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May 28, 2003 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Uh, folks, this is not a documentary; it's a comedy, OK? People are actually trying to call God as seen in the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty. Sigh.
posted by alumshubby (49 comments total)

 
Should we be so concerned with the wandering actions of American peasants?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:20 AM on May 28, 2003


These are the same kind of people who call Tech Support hotlines wondering where the "any key" is.

But at least a bunch of hotline techies will know who to thank for their break.
posted by orange swan at 11:26 AM on May 28, 2003


I call Jenny at 867-5309 every night, but she's never home. Jenny, don't you lose my number!
posted by mathowie at 11:29 AM on May 28, 2003


You know, you say to yourself "Self, surely by now everybody in the world knows about the 555 prefix in movies and no one would be stupid enough to call a phone number they heard in one."

And yourself say, "I know, let's call God."
posted by briank at 11:33 AM on May 28, 2003


I think that many people in this world would like to find a way to establish contact with God. Their inner hope is to find a sympathetic Being on the other side of that phone line. These longings lead them to dial that number, unaware that they themselves constitute a small part of the all-encompassing Supreme Entity. When grasped, such a realization leads some to talk to themselves, and others to sit in quiet meditation for many hours.

Then again, maybe they are just plain stupid. Or kids playing with the phone.
posted by TreeHugger at 11:48 AM on May 28, 2003


Why shouldn't people try calling a number featured in a movie? Sometimes they lead to interesting things.

The movie Sneakers had a little automated message that played when you called a number featured in the movie, and I've gotten some interesting responses when contacting email addresses in books or tv shows.
posted by bobo123 at 11:52 AM on May 28, 2003


1-900-MIX-A-LOT
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:53 AM on May 28, 2003


Self, surely by now everybody in the world knows about the 555 prefix in movies and no one would be stupid enough to call a phone number they heard in one.

The 555 prefix is no longer reserved, though, and can be assigned and used. Also, the number in "Bruce Almighty" is a standard, real-sounding number (beginning with 776).

It's sparking dozens of local stories wherever the number actually works. At least one is actually a church (Sanford, NC).
posted by pzarquon at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2003


On the radio this morning, they played some of the messages people have left on the answering machine of some lady in Florida with the number. I think it's safe to say that while people did ask to speak "to God," nobody really believed they were, in fact, calling God. It's pretty clear it was just a bunch of people who (erroneously) thought they were being clever.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2003


I call Jenny at 867-5309 every night, but she's never home. Jenny, don't you lose my number!

*throws flag*

*blows whistle*

Mixed musical metaphor. Ten-yard penalty.
posted by Cyrano at 11:58 AM on May 28, 2003


This justs confirms that there's no lifeguard in the gene pool...
posted by Pressed Rat at 11:59 AM on May 28, 2003


I was driving through Lodi some years ago and saw a billboard with a 1-900 number blazoned across a classic-ly drawn female figure in flowing robes, with a halo around her head.

Under the 1-900 number were the words:

"THE VIRGIN MARY SPEAKS"
posted by scarabic at 11:59 AM on May 28, 2003


One of the pictures in the liner notes for the original release of Van Halen's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" was a picture of a blackboard in the 5150 studio with a bunch of phone numbers on it. After the predictable spate of phone calls from yahoos the later printings had a picture of an erased blackboard with the word "Oops" (or something to that effect) written on it.

[/trivia]

Makes more sense calling one of those numbers than a number in a freaking movie, though. At least you had a shot at talking to Valerie Bertinelli.
posted by Cyrano at 12:09 PM on May 28, 2003


IIRC, in Grand Theft Auto - Vice City there is an 800 number mentioned on one of the radio spots in the game, which if called is related to one of the characters in the game. Just an added Easter egg, I'm sure people hear a non-555 number in a movie thought it might also be something added and cool.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 12:10 PM on May 28, 2003


Magnolia was one of those movies with enabled phone numbers. If you called the one for Tom Cruise's "Respect the Cock" campaign, you got a recorded monologue from Cruise shilling his products.
posted by blueshammer at 12:10 PM on May 28, 2003


I call Jenny at 867-5309 every night, but she's never home. Jenny, don't you lose my number!

That's an assigned number in Mufreesboro,TN, and if you call and ask for Jenny the guy who lives there says, "Oh she's just stepped out," or, "She's in the shower, can I take a message." At least he's having some fun with it.
posted by mikrophon at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2003


alumshubby, I don't see anything in that article that suggests that the callers are seriously trying to call God.

Remember the BMW films series? There were phone numbers in those. I called them, they were actually part of the story. It was nice. The numbers were only on screen for a split second, who would have thought that BMW would have gone through the trouble to actually own the numbers - the numbers were in different cities at that. Very cool.
posted by tomplus2 at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2003


this doesn't seem the least bit indicative of stupidity (well, aside from paying ten bucks to see the flick to start with, I guess). All it bespeaks is a moment of boredom and a good enough memory to remember a phone number from a movie.

I have to say if I happened to have this number, I'd have to respond by saying, yes, this is she... but that's just me.
posted by mdn at 12:25 PM on May 28, 2003


An article from the Brown University newspaper on the addition of their new 867- exchange, fall 1999:

The biggest complaints about the new phone exchange come from Nina Clemente '03 and Jahanaz Mirza '03, the two students with the telephone number 867-5309.

"It's so annoying," Nina said. "It's the worst number to have in the world."

The girls receive an average of five "stupid" messages every day on their machine, in addition to a slew of hang-ups.

"It's as if they are really expecting Jenny to pick up the phone," Clemente said.

posted by deanc at 12:27 PM on May 28, 2003


I call Jenny at 867-5309 every night, but she's never home. Jenny, don't you lose my number!

Brown University changed the student prefix from 863 to 867 a couple of years back, leading to 867-5309 being assigned to a freshman dorm. "It's as if they are really expecting Jenny to pick up the phone," says the unlucky recipient.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2003


Jinx!
That was creepy.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2003


Reminds me of the phone booth in the middle of nowhere that was recently removed by one of the bells...

Apparently, people all around the world would call this payphone inthe middle fucking nowhere... miles off the main roads, and there would actually be people making the trip to the booth to answer calls...

before it was taken down, I called it... got an answer... it was an odd feeling of total abstract connection.

Someone from wherever made the trip to a phone booth in the middle nowhere and actually was there at the time I decided to call the number... (once it got popular, the number was busy alot...)

The telco eventually took down the booth... It was only there so miners and other desert folk could make a call ever week or so as there were no lines running to their dwellings...

But while the booth existed, it would ring off the hook untill someone made the treck in a 4wd truck to find it and answer a call...
posted by LoopSouth at 12:46 PM on May 28, 2003


I have the same first initial and last name as a former Canadian provincial premier, and I get calls from people looking for him. They aren't the sharpest tools in the drawer. (i.e., "Well, do you know where he is?" )

Perhaps I should direct them to God's number.
posted by orange swan at 12:49 PM on May 28, 2003


LoopSouth: here's a site about that lonely telephone booth in the Mojave Desert.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:12 PM on May 28, 2003


LoopSouth, that was the Mojave Phone Booth.
posted by languagehat at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2003


tittergrrl, shall we meet at the phone booth?
posted by languagehat at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2003


I knew a guy in college who, when drunk, would call the dogs people. or the fish people. ###-DOGS, ###-FISH

He left a voicemail once , "Good evening, I am calling you to tell you your phone number spells DOGS"
posted by dreamling at 1:19 PM on May 28, 2003


tomplus2,

I never heard of the BMW film series you're referring to.

I can't tell that the caller the Rev. MacInnes describes was or wasn't serious. The un-bylined Associated Press report claims that people "reportedly" are attempting to do so. Beats me.

I sure hope you're right, but absent any urban-legend debunking, I'm certainly giving the report the benefit of the doubt.
posted by alumshubby at 1:26 PM on May 28, 2003


1-900-MIX-A-LOT
Christ, The Jesse Helms! Thanks for neglecting the NSFW disclaimer... & the myriad of pop-ups to boot! *fans self*
posted by Oddly at 1:26 PM on May 28, 2003


ditto, Oddly.

My boss hates big butts and she don't know why!
The Jesse Helms can't deny!
posted by scarabic at 1:34 PM on May 28, 2003


Granted, there should've been a warning, Oddly and scarabic, but did you really think that bootyzone.net would be work safe?
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:48 PM on May 28, 2003


Ok, I forgot, the bmw film series was actually part of a sweepstakes. Look at the films at bmwfilms.com and info about the sweepstakes here . The sweepstakes had hints everywhere, like this picture of and ipod on Apple's site.
posted by tomplus2 at 2:08 PM on May 28, 2003


(sorry, "an ipod", I didn't read that closely enough before posting)
posted by tomplus2 at 2:08 PM on May 28, 2003


For people into 555 numbers, there's The 555-LIST, a compilation of 555 numbers from movies, television and radio.
posted by gluechunk at 2:15 PM on May 28, 2003


helms porn i could totally see bootyzone.net being a site all about mix. still and all, i should only have clicked on it in mozilla.

dammnit.

my coworkers thought that was pretty funny.
posted by folktrash at 5:14 PM on May 28, 2003


I wonder if this was done knowing full well it would generate news stories. Pretty clever marketing ploy if that's the case.
posted by davebush at 5:24 PM on May 28, 2003


I think 95% of the people just figure, hey, maybe the number belongs to someone involved with the movie, and wouldn't that be cool?

Douglas Adams put a phone number in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for instance, that at the time belonged to a friend of his, though the number has changed hands since...
posted by dagnyscott at 6:07 PM on May 28, 2003


i have nothing special to contribute, other than defending the people who called the #. like other's mentioned phone numbers and websites on tv shows and in the movies are often easter eggs. i do have a weird phone number story tho:

i was waiting on the platform at the davisville subway stn. many years ago when the phone booth beside me rang, and of course curious me had to answer it... imagine how freaky it was to find that it was my best friend having dialed 1 digit wrong while calling his dentist's office...! we were so weirded out, we weren't even sure if it really happened when discussing it after the fact :-D
posted by t r a c y at 7:05 PM on May 28, 2003


Just ring 36 24 36 hey
I lead a life of crime

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap!
posted by bwg at 7:15 PM on May 28, 2003


I was going to post Alanis Morissette's cell number, 'cause she's, like, god and all that, but I couldn't find it. Bummer.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 PM on May 28, 2003


Ok.
I'll admit it; I've called a freak number like this.
In our local Austin phone book
there are always several character listings.
One person used "Baron Harkonnen" for several years.
Finally, I had to call him
since Dune is one of my favorite books.
He was a really cool guy
and we talked for like 45 min.
So I suppose I understand calling these #s
but my guess is alcohol is involved
maybe 85% of the time.
posted by supershauna at 9:31 PM on May 28, 2003


Sounds like a lawsuit to me. Its well known that this kind of thing happens all the time and the studios almost always do a 555-1212 number to protect people from harassment.

Also, the owners of these phone numbers probably have callerID and could sue each caller for being a nuisence. Dunno much about tort law, but I'm sure something will come out of this.

I'd hate to have my phone rendered useless because some hollywood hack thought it would be cool to use a "live" number.

I don't think this has anything to do with seaching out non-existant deitities as much as its such a contrast to the 555 convention that people probably are assuming that they'll get a free Bruce t-shirt or somesuch.

Like someone already mentioned there have been easter eggs before. Hopefully we'll see a class-action that'll stop this kind of stupidity from happening again.

This is no different than a DDOS attack in some respects.
posted by skallas at 12:11 AM on May 29, 2003


heck, they should put an area code on there and have the number go somewhere w/ a recording, or even a busy signal. That would get rid of the threat of a lawsuit as well as the silly looking 555 numbers. Surely it couldn't cost that much. Put it in the movie budget.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:50 AM on May 29, 2003


1-900-MIX-A-LOT

Yeah, that was a really bad idea, The Jesse Helms. My wife clicked on it without checking the URL, not expecting to find porn in a thread like this, and now she's worried about getting spam on her new computer (which so far has been spam-free) -- not to mention not being thrilled with the images and the fact that she had to shut down entirely to get off the site. And spare me the "people should know to blah blah blah" -- not everyone is a supersophisticated internet geek. In general, folks, let's try to bear in mind that a lot of people read MeFi beyond the usual gang of idiots; it can feel like a comfy little in-group in here, but we're actually cavorting in a cage at the zoo, and there's a lot of curious onlookers. Can we at least remember to put the fucking NSFW where it's needed? Thank you!
posted by languagehat at 7:51 AM on May 29, 2003


"A spokeswoman for Universal Studios tells Colorado's Rocky Mountain News the number was picked because it doesn't exist in Buffalo, N.Y., the movie's setting."

Provincial, shortsighted friggin' morons. "It's OK - they don't use that number here!"
posted by FormlessOne at 7:57 AM on May 29, 2003


A friend of mine actually talked an operator at the phone company into switching his name to Ben Kenobi in the phone book. I didn't believe him when he told me that they had really changed it, until my caller id flashed up one day that I was getting a call from Kenobi, Ben. Too funny.
posted by rrtek at 9:34 AM on May 29, 2003


I know there are some members here that are Tom Waits fans. Has anyone braver than me ever tried calling the number he gives on "I'll shoot the moon" from The Black Rider? Supposedly a friend of a friend tried and got some guy with a gravelly voice, but I'm not sure I believe it.
posted by picea at 9:59 AM on May 29, 2003


I remember when Spy magazine put Elvis Costello on the cover posing as Satan. He was holding a business card that had a very tiny, but legible, phone number on it, with a 212 area code. I called it and a woman answered by saying, "Trump organization." I knew Spy liked to tweak the Donald (the "short-fingered vulgarian" in Spy-speak) so I laughed and said, "I was trying to call the Devil." She did not sound amused. "Oh, we know all about that," she said. I had to admire Spy for this particular shenanigan.
posted by Man-Thing at 12:37 PM on May 29, 2003


When I had a second phone line, it was in the name of "Fish, F F". Alas, I couldn't get xxx-3474 as my number.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:02 PM on May 29, 2003


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