Things that look like a part but are actually a whole
December 10, 2020 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Harry S. Truman's middle name is famously just S. Less famously, You Suffer is a 1.3-second-long song, but if you didn't know that you'd probably think you're hearing a clip. What other things look like a part of something but are actually complete?

This is wide-open; feel free to get as lateral as you want with your answers! My goal is to get a variety of answers that make a good "What do these things have in common?" puzzle.
posted by aws17576 to Grab Bag (51 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The mola-mola.
posted by The otter lady at 10:50 PM on December 10, 2020 [8 favorites]

dang! was going to say sunfish. The Otter lady beat me to it.
posted by cabin fever at 10:58 PM on December 10, 2020

Best answer: The Princess Bride is, in the universe of the meta parts of the book, the abridged version of the Morganstern original novel. There is no such person or unabridged version.
posted by DebetEsse at 12:32 AM on December 11, 2020 [14 favorites]

Stanislav Lem's books A Perfect Vacuum and Imaginary Magnitude are, respectively, a set of reviews of and a set of introductions to imaginary books. My favourite of these is Gruppenführer Louis XVI which I not only (falsely) remember reading, but I (falsely) believe I've at least seen clips of a 70s film version, probably by Werner Herzog.
posted by Grangousier at 12:49 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

“Unfinished Portrait of President Franklin D Roosevelt“ is probably one of the most famous ‘unfinished’ artworks. Roosevelt died while the painting was in progress. The piece was deliberately left as is.
posted by artdrectr at 12:51 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The snake mimic caterpillar, Hemeroplanes triptolemus, looks like the first few inches of a snake.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:26 AM on December 11, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The Mel Brooks movie “History of the World, Part 1.”
posted by moonmilk at 1:55 AM on December 11, 2020 [7 favorites]

Debussy's Première Rhapsodie/First Rhapsody (there is only one)
posted by altolinguistic at 2:35 AM on December 11, 2020

The False Front architecture in the West.

Easily seen today in the Italianates in the SF Bay Area.
posted by vacapinta at 2:48 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Traveling Wilburys released two albums: "Volume One" and "Vol. 3". Back in the days when you couldn't just look this stuff up online, I spent many hours searching record shops for the non-existent Volume 2.
posted by yankeefog at 3:00 AM on December 11, 2020 [13 favorites]

There's that whole prank/joke/urban legend about students releasing 3 goats or pigs in the school number with each animal being numbered 1, 2, 4, so that everyone would go around trying to find #3 but actually there only ever were 3 of them.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:05 AM on December 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

The human appendix?
posted by runincircles at 3:28 AM on December 11, 2020

John Cage's 4′33″

Also, I had ambient techno on once as background noise for game night and a friend said they were wondering when the song will actually "start".
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:42 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

The chapters of Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler...
posted by kevinbelt at 5:13 AM on December 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

Michael Jackson's single glove
posted by alex1965 at 5:28 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

A theoretical one: if there had never been another Star Wars movie after the original, which was even then labelled "Episode IV" in the opening crawl.
posted by briank at 6:10 AM on December 11, 2020

Eric the Half a Bee. It even opens with a silly (but surprisingly cogent) ontological treatise on the topic of wholes that appear to be parts.

You may also be interested in reading more broadly about mereology, which is the branch of philosophy, math and logic dedicated to the study of part-ness and whole-ness.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:41 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

There's a whole bunch of piano music specifically written for a sole left hand. Nice recent article on that here.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:45 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

In the same vein as Truman, Homer J Simpson's middle name really is just "Jay", which disappoints him greatly in the episode when he finds out.
posted by underclocked at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2020

A piece of eight is arguably a whole thing, even if you just have part.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:02 AM on December 11, 2020

Stolen is a series of paintings made of black people who were killed by police. For every year of their life, he spends one minute on the portrait. They look incomplete. That's the point.

In a similar vein as the ocean sunfish, the little dragonfish has always looked to me like a bigger fish that got half its body eaten. Legless salamanders look like they're going to evolve to have legs but don't--other neotenic species like the axolotl also look in-progress when they are full grown adults.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:01 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

The very silly "Leonard, Part 6," (1987) a Bill Cosby spy parody for which, it is said, the first 5 movies in the franchise were classified.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:43 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

La Flor is an 808 minute Argentine film which is composed of four stories with no ending, one complete story, and one story with no beginning.
posted by Chenko at 10:43 AM on December 11, 2020

The Star Spangled Banner (the US national anthem) has four verses, but only the first is ever performed.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2020

The album "Return of the Rentals" suggests that there was a previous album, but there wasn't.
posted by goatdog at 11:23 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Buckaroo Banzai was written to feel like the middle chapter of a long running serial, which is part of the charm or a big turn off depending who you are.
posted by mark k at 11:54 AM on December 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

The Beastie Boys album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two had no part one
posted by Chenko at 11:59 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sham Ruins are a subset of Architectural Follies: sham ruins are building remnants made from scratch to appear to be the ruins of a building which never existed.

Much the same principle could apply to pre-distressed clothing and other manufactured fakes.
posted by Rumple at 12:02 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


and mockumentaries, generally.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:09 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Probably not fake ostraca, where fraudsters took real ancient potsherds and wrote fake messages on it. Unless you consider the "whole" to the purported ancient message writer and milieu, and the part to be the inscribed pot fragment.

Certainly fake Dead Sea Scroll Fragments and The Amarna Princess, and probably some subset of depending on definitions.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:28 PM on December 11, 2020

Fake aristocrats, when they're from fake countries.
2. Gregor MacGregor as the “Cazique of Poyais”

In the early 1820s, a dashing Scotsman named Gregor MacGregor rose to the top of London’s high society on the basis of a most unusual claim. A former soldier and mercenary who had fought in South America, MacGregor presented himself as the “cazique,” or prince, of a small Central American country he called Poyais. As evidence, the faux royal produced several maps, drawings and even a book, all of which described the mysterious country as a fertile paradise with a working government and friendly native population. MacGregor’s tiny principality seemed the perfect destination for European settlers, except for one small detail: It didn’t exist.

Far from being a “cazique,” MacGregor was actually a con man who had cooked up a fairy tale country as a way of bilking investors out of huge sums of money. He eventually sold thousands of pounds worth of land rights for his phantom nation, and in 1822 the first would-be “Poyers” set sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Arriving in Central America and finding only unsettled jungle, the pioneers—many of whom had converted their life savings into phony Poyais currency—soon realized they had been swindled. The stranded colonists were eventually rescued, but not before some 180 people perished from disease. Not surprisingly, MacGregor fled the country soon after the news reached England. He later resurfaced in France, but was arrested after he tried to set up a second Poyais-related scheme.
See also:
5. Mary Baker as “Princess Caraboo”

For several months in 1817, the village of Almondsbury, England fell under the spell of a phony island princess. The young woman had first appeared in the town clad in a black turban and speaking a mysterious language. Through a Portuguese translator, she identified herself as Princess Caraboo, a member of the royal family of Javasu, a small Indian Ocean atoll. Even more astonishing, she claimed she had been kidnapped from her homeland by pirates, and had only escaped by plunging into the freezing Bristol Channel and swimming ashore.

The story of Princess Caraboo quickly took the town by storm. People flocked to get a look at the visiting royal, who slept on the floor, swam naked in a nearby lake and climbed trees to pray to a god called “Allah Tallah.” The fascination continued until a woman from a neighboring town noticed that her highness Princess Caraboo was in fact Mary Baker, an English girl who had previously been employed in her house as a servant. Baker later admitted that she had invented the princess and her bizarre language as part of an elaborate con, and the story of the hoax went on to become a minor sensation in the British press.
see also:
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2020

Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, a zombie-themed parody of 60s surfer movies. There was no "Surf I", nor were there three movies made.

briank: A theoretical one: if there had never been another Star Wars movie after the original, which was even then labelled "Episode IV" in the opening crawl.

This is incorrect. What is now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope", was just titled "Star Wars" in its original release, including the original opening crawl. The inclusion of the subtitles did not happen until the third re-release, in 1981.
posted by hanov3r at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Kitty Ferguson's splendid book The Music of Pythagoras: How an ancient brotherhood cracked the code of the universe and lit the path from antiquity to outer space opens thusly:
Pythagoras of Samos left his native Aegean island in about 530 B.C. and settled in the Greek colonial city of Croton, on the southern coast of Italy. Though the date of his birth is not certain, he was probably by that time about forty years old and a widely experienced, charismatic individual. In Croton, he had a significant impact as a teacher and religious leader; he taught a doctrine of reincarnation, became an important figure in political life, made dangerous enemies, and eventually, in about 500 B.C., had to flee to another coastal city, Metapontum, where he died. During his thirty years in Croton, some of the men and women who gathered to sit at his feet began, with him, to ponder and investigate the world. While experimenting with lyres and considering why some combinations of string lengths produced beautiful sounds and others did not, Pythagoras, or others who were encouraged and inspired by him, discovered that the connections between lyre string lengths and human ears are not arbitrary or accidental. The ratios that underlie musical harmony make sense in a remarkably simple way. In a flash of extraordinary clarity, the Pythagoreans found that there is a pattern and order hidden behind the apparent variety and confusion of nature, and that it is possible to understand it through numbers. Tradition has it that, literally and figuratively, they fell to their knees upon discovering that the universe is rational. "Figuratively," at least, is surely accurate, for the Pythagoreans embraced this discovery to the extent of allowing numbers to lead them, perhaps during Pythagoras' lifetime and certainly shortly after his death, to some extremely far-sighted and also some off-the-wall, premature notions about the world and the cosmos.

One might assume that the above paragraph is a summary merely touching the highlights of what is known about the events in sixth-century B.C. Croton, but it is, in fact, all that is known.
posted by heatherlogan at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

A theoretical one: if there had never been another Star Wars movie after the original, which was even then labelled "Episode IV" in the opening crawl.

Star Wars wasn't called "A New Hope" or "Episode IV" until Empire had already been released.

Edit sorry someone else beat me to the well akshully. Pls delete my shame.
posted by phunniemee at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2020

The book: "The Man Who Sold Nelson's Column".

Unless Arthur Furguson actually existed:
Arthur Furguson (1883–1938) was (or may have been) a Scottish con artist who allegedly became known for "selling" English national monuments and other government property to visiting American tourists during the 1920s.


However, according to author Dane Love, who profiled Furguson in his book The Man Who Sold Nelson's Column, the existence of Furguson himself may be a hoax.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2020

the fictitious Captain (Acting Major) William Martin:
Operation Mincemeat was a successful British deception operation of the Second World War to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Two members of British intelligence obtained the body of Glyndwr Michael, a vagrant who died from eating rat poison, dressed him as an officer of the Royal Marines and placed personal items on him identifying him as the fictitious Captain (Acting Major) William Martin. Correspondence between two British generals which suggested that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, with Sicily as merely the target of a feint, was also placed on the body.

Part of the wider Operation Barclay, Mincemeat was based on the 1939 Trout memo, written by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division and his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming. With the approval of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and the military commander in the Mediterranean, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the plan began by transporting the body to the southern coast of Spain by submarine and releasing it close to shore, where it was picked up the following morning by a Spanish fisherman. The nominally neutral Spanish government shared copies of the documents with the Abwehr, the German military intelligence organisation, before returning the originals to the British. Forensic examination showed they had been read and Ultra decrypts of German messages showed that the Germans fell for the ruse. Reinforcements were shifted to Greece and Sardinia before and during the invasion of Sicily; Sicily received none.

The effect of Operation Mincemeat is unknown, although Sicily was liberated more quickly than anticipated and losses were lower than predicted. The events were depicted in Operation Heartbreak, a 1950 novel by the former cabinet minister Duff Cooper, before one of the agents who planned and carried out Mincemeat, Ewen Montagu, wrote a history in 1953. Montagu's work formed the basis for the 1956 British film The Man Who Never Was.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Three or four examples here:

washingtonpost: President Trump’s paper-stack politicking makes another appearance


Those who’ve been tracking the administration would be justified in wondering what those hundreds of pages document. After all, the administration has been notoriously incapable of presenting a robust health-care plan after spending years trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Trump and his team have taken to cobbling together various health-care-related things and presenting them as a comprehensive approach.

What’s particularly odd about the book given to Stahl, though, is that the page to which she opened it appears to be blank.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2020

Most or all bigfoot footprints.

Most or all evidence of UFO crashes or visits.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2020

Juan Pujol García and his network of 27 secret agents:

Juan Pujol García MBE (14 February 1912 – 10 October 1988), also known as Joan Pujol Garcia, was a Spanish spy who acted as a double agent with loyalty to Great Britain against Nazi Germany during World War II, when he relocated to Britain to carry out fictitious spying activities for the Germans. He was given the codename Garbo by the British; their German counterparts codenamed him Alaric and referred to his non-existent spy network as "Arabal".[2][3]

After developing a loathing of the fascist regimes in Europe during the Spanish Civil War, Pujol decided to become a spy for the Allies as a way to do something "for the good of humanity".[4] Pujol and his wife[5] contacted the British and American intelligence agencies, but each rejected his offer.

Undeterred, he created a false identity as a fanatically pro-Nazi Spanish government official and successfully became a German agent. He was instructed to travel to Britain and recruit additional agents; instead he moved to Lisbon and created bogus reports about Britain from a variety of public sources, including a tourist guide to Britain, train timetables, cinema newsreels, and magazine advertisements.[6]

Although the information would not have withstood close examination, Pujol soon established himself as a trustworthy agent. He began inventing fictitious sub-agents who could be blamed for false information and mistakes. The Allies finally accepted Pujol when the Germans spent considerable resources attempting to hunt down a fictitious convoy.[7] Following interviews by Desmond Bristow of Section V MI6 Iberian Section, Juan Pujol was taken on. The family were moved to Britain and Pujol was given the code name "Garbo". Pujol and his handler Tomás Harris spent the rest of the war expanding the fictitious network, communicating to the German handlers at first by letters, and later by radio. Eventually the Germans were funding a network of 27 agents, all fictitious.

Pujol had a key role in the success of Operation Fortitude, the deception operation intended to mislead the Germans about the timing, location and scale of the invasion of Normandy in 1944. The false information Pujol supplied helped persuade the Germans that the main attack would be in the Pas de Calais, so that they kept large forces there before and even after the invasion. Pujol had the distinction of receiving military decorations from both sides of the war—being awarded the Iron Cross and becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:09 PM on December 11, 2020

Best answer: Some limericks:

The was an old man from Peri
Whose limericks stopped at line two


There was a young girl from Verdun
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Names that look like acronyms but are actually just the whole name:
- KFC no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken (since 1991).
- SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where SLAC used to stand for Stanford Linear Accelerator Center but no longer does.
- CLEO, the particle detector at Cornell University's accelerator, which is actually named as a reference to Cleopatra because the accelerator itself is called CESR (Cornell Electron Storage Ring), pronounced like "Caesar".
- AT&T doesn't stand for anything any more.
posted by heatherlogan at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Since 2006, Ofwat isn't short for anything. But the organisation does have a formal name (Water Services Regulation Authority) so I don't know whether that counts. Ofwat is the water regulator in England and Wales.
posted by plonkee at 1:42 PM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

The chapters of Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler...

wow, I totally got pranked by that one! CBC radio played an excerpt of the audio book, I went out and bought the book to find out what happened next...
posted by ovvl at 3:13 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

On IBM mainframe computers running "batch" (non-interactive) jobs that connect to the DB2 database system via an ad hoc TSO environment, an S04C failure code indicates that the ad hoc TSO environment has crashed, which tells you... (?) Undoubtedly your program failed for some other reason which crashed the ad hoc environment. So in a very real sense an S04C is the complete answer to a totally irrelevant question.
posted by forthright at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2020

Best answer: Donut holes.
posted by carmicha at 10:41 PM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

The AMC Gremlin famously looks like someone took an existing car and just lopped off the back, because ... that’s exactly what they did.
posted by panama joe at 5:54 AM on December 12, 2020

Brian Wilson’s Smile is perhaps rock’s most famous unfinished album. In 2005, with the help of modern technology (and a new supporting band), Wilson produced a version of Smile that actually sounds quite finished. However, The Beach Boys later released a box set called The Smile Sessions, which contains the original studio material from those sessions. The first disc features a reconstruction of what Smile could have been — only, unlike Wilson’s 2005 efforts, the reconstruction on The Smile Sessions only contains tracks from the original sessions. This will probably give you what you’re looking for.

Japanese aesthetic tradition includes the notion of wabi-sabi, which may prove to be a rich vein of exploration. According to Wikipedia :

The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature.

A more recent aesthetic notion from Japan is know as Thomasson (previously on Metafilter). This one may be a little further from your initial ask, but may provide some inspiration. According to Wikipedia :

It refers to a useless relic or structure that has been preserved as part of a building or the built environment, which has become a piece of art in itself.

I’m sure I can think of a few more...
posted by panama joe at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody! I marked as "best answer" the ones that I thought would work best in a puzzle, but I appreciate all the answers. (tchemgrrl, that Stolen series is powerful and I'm glad I saw it -- though obviously I will not use that in the context of a puzzle.)
posted by aws17576 at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2020

Stick insects
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:01 PM on December 15, 2020

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