" in a recent issue (FTN 36:4) reminds me that I was puzzled when I saw lots of bottles filled with water around gates and telegraph poles in Japan last autumn.

       I was informed that the idea originally came from Australia.  As might be expected, the Japanese devised their own peculiar Janglish name for them -- "pet bottles."  They are supposed to frighten cats and dogs away and to stop them fouling the streets and gardens.  But cats and dogs aren't so stupid, and now that they are seen not to work, pet bottles are old hat.  Moreover, in the heat of Japanese summer, they often caused fires by refracting the sun's rays on wood or grass.

       In the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, when there was no water for some days, people could be seen carrying pet bottles that still contained water for cooking and washing.  Indeed, one ancient haiku poet wrote an earthquake poem in the ruins of his home, clutching a pet bottle containing some precious drops of water.



Roswell UFO Autopsies

William O'Farrell, National Archives, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  


[Originally submitted 26 July 1995 to the AMIA-L list, Association for Moving Image Archivists (AMIA‑L@UKCC.UKY.EDU).]

       On 26 July 1995, the Ottawa Citizen carried the following article which they picked up from The Observer.

          Film of Aliens Out of This World, Owner Says

LONDON:‑  It is either the "science story of the century" or "the greatest hoax since Piltdown Man". Either way, television footage of the dissection of two aliens -‑ to be screened worldwide next month ‑- is expected to stir controversy.  The film was allegedly made in the wake of the "Roswell incident" an event famed among UFO followers, who believe extraterrestrials were found after a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

       It now "transpires" that a film was made of their autopsies and a copy kept by the cameraman, without the U.S. Air Force's knowledge. That footage forms the core of the programs to be shown on August 28 by Fox in America and networks in Britain and France.

       Advance screenings of the dissection were offered to leading British scientists. None believe they watched real aliens being cut up but none could spot how the film was faked.  "The figures certainly looked human-like, but equally were not human" said paleontologist Chris Stringer, of London's Natural History Museum.

       The film's owner is convinced of its authenticity. "I bought the footage from an old cameraman who had worked for the army, air force, and special forces," said Ray Santilli, who runs Merlin Productions in London.  "My impression is that the cameraman is genuine."

[PH: see also articles in Fortean Times 81 and 82.]



Angel at Site of Kurt Cobain's Death

Bill Ellis passes on from Tad Cook, a television talk-show host in Seattle, Washington, the following.  In late July, Bill had been a call-in guest on Cook's show.  After Bill finished callers contributed stories and on 29 Jul 1995 Tad emailed Bill:

       We got one really great call from a viewer.  He passed on a NEW UL, with some wonderful traditional elements.

       Do you know who Kurt Cobain was?  He was a popular rock musician/heroin addict from Seattle who killed himself sometime back.  His widow (Courtney Love, another rock musician/heroin addict) lives in the mansion where he shot himself.

       The UL is that a FOAF was a security guard at the house and quit his job there when he was firghtened by the vision of an angel hovering over the place where Kurt ended it all.  Allegedly *THREE* (notice that nice magic number?) security guards have been frightened away from their jobs there. | Tad Cook | Seattle, WA | Ham Radio: KT7H



Euromyths and Euro-counter

In the past year or so the European Commission in the United Kingdom has produced two glossy pamphlets trying to counter the rumours and journalistic speculation in Britain on how life will change in Britain under the new dispensation of European Union.   Rumours such as British soft cheeses will be legislated out of existence, curved bananas have been banned, and British steam trains will be stopped are particularly galling to the Commission.  The pamphlets are Do You Believe All You Read in the Papers?  (1994) and Do You Still Believe  All You Read in the Papers? (1995).  They are available from Euro Info Centres and Euro Documentation Centres  throughout Britain.  The European Commission's representation in the United Kingdom has an Information Services Unit at 5 Storey's Gate, London SW1P 3AT with outpost offices in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.



Mexican Pet aka Sumatran/Haitian/Chinese Rat

Bill Ellis, Penn State Hazelton,

Hazelton, Pennsylvania, USA



       Here's another ecotype that we might want to keep track of.  The American Pacific NW does regularly have oriental fishing floats come ashore, so it's not intrinsically absurd that a Chinese water rat would drift that way. It does seem a little too pat that it arrives alive enough to save but not well enough to avoid the vet's analytical eye.

       My favourite version is where they're advised to feed the ailing rat garbage, whereupon it regains health and wins blue ribbons at rat and mouse shows (longest tail, foulest smell, most omnivorous, etc.).  The version below comes to me from Tad Cook of Seattle, Washington, who in turn got it from his friend Frank McJunkins, also of Washington State.

Writes Frank McJunkins (

       I had my mom retell the story and she heard it directly from my aunt whose daughter this supposedly happened to.  The story:  The daughter (about 25 years of age) and her friend like to fish and, about 3 weeks ago, went to the San Juan Islands.  They rented a boat and were salt‑water fishing when the daughter saw what appeared to be a small dog in the water, apparently in distress.  They netted the dog, and took it back to the place they were staying, dried it off, and it was apparently holding its own but not in good shape.  They supposedly tried locating a vet, but couldn't find one so they took it home with them the next day. 

       Sunday night they kept the dog in bed and both decided that they would come home from lunch on Monday and take the dog to the vet.  When they arrived home from work, they found the drapes, bed cover and couch torn. They captured the dog, and took it to the vet.  When they got it to the vet he asked them what they thought they had, and one of the girls said she thought it was a baby poodle.  The vet said, no, it was a Chinese Water Rat.  The vet euthanized the rat.


Alan E. Mays ( adds:

       For comparison's sake, here are the latest related alt.folklore.urban postings, dating from March and May 1995, that I've saved. I agree the Best Rat motif is a good one, but the "bloody pieces of the family cat" version below is more likely  to keep your audience's attention.  And, of course, the "get out of the  house and wait for the sheriff" admonition has been reused over and over again in various legends. 

       From: "Smothra" (,)16 Mar 95

   OK, so I hear a story about the rat dog.  Only this time the family picks it up while sailing, takes it home, it eats the family cat and the rabbit (who, by the way were not copulating at the time . . . I asked) and then proceeds to curl up in front of the fire.  Later that week (not having noticed the missing pets, I guess), the family takes the "dog" to the vet who delivers the bad and worse news to the horrified family.  I think the rat was a "Giant Sumatra Rat". ...  This friend who told me the story swore it was true.  I swore it wasn't.  She asked her father and swears he swears it's true.  So I swore at my friend again.  I even showed her the FAQ [the Frequently Asked Questions file of alt.folklore.urban] and she said (no lie), "So, you believe everything you read?"  Anybody have any idea of the genesis of this one?  Fear of being bilked in a foreign country?  Evil animals masquerading as good god‑fearing dogs? 

       From:, 18 May 1995

       Haitian Rats : my mother said she heard this from a friend who said it happened to some friends of hers.  Seems this couple was fishing in their boat off the Florida coast when they saw what looked like a small dog frantically swimming around in the ocean.  So, as most people would, they went and fished it out and fed it food and the dog ate out of their hands, etc.  So they wrapped it in a banket and took it home. The next morning the family wakes up to find bloody pieces of the family cat scattered over the kitchen floor and the dog standing in the kitchen doorway snarling and popping its teeth at anyone who comes near.  When they call the animal control officer and start to describe what has happened, he tells them, "Get out of the house and wait till I get there with the sheriff."  Presumably they shot the dog but the animal control officer tells them their dog is not a dog at all but a forty-pound Haitian rat.  Haitian rats don't look like rats at all and are noted for their size and ferocity.   Is this a new one because it sure sounds like a UL to us?

       From: Jack Reber (, 19 May 1995

       It is a variation of the Mexican pet, an urban legend in which a San Diego woman drives her tank (they don't drive cars in San Diego anymore, they drive Army tanks) down to Tijuana, where she is followed around by a hairless dog. She smuggles the dog home, only to find it sick the next day. The vet tells her it's not a dog but actually a Mexican sewer rat.






Radnor's Police Techniques

Via Paul Smith we have just received an early version of the following story.  It was published in Glimpse: A brief look at things for members of the international Society for General Semantics 38 (1986: 1).  It is entitled "Defying Belief" and sadly does not give a source:  "It's enough to defy belief -- the degree of imagination and invention shown by the following published account:

In Radnor, Pennsylvania, the police may have violated the rights of a suspect by attaching a metal colander to his head and connecting the colander to an office copier with metal wires.  A message reading 'He's lying' was placed in the copying machine.  Each time the interrogators got an answer they didn't trust, they pushed the copy button -- and out would come the message.  Convinced the jury-rigged polygraph was accurate, the suspect confessed.

[Glimpse continues:]  When the Police Department in Radnor was contacted to verify this published report, Detective Murphy laughed and said, 'Nothing like that ever happened.'"



Milk-drinking Statues

       Newspapers and wires services were active in late September with reports from many areas of the world of marble statues drinking milk from spoons held by Hindu worshippers.  The St John's, Newfoundland Evening Telegram for example carried a story (23 September 1995, p. 12: "Thousands flock to see Hindu idols drink milk") that told of the phenomenon in  several Ontario  temples: Oakville, Toronto, and Hamilton. It reported that the attempts to get the same results failed in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The Manchester Guardian Weekly (1 October 1995, p. 1) also carried a version of the story with a decidedly skeptical twist.  Edward Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenburg are the authors of "Hindu Gods Milk the Faithful," and they quote "the head priest at Delhi's central Hanuman Mandir temple" as saying "Backwaas [rubbish]" to the claims.  See also the article entitled "In India..." and that by Christopher Thomas in this issue's Recent Publications.



"Virgin Blood Floods Italy"

That's the headline in Fortean Times 81 (June-July 1995: 11) reporting on a spate of blood-weeping Madonnas across Italy last winter and spring (1995).  Many of the icons  were purchased at well-known holy spots like Medjugorje and Fatima. The editors liken it to a similar spate of moving statues in Ireland in 1985. 



Navaho Message to the Moon

Internet newsgroups have been buzzing about a legend of early NASA tests in the South West United States.  Alan E. Mays has pulled together several texts from alt.folklore.urban and HUMOR Digest, the UGA Humor List.  The basic text, as posted by Charles Phillip Whitedog, is as follows:

       About 1966 or so, a NASA team doing work for the Apollo moon mission took the astronauts near Tuba City where the terrain of the Navajo Reservation looks very much like the Lunar surface.  With all the trucks and large vehicles were two large figures that were dressed in full Lunar spacesuits.

       Nearby a Navajo sheep herder and his son were watching the strange creatures walk about, occasionally being tended by personnel.  The two Navajo people were noticed and approached by the NASA personnel.  Since the man did not know English, his son asked for him what the strange creatures were and the NASA people told them that they are just men that are getting ready to go to the moon.  The man became very excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts.

       The NASA personnel thought this was a great idea so they rustled up a tape recorder.  After the man gave them his message they asked his son to translate.  His son would not.

       Later, they tried a few more people on the reservation to translate and every person they asked would chuckle and then refuse to translate.  Finally, with cash in hand someone translated the message,  "Watch out for these guys, they come to take your land."

-- Charles Phillip Whitedog, Ojibway and Network Manager, Multimission Ground Systems Office (Mission Control), Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA.

[The similarity of this story to jokes that circulated in the 1960s was pointed out by Alan Mays.  Particularly noted was the story of a politician being greeted by cries of a word he does not understand while giving a public speech in a foreign country, and later coming to understand that it means something close to "bullshit."]



Face of Jesus Seen in Stars on TV

An Associated Press wirestory dated 3 November 1995 reported that the Cable News Network offices were flooded with calls that day after showing a picture received from the Hubble Space Telescope.  Apparently viewers saw in the picture the face of Jesus turned on its side.  A producer at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, Steve Gallion, said "dozens" of calls were received in the few minutes after airing the picture.



Bizarre Suicide: Opera Opus?

Richard March (

Posted 26 September 1995 to the FOLKLORE list         ( and titled "An urban legend?"


       I got this on the list CRO-NEWS (, which deals with events in Croatia.  I thought it would be of interest to folklorists.  It was posted by "Nino" ( who apologised that it had nothing to do with Croatia.  - RM

       [It may in fact have nothing to do with legend, but I am

including it here in FTN because of the similarities to the famous

story of the mason, his load of bricks, and their travels up and

down his pulley lift.  - PH]

            1994's MOST BIZARRE SUICIDE

       At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death.  Here is the story.  "On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of  Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound  of the head. The decedent had jumped from the top of a  ten‑storey building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency).  As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly.  Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this."

        "Ordinarily," Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended.  That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide.  But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands.

       "The room on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that,  when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Opus.

       "When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded.  The old man said it was his long‑standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun.  He had no intention to murder her -‑ therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident.  That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

       "The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident.  It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.  The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

       There was an exquisite twist.  "Further investigation revealed that the son [Ronald Opus] had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten‑storey building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a ninth story window.

            "The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide."



Chopsticks Wrappers for Wheelchairs

Jan Brunvand, Department of English, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112 USA



       This was reported in The Daily Yomiuri, the English language edition of Japan's most popular newspaper, 26 September 1995, under the headline, "Chopstick wrapper project causes public flap."  The article's lead ran:  "The leader of a volunteer group collecting paper chopstick wrappers to buy wheelchairs for the handicapped says the project is proceeding slowly but surely."

       The article continues that  "a groundless rumor ... spreading nationwide" had caused a local volunteer group in Kasukabe City to begin a project of collecting the wrappers.  They were deluged with inquiries, and with wrappers.

       Unlike the familiar tabs-for-dialysis collections elsewhere, here the wrappers are simply being sold for recycling.  A chopstick wrapper is said to be worth more than ordinary paper "because of its high quality."  The group began the collection as a ten-year-project, "because a chopstick wrapper weighs so little," but have exceeded their expectations, already banking some 13,000-plus yen towards a wheelchair costing 30,000 to 40,000 yen.

       An official in Kasukabe "did not know the name of the company that had offered the wheelchairs," but he commented that the project was in the spirit of recycling -- "gathering whatever small items one can and making good use of them."

       The article is accompanied by a photo showing three women sorting and packing the wrappers at the "Silver Man Power Center."

       The article does not explain what "public flap" was caused by the project.  The idea that this paper is worth more than other paper parallels the notion among some collectors that the aluminum in soda-can pull-tabs is a higher quality metal than the rest of the can.



Goat Sucker in Puerto Rico

       On Sunday 19 November 1995 Reuters news agency released the following text. It was copied by news media in many parts of North America.  Here in St. John's, Newfoundland, on the CBN radio "Morning Show," Monday 20 November, the hosts brought it up in joking conversation (rather than as "hard news").   Thanks to Jeff Gilhooly of CBN radio in St. John's who found me the Reuters text,  Bruce Wright who independently posted it to the Fortean Discussion List 22 November 1995, and Alan Mays at Penn State University who sent it along to FTN. - PH



       SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuter) ‑ This Caribbean island is in an uproar over reports of a mysterious blood‑sucking beast, which is said to rip the organs from its animal victims and is terrorizing rural residents.

       But the government of this U.S. territory of 3.6 million people insists the animals died of natural causes and is urging residents not to fall into mass hysteria over local media reports.

       The beast, known in Spanish as "Chupacabras" or Goat Sucker, is blamed in the deaths of dozens of turkeys, rabbits, goats, cats, dogs and even horses and cows, according to police.

       "People here are frightened," said Mayor Jose Soto of Canovanas, a city of 40,000 people near San Juan. "It sucks the blood from dogs, cats and horses.  It opens the skin of rabbits and goats and steals their organs."

       Goat Sucker attacks are reported daily on morning news radio reports and in El Vocero, the island's largest circulation newspaper, which is known for its gruesome crime photos, blood‑red headlines and tales of UFO landings.

       In the latest report of a Goat Sucker attack, the beast was said to rip open the bedroom window of a house in the north‑central city of Caguas, destroy a stuffed teddy bear, and leave a puddle of slime and a piece of rancid white meat on the windowsill.

       The home owner, Santa Ramos Reyes, told police the Goat Sucker had hairy arms and huge red eyes.  According to El Vocero, Caguas police dusted the window sill for prints but could not get an impression.

       In another attack in Caguas, the Goat Sucker purportedly swooped into a junkyard early one morning and killed five sheep, four geese and a turkey.  "It came about seven o'clock in the morning," Junker Correa employee Carlos de Jesus told Reuters. "It just showed up and ‑‑ poof ‑‑ it vanished."

       In Canovanas, the Goat Sucker has struck 35 times in the past three months, Mayor Soto claimed.  Every Sunday afternoon, the mayor dons military‑style fatigues and leads a patrol of Canovanas residents on a hunt for the Goat Sucker.

       "This is a very serious problem," the mayor said. "We must catch this beast."

       Police have declined to participate in the hunt, but do investigate each reported animal slaying.

       "As soon as the beast attacks a person, we will get involved," said a Canovanas police spokeswoman.

       Skeptics blame the attacks on wild monkeys.  A colony of aggressive monkeys has been attacking livestock and raiding crops for years in Puerto Rico.  But Mayor Soto doesn't buy that explanation.

       "Monkeys don't suck blood. They don't steal organs," Soto said.

       The Puerto Rico Agriculture Department dispatched a veterinarian to investigate, then announced that the animals had all died under normal circumstances.  Further, none of the animals had been bled dry, agriculture department officials said in a statement released to the media.

       "Citizens are urged to not fall into collective hysteria...about the alleged Goat Sucker," the statement said.

       Canovanas resident Jose Resto said he saw the Goat Sucker one afternoon in his back yard when it came out of the brush and attacked and bit the family dog.

       "I think it belongs to the monkey family, but it isn't a monkey exactly," Resto said. "It ran like a monkey and was about four feet tall, but it didn't have a tail."

       Interest in the purported sightings of the beast is so high that a major San Juan television station, WKAQ‑TV, planned to broadcast an hour‑long news program about the Goat Sucker.




1996 ISCLR Conference

The 14th International Conference of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) will be held at the University of Bath in Bath, England, 27 July to 1 August 1996.  Registration for the conference will begin 27 July 1996 and the formal sessions 28 July 1996.  Accommodations will be available at the University of Bath Conference Centre, Polden Court Facilities.

       First held in 1982 at the Centre for English Cultural Traditions and Language, Sheffield, England, these meetings have provided scholars working in this are with a forum for the exchange of ideas and with an opportunity to keep in touch with current research.   the 1996 meeting is to be organised as a series of seminars, at which the majority of individuals attending will present papers and/or contribute to the discussion sessions.

       If you wish to participate in the conference, please forward a title and a four hundred word abstract of your paper, and the conference fee of US $60.00 for ISCLR members (US $78.00 for non-members) to reach the Convenor at the address below by 15 February 1996. There is a form included with this issue of FoafTale News for the purpose.   Similarly, if you would like to propose any special discussion sessions or events, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  If you wish to participate without giving a paper, please send the Convenor the conference fees by 1 June


       Send abstracts to:

       Dr Donna Wyckoff

       187 E. Lincoln Avenue

       Columbus, Ohio 43214


Telephone: (614) 888-1753; fax: (614) 888-0419




Dr. David Buchan Student Essay Prize for Contemporary Legend Research

       The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) is pleased to announce that it will award an annual student essay prize to honour the memory of Dr. David Buchan (1939-1994), leading international ballad scholar, and a staunch supporter and perceptive writer in the area of contemporary legend research.

       The prize will be awarded for the best student essay combining research and analysis on some aspect of contemporary legend, or contemporary legend research.  Previously published essays will not be considered for the award.

       The deadline for submission is 1 March in the year the award is to be made, and the essays should have been written within the previous or current academic year.  Essays must be submitted in English, typed, double-spaced, and on white paper.  By the appropriate deadline, applicants are required to submit two copies of the essay to the address listed below.  The applicant's name must not be included on the essay.  Instead, include a cover sheet listing the title of the essay, applicant's name, address, telephone number, school and programme attending, and year in the programme.  Either students or their teachers may submit essays.  Instructors are asked to encourage students with eligible essays to enter the competition.

       The award will normally be announced at the annual meeting of the Society.  The winner will receive US$250, a year's membership to ISCLR, and an engraved glass goblet.  The winning essay will normally be submitted for publication in Contemporary Legend.  The Editor of Contemporary Legend shall have the right of first refusal to publish the winning essay, and a version suitable for publication should be submitted to Contemporary Legend no later than six months after the presentation of the award.

       The winning essay does not have to be read at the annual ISCLR conference, but entrants are encouraged to attend and present their essays.  If the winning essay is read at the annual ISCLR conference, it will be identified as the winner of the David Buchan Student Essay Prize.

       Applications will be accepted from registered (post)graduate students, although undergraduate essays will be accepted for consideration on the advice of faculty members.  Applicants can make only one application for each competition but students may receive the award more than once in their graduate career.  Members of the Selection Committee are ineligible to apply during their tenure.

       All applications are adjudicated anonymously by the Selection Committee.  The award will be made by the President of ISCLR upon the recommendation of the Selection Committee appointed by him\her.

       The Council reserves the right not to award the prize in a given year and it is the exclusive right of ISCLR to change the terms of the award for future competitions.

For Further Information, and to Submit Applications, Write To:

       David Buchan Student Essay Prize

       C/o  Dr. Bill Ellis, President

       International Society for Contemporary Legend Research

       Pennsylvania State University, Hazleton Campus

       Highacres, Hazleton, Pennsylvania 18201-1291, USA

       Phone:  (717) 450-3026           Fax: (717) 450-3182





Books and Monographs

       As part of the continuing series of LC Folk Archive Finding Aids the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture has issued Finding Aid 13:  "Tales of the Supernatural."  Compiled by Angie Delcambre and five others, it lists recordings in the Archive's collections.  It is available free of charge from the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 10 First Street SE, Washington DC 20540-8100, United States of America.


Journals and Newsletters

       Animals & Men:  The Journal of the Centre for Fortean Zoology   (quarterly at £7 in UK, £10 most of the world: 15 Holne Court, Exwixk, Exeter, Devon EX4 2NA U.K.) Issue Five [1995]  has reports of mystery cats around Britain and USA;  "Witness Reliability in Mystery Cat Sightings: A Cautionary Tale," by a West Country policeman; a discussion of the crocodile-like monster of Lake Dakataua in New Britain (near New Guinea); and another of the "Hairy Hands" of Dartmoor, which cause road accidents.


       Fortean Times 81 (June-July 1995) has stories on weeping statues in Italy, a popular rage for drinking urine in Taiwan, the recent upsurge in UFO reports from Scotland, the link between Naziism and witch belief, the 1947 Roswell "UFO autopsies," crop circles, and a local belief in Wiltshire that a certain stretch of road is inhabited by a dangerous spirit thing dressed in a cloak.   Fortean Times 82 (August-September 1995) has an item on a goblin hoax that stretched from Somerset to Saudi Arabia (a photograph of a wax museum's display became known as proof of a djinn).  It also reports on the Chinese and South Asian cyclic panic of "koro" or "shook yang," meaning shrinking penis;  the similarity to a Nigerian panic of 1990 is noted. An article looks at the surroundings of the so-called Roswell UFO autopsies film.   Another examines the reports of the lake monster in New Britain, New Guinea, that is discussed in Animals and Men, above.

       Interesting!: A Compilation of Things I Find Interesting  Issue 4 [erroneously marked #2] carried a miscellaneous batch of things, including notice of a 'zine called Twisted Times  a recent issue of which had a story called "Paisley's Penis Potpourri."  A "little known Thai tradition of women amputating their husbands' penises as revenge for marital infidelity" is included there. This issue of Interesting! also includes a compilation (copied from a journal called PAH!) of bizarre legal suits from around the United States;  it includes such warranted claims as a woman's suit against her junior highschool English teacher who left her with a voracious appetite for reading which in turn caused her eyesight to deteriorate to the point of making glasses necessary;  the glasses made her "flirtatiously challenged."  [Lacking dates and references as it does, this looks to my eye like the famous list of "real claims" made to insurance companies. - PH]

       News of the Weird/View from the Ledge are publications (sesqui-monthly compilations of weekly scripts for radio and a quarterly summary respectively) of Chuck Shepherd (Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Florida 33738 United States of America) and copyright United Press Syndicate. 

       This is True (formerly This Just In) is an email-distributed, copyrighted collection of odd bits chosen from news services and newspapers by Randy Cassingham.    To subscribe, email to with the simple message "subscribe this-is-true" (no quotes).




       We are interested in publications on any topic relevant  to contemporary legends, especially those in journals or from publishing houses not usually read by academics in North America and the United Kingdom.  Forward references or offprints (if convenient) to Alan E. Mays, Heindel Library, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Avenue, Middletown, PA 17057-4898 United States of America.   English abstacts of work in other languages would be appreciated.

       Items starred (*) are housed in a file in one of the editors' office and can be made available to qualified scholars for reference.  Books and articles from major publishers or standard journals are not normally starred.


*  Abrahms, Doug.  "Microsoft's 95 Software Can't Snoop Cyberspace."  Washington Times (19 Aug. 1995): A11.  [Rumours that Microsoft's Windows 95 software allows the company to access computer hard drives.]

*  Allen, Jennifer.  "The Danger Years."  Life (July 1995): 40ff.  [Folklorist Camilla Collins and FBI special agent Ken Lanning comment on American fears of child abductions, satanic abuse, and white slavery.]

   Anderson, Richard W.  "Vengeful Ancestors and Animal Spirits: Personal Narratives of the Supernatural in a Japanese New Religion."  Western Folklore 54 (1995): 113-40.

*  Ankomah, Baffour.  "Is Ebola More Monkey Business?"  New African, no. 332 (July-Aug. 1995): 21.  [A recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in Zaire may have been a public relations gimmick for the American film Outbreak.]

   Baker, Ronald L.  "Who's a Hoosier?"  Midwestern Folklore 21 (Spring-Fall 1995): 77-86.  [Legends about the origin of "Hoosier," the nickname for residents of Indiana.]

   Baky, John.  "White Cong and Black Clap: The Ambient Truth of Vietnam War Legendry."  In Nobody Gets Off the Bus: The Viet Nam Generation Big Book, ed. Dan Duffy and Kali Tal, pp. 164-69.  Woodbridge, Conn.: Viet Nam Generation, 1994.

*  Bannon, Lisa.  "How a Rumor Spread about Subliminal Sex in Disney's 'Aladdin.'"  Wall Street Journal (24 Oct. 1995): A1, A8.  [Disney films, such as Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, contain subliminal sexual messages aimed at children.]

*  Barry, John, with David Schrieberg.  "Too Good to Check."  Time (26 June 1995): 33.  [Stolen body organ rumours in Latin American countries.]

*  Battersby, Eileen.  "Joyce as a Vacuum Cleaner."  Irish Times (19 July 1995): 8.  [Legends in James Joyce's works.]

*  Berger, Arthur S.  "Quoth the Raven: Bereavement and the Paranormal."  Omega: Journal of Death and Dying 31 (1995): 1-10.

   Bordia, Prashant.  "Rumor Interaction: Content Analysis of a Rumor Discussion on Electronic Network."  M.A. thesis, Temple University, 1995.

*  Borg, Linda.  "Dartmouth Class Gets Child's View of Cuttyhunk."  Providence Journal-Bulletin (16 April 1995): 1B.  [Stories of leprechauns and ley lines on Cuttyhunk Island, located off the coast of Massachusetts.]

   Bowman, Meg, comp.  Office Tales: Don't Push It.  San Jose, Calif. (P.O. Box 21506, 95151): Hot Flash Press, 1995.

           , comp.  Silly Flyers.  San Jose, Calif. (P.O. Box 21506, 95151): Hot Flash Press, 1995.  [Two collections of xeroxlore, including welfare letter bloopers, apocryphal 1915 rules for teachers, and the baked bean surprise party.]

   Bronner, Simon J.  Piled Higher and Deeper: The Folklore of Student Life.  new ed.  Little Rock, Ark.: August House, 1995.  [With a new afterword emphasizing college legends and other folklore on the Internet.]

*  Brunvand, Jan Harold.  "Was It a Stunned Deer or Just a Deer Stunt? (The Story behind a Missouri Legend)."  Missouri Folklore Society Journal 15-16 (1993-94): 111-18.  ["The Hunter's Nightmare," or "The Stunned Deer," in Missouri.]

   Bryan, C. D. B.  Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.

   Campion‑Vincent, Véronique.  "Demonologies in Contemporary Legends and Panics: Satanism and Babyparts Stories."  Fabula 34: 3-4 (1993): 238‑51.

           .  "Preaching Tolerance?"  Folklore 106 (1995): 21‑30.

*  Carlton, Jim.  "Beast of a Highway: Does Asphalt Stretch Have Biblical Curse?"  Wall Street Journal (3 Aug. 1995): A1, A10.  [Highway Route 666 in the western U.S. is associated with the biblical Antichrist, and the local Navajos consider the number six to be bad luck.]

   Carroll, Michael P.  "Folklore and Psychoanalysis: Another Look at 'The Boyfriend's Death.'"  In The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, Volume 18: Essays in Honor of Alan Dundes, ed. L. Bryce Boyer, Ruth M. Boyer, and Stephen M. Sonnenberg, pp. 67-80.  Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1993. 

   Cattermole‑Tally, Frances.  "The Intrusion of Animals into the Human Body: Fantasy and Reality."  Folklore 106 (1995): 89‑92.

*  Chenoweth, Doral.  "Cat, Dog Meat Rumors Should Be Put to Rest."  Columbus Dispatch (7 Sept. 1995): 16.  [Rumours that Chinese restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, serve cat or dog meat.]

   Chideya, Farai.  Don't Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation about African-Americans.  New York: Plume, 1995.  [Role of U.S. media in perpetuating negative stereotypes & beliefs about African Americans as "welfare queens," drug users, etc.]

   Cohen, Gerald Leonard.  "Some Notes on Missouri's Wealth of Interesting Placenames: Tightwad, Peculiar, Whoopup, Old Dishrag."  Midwestern Folklore 21 (Spring-Fall 1995): 52-60.  [Miscellany of Missouri placename legends.]

*  "The Conspiracy-Grubs."  Economist (22 July 1995): 32.  [U.S. conspiracy theorists and congressional hearings on Waco and Whitewater.]

*  Corn, David.  "The Devil and Mr. G."  Nation (10 July 1995): 41-42.  [Allegations that "Magic: The Gathering," a fantasy card game, promotes satanism.]

*  "Crime Stinks for Blind-sided Purse-Snatcher."  Victoria [B.C.] Times-Colonist (8 April 1995): A1.  [Thief robs Victoria woman of bag containing dog feces.]

*  Curran, Peggy.  "British Boy Fed Up with Flood of Business Cards."  [Montreal] Gazette (27 May 1995): A3.  [Craig Shergold.]

*  Curtis, John Obed.  "Old-House Myths."  Early American Life 25 (Feb. 1995): 61-62, 79.  [Legends associated with American architectural features, such as so-called "Christian doors" with cross and Bible shapes, newel posts containing house deeds, and solid "Indian shutters" that allegedly protected against Indian attacks.  For a similar article in the same magazine, see Michael Dunbar, "Old House Myths," 19 (April 1988): 28-31, 75.]

*  Cushman, John H., Jr.  "Tales from the 104th Congress: Watch Out, or the Regulators Will Get You!"  New York Times (28 Feb. 1995): A20.   [Regulatory horror stories about U.S. government agencies banning the tooth fairy and requiring buckets to have holes in the bottom.]

   Davison, Andrew, ed.  Humour the Computer.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995.  [A collection of computer-related humour from published and online sources, including the infamous but allegedly true "IBM mouse balls" memo.]

*  DeFao, Janine.  "LSD-Tattoo Story Updated--But Still Nonsense."  Sacramento Bee (2 July 1995): B1.  [Photocopied, faxed, and e-mailed warnings about LSD tattoos.]

   Dégh, Linda.  "Eine außergewöhnliche Variante der Sage von der 'gestohlenen Grossmutter.'"  In Medien popularer Kultur: Festschrift für Rolf Wilhelm Brednich zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Carola Lipp, pp. 35-47.  Frankfurt a.M. and  N. Y.: Campus, 1995.

*  Dell'Angela, Tracy.  "Chain Letter about Dying Boy Has Its Own Life in Cyberspace."  Chicago Tribune (31 Aug. 1995): 1.  [Craig Shergold card appeals on the Internet.]

*  Downs, Jere.  "Alligator Finds Itself Up a Creek."  Philadelphia Inquirer (14 Aug. 1995): A1, A5.  [Alligator captured in city of Philadelphia.]

   Dresser, Norine.  "Into the Light: Romania Stakes Its Claim to Dracula."  The World and I 10 (Oct. 1995): 198-207.  [Romania and vampire legends.]

*  Dumas, Alan.  "A Beginner's Guide to UFOs."  Rocky Mountain News (17 Aug. 1995): 3D.  [The Mutual UFO Network and other U.S. groups that investigate UFO sightings.]

   Dundes, Alan.  "Worldview in Folk Narrative: An Addendum."  Western Folklore 54 (1995): 229-32.

*  Dykes, John.  "Ripping Yarns."  South China Morning Post (21 May 1995): Sunday Magazine, 25.  [Legends circulating in Hong Kong: "The Stolen Heist," "Dog's Dinner," legends about buildings & tunnels.]

*  Eason, John.  "Chinese Whispers on the Internet Send Rock Star to an Urban Mythical Grave."  Sunday Telegraph (25 June 1995): 23.  [Irreverent messages incorrectly announcing the death of rock musician Pete Townsend on alt.folklore.urban and other Usenet newsgroups led to confusion over whether he had actually died.]

*  Eggert, Gerhard.  "Ancient Aluminum? Flexible Glass? Looking for the Real Heart of a Legend."  Skeptical Inquirer 19 (May-June 1995): 37-40.  [Miraculous product legends in ancient Rome.]

*  Elliott, Dorinda, and Friso Endt.  "Twins--With Two Fathers."  Newsweek (3 July 1995): 38.  [A woman in the Netherlands gave birth to mixed-race twins, one white, one black, due to contamination of her artificial insemination with sperm other than her husband's.]

*  Elliott, Lawrence.  "This Lie Will Not Die."  Reader's Digest [U.S. edition] (April 1995): 115-19.  [Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.]

   Ellis, Bill.  "Kurt E. Koch and the 'Civitas Diaboli': Germanic Folk Healing as Satanic Ritual Abuse of Children."  Western Folklore 54 (1995): 77-94.

*  Farish, Terry.  "Choice Interviews: Linda Dégh."  Choice 32 (1994): 249-51.  [Dégh talks about her life's work.]

*  Farney, Dennis.  "Paranoia Becomes an Article of Faith in a Kansas Town."  Wall Street Journal (17 Aug. 1995): A1, A5.  [Conspiracy beliefs about the government and organized religion in St. Marys, Kansas.]

   Feldman, Michael.  "The Apocryphal Now."  In Thanks for the Memos!, pp. 119-36.  Princeton, N.J.: Peterson's/Pacesetter Books, 1995.  [Examples of apocryphal memos that circulate as xerox- and netlore.]

*  Feldman, Paul.  "Conspiracy Talk a U.S. Tradition."  Los Angeles Times (29 May 1995): A3.  [Conspiracy theories in U.S. history.]

   Fiedel, Dorothy Burtz.  True Ghost Stories of Lancaster County, PennsylvaniaEphrata, Pa.: Science Press, 1995.

   Fish, Lydia.  "Vietnam War Folklore."  Online file, posted to soc.history.war.vietnam, Aug. 1995.  Available via anonymous ftp at  [Bibliography on Vietnam War military folklore, with references to works on legend and xeroxlore.]

*  Fox, Tracy Gordon.  "Video Speed Traps a High-Tech Hoax, State Police Say."  Hartford Courant (28 July 1995): A8.  [Rumours in Connecticut that police use automatic cameras to take photos of license plates for prosecution purposes.]

*  "From the Sewers to ... Queens."  New York Times (27 July 1995): B3.  [Photo of a small alligator captured in a New York City lake.]

   Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.  "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man."  New Yorker (23 October 1995):  56-65.  [Mentions Patricia Turner's research -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine -- of rumours like "Liz Claiborne doesn't design for black women and told Oprah so" and that certain softdrink sterilize black men.]

   Georges, Robert A., and Michael Owen Jones.  Folkloristics: An Introduction Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.  [An introductory text that includes examples of legends to illustrate various folklore themes and contexts.]

   Gerndt, Helge.  "Vermischtes: Die Zeitungsnachricht als Sage."  In Medien popularer Kultur: Festschrift für Rolf Wilhelm Brednich zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Carola Lipp, pp. 48-59.  Frankfurt a.M. and New York: Campus, 1995.

*  Gibson, Jim.  "And Then, There's the Story about a Guy...."  Victoria [B.C.] Times-Colonist (11 July 1995): B2.  [Kangaroo allegedly hops off with a jacket containing car keys after Vancouver policemen on vacation in Australia dress the animal for a gag photo.]

*  Gordon, Greg.  "Anecdotes Rule Regulation Fight."  Star Tribune (13 March 1995): 4A.  [Apocryphal U.S. government regulations.]

*  Grixti, Joseph.  "Consuming Cannibals: Psychopathic Killers as Archetypes and Cultural Icons."  Journal of American Culture 18 (Spring 1995): 87-96.  [Popular interest in serial killers.]

*  Harvey, Steve.  "Only in L.A."  Los Angeles Times (11 July 1995): B5.  [Neiman-Marcus $250 cookie recipe.]

*  Hawkes, Jeff, and Brian Wallace.  "Satanic Stories Lured Teens to Tragedy."  [Lancaster, PA] Intelligencer Journal (17 June 1995): A-1, A-2.  [A late-night legend trip turned deadly when a man, annoyed by four noisy teenagers, shot into a car and killed one.]

*  Hayward, Susan.  "Rash of Babies' Deaths Raise Suspicions of Illegal Acts in Mexico."  Philadelphia Inquirer (12 June 1995): A2.  [Alleged body organ thefts at a Mexican hospital.]

   Healey, Phil, and Rick Glanvill.  Gruesome Urban Myths.  Aylesbury: Ginn, 1995.

           Urban Myths Unplugged.  London: Virgin, 1994.

*  Heller, Scott.  "Home-Grown Extremism."  Chronicle of Higher Education (12 May 1995): A10-A11, A18.  [Academic studies examine beliefs of U.S. paramilitary groups and religious extremists.]

*  Herbert, H. Josef.  "'Body Snatching' Used in U.S. Study of Fallout."  Philadelphia Inquirer (22 June 1995): A2.  ["Body snatchers" secretly obtained cadavers for radioactive fallout testing in the 1950s.]

*  Herrman, Andrew.  "Christian Broadcasting 'Attack' Is Simply a Resurrected Myth."  Chicago Sun-Times (29 July 1995): 17.  [Alleged attempt by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair to ban religious broadcasting in the U.S.]

*  Hornby, Nick.  "Vengeance Is Vinyl."  The Independent (1 April 1995): 40.  [An excerpt from Hornby's new novel, High Fidelity, features a storyline that turns out to be a variation on "The $50 Porche": a wife sells her husband's expensive record collection for a pittance after he leaves her for another woman.]

*  Hossain, Farid.  "Kidnappings in Bangladesh Lead to Panic."  Philadelphia Inquirer (27 Aug. 1995): A11.  [Rumours of children kidnapped and murdered for their organs.]

*  Hunter, Justine.  "Lewd E-mail Not Harassment, Premier Says."  Vancouver Sun (11 April 1995): A3.  [Controversy over Victoria government officials who forwarded "With sex all things are possible" chain letter parody via e-mail.]

*   "In India, a 'miracle' and a run on milk:  Statues of a thirsty god draw throngs to temples."  Boston Globe (22 september 1995): 2.

*  Jackson, Louise.  "Witches, Wives, and Mothers: Witchcraft Persecution and Women's Confessions in Seventeenth-Century England."  Women's History Review 4 (1995): 63-83.

*  Jaroff, Leon.  "Weird Science."  Time (15 May 1995): 75, 78.  [U.S. TV shows, such as The Other Side and Sightings, that deal with the paranormal.]

*  Jastrzembski, Joseph C.  "Treacherous Towns in Mexico: Chiricahua Apache Personal Narratives of Horrors."  Western Folklore 54 (1995): 169-96.

*  Jaynes, Gregory.  "Where the Torts Blossom."  Time (20 March 1995): 38-39.  [Legal horror stories in the U.S.]

*  Jerome, Richard.  "Suspect Confessions."  New York Times Magazine (13 Aug. 1995): 28-31.  [Social psychologist Richard Ofshe talks about cases of "recovered memory" and false criminal confessions.]

*  Johnson, Frank.  "Myth, Fear, and the Irish Girl."  Daily Telegraph (14 Sept. 1995): 15.  [Questionable story about an Irish woman who is deliberately infecting men with AIDS.]

*  Jones, Ilaina.  "Toddlers and Parents Form Newest Link in Chain-Letter Scheme."  Chicago Tribune (31 May 1995): Chicagoland, 1.  [Chain letter involving children's books.]

   Jones, Leslie.  Happy Is the Bride the Sun Shines On: Wedding Beliefs, Customs, and Traditions.  Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1995.

   Kawan, Christine Shojaei.  "_'šias Verleumdung oder die vergessene Ehefrau: Eine moderne Sage mit religionsgeschichtlichem Hintergrund?"  In Medien popularer Kultur: Festschrift für Rolf Wilhelm Brednich zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Carola Lipp, pp. 21-34.  Frankfurt a.M. and New York: Campus, 1995.

           .  "Contemporary Legend Research in German‑Speaking Countries."  Folklore 106 (1995): 103-110.

   Kelly, Henry Ansgar.  "'Rule of Thumb' and the Folklaw of the Husband's Stick."  Journal of Legal Education 44 (1994): 341-65.  [Examines belief that the term "rule of thumb" derives from the size stick that husbands could legally use to beat their wives.]

*  Kneale, Dennis.  "From Her Lips to a Thousand Ears: A Voice-Mail Tale."  Wall Street Journal (2 June 1995): B1.  [A woman's answering-machine message describing a sexual encounter was passed along from person to person on voice-mail systems.]

   Kozak, David Lee.  "The Poetics of Tohono O'odham Devil Way (Jiawul Himdag): Narrative, Song, and the Historical Imagination."  Ph.D. diss., Arizona State University, 1994 (UMI order no. AAC 9424119).  [Devil sickness and related devil beliefs, songs, and narratives of Tohono O'odham (Papago) Indians, Southern Arizona.]

*  Lancaster, Kurt.  "Do Role-Playing Games Promote Crime, Satanism, and Suicide among Players as Critics Claim?"  Journal of Popular Culture 28 (Fall 1995): 67-79.

*  Lavelle, Marianne.  "'Myths' Drive Debate on Deregulation."  National Law Journal (10 April 1995): A6.  [Apocryphal U.S. government regulations.]

*  Leavenworth, Jesse.  "Petal's Peculiarity Has Renuzit Aflutter."  Hartford Courant (10 June 1995): A3.  [The Dial Corp. denies rumours that a disgruntled art director hid a photo of his penis amid the flowery design on cans of its Fresh Cut Flowers brand of Renuzit air freshener.]

*  Lighter, J. E.  "Halloween Dream Team."  Atlantic Monthly (Oct. 1995): 132.  [Lists names of creatures from legend and popular culture, from tommyknockers to Casper the Friendly Ghost.]

*  Lindstrõm, Torill Christine.  "Experiencing the Presence of the Dead: Discrepancies in 'the Sensing Experience' and Their Psychological Concominants."  Omega: Journal of Death & Dying 31 (1995): 11-21.

*  Lipez, Richard.  "Mysteries."  Washington Post (17 Sept. 1995): Book World, 8.  [Leonard's Bicycle, a new mystery by Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, features a character whose kidney is stolen.]

*  Lowe, Cody.  "It's Wrong to Buy into This Misinformation Campaign."  Roanoke Times and World News (28 May 1995): Extra, 12.  [Religious rumours, including allegations that Walt Disney World promotes homosexuality.]

   Magliocco, Sabina.  "Eels, Bananas, and Cucumbers: A Sexual Legend and Changing Women's Values in Rural Sardinia."  Fabula 34:1-2 (1993): 66-77.

*  McAneny, Leslie.  "It Was a Very Bad Year: Belief in Hell and the Devil on the Rise."  Gallup Poll Monthly, no. 352 (Jan. 1995): 14-17.  [Report on poll measuring American belief in heaven, hell, the devil, angels, miracles, communication with the dead, reincarnation, and astrology.]

   McClenon, James, and Emily D. Edwards.  "The Incubus in Film, Experience, and Folklore."  Southern Folklore 52 (1995): 3-18.  [Relates the incubus motif, prevalent in American horror films, to sleep paralysis.]

*  McGirk, Tim.  "Indian Police Operation Uncovers Kidney Pirates."  The Age (3 April 1995).  [Accusations of kidney thievery against a doctor in India.]

*  McLaughli, Nancy H.  "Author Explores Race-Based Rumors."  [Greensboro, NC] News and Record (2 April 1995): B1.  [Patricia Turner comments on African-American legends.]

*  Meecham, Sally.  "Stop Those Cards Going In."  Calgary Herald (14 May 1995): D3.  [Craig Shergold card appeals.]

*  Milbank, Dana.  "Will Unified Europe Put Mules in Diapers and Ban Mini‑Pizza?"  Wall Street Journal (22 June 1995): A1, A11.  ["Euromyths" involving apocryphal European Union regulations.]

*  Miller, Sabrina.  "Beware of Acid in Disguise, Parents Told."  St. Petersburg Times (21 June 1995): City Times, 1.  [LSD tattoo warnings.]

*  Montgomery, Lori.  "Alarm Rises over U.N. Treaty That Aids Children."  Philadelphia Inquirer (12 June 1995): A1, A4.  [The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children allows children to sue parents, refuse to go to church, and join cults, according to U.S. conservatives.]

*  Morris, Evan.  "Running the Legends to Ground."  Newsday (30 May 1995): B23.  [Online legend discussions on alt.folklore.urban.]

   Murphy, Dan.  101 Uses for a Severed Penis.  Vancouver, B.C.: Serious, 1995.  ISBN 0-9695187-3-0. [Cartoons.]

*  Mushko, Becky.  "Of Dead Cats, Mistaken Identity, and Happy Endings."  Blue Ridge Traditions [Rocky Mount, VA] 2 (July 1995): 8-9.  [Three true stories of resurrected cats, including one in which a shoebox containing a dead cat disappears from a car at shopping centre; the cat later shows up alive back home.]

*  Naedele, Walter F.  "He's Bringing Up Elks for the Business of Love."  Philadelphia Inquirer (3 July 1995): B1, B2.  [Ground elk horns sold for use as aphrodisiacs.]

*  Navasky, Victor.  "Anatomy of a Hoax."  Nation (12 June 1995): 815-17.  [Report from Iron Mountain, purportedly a suppressed U.S. government document published in 1967, circulates today among U.S. conspiracy theorists.]

*  Neff, Jack.  "P&G Sues over Rumor."  Advertising Age (11 Sept. 1995): 35.  [Procter & Gamble combats satanism rumours.]

   Nesbitt, Mark.  Ghosts of Gettysburg III: Spirits, Apparitions, and Haunted Places of the Battlefield.  Gettysburg, Pa.: Thomas Publications, 1995.

*  Nethaway, Rowland.  "Dynamite Dog Breaks Texans of a Bad Habit."  [Harrisburg, PA] Evening News (10 July 1995): A6.  [Dog retrieves lit stick of dynamite thrown into river to catch fish.]

*  Oberbeck, Steven.  "Procter & Gamble Sues Utahn, Says He Spread E-Mail Rumors."  Salt Lake Tribune (29 Aug. 1995): A1.  [Procter & Gamble takes action against an Amway household products dealer who allegedly sent voice-mail messages linking P&G with devil worship.]

   Omidsalar, M.  "Of the Usurper's Ears, the Demon's Toes, and the Ayatollah's Fingers."  In The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, Volume 18: Essays in Honor of Alan Dundes, ed. L. Bryce Boyer, Ruth M. Boyer, and Stephen M. Sonnenberg, pp. 105-18.  Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1993.  [Iranian rumours of an Ayatollah imposter, based on the number of fingers on his hands.]

*  Pendergast, Mark.  "Believing the Unbelievable: Linking 'Recovered Memories' to Hypnosis, Dreams, Sleep Paralysis, and Panic Attacks."  Skeptic 3:3 (1995): 52-57.

           Victims of Memory: Incest Accusation and Shattered Lives.  Hinesburg, Vt.: Upper Access, 1995.

   Pettitt, Thomas.  "Legends Comtemporary, Current and Modern -- An Outsider's View." Folklore 106 (1995): 96-98.

*  Pope, Kyle.  "Hands Up and Drop That Gnome: Garden Crime Grows in England."  Wall Street Journal (2 June 1995): B1.  [Thefts of pricey garden ornaments and plants.]

*  Press, Aric, with Ginny Carroll and Steven Waldman.  "Are Lawyers Burning America?"  Newsweek (20 March 1995): 32-35.  [Legal horror stories about the "purported epidemic of lawsuits" in the U.S.]

   Pritchard, Andrea, David E. Pritchard, and John E. Mack, eds.  Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference.  Cambridge, Mass.: North Cambridge Press, 1994.

*  Raloff, Janet.  "Dowsing Expectations."  Science News (5 Aug. 1995): 90-91.  [Debate over the existence of dowsing, or water witching.]

   Randi, James.  An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.  New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

   RavenWolf, Silver.  HexCraft: Dutch Country Pow-Wow Magick.  Llewellyn's Practical Magick Series.  St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 1995.  [How-to manual based on the Pennsylvania German Brauche, or powwowing, folk healing tradition.]

   Renard, Jean‑Bruno.  "'Out of the Mouth of Babes': The Child Who Unwittingly Betrays Its Mother's Adultery."  Folklore 106 (1995): 77-83.

        .  "Rumeurs et récits de perversions sexuelles."  Quel Corps? 50-51-52 (April 1995): 37-60.  [Rumours and narratives about sexual perversions, from Suetonius's Twelve Caesars to contemporary legends.]

   Rendall, Steve, Jim Naureckas, and Jeff Cohen.  The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Rein of Error.  New York: New Press, 1995.  [Debunks misconceptions and rumours perpetuated by the popular conservative U.S. TV and radio commentator.]

*  Roberts, C. R.  "Stacks and Stacks of Cards Result When Good Will Runs Rampant."  News Tribune (2 July 1995): B1.  [Craig Shergold appeal in the Seattle, Wash., area.]

*  Rosenfeld, Megan.  "Dearly Believed."  Washington Post (25 Oct. 1995): A1, A13.  [A variation on "The Bothered Bride" in which a groom provides photographic evidence to expose his bride's dalliance with the best man.]

*  Sale, Jonathan.  "If I'm an Examiner, How Tall Is a Story?"  [London] Times (29 May 1995): 37.  [University legends.]

        .  "Things That Go Bump in the Night--and Much More."  Daily Telegraph (10 June 1995): Motoring, 7.  [Automotive legends.]

   Samuelson, Sue.  "A Review of the Distinctive Genres of Adolescent Folklore."  Edited and introduced by Simon J. Bronner.  Children's Folklore Review 17 (Spring 1995): 13-31.  [Surveys the scholarship on adolescent folklore, including legends and legend trips, beliefs, pranks, and rituals.]

*  Schiller, Zachary.  "P&G Is Still Having a Devil of a Time."  Business Week (11 Sept. 1995): 46.  [Gary Alan Fine, Bill Ellis, and Jan Harold Brunvand comment on the recent upsurge in Procter & Gamble satanism rumours.]

*  Simon, Mark.  "Chain Letter on Internet."  San Francisco Chronicle (13 March 1995): A15.  [A chain letter circulating on the Internet poses a series of "Why Ask Why" questions, such as "Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?"]

   Simpson, Jacqueline.  "'The Eaten Heart' as Contemporary Legend.  Folklore 106 (1995): 100.

           .  "'The Weird Sisters Wandering': Burlesque Witchery in Montgomerie's 'Flyting'."  Folklore 106 (1995): 9-20.

*  Smith, Leef.  "Disney's Loin King?: Groups Sees Dirt in the Dust."  Washington Post (1 Sept. 1995): F1, F6.  [Allegations that the word "sex" is visible in a scene from Disney's Lion King video.]

   Smith, Paul.  "Contemporary Legends: Prosaic Narratives?"  Folklore 106 (1995): 98-100.

*  Smolowe, Jill.  "Enemies of the State."  Time (8 May 1995): 58ff.  [Private militias and conspiracy theories in the wake of the Oklahoma city bombing.]

*  Solis, Dianne.  "A Mexican Witch Is on Quite a Roll; Now He Is Magic."  Wall Street Journal (8 May 1995): A1, A8.  [A male witch successfully predicted the outcomes of two political situations in Mexico.]

*  Spencer, Kyle York.  "Two Sightings of Cougar Are Reported."  Philadelphia Inquirer (5 Aug. 1995): B1.  [Further sightings of the Philadelphia cougar; see FTN 36: 9-10.]

   Stanley-Blackwell, Laurie C.C.  "The Mysterious Stranger and the Acadian Good Samaritan:  Leprosy Folklore in 19th-Century New Brunswick."  Acadiensis 22:2 (Spring 1993): 27-39.

*  Sylvester, Rachel.  "Stags (and Hens) That Run and Run."  Sunday Telegraph (11 June 1995): 14.  [Mentions legendary pranks at stag and hen parties (i.e., bachelor and bachelorette parties); cf. FTN 36: 10.]

*  Tannenbaum, Rob.  "Rod Stewart."  Details (Aug. 1995): 154.  [In an interview, the famous rocker discusses the rumour that semen was pumped from his stomach after he was taken to a hospital.]

*  Tatebayashi, Makiko.  "Hanshin Earthquake Spawns Rumors about Active Faults."  Daily Yomiuri (15 Feb. 1995): 11.  [Rumours of impending earthquakes in Japan.]

*  "Things That Go Bump in the Upper Midwest."  Star Tribune (3 July 1995): 1E.  [Elizabeth Bird requests information about local legend trips.]

*  Thomas, Christopher, Ruth Gledhill, Rikee Verma, and Leila Hinton.  "Rumours of Miracles Feed Hindu Temple Milk Frenzy."  [London] Times (23 Sept. 1995): 1.  [Miraculous reports of Hindu deity statues drinking milk.]

*  Van Gelder, Lawrence.  "When 'the Train Ran Really Late' Won't Do."  New York Times (7 May 1995): sec. 3, 13.  [Excuses, some apocryphal, for being late to work or school.]

*  Victor, Jeffrey S.  "Satanic Panic Update: The Danger of Moral Panics."  Skeptic 3:3 (1995): 44-51.  [Developments since the publication of Victor's book, Satanic Panic (1993).]

*  Vigoda, Arlene.  "A Whole New Weird."  USA Today (15 Aug. 1995): 1D.  [A character in the Disney film Aladdin supposedly says, "Good teenagers take off their clothes."]

*  Wagner, Dennis.  "Mom Prays for Return of Lost Son."  Phoenix Gazette (18 May 1995): A1.  [Three-year-old Mexican boy vanishes among rumours that he was kidnapped for adoption in the U.S.]

*  Watkins, James W.  "Nobody Says Kids Can't Pray."  Plain Dealer (25 July 1995): 9B.  [Rumours among conservative Christians in the U.S. that children are being denied the right to pray in public schools.]

*  Westad, Kim.  "Man Wins New Trial in Repressed-Memory Case."  Victoria [B.C.] Times-Colonist (12 July 1995).

        .  "Sex-Abuse Case against Lawyer Stayed."  Victoria [B.C.] Times-Colonist (13 July 1995).  [Criminal charges based on repressed memories of sexual assaults were dropped in the case of Victoria lawyer Earl Shaw.]

*  Wiggins, Ron.  "But Can He Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound?" Palm Beach Post (25 April 1995): 1D.

        .  "400 Words Closer to Fame."  Palm Beach Post (11 June 1995): 1D.  [A boastful college application essay circulating on the Internet is actually fiction by writer Hugh Gallagher.]

*  Wilkins, Van.  "The Conspiracy Revisited."  New Electric Railway Journal 7 (Summer 1995): 19-22.  [Refutes allegations of a conspiracy by the automobile industry to get rid of streetcars in the U.S.  A full version of the argument that the car industry was involved in such a conspiracy is to be found in Lawrence Solomon, "Coming Soon to a Subway Near You,"  Next City  1 (Fall 1995), 32-43, 69-72]

*  Williams, K. Leander, and Frank Ruscitti.  "Paul, Still Dead, in Cyberspace."  Village Voice (4 July 1995): 66.  [A file about the Paul McCartney death rumours is available on the World Wide Web at]

*  Wills, Gary.  "The New Revolutionaries."  New York Review of Books (10 Aug. 1995): 50-52, 54-55.  [Reviews nine books about citizen militias and related extremist groups in the U.S.]

*  Willsher, Kim, and Sarah Oliver.  "The 'Chain-Letter' Slimmers Whose Health Is at Risk."  Mail on Sunday (18 June 1995): 37.  [Fake British Heart Foundation reducing diet circulates via photocopies.]

   Worobec, Christine D.  "Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices in Prerevolutionary Russian and Ukrainian Villages."  Russian Review 54 (1995): 165‑187.

*  Young, John.  "Hoaxes Are Common for the Religious Right."  [Harrisburg, PA] Evening News (25 Aug. 1995): A11.  [Horror stories about religious freedom in U.S. public schools have no basis in fact.]

*  Zetlin, Minda.  "Feng Shui: Smart Business or Superstition?"  Management Review 84 (Aug. 1995): 26-27.  [Impact of Chinese geomancy on business practices.]



                         FOAFTALE NEWS



FOAFTale News (FTN) is the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.  We study "modern" and "urban" legends, and also any legend circulating actively.  To join, send a cheque made out to "ISCLR" for US$18.00 or UK£10 to Paul Smith, Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland CANADA A1B 3X8.  Members also receive Contemporary Legend, a refereed academic journal.


Thanks to Sharon Cochrane for typing some of the longer pieces in this issue.  Thanks, too, to Alan Mays and Bill Ellis for keeping sharp eyes on their computer screens to capture some of the fleeting legends of the nets.  Foaftale News always welcomes contributions, including those which document legends' travels on electronic media and in the press.


All research notes and articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights.  For permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of the article.  FTN is indexed in the MLA Bibliography.  Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the General Editor;  send clippings, offprints, and bibliographic notices to the News Editor.  Text on disks is appreciated.

   General Editor:  Philip Hiscock, MUN Folklore & Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA A1B 3X8. 


   News Editor:  Alan E. Mays, Penn State Harrisburg,

777 W. Harrisburg Ave., Middletown, PA 17057-4898, USA.