This part of the April Fools collection chronicles my Masterpiece. My Pièce de résistance if you will (or wont). I pulled out all of the stops, and my wallet in 2005 and outdid myself. This collection of pranks got executives out of bed early on a Sunday, redirected traffic, required the creation of a shell corporation and received a write up in the local newspaper. It was accomplished in 4 parts, two of which were just distractions and misdirections. All of the fun was sprung during my trip to Pacifica because I had been challenged the year prior by my Mom to no longer pull off any pranks that make people feel bad... or good... or worried... etc. She systematically eliminated most emotions but left me with "Surprise" & "Curiosity". I'll take that challenge, thanks. =]
Part 1 - The Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson
Setup: In a story by Jay O'Callahanset in 1952, the Author plays a joke on his neighbor, a huge (in all ways) supporter of Eisenhower, by placing huge campaign poster of Adlai Stevenson at the foot of her bed while she slept.
Props: This picture of Stevenson, a sharp pair of scissors & lots of Scotch Tape.
The Hook: The eve of April Fools' Day: the picture, which had been printed to be 3 foot by 4 foot had been disassembled for transit, was quietly reassembled. It was then - oh so quietly - taped to my Mom's bedroom door so she, like the antagonist of in the story, would wake to the Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson.
The Result: Success! No restricted emotions, a fun surprise & best of all - she thought she was off the hook for any other pranking on April 1st.
Part 2 - W.T.P.
To further throw everyone off the scent of further pranking, a roll of specially printed toilet paper featuring the smiling face & quotes of everyone's favorite current president was installed in the bathroom. This qualifies more as a Gag than a prank, but it's all good on 4/1.
Part 3 - IOCor & Milagra
Setup: One of Mom's favorite jogging routes was up on the Milagra Ridge which was a small parcel of semi-protected land surrounded by the standard suburban sprawl typical to the coastal towns south of San Francisco. It'd be a shame if the owners finally sold out to contractors!
Props: A website for our fake Venture Capital group IOCor, some Windows hacking skilz, 3 large sheets of plywood, several cans of spray paint, one heavy hammer, one large nail, two boxes of stencils, a pack of plastic zip-ties and, of course, a half dozen wooden stakes.
Prop Creation: I created the IOCor website (Cached), basing it on a real-life venture capital website. Later I changed the HOST file on my Mom's computer so the URL wouldn't look suspicious. This one required a lots of help from my accomplice Heather. We took a vacation within a vacation to travel up the coast to Mendocino which started off with a trip a trip to the local Home Depot to pick up supplies. The next night, as it was getting dark we found a secluded cul-de-sac & spray painted the plywood white & the tops of the wooden stakes neon-orange. On our way home we finished the task by using the stencils to spray paint the plywood into 3 large signs. We also punched holes in the corners so we could eventually use the zip-ties to hang the signs. Once back in Pacifica Heather & I made a trip to the Ridge in the wee hours of the morning and worked our magic.
The Mark: Several times during our visit I had hinted that I wanted to try to tackle the large hill on top of the Milagra Ridge by jogging it. As the days of our trip started to run out I "decided" that Friday would be our day to tackle the hill. Friday just happened to be April First. That morning we headed up to the Ridge. There's a fence along the road that runs by the Ridge and someone had put up signs all over the fence! They read things like "IOCor on the Rise!", "Progress for Perfection!" & most importantly, "Visit IOCOR.COM!" There were also wooden stakes with orange paint marking out a presumed "boundary" of IOCor's activity. During the jog, I wondered aloud what this IOCor stuff might be and what kind of project they have in mind for the beloved Milagra Ridge? Not quite an hour later as we descended the hill after the jog/hike we saw a fancy car that reeked of excessive money. The signs had been cut down and were nowhere to be seen. Standing next to the ritzy car was a woman talking animatedly on her cell phone. She seemed confused and out of her element. I really don't know what she was doing there, but I remarked at the time that she must be an exec of IOCor! Upon reflection, she might have been the property owner trying to figure out what the heck IOCor was. Because of my HOST file shenanigans, the web address that written on the signs would only work on a computer that had been thusly modified. We were untraceable!
The Reveal: Upon returning to the homestead I used some excuse to get everyone around the computer and typed in the web address, motioned for my Mom to have a seat and stepped back to watch over 2 months of planning, preparation & trespassing come to fruition. I nearly burst a gut trying NOT to laugh as she read the following words:
The park has the blessing of the National Park Service, The Department of the Interior, The Golden Gate National Recreation Area & Senator Palpatine himself. This stunning plan has spent over month in research & development and will cost roughly $10 - mostly spent on stencils & lumber. Production is slated to begin today, April 1st 2005. Local Pacifica Resident Kathryn Dalton has only recently been made aware of this plan and is most probably very curious to learn more. Unfortunately, she's also been the victim of a horrible hoax perpetrated by her Son & his sweetheart. God, I love this holiday. And with this, my coup de grace, I bow out of the game and officially retire from the prankster business. It's been fun, but I need to quit while I have a head. Good night everybody!
The Fallout: She NEVER suspected me to go this far with a prank, especially since I had already "got her" that morning. The incredible luck of having the "Executive" at the bottom of the hill as we returned was just too priceless although nearly a disaster because if we had arrived at the Ridge just a half hour later the signs would have been gone and the entire prank would have fallen apart. As it was I got cursed out and actually spanked for my efforts. She would have found something heavier to hit me with if she only knew that I wasn't done for the day. . .
Part 4 - Wrapping, but not by Christo
Setup: That Christo guy made "Art" by wrapping up some famous buildings in plastic. Bah. *I* Could do that.
Props: 1000 feet of plastic shrink wrap from UHaul.
The Mark: While my Mom was out running errands, Heather and I started wrapping the house with the plastic wrap. It didn't go as far as we would have hoped, but since we had to buy it before traveling across the country and there really wasn't room enough for two of these in our suitcase (Just one had already caused a problem when checking our bags) we did the best we could and partially wrapped the house, but completely wrapped the car.
The Reveal: I had the camcorder rolling when my Mom rolled back up to the house. It had gotten nearly dark by the time she returned and the effect was surreal - the green wrap was the same color as the night. We all had a good laugh. My final prank was a success!
The Fallout: There was a lot of extra traffic on her street the next day as people drove past to see the wrapped house. The local paper published the story & a B&W picture a week later as well! I may one day do this one again as the roll of plastic was only $22 and I'm just DYING to wrap a house while someone is still IN it.
That's all folks! Here's the photo gallery.
The Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson
IOCor signs and orange wooden stakes
Yeah, the house is pink