• Twitter Updates

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 18 other followers

Weirdest coincidences ever

The Titanic disaster was predated a few years before by a story about an unsinkable ship called the “Titan”. Creepy…

Have you ever heard a word on the radio just as you were reading the same word? If you think that’s weird, this will blow your mind.

The 1898 story “Futility” is about the maiden voyage of unsinkable transatlantic cruise liner, the Titan, which sinks on her maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg. Many of the other details, like the date and number of people on board, were very close to reality. Continue reading

The weirdest side-show acts ever

I’ve just been reading about carnival sideshows. They seem quite cruel to us these days, but maybe we haven’t changed as much as we think. Any magician will tell you, people are definitely still drawn to the weird and wonderful things in life. Here are some classic sideshow acts – would you have paid to see these?

Continue reading

How to see things that aren’t there

Hallucinations in Trainspotting. Who knew this harmless hobby could have such devastating effects?

Ever seen something that wasn’t there? As a magician I’m always thinking about how the senses can deceive, so I couldn’t help but notice there are a few new books out at the moment about hallucinations (like this one by Oliver Sacks, which looks really good).

It’s not just people who are mentally disturbed or on mind-altering drugs who have these experiences. People who are losing their sight can get Charles Bonnet syndrome, where the brain concocts elaborate visions (usually faces). Hallucinations are a really interesting reminder that our senses are all we have to go on! Cut off sight and sound and the brain starts to amuse itself.

Check out this amazing clip from Horizon. Volunteers stayed in totally dark rooms without any sensory input, for 48 hours. What do you think happened? It includes an interview with former hostage Brian Keenan, who had some very scary experiences indeed: Continue reading

The best ways to die

Keep dancing. Not always the best advice.

Ever get that thing where you can’t stop laughing? In 1962 in Tanganyika, hundreds of people were afflicted by the giggles. It started with some schoolgirls and quickly spread through the town. Months later, schools were closed, and people were experiencing pain and fainting as a result of these ‘laughter attacks’. As a magician I want people to enjoy my gags but not get ill from them! It did make me think of this, though:

Continue reading

Is this a real time traveller?

Look at the picture on the left there. Spot anything odd? The picture was taken in 1940 but chap in the sunglasses look a bit modern? Here he is closer up.

This analysis explains that most of this look is in keeping with the 40s after all, but what about these…

Continue reading

How to predict the future

Magicians are always claiming to read minds but (I know this will come as a shock) some of us are cheating, some of the time. Not always, of course. Most of us are magic.

Personally, I am magic, but I’m still impressed by the idea of Remote Viewing. Could it be the real deal? If you’ve seen or read Jon Ronson’s “The Men Who Stare At Goats” you’ll be familiar with the stories about secret military units who use psychics for spying. Ronson found soldiers are being trained to walk through walls and kill goats just by staring at them! The Stanford training unit was closed down in 1995, but research into this stuff is still going on.

The Farsight Institute, for example, get lots of interesting results.  They’re doing a psychic climate-change study at the moment, and they do seem to have detected a LOT of disasters before June next year. Luckily there are several different timelines, so we might be OK.

Check out Project Stargate, and these pictures of sketches people have created while remote viewing. Even if you think all this is nonsense, you have to admit some of the predictions are pretty amazing…

Continue reading

Test your memory

Jason Bourne never let a spot of amnesia stand in his way.

Can you touch-type, snowboard, or play an instrument without really thinking about it? Most people who repeat the same movements regularly in their work will know about slightly spooky ‘muscle memory’.

As a magician, I spend a lot of time practicing tricks until certain muscle movements feel natural.

Even when people forget everything else, they can often remember things they’ve ‘burned into’ their bodies through repetition.

Continue reading

How to overcome stage fright

I saw a study recently that said the thing most people are most afraid of – more than getting ill or losing a loved one – is public speaking! Nerves can set in anytime, whether you’re an aspiring comic trying your first open mic gig or you’re a seasoned performer. Even professional performers get nervous sometimes. But when your heart starts racing and your throat tightens up, there are some things that really help.

Continue reading

Can you explain this picture?

Spontaneous human combustion” (SHC) is the term for people catching fire without any explanation. Some people just seem to go up in flames in their sleep, leaving the bed or chair and rest of the room unburnt. It’s a scary idea, but a two-year research project in the 80s found that there are natural explanations for a lot of these – victims were drinkers and smokers, or fell asleep near fireplaces and candles. Other people believe methane in the body might be sparked by enzymes to start a fire inside the body, or that static electricity is to blame. Some even say that fat in the body works like a candle, the ‘wick effect’, burning through the hot parts of the body and leaving hands and feet untouched. It’s pretty gruesome and thankfully, extremely rare. Have a look at Larry Arnold’s book on the subject, and do a Google image search, if you have a strong stomach!

Haunted theatres

Actors are a superstitious and imaginative bunch, so it’s not really surprising there are so many stories of ghosts sightings in theatres. Some theatre folk even think it’s good luck to have a resident ghoul.

The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane in London supposedly has several spooks: the floating head of a decapitated clown, a pantomime dame who manifests as a smell of lavender, and a ‘man in grey’, who often appears on the opening nights of successful shows, and disappears into a room where a body was once found!

Haymarket’s Theatre Royal has a ghost actor that can be heard rehearsing his lines (witnessed by Dame Judi Dench, among others).

The pic above is the most recent, and possibly freakiest appearance of all, though. The Dominion theatre was built on the site of a brewery disaster that claimed many lives in 1914. Here’s closer view – he’s looking at you… Continue reading