Monday, February 4, 2019

The Urban Legend of the Cigar Arsonist...

Snopes has a repository of Lost Legends.  The acronym that Snopes uses for this is T.R.O.L.L. a reference to the early 1990s definition of the word troll, meaning an internet prank.  Urban legends is the term for modern folklore - usually fictional stories, presented as real, with macabre or humorous elements, rooted in our social, everyday lives.The tales are too appealing not to tell.

I read through some of the urban legends.  There are the creepy ones - you will remember the couple with the broken-down car and the scratching on the roof, or perhaps the baby sitter with the clown statue in the bedroom. Wikipedia has a list HERE.  A pop music urban legend of the 1960's - "Paul is dead".  

There is a macabre element in every story.  This is what makes them creepy in some manner, and at the same time enthusiastically passed on to the next person.  I found a list of 'funny' ones  at - this is the site with the most urban legend stories. I wouldn't give them the heading funny, but certainly want to retell them, so they must fit the urban legend template:

The Cigar Arsonist
A Charlotte, North Carolina man, having purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, went to an insurance company to have them insured against fire. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company.
In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued—and won! In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that the cigars would be insured against fire, without defining what it considered to be unacceptable fire, it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.
Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company grudgingly accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in the fires. After the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson. With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used as evidence against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one-year terms.

And this one:  The Zoo Parking Attendant
Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 coaches, or buses. As the story goes, the lot was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars 1 pound (about $1.40) and coaches 5 pounds (about $7). This parking attendant worked there for all of 25 years. Then, one day, he just didn't turn up for work.
"Oh well," said Bristol Zoo Management, "we'd better phone up the City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant."
"Er... no," said the Council, "that parking lot is your responsibility."
"Er... no," said Bristol Zoo management, "the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn't he?"
"Er... no," insisted the Council.
Sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain, is a man who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at 400 pounds (about $560) per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years. Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over 3.6 million pounds ($7 million).

Today's first picture is a colourized abstract from the bottom of a boat in Port Dalhousie's parking lot for boats in winter.
And the second is a model from the show this year - complete with dog on the platform at the front. 

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