Ministry of Pranks

What's a prank, you ask?

Pranks are real-life enactments of all those vengeful fantasies that run through your head when something pisses you off.  When someone litters your car with flyers for their nail salon, don't you want to call them and screw with them a little?  You should want to, and you should do it.  It's a punch back at all the little things that add up to life-robbing stress.  It's nose-thumbing at the very people and things we are expected to take seriously.  Fight back, even if it's anonymously.  I promise you'll feel better. Do it now Send in your tales of jackassery for immediate inclusion here. (Factual accuracy not required, or even expected.) 


Business Reply Mail- you know, those annoying little cards that stick out of magazines, that come in junk mail, they even pre-stuff 'special offers' into the shopping bags at the UCLA Bookstores!
These Business Reply Envelopes and Cards are mailed using a permit, so the addressee pays for the postage when they get the mail.  Well, these things annoy me, and the company pays the postage whether or not I'm actually buying something from them... this is prankery at its finest!
I used to just collect these things, all these prepaid pieces of mail, and every month or so, just drop 'em all into a mailbox.  Blank.  Just a nameless, minor monkeywrencher...
Then I started writing stuff on them.  Mean stuff, funny stuff, non-sequiturs, whatever.  I figured I could at least get someone's attention while I wasted a few cents of their boss's money.
Sometimes I like to stuff the wrong stuff into a reply envelope and send it back.  So the guys at Columbia House get a lot of Publisher's Clearing House stuff, and vice versa.  This is fun, but it can be time-consuming.
One time, I was on the phone with a company who had sent some enzymes to my lab.  They send the goodies in a foam box full of dry ice, and they include a prepaid return sticker so you can send the empty box back.  I started feeling a prank coming on... so I hung up on the idiots.  I went outside and filled the foam box with dirt, rocks, and some incidental plant life.  I taped it up and called UPS for a pickup, and the 50-lb box of dirt was shipped back to the annoying company at their expense.
For the current state-of-the-art in reply-pranking, see Artistic Greetings.

June 2000- Business-reply pranking evolves into performance art.

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The New York Times! I was checking out my pal Godfrey's page, and was referred to a story in the New York Times.  To view the paper online, you have to register.  No charge, no big deal.  So I type in a user name, I get an error message.  Different user name, same error message.  This goes on for 3 or 4 possible names, and I'm getting a little bent, so I type in 'fucknut' for a user name.  Here's the response, cut & pasted directly from the NY Times site:

Registration Form

There is a problem with the fields highlighted in red below. For help, click here.

  • The Subscriber ID fucknut is not available. We suggest fucknut2 instead. To accept it, click the Submit button, or, enter a new ID and click the Submit button to try again.

Please don't double-click.

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Graceland- yeah,  I went to Graceland.  I had to see the fanatics tumbling over themselves to see a dead redneck's rasslin' capes.  We got into Memphis late, and decided to stay over.  I had a few beers and, as often happens, buffoonery came to mind.  So I took a plain gray t-shirt and wrote

on the front of it as big as I could.  I wore it on the Graceland tour the next day, carefully concealed under a loose Hawaiian shirt.  At several places along the (idiotic) tour,  I pulled the Hawaiian back to reveal the sinister message I carried on my chest, just long enough for my co-conspirator to get a photo.  We were a little concerned that we would be killed by rabid fans if found out.
Things got a little edgy outside, posing at the gates for a couple of photos.  Traffic slowed down, and I thought one carful of locals was really gonna stop and flail us.
The crowning touch was the brainchild of my partner in crime (and attorney).  We folded the heinous T-shirt up neatly, and 'reverse-shoplifted' it into the gift shop across the street.  We stuck it in the middle of a huge pile of Elvis T-shirts.  Imagine someone holding it up to the clerk, "Hey, how much is THIS one?"

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Artistic Greetings - my favorite company.  They have those ads in the Sunday paper, for address labels, custom checks, and my favorite: the self-inking rubber stamp.
These are invaluable tools for creative pranksters everywhere.  I had a stamp made that decries junk mail, and I stamp it all over Business Reply Mail before sending it in anonymously.  The stickers work well too, especially because they're portable. My pals at BigRig Industries exploited this feature to make little stickies deriding corporate beer.  These were then stuck all over cartons of corporate beer in the local grocery store.  I made stickers insulting people for having shit jobs, and urging them to quit (after stealing something from the workplace).  These go out pasted on business-reply envelopes and cards as well.  I doubt anyone takes them seriously, but it's good fun nonetheless.  If it confuses people or pisses them off, it can't be all bad!
There's something physically gratifying about using the stamp, but the stickers are neater.  The stamp ink dries slowly on shiny paper, sometimes ruining your handiwork. I'm leaning more and more towards stickers.  Every time you run out of stickers, you get to think up a new incendiary/ insulting/ psychotic thing to put on the next batch.
The people at Artistic Greetings have printed whatever I've asked for so far, although I've never requested anything overtly obscene.  Pick up a Sunday paper, and send 'em an order- it's fun, like a perverse little haiku!  You get four lines of 28 letters/spaces per line.  See what you can think up, and start pranking today.  Let me know what you come up with.

Now! Go to Artistic Greetings Online!

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SCAMMERY! I heard of this beautiful scam, while I was serving on the Admissions Committee at UCLA's Dental School... it's so tempting, I have considered perpetrating it myself... 

A guy advertised in a few major university newspapers...
"Consultant to medical schools... guaranteed admission following private evaluation... $5,000.  Written moneyback guarantee.
The guy's credentials were legit, he was an M.D., had served on the Admission Committee at his school, was later hired as a consultant on admissions policy, etc.
He would tell students that he knew lots of people on lots of committees at lots of schools (still true).  He was elusive about exactly what he could do to get a student admitted, but he would look over their apps and give them some advice for improving it.  He was careful to imply (but not overtly state) an insider's edge. He told students that for the $5000 fee, he could guarantee admission into at least one of the schools where he implied he had some pull.  Written contract- if student isn't admitted into one of the schools, they get their money back.  The contract specified that the perp was a consultant to the process, hired by the student to help polish the students' applications (still true).
The thing is, the guy didn't do ANYTHING except cash the checks of students who got in, and return the checks of students who didn't.
Think about it- the students willing to pay for that kind of edge, are probably the most competitive, meaning they already have great numbers on their apps. So you mention a few schools, the good ones they want to go to anyway, and toss in a ringer where you KNOW they're gonna get in.  If they strike out, what have you lost?  Nothing but the time you spent duping the rubes.
Students feel shrewd having paid this guy to 'get them in', and this guy is just sitting around cashing checks! It's beautiful.  Plus, if they do start to feel ripped off, who are they going to tell?  "Hey I paid this guy $5k to get me into med school, I think he ripped me off!" Fat chance anyone but the bartender's gonna hear that one.
It's so good, it almost has to be urban myth.  Any input?  Anyone?  Bueller?

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