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Ask The Fiddler #22: Costly Cures for Imaginary Illnesses

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

I have a headache that starts in my toes, I’m allergic to my allergy meds, and my boomerang won’t come back. What remedy do you suggest?

Barry in D.C.

Dear Barry,

Obviously you need a hearty dose of that legendary scourge of internal corruption, Dr. Fiddler’s Electro-Cleanse Elixir, completely recyclable and manufactured under strict sanitary conditions when circumstances permit, available at the side door at the conclusion of this essay. Two dollars for the bottle.

stethescopeOn the other hand, you could undoubtedly improve your condition if you would quit watching TV medical ads and cease asking the Internet for a diagnosis.

Those ads and questionable posts can be hazardous to your health. Experts say “exposure to advertising that sells a fantasy of flawless health, perfect skin, clockwork bowels, extended youth and perpetual cheerfulness in the face of disappointment, aging, money woes” … “can create expectations and perceived needs that lead to unnecessary and expensive drug consumption.”

Of course the drug companies argue that their ads are educational. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries where drug companies can advertise directly to consumers. It is estimated that every ad dollar spent by Big Pharma yields a four dollar boost in sales of prescription drugs. (more…)

Fiddle File #10

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #10

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Kentucky & Etc: Take it off? You got a gig serving burgers and fries. Now the restaurant manager is ordering you to submit to a strip-search. Here’s the history of a very bizarre hoax, pulled time and again.

FaceBook: What makes you click? Here are some hoax headlines that have steered the curious into a marketing scam: Huge plane crashes into bridge? – Terrible roller coaster accident! – 99% Can’t Watch More Than 15 Seconds – Half Girl Half Snake! – Terrible accident with pencil! – HUGE pimple explodes – Shark eats living man! – Spider lives under skin!

plane-crashes-bridge

FaceBook, email: Here’s another example of the “What makes you click?” hoax. (more…)

Ask The Fiddler #21: Ducking the Political Wrecking Ball

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Filed under: Hype, Propaganda and Disinformation, Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

Media vultures are trying to make a meal of my political career. What should I do?

Chris in New Jersey

Dear Chris,

You are suffering from an attack of opposition research.

nixon-virusOpposition researchers know that human behavior often involves patterns. Meaning, if you did it once, there are probably other instances. So, they are digging.

You are in deep scat. As a former hard-charging anti-corruption prosecuting attorney who won convictions or guilty pleas from 130 public officials, you probably know that.

Opposition research does far more damage than is generally reported, whether it takes the form of anonymous whispers or professionally prepared dossiers. Its dynamics usually only come to light through insider revelations. Why so? Because reporters don’t want to admit that their earth-shaking stories were the result not of their own brilliance but of spoon-fed, un-sourced tips.

It used to be a shady, hush-hush, backroom activity that few admitted to. But today there are fancy firms devoted to opposition research, three-piece suits strutting down K Street with briefcases full of DUI reports and divorce records. For the amateur, there are handbooks and seminars led by private investigators.

What the diggers are looking for, as you well know, is further examples of dirty tricks.

(more…)

Ask The Fiddler #20: Fly Me to the Moon

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Filed under: Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

I’m anxious to find a little peace and quiet someplace but my options are somewhat limited due to past actions. Any suggestions?

Edward (location redacted)

Dear Edward,

The man to see is Dennis Hope. He owns the Moon. He’s also president of the Galactic Government, which represents landowners on the Moon and other extraterrestrial properties.

moonAs you might imagine, there are those who say Hope is full of green cheese. There are a number of other claimants and competitors. Such as, the major nations of the world. For an overview of various national and international laws and treaties relating to the Moon, check out the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

You’d probably get a nice welcome from a group of artists who have established “The Republic of the Moon.” But for the moment they don’t appear to be colonizing, just offering exhibits, performances, workshops and other events.

Another very active group is the Luna Society, which carries on important projects such as naming a crater after Michael Jackson – whom they identify as having owned property on the moon. The Society is focused on development of Moon resources. There is a lot of titanium up there, an expensive ore due to extraction difficulties.

(more…)

Fiddle File #9

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #9

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

superstarEverywhere: Got what it takes to be a supermodel? There are plenty of sharks out there to assure you of that, all you need is some up front money. Article is from a Canadian perspective but the advice is universal.

Cleveland: The nice stranger will give you half the proceeds if you let him cash a check using your debit card. Sounds like an easy way to pocket some loot. And it is, for the scammer.

Staten Island: Ah, for a good night’s rest. WTF, the bed’s on fire. And your “prankster” roomy is facing a handful of charges.

Baltimore: Looking to make a few extra bucks? Become a hoaxer bounty hunter. Coast Guard offers $2000 for the right info on this trouble-maker.

FaceBook: What are friends for? Overseas con artists think they’re for exploiting through impostor accounts set up using your info.

(more…)

Ask The Fiddler #19: Electile Dysfunction

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Filed under: Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

The next presidential election is not that far off. Can you suggest any tactics to get me into the White House?

Sarah in Anchorage

Dear Sarah,

There are tunnels. But you are talking about getting elected, I assume. That will be tricky. So of course you’ll need tricks.

Sarah PalinThe top candidates will probably spend around a billion dollars each on the next presidential election. How about, put your billion into whiskey? There don’t appear to be any laws against voting while drunk, and it is certainly a time-honored tradition.

Speaking of the old tried and true, you could just go basic — buy votes.

I saw somewhere that politicians shell out around $50 per voter in the major elections. So, how about if you skip the ads and events and just hand out cash?

Of course, being a values kind of gal, maybe you have some reservations about handing out cash. By all means, do the honorable thing. Go with gift cards.

Gift cards worked recently in Mexico, though there was a slight problem. Thousands of bribed voters thought they were getting a grocery card worth $37.50 but it turned out to be worth only $7.50. Damn sleazy politicians, can’t trust ‘em even to bribe you fair and square. So the citizens, now known as los indignados, complained to the media.

(more…)

Ask The Fiddler #18: Plum Pudding

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Filed under: Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

Why are there no plums in plum pudding?

Jack in Muncie

Dear Jack,

First of all, Jack, let’s address an underlying issue. You’re expecting someone else to put plums in your pudding. Whoa up! This is America. If you want plums in your pudding, by golly, roll up your shirtsleeves and stuff away. Self-reliance, that’s the spirit!

But the problem you address goes a bit deeper than plums. By modern standards, there isn’t even any pudding in plum pudding! What I mean is, that pasty stuff you buy in the store that’s labeled pudding.

pudding-funnelTrue old-timey plum pudding is more like sausage.

The earliest consisted of minced beef or another dried meat, or fish, dried fruit, suet, sugar and oats. All that got stuffed into a pig intestine, as with haggis.

They say it’s best not to ask how sausage is made and that probably goes for vintage pudding as well, but, for the curious, here’s a site offering a very serious history of pudding.

Many sites and publications claim, as you say, that there are no plums in plum pudding. But, don’t believe everything you read. I found several respectable recipes calling for plums. I’ll mention a few in due course.

First, some history. Those olden plum puddings had interesting names, according food writer Maggie Black. She mentions white porray, joutes, charlet, cawdel fery, bukkenade, mortrews or mawmeny and the gold-and-white ‘blanc desore’. Try any of that at your local drive-through.

(more…)

Fiddle File #8

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #8

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Los Angeles: Poor dear, is an evil curse keeping you from finding true love? No problem, for something just short of a million bucks this psychic will fix you right up. Think so?

Your Computer: The email says your package is on its way. But you didn’t order any package. Well, better check. Nope, better not, unless you want to be phished for personal and banking info.

Atlanta: Whew, sure glad Home Depot has public restrooms. Whoa, sure hate that some jerk decorated the seats with glue.

Your Computer: You’re active in online communities like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn. Yum, scammers love you.

Everywhere: A good selection here, “The Twelve Scams of Christmas,” nefarious activities by scammers which you may encounter this season.

(more…)

Ask The Fiddler #17: Pranked to Death

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

I’ve seen several accounts of pranks that misfired. Isn’t pranking kind of a dangerous game?

Arlene in Cincinnati

Dear Arlene,

human-combustion-200Pranking can be a theatric art form, raising awareness about an important issue or exposing a cultural flaw. But the epidemic taking place today, from the celebrity suite to the punk on the street, is rarely more than a subtle form of bullying. So-called pranks are often harmful, humiliating and sometimes deadly – for the prankster or the victim.

You would probably agree that death qualifies as a danger. Here are a few reports of death by pranking.

  • Given the media coverage, you are probably quite aware of the sad case of Jacintha Saldanha, the India-born nurse who committed suicide after being pranked by Australian radio personalities. The Daily Mail has a site aggregating all stories so far.
  • In the realm of juvenile pranks, there is a report where the joker in the back seat pulled the strings on the driver’s bikini top. She tried to cover herself, losing control. The joker died in the crash.
  • A 16 year old Kentucky youngster hanged himself accidentally pulling a Halloween prank.

    (more…)

  • Ask The Fiddler #16: The Cloak of Invisibility

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    Filed under: Satire

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    Dear Fiddler:

    Given the terrors of today’s environment, I get the jitters in airports, schools, shopping malls, and on city streets. I would like to know how to become invisible.

    Phil in Ashville

    Dear Phil,

    You and what army.

    As you probably guessed, the U.S. Army.

    invisible tankBut they haven’t quite got it down yet. The current state of the art is theoretical and mainly involves camouflaging troops and weapons to avoid electronic detection.

    So it looks you’re gonna have to go with hoodoo and voodoo. A search should reveal a fair number of sites making promises that they likely can’t keep. Spells and incantations, that sort of thing.

    One vendor assures you there’s no “mumbo jumbo or hocus pocus” to the method offered (at a price), you won’t get stuck in some other dimension or astral plane. While the seller eschews “reprehensible behavior” on the part of those who become invisible, an illustration shows an invisible man lifting a woman’s skirt.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about getting stuck in some other dimension. (more…)

    The Fiddle File #7

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    Filed under: Prank Busters, Urban Legends

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #7

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    Washington State: I read the news today, oh boy. Fake article posted about son’s alleged suicide.

    China: Do these eggs taste kind of funny to you? I mean, not funny ha-ha, funny yuck.

    Vancouver BC: The on-line date you haven’t met yet has hit you up for $500,000 in loans. Talk about screwed without a kiss.

    Washington DC: Sorry to hear you slipped on a banana peel. By the way, that’s a felony.

    Watch the video

    Louisiana: You jokingly yell to your sleeping friend that the car is on fire and about to explode. His panic reaction leads to a near-death experience.

    (more…)

    Ask The Fiddler #15: Which Way Is Up?

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    Filed under: Satire

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    Dear Fiddler:

    Aren’t people in Australia afraid of falling off the Earth, seeing as they’re upside down?

    Arnold in Ypsilanti

    Dear Arnold,

    Yes. Worrying about that is why they drink so much beer. Australians are very grateful for gravity. According to a site designed for the education of young minds, gravity is the glue that holds everyone in place on Earth.

    boblarkin1982-200Gravity aside, is it a true fact that Australians are upside down? You probably don’t think often about the meaninglessness of up and down in space terms. In space, which, surprise, is where Earth hangs out, those concepts have no meaning, nothing is up or down.

    So, where are things in space? Who knows, maybe “over there”?

    Well, all you have to do is look at a globe, it’s plain as the nose on your face. People in Australia are upside down in relation to people in, say, New York City. If the Earth is a sphere, obviously Australians falling off would fall down, right?

    But that has to be a mistake because to an Australian, up isn’t down, the stars aren’t down, they’re up. So news reports of Australians falling off the Earth — based on observation of reliable witnesses — would have to say they fell up. To an Australian, as to intelligent people everywhere, there’s nowhere to go but up.

    (more…)

    The Fiddle File #6

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    Filed under: Prank Busters

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #6

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    Worldwide: Looking for love in Thailand? Hopefully you don’t use the same password elsewhere.

    U.S./U.K.: If your Windows system has been hit by CryptoLocker you probably aren’t reading this. Otherwise, extreme caution is vital, this ransomware is very effective (Via Graham Cluly’s Security Newsletter).

    Vancouver: The attack-passerby-with-a-fake-axe trick gets you a nice pair of police-issue bracelets to wear all the way to jail.

    Colorado: Stick a toy pistol in a cop’s face. Luckily he doesn’t react as some might, you’re under arrest rather than under six feet of dirt.

    England: “Night climbing” on the roof of an 11th century world heritage site cathedral may not improve your class standing.

    (more…)

    Ask The Fiddler #14: Fiddler: What Really Happened to Billy Joe McAllister?

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    Filed under: Satire

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    Dear Fiddler:

    I’m wondering if Billy Joe McAllister could possibly have survived his leap off the Tallahatchie Bridge?

    Fran in Frisco

    Dear Fran:

    So, what do you figure? He crawled ashore and headed off to start a new life, somewhere far away from Choctaw Ridge? I’m with you, for a couple of reasons. I’ll get to that, but I have to say we face formidable opposition.

    Gentryguitar-200Based on a heap of chatter on the Internet, most people, probably rightly, take Bobbie Gentry’s ode as a lament for the dead. One site I was looking at, there was so much gab, I quit reading. But it seemed like the whole gang there believed Billy Joe was a goner.

    By the way, in the original lyric Billy is Billie. You’ll find it spelled wrong in a lot of places that should know better.

    Jumping, of course, is a popular way to get dead. Think of Paul Simon’s “Save the Life of My Child,” or the fate of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda. Think about it, what state — other than the really flat ones — doesn’t have a Lover’s Leap, even several, with some tragic tale attached?

    Looking back to ancient times, I’m reminded of that noted vegetarian philosopher Empedocles who believed himself divine. He jumped into a volcano to prove it. He didn’t reappear in human or divine form, so much for philosophy. (more…)

    The Fiddle File #5

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    Filed under: Prank Busters

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #5

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    scream-197

    New Jersey: Superstorm Sandy brought us many tales of heroics but there is a dark side as well, unscrupulous predators using phony charities, inflated pricing and phony promises to scam victims.

    Nationwide: Have you been tempted to help billionaire Warren Buffett in his crusade to reform Congress? Sorry, but the popular email solicitation is a hoax.

    Everywhere: Do you search your business name regularly? It may have been hijacked for placement of phony supply orders or other nefarious purposes.

    Australia: Congratulations, you just won a vacation sweepstakes. Scratch that. You just won a chance to spend 25 years in jail.

    Ohio: Sorry about your loss, here’s a fake bill for funeral flowers to add to it.

    California: Spending the rest of your life in a cage hardly seems sufficient payback for ripping off folks who lost homes due to wildfires.

    Everywhere: Many of us use PayPal to make electronic payments. Things can go awry.

    Australia: But it could happen anywhere. Fake phishing pages planted within genuine web sites. (Similar to Better Business Bureau warning on business names being hijacked).

    Global: Swell Internet deals on cars, motorcycles, boats and more, just wire the money to this gang of Roumanian crooks who set up fake sites that look legit.

    England: We could fill pages with items on stupid prank 911 calls but here’s one worth mention. Cops bust the door down in response to a call placed by your cat.