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 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:

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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.

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How to control your dreams

Lucid dreaming techniques will help you fight back when Leonardo DiCaprio comes to steal your dreams

Have you ever gone through the whole process of getting ready for school or work only to realise you weren’t even awake?! If you want to check if you’re dreaming or even control what happens, you need to learn how to dream lucidly. Here’s how to improve your chances of having this amazing experience… Continue reading

When circus acts go badly wrong

If you found the magic trick accidents I showed you the other day too distressing, you might not want to read on! Serious circus accidents are thankfully quite rare – these people are professionals. If you spend every day riding a unicycle across a wire 50 feet in the air, you have an incentive to be good at your job! But these things do happen from time to time. Watch what happens here, from about 3 minutes in:

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How to make animals talk

How amazing is this? A beluga whale has learned to make sounds that are freakily like human speech. Give it a listen – I promise, it is so weird!
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Pretend you’re someone else

David Tennant’s Hamlet delivers the most mis-quoted line in Shakespeare

 

Acting is a form of communication – and a really important one, because we have to show the best and worst of humanity in the most honest way possible.

My top tips:

1. Let background info you have on the character drive the way you play them, and your performance will seem a million times more convincing. Make it your mission to know your character inside and out.

2. Emotion is what makes an actor. Draw from your own experience to find real emotions. Think about something happy when you have to play happiness, and so on.

3. Don’t think of it as pretending! You need to, on some level, “be” that character. We have much greater range than we think, but sometimes we have to dig deep for it.

4. Finally, however badly you want that part, know where to draw the line! Who can forget Joey from Friends acting on a full bladder… Continue reading

The easy way to read minds

Little Britain’s resident psychic could have benefitted from some of these tips

In some ways, people are quite predictable. A recent study found that one in 10 people are using the PIN ‘1234’! If your PIN is 1234, 1111, or 0000, you’re in good company – nearly one in five people have chosen those numbers. Don’t feel too bad if you choose terrible passwords and codes though: during the Cold War,  the “secret unlocking code” for America’s nuclear missiles was 00000000!

More and more things seem to demand new passwords from us all the time. Most of the Linkedin passwords leaked earlier this year were “Link” and “work”. It’s always a bad idea to include personal, publicly-available details like birthdates and home addresses in your passwords.

OK, let’s see how predictable you are. Think of these three things: a number between 1 and 10; a country starting with ‘D’; an animal starting with ‘E’. Got them? OK, let’s see if I can guess them…

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How to be a magician

So much of magic is about misdirection, and there’s a related psychological term, “Inattentional blindness“, which basically means people not noticing things because their attention is on something else. Maybe you think your concentration is amazing and you’re immune?! OK, watch this clip and count how many times the players in white pass the basketball:

This selective blindness occurs because some things are more noticeable to us than others. Have you ever heard your name mentioned in a conversation on the other side of a busy room? It’s the ‘cocktail party effect‘ – we’re tuned in to noticing things that are relevant to us, so if something’s not meaningful or very visually striking, we’re less likely to see it.

You’re also more likely to miss what’s right in front of you if you have a lot on your mind, or if you expect something else to be there. This blindness makes for great entertainment from magician’s point of view, but it can be dangerous in situations where full attention is required, such as driving.

If you still think your attention’s great, have a go at this one: Continue reading

The word ‘gullible’ isn’t in the dictionary…

Richard Gere goes to extraordinary lengths to keep his hoax going

I’ve just watched a brilliant Richard Gere film called The Hoax. It’s based on the true story of Clifford Irving, a writer who persuaded everyone that he was writing Howard Hughes’s autobiography. It was a huge scale scam! Irving played on the fact that Hughes was so reclusive and went to great lengths to fake all their communications. He even faked a meeting, hiring a helicopter which he claimed couldn’t land because of Hughes’s OCD – all very ingenious!

Very stressful too though, and I did start to feel a bit sorry for him. In a funny way Irving probably did come close to writing the first Hughes autobiography, because he researched Hughes so thoroughly he knew him as well as anyone.

Anyway, it got me thinking about other famous hoaxes. Have a look at these and see whether you can sympathise with the perpetrators…

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