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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Monday, May 7, 2007

Silly Billy the Clown loses business for Child Molestor Relatives

(Via New York Post)

David Kaye (formerly David Friedman) is the son and brother of Arnold and Jesse Friedman, who were teachers convicted of molesting their students in the 80s. In light of Kaye's occupation as a magician/clown, he changed his name.

But the release of the documentary Capturing the Friedmans in 2003 saw the decline of Silly Billy's business, as his association to his family made his clients uncomfortable. Originally, Silly Billy the clown was locally the most popular child entertainer for birthday parties.

Oddly enough, Kaye has now invented a new persona- "Dr. Blood". A slightly darker character that appeals to an older audience. He claims it has nothing to do with his decline in business.

I personally think it's an odd move on his part, but I can understand how fragile a child entertainer's reputation can be- parents can get easily rattled, and simply don't want to take chances.

At Philip and Henry, we maintain a policy of checking into each and every magician, so that we can assure our clients there's nothing to be worried about.

Nonetheless, here's the trailer for the documentary. Capturing the Friedmans got an academy award nomination.

Let's try that again. This time with a little bit more feeling, and a little bit more clarity:

In our society, accusations of child abuse (sexual or otherwise) carry with them a heavy load of suspicion, paranoia, and outright anger. David Kaye, formerly David Friedman, has had to deal with the fallout of accusations against his father and brother. According to the article I read (which is confusing me) he may have suffered a loss in business when a documentary on the subject was released in 2003.

You see, David Kaye works as a magician/clown named Silly Billy. In fact, for a good long time, he was locally the entertainer of choice for children's birthday parties.

Back in the 80s, Arnold and Jesse Friedman were both convicted of child molestation, stemming from a Pedophile Sting Operation. The documentary (called Capturing the Friedmans), through their personally recorded video journal, casts doubt on the logic and evidence that was brought against them.

More than anything, this shows that the media can have a powerful effect on people. The smallest implication of child abuse can send a community in a fury, putting pressure on authorities and the media to put their own spin on things.

Much like the article I read, for instance, which may have put its own spin on things.

In this case I will admit my own ignorance and tread a lot more carefully next time- writing blandly about a sensitive topic simply doesn't happen, and as a writer I shouldn't let it.

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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

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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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Janet Jackson, eat your heart out- Richard Gere's lips get arrested in India

(Via Reuters)

In a moment that would make women across the world melt, Richard Gere repeatedly (and I guess, kind of erotically) kissed Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS campaign event while he was in India recently.

The kissing violates local obscenity laws, and he was afterwards arrested and could be sent to jail or fined if he visits the country again.

Some people are calling it an "outrage against her modesty", but to be fair he DID do a rather gentlemanly bow afterward.

I mean, come on, Richard Gere is still pretty attractive for his age.

Without further adieu, here's the deed:

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Nic Cage stars as Magician in 'Next'

Nic Cage is set to star in Next, a movie about a man with precognitive abilities that works as a stage Magician in Las Vegas. What intrigues me even more, is that the news is reporting that Cage will be taking lessons in Magic on-set to prepare for the film.

I am constantly fascinated by Nic Cage's willingness to take on rather interesting film projects....I'm sure this one will be no different.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Quinlan's Magic Trick of the Day

(Via Quinlan's Inside Magic)

I agree with them fully...this card trick is nicely done. :)

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Some Videos for you to Enjoy

A nice little viral video about why you should know what you're doing, if your magic trick involves sharp, pointy objects:

And of course, a trailer for a hotly anticipated movie about a young magician:

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Oldest Magic Book

(Via Magic Roadshow)

Check out a short article over on Magic Roadshow about a book recently rediscovered that was written by a friend of Leonardo DaVinci. The unpublished manuscript, titled De viribus quantitatis (On the Powers of Numbers) was written by a Franciscan monk, Luca Pacioli, sometime between 1496 and 1508. He and DaVinci apparently lived together.

The manuscript was stored in an archive at the University of Bologna, but was apparently recently discovered, and has been painstakingly transcribed and translated.

I have to say that I am rather impressed that DaVinci had ties to magic and magical methods... it just makes sense. I'd love to see a copy of the translation... although I'm not sure when it would actually be made available to the public.

Nonetheless, I'm reminded of this movie:

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Virtual Magician

I stumbled across this video this morning, and my curiousity is definitely piqued. Apparently it's a magician in Europe named Marco Tempest, who has a show called "Virtual Magician".

So who is this guy? Here's an excerpt from his show:

The idea, I believe, is to make street magic and close up magic appealing on television, without changing anything about the magic itself. I'm not sure if this show actually explains magic (which would be no fun) or just exhibits it. Either way, I guess I know what I'll be watching this weekend.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Magician on America's Got Talent!

I'm not sure how old this clip is, but I love it.

I just wish the clip hadn't edited out the judges comments!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Little Bit of Video

A News Bit on the Houdini Exhumation

A News Bit about the Kathy Sierra Death Threats Debate

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Awww, how cute.

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Flashback Moment

Of all the videos on the website, I think this one is currently my favourite:

Check it out!

The Magician in the video is Philip Murad, by the way- our intrepid leader, and namesake.

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