First of all, I’ve been sick for days with no end in sight. Prescriptions, confinement to bed, Vitamin C, all to no avail. Not fun.
Second, in the spirit of the current holiday, here’s a short exercise in discernment. I’m going to give you three increasingly improbable scenarios, all of them somehow relevant to the sort of thing I usually post here. Your task is to determine which, if any, of them are April Fool’s Day hoaxes that I just made up out of the recesses of my twisted mind. I’ll give you the correct answers at the end of the post.
Of course, you could just Google these one at a time, but because I have such trust in my adoring faithful, we’ll do this on the honor system. Besides, there are no prizes other than the smug satisfaction of a job well done, so it’s not like there’s anything at stake.
Ready? Here goes!
IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #1:
The History Channel will premiere a new series this month devoted to the workings of an Alaskan taxidermy shop. The promotional copy describes it as a sort of Cake Boss with moose carcasses, in which we can witness “the real process of what it takes to preserve natural history–on a deadline, and always for a demanding client.”
IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #2: Until just a few years ago, a Baltimore museum exhibited what was reportedly Abraham Lincoln’s last bowel movement. It was recovered from a chamber pot at Ford’s Theater and mounted in a frame, along with an old manuscript attesting to its authenticity. An analysis of its contents revealed traces of Necco Wafers.
IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #3: Past in the Present—the little history blog that could, which you are now reading with your very eyes—has been picked up by a television station to become an educational/travel series. A camera will follow your intrepid blogger as he travels to various historic sites and interviews the folks who work there about why these places are significant and what visitors can expect to see. Filming hopefully starts this summer.
So how many of these astronomically unlikely situations are true, and how many are April Fool’s Day hogwash? I’ll give you some time to mull this over.
Okay, here are the answers. Try to contain your excitement.
SCENARIO #1: This one is true, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who’s been watching
The History Channel‘s gradual descent into madness. The show is called Mounted in Alaska, and it premieres in less than a week.
The first time I heard the title, I thought it was about Anchorage cavalry reenactors. Come to think of it, that would make a pretty good show, too.
SCENARIO #2: Get ready to pick your lower jaw off the floor. This one is true, too, although the museum in question apparently closed in 2007. Even the bit about the Necco Wafers is real. While the artifact undoubtedly existed, Roadside America claims that it wasn’t really Lincoln’s, since Necco Wafers first hit the shelves in 1912. The manufacturer, however, states that the wafers have been in production since 1847, when Lincoln was in Congress, so maybe it was the genuine article after all.
It would be fun to try to track the provenance of that thing, and even more fun to present the results at a conference. Any of you researchers out there who’d like to commit career suicide should tackle this one. Let us know how it goes.
SCENARIO #3: I didn’t make this one up, either. Today the blogosphere, tomorrow the world. Fortunately, I’m not the person to blame for all this.
A good friend of mine is a program manager at a TV station owned by the same university where I’m an adjunct. They do a number of original shows that broadcast throughout northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky. For reasons that he’ll probably come to regret later, he decided to pitch the idea of a show similar to the historic site visit reports that I post here from time to time, and his colleagues thought it was a good idea. We’re planning to do about six episodes, each one built around some similar historical theme or region, where we’ll take viewers on a virtual tour of historically important places.
What’s nifty about all this is that we’re going to try to combine the informative aspects of any history-oriented show with the informal tone and atmosphere of a travel show. Heritage tourism is really popular, but when travel shows tackle historic sites, they don’t always provide the kind of content that history enthusiasts are after. We’re going to try to offer history buffs enough meat and potatoes to keep the shows interesting, while following an on-the-road format that will hopefully engage other viewers and motivate them to visit these places for themselves.
Anyway, I’ll provide more information about the show as it develops. In the meantime, if any readers of the blog have suggestions for places or topics you’d like to see us tackle once we get rolling, feel free to pass them along. We’ll probably be staying in the southeast for this set of episodes, but if it takes off and we end up doing more, then we might venture farther.
Of course, if I don’t get over this bug, then you can box me up and ship me to those guys in Alaska. We’ll still do the show, but it’ll be sort of like Weekend at Bernie’s.