Tuesday, March 29

April Fool's!

We all have heard and experienced our share of April Fool's pranks and hoaxes. Whether it be the baby powder in the hair dryer, or the dried nail polish on someone's laptop, it's great to see the shock and even hate on someones face. I remember telling my brother over the phone that I broke my ankle tumbling down two flights of stone steps at our college. I also remember dipping my mom's toothbrush in the toilet. Sorry mom, I was only 6.

April Fool's was found to have been first mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Museum of Hoaxes lists the top April Fool's Hoaxes, most of which were played on the public. Some notable mentions were McDonald's left handed Whopper and Taco Bell's purchase of the Liberty Bell. Here is a good one I found relating to our Japan audience:
#20: The 26-Day Marathon

26 day marathon runner1981: The Daily Mail ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. Reportedly Nakajimi was now somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race. Various people had spotted him, though they were unable to flag him down. The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."

Some of these hoaxes are great but it usually involves access or even ownership of a mass media source. One of the problems of such hoaxes is the Boy Who Cried Wolf effect when real, shocking news happens on April 1st. Here's a few notables:
  • The Gremlin car (Garth's car from Wayne's World) was introduced on April 1, 1970.
  • The death of Greece's King George II on April 1, 1947.
  • The split of the Canadian Northwest Territories into Nunavut on April 1, 1999. 
  • The launch of Gmail on April 1, 2004.
  • The 165 people on Aluetian Island died in a tsunami April 1, 1946. In Hawaii, it is now considered the "April Fool's Day Tsunami" due to the drowned skeptics. 
  • The late reports of Mitch Hedberg's death on March 29, 2005.

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