The skinny

Economy is awful, but April Fools goes on

April fools!

Fake pandas! Hotelicopters! GPS soccer ball!

A rotten economy did not slow the annual array of silliness on April 1. Here is a satirical sampling:

• Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that it would discontinue its print product and publish only on Twitter. "Experts say any story can be told in 140 characters," read a subhead. Though the story itself was much longer.

• The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., reported that Gov. Ed Rendell planned to use $15 million in economic stimulus money "to hire clowns, mimes, magicians, street performers and comedians who will be dispatched to malls, fairs and festivals across the state to boost morale."

• Taiwan's Taipei Times reported that pandas that China had given to the Taipei Zoo were actually plain bears, dyed to resemble pandas.

• Google unveiled a "Gmail Autopilot," which helps you weed through your inbox by replying to e-mails with automated responses.

• Google Australia reported on a new soccer ball equipped with GPS, allowing users to measure kicks, get kicking tips, notify talent scouts and locate a lost ball on Google Maps.

• The blog Civil Eats created a stir by reporting chef Alice Waters introduced a line of frozen foods. Waters is a notable advocate of fresh, sustainable, local and organic foods. But not frozen. Ever.

• The European hotel chain Yotel announced its new "hotelicopter." It claimed the converted helicopter was the first-ever flying five-star hotel, with 18 luxurious rooms "for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience."

• Expedia.com offered flights to Mars. Cheap, too, at $99. "Save over $3 Trillion!" it said.

• Microsoft unveiled the latest version of Guitar Hero for Xbox: Alpine Legend. This version features yodeling, rather than guitar playing.

• Upscale grocer Whole Foods announced its new store in Antarctica, complete with a line of penguins awaiting entry, provided recipes for dishes like deep-fried pork eclairs and toast and introduced its new line of organic air at $6.99 for 0.02 ounces. Actually, that one seems plausible.

Ferocious, but fake

Cardboard coyotes terrify lady in park

A woman in Sarnia, Ontario, was out for her morning walk when she saw a couple of coyotes in a park. She ran to the safety of a nearby construction site and told workers that one of the coyotes barked at her. So workers called the police, who found the coyotes exactly where the woman said they had been before. They hadn't moved at all. Of course, that could be because they were cardboard cutouts and totally silent. Police suspected a prank, according to Canadian Press, and removed them. But it turns out they were supposed to be there. City officials had placed the fake animals there to scare off messy geese.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com.

Economy is awful, but April Fools goes on 04/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 9:29pm]

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