Tuesday, March 31, 2009

For the Fools among us, and we know who we are. (or, We have found the enemy, and they is us!!)

When I was a little kid, one April Fools Day, I pranked my mother by taking a GI Joe doll, popping his head off, placing it on my Captain Kirk figure (much smaller proportions) and popping big-head grotesque Kirk next to the orange juice in the 'fridge. Creepy, really.

If I had been a little more devious--and daring--I might have dreamed up something with more mileage, like pilfering the laying mash our nine chickens enjoyed as a daily breakfast, and pouring it into the flour jar. My brother, Matthew, for example, got in big trouble the year he buried a thin explosive charge in the end of one of my mother's Kent cigarettes. (He was giggling; she, however, did not enjoy the humor.) For its part, the cigarette was impressively destroyed, and for anyone who remembers how the mini-AT-ATs shredded the trees in the battle against the Ewoks... well, it was just like that.

Another memorable April First.... I spent the better part of the day riding the bike in Prospect Park heartbroken at the news that Brooklyn was going to have to tear down the victory arch in Grand Army Plaza because the French were suing over Arc de Triomphe copyright infringement.... I had read it in a local Brooklyn weekly--can't remember which one, but I swear it wasn't until late in the day that I realized it was an April Fool's story.

And for anyone who's ever spent time on tour... this story could be apocryphal, but, it's just such a great prank, and in fact kept my best friend Jonathan and I in gasping apoplexia, when I told him about it in a Kansan bar in late 1992. It goes thusly: The night before your tour leaves (international is best, but domestic will do), find an unsuspecting charming suburban or rural home, note its address, and liberate their ceramic lawn creatures. (For the story I told Jonathan, they were 'lawn frogs.') Wrap the creatures in packing blankets and stash in the back of the truck. At every tour stop, find the most famous landmark, and photograph the lawn creatures next to it (St. Louis Arch, Big Ben, The Louvre) and send the photos, in postcard form, back to the house. When you return to your home port, return the creatures under cover of night, and presto, the intrepid travelers return home. It's a lot of committment for a prank, but give a group of bored stagehands just a little bit of time and motivation, and then, watch the hell out... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7556244.stm

With just a little research the other day, I turned up a ton of historical April Foolery. So far, my favorite was that the April 1998 issue of New Mexicans for Science and Reason published a story reporting that Alabama's state legislature had voted to change the value of Pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0.
Like the best comedy, it hits on three or four levels.

Thanks to 20th-Century global financial alchemists (coupled to SUV-sized greed), Planet Earth's violently hiccupping economy has made nearly every day one in which to feel the fool. Is April 1 still relevant? Perhaps I should be agitating for April Wisdom Day, in which we freely hand to the masses unexciting, dulled pearls like "Getting Rich Quick Is A Lie" or "If you think you're getting a free lunch, you'll pay thrice for dinner..." or the like. Call it a "wisdom bailout."

On second thought, bollocks that. In our more responsible, more egalitarian 21st Century, we should be doing that every day except April 1, and so in that spirit, I indeed hope today everyone is gleefully waiting for when their best friend opens the springy-snake-in-the-peanut can/steps in the fake doggy do/walks into their living room to discover in place of the couch, a scale model of Nebuchadnezzar II's Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Go extreme today, people, for we live in extreme times and are in need of extreme humor.

Write your favorite April Foolery below, realized or imagined. Don't forget, if God had intended cars to fly, he would have put Texas Nerf Bars on a DC-9.

Thanks again for reading.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vjesná Svjashchjénnaja / Le Sacre du Printemps / My First Time at the Plate

Spring 2009

Welcome to the inaugural post of Blaiserblog. I'm Blaiser; this is my blog.

Let me first thank Tom Willner for setting this up for me; thanks, also, are due to everyone who has expressed interest in my writing, or encouraged me to launch this sucker, especially Suzanne Hevner.

So... what to expect on BlaiserBlog?

I like to write about everyday inanity, outrageous juxtapositions and Swedish fish.

Lately, I've been the early bird, but the worm frequently snaps in half as I'm pulling him from the ground. Life is like that.

Speaking of which, I roll through it--life--generally agog, a country boy working in the city, a lover of books and upland hunting, an approximater of poetry and a hack on the piano. In my wildest dreams, I'm the Dread Pirate Roberts. Most days, however, I'm a mix between Pig Pen and Potsie--an extraneous crooner with an impressive cloud of detritus in his wake.

Some random things to ponder for March 26, 2009:

Now that Curt Schilling has retired from baseball, will Jesus still want the Red Sox to win?

You may already have won $10 million....

If I get half as many visitors to this blog as Martha Stewart's dogs get on their blog, I'll have more audience than most first-time novelists... Woof.

Since I'm now testing the waters outside of the warm, squishy comforts of Facebook, and this is an actual blog, and not a test, you'll get some instructions on where to go and what to check out.

So here's a topic: Children's books are the bullet-trains of transportative literature. The bedtime story, it turns out, is an occasional battleground for my son, Benjamin, and myself--last year was "Around the Harry Potter Canon in 365 Days...". But at this writing, we're five chapters into his latest pick: my favorite, The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame's dreamy turn-of-the-century classic. (A more literary adventure for 8-year-olds I have not found.)

I'm acutely aware that I'll have one shot at this, really--it's doubtful he'd sit through the whole thing again, so I'm relishing every page and giving my best performance. Benjamin, for his part, loves it, and patiently listens when the author inevitably soujourns into ornate, descriptive bramble, just as lost as Mr. Mole in the Wild Wood. The copy I have is a well-loved hand-me-down from my aunts and uncles, and sports wondrous full-page color illustrations by Ernest Shepard. I can hardly wait for the Battle Royale against the ferrets, weasels and stoats at the end. It'll be great.

One of the great joys of childhood is that there are several classic books for small people, and a bunch of smart guys have had the audacity, apparently, to take their best shot at transferring one of them to the big screen. Here's their handiwork:


This trailer has just hit the Zeit-Consciousness-Bahn, and like countless others, I'm passing it along 'cause I liked it. Perhaps you will, too. Beg pardon, but I'm off to mark my calendar for October 16...

Comment at will below. Tell your friends and neigbors. And thanks for reading.