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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Thursday, December 11, 2003

Some mistakes in trivia list collections:

In the entertaining recent facts’n’stuff collection That Book, author Mitchell Symons repeats the old adage that Charles Manson auditioned to be in the TV boy band The Monkees. Apart from being far too old to be a candidate, Manson was in prison at the time of the tryouts.

In Aubrey Dillon Malone’s recommended literary lists collection Stranger Than Fiction, a list called ‘Watery Graves - 5 Writers Who Drowned’ begins with poet John Berryman. Although Berryman did commit suicide in 1972 by jumping off a bridge in Minneapolis, it was a high bridge and a windy day and Berryman’s instant death was caused by hitting concrete at the river’s side.

Even best-sellers contain oopses. Ben Schott’s encyclopaedic little book Schott’s Original Miscellany pulls another old chestnut from the fire of error, repeating the offensive humdinger about Mama Cass and the sandwich in a list called ‘Untimely Popstar Deaths’. Cass Elliott died of a heart attack, not from choking on a sandwich (though this was wrongly reported at the time). The filling is usually either chicken or ham. The offensive humour perpetuating the myth is clear - fat Jewish woman chokes to death gobbling a ham sandwich.

The little-known trivia website Vitamin Q also contains errors, notably in a list named One-Off Beasts, where it claims the Indian river dolphin is the only mammal to be blind. The dolphins are only 'effectively blind' and although ‘blind as a bat’ is still not true, there are species of mole which have no eyesight whatsoever.

We ought to know better...

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