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Monday, June 07, 2004

Metamorphosis....

It's suddenly hot and it's humid, and I woke to the Tornado Sirens going off in town, except I think it was a test, as there doesn't appear to be a tornado watch. Last night my bedroom window was drummed on by huge moths, crashing into the glass like lightweight fluffy bullets. I think we can safely assume that summer has come to the midwest...

Hullo Neil,

What are your thoughts regarding Houdini's secrets being revealed at Outagamie Museum in Appleton, Wisconsin? According to this news link (http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1231258,00.html) many magicians and stage-hands are upset about it and the museum's Houdini exhibition is causing a stir.

Personally, I like the mystery. As Stephen King wrote, good mystery opens the door a crack and reveals just enough of the dark room beyond to ignite your imagination. Opening the door (or kicking it down in some cases) and turning on the lights kills the mystery.

Mystery is good. Or maybe it's a Scorpio trait. Which doesn't explain anything because I'm not a Scorpio.

Keep wearing black,

Rick


I read a version of this which got lots of things wrong from the BBC, and now this rather incendiary version in the Guardian.

The version from National Public Radio has the advantage of being much less excitable and silly. And it has Teller being interviewed as the voice of reason at the end. (Yes, that's what he sounds like.) http://www.npr.org/display_pages/features/feature_1918743.html

Click on the speaker icon to hear the piece.

I'm with Teller on this: it's a storm in a teacup.

Firstly, more people saw the Fox "Masked Magician" special in which Valentino, the Masked Magician (whatever happened to him?) demonstrated how "metamorphosis" is done than will, I would wager, visit the Houdini Museum in Appleton Wisconsin during its most successful century of operation. Secondly, it's not "Houdini's secrets" - it's how Houdini did one illusion, the Metamorphosis. Thirdly, it's not an enforced revelation -- you have the choice of learning how its done or of keeping the mystery. Some people do, some people don't. Fourthly, the best thing about methods being revealed is that most stage illusions aren't done in exactly the same way they were done in 1920... well, listen to Teller's quote.

If you go and see Penn & Teller's current show in Las Vegas, it begins with an illusion called Honour System. It's a box escape, which you can either close your eyes when the trick is happening, or not. The first time I saw it, I closed my eyes, and it was one trick; the second time, like most of the audience, I kept my eyes open, and it was another. Both were unutterably cool.

There's a joy to mysteries, a joy to answers, and then there's a weird second stage, where magicians do things simply to baffle each other, to, say, take a trick that's always done with prop X and do it with a sleight of hand instead, where the object is sometimes to take the fact that someone knows how a trick is done and spin that knowledge. A little knowledge of magic can often leave you more baffled, rather than less.

Hi Neil...

Any Fermata updates?

Thanks,
Allyson



Nary a one. The script is still with Bob Zemeckis to do a director's pass, and he's been full time on Polar Express for much longer than he expected to be. (He thought originally that he'd be shooting The Fermata while in post-production on Polar Express. Just as Dave McKean expected to be working two days a week on Mirrormask, and instead a good week is where he gets a weekend off. I'm sure that one day making films in computers will free up time for directors: but it doesn't seem to have happened yet.)

congrats on the stoker, studly

Rick(dethbird)


Which came in last night. "What an odd message," I thought. "They don't give out the Bram Stoker Awards until... early June. Oh." Then I checked http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm#winners and felt awful -- I'd utterly spaced the awards ceremony, and hadn't written an "if I win, can X pick up the award and say this?" e-mail or anything.

But I was awarded a Stoker for Sandman:Endless Nights by the Horror Writers Association. (Big grin, still tinged with embarrassment for having lost track of it.) And congratulations to Peter Straub for winning best novel for lost boy, lost girl. I read it on a train last year, and my comments on this journal became the book's back-cover blurb, and I cannot be prouder.


You mentioned in your blog recently your daughter Holly's favourite 'songs from her childhood' - Just out of interest, could you list the names of the respective artists of "Barcelona" and "These Foolish Things" ?

Thankstaeye

Dougie.


The version of "These Foolish Things" is Bryan Ferry's, from his first cover album called "These Foolish Things". "Barcelona" is the song from Sondheim's Company. There.
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