Hammacher Schlemmer is a mostly mail-order company from which I’ve bought some lovely cashmere sweaters for my wife at Christmas. The company is renowned for its entertaining mail-order catalogue (and a great return policy) which has provided me with hours of fun reading over the years.
Often the cover features some incredibly outlandish extravagance designed solely for really wealthy folks, and which often costs a stratospheric amount of money. Top of the line at the moment is a “Five Person Exploration Submarine” which can descend to 656 feet, weighs over 7.7 tons and costs—take your seats, please—$2,700,000. As Dr. Evil used to say, “Almost three MILLION dollars.”
This year’s new and more reasonably priced money pit is a racing simulator for $185,000. It looks like a lot of fun, and my daughter says she rode something like it at Epcot at Walt Disney World, but something tells me that whoever receives it will lose interest ’ere long.
The exact prices are unimportant because they’re silly. As far as most of us are concerned, we’re far more likely to get hit by a bus than be given one of these gifts.
I genuinely enjoy Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalogue simply because it’s filled with incredibly weird things, like the remote-controlled flying shark mini-blimp for $40, and “The NASA Sleep Promoting Light Bulb” for $40.
There are also lots of handy things, like well-made flannel pjs, nice lined gloves, and so on. It’s a real 90-page potpourri and you should definitely call 1-800-543-3366 and request a free catalogue. Read the rest
He's been dead since Halloween, 1926, but Harry Houdini just won’t die. The old bastard really won’t go away.
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Magicpeacelove writes, "Shin Lim, who created the extraordinary card act that took Penn & Teller (and the magic world) by storm has just released another rather stunning card act, this one in tribute to Paris. It looks like CGI but it's not; just beautiful magic done by a young master."
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Our Magic from R. Paul Wilson on Vimeo.
The documentary Our Magic by filmmaker R. Paul Wilson lifts the curtain behind which magicians have worked for a century and a half. Our Magic, however, does not explain how tricks work — that’s not the real point of magic. How magicians work, how their childhood experiences feed into what makes them seek such a specialized field of endeavor, is the real secret. Watch Wilson’s award-winning short film The Magic Box to get a taste of not only his talent as a filmmaker, but what makes magicians tick.
Few people who love magic do not feel the well of emotion which The Magic Box (above video) evokes. But why? What makes a grown man (or woman) teary-eyed by watching a short film about something so seemingly inconsequential as a magic trick? The documentary Our Magic answers that question, and does so in an entertaining and artistic manner. Most of the world’s best magicians participated in the project, and with the help of Kickstarter, R. Paul Wilson has created a unique piece of cinema.
Happily, Our Magic is now available via Vimeo on Demand either to rent or download and own. The price is startlingly low, and readers of Boing Boing can get a 66% discount by entering the code “BoingBoing” in the appropriate spot. Read the rest
Aiden Sinclair claims he was a con man who spent five years in prison after turning himself in to U.S. Marshals. Today, he is a magician and performer who shares stories of his life as a grifter. He's assumed many identities in the past, impersonating a Navy Seal, a veteran of the French Foreign Legion, a DEA agent, and a cruise ship bartender. Jess Zimmerman of Atlas Obscura has a long profile about Aiden Sinclair, and explores the idea that Sinclair's latest persona as a “grifter magician” could merely be his latest false identity.
Whatever the case may be, he is a good magician!
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Jason wrote a terrific foreword to my $3 card magic e-book, Trick Decks: How to Hack Playing Cards for Extraordinary Magic, and has kindly given me permission to reprint it here. Jason was instrumental in rekindling my interested in magic, so I was thrilled to have him write it. Thank you, Jason!
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What Mark teaches you, in this fantastic book, is magic. Magic you can appreciate immediately, and marvel at its workings without ever performing for more than yourself.
Herein lie activities that are fun for the whole family!
Activities that create illusions you’ll never forget – or forget how they work!
The entire STEM course load that is so popular today is here in Spades! Clubs! Hearts! Diamonds!
It is truly magic on so many levels.
So much about magic is intentionally damn confusing. I have a large library of books on card magic. Few of them are comprehensible to folks who don’t spend hours trying to figure out how to use them! It is like law school! Fancy names for card sleights that are harder to remember than the moves themselves, illustrations from Lascaux, and dialect from the renaissance-faire are frequently used to keep the barrier to entry high.
Mark has worked hard to share easy, achievable methods to get immediate, amazing results. You can delight in magic in a way that took me over a decade, working with only a single deck of Bicycle 808 playing cards and a candle, in a damp, dark room, trying to perfect a double lift.
Outspoken Genii forum member Brad Henderson has this fascinating public video calling card. Brad reveals, via an "Explaination," the optical illusion behind his business card.
I find this curious as Brad apparently does not like it when others share interesting magical effects with the intent of driving interest in the art. I guess it is ok when it helps you book a gig?
If you are in the Austin area, we encourage you to see Brad perform! If his routine is half as passionate as his trolling, you are in for a great time!
The Genii Forums, where magicians keep magic secret in public Read the rest
There is a fantastic thread running on Genii about Boing Boing's enthusiasm for magic!
Internet forums are the source of all truth! Genii is an awesome resource for magicians, new and old, and the participants in their forums are incredibly well versed. The conversation they've had, minus the obligatory mention of German National-Socialist leadership, is fantastic and we are paying attention!
They also have a ton of amazing tricks and secrets revealed in the forums. I don't think you need to log in. I like my dancing cane post. Read the rest
"If he fails, I'm going to leave extremely shortly after," says Kanye. Read the rest
This sidewalk sweets vendor in Istanbul loves playing tricks on customers. Watch one of them turn the tables on him.
Fortean journalist Cat Vincent have a presentation at London's Treadwell's esoteric bookshop about the strange mysticism of bOING bOING patron saint Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Prometheus Rising, and Cosmic Trigger
, a book that changed my life in weird and wonderful ways.
"Floating Cards" by Zach Mueller. Read the rest
The classic Rider Back deck, recyclable with organic finish and inks!
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I wanted to make my own dancing cane. All you need is a drill, some magicians thread, and a far lighter cane than mine.
Making a dancing cane is pretty simple. As the video above says, just drill a tiny hole about 1/2" above the balance point of your cane and tie on a piece of high strength, nearly invisible magician's thread. Make a loop on the other end of the thread for your thumb, and let the fun begin.
I tried this on a regular walking cane. It is far too heavy to manipulate without lots of practice, and will bruise or break things when mistakes are made. I suggest making your own from doweling, as suggested in the video.
Making the loop slightly over-sized makes changing hands easier.
The wax that comes with this magician's thread is useful for making other, very light objects dance. Like a dollar bill!
Magic Makers Magician's Wax and Invisible Thread via Amazon Read the rest
A most bizarre book from the late 18th century.
My search for an easy way to generate strong passwords and passphrases led me to the "Diceware" method Cory wrote about on Boing Boing. This was no game. I needed serious dice.