U Gotta Have This – WIF Consumer Corner

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Marketing Campaigns

That Went

Horribly Wrong

Marketing is definitely not a science. They can teach it in school, people can claim to be experts in it, but sometimes even the most successful businesses and brands drop the ball in absolutely stunning ways. A good campaign is a rare thing, and it inspires consumers to go out and consume your products. Most campaigns are perhaps effective but forgettable at the same time. And then a select few are bungled so badly that they’ll be talked about for years to come and used as examples of what you should never, ever do. Like these:

10. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Bomb Scare

It’s a good rule of thumb that if your advertising campaign immediately invokes a police response because people think you placed improvised explosive devices around the city you’ve done something wrong. This was the case in 2007 with a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie in Boston. Turner Broadcasting took responsibility for a series of LED light displays that were placed on buildings depicting the Mooninites characters. For whatever reason, when people saw these with their hastily wired and powered frames, complete with some electrical tape and exposed wiring, they determined it must have been a terror attack in the making.

Word is that it took the intervention of a staffer at the Boston mayor’s office before law enforcement officials even realized what was going on. Because everyone who had fallen under the impression that these were explosives was too old to know what Aqua Teen Hunger Force was, only this young staffer was able to point out that this was a cartoon character everyone was getting so worked up about. The whole debacle was labelled a bomb hoax even though no one was implying there were any bombs anywhere and while it did garner some attention, it was probably not what the producers of the show were hoping for.

9. Miracle Mattress’s 9/11 Nightmare

Every year in September we remember the events of 9/11, and often businesses will do something to commemorate the somber occasion. In 2016, Miracle Mattress in Texas decided that their best method of memorializing the events of September 11th would be to have a twin tower mattress sale, complete with a commercial in which two employees fall backwards into twin towers of mattresses, knocking them over. It was arguably one of the most tone-deaf advertising campaigns in the history of advertising. If there’s one rule that most companies will go by, it’s not to make comedy out of tragic loss of human life, especially for the sake of making a few dollars off of a mattress.

The backlash was fairly severe. The owner of the company issued a statement apologizing for what happened, claiming that the commercial had been done by one single location without his approval. The woman featured in the commercial made a tearful apology video but the damage was clearly done at that point.

8. The McAfrika Mistake

A fresh, tasty pita topped with seasoned beef, cheese, and tomatoes sure does sound tasty, and that’s what McDonald’s thought in the year 2002 when they released it in Norway as the McAfrika. That proved to be a very bad move.

While Norway no doubt had consumers eager to eat the tasty snack, the fact that a terrible famine gripped Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and many other African nations at that very same moment made it a case of utterly abysmal timing.

Despite widespread criticism for being insensitive, McDonald’s did not stop selling the burger and kept it on sale for as long as they’d intended. Their concession was to allow charities to collect for African famine aid at McDonald’s locations at the same time. Proving that McDonald’s was really adamant about digging their heels in, they even re-released the McAfrika six years later to support the Olympics and got the same negative feedback a second time.

7. Toyota Stalker

A good sign that your marketing campaign has gone off the rails is when a court allows a person to proceed with a $10 million lawsuit against your company for cyberstalking. That’s exactly what happened to Toyota with their guerilla “stalking” campaign.

It started when Amber Duick got a random email from a guy named Sebastian Bowler. Amber lived in LA and it seemed that Sebastian was from the UK. He emailed letting her know he was coming to visit. Amber had no idea who he was and just ignored it as spam. The next day he emailed her again, dropping her home address in the email, saying that he was coming to lay low. He was also bringing his pitbull, who had a problem with vomiting.

Sebastian continued sending daily emails to Amber, each one from a location slightly closer to her home. The emails detailed how he was trying to avoid the police as he road-tripped across America (in a Toyota Matrix, of course) to her home. Once she even got an email from a motel where Sebastian had apparently stayed, giving her a bill for a room the man had trashed. As it turns out, it was all a “prank” orchestrated by Toyota.

Toyota claimed Duick had agreed to be a part of an “experience” while she claimed she had no idea this was going to happen to her and suffered serious emotional distress. How did it end? Settled out of court.

6. Spotify’s Murder Doll

You can make a solid argument that this Spotify commercial is actually a really good commercial, but it still got banned in the UK. The commercial features the Camila Cabello song “Havana” and a creepy little doll that apparently murders people whenever the song comes on. It’s filmed in much the same style as a horror movie, with quick flashes of the scary doll and people screaming as it stalks them through a house.

The problem with the ad was that it was deemed to be too scary, which you could argue is a compliment, but it still makes it a fail at the same time. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that while they understood it was a parody of the horror genre, it was still likely to cause undue stress to children who saw it, and so the ad had to be removed.

5. Pepsi’s Harrier Jet

Humor is a tricky thing, and what one person finds funny another person will find offensive. What one person thinks is a joke another may take very seriously. Pepsi learned this the hard way back in 1996.

In 1996, Pepsi ran a campaign where customers could collect Pepsi Points and exchange them for swag like t-shirts or hats. The more Pepsi Points you collected, the better swag you could get. And in their commercial they tossed in a joke about how if you collected seven million Pepsi Points they would hook you up with a Harrier jet. John Leonard thought that sounded like a great deal. The fine print on the contest said that you could buy Pepsi Points for just $0.10 a piece without any purchase required of Pepsi products. That meant a Harrier jet was only going to set you back $700,000.

While Pepsi obviously meant this as a joke, assuming no one would ever actually collect seven million Pepsi Points, Leonard figured this was a sound investment because the Harrier jet normally came with a price tag of about $23 million at the time. So the 21-year-old found five investors to front him $700,000 and he sent it off to Pepsi to await his jet. Obviously this didn’t work out and a lawsuit came of it, which Pepsi ended up winning after a judge decided that no reasonable person could have believed Pepsi was going to hand over a multimillion-dollar machine of war in exchange for buying soft drinks. Still, they learned their lesson and when they ran the campaign later on they changed it from seven million points to 700 million points.

4. IKEA’s Pee Coupon

Everyone likes a coupon, and it’s hard to think of new ways to innovate getting those to customers. Leave it to IKEA to be ahead of the pack. In 2018, the Swedish company rolled out an ad featuring a picture of a crib. The text read “peeing on this ad could change your life.” So right away they clearly did something a little odd here.

The idea behind this was that if you were pregnant, you could get 50% off the crib. How could you prove you were pregnant? The ad doubles as a home pregnancy test, so that if a woman did in fact urinate on it and it proved she was pregnant, then the coupon for the crib would appear. On the one hand, it is very innovative, and on the other hand you have to urinate on it and then bring it to a store and give it to someone. While the ad campaign actually was praised for being so creative, the fact remains that it was literally asking you to bring a urine-soaked advertisement from your home to a store to give to some hapless cashier who would then have to perhaps file it away somewhere.

3. Vitamin Water Gets Offensive

Snapple really pioneered the idea of having cute little phrases inside their bottle caps. Unfortunately, not every company is able to replicate that same idea. Vitamin Water in Canada tried a similar marketing gimmick by printing messages inside of their bottles. In Canada there are two official languages and that means messages would have to be printed in English and in French. This worked out poorly when a customer popped open one of their bottles and found the message “you retard” inside.

The Edmonton woman who opened that particular bottle has a sister with cerebral palsy, which made the insulting message all the worse. She assumed it was some kind of prank, but it turned out to just be a very poorly managed linguistic contest. Coca-Cola, which owns Vitamin Water, had been printing one English word and one French word inside the bottles caps. In French the word “retard” translates as “late.” But when an English-speaking person is getting that message, paired with the English word “you,” there’s no particularly satisfying explanation for why it happens.

2. LifeLock’s Social Security Bungle

Few things are more embarrassing than smugly proclaiming you can do something better than anyone else and immediately learning how wrong you are. The CEO of LifeLock learned this in the hardest and worst way ever.

In 2006, in an effort to show off just how great their personal identity theft security system was, the CEO of LifeLock published his social security number in advertisements. The idea was to show off how utterly secure their system could make you. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that since then his identity has been stolen at least 13 different times. Adding insult to injury, the company was also slapped with a $12 million lawsuit for false advertising since all that identity theft proved their system did not do what they said it could do.

1. Heineken Gets Called Out for Racism

In 2018 Chance the Rapper took to Twitter to call out a commercial from Heineken that he felt was being explicitly racist. The commercial, which uses the slogan “sometimes lighter is better,” featured a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken to a woman who looks like she really needs a drink. So far, so good. The problem was when you combine the “sometimes lighter is better” slogan with the visuals in the commercial.

The bartender was light-skinned, the woman who receives the beer is light-skinned, and everyone else is not. The beer slides down the bar past no less than three visibly dark-skinned people before it gets to the woman who drinks it. Now maybe it was only Heineken’s intention to be discussing the shade of the beer, but their casting choices made race become a prominent issue.


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WIF Consumer Corner

Did You Hear About the…? – WIF Urban Legend

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Strange – World

As a species, human beings share a love of stories. Some are based on real events. Others are pure fiction, and in some cases the line between the two can be blurred or uncertain.

Urban legends tend to fall into the latter category, but they can be found in some form in every culture and society.

These are 10 examples of some of the stranger urban legends to be found.

10. Killer Electric Fans

South Korea is amongst the most scientifically advanced nations on the planet. Despite this it’s also home to a peculiar modern day urban legend that has little or no scientific support.

Some South Koreans believe that leaving an electric fan switched on overnight can be fatal. It’s not entirely inconceivable that an electric fan might on very rare occasions malfunction and catch fire, but this isn’t what believers are worried about. The fear is that anybody who goes to sleep in a closed room with an electric fan running might never wake up.

While this particular urban legend is almost entirely unique to South Korea, and while there’s very little evidence to back it up, it’s none the less prevalent enough that even major fan manufacturers issue warnings not to leave fans pointed at people overnight.

It seems that the roots of this particular urban legend can be traced back to 1927, when an article was published warning that electric fans circulating stale air could lead to nausea or even suffocation.

9. The Zambezi River God

In 1955 an Italian construction firm began work on the Kariba Dam on Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River. It would produce huge amounts of hydroelectric power, but at the cost of forcing thousands of locals from their homes and their land.

Some warned that the Zambezi River God would be angered into unleashing floods and dire retribution. This serpent-like creature known as Nyaminyami is said to inhabit Lake Kariba and act as protector of the Tongan people.

The Kariba Dam engineers weren’t concerned. The giant structure’s defenses were designed to withstand anything up to a once-in-a-thousand-year flood.

Despite their confidence, in 1957 the dam was hit by that thousand-year storm. Damage was extensive and several Italian construction workers were killed. Construction was delayed by several months until work could begin again.

In defiance of all their calculations a second even larger flood followed just one year later. Several more workers were killed, their bodies falling into the dam’s still-setting cement from where they could not be recovered.

Construction of the dam was finally completed, but not before 82 construction workers had lost their lives. Some believe the completed dam has cut the Zambezi River God off from his wife, and that even to this day he is working to destroy it.

If so then he seems to be making progress. Engineers warn that the Kariba Dam is now in dire need of extensive repairs and at risk of collapsing entirely, with catastrophic consequences.

8. Spring-Heeled Jack

With a population in excess of two million people, 1830s London was the most populous city in the world. It was a global hub of science, invention, and innovation, and in 1829 it introduced the first professional police force anywhere in the world.

Despite all this London was a city in the grip of fear. A mysterious figure was attacking young women across the city, and the police seemed powerless to apprehend him.

It wasn’t even clear if the menace was human. Eyewitnesses reported him as having a demonic appearance, the ability to spit flames, and even leap huge distances in one bound. He came to be known as Spring-heeled Jack.

Mass hysteria presumably played a part, but fear of Spring-heeled Jack was very real. The newspapers, who knew a juicy story when they saw it, were only too happy to run articles on this shadowy character.

In 1838 a man named Thomas Millbank, somewhat worse for wear in a London tavern, boasted that he was none other than the mysterious Spring-heeled Jack. He was promptly arrested for the attack on a victim named Jane Alsop. However, he soon had to be released. Jane Alsop remained adamant that her assailant had breathed flames. If Millbank had indeed been able to manifest this ability, he stubbornly refused to do so.

Whether there ever was a single real person behind the legend of Spring-heeled Jack is difficult to say for sure, but the legend lives on and occasional sightings continue to be reported even to this day.

7. The Black Bird of Chernobyl

The mere mention of Chernobyl is enough to conjure up feelings of unease. The name is inextricably linked to the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen, and it’s seared into our collective consciousness as something dark and terrifying.

Most people know the story well enough. A nuclear reactor in the Soviet power plant melted down, and only good fortune and heroism prevented a far greater disaster that would have rendered much of Europe uninhabitable.

The supernatural aspect of the story is less well known. Thousands of people were evacuated after the meltdown, but many still speak of a horrifying apparition that appeared as a harbinger of disaster.

In the weeks leading up to the catastrophe they claim to have seen a terrifying humanoid creature with huge wings, and eyes that glowed like hot coal. This airborne apparition came to be known as the Black Bird of Chernobyl.

Whether this was an urban legend created after the disaster or whether it has some basis in reality is impossible to say for certain.

6. The Deadly Drop Bear

Australia is home to some of the deadliest animals in the world. If the snakes, spiders, jellyfish, and the lethal blue-ringed octopus weren’t enough, there’s also the drop bear.

The creature is said to be a relative of the koala, but considerably less appealing. Roughly the size of a leopard or a large dog, drop bears are ambush predators.

They live in the forests where they hide in the canopy waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass beneath. Dropping from the trees they use their powerful arms and venomous bite to subdue their prey, and sometimes even attack humans.

In reality the drop bear is an urban legend created to scare and amuse tourists, and occasionally play pranks on unsuspecting journalists. Curiously enough, however, during the last Ice Age Australia was home to a carnivorous marsupial that lived and hunted from the trees, similar to the mythical drop bear.

5. Bodies in Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney is one of the world’s most famous cities, and it seems to be Australia’s hot spot for urban legends. If they are all to be believed then there is a secret network of tunnels beneath the streets, a hidden lake populated by giant albino eels, escaped big cats on the loose, and even a prehistoric river monster.

Other urban legends are linked to Sydney’s architecture, such as Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The bridge opened in 1932 and became famous across the world. However, its construction came at a cost in human lives. The official figures state that sixteen people were killed in falls, construction accidents, and in one case from tetanus after suffering a crushed thumb.

Local legend has it that this is not the full tally of fatal accidents. Several workers are rumored to have fallen into the structure as it was being built. Since these dead bodies would be bad for publicity, not to mention difficult and expensive to retrieve, their grisly demise may have been covered up.

4. The Wendigo

In November 2019, Gino Meekis was hunting grouse in the forests of northwest Ontario. Whilst there he heard a wailing noise unlike anything he’d encountered in more than twelve years of hunting.

Gino was sufficiently unnerved to pull out his phone and take a recording, and that subsequently sparked an online debate as to what exactly was responsible for the eerie noise.

One suggestion was a grizzly bear, but that species had never been sighted in the region. Others speculated it may have been a wendigo.

Bumping into a grizzly in the forests is dangerous, but it would be vastly favorable to an encounter with this terrifying supernatural beast.

The Wendigo of legend is said to be fifteen feet tall with a stinking, rotting, emaciated body. Its lips are tattered and bloody, and it’s haunted by a constant hunger for human flesh. The beast is constantly hunting for victims, but no matter how much it eats it can never satisfy the craving.

This monstrous creature has made its way into modern medical parlance. The thankfully rare psychological condition of Wendigo Syndrome is characterized by a desire to consume human flesh.

3. The Rock Star’s Parakeets

There are plenty of urban legends surrounding animals or beasts whose existence is questionable at best.

This one is slightly different as it concerns tens of thousands of parakeets that have made their home in London’s parks.

The parakeets definitely exist, but they equally definitely aren’t indigenous to Britain, and nobody is entirely sure where they came from.

One popular suggestion is that Jimi Hendrix is responsible. He’s said to have released two of the birds, Adam and Eve, into the skies of London whilst stoned in 1968. The multitude of parrots now resident in England are said to be descendants of this first pair.

The idea has even been investigated by researchers at Queen Mary University. Unfortunately, whilst it’s possible that Hendrix may have added to the parakeet population, they concluded the birds are too widespread to all be descended from a single pair.

2. Aka Manto

The yokai are a group of supernatural beings and monsters that populate Japanese folklore. Varied in their appearance and temperament, some are benevolent, others are cruel, and one has an unusual predilection for women’s bathrooms.

Descriptions of Aka Manto’s appearance varies, but he is always depicted as wearing a mask and a red cape. The supernatural being is said to periodically appear in public or school toilets offering the occupier a choice between red and blue toilet paper.

Neither of these is a good option. Choosing the blue paper results in being strangled to death, but opting for the red paper is no better and leads to death by laceration.

Aka Manto is also wise to anyone who might try to trick their way past him by requesting different colored toilet paper to the ones he offered. Their fate is to be dragged off to the underworld and never seen again.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Politely declining Aka Manto’s offer of toilet paper will cause him to leave in search of another potential victim.

The legend of Aka Manto can be traced back to at least the 1930s, and he’s said to be still haunting public toilets to this day.

1. NASA’s Billion Dollar Pen

In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first ever satellite into space. It didn’t do anything other than whizz around the planet emitting regular beeps, but it was sufficient to spark a hugely expensive space race with the United States of America.

America would claim victory by landing men on the moon in 1969, but there were a huge number of challenges to overcome before that point could be reached.

Even something as simple as writing proved to be problematic in space. It turned out that regular pens just didn’t work in zero gravity.

The American response was to begin a lengthy research project and sink billions of dollars into a solution. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union took a cheaper but far more straightforward approach and used pencils instead.

Many people are aware of this story, but it’s not actually true. It’s an example of a particularly successful urban myth, one that’s now so firmly embedded in our collective psyche it’s unlikely to ever go away.

The reality is that the American space program, just like the Soviet one, initially switched to using pencils. When a pen was developed that could be used in space, it was designed independently of the U.S. Government or military by an inventor named Paul C. Fisher.

NASA approved them for use in space and purchased a grand total of 400 of them at the modest price of $2.95 each. The Soviet space agency bought some too.


Did You Hear About the…?

WIF Urban Legends

Masquerade Merrymaking – WIF Into History

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Infamous Impostors

in History

For most of us, the idea of pretending to be someone else day in and day out sounds exhausting, if not impossible. Not for everyone, though. Some people slip into a new identity as easily as you slip into a new pair of shoes. In fact, history is full of impostors who donned new guises and successfully pretended to be someone else entirely for money, power, or, in some cases, just for fun.

8. Lord Gordon-Gordon

The real name of Lord Gordon-Gordon is lost to history, but we know that he was a 19th century British con man who was successful in impersonating a Scottish landowner. He swindled many people, most notable being one of the richest men in America, the notorious railroad magnate Jay Gould.

When the con man decided to adopt the guise of a Scottish aristocrat around 1868, he became Lord Glencairn in London. With the right look and the proper demeanor, he slowly gained the trust of others and persuaded them to grant him money loans or services on credit. When the fraud was exposed in 1870, Lord Glencairn disappeared from London and Lord Gordon-Gordon emerged in America.

There, he was even more successful as real Scottish lords were few and far between. He was aided by the fact that Gordon-Gordon was able to deposit tens of thousands of dollars in a bank. It was the money left over from his British swindles, but it instantly gave him credibility.

He settled in Minnesota and announced his intention to invest in railroads. This way, he made the acquaintance of Jay Gould and convinced him that he owned a lot of stock in the Erie Railroad. Keen to do business together, Gould gave him half a million dollars as a sign of good faith – some in money, the rest in stock. This was intended as a guarantee – Lord Gordon-Gordon was only supposed to hold onto the money, not spend it. However, when he began selling stock shares, Gould realized he had been swindled. The industrialist tried to settle matters in court, but the “lord” fled to Canada.

This almost caused an international incident as Gould’s associates crossed the border and tried to kidnap Gordon-Gordon to bring him to justice. They were caught and arrested and a U.S. militia wanted to invade Canada to secure their release.

The con man thought himself safe in Canada, but authorities eventually decided to extradite him. Not wanting to face prison, Lord Gordon-Gordon shot himself on August 1, 1874.

7. Wilhelm Voigt

On October 16, 1906, a German captain walked into an army barracks in Berlin and commandeered ten soldiers who accompanied him by train to the town of Köpenick east of the capital. There, the captain placed the mayor and the treasurer under arrest for embezzlement and confiscated over 4,000 marks from the local treasury as evidence. At first, this sounded like a typical corruption bust, but there was a catch – the “army captain” was just some guy dressed in uniform who changed in his civilian clothes and left with the money.

His name was Wilhelm Voigt. In his late 50s at that time, he had spent half his adult life in and out of prison for various crimes. In 1906, he assembled a full captain’s uniform by buying various used parts from different shops around Berlin. He looked, walked and talked like an officer and, for German soldiers, that was enough apparently. They followed his orders without question, even the sergeant who allowed his men to travel with Voigt.

The impostor was caught ten days after his impersonation and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, unlike most other con men, Voigt’s brazen actions amused the public, both in the German Empire and abroad. He became regarded more as a folk hero than a criminal and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him after two years.

Voigt was keen to take advantage of his newfound popularity and began making appearances in theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and wherever else he was welcomed. Decades later, the memorable affair even became the subject of a play called “The Captain of Köpenick.”

6. John Deydras

One day in 1318, a one-eared man walked into Beaumont Palace in Oxford and declared himself to be the true Edward II and, therefore, the rightful King of England.

This man’s name was John Deydras, sometimes recorded as John of Powderham, and all we know about his past is that he worked as a clerk and may have been the son of a tanner. According to his story, though, he was actually the son of Edward I, better known as Edward Longshanks. However, when he was an infant, a sow bit off his ear while he was playing in the castle courtyard. Fearing that she would be severely punished for her carelessness, his nanny substituted him with another boy from the village who ended up becoming Edward II of England.

Of course, Deydras had no proof for this wild story and modern historians opine that the man was likely mentally ill since making such an accusation was basically a death sentence back then. However, Edward II was said to have been amused by Deydras and, given that nobody took the story seriously, the king may have even wanted to spare the man and keep him as his court jester.

Unfortunately, Deydras really picked the wrong time for his little stunt. Edward was deeply unpopular at that time for his military failures against the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. Moreover, his wife, Queen Isabella, was “unspeakably annoyed” by Deydras and wanted him gone. Not surprisingly, though, she wasn’t nicknamed the She-Wolf of France for nothing.

As a result, Deydras was arrested and tortured. He confessed that the whole thing had been a lie, claiming that he had been put up to it by his cat who was actually a demon. Both man and feline were executed.

5. Cassie Chadwick

Elizabeth Bigley was a 19th century Canadian swindler who ran cons ever since she was a teenager. She started off with some minor forgery before moving to the United States where she pretended to be a clairvoyant in several different cities. She also married twice, each time under a different pseudonym, but neither marriage lasted long and, eventually, Bigley was sentenced to nine years in prison for forgery in 1889.

She was paroled in 1893 and went to Cleveland where she adopted the name Cassie Hoover. A few years later, she became Cassie Chadwick after marrying again, this time to a wealthy, respected doctor named Leroy Chadwick. This new relationship granted Cassie access to some of Ohio’s richest and most influential people and, with the unwitting help of one of her husband’s friends, Chadwick embarked on her most ambitious con.

In 1897, she took a trip to New York City. There, she met an aquaintance of Dr. Chadwick, a lawyer named James Dillon. Cassie asked him to accompany her on an errand and the man obliged. Together, they traveled to Fifth Avenue and stopped in front of one of the most lavish buildings in the entire city. It was the mansion of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world. Chadwick went inside while Dillon waited in the carriage, puzzled over what business she could possibly have in there.

In reality, all Chadwick did was ask to speak with the head housekeeper under the pretense of checking the references of a maid she wanted to hire. She never met Carnegie, but that was irrelevant to the con – all that mattered was that she spent some time inside his house.

When she left, Dillon obviously asked about her business. Chadwick confessed that she was the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie and even showed the lawyer some promissory notes (forged, of course) worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, also mentioning that she stood to inherit millions more. She swore Dillon to secrecy, knowing full well that the attorney would tell everyone in Ohio.

Once her story was out, Chadwick found it easy to secure massive loans from every bank she walked into. She was counting on the fact that nobody would be so bold as to ask Carnegie about an illegitimate daughter and she was right…for a while. Chadwick kept her scam going for seven years. Then, in 1904, a banker demanded she pay back a loan worth almost $200,000. She was unable so the banker asked Carnegie who said he had no idea who Cassie Chadwick was. She was convicted of fraud and died in jail a few years later.

As far as Andrew Carnegie is concerned, we did an entire video about him on our sister channel, Biographics, so check the link in the description if you want to learn more about him.

4. Lambert Simnel

The death of King Edward IV of England in 1483 led to one of the most enduring mysteries in English history – the fate of his two sons, the so-called Princes in the Tower. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were locked inside the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who took the throne for himself and became King Richard III. He was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth Field, putting an end not only to his reign, but also to the House of York and the Wars of the Roses. After him came Henry VII, first king from the House of Tudor.

As for the two princes, it is generally accepted that the two died in the tower, but there have been people who emerged claiming to be one or the other and, therefore, the rightful heirs to the throne.

One of these people was Lambert Simnel who, curiously, was hailed as not one, but two different heirs. As a boy, Simnel was under the care of a priest named Richard Simon who became convinced that his pupil came from royalty. At first, he proclaimed that the boy was Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger of the two princes who survived his incarceration in the tower. Later, he amended his claim, saying that Simnel was actually Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, a different member of the House of York who had been imprisoned by King Henry VII as a young boy.

Unbeknownst to most people, Simon included, the real Edward Plantagenet was still alive inside the Tower of London and it would be over a decade until he was actually executed. However, Simon’s claim was convincing enough that Lambert Simnel was taken to Ireland where he was crowned King Edward VI and an army was raised to dethrone Henry. The two sides met in 1487 at the Battle of Stoke Field where Simnel’s supporters were decisively defeated.

Fortunately for Simnel, King Henry understood that the boy was simply a puppet used by people to rally Yorkist supporters. Therefore, he pardoned Simnel and allowed him to work in the royal kitchen. When he got older, he became a falconer before disappearing from the history record.

3. Fred Demara

Known as “the Great Impostor,” Fred Demara adopted numerous identities and spent most of his lifetime pretending to be someone else. Some of his alter egos included a psychologist, a biologist, a law student, a Trappist monk, a teacher, a dean of philosophy, a prison warden, and, most shocking of all, a naval surgeon who actually performed medical procedures during the Korean War.

It won’t surprise you to learn that we don’t know a lot of accurate information about the lifelong swindler as most of the details surrounding him were provided by Demara himself after he sold his story to Life magazine. He was born Ferdinand Waldo Demara in 1921 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Allegedly, he had a very high IQ and a photographic memory which helped him take on identities that often required a higher education. His family started off rich, but lost it all during the Great Depression which convinced a teenage Demara to run away from home and embark on his life as a professional impostor.

It would seem that the two career paths that genuinely appealed to Demara were as a monk and a military man. He joined several monasteries and military branches throughout his life, but never lasted more than a few years in each before running away and starting over again.

When Demara joined a religious educational group known as the Brothers of Christian Instruction, he met a Canadian doctor named Joseph Cyr. He later adopted Cyr’s identity and secured a position as trauma surgeon aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War. Apparently, he was successful in performing sutures, minor surgery, and, on one occasion, even extracting a bullet from a chest wound.

After Demara became a minor celebrity in the late 1950s, he found it much harder to assume new identities. Instead, he tried living as Fred Demara and parlayed his newfound fame into a few TV appearances and even one movie role in the 1960 horror film The Hypnotic Eye.

2. George Psalmanazar

George Psalmanazar is the only known alias of a Frenchman who purported to be a native of Formosa who both dazzled and horrified 18th century London with tales from his homeland.

The man was born sometime around 1679 in southern France. Whilst traveling through Europe, he adopted the guise of an Irish pilgrim. However, people could often tell he was lying, so he decided he needed something more exotic. He then pretended to be a Japanese heathen, but later switched to something even more far-flung and claimed to be a native of the island of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. He even began practicing strange rituals and eating unusual food which was enough to convince most Europeans that he was from someplace far, far away. On his travels, he met a Scottish chaplain named Alexander Innes who “converted” him to Christianity, christened him George Psalmanazar and brought him to London.

The stranger’s story proved popular in England. He claimed to have been kidnapped from his native land by Jesuits who then imprisoned him for refusing to convert to Catholicism. This played well in a country where anti-Catholic sentiment was high, only enhanced by Psalmanazar’s conversion to Anglicanism.

In 1704, the Formosan wrote and published a book titled “An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island Subject to the Emperor of Japan.” It was a hit, although most of the facts were either fabricated, exaggerated or taken from travel reports of other civilizations. It contained a fake language, a fake calendar, and fake religious ceremonies performed to worship the Sun and the Moon.

Most shocking were Psalmanazar’s claims of how common cannibalism and human sacrifice were in his society. According to him, the Formosan High Priest Gnotoy Bonzo commanded 18,000 boys under the age of 9 to be killed each year so that their hearts could be offered as sacrifices. The rest of their bodies were eaten. To ensure a steady supply of children, men were allowed to take on as many wives as they wanted.

Of course, the Formosan fascination only lasted a couple of years before people moved on to the next craze. This eventually prompted Psalmanazar to confess that the whole thing was a fraud, but he suffered no serious consequences for his deception. He even had admirers, most notably the playwright Samuel Johnson, who appreciated his success as an impostor.

1. The False Dmitris

The end of the 16th century brought a succession crisis in Russia known as the Time of Troubles. It started in 1598 after Fyodor I died without heirs. This prompted the appearance of several pretenders to the throne all known as False Dmitry because they all claimed to be the same person – Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible.

The real Dmitry died in 1591 when he was only 8 years old under controversial circumstances. He was killed by a stab wound – some say he was assassinated, others that the young prince accidentally stabbed himself during a seizure. A few years later, a third story arose purporting that the alleged assassins killed a different boy while the real Dmitry was hidden away, waiting for the opportune time to return. This version opened the door for people to come forward as the rightful heir to the throne.

The first False Dmitry appeared around 1603 in Poland-Lithuania. He was the most successful of the bunch. He gained the backing of the Polish lords and found plenty of Russian supporters as well. He raised an army and intended to challenge Tsar Boris Godunov, but there was no need for this. In 1605, Godunov died of an illness. His teenage son, Fyodor II, became the new tsar, but only lasted a couple of months before being assassinated and replaced with Dmitry.

False Dmitry reigned for almost a year, but he had his own enemies who plotted against him. One of them was Vasili Shuisky. He convinced the people of Moscow that Dmitry was planning to massacre them with the help of his Polish followers. They stormed the Kremlin and killed Dmitry and, according to legend, cremated his body and shot the ashes out of a cannon towards Poland.

Shuysky became Tsar Vasili IV. In 1607 came False Dmitry II who was accepted as the real Dmitry by Tsaritsa Marina, the wife of the first False Dmitry who, presumably, would have accepted anyone to gain back her power. He actually assembled a large army and had several military successes, but was killed in 1610 while drunk by one of his own followers.

Lastly came False Dmitry III. He gained the allegiance of the Cossacks, but was betrayed by a group who kidnapped him and took him to Moscow in 1612 where he was executed. The crisis, as well as the line of False Dmitris, ended a year later when Michael I became the new Tsar of Russia, thus beginning the 300-year reign of the House of Romanov.


Masquerade Merrymaking

WIF Into History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 21

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 21

…I need for you & the children to meet me in Istanbul. You have the numbers for our Switzerland account; have your cousin Fasil drive you to Ahmadinejad {formerly Iran}

Defection by Jovan Stankić

Defection by Jovan Stankić

”Do you have a…?” Afridi puts a hand to his ear, the universal cellphone gesture.

The husband reaches into his backpack to hand over his Talibanistani version of a communicator, “Safe,” he reassures.

Afridi feels he owes the family (who is giving him refuge) some kind of an explanation, but he is aware of how straightforward their life is, simple and routine, neither of which applies to his. They politely shuffle off to another room when they see him entering the numbers that will go directly to his oldest child’s phone, fear-the-worst-by-linwood barclyhoping he is at home, while dodging a wiretap of his wife’s device.

Three rings, four, five and he begins to fear the worst. “They” had gotten to his family, salting them away with the intent of having them fall through the porous cracks of tribal autocracy.

Suddenly a familiar voice picks up; praise and glory to the God he is forbidden to worship!

“Are you at home my son, good? Hand your phone to your mother.”

“Aldona, Sheikh Kamran came to tell me that you were missing! Are you in trouble, what have you done?”

“Fatima listen very carefully, we have little time to dawdle,” accent on time. “We must defect immediately. ‘They’ wanted me to participate in something my conscience will not allow; I will have no part in their jealous ruin, what a fool I was.”

“What should we do Aldona? You know I support you in all your decisions.”

“You wanted me to get a job in the West, I should have listened, but now we have no choice. I am wounded…safe and well in the home of kind strangers. ‘They’ think I am dead, so act like you know nothing.

defection1I need for you & the children to meet me in Istanbul. You have the numbers for our Switzerland account; have your cousin Fasil drive you to Ahmadinejad {formerly Iran} and cross into Turkey from there.”

It is reflective moment for Afridi.

“If we make it through this ordeal, I vow to work endlessly for the good of the entire world. I have been escape2-001funneling my talents into an evil pit.

“Please go straight to the Galata district and seek refuge Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is run by Christians, and you will be safe there.”

“We will do so Aldona. Praise God for sparing your life.”

“May He sponsor us in our time of need.”


 THE RETURN TRIP

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Episode 21


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

…A double barrel dose of help: Kenty Johnson has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge…

double-barrel-001

A.O. is taking his new lease on life in, in the spirit in which it is presented. Even as he watches familiar landmarks pass by as they ease up to his Virginia Street address. He is thinking about the future.

Maggie is waiting on the front steps of their house. What a welcome sight. There too are daughters Alpha, Laura and Zillah and their families. Maggie is seated in a wheelchair, one and all waving a hearty ‘welcome home’.

“Thank you, gracious Lord,” he proclaims tearfully.

But that isn’t all. There are other familiar faces.

“What’s Kenty Johnson doin’ here?”  Dr. J. Kenty Johnson is with his son, himself a newly minted doctor.

double-barrel2

“I needed a reliable source of information about your situation and Kenty came to mind. He filled in the particulars of your life, practice and such. AND he mentioned that his son was looking to make a difference in the Tallahassee community. And did we say that he fresh from medical double-barrelschool? A double barrel dose of help: Kenty has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge.” Carolyn Hanes has placed a neat, pretty bow on a once dire circumstance.

One month ago, Alpha Campbell would have been bloated full of irrational pride, having suffered in silence for the better part of a decade. He was determined to find a way out of their money struggles and did not need outside help.

We all know what path that led him down.

“Well boys, don’t you think it is time we roll up our sleeves?”

Upon hearing Dr. Alpha O. Campbell utter that inclusive statement, his nurses who were hiding in LBMH for fear of their lives, come sprinting out the front door.

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LBMHSomehow, Laura Bell Memorial Hospital looked whiter than normal that day… From down the street, a car streaks to the emergency side entrance, a man screams out, “My wife’s water just broke! Please help!”

“Scrub up, you Johnsons; we have a baby to deliver… Edwina will get you gowns and get her to the second floor…”

… The LBMH wing for whites.

(The End of the Beginning)


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #331


page 311 (end Ch. 19)

Sick Puns #40 – WIF Wit and Humor

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Diseased (Sick) Puns

 

The flipside of contagious gum disease is an infectious smile.

 

Which illness are witches most prone to? Crone’s disease.

 

When Wally discovered he had Lyme disease he was really ticked off.

 

The mathematician did not practice safe six and ended up with a binarial disease.

 

She could only compose music in 3/4 time. She had waltz timer’s disease.

 

The retired track official has started forgetting things. He has old timer’s disease.

 

He liked to study infectious diseases. It was in his blood.

 

Don’t kiss birds or you may get an untweetable canarial disease.

 

Chronic illegal parkers suffer from parking zones disease.

 

Those who write about disease become ill-literate.



Sick Puns #40 –

WIF Wit and Humor

 

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #329

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #329

…Sodomy versus abortion…” Carolyn’s open palms represent the scales of justice; one lowers the other raises and back again. “Which is the greater offense?…

jail-cell-001

“The door is locked,” Lyn states.

“Here, I can open it…”

  The four of them enter, getting a wide eyeful of Winthrop Joyce, in a compromising position with a man in a prison-striped jumpsuit, pulled down for all to see. There is a lag in time between the unexpected opening of the medical room door and the shocked expressions of the two men therein.

Harry Morrison is in the lead, he turns in haste, pushing the other three away. But the damage is already done.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, folks.”

Image result for lower case upper caseCarolyn Ford seizes the moment, “Aren’t there laws prohibiting sodomy?”

“…yes…” Lower case y, little e, small s.

“Don’t you think States Attorney Hopkins should know about what is going on in Leon County?”

NO!” Upper case N, big O.

In the vacuous silence of the cold concrete and steel hallway, Morrison is allowed to let the heat of the moment bring his blood to a boil. There isn’t much he can verbalize to explain away what they had just seen.

Lyn breaks the silence, in her own inimitable and anticipated way. “We are all adults here.” In between latobsd3-001words, you can hear the leaky faucet in the lavatory in the room release one more drip.

Sodomy versus abortion…” Her open palms represent the scales of justice; one lowers the other raises and back again. “Which is the greater offense?

“No difference,” admits Morrison. Cousin Curt nods.

“We haven’t seen Dr. A.O. Campbell yet. Where is he?”

“He’s in the Negro cell block downstairs, but I see where you’re going and you can back up a mite. A girl died after being treatment by him.”

“Come – come now. I read the deposition of one, Dr. Sapp and it seems he has been given a pass on the eventual fate of Audrie Franich. You have taken his word and thrown away the key concerning Alpha Campbell.”

“If I let Campbell walk, I don’t know whose head will roll.”

“Whose head will roll in a serial sodomy case against Sheriff Joyce? Just him, I doubt it. Wow, merely visualizing the newspaper headlines! Can you imagine… his wife… your wife… would-be Governor Hopkins… disgraced public officials?”

          “Fine, Miss Hanes, I get your drift.”

          “It’s Hanes-Ford and my reach goes far beyond the front page headlines of the Tallahassee Democrat.”

          “Go down and get Campbell, Deputy Curt. Make sure he has all his possessions.”

          “We don’t have his release papers,” states Curt, covering his own tracks with procedural detail.

          “I’ll take care of that.” He walks Curt to the service elevator while whispering, “Did you know what Joyce was doing?”

          “No, but he told me not to ask him why he made weekly visits… at the same time… in the same room. I know my place.”

          “I am leaving, now! Don’t screw up and by the way, you didn’t see anything, did you?”

          “Nope!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Image result for released painting

Released by Susan Swain

Episode #329


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