And now, for some completely different things…
Thing the first: The Times ran, I kid you not, a delightful obituary yesterday.
Alan Abel, a professional hoaxer who for more than half a century gleefully hoodwinked the American public — not least of all by making himself the subject of an earnest news obituary in The New York Times in 1980 — apparently actually did die, on Friday, at his home in Southbury, Conn. He was 94.
I wonder how long they’d been working on that headline and lede?
Long before The Onion began printing farcical news articles[…] there was Alan Abel. A former jazz drummer and stand-up comic who was later a writer, campus lecturer and filmmaker, Mr. Abel was best known as a perennial public gadfly, a self-appointed calling that combined the verbal pyrotechnics of a 19th-century flimflam man with acute 20th-century media savvy.
He was, the news media conceded with a kind of irritated admiration, an American original in the mold of P. T. Barnum, a role model whom Mr. Abel reverently acknowledged.
Today, in the internet age, anyone can be a Nigerian prince. In Mr. Abel’s time, however, the hoaxer’s art — involving intricate planning, hiring actors, donning disguises, printing official-looking letterheads, staging news conferences and having the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker — entailed, for better or worse, a level of old-time craftsmanship whose like will almost certainly not be seen again.
I recommend reading the whole thing. It’s an engagingly-written look back on an interesting man’s life.
Thing the second, I made a sign-up form for the Minecraft whitelist, so, if that’s for you, yay.
What’s everybody doing to unwind tonight? I might watch teevee or keep working on that Vinge book.