Lieutenant James Gordon has been tapped to head this unit. Long recognized as an exemplary officer, Gordon has an unblemished reputation for fairness and honesty. Police Commissioner Loeb says, "With the establishment of the new Gotham Major Crimes Unit, we join the ranks of the major cities of this country and the world in modern police strategies and tactics."
When it comes to April Fools Day on the ‘Net, I’m not sure where I stand. On one hand, I’m endlessly entertained by the creativity various companies show in their efforts to pull the digital wool over readers’ eyes. It’s also an amazing promotional opportunity, providing websites that normally wouldn’t be players in the viral marketing scene a chance to flex their creative muscles and attract new readers.
On the other hand, however, it’s an editor’s worst nightmare. Every story is likely to be a hoax, and it’s damn near impossible to break any authentic news due to the inherent skepticism of online readers for a 24-hour period.
It’s a bit of a personal hell for me, too. Every year, I wake up on April 1 and remind myself that anything I read that day is probably an April Fools Day prank. And every year, I end up getting excited about a story anyways, only to realize that it was just another joke — more often than not, this happens after I go public with my excitement, adding to the embarassment. In the end, I’m reminded of Charlie Brown trying to kick that football time and time again, even though he ends up on his back in the dirt every time he makes the attempt. I feel his pain.
So this year, I’ve put together a list of some of the highlights from this year’s April Fools Day on the Interwebs. It’s nowhere near a complete list, just some of my personal favorites from the world of comics and comics culture, as well as a few notable non-comics pranks. Feel free to add your own to the ‘Mix (pun totally intended) by adding a link in the comment section at the end of this article.
Big game day. As I sit down to write this, the coin toss that will start this year’s Superbowl is about 90 minutes away. Let a hush fall over the universe. The Pats and the Giants are preparing to vie for godlike supremacy. Who’s your favorite QB – Eli or Tom? Me – I’m going for the Giants, not because I know anything about them, but rather because Marifran likes the Patriots and we have this annual bet. Winner gets to choose the next movie. Call us sports.
Wonder what William James would have thought of the Superbowl?
William James, brother of Henry, as the English majors and philosophy fans among you probably know, launched the concept of the “moral equivalent of war.” Although he was a self-proclaimed pacifist, he recognized that war has its uses – he even declared that history would be “insipid” without it. And it does. It hastens technological development, helps young men understand others who are not of their tribe, offers an opportunity for individuals to test themselves (and maybe learn what they really feel), provides an opportunity to develop managerial skills…You can probably add to the list.
War also kills and maims the innocent and destroys economies and nations and minds and brutalizes the survivors and gives money and power to those least deserving of them, such as men who have never fired a shot except, maybe, at forest animals and who knows? – even then the shooter might miss his target and hit a companion instead. Feel free to add to this list, too.
The trick, then, according to James and like minds, is to find a way to do the good things war does, and omit the bad. It’s a trick nobody has learned how to do. But we have some activities that approximate war that don’t do significant harm and may do some good, and sports is one of them. It allows young folk to obey their evolutionary imperative to engage in strenuous physicality with the goal of beating someone or something and maybe copping some glory and admiring glances and, please, let us not knock that imperative; it helped our distant, burrow-dwelling ancestors to claim a home on the Earth’s surface after a big chunk of rock did in the dinosaurs.
Calling movie actors “stars” was appropriate when I was a midwestern lad, long ago, because they seemed as distant and unattainable as those celestial twinklers that speckled the summer sky. None of my friends or relatives were movie stars — they were butchers or clerks or drivers or printers — and what the stars did, acting, wasn’t a real job and so those who did it weren’t real people. They were…stars. But if you knew someone who knew, or at least had spoken to, one of these distant beings who lived in places you never expected to visit, the stars became somehow real — or maybe realer, anyway. They were, if not people, then some sort of demi-people.
Clark Gable was a star. But Rock Hudson was both more and less than a star because I knew a girl who had worked as an extra on one of his films. Julia Adams…heck, she was a person, because she did a personal appearance at the grocery co-op my father belonged to when she was co-starring with Tyrone Power in Mississippi Gambler and people I knew actually saw her in the flesh. And didn’t that make Power a demi-person, too, by association?
Which brings us to Heath Ledger. I was never in a room with him, never saw him on the street, spoke to him on the phone, none of that. But when a heard about his death a few days ago, I felt just a tiny bit worse than I usually feel when someone whose work I admire passes. Why? Mr. Ledger and I lived in two of the same neighborhoods, one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, though not at the same time, and my big 2007 project was writing a novel based on the script of a movie Mr. Ledger performs in. Somehow, all this makes me feel a dim and distant connection to him.
And the Screen Writers Guild lurches into a tenth week and if there’s any end in sight, I haven’t heard about it.
Last time, I mentioned the Academy of Comic Book Arts and its failure to do any significant negotiating on behalf of its members. ACBA wasn’t the first attempt, though, to organize those glorious mavericks, the comic book community. In the 60s…
Wait! Better issue a warning before I go further. Do not regard anything that follows as gospel. (In fact, you might consider not regarding the Gospel as gospel, but let us not digress.) I have no reason not to believe what I’m about to tell you except one: About a year before he died, Arnold Drake, who was a busy comic book writer at the time we’ll be discussing, told me that the story I had wasn’t the whole story, or even necessarily accurate. I don’t know why I didn’t press him for further information, but I didn’t.