Thursday, March 12, 2009

Top 10 Fictional Entries

10. Goblu and Beatosu

Two fictional Michigan towns inserted into a state map by an overzealous UMichigan alum, who happened to chair the State Highway Commission. For some (bullshit) reason, Michigan got mad about this and made him get rid of the towns. They later recanted, when it turned out that the cartographical lobby was just the extra push the Wolverines needed to beat OSU. (That last part is false. It is my own version of a fictional entry.)

9. Trap Streets

Nonexistent or radically misrepresented streets depicted on maps to dissuade copyright infringement... y'know, because map-fraud is a billion-dollar industry. These are all over the UK, in fact, I would hazard a guess that 85% of streets in London are fake. (Also, there's one on a German map that's called "Gallows Pathway". STOP BEING CREEPY, THE GERMANS.)

8. The Stone Louse

A small insect found in Germany that eats stone... almost 30kg a day, apparently. First documented in 1976 on the German television show A Place for Animals. Later on, Germans found HILARIOUS application for their made up bug, when they claimed that it played a huge role in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Y'know, it was bugs that killed Communism, not... um... economics.

7. Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography

The motherlode of fictitious entries. Apparently, some dudes decided to write an encylopedia of famous Americans, and halfway through, they were just like, "Fuck it, let's make up some peeps." Kinda like Wikipedia. OH SNAP YOU KNEW THAT WAS COMING.

6. The words that show up on the white board of my lab

Okay, do you guys remember this list? Of course you do, because you are loyal PaRMLotters. (A thought: Parmloteers?! Like, Mousketeers?! Yeah, maybe?!) Well, the same handwriting has returned. Today, on the same whiteboard, totally unconnected to anything else, were these two words: "orientated" and "bilateralizationism". They're too cleverly wrong to just be the work of some misguided idiot!!! Someone is trying to tell us something.

5. Agloe, New York

A small town in Upstate New York. First documented in the 1930s as a copyright trap, this town then began to show up on Rand McNally and Esso maps, because someone named a general store after it. (Classic example of life imitating the ridiculous.) The town was later popularized by a young adult novel entitled Paper Towns. And let's face it, how many things have really been popularized by young adult novels, aside from angst and finding out that you have a lot left to learn.

4. Apopudobalia

A Greco-Roman sport resembling soccer, enjoyed by Roman legions and later revived in 19th century Britain. This sport was documented in the German Encyclopeida of Antiquities, yet another great example of that dry, near-nonexistent German wit. I kid, I kid. Honestly though, if you're going to write a bald-faced lie in a respected (I assume?) publication, why wouldn't you make it huge and ridiculous? Roman soccer? At least give me Mayan hockey, guys.

3. Zzxjoanw

A Maori word meaning "drum", "fife", or "conclusion". First documented in 1903, in a dictionary of musical terms entitled The Musical Guide. According to the guide, it's pronounced "shaw". Aside from being a potentially bad-ass scrabble play, this word is batshit insane, as is the fact that it was basically accepted for 70 or so years, until someone said, "Hmm, the Maori language doesn't have z's or x's or j's." Not to mention that fact that words don't just mean three totally different things (aside from "smurf")... "Hey, I invented a word that means 'dentist', 'testicle', and 'Gary'!" You know what happened to the guy who said that? He's dead, that's what happened.

2. Esquivalience

Defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as "the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities". No one would have found this word, had the NOAD not leaked the fact that they put a fake e-word in, presumably because the folks at the NOAD are really, really desperate for attention, since e'rbody knows that the NOAD ain't no OED. Later publicized in this excellent New Yorker piece.

1. Lillian Virginia Mountweazel

The queen mum of all fictitious entries, possibly deserving of her own movie/Pynchon novel. Here's her dossier: born in Bangs, Ohio... worked as a fountain designer and a photographer... best known for her collection of rural American mailboxes entitled "Flags Up!"... died in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles, a magazine presumably about combustion and combustible items. You cannot make this stuff up, and by that I mean, you cannot make up the fact that someone made up Lillian Virginia Mountweazel and put her in the New Columbia Encyclopedia. The world is too much with us.

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