April Schooled: How Two Different Pranks Caught Even Us Off Guard April 1

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

As the saying goes, you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on us. Apparently, in at least two cases yesterday, people got up DAMN early because a couple of our writers got caught with their virtual pants down.

We know conspiracy theorists think the media is involved in some sort of plot to conceal the truth about FEMA, concentration camps and aliens serving on the secret service (we've already said too much), but, in reality, most of us are just trying to find good story content for our readers. We WISH we had a line on aliens in the White House. Holy crap, that would be awesome!

But, when April Fool's Day comes around every year, most of us know to take publicity with a very large grain of salt or fall prey to a prank. Same goes for every form of social media where it seems everyone becomes a jokester for one day of the year and 99 percent of them are not remotely funny. For one of our writers, the damage was minimal -- exchanged embarrassing e-mails, that sort of thing. The second, however, got the story online for the public to behold. What makes it even funnier is that both writers who were fooled are regulars and very savvy guys online and off -- nevermind the veteran journalists who edit them. Eep!

The Scam: Atari Legacy The Victim: Jef with One F The Result: Embarrassment for a hardcore gamer. A very excited Jef with One F forwarded our editor in chief a press release stating that Atari had been purchased for $13 million by a video game company. The new company was planning on releasing the Atari Legacy, a gaming system that would have every classic Atari game on it.

Not surprisingly, our resident gamer went to work feverishly on a post explaining how it would tie in nicely with another story he was working on. That was just before 10 a.m. Monday. By lunch, the jig, as they say, was up and our gaming guru fired off this e-mail to his editor:

Stupid Atari story was a stupid April Fool's Day prank. I freakin' hate this day. I'm gonna go do NDs and playlists until all the publicists stop thinking they're funny.

Yes, get back to it, sir ("NDs," FYI, refer to items in the Night and Day section of our print publication). You've been had. But, not to worry. The reality is that an Atari Legacy sounds bad freaking ass! I'm so excited, I'm going to get my preorder in for one right now...oh, right.

The Scam: Chandler Parsons's Triple Double The Victim: Sean Pendergast The Result: A post that will live in infamy. Of all the people we would not expect to get punked by an April Fool's joke, Sean Pendergast is at the top of the list. Not only is he a whipsmart writer and sports-talk host, but he's seriously wary of getting fooled. We've heard he keeps a bunker full of college kids hepped up on Red Bull to handle his research for him in cases just like this. We're thinking they must have been on spring break.

What caught Pendergast was nothing more than an over-developed sense of paranoia about athletes being held out of games with fake injuries and the dramatic pause of a coworker during a sports flash. From there, it was just a confirmation from a local sports blog and a couple tweets from "hey, we've got ourselves an actual story here, sonny!"

In this case, it was the belief that Rockets forward Chandler Parsons didn't miss a game due to food poisoning, but rather to an obscure college ritual that has someone eating 100 tater tots, 10 corn dogs and washing them down with 10 beers in one day. Pendergast got it past his venerable blog editor who believes everything is a scam including puppies and free checking. Pendergast's update to the original post read in part:

What you read below is my falling for it! So Chandler Parsons apparently did have food poisoning on Monday, like for real. So thoughts and prayers to Parsons' lower intestines. I humbly leave evidence of my gullibility and naiveté online for all of you to enjoy! So, ENJOY!

Oh, we will, Seannie. We will.

(We were not, of course, the only people falling for April Fools' pranks. Sites like techcrunch collected successful pranks, as did Buzzfeed, the New York Daily News and Business Insider.)

Follow Houston Press on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews or @HoustonPress.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.