Bathroom Reading Month: Writer for a Day

Every week during Bathroom Reading Month, we will host a giveaway for a book of your choice from the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader collection. Just to spice it up, we will ask you to answer a question on the blog. At the end of the week, we will pick a random winner from the answers and post it on the blog along with our favorite answers. Remember that this is in addition to our “mother-of-all” contest: enter to win the entire in-print library of Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers.

Week #4: Writer for a Day

QUESTION:  If you were to write a book about a subject,
what would you write about and why?

Answer the question in the comments section of this post to be entered to win a book of your choice from the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader library. Answers must be posted by June 26, 2013, midnight PST to be eligible to win. A winner will be announced on Friday, June 28, 2013. Open to US residents, 18 year + only.

Would you write about hoaxes? Need a little inspiration? Here are a few classics from Uncle John’s Unstoppable Bathroom Reader.

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THE ICE WORM COMETH

The BRI library has an entire wing for books and articles on hoaxes. Here are a few classics.

KLONDIKE ICE WORMS

Background: In 1898 a young journalist named “Stroller” White got a job in Dawson, Alaska, with the Klondike Nugget. The terms of his employment were tough: he had to increase sales…or he was out in the cold. Just then, a fierce storm took hold of the area and it gave him an idea. He wrote an article about “ice worms” that had crawled out of a nearby glacier to “bask in the unusual frigidity in such numbers that their chirping was seriously interfering with the sleep of Dawson’s inhabitants.”

What Happened: Sales of the Nugget skyrocketed as people began forming expedition teams to search for the noisy creatures. White got to keep his job and the ice worm story became so popular that bartenders started serving “ice-worm cocktails,” in which they added a piece of frozen spaghetti to a customer’s drink. Annual ice worm festivals became a local tradition—and are still held today.

Update: For years everyone assumed that ice worms were just a figment of White’s imagination, but scientists recently claimed to have found real evidence of the existence of ice worms living inside Alaskan glaciers. No word on whether or not they chirp.

PRINCESS CARABOO

Background: One spring morning in 1817, a strange woman strolled into Almondsbury, England. She was five-foot-two and stunning, wearing a black shawl twisted like a turban around her head. She spoke a language no one could understand and had to use gestures to communicate. In those days a homeless woman roaming the street was usually tossed in the poorhouse, so the stranger was directed to see the Overseer of the Poor. But instead of sending her to the poorhouse, he sent her to stay at the home of Samuel Worrall, the county magistrate.

Days later a Portuguese sailor arrived at the Worrall household claiming to speak Caraboo’s bizarre language. He translated as Caraboo revealed her secret past: she was no homeless beggar— she was a princess from the island of Javasu. Pirates had kidnapped her and carried her across the ocean, but as they sailed through the English Channel, Caraboo jumped ship and swam ashore.

What Happened: The Worralls informed the local press and soon all England knew of Princess Caraboo. And for weeks, Caraboo was treated royally…until her former employer came forward.

A woman named Mrs. Neale had recognized the newspaper description of “Princess Caraboo” as her former servant, Mary Baker, a cobbler’s daughter. The giveaway: Baker had often entertained Mrs. Neale’s children by speaking a nonsense language. “Caraboo” reluctantly confessed to the fraud she and the “sailor” had perpetrated. Amazingly, Mrs. Worrall took pity on Caraboo and gave her enough money to sail to Philadelphia. Seven years later she returned to England and made a living selling leeches to the Infirmary Hospital in Bristol.

CROSS-DRESSING KEN

Background: In July 1990, Carina Guillot and her 12-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, were shopping at a Toys “R” Us in Florida. As they strolled up and down the store aisles, they caught a glimpse of a peculiar-looking Ken doll. Sealed inside of a cardboard package was Barbie’s friend Ken, dressed in a purple tank top and a polka-dotted skirt with a lace apron. As doll collectors, the Guillots immediately knew this one was out of the ordinary and brought it to the front register for closer inspection. Employees determined that the doll hadn’t been tampered with and was indeed a genuine Mattel original. The Guillots purchased it for $8.99.

What Happened: Word of the “cross-dressing Ken” quickly hit the national media circuit. Newspapers wrote about it; TV talk shows talked about it. Collectors made outrageous bids of up to $4,000 for it. But the Guillots wouldn’t sell. Instead they kept the doll long enough for the truth to come out of the closet. Finally, a night clerk at the store, Ron Zero, came forward and confessed to the prank. Apparently Zero had dressed Ken up in Barbie’s clothes and then carefully resealed the package with white glue.

Toys “R” Us fired him four days later.