The Quick 10: 10 Fictitious Entries

You know how animators and filmmakers will sometimes slip something a little unexpected into a piece just to put their stamp on it? They're not the only ones who do so. You'll find silly little entries in lots of other places - if you know what to look for. And sometimes the reason for the fictitious entry serves a purpose other than to amuse the author (see #4, #5 and #8). Check out these 10.

1. Apopudobalia. What, you've never heard of this sport? Don't feel too bad "“ neither have most people, and that's because it doesn't exist. But the German-language Der neue Pauly, a German encyclopedia Brittanica, didn't let the fact that the sport never was stop them from including it in their 1986 edition. According to the encyclopedia, it was a Greco-Roman sport similar to modern-day soccer.

2. Zzxjoanw. This one flew under the radar for years; it was reprinted in editions of The Musical Guide from 1903-1956. The Guide contained all kinds of information on music, including a 252-page dictionary for meanings and pronunciations of non-English words often found in music. "Zymbel," which is German for cymbal, should have been the last entry. However, author Robert Hughes slipped in "Zzxjoanw," apparently pronounced "shaw," and declared it a type of Maori drum. The hoax was fully exposed in a 1996 book called Making the Alphabet Dance. One pretty big tipoff that the word was fake: there is no "Z" in the Maori alphabet.

mountweazel3. Lillian Virginia Mountweazel. The New Columbia Encyclopedia included a pretty unbelievable entry on this Ohioan in its 1975 edition. Mountweazel was a fountain designer and photographer and was particularly skilled at capturing the essence of rural mailboxes in America. She died in a freak explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine. The kicker? She was from Bangs, Ohio. Ha. For someone who doesn't exist, Lillian is quite accomplished - an art exhibit was dedicated to her "work" last year.

4. Esquivalience. Even the most well-known dictionaries slip one by people sometimes, but with good reason. In 2005, The New Oxford American Dictionary made the news when the faux word "esquivalience" was discovered amongst its other very real words. It was intended as a copyright trap "“ a purposeful error made to make it easy to spot plagiarizers. Given this purpose, the definition editors made up for it is pretty clever: "the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities."

5. Jungftak. Yep, Websters does it too. A 1943 version of Webster's New Twentieth Century lists a jungftak as:

"A Persian bird, the male of which had only one wing, on the right side, and the female only one wing, on the left side; instead of the missing wings, the male had a hook of bone, and the female an eyelet of bone, and it was by uniting hook and eye that they were enable[d] to fly, -each, when alone, had to remain on the ground."

A professor wrote to Webster's in the "˜80s to ask about the, um, interesting entry, and its then-associate editor responded that the entry definitely lacked validity. She suspected it was used for the same copyright-protection reasons "esquivalience" had been in The New Oxford American Dictionary.

6. Dord. "Dord" is the result of a rather humorous error, although that error wasn't explained until 15 years after the fictitious word was printed in Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The word ostensibly meant "density." What actually happened was that the dictionary's chemistry editor sent a note that said "D or d, cont./density," meaning that the letter "d" could be used as an abbreviation for density. Somewhere along the line, the note was mistranslated as dord instead of "D or d."

7. Stone Louse. The stone louse is a fictitious little mite that gnawed its way into the German medical dictionary Pschyrembel Klinisches Wörterbuch in 1983. It was based on a parody nature documentary by the German humorist Loriot. It seems that most people caught on to the joke, because the stone louse remains in the dictionary, with each edition seeming to expand on the mite's habitat, medical value and natural enemies. Apparently the louse was instrumental in bringing down the Berlin Wall, as the wall was placed in areas "commonly inhabited by the stone louse." Who knew?!

agloe8. Agloe, New York. Agloe is one of the few instances of a fictional place turning real. The fake town was included on a 1930s map for the same reason publishers put fake words in the dictionary "“ to deter anyone who might try to copy the map and sell it for their own profit. The joke was on them, though "“ when someone built a little general store at precisely the spot the fake town was labeled on the map, they named it the Agloe General Store because they thought that's what town they were legitimately in. Today, it's best known as a quirky landmark and for being featured in the young adult novel Paper Towns by John Green.

9. Guglielmo Baldini. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is the largest reference work on Western music ever. It's so large, in fact, it even contains some musicians who aren't real. Although the fictional Baldini appeared within the Grove's pages, it wasn't their editors who made him up. The fake composer was invented nearly 100 years earlier by musicologist Hugo Riemann. An eagle-eyed reader spotted the error and Baldini was removed by the second printing of the book.

10. Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup. Also an entry in The Grove, Esrum-Hellerup was added to the 1980 edition, perhaps in homage to the great Baldini. Like his predecessor, though, the hoax was quickly exposed, removed, and replaced with an illustration in the book.

Have you ever spotted an entry in the dictionary that didn't quite sound right to you? I'm almost motivated to go cull through my dictionaries to see if I can spot the fake entries. Almost.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.


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