01 April 2009

April Fool classics

I scoured the newspapers this morning hoping to quickly identify the de rigueur fake articles for April Fool's Day. Meh!

I like (Oakland) Inside Bay Area's list of classics
April Fool's Hall Of Fame

1. Miffy, the Dyslexic Dog (2000): Theater critic Pat Craig's story about Miffy, the all-American pit bull who failed obedience school -- "They said, sit'," the dog said, during her faux interview with Craig, "I heard tis.' They thought I was stupid." -- drew more than 300 phone calls from readers, who were annoyed because they couldn't find the nonexistent second half of the story when it jumped to an inside page. (We can only imagine what readers would have done with Craig's tale of federal alphabet scientists who discovered a 27th letter nestled between M and N, pronounced, we believe, "num.")

2. BBC's Flying Penguins (2008): It was a parka-clad Terry Jones who announced the discovery of amazing, flying penguins who migrate from Antarctica to the sunny beaches of South America when the bitter cold gets to be too much. The startling, cleverly produced CGI footage is still popular on YouTube.

3. BBC's Spaghetti Harvest (1957): BBC's "Panorama" ran a 3-minute segment about spaghetti harvesters in Switzerland, where a mild winter and the "virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil" had produced a bumper pasta crop. The BBC was inundated with hundreds of callers who wanted to grow spaghetti trees too. They were told, "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

4. The faux Gucci ad (2007): The full color, two-page Gucci ad in the Swiss magazine SonntagsZeitung was certainly eye-catching. Only problem was the ad was a fake, sent in by an audacious prankster who posed partially clad, next to a bottle of Gucci fragrance, and told the magazine to send the $50,000 bill for ad space to the Italian fashion house. Gucci was not amused.

5. Rookie pitcher Sidd Finch (1985): Sports Illustrated's story about the Mets' new pitcher, who learned to throw his insanely accurate, 168 mph fastball in a Tibetan monastery, had readers and Mets fans clamoring for more. Alas, that was all George Plimpton wrote.

6. Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper (1998): The full page USA Today ad had readers hankering for a Burger King sandwich expressly for lefties. The condiments, they were told, had been rotated 180 degrees. Thousands of patrons requested the burger -- and many more asked for right-handed versions -- before the fast-food giant confessed the prank.

7. The Metric Clock (1975): ABC News announced that Australia was converting to a new metric time system. Seconds would henceforth be broken into millidays, minutes would become centidays and hours decidays. Assisting with the gag, South Australia's deputy premier gave it a thumbs up and explained that Adelaide's Town Hall timepiece had been converted already. Phones rang off the hook at the TV station, and at least one department store manager said concerned customers wanted to know if their clocks would still work.

8. The Rogue Bras (1982): England's Daily Mail newspaper announced that 10,000 "rogue" brassieres were threatening public safety. Seems the manufacturer had used copper wiring intended for fire alarms and now, the underwiring was interfering with radio and television signals. The story goes that British Telecom's chief engineer of British Telecom immediately demanded that female staffers disclose their lingerie brand.

9. The Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect (1976): BBC Radio announced that an unusual alignment of Jupiter and Pluto would reverse gravity for a moment at exactly 9:47 a.m. on April 1. Dozens of people later phoned the station to say they had experienced "a strange floating sensation," and one woman said her dinner table had floated right off the ground.

10. Google's Martian Colony (2008): Virgin Airlines and Google announced that they were launching a Martian colony and invited people to join as Virgle Pioneers. The Virgle web site offered a quiz to assess applicants' suitability via questions about their physical fitness, Guitar Hero prowess and fondness for algae as a food source.
There's one born every minute.

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