Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Love to Laugh (Ed Wynn, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins)

From Today's Writer's Almanac:

Today is April Fools' Day, a holiday celebrating practical jokes of all kinds. Some people say that April Fools' Day began in France in 1582 when the Gregorian replaced the Julian calendar, making New Year's Day fall on January 1st instead of April 1st. At the time, news of such things traveled slowly, and it took many years for everyone to get up to speed. People who continued to celebrate New Year's on April 1st came to be known as April Fools.

The news media have been responsible for some of the greatest April Fools' Day pranks in history. In 1977, the London newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement commemorating the anniversary of the independence of San Serriffe, a completely imaginary small island nation located in the Indian Ocean. The article described the geography of the nation — it consisted of two main islands, which together formed the shape of a semi-colon; the northern one was called "Upper Caisse" and the southern one, "Lower Caisse."

The island's natives were of "Flong" ethnicity, but there were also the descendents of Europeans settlers who had colonized the nation: "colons." The two groups had intermarried over the years; their offspring were "semi-colons."

The capital of the nation was Bodoni and the national bird, the "Kwote."

In the supplement, there were even advertisements from real companies. Texaco announced a contest whose winner would receive a two-week vacation to the island's Cocobanana Beach. Kodak placed an ad saying, "If you have a picture of San Serriffe, we'd like to see it."

The day it ran, The Guardian was flooded with calls for more information. Travel agents and airline companies complained to the editor because the news had been disruptive to their businesses — customers refused to believe that the islands were only imaginary.

The Guardian has reused the prank on a few other April Fools' Days — in 1978, 1980, and 1999 — and each time the island has changed location, moving from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea to the North Atlantic.

On this day in 1992, National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. The news came on the show Talk of the Nation and included excerpts of Nixon's speech announcing his candidacy, in which he said, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." It also featured analysis from real political experts.

Masses of people called in to express their surprise and indignation. In the second half of the show, host John Hockenberry revealed that the announcement was a practical joke, and that Canadian comedian Richard Little had impersonated Nixon.

I've been loving all the April Fool's Day jokes flying through cyberspace this morning - first an e-mail from folk-distributor Fifty Fifty Music announcing the release of five new albums (including LuLu Roman's "Now Let Me Sing", Tino's "Por Primera Vez", Christian Crusaders' "With Al Davis", Swamp Dogg "Rat On!"... and of course Millie Jackson's highly anticipated sophomore album: "Back To The S**t"!), the Ideal Bite's suggestion to "turn used condoms inside-out for another go" and
this one from Danny Seo's eco-friendly blog... :-)

Trying to come up with some sort of practical joke to play on my co-workers and/or family... but 1) it's not in my nature to do anything even semi-mean-spirited and 2) I have a hard time keeping a straight face, usually laughing before the prank even has a chance to sink in - I'll keep you posted!

You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
In not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The F├╝hrer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

QUOTE(S): "Even the gods love jokes." ~ Plato

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” ~ e.e. cummings

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