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10 Serious Things That Happened on April 1

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The list of crazy April Fools' Day stunts has been well-covered across the Internet, so I thought today we'd flip it a little. Here's a list of things that actually happened on April 1, but that some people assumed were part of the day's mischievous festivities.

1. When Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father on April 1, 1984, some people figured it was a hoax. Sadly, the public quickly found out that it was all too real.

2. Somewhat similarly, when comedian Mitch Hedberg died while on tour in 2005, many of his fans thought it was another one of his jokes. He died on March 29, actually, but it wasn't released to news outlets until the 31st, and a lot of newspapers printed the story on April 1st.

3. Back in the day when Sega and Nintendo were bitter rivals, no one would have thought that their hit characters Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario would team up in a game. But that's exactly what happened when "Sonic and Mario at the Olympics" was announced in 2007. Sega and Nintendo announced it via a joint press release a couple of days prior to April 1, but fans just assumed there was no way it could be true. 

4. Google introduced Gmail in 2004. Given Google's propensity for April Fools Day pranks, plenty of people assumed they were just kidding. At the time, free e-mail with a whole gigabyte of storage was a completely new concept. The following year, they increased it to two gigs.

5. Let this be a lesson to us all: If you want people to take your death seriously, don't die on April Fools' Day (to be safe, the days leading up to April 1 should also be avoided). When the media reported the death of King George II of Greece on April 1, 1947, the public largely thought it was fake. But he had really died of arteriosclerosis.

gremlin6. Apparently the April 1, 1970, announcement of the AMC Gremlin was too laughable for people to consider real. After all, who would name a car that? And a car expected to compete with the VW bug was just silly. AMC was serious, though, and the Gremlin was produced from 1970-1978.

7. Also in 2003, two rival video game companies merged. Square was the company behind Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy (among other games) while Enix had versions of Tomb Raider and Riven (again, among lots of other things). But in truth, the two companies had been discussing and considering the merger for at least three years.

8. I doubt anyone thought this was an April Fools' joke at the time, but I think it's worth noting that Apple Computer was founded by Ronald Wayne and the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) on April 1, 1976. Hmmm....coincidence that Woz was voted off of Dancing with the Stars on the eve of the 33rd anniversary of Apple? OK, it was. And he totally deserved it. He may be a great guy, but his dancing was terrible.

9. On March 31, 1946, officials released a tsunami warning in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands. Many didn't take the warnings seriously, but when a tsunami did indeed devastate the next day, 165 people were killed.

10. Another Google incident that wasn't a prank: in 2007, the company sent an e-mail out to its employees at a NYC office warning that a python was loose in the facilities. Definitely sounds like a prank, I know, but it was true: an engineer kept a ball python named Kaiser in his cube and Kaiser escaped. The e-mail to employees apologized for the awkward timing and assured them that this was no April Fool stunt.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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