Fakelore, n. Inauthentic, manufactured folklore presented as if it were genuinely traditional.
Check out our other Glossary Terms.
Fakelore, n. Inauthentic, manufactured folklore presented as if it were genuinely traditional.
Check out our other Glossary Terms.
I know e-readers are all the rage, but I’ll never get one. Call me a Luddite, but there’s something irreplaceable about a printed book: the heft of it in your hands, the striking cover, and, most important to me, its smell.
I fondly recall hiding under the covers after lights-out as a kid, Hardy Boys mystery in one hand and flashlight in the other, escaping into the adventures of Frank and Joe through the portal of the pages’ woodsy scent as I deeply inhaled the trapped, bookish air inside my blanket. In high school and college, I went on to discover many of my longstanding favorites: spare, economical bouquets from Hemingway, elegant perfumes of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age, the smoke swirling around a Chandler potboiler (my guilty pleasure!).
And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.
January 22, 1939
Assistant Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Chapman Hall 227B
As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee’s deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria.
Demonstrates suitable experience and expertise in chosen field:
The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from “possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency” to “practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics” to “unabashed grave-robbing.” Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn’t surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.
Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist’s tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.
Nationally recognized for an effectual program of scholarship or research supported by publications of high quality:
Though Dr. Jones conducts “field research” far more often than anyone else in the department, he has consistently failed to report the results of his excavations, provide any credible evidence of attending the archaeological conferences he claims to attend, or produce a single published article in any peer-reviewed journal. Someone might tell Dr. Jones that in academia “publish or perish” is the rule. Shockingly, there is little evidence to date that Dr. Jones has successfully excavated even one object since he arrived at Marshall College. Marcus Brody, curator of our natural-history museum, assured me this was not so and graciously pointed out several pieces in the collection that he claimed were procured through Dr. Jones’s efforts, but, quite frankly, we have not one shred of documentation that can demonstrate the provenance or legal ownership of these objects.
Meets professional standards of conduct in research and professional activities of the discipline:
The committee was particularly generous (and vociferous) in offering their opinions regarding this criterion. Permit me to list just a few of the more troubling accounts I was privy to during the committee’s meeting. Far more times than I would care to mention, the name “Indiana Jones” (the adopted title Dr. Jones insists on being called) has appeared in governmental reports linking him to the Nazi Party, black-market antiquities dealers, underground cults, human sacrifice, Indian child slave labor, and the Chinese mafia. There are a plethora of international criminal charges against Dr. Jones, which include but are not limited to: bringing unregistered weapons into and out of the country; property damage; desecration of national and historical landmarks; impersonating officials; arson; grand theft (automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, and watercraft in just a one week span last year); excavating without a permit; countless antiquities violations; public endangerment; voluntary and involuntary manslaughter; and, allegedly, murder.
Dr. Jones’s interpersonal skills and relationships are no better. By Dr. Jones’s own admission, he has repeatedly employed an underage Asian boy as a driver and “personal assistant” during his Far East travels. I will refrain from making any insinuations as to the nature of this relationship, but my intuition insists that it is not a healthy one, nor one to be encouraged. Though the committee may have overstepped the boundaries of its evaluation, I find it pertinent to note that Dr. Jones has been romantically linked to countless women of questionable character, an attribute very unbecoming of a Marshall College professor. One of these women was identified as a notorious nightclub singer whose heart he attempted to extract with his hands, and whom he then tried, and failed, to lower into a lake of magma. Another was a Nazi scholar he was seen courting just last year who, I’m told, plummeted into a fathomless abyss at Dr. Jones’s hand. And, of course, no one can forget the slow decline and eventual death of Professor Abner Ravenwood after Dr. Jones’s affair with Abner’s underage daughter was made public, forcing her to emigrate to Nepal to escape the debacle.
Demonstrates successful record in undergraduate and graduate teaching:
In his nine years with the department, Dr. Jones has failed to complete even one uninterrupted semester of instruction. In fact, he hasn’t been in attendance for more than four consecutive weeks since he was hired. Departmental records indicate Dr. Jones has taken more sabbaticals, sick time, personal days, conference allotments, and temporary leaves than all the other members of the department combined.
The lone student representative on the committee wished to convey that, besides being an exceptional instructor, a compassionate mentor, and an unparalleled gentleman, Dr. Jones was extraordinarily receptive to the female student body during and after the transition to a coeducational system at the college. However, his timeliness in grading and returning assignments was a concern.
Establishment of an appropriate record of departmental and campus service:
Dr. Jones’s behavior on campus has led not only to disciplinary action but also to concerns as to the state of his mental health. In addition to multiple instances of public drunkenness, Dr. Jones, on three separate occasions, has attempted to set fire to the herpetology wing of the biology department. Perhaps most disturbing, however, are the statements that come directly from Dr. Jones’s mouth. Several faculty members maintain that Dr. Jones informed them on multiple occasions of having discovered the Ark of the Covenant, magic diamond rocks, and the Holy Grail! When asked to provide evidence for such claims, he purportedly replied that he was “kind of immortal” and/or muttered derogatory statements about the “bureaucratic fools” running the U.S. government. Given his history with the Nazi Party, I fear where his loyalty lies.
To summarize, the committee fails to recognize any indication that Dr. Jones is even remotely proficient when it comes to archaeological scholarship and practice. His aptitude as an instructor is questionable at best, his conduct while abroad is positively deplorable, and his behavior on campus is minimally better. Marshall College has a reputation to uphold. I need not say more.
Prof. G.L. Stevens
July 28, 2007 | ISSUE 43•30
Kennedy, just moments before the self-generated cranium-shattering heard around the world.
While the book, Outside the Crosshairs, does not dispute the fact that a massive portion of Kennedy’s skull was separated from his head during the 1963 Dallas visit, it maintains that the president suffered fatal explosive- cranial trauma through means completely unrelated to gunshots.
“Certainly extreme force was involved in this tragic death,” said Dr. Horace Musashi, the book’s author and a professor of computer science at Mount Union College in Alliance, OH. “However, none of the available photographs or recorded footage provides even a shred of evidence that an actual bullet did anything to Kennedy’s body. As scientists, therefore, we must consider all other possibilities, no matter how much they challenge the status quo.”
Musashi himself favors an explanation known as the single-massive-spike-in-blood-pressure theory.
After 11 years of painstaking research, Musashi uncovered testimony from anonymous eyewitnesses who claimed that unopened packets of duck sauce and soy sauce were hastily removed from Air Force One after the assassination. According to the book’s findings, the extremely high levels of monosodium glutamate combined with the stress of mediating an intense international ballistic-missile crisis caused Kennedy’s systolic pressure to mount to the point where the right rear quarter of his cranium “shot clean off.”
“Case closed,” Musashi said. “Mass hysteria accounts for everything else.”
The book has also sparked popular interest in a number of related theories. Retired police officer Joseph Czyz, who in 1991 was on the scene at Dealy Plaza for JFK-Fest, an assassination-reenactment weekend, claims Musashi and adherents to the single-massive-spike-in-blood-pressure theory have been led astray by carefully placed red herrings.
“A handful of chopsticks and take-out menus does not a credible theory make,” said Czyz, who would only be interviewed on his Internet bulletin board for fear of reprisal. “Anyone looking closely enough can see that they were planted to distract us from Kennedy’s deadly nut allergy.”
Czyz points out that a Planters delivery truck was spotted cruising along Kennedy’s parade route by several people, all of whom are now dead. And just two months before the assassination, Kennedy vetoed a bill that would have raised tariffs on cashew imports. “[The president] only had to be within 20 yards of a single open can of party mix to suffer fatal consequences,” Czyz said. “Do you think it’s mere coincidence that just 14 years later we had a peanut farmer in the White House?”
“In this case, the facts speak for themselves,” Czyz added.
Still others, such as part-time music teacher and amateur ballistics specialist Luke Rossamer, refuse to rule out the possibility of lethal projectiles. According to Rossamer, bullet fragments that had lain dormant in Kennedy’s head since World War II—when he was attacked by Navy frogmen who were bankrolled by mob boss Sam Giancana and disguised as a Japanese destroyer—were detonated by Ku Klux Klansmen on Nov. 22, 1963.
“Why they waited so long to use the top- secret explosive bullets, I have no idea,” Rossamer admitted. “But there’s still a lot we don’t know about this case.”
Although no government officials have offered comment on the new claims, other law enforcement and forensic personnel say the theories show some merit.
“It’s true that no one has ever considered that JFK simply got caught in a deadly ninjitsu battle with Texas governor John Connally,” said Secret Service agent Kellen Forslow, whose job is so sensitive that he is not even listed as being employed by the government agency. “And I really hope this leads to more people asking more questions and coming up with even more answers. America is still a democracy, after all, and one idea is just as good as another.”
Is this really Harvey Rowe’s response to an amateur archeologist’s backyard find or is it fake?
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078
Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled “211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.” We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents “conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.” Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the “Malibu Barbie”. It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:
1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.
2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.
3. The dentition pattern evident on the “skull” is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the “ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams” you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:
A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.
B. Clams don’t have teeth.
It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating’s notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.
Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation’s Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name “Australopithecus spiff-arino.” Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn’t really sound like it might be Latin.
However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a Hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation’s capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the “trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix” that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.
Yours in Science,
Check out Snopes.com’s investigation for the answer. Admittedly, when this first started circulating in the early 1990s, Many of us thought it was true. Mostly because we thought some people are THAT stupid. Guess the joke’s on us.
PS If you want to know where your nightmare started check out The Footnote: A Curious History.