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“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year”*…

 

25+ Hilarious Pranks For April Fools’ Day

29 Insanely Easy Pranks You Need To Play On April Fools’ Day

* Mark Twain

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As we ponder the prank, we might note that today is, of course, April Fools’ Day.  A popular occasion for gags and hoaxes since the 19th century, it is considered by some to date from the calendar change of 1750-52— though references to high jinx on the 1st of April date back to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392).

April Fools’ Day is not a public holiday in any country…  though perhaps it should be.

If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings.

– Welsh Proverb

An April Fools’ Day hoax marking the construction of the Copenhagen Metro in 2001

source

 

Written by LW

April 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes”*…

 

Scene 3: whoops!

 

In an earlier post, I laid out a history of “banana peel” (and orange peel) humor, extending back to the early 1800s. Orange peel-slipping humor dates to at least 1817 and banana peel jokes to 1858.  Banana peel jokes were told on stage in 1890, and Vaudeville performers may have performed banana-slipping gags on stage in the early 1900s.

Peels on Film

When I wrote the earlier post, the earliest banana slipping gag on film that I found was from 1913.  As it turns out, however, the banana slipping gag was already so old and tired by 1912, that advice for aspiring screenwriters cautioned against using it for cheap laughs…

The history of the banana peel gag, at “Peels in Film, Song and Poetry.”

* Ludwig Wittgenstein

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As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956, at a party in Cambridge, England, that Fulbright Scholar Sylvia Plath met poet Ted Hughes.

…the one man in the room who was as big as his poems, huge… I screamed in myself, thinking, Oh, to give myself crashing, fighting, to you.

Her wish was granted; they were married later that same year.  Plath killed herself, in London, in 1963, several weeks after The Bell Jar came out; in 1981 her Collected Poems (edited by Hughes, who oversaw her posthumous publications) won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Written by LW

February 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

Purple Hazing…

 

Freemasonry was born out of medieval craft guilds — working men distinguished by their freedom, not bonded into serfdom, indenture, or slavery. Their ceremonies and regalia were legendary, and their initiations mimicked harsh entries into religious order, initiations which might involve ritual humiliation, pain, or fear. Masons were primarily aristocratic, and if not wealthy, then at least refined. The fraternal lodges of the Elks, the Shriners, the Woodsmen, and the Moose, to name a few, offered a more casual form of brotherhood. Developed with masonic screeds in mind, they populated small towns and suburbs and its provided its members with a reason to get together once or twice a week. What they did each week was up to the members, sometimes they provided food and drink, more often they would debate bylaws and initiation fees (the lodges were originally developed to provide insurance for injured workers). Things could get a little sleepy.

Enter the DeMoulin brothers and their wonderfully strange DeMoulin Brothers catalogs, collected by New Yorker cartoonist Julia Suits in her new book, The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions. In 1892, a Woodsman lodge member asked his friend Ed DeMoulin to make him something that would really shake up dull lodge meetings. DeMoulin owned a local factory that manufactured uniforms, flags, patches, hats, seating, upholstery, and regalia of all kinds, and he was also at heart a trickster. When the Woodmen asked him to come up with a set piece that would really impress and scare the newly initiated, he delivered something darkly delightful: The Molten Lead Test, a flaming pot of seemingly boiling metal that turned out to be nothing more than mecurine powder dissolved in water (an element still not without its hazards). The pledge was convinced he was being burnt with hot lead, and the lodge would laugh uproariously at his misfortune…

The motives were the same as any college fraternity hazing: to scare, humiliate, and confuse the pledge. A lodge could order any number of devices to humiliate, including spanking machines, trick telephones, wobbly floors, and something called Throne of Honor, in which a pledge is led up a set of stairs transformed into an embarrassing slide…

Read more about the implements of initiation– and see more of them (and larger)– in Michelle Legro’s “The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions: Vintage Arsenal of Masonic Pranksters” on Brain Pickings.

 

As we prepare for the ceremony, we might might send “Don’t Tread on Me” birthday cards to Robert Nozick; the philosopher was born on this date in 1938.  While he made contributions to both epistemology and decision theory, he is surely best remembered as a political philosopher, and for his 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, the Libertarian “answer” to John Rawl’s’ 1971 A Theory of Justice.

source

Written by LW

November 16, 2011 at 1:01 am

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