Thursday, April 1, 2010
APRIL FOOL'S, KUGEL AND CONSTANTINE THE GREAT
This is not an April Fool's joke, in that I am reporting on incidents in history that were perpetrated knowing full well that this is April 1. The UK goes overboard this day, for you must remember that 1957 British TV 3-minute clip on Panorama of spaghetti growing on trees. The British say the tradition goes back to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 1381. Just about every media outlet had something today:
1. The Sun had a small black square inviting readers to taste the first flavored newspaper. The fact that the fine print below said: "May contain nuts," only added to the prank.
2. The Daily Mirror showed Queen Elizabeth flying with easyJet, a low-cost airline.
3. The Independent reported the Circle Line of the London subway will be converted into the second Hadron Collider.
4. BBC exposed Shakespeare's mother as French.
Which leads to France and what they term April Fish, for their contention is that they invented this day when King Charles IX in 1564 changed the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, adjusting the new year on March 25 to January 1. "Poisson d'Avril" because the New Year represents the Sun leaving Pisces. The standard prank is children pasting paper fish on the back of their friends, making the victim a fool.
Well, America mostly went high tech today, for Hulu had a 3D option (where you will instead get a meaningless 10 minute Alec Baldwin orientation flick), Google was renamed Topeka (this city has indicated they would re-name themselves Google if selected as a broadband site) and
the National Republican Senatorial Committee had a spoof about President Barack Obama called "Democrats' Rainbows and Unicorns."
Now, about Court Jester Kugel, who, 1700 years ago, supposedly replaced Constantine the Great for a day to begin the tradition known as the April Fool's joke, you can read the details in the Christian Science Monitor by Stephen Kurczy, but, in short, Boston University history Professor Joseph Botkin was asked by Fred Bayles, a young AP reporter, about the history of April Fool's Day because the BU press office mistakenly (he did say he was researching the history, but only as a sarcasm) so informed the media. It was one of those accidents of people and circumstances when he ad libbed the whole thing, creating Kugel because one of his friends enjoyed that Jewish pudding. Well, the world fell for the story, except he later told his class about that incident, which led to BU almost firing him (but he had tenure) and the AP reporter tearfully indicating in a call that his life as a journalist was over. Well, the punch line to this April Fool's joke is that he is now an Associate Professor of Journalism at Boston University, and Joseph and Fred subsequently buried the hatchet over lunch.
The Dow Jones Industrials surged 70 to 10,927, with world markets almost all up. The Japan Nikkei is now at 11,244. Gold increased $12/toz at $1126 and crude oil jumped to $85/barrel.