U.S. CONGRESS PASSES BILL GRANTING AMNESTY TO ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS!

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And now that I have your attention...

Please humour me (as usual) and read the following out loud.

White, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white.

(No I assure you… I haven’t gone completely off my rocker… well, all right, perhaps a little, but my insanity occurred shortly after birth. So really, it’s been so long I can almost be considered sane. Like I said, humour me a little. There IS method to my madness today.)

So, as we were saying out loud: White, white, white, white, white…

Now, answer this question: What does a cow drink? Scroll down to the end (but return immediately to read the rest of my labour!) for the correct answer… but know this, if you said

"Milk"

you are

WRONG.

And that will make you an official April Fool!

Yes, dears, THAT'S what all this madness is about.

Happy April Fool's Day! (And if you read this after the first, belated good tidings to you then.)

It’s a favourite day among pranksters, jesters and the like (which would include me… I know, small things amuse small minds… what can I say?).

"But how did it all come about?" I hear you cry out in unison.

I rub my hands with glee and shout: "I’ll tell you how and why, my curious friends! That is, after all, why I am at your service day after day (or every second day... don't get technical!): To answer all your pressing questions about such important matters!"

"The first of April, some do say,

Is set apart for All Fools’ Day.

But why the people call it so,

Nor I, nor they themselves do know.

But on this day are people sent

On purpose for pure merriment."

- Poor Robin’s Almanac (1790)

Actually, it’s widely believed that Fool’s Day on 1 April started because of Pope Gregory XIII. In 1582, he ordered a new calendar in place of the old Julian Calendar. According to this new Gregorian Calendar, the order of the months were changed and called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on January first, and not April first, on which many ancient cultures – including the Hindus and the Romans – celebrated New Year. Apparently it was done that way because April so closely followed the vernal equinox, signalling the end of winter and the beginning of life.

In France, many people either refused to accept the new date, or didn’t learn about it in time (because they didn’t have this blog to inform them, you see), and continued to celebrate New Year on 1 April. These traditionalists were made fun of by being sent on "fool’s errands" or else attempts were made to try and trick them into believing something untrue.

In 1751, Great Britain finally accepted the Gregorian Calendar and they also started celebrating April Fool’s Day. From there it spread to the American colonies.

Today it is celebrated in most countries around the world.

The media is notorious for starting false rumours on this day.

Some of the most notable prank-stories include a stunt by American actor, director and producer Orson Welles (Citizen Kane). He, along with members of his Mercury Theatre Company, created mass-hysteria in 1938 when they performed an adaptation of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells on a CBS radio show. They used a news-broadcast format to announce that aliens from Mars had invaded New Jersey, apparently causing thousands of panicked New Jersey citizens to flee their state.

Then there was Konrad Kujau who forged 62 volumes of Adolf Hitler’s diaries, which were sold to Stern, a German magazine, for an impressive $3.8 million in 1983. The magazine was so excited by their find, calling it "the journalistic scoop of the post-World War II era", that they began serialising it immediately, overlooking a host of historical inaccuracies in their excitement and haste.

Some "quotes" from the diaries included Hitler complaining about "being on my feet all day long" and reminders "to get tickets for the Olympic Games for Eva Braun."

Only after the London Times had also bought and published the diaries, the news broke that it was a hoax. Kujau was convicted as the forger, and an investigative reporter of Stern Magazine emerged as his accomplice. Apparently Kujau "aged" the diaries by using tealeaves. By smashing them with a hammer, he succeeded in giving them an acceptable weathered look.

He ended his formal confession by writing, in imitation Hitler script: "I admit having written the Hitler diaries. It took me two years to perfect my handwriting", and signed it "Adolf Hitler."

After serving three years in prison, Kujau continued to seek fame by chatting on talk shows, writing and publishing a cookbook, selling copies of his own imitation Picassos and Dalis (even signing them with his own name) and even reportedly ran for mayor of Stuttgart.

In 1976 a book called "The Education of Little Tree" by Forrest Carter was published. It was the touching memoir of how Carter, a Cherokee orphan brought up by his loving grandparents in 1930’s Tennessee, learned the Native American way of life from his elders and "struggled to maintain his identity and integrity in a white world full of prejudice." (Source: Poetic License, by Borgna Brunner.)

The memoir became a cult classic, soaring to the number one spot on the New York Times Best Seller’s list, until a historian discovered that Carter was really a member of the Ku Klux Klan and his real name was Asa Carter! He died shortly after the book was published, so no one ever had the chance to find out from him how or why a self-proclaimed bigot could write such a story.

Granted, many of these above-mentioned hoaxes didn’t take place on April Fool’s Day, but it can still go down as some of the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) tricks. Besides, perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much whether it is on the day or not. Maybe Mark Twain was right when he said: "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."

I do remember one hoax played by the South African media one April Fool’s day in the early or mid 1990’s. I remember it so well partly because it was controversial and brilliant, but also because I had also completely fallen for it! In bold headlines and breaking lead stories, the media proclaimed that the Union Buildings (the stately government seat in Pretoria that is as important to South Africans as the U.S. Capitol in D.C. is to Americans) were going to be sold and turned into a casino and hotel. Needless to say, thousands of people were furious before they found out that the joke was on them.

So, on this day, take everything you hear, read or see with a pinch of salt... except for this blog, of course.

* By the way, the correct answer to the above cow question is "water." Because although a cow produces milk, it prefers to drink water.

Oh, and you can stop reading out loud now.

3 Comments

Beth said:

Will it actually let me post this?

Silk Silk Silk Silk Silk

What do cows drink?

Beer! err... water, of course! Unless they're baby cows. Certainly baby cows drink cow milk. (I learned this one with Silk instead of white.)

Just being difficult today. :)

Red Dahling,
You are a wealth of useless knowlegde, just like myself. God love you, we should both try out for Jeopardy. At worst, it could make us rich & famous.

Onanymous said:

One of my favourite April Fools jokes was when they announced that all the Jacaranda trees in Pretoria would be cut down because they are not indigenous.

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about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Onanymous : One of my favourite April Fools jokes was when they announced that all the Jacaranda trees in Pretor... [go]
  • Bookstore Diva : Red Dahling, You are a wealth of useless knowlegde, just like myself. God love you, we should both t... [go]
  • Beth : Will it actually let me post this? Silk Silk Silk Silk Silk What do cows drink? Beer! err... wate... [go]
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