Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fools' Day



Today is April Fools Day.  There is no prank in my posts so don’t be concerned.

Here is a history of some past pranks, courtesy of Wikipedia at :

Television stations:
·       Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a hoax in 1957, purporting to show the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They claimed that the despised pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees. It was, in fact, filmed in St Albans. The editor of Panorama at the time, Michael Peacock, approved the idea, which was pitched by freelance camera operator Charles de Jaeger. Peacock told the BBC in 2014 that he gave de Jaeger a budget of £100. Peacock said the respected Panorama anchorman Richard Dimbleby knew they were using his authoritativeness to make the joke work. He said Dimbleby loved the idea and went at it with relish. Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".
[See the broadcast by clicking on:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dUhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU
Very funny]
·      In 1962, Swedish national television broadcast a 5-minute special on how one could get colour TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomenon was included. Thousands of people tried it.
·       Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odour over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success. In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax, as did Google in 2013, in tribute.
·       In 1969, the public broadcaster NTS in the Netherlands announced that inspectors with remote scanners would drive the streets to detect people who had not paid their radio/TV tax ("kijk en luistergeld" or "omroepbijdrage"). The only way to prevent detection was to wrap the TV/radio in aluminium foil. The next day all supermarkets were sold out of their aluminium foil, and a surge of TV/radio taxes were paid.
·       Great Blue Hill eruption prank: On April 1, 1980, Boston television station WNAC-TV aired a fake news bulletin at the end of the 6 o'clock news which reported that Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts was erupting. The prank resulted in panic in Milton, where some residents began to flee their homes. The executive producer of the 6 o'clock news, Homer Cilley, was fired by the station for "his failure to exercise good news judgment" and for violating the Federal Communications Commission's rules about showing stock footage without identifying it as such.
·       In 1989, on the BBC television sports show Grandstand, a fight broke out between members of staff directly behind Des Lynam who was commenting on the professionalism of his team. At the end of the show it was revealed to be an April Fools joke.
·       In 2008, the BBC reported on a newly discovered colony of flying penguins. An elaborate video segment was even produced, featuring Terry Jones walking with the penguins in Antarctica, and following their flight to the Amazon rainforest.

Radio stations:
·       Jovian–Plutonian gravitational effect: In 1976, British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 am that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "a strange floating sensation". Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked, among them a woman who reported that she and her 11 friends were "wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room."
·       Death of a mayor: In 1998, local WAAF shock jocks Opie and Anthony were discussing April Fool's Day hoaxes, and sardonically stated that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending credence to the prank as he could not be reached. The pair repeated that the mayor was dead several times throughout the broadcast, however listeners who tuned in late to the broadcast did not hear that they were repeating a bit, and when they pretended to tell the "news" to an unsuspecting listener (the listener thought she was calling a different show), the rumour spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.[
·       In 1998, UK presenter Nic Tuff of West Midlands radio station pretended to be the British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he called the then South African President Nelson Mandela for a chat. It was only at the end of the call when Nic asked Nelson what he was doing for April Fools' Day that the line went dead.
·       Canadian three-dollar coin: In 2008, the CBC Radio program As It Happens interviewed a Royal Canadian Mint spokesman who broke "news" of plans to replace the Canadian five-dollar bill with a three-dollar coin. The coin was dubbed a "threenie", in line with the nicknames of the country's one-dollar coin ("loonie" due to its depiction of a common loon on the reverse) and two-dollar coin ("toonie").
·       U2 live on rooftop in Cork: In 2009, hundreds of U2 fans were duped in an elaborate prank when they rushed to a shopping centre in Cork believing that the band were playing a surprise rooftop concert. The prank was organised by Cork radio station RedFM. The band was a tribute band called U2opia.
·       In 2000, the Triple J breakfast show hosted by Adam Spencer announced that the International Olympic Committee had stripped Sydney of its right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics, including a phone conversation with then-New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.
·       In 1993, a radio station in San Diego, CA told listeners that the US Space Shuttle had been diverted to a small, local airport. Over 1,000 people drove to the airport to see it arrive in the middle of morning rush hour. There was no shuttle flying that day.

Newspapers and magazines:
·       Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner wrote in an April 1975, article that MIT had invented a new chess computer program that predicted "pawn to queens rook four" is always the best opening move.
·       In The Guardian newspaper, in the United Kingdom, on April Fools' Day, 1977, a fictional mid-ocean state of San Serriffe was created in a seven-page supplement.
·       A 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated, dated April 1, featured a story by George Plimpton on a baseball player, Hayden Siddhartha Finch, a New York Mets pitching prospect who could throw the ball 168 miles per hour (270 km/h) and who had a number of eccentric quirks, such as playing with one barefoot and one hiking boot. Plimpton later expanded the piece into a full-length novel on Finch's life. Sports Illustrated cites the story as one of the more memorable in the magazine's history.
·       Associated Press were fooled in 1983 when Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, provided an alternative explanation for the origins of April Fools' Day. He claimed to have traced the practice to Constantine's period, when a group of court jesters jocularly told the emperor that jesters could do a better job of running the empire, and the amused emperor nominated a jester, Kugel, to be the king for a day. Boskin related how the jester passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day and the custom became an annual event. Boskin explained the jester's role as being able to put serious matters into perspective with humour. An Associated Press article brought this alternative explanation to public's attention in newspapers, not knowing that Boskin had invented the entire story as an April Fool's joke itself, and were not made aware of this until some weeks later.
·       Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell". When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Lincoln- Mercury Memorial.
·       In 2008, Car and Driver and Automobile Magazine both reported that Toyota had acquired the rights to the defunct Oldsmobile brand from General Motors and intended to relaunch it with a line-up of rebadged Toyota SUVs positioned between its mainline Toyota and luxury Lexus brands.



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