April Fools

Most cultures throughout history have had a place for tricks, jokes, tomfoolery, jesters and a day or time of the year for flaunting the rules and to safely 'stick it' to the monarch. This can range from our own April Fool's Day and Mardi Gras to Carnival in Europe (also called Fasching in Germany).

This blog will give you some background information on these topics as well as where you can find out more, both online and in our library system.

Starting with fools and jesters in general, you can get a good historical and cultural overview in this article for History Today.

Some 'foolish' fare that our library system has which may tickle your funny bone are:

April foolishness (film)

The grandchildren visit their grandparents on the farm. Grandpa knows it's April Fools' Day and won't be taken by the children's antics. Will Grandpa fall for their tricks? Grandma will get the last laugh when she plays some tricks of her own.

The Charley Chase collection (films)

Mum's the word: When a newly married woman conceals something from her husband, that's forgetfulness. When the husband holds out on his wife--that's usually a riot. Long fliv the king: A princess in America on a shopping trip receives a telegram that her father has died. She will be the new Queen, but only if she gets married within 24 hours. Figuring it is safe, she marries a man about to be executed. April fool: Jimmy Jump is a newspaper reporter in love with the managing editor's daughter. It's Monday, April 1st and the staff has a great deal of trouble telling the difference between April Fool's jokes and real events. Mighty like a Moose: Mr. and Mrs. Moose are not pretty. But after he has his teeth fixed and she has her nose done they look great, meet by accident, and don't recognize each other. They make plans for an illicit rendezvous. The only problem: how to keep the spouse from finding out. Crazy like a fox: The story of a father that told his daughter who she could marry. And she told him where he could go. All wet: Jimmie Jump receives a telegram telling him to pick up an important shipment at the train station at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. No good deed goes unpunished, and Jimmie has a whole lot of trouble getting to the depot.

The court jester (film)

In 12th century England, the infant king is usurped by the wicked King Roderick. Black Fox and his band attempt to restore the rightful king to the throne by having a member of their group infiltrate the court by posing as the jester.

Norby and the court jester by Janet Asimov and Isaac Asimov

While visiting the toy and game fair on planet Izz, Jeff and Norby search for a missing robot and the villain responsible for sabotaging the planet's computer system.

The Fool has even found his way into our decks of cards; the Joker in a regular deck of playing cards and The Fool which is the first card in a deck of Tarot cards. The Fool in the tarot is special not only because it is the very first card, but it is numbered with a zero. All the other cards in the major arcana have a roman numeral; only The Fool card has the zero, which comes from Arabia and is not found in the Roman/Latin numbering system. For more information on the Fool in the tarot deck - it's history, symbolism and meaning - go to Wikipedia's article on The Fool.

If you're more into doing tricks and/or magic or telling jokes, the library has many selections. Here is a list.

Books on jokes and riddles are generally in the call number 818 in both the adult and children's areas of the library.

Our next stop on the Foolish Freeway is Clowns. I'm not clowning around when I tell you that in America, a fear (phobia) of clowns is quite common and even has its own psychological term, coulrophobia. Learn more  on About.com.

For those who may enjoy scary clowns, you could try the Stephen King novel It or the movie by the same name. And I would be remiss not to mention the campy cult classic film Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

For those who have no fear of clowns and would like to learn more about them, you may simply do a 'subject' search under 'clowns', or check out this book:

1000 clowns more or less : a visual history of the American clown = die geschichte des amerikanischen Clowns in Bildern = L'histoire en images du clown américain by H. Thomas Steele

The last character in our bag of tricks is the Trickster. In mythology, the Trickster is usually associated with weird coincidences and troublesome goings on that we cannot easily explain. Modern people often refer to these as 'synchronicity' - a term from the famous psychologist Karl Jung. In Greco/Roman mythology, the trickster quality is associated with Hermes/Mercury.

In Native American lore, the character or archetype of the Trickster is associated with the coyote, probably because they have a reputation for slyness.  For more information about the Trickster, try Wikipedia or this in-depth description.  You can also check out these titles in the library system:

Trickster : Native American tales : a graphic collection by Matt Dembicki

Collects over twenty trickster stories, in graphic novel format, from various Native American traditions, including tales about coyotes, rabbits, ravens, and other crafty creatures and their mischievous activities.

Trickster and hero : two characters in the oral and written traditions of the world by Harold Scheub

-G. Calderone


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