Yodel videogame? Playboy mansion in NZ? It's April 1

SYDNEY Wed Apr 1, 2009 11:39am EDT

1 of 2. A model stands at Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 display at the Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, east of Tokyo September 20, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Video gamers with a yearning for yodeling now have a new XBox 360 game with songs such as "Whose spit is in my horn?"

Popular New Zealand tourist town Rotorua (www.rotoruanz.com) says a pervasive rotten egg smell is such a powerful aphrodisiac that Hugh Hefner wants to build a Playboy mansion there.

British newspaper The Guardian will only publish stories on social networking service Twitter, where messages are limited to 140 characters.

Can't be true? It isn't.

Wednesday is April 1 and media outlets, companies, politicians and other jokers have come up with a range of April Fools' hoaxes.

Tourism Minister Tim Holding from the Australian state of Victoria announced that Melbourne would bid to host the Running of the Bulls through the city's laneways, stealing the event from Pamplona in Spain that has held it since the 13th century.

"We are also in preliminary discussions with musical producers to rename the smash hit musical Bully Elliot for the week of the event," he said in a statement, dated April 1.

He wasn't the only Melburnian pulling pranks. Some people in the city awoke to find their cars wrapped in clingfilm, apparently a stunt by a local radio station.

Prank products offered on April 1 included a high-tech football with an inbuilt GPS and artificial intelligence so it can measure kicks to notify talent scouts, according to Google.

Diagrams on the Google website showed the gBall, which can be found using Google Maps, could be plugged into a computer and vibrates when a talent scout wants to speak with the owner.

The Economist put out an April 1 press release which says the magazine intends to launch an Econoland theme park, "matching the magic of a theme park with the excitement of macroeconomics."

The press release has a link to an interactive map at tinyurl.com/c57yfp where viewers can see such exciting attractions as the Dow Jones roller coaster which plummets from atop the Mountain of Debt, swim with the loan sharks through the Lagoon of Lost Liquidity or navigate past the Terror-Dactyl in the Magical Jungle of International Politics.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera apologized online to its readers after falling for a convincing Internet prank about the "Hotelicopter," a four-storey flying hotel based on a Soviet design for the largest helicopter ever built -- the Mil V-12.

Only two 1960s prototypes were ever built and the anonymous creators of a website -- www.hotelicopter.com -- announced this week they had bought one and converted it into a hovering paradise for weary travelers reluctant to wait at the airport.

Anonymous, until sharp-eyed Internet users noted a striking resemblance to the rooms offered by a recently founded British company called Yotel, which sells airport hotel accommodation.

"We just thought it was a bit of fun. Life is so serious at the moment. If you think about it, it is actually possible but not so quickly," Marketing Director Jo Berrington told Reuters.

"We are looking at all sorts of things -- locations under ground, on boats, planes and so on. So it is a spoof but we are highlighting great design in very small spaces."

Australian pen maker Artline ran newspaper adverts promoting a new line of pens with "microchip tracking" for owners sick of people borrowing their pens and never returning them. It did come clean on its website (www.artline.com.au).

April Fools' Day dates back centuries but its origins remain unclear. A widespread theory is that it dates back to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar with the term April Fool applying to those who were still following the Julian Calendar.

By tradition in most countries, people can pull pranks before noon on April 1 in the name of April Fools' Day but become the fool if they do it in the afternoon.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy and Paul Casciato)

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