About This Show
Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 8,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and tackle an entertaining puzzle.
Most Recent Episode
026-A Practical Joke on a Grand Scale
3 days ago
In 1810 someone told hundreds of London merchants that Mrs. Tottenham at 54 Berners Street had requested their services. She hadn't. For a full day the street was packed with crowds of deliverymen struggling to reach a single door -- and the practical joker was never caught.
In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll hear descriptions of the chaos in Berners Street and meet Theodore Hook, the man who probably planned the whole thing. We'll also revisit the mysterious corpse found on an Australian beach in 1948 and puzzle over an octopus stuck in a tree.
Sources for our segment on the Berners Street hoax:
Judith Flanders, The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London, 2012.
Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1832.
Theodore Hook, The Life and Remains of Theodore Edward Hook, 1849.
John Gibson Lockhart, Theodore Hook, A Sketch, 1852.
John Timbs, Lives of Wits and Humourists, 1862.
Satirist, or, Monthly Meteor, "The Hoax: An Epistle From Solomon Sappy, Esquire, in London, to his brother Simon at Liverpool," Jan. 1, 1811, pp. 59-61.
The new developments in the mystery of the Somerton man are detailed in this article on The Advertiser.
Here's "No E," four minutes of E-less hip-hop by Zach Sherwin and George Watsky (thanks, Jocelyn):
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This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Nick Madrid.
You can listen using the player above, or subscribe on iTunes or via the RSS feed at http://feedpress.me/futilitycloset.
Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening!