Friday, April 1, 2011

April Madness

Thought for the dayThe trouble with bucket seats is not everyone has the same sized bucket.

Happy April Fools Day! Not that any of us are fools, mind you.

Fancy that. I'm actually gonna do a post BEFORE I head to the grocery store this morning. (Then maybe I can get back to that editing this afternoon.)

So, do you like to pull pranks on April first? (Or are you an all-year-round equal-opportunity prankster?) I've been known to pull a trick or two over the years, but nothing too outrageous. One of the (few) things I miss about writing that monthly newsletter for amateur radio enthusiasts is the liberties I always took with the annual April issue. One time, it backfired on me, though.

Ever hear of BPL? That stands for Broadband Over Power Lines. That's a technology in which internet service would be provided via the power lines. A plug and play idea, more or less. And a very bad one, especially from the viewpoint of amateur radio. Power lines were never designed for this purpose, and are inadequately shielded, which means that BPL would splatter, and cause extensive interference throughout the radio spectrum.

Anyway, in one of my April issues, which came out shortly after Michael Powell was replaced as chairman of the FCC, I wrote a newsy-sounding article about the shocking "new rulings" the FCC had made about BPL, but I THOUGHT I'd written it outrageously enough that everyone would laugh and recognize it for the joke it was meant to be. I mean, at the end of the article, I even said that Michael Powell would have loved to implement those changes while he was chairman, but "his daddy wouldn't let him." (General Colin Powell)

Unfortunately, one of my readers believed it. (I should've known better than to kid about something as serious as BPL) And that one reader worked for our state's emergency management. And he wrote an angry letter to his congressional representative, based on the crap I'd made up about the FCC.

Not good. I was mortified, and he was angry at first, but did come around in the end. Even managed to laugh about it. But I learned my lesson. Every April issue after that had numerous disclaimers to prevent something like that from happening again.

OK, in honor of the day, I'm gonna fill you in on some of the best April Fools jokes ever played:

  • In 1957, a TV show on BBC announced that due to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Accompanying the report was some footage allegedly showing Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from the trees. Anybody fooled? It would appear so. The station received a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.
  • In 1985, Sports Illustrated played a good one. They ran a story about a rookie pitcher named Finch who'd been signed by the Mets. Said he could throw a ball an amazing 168 mph, and that he'd mastered this never-before-achieved skill while living in a Tibetan monestary. Anybody buy this story? Well, let's just say that the Mets fans' celebrations were short-lived.
  • In 1996, Taco Bell outraged U.S. citizens when it announced that it had purchased the Liberty Bell, and was going to rename it-- you guessed it-- the Taco Bell. When Mike McCurry, who was White House press secretary at the time, was asked about it, he said the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold, and was about to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercuty Memorial.
  • In 1962, Sweden only had one TV channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's tech expert announced on the April first newscast that newly developed technology now made it possible for viewers to convert their TVs to receive in color. All they had to do is pull a nylon stocking over the screen.
  • In 1977, a British newspaper included a seven-page supplement in celebration of the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic in the Indian Ocean, which allegedly consisted of several semi-colon shaped islands. The articles went into great detail about the geography and culture of the two main islands: Upper Caise and Lower Caise.
  • In 1976, Patrick Moore, a British astronomer, told his rapt radio listeners about an upcoming once-in-a-lifetime astronomical occurence. He claimed that at precisely 9:47 AM, Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, and this would cause a brief gravitational realignment that would reduce gravity on Earth. He said, if they jumped in the air at that exact time, they'd experience a floating sensation. Did anybody believe him? Well, he WAS a very well-respected astronomer. Hundreds of people called the radio station later to report that they'd felt the sensation.
  • In 1992, NPR announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. His new campaign slogan? "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." To enhance the believability of the story, they ran sound clips of "Nixon" announcing his candidacy, provided by impersonator Rich Little. Surely, nobody bought that story, right? Wrong. The station was flooded with calls from outraged listeners.
  • In 1998, a newsletter, titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason, included an article claiming that the state of Alabama had changed the value of pi from 3.14159  to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.
  • In 1995, Discover magazine wrote that an Italian biologist by the name of Aprile Pazzo had discovered a new species in Antarctica. Said species was to be named the hot headed ice borer. These creatures were described as having bony plates on their head that became so hot, the critters were able to zip through the ice in a highly effective technique for hunting penguins. P.S. In Italian, Aprile Pazzo means April fool.
  • In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today about the introduction of the "left-Handed Whopper." In honor of the approximately 32 million lefties in the country, the new burger would include the same ingredients as the usual whopper, but the condiments would be rotated 180 degrees. Surely, everyone got a good laugh out of this and then moved on, right? Not so. Would you believe the burger chain received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version?

                                        Now, I don't care who you are ... that stuff's FUNNY!

OK, 'nuff for now. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Don't let the jokesters get ya! Don't forget to come back tomorrow and see what the weirdest news story of the week will be this week. Ooooh, so much to choose from! Take care of yourselves. And each other.

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


  1. Pull a nylon stocking over the TV screen! It's incredible that anyone would believe this.

    This is a very entertaining, and enlightening post!

  2. You're right about the stocking. I'm pretty doggone gullible, but I don't think even I would fall for that one!

  3. Very funny! I'd heard of a few of these, but not all of them. And goodness, people are so gullible! Which I guess explains why I still have spam everyday from strangers appealing for me to send them some money to assist in their "desperate situation."

    Not to mention all the Email Address Lotteries I've won ...

  4. Yeah, aren't those spam emails hysterical? Don't have to waste any time checking the text. All it takes is one look at the subject line. (dearest heart...)

  5. Haha! "The Left Handed Whopper" is my fave. LOL!!!

  6. Hi-ya.

    Yeah, that one's right up there with the electric fork.

    Take care.