Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
Anamorphic illusions of items on a desk is the latest of many interesting original visual illusions, tricks, and fun science experiments by Brusspup on Youtube (previously). For handy viewing: Anamorphic playlist; Illusions playlist; Science experiments playlist, plus more, including a playlist of how-to videos for various tricks and activities . [more inside]
Secret Weapons. "David Cronenberg's seldom seen 1972 made-for-TV movie, 'Secret Weapons'. It is six years into a future American civil war. A man has created a drug that enhances fighting skills. But will he give it to the theocratic government, or the rebels?" [Via]
Magic: The Gathering: Armageddon was a 1997 prototype arcade game by Acclaim, of which there are between 4 and 5 known extant copies (
Ctrl/⌘+F "arcade"). It is not currently emulated, and no footage of the gameplay existed until Halalah on the ASSEMblergames forums obtained a copy of the board and posted a video.
Magician Rich Ferguson doing a Halloween head drop trick on the streets of his home town San Luis Obispo.
For three days, the world's best 'Magic' players battle it out in Seattle Three weeks ago, Seattle hosted the Magic: The Gathering Players Championship. Noah Davis writes about one of the most prestigious M:TG tournaments from an outsider's perspective. It turns out, Magic is still around, and it's a big deal.
The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; work from home businesses & information; wholesale lists, and drop shop lists.With their new 2012 Fall Seller Update, ebay has banned the sale of magic services. A discussion has commenced on the impact of these new rules on the magic-practicing community.
Four Micro-Essays on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 (contains spoilers), a look at the concluding part of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 3 part LoEG: Century series in which the league face off against a headline grabbing villain (extreme spoiler warning) and which spookily presaged some of last nights Olympic opening. Previous Moore and O'Neill. Obligatory annotations from Jess Nevins.
Fall, Mortality, and the Machine: Tolkien and Technology From the beginnings of modern fantasy, in the work of Tolkien, technology has always been the enemy of the good life. But does it have to be that way?
A critique of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough by Colin Dickey. "For all its erudition and analysis, The Golden Bough has for more than a century helped cement the idea that magic is inappropriate, wrongheaded thought. Yet what separates magic from religion or science is not its methodology—Frazer himself notes that it 'is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science'—it’s that ordinary people can do it, transforming their lives with the ambitious power of everyday thought." Via Lapham's Quarterly's Magic Shows issue.
The Laberinto of Andrea Ghisi is a 17th-century magic trick in book form. Pick an image from the 60 arrayed in front of you, and tell the magician only which quadrant it appears in. Repeat the process twice on different pages, and he can tell you what image you chose. You can see the trick performed at around 2:20 in this video, play a simulation, or see the book digitized in its entirety.
The Rules of Magic. Every fantasy saga has its own rules for magic, and its own explanations for how the magical arts work. Where does magic come from? Who can use magic, and how? io9 has compiled a list of the rules of magic in 50 fantasy sagas. (jpg)
Magic Johnson still beating HIV 20 years later 2 decades after being diagnosed with HIV - the virus that causes AIDS, Magic Johnson is still going strong. His foundation is helping others, giving them hope while educating people about the disease.
Magic cards with googly eyes. Also, Pokemon cards with googly eyes. Other things with googly eyes. More other things with googly eyes. (Via Ask Surprise [warning: PONY].)
David Blaine is a Demon From Space Part 4 Since the first video in 2006 there have been a Part 2 and Part 3. [more inside]
A fore-edge painting (previously, but it's been a while) is a painting on the edges of the pages of a book that can only be seen when the pages are fanned out. Marist College has a nice history and introduction and the Boston Public Library has an impressive gallery.
Bryan Hollon, better known by his musical handle Boom Bip, is probably recognized for two drastically different sounds: abstract hip-hop from his early Mush Records days, and his Mercury Prize-nominated Neon Neon collaboration with Gruff Rhys. Add to that a new inspiration: black magic from the turn of the 19th century. What does that sound like? Let Boom Bip walk you through his new album, Zig Zaj. Step behind the deep red velvet curtains for a peek at the history of Boom Bip. [more inside]
Cups and Balls. Andrew Musgrave at Ye Olde Magick Blogge gathers videos of, and comments on, 28 versions of the oldest trick in the book. [more inside]
"A wonderful brain interprets something differently from what it actually is, but it doesn't mean it's made a mistake. It took the information it had and did it's best job." Those are but two tricks from Jerry Andrus (1918-2007), self-taught magician and illusionist, and one of great renown amongst other magicians. But he was more than a slight-of-hand man: he was also a poet, philosopher, inventor, humanist, agnostic, and skeptic. There are an impressive number of videos of him online, these are but a few to get you started down the rabbit hole: Jerry Andrus is visual poetry (Google video / YT, 28 minutes) :: Jerry Andrus at the Magic Castle (G.vid, 49 min), Jerry Andrus at 83 his Optical Illusions (G.vid, 41 min) :: Jerry Andrus and Ray Hyman on Uri Geller (YT, 26 min) :: James Randi on Jerry Andrus (YT, 5 min) :: James Randi - who was Jerry Andrus? :: James Randi describes Jerry Andrus. The last two clips are from Rex Young, a young illusionist who has recreated many of Andrus' illusions on his YouTube channel, and made some of his own.
Illusion or blockhead act? You be the judge. Caution: this performance is not for the squeamish. Tony Star presents iSight. (SLYT)
The Berglas Effect aka The Holy Grail of Card Magic or Any Card at Any Number (ACAAN) and named after its inventor David Berglas is a very simple magic card trick that Berglas claims only two people know. [more inside]
Penn & Teller are fooled not by the performance of Ali Cook, but by mistaking his trick for being original.
Flottille by Etienne Cliquet. Exquisite moving origami powered by the capillary action of the paper.
Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits). Increasingly, there is a rift between the President and his Supreme Leader.
Tommy Wonder Performs the Cups and Balls I ran across this performance of one of magic's oldest tricks. It's probably the best version I've seen so far. In my opinion it's even better than Dai Vernon's.
fountain pens, brass buckles, nail files, cigarettes, a “gold zecchino issued by Pope Alexander VI”, barley sugar, hypodermic needles and drugs
Kenneth Grant, who has died aged 86, was probably the last living link to the voluptuary, occultist and megalomaniac Aleister Crowley; after Crowley’s death Grant co-edited and published many of the self-styled mystic’s writings, but he also became involved in a protracted wrangle over his own claim to be Crowley’s heir. Via.
Master painter of the anxious, alienated, mysterious and sublime, George Tooker : August 5, 1920 – March 27, 2011
It's like band camp, only with magic nerds.
INSCRIBED ON HER HORN IS THE FORMULA FOR "ULTIMATE FRIENDSHIP!!" HER AIM - KNOWLEDGE! HER NAME - "TWILIGHT SPARKLE!"
EVERYPONY MUST STAND -- OR EVERYPONY WILL PERISH IN THE THUNDER OF COSMIC HOOVES! - Great Comics That Never Happened presents Jack Kirby's My Little Pony.
This is a pretty amazing video of a Chinese magician doing magic tricks with goldfish on the BBC spanish website. Extended video and discussion (along with possible spoilers) can be found on youtube. It's been picked up by some English-language sites (here and here). Real controversy, or just hype to drum up publicity? Either way, the magician is refusing to divulge his secrets (but insists that no fish were harmed in the trick).
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A toy shilling re-imagining of an 80's cartoon show for little girls. It is sexist, racist, and homophobic. Or maybe not. It seems to be finding an audience among a periphery demographic, which some people seem to find a bit odd. [more inside]
Most cards in North America are made by United States Playing Card Company (USPC) which owns Bicycle, Bee, Tally-Ho (favored by Penn and Teller), Hoyle, and KEM(notably 100% plastic). USPC helped the WWII war effort with its production of playing cards with hidden maps. [more inside]
Fossil Angels - written by Alan Moore in December 2002 to appear in KAOS #15, which never appeared. Published here for the first time.
Yantra tattooing is a traditional Thai, Khmer, Lao and Burmese practice using beautiful and intricately designed yantras for good luck, fortune, strength and protection. [more inside]
"The Led Zeppelin show depends heavily on volume, repetition and drums. It bears some resemblance to the trance music found in Morocco"
I told Jimmy he was lucky too have that house with a monster in the front yard. What about the Loch Ness monster? Jimmy Page thinks it exists. I wondered if it could find enough to eat, and thought this unlikely–it’s not the improbability but the upkeep on monsters that worries me. Did Aleister Crowley have opinions on the subject? He apparently had not expressed himself. - William Burroughs attends a Led Zeppelin concert and has a chat with Jimmy Page (via Bruce Sterling)
Theory 11 is your source for the latest and greatest magic tricks, instructional magic videos, and playing cards. [more inside]
Ricky Jay had a TV special in 1989 - Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women - based on the book of the same name, which featured magic, juggling, amazing feats, stunts, and performances, including a musical performance on wine glasses, a human calculator who could determine cube-routes of numbers in her head, and an antique acrobatic clockwork doll. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). (Previously and previously and previouslier)