Friday, May 18, 2007

David Blaine is now a fish out of water...possibly with liver damage

David Blaine has finally been pulled from his watery home, after spending a total of 177 hours in a giant tank full of 2000 gallons of salt water. Blaine used an oxygen mask for the most part, but held his breath for 7 minutes and 8 seconds at the end of his stunt. For the duration of the stunt, David Blaine ate and relieved himself through tubes.

David Blaine has now been admitted to hospital for observation, and may have suffered liver damage. He has been training since December, and even lost 50lbs, so that his body would require less oxygen.

Check out the story.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Obligatory Harry Potter post

Okay, so I'm onto book four now- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This one will take longer to read, both because I have less time, and because it's a longer book.

I would say that, overall, my favourite is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the one I just finished). Although, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does indeed run a close second.

I wrote an editorial over at Associated Content on the upcoming Deathly Hallows, and I'm starting to get back into the 'hype'- that sort of desperate fanaticism that makes me wanna go out and buy some goofy glasses and a pointy hat. From roughly midnight onwards on July 21st 2007, a silence will fall over homes sprinkled across a few whole continents, for the space of several hours (I'm not really sure how long book 7 is) as fans across the world read the final installment of this children's fantasy saga which has captured millions.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Some clips of Mandrake the Magician

Here's Mandrake doing a cup and balls routine:

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Cameron Diaz dating Criss Angel

(Yahoo News)

Far be it for me to be skeptical of why this is newsworthy, but it seems to be hot gossip at the moment, so I'll roll with it:

On Monday, while out in Vegas, Cameron Diaz was spotted having a lovely dinner with famed gothy Magician/Illusionist Criss Angel, before watching the Cirque de Soleil Beatles Tribute, Love.

Cameron Diaz just split with boyfriend Justin Timberlake in January, and Criss Angel was apparently dating Minnie Driver earlier this year.

My two cents: I personally think Cam and Criss have definitely improved each others' prospects.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Magician Steve Cuiffo robbed in South Africa

(Via News24)

While spending Mother's Day at the home of a 15 year old student in Cape Town, New York Magician Steve Cuiffo was robbed at gunpoint in Khayelitsha, along with two teachers and a college director.

While they were outside getting into their van (which was a National Lottery Sponsored 'Magic Van'), they were suddenly surrounded by a number of individuals with guns, who took all of their valuables and cash. This even included Cuiffo's copy of Nelson Mandela's memoirs Long Walk To Freedom. The gunmen then took the van and fled.

Cuiffo said that it made him, even more so, want to 'help students break the cycle of poverty'.

Steve Cuiffo is an associate of David Blaine and recently starred in the magic-infused stage production Orange Lemon Egg Canary.

These are the humbling incidents that put us in other peoples' shoes.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A poem about Houdini

(Via CentreDaily)

I was surprised to find this, but also delighted. I'm rather fond of poetry, and seeing it combined with my new favourite hobby- magic- is even more wonderful.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

The plot thickens...Geller & Co. still insist copyright infringement

The EFF's claims that only 3 seconds of the 14 minute video technically belong to Uri Geller and Explorologist Ltd are not going over well... in fact, in a press release from Explorologist's Lawyer, Richard Winelander, he says:

"The bottom line is Sapient did not ask for permission to use the copyrighted video--he does not own the portion of the video that deals with Dr. Hughes, it is important to note this was not the first YouTube complaint against Sapient."

It's also important to note, that this is not the first (and probably not the last) time Geller has tried to sue for damages based on dubious reasoning- Geller has sued for a number of things, not limited to suing Nintendo for creating a Pokemon with his name/symbols, and suing Ikea for a furniture line (with bent and twisted legs) called the "Uri Line" (both suits unsuccessful, by the way).

But the real kicker is, back in 1997-98, he complained to the Broadcasting Standards Commission in the UK that the episode of NOVA, "Secrets of the Psychics", treated him 'unfairly'. His claim was wholeheartedly rejected on the basis that they saw nothing wrong with Magicians duplicating his feats using plain, old fashioned trickery. In light of this fact, and the fact that Geller seems to enjoy making ridiculous legal claims, it's not hard to see why nobody is really taking his copyright claim seriously.

Meanwhile, I'm still wondering about whether NOVA originally had to get permission to use the clip, or if it fell comfortably within the boundaries of 'fair use'. If it's the former, then that is why Sapient has a problem. If it's the latter, then Geller has no right to complain. The easiest way would be to check the end credits of the episode itself, but alas, I have no copy. I'm also not an expert in copyright law.

Check out what James Randi has to say on the subject.

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I got mentioned in a Go Magic Go podcast- yay!

The suggestion I made for a product review for the Go Magic Go Podcast (which was also, almost simultaneously, suggested by someone on the forum) has been featured in 'Hype of the Week' on Episode 84.

Here's the original link to the product.

I initially read about this product on the Magic and Conjuring blog.

I won't explain it here- just check out the product, and then hear Keith and Andrew's hilarious review.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Uri Geller didn't see his lawsuit coming... EFF bites back about YouTube

Uri Geller, spoon-bending, sports-predicting, Pokemon-spiting psychic (or some people call him a magician) is now suffering a little bit of unpredicted karma. Having successfully had a video that (supposedly) explained his effects taken off of YouTube, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Federation) is now claiming that he had no case, and is suing him for misuse of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

Why? Well, apparently the clip in question, which was uploaded by the Rational Response Squad (a group of skeptics) is almost 14 minutes long, but only has 3 seconds of content that could be considered Uri Geller's. This could more than fall within the confines of fair use. Furthermore, the video clip features James Randi, author of "The Truth about Uri Geller", and long time skeptic of the paranormal, explaining how Geller does one of his tricks.

Geller signed his name 'under penalty of perjury' that he was 'the owner or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that allegedly infringed' when he filed his complaint. Since obviously he is not acting on behalf of his hardest critic, his claim is now being questioned and the EFF has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 'Brian Sapient', the YouTube user whose account was suspended for posting the video.

And thank you Cnet, for cluing me in to the actual video:

Incidentally, this is indeed a clip from Nova, and not only do I recognize James Randi, but I actually remember watching this episode multiple times on PBS when I was a kid.

The question in my mind, is, if this clip was on Nova first, then why didn't he sue THEM? Probably because, as a respected documentary television program, they had already considered the question of fair use.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More Houdini like Escapes - straitjacket, milk can- flattery to the master

Just when I thought it was safe to turn around without running into another inventive Houdini fan, I stumble across two rather fascinating cases. One successful, the other not quite so much.

(Via Yorkshire Today)

One stunt that Harry Houdini failed to pull off apparently was escaping from a milk can filled with Tetley's bitter (a type of ale)- he was overcome by CO2 fumes, and his assistants had to drag him out before he completed the stunt. However, 37 year old Paul Cheesbrough from Todmorden, England claims to have trumped Houdini with his own escape from a Milk can filled with cold water. Much like Houdini, the milk churn was padlocked from the outside, and his hands and feet were bound on the inside. But wait a tick, despite the fact that this article runs under the headline "Great Escape Act Outdoes Houdini", I do believe I've missed something here- didn't Houdini routinely escape from a padlocked Milk can filled with water? Now, Cheesbrough is undoubtedly a larger man than Houdini (who was quite small), which could make things more difficult. But in this case, the temperature of the water doesn't even matter because he was wearing a wet suit. The point, in this case, (despite the headline) is that Houdini was challenged by Joshua Tetley and Son in the Empire Theatre in Brigate, Leeds. Cheesbrough was challenged to do his stunt by the Leeds Magical Association, for their 10th annual day of Magic. The stunt itself was a difficult one, as the displacement of the water inside the can eliminated his air supply. He did, however, manage to escape within 90 seconds, which is impressive. Not many people can match the master, even if they're not outdoing him.

Which leads me to my next tidbit- this guy. (Via Cincinnati Enquirer)

Illusionist Phil Dalton, while doing a show for an elementary school in Cincinnati, didn't have such good luck. He tried Houdini's famous straitjacket stunt- he was suspended 90ft in the air, with his legs shackled, but with one major exception. The ropes had been soaked in Diesel fuel and set on fire.

Despite the fact that he had gone to great lengths to test the burning time of the ropes beforehand, a slight pick up in wind sped up the incineration as he was attempting to escape. He still managed to escape within 2 minutes and 44 seconds, but not before one of the three ropes had burned all of the way through, and a second most of the way through, leaving him dangling precariously on a single rope. Dalton, who does a variety of other types of stunts such as sawing himself in half or pulling snakes out of hats, doesn't intend to do this particular stunt again any time soon.

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British man misdiagnosed, now broke from pre-death spending

(Via Reuters)

Live like you were dying...just make sure you're actually dying

A British man diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer was given a only two years to live...and then was told that he merely had a non-life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas.

Problem is, he went on a wild spending spree and vacation. He even quit his job and sold or gave away most of his possessions, except for the suit he wanted to be buried in.

He is now attempting to sue the hospital for mis diagnosis.

Prognosis? Not good.

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Spiderman 3 - you know, with Venom and stuff

The new Spiderman film parallels the 3rd X-Men film in some ways- somewhat overwhelming with the number of characters being introduced (Brock, the commissioner's daughter, sandman etc) but the story was solid, and kept in step with the spirit of Spiderman. There were some undeniably cheeseball 'comic book movie' moments- like with Harry's butler out of the blue explaining how his father died- but for the most part it kept it real. The plot felt a little rushed, and probably could have been drawn out a little bit more.

Without giving too much away- I liked watching Peter's fall from grace, and how it was directed as 'geek gone bad'.

And what Sam Raimi feature would be complete, without a cameo by our beloved Bruce Campbell? This time as a French restaurant worker, in a scene that was borderline Monty Python. It was amazing.

Overall, I was very impressed with it. It was big, but it lived up to its own hype, which is something not many comic book movies are doing lately (*ahem* they're REMAKING the Hulk).

Even better, there was a bad ass trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the beginning! Speaking of which, I'm at the third book in my re-reading of them. I may or may not have enough time to re-read them all.

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Friday, May 4, 2007

A Copperfield Classic - Torn Asunder

(Via AOL sports blog)

Very goofy and dated, but still unbelievably impressive.

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A Nice Little Illusion - this was YouTube featured video today

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

New podcast, peeps!

The long-awaited episode 83 of the Go Magic Go podcast is now up! YAY!

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He's going to hang around his favourite bar....on a rope 50ft in the air

(Via PR Web)

Magician/Ventriloquist Spencer Horsman will be stringing himself up 50 Feet in the air over Illusions Magic Bar & Lounge in South Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood. He'll be wrapped in not one, but TWO straitjackets, and attempt to free himself while hanging upside down.

The stunt will take place May 11th (one time only!) and presumably will be done without a net (the PR doesn't really mention one). Horsman will be fighting to beat the clock and free himself before he suffers from the amount of blood rushing to his head, which could cause lack of perception, or loss of consciousness.

Now, I'm going to do a little research on the subject of straitjackets here, as I'm fairly new to the subject, and so I can understand just how crazy this stunt is:

  • These sorts of escape stunts were popularized by Harry Houdini, who could dislocate both of his shoulders in order to escape from a straitjacket.
  • Possible Issues: in addition to blood running to one's head, wearing a straitjacket for long periods of time can cause blood to pool in the elbows or numbness in the hands. Muscles can become stiff and extremely painful.
  • Criss Angel did a similar stunt in 2003, suspended 100ft above the Miller Brewing Co. (but in only one straitjacket)
And of course, we might as well take a cue from the master:

The description to this video gives an interesting clue: " While requiring more strength to undo the buckles, this actually made it easier to get his arms over his head, the key to the escape." So what does this mean for a guy wearing TWO straitjackets? Would it work the same way?

By the same token (and with much less fanfare), Andrew Green, a performing arts student at Preston College in Lancashire, United Kingdom, will be trying to recreate Houdini's water torture chamber stunt to raise money for St. Catherine Hospice, a palliative care facility. The stunt involves being suspended upside down in a straitjacket inside a tank of water.

I'm sure, somewhere, Houdini is finding imitation to be the greatest form of flattery.

In this case though, I would say that suspending yourself 50ft in the air is not only amazing, it's a good way to promote your bar.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It's the Boss-Man!

I did a little photo-shoot with Phil this morning, so we'd have some pictures for the Media Kit and other miscellaneous purposes. This is probably one of my favourites.


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I'm going crazy....

...waiting for a new podcast from Go Magic Go.

In the meantime, I've found an online radio station that's all about Magic. It's called Magic Broadcast. I love it... it will never have the place in my heart that GMG has, but I am nonetheless pleased with it.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Japanese Magicians sue TV Network for Explaining tricks

(Via Sunday Times)

In Japan, TV Asahi and the Nippon Television Network was sued by 49 Magicians for airing a show that explained how coin tricks were done.

Thing is, this was prompted by a Magician and Pub owner getting arrested for punching holes in coins- much like in Canada, Japan has laws against defacing money.

Call me crazy, but I think it's way more impressive to do amazing tricks with plain old, ordinary coins. Am I alone in this?

However, if this suit is successful, could it set an interesting precedent for Magicians everywhere?

When the twoonie (that's my spelling) first came out, a couple of them fell apart, and then people went around freezing them and trying to bust them apart. The Canadian Mint was not pleased...

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