Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans. Well, according to my Olsen Twins calendar, today is the final day of March, meaning the madness is soon coming to an end. We are now heading toward that one shining moment, when the NCAA champion is crowned, as every other team in the field of 64 will have ended the season on a losing note.
Finishing off a year in this fashion is always painful, for some more than others. Or in the words of former basketball coach Bill Musselman, “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”
This year’s NCAA basketball tournament certainly has lived up to the hype. Last Sunday’s heavyweight battle between undefeated Wichita State, riding a 33-game winning streak, and the much ballyhooed freshman of Kentucky was an all-time classic, one of the best ever. The Wildcats emerged as the victors as the Shockers got screwed in the bracket matchups.
But my favorite game was an opening round tilt between Mahattan College and the defending champion Louisville Cardinals. It pitted an emotional coaching confrontation between the teacher, Rick Pittino and his former student and assistant coach, Steve Masiello.
The 13th-seeded Jaspars almost pulled off the upset, as they had the lead with a few minutes to go, but a couple of mistakes proved to be their undoing as the Cardinals prevailed. This led to Friday night’s epic battle of the Blue Grass State between Kentucky and Louisville, with the young Wildcats prevailing as the champions were dethroned.
To read a tremendous story about the behind-the-scenes drama coming into the Manhattan game, click on http://grantland.com/features/ncaa-tournament-manhattan-college-louisville-cardinals-steve-masiello-rick-pitino/
For basketball fans and endodontists, this is must read material.
So with March leaving the arena, April takes center stage tomorrow at the midcourt stripe.
And if it’s April 1, we are talking April Fools’ day. Which brings to mind an old Chinese proverb, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, get a free order of egg rolls.
Or as English writer Charles Lamb once observed, “Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.” Love the optimistic take.
Now no one, besides perhaps Carnac the Magnificent, knows how this day actually came about. Word has it that back in 1582, around the birth of John McCain’s great, great, great grandparents, King Charles IX of France put out the word that the New Year, which was then celebrated from March 25 to April 1, be moved to January 1, so that the peasants could get a bigger bang for their bucks on calendars.
Now this was during a time in history when internet access was limited and there was no television or radio, so word spread slower than I make changes. So people who forgot about the change or didn’t accept the new date system were goofed upon, as they were given funny gifts, invitations to nonexistent parties or a trip the guillotine. When asked for a comment, Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat sponge cake.”
Or as Mark Twain later wrote, “Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”
Now some say it was actually Pope Gregory in 1562 who introduced the new calendar to the Christian world, but his website has been removed and his people did not return my calls.
As for myself, I don’t really participate in any April Fools’ pranks or jokes, as I prefer to fool or tell people white lies throughout the rest of the year. Over the first trimester of my nine year courtship, my future bride’s favorite question would always be, “Really?” And as I used to say, if you have to ask me that question, you already know the answer, a remark she always found quite endearing.
As to why I would mislead or run the misdirection play, who knows, it’s just in my DNA. I’ve always loved fooling people, of course, not maliciously, or as my wife likes to say, “He’s kidding.” Or as the great Winston Churchill once put it, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”
So April 1 is a day for hoaxes, pranks, bloopers, blunders and practical jokes. Like putting ‘kick me’ signs on people’s butts. Humorist Will Rogers once remarked, “The trouble with practical jokes is that they very often get elected.
So courtesy of abs-cbnnews.com and wierdfacts.com, here are some of the more amusing April 1 jokes and pranks played over the years.
In 1957, the BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. Millions were duped by the report, with many of them asking how they can grow their own spaghetti trees. Still even more called in asking if they knew of any trees that grew sauce.
In 1996, Taco Bell pulled the wool over Americans’ eyes when they took out full-page ads in major newspapers, claiming they had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Now that’s thinking outside the bun.
In 1998, Burger King introduced the “Left-Handed Whopper.” This juicy burger supposedly included the usual condiments in original Whopper sandwich, but these were “rotated 180 degrees” to suit left-handed customers. And that’s why God gave us two hands to hold a Whopper.
In 2010, Google “officially” changing its name to “Topeka”, then in 2011 released a new product called “Gmail Motion” that supposedly let users send and receive e-mails using gestures. Last year, Google announced the shutdown of its popular video-sharing site YouTube, which drove young social media users into the panic over the possibility of having to read a book.
And finally, back in 1969, Dutch TV reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions by simply driving through the streets with a new detector. At that time, all households had to pay for a television license. The only way to avoid your television from being detected, was to pack the television in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.
So let that be a reminder to you ladies out there. Sometimes a knight in shining armor turns out to be a loser in aluminum foil.
So what’s a fool to do? For my money, I’ll go with the Beatles. “The fool on the hill sees the sun going down. And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” And then he blogs about it. Enough said.
Which leads us into today’s photos, a collection of shots featuring birds in flight, accompanied by the sun dropping into the Pacific. This past fall was a fantastic time for pelican viewing at dusk, and these photos reflect some of the magic moments along with a few gulls that came along for the ride.
On to some late night humor. “Intelligence officials say they had a hard time predicting Russia’s invasion because Vladimir Putin doesn’t own a cellphone or use the Internet due to fear of being tracked. You can tell Putin doesn’t spend much time online. When he says “LOL,” he means “Look out, Latvia.” They’re considering a new 10-cent fee on grocery bags here in New York. My mom said, “Who’s laughing at the eight-thousand bags under the sink NOW?” – Jimmy Fallon
“First lady Michelle Obama is in China right now. Today she was busy doing some official business. She placed a wreath on the grave of General Tso, the creator of spicy chicken.” – David Letterman “There’s a new website that helps you write elaborate works of personalized fiction. It’s called Match.com.” – Conan O’Brien
“The NFL made a big announcement yesterday that will greatly impact how players celebrate in the end zone. The league has banned players from dunking over the goal post. If I want to watch a sport without dunking, I’ll watch the WNBA. Toronto held the first mayoral debate of 2014 tonight. Rob Ford faced four challengers. None of the other candidates specifically mentioned drugs. They let Mayor Ford say over and over again that he’s the only candidate with a proven track record. He’s also the only candidate with a proven crack record.” – Jimmy Kimmel
“Americans have been given another month to sign up for Obamacare as long as they check a box on the website saying they tried to sign up before the original deadline. It’s expected to be answered as truthfully as boxes that say “Yes, I am 18.” In an interview with “Meet the Press,” former President Jimmy Carter said he won’t send emails because he believes the NSA is reading them. And also because he can’t find the “send” button on his typewriter. Google announced last night that it will launch a new security feature to make it harder for situations like the NSA spying program to happen in the future. Then they went back to driving around and taking pictures of the street you live on.” – Seth Meyers
So if you’re keeping scorecard at home, this is my 420th post. We’ll catch you being the best shooter in the NBA while wowing the crowds and willing your team to victory at crunch time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.