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Weekly BlogScan: Pranks and Presidential Portraits

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The news that two US high schools had “Presidential Picture Malfunctions” this week prompted my drunkards’ walk through the blogosphere today. The yearbook of Mesa Grande High School in Colorado labeled one student’s portrait “Most likely to assassinate President Bush,” prompting a visit from stoney-faced Secret Service investigators. Students at El Camino Real High School near Los Angeles, California, put up posters depicting the President as Groucho Marx&#8212and had them taken down by school authorities because Groucho/Bush’s cigar violated school policy against “promoting smoking.”

How common is the decision to commit what the perpetrator invariably calls a “just a prank”?

Jonathan Rowe‘s eponymous blog points out the dangers of running pranks in Prank Calls & the Law. He was prompted to this topic by the infamous Junkyard Willie CDs, in which incoming customer service calls, misdialed, wind up on Willie’s phone. Hilarity ensues&#8212but is it against the law?

Dr. Alec Broers is impotent.
Image from Viagra Prank

Many goofy pranks are documented on John Hargrave‘s blog ZUG, but you should ration yourself when reading the multi-part entry “The Viagra Prank.” I can’t vouch for the safety of so much side-splitting laughter!

Here’s Dr. Alec Broers from the renowned medical journal, who claims “This product is 100% SAFE medically tested in labs, and by myself personally.” Which means that Dr. Broers is impotent. Ha ha! “I happen to know this drug will work,” went the second (and more revealing) part of Dr. Broers’ endorsement, “because I myself have a limp, sagging penis.” You’ll notice they don’t mention what kind of doctor he is. That’s because he is a doctor of love.

Hargrave documents his experiments with Viagra in a five-part series. I skipped right to Part 4: Taking Viagra in Church.

Famous among school pranks is the We Suck scam which Yale perpetrated against Harvard University last year. This is itself a replay of Caltech‘s classic Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961. And MIT has a long and honored history of Harvard pranks, which have been compiled in the linked volume Nightwork.

Abby Taylor of Falafel Sex, and Other Things Best Left Unsaid led me to another ZUG prank, the truly hilarious Credit Card Prank. This guy Hargrave must be a pranking genius&#8212the artwork he uses to electronically sign his credit-card receipt is a hoot, and the letter of apology to Mariah Carey for forging her name to an IOU to pay a Mass Pike toll is sheer poetry. (Although my spouse points out that Mariah probably won’t cash his check, which may be needed for evidence in a restraining order against stalking .)

And finally, Shizzy Joyce writes the cruelest (and most ironically appropos) eMail prank I’ve ever read. Whether you love Starbucks or hate it, whether you sympathize with the entry-level weasel Shizzy scams, or cheer for each new humiliation, you’ll be amazed at what passes for ethics in coffee-corporate life.

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