Old trickster

By IAN SANDS  |  October 9, 2008

“Some stranger knocks on your door,” says Abel. “It’s Sunday, you’ve got your feet up, you don’t want to see anyone. You put on your coat before you answer the door, that way you’re either on your way out or you just came in, depending you know, who’s there.”

Does he ever teach hoaxing?

“I don’t want to do that — I don’t want anyone else to do hoaxes,” he says. “I want to be the one to do them.”

That’s right, at 78, Abel remains an active prankster. And to prove it, he rattles off a few he’s been considering, one of them to do with Homeland Security’s color-coded terrorism-threat scale. Abel points out that the colorblind go unprotected with such a system.

“So I’d ask them to go back to Paul Revere. . . . in other words, do it like Pony Express. In every town we’d have a horse and a guy ringing a bell saying, ‘Al Qaeda are coming, Al Qaeda are coming.’ ”

“These are just smaller things,” says Abel, his dark eyes growing large. “I’d like to do one really big one if I could.”

Alan Abel will give his talk “Using Your Wits To Win,” on Tuesday, October 14, at 6:30 pm, in room N52-390 in the MIT Museum building, 265 Mass Ave, Cambridge. Call 617.253.4415.

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