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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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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Friday, April 27, 2007

Mandrake movie finally gets a director

(Via IGN) (of all things)

Having only recently discovered the wonders of Mandrake the Magician (thanks to Quinlan's) I guess I can't comment too much on this one, but the long-awaited film based on the popular comic strip finally has a Director.

Chuck Russell (Director of Scorpion King and The Mask) is set to Direct the film, which is being developed by Howard and Karen Baldwin.

The film is supposed to be a contemporary take on the mustached Magician who uses his skills in hypnotism and illusion to fight crime.

I think this film could do very well, and could easily capitalize on Hollywood's new interest in Magic (and it's continuing interest in comic books)- especially since it would be using such a recognizable character.

Now, is there anywhere I can go to catch up on my Mandrake? Any anthologies?

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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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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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