No, this is true. It really happened to a cousin of a friend. After a trip to Australia her belly started to grow. She knew she couldn't be pregnant, but it sure looked that way. When she finally went to a doctor the ultrasound showed an octopus growing in her stomach! It nearly killed her. The doctor said she must have swallowed some eggs while swimming.
Oh, wait, have you heard Microsoft is paying thousands of dollars if you forward this e-mail? We'll send you a copy. Someone at work has made a bundle.
And you're not using that Ultra Clorox are you? It has lye in it. That's really dangerous. It can stick to surfaces and hurt kids and pets. A cat down the street died from it.
We dedicate this Click to bull funky.
While urban legends have been around for as long as there have been urban areas (before that they were known as bucolic legends), e-mail and the Web have acted like fertilizer on, well, fertilizer.
The Urban Legends Reference Pages (http://www.snopes.com) from the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society has the classics, such as the poodle in the microwave and involuntary kidney donations, and the stuff currently circulating. There's very good debunking and origins information. A version of the octopus story, for example, ran rampant in the Atlantic states in 1934. Our only complaint about the site is that the animation and other bells and whistles sometimes make it excruciatingly slow. We were able to start two rumors while waiting for one page to finish building.
Another mondo site is the AFU & Urban Legends Archive (http://www.urbanlegends.com). AFU stands for alt.folklore.urban and the site is a collection of postings from the newsgroup.
Urban Legends & Modern Myths (http://redrival.com/urbanlegends) has quick hits on tons of urban legends. We especially like the food section with selections like this: "Hostess Twinkies aren't baked, they set like Jell-O." And we always thought they came from a chemical reaction.
Urban Myths (http://www.urbanmyths.com) lets you forward myths from their archives to your friends. Talk about adding a little spice to your workday.
Andrew Warinner has his own little interactive urban legend page at http://home.xnet.com/~warinner/index.html. Check out the Sphinx's Nose and vote for how you think the Sphinx lost its nose. We side with the person who blamed a sock monkey. Also check out the frozen chicken aircraft window test.
Monkeyburgers (http://www.xs4all.nl/~arink/us/index.html), a site from the Netherlands, offers "tasty urban legends." The name Monkeyburgers is allegedly a translation of the Dutch term for urban legend. A friend who knows someone who speaks Dutch told us so.
Other Web sites fighting the fakes and frauds that clog your e-mail: Internet ScamBusters (http://www.scambusters.org) is an e-zine that fights fraud and has tips on recognizing the fake. You can forward phony e-mail stories to HoaxKill (http://www .hoaxkill.com) and its software will let all other recipients know the message was fake. Very useful for memos from your boss. And there's NetSquirrel's Urban Legend Combat Kit
(http://netsquirrel.com/combatkit), which will tell you why you shouldn't forward that e-mail.
The Urban Legends Research Centre (http://www.ulrc.com.au/index.asp) has a very polite approach. Along with the usual archives of legends, there are delicate etiquette questions such as: "Do you have any advice on how I can tell someone their story is an urban legend without upsetting them?" What's wrong with, "Hello? Wake up!"?
With everyone trying to debunk urban legends, we thought we'd leave you with a way to start a few more. The Urban Legend Generator (http://toybox.asap.net/legend) lets you choose a few parameters and voila! You've got your own falsehood. There's even an option to e-mail it so you can start spreading it immediately.
Got a topic you'd like us to explore or avoid? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find previous Click Here columns at http://www.latimes.com/click.