There are fake Apple Stores in China. They look almost exactly like real Apple Stores, and items on sale may or may not be genuine Apple products. It appears that even the stores' “geniuses” have been duped into believing that they are working at an authorized Apple outlet. (Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2011)
In North Korea, every home must have a portrait of Kim Jong Il, and there is a fine for failing to dust it. Foreign vistors are warned not to tear, crumple, or throw away a North Korean newspaper, for it is liable to contain a photograph of Kim Jong Il. Foreigners who descrate newspapers containing a picture of Kim Jong Il are not allowed to leave the country until they write a letter of apology. (Los Angeles Times, 9/23/08)
In 1937 a supporter of Hitler planted a swatiska of larch trees in a pine forest north of Berlin. Every autumn they form the Nazi symbol in russet against the evergreen background, though the display is visible only from the air. The German government announced it is cutting the trees down (11/30/00).
Santa’s Village, a Christmas-theme park in Southern California, has been plagued with “Santas” thinking they are the real thing. “We had one guy end up in the booby hatch,” the owner recalled. A frequent visitor was thrown out of the park because he kept telling children that he was the real Santa and the park’s Santa was a fraud. (Los Angeles Times, 2/18/98)
Police in Chattanooga are baffled by two mysterious children, “Scarecrow” and “Barbie,” found in a local hotel. The children say they don’t know their real names or dates and places of birth. Scarecrow appears to be about 5 and has an imaginary wife, “Honey.” Barbie, about 8, also calls herself “Kimberly” and “Gail” — although the boy refers to her as “Alicia.” Asked her date of birth, Barbie said she was born in a month starting with letters MA. Authorities have spoken to a man who claims to be the children’s father and a woman who claims to be their mother. Both seem to be lying. (2/16/96)
A “Dear Abby” column consists entirely of letters from readers proposing methods for concealing loose marbles in a medicine cabinet in order to entrap snooping guests curious to know what medication one is taking. Suggested schemes for placing large numbers of loose marbles in a medicine cabinet include bursting a plastic bag of marbles and retrieving the bag with a string; putting the marbles in a “jar” of ice. (4/4/94)
Guatemala has been seized with mass hysteria — possibly fostered by the Guatemalan military for reasons of its own — about Americans stealing Guatemalan children for adoption or, more omniously, for organ transplants. A current urban legend tells of villagers finding a child’s body with several vital organs missing. Stuffed into the cavities were wads of U.S. dollar bills, and along with them, a note saying, “Thank you for your collaboration.” (4/2/94)
The patent for Pez candy dispensers, which allow the user to pop candies into the mouth using one hand, states that they are “not only for persons having only one hand but also persons who often have only one hand free (for example motor-vehicle drivers), or whose occupation causes their hands to become smeared with dirt.”