Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Marc Salem: Master of Magic Mind Games

Marc Salem, who has a new show in London, insists that all he does is pay attention to the potential of the mind. He plays tricks with Paul Morley.

As I'm introduced to the mind-blowing New York mind-reader Marc Salem in a small, cosy hotel near the British Museum, I seem to be suffering from pre-mentalist tension.

Marc Salem regularly advises the CIA and FBI - 'My training and intuition are pretty powerful.'

But then, with his skills at reading body language in ways that can seem positively psychic, I guess he knows that already. Seeing him on stage, as he blends sharp insight into the human mind with a wily reinvention of traditional magic techniques, it's easy to believe there is something superhuman about his abilities.

He dramatises the unusual powers of the mind, mixing the slick, hustling showmanship of the legendary Amazing Kreskin with a dose of the heavier, more contemporary hanky-panky of Derren Brown, where the possibility of something genuinely spiritual and truly strange wafts elusively through the proceedings.

He stops his own pulse, he moves the hands on a watch forward an hour, he knows where people have been on holiday; not even four layers of tape sticking coins to his eyes can stop him knowing the serial number on a banknote he's never seen before. It's what he calls "paying attention" to abilities most people have lost, or never had.

That's what's troubling me. That he knows so much about me just from the way I've entered the hotel, from the fact I'm 10 minutes late, the language I use when I apologise.

This is someone who has claimed that the first impressions he has about someone are usually pretty accurate. My first impressions of him - well, to play him in a film it would need a combination of Danny DeVito for size, Rob Reiner for kosher ebullience, and Billy Crystal for seductive power of the mouth. Plus a little bit of Umberto Eco, for intellectual mischief.

He's dressed in black, with a trim, slightly exotic beard, and although he's not twinkling and mugging as much as he does on stage, he's still extremely avuncular.

I'm also concerned that this genial looking genie of the mind might want me to think of a number, think of one shape inside another, and that by getting it right, he will knock my miserly suspicion about such antics for a very un-American six.

He might get it wrong, and I'll then wonder if there's something wrong with me - usually when he does this with journalists, he guesses correctly, or correctly enough for the journalist to shake his head in awe.

I decide to try and get through the interview without him doing any kind of "think of a number" demonstration, just to be on the safe side. I pull my tape-recorder out of the small black bag that I hope doesn't brand me in any way as unstable, although Salem seems to be sizing me up as if I might be a tricky customer.

He must have deduced that I in fact consider him to be a tricky customer, or perhaps the 10-minutes-late thing puts me on a list of potential troublemakers. No wonder his act is called Mind Games.

I already know, because I've looked it up, that he is a 53-year-old father of three, with four grandchildren. He looks the disarming part, and he also looks the son of the Rabbi that he is, although I don't detect any obvious signs of his pharmacist mom.

His father died at 41, having worried himself to death caring for those who came to him for help. "It taught me not to turn other people's problems into your own. I do no counselling. No personal guidance. I look after pain and discomfort only for my family."

Has he trivialised his sensitivity, his undeniably uncanny reading of personality, by turning it into frivolous entertainment?

He dismisses the thought. "I like to think of my entertainment as something that gives you pleasure, but also makes you think of the potential of the mind."

Born Moshe Botwinick, as a young boy he was hypersensitive to his surroundings, keen to predict what would happen next in the world around him. Fascinated by Marshall McLuhan's ideas and intuitions and by the sociologist Erving Goffman's use of non-scientific observation to explain contemporary life, he became an academic.

A long career lecturing in psychology and organisational behaviour in various universities led to research work on Sesame Street, ensuring that the show made psychological sense around the world. He worked on jury selection - eventually helping in the O.J. Simspon case - and regularly advises the CIA and the FBI.

"I train them to learn certain non-verbal skills, and when they put my training with their own intuition they have a very powerful tool."

I squirm in my chair.

Always using various mind games and corny gags as a lecturer - he loves puns, Johnny Carson and Monty Python - he presented lively corporate seminars on dry subjects such as the dynamics of the memory and leadership qualities.

Salem says the audience is safe in his hands.

Eventually it turned into a kind of act, a theatre producer spotted him, and by 1997, at last, he'd arrived where he probably always wanted to be. Show business, Broadway, audiences marvelling at his good-natured sorcery.

I nag away sceptically, not quite sure why I'm being sceptical about this magician who does tricks but who freely, or deviously, admits that he does nothing supernatural, para-normal or miraculous.

He smiles with the self-assurance of one who easily eludes being pinned down, who's used to taking people the way he wants to go, who can see suspicion coming a mental mile away.

"I don't care how I'm described. If I'm asked what it is I do, I say I'm a purveyor of mind games. I don't use cards. I don't do levitation. I just care that people are entertained. I don't go to the dark side.

'There's no question of any humiliation. The audience is safe. I'm not going to upset them, I don't do the talking to the dead thing, I don't play on their superstitions, I don't hypnotise, I don't want people to leave the theatre in tears. I like to subvert logical thought but not with evil intent."

I question him about his stage name, which seems to contradict his deadpan claims that there's no mystical hocus-pocus going on.

"It's my wife's maiden name. She's Yemeni by birth. It's the name of peace. Quite a common name, short for Jerusalem. I'm comfortable with the connotations." He says his wife won't let the power he has over an audience go to his head. "At home, there's no Marc Salem."

No question I ask takes him by surprise; or at least, he knows how to make it seem like he's ready for anything. But he's not a mind-reader.

"I don't know what that is. It suggests you can go into a mind and pluck something out that the person is not thinking about. I can focus on a thought that someone is having. I can guide and influence thought, using the tricks of the conjuror, the tricks of advertising, of journalism, of comedy, even of singing. The only thing I don't do is use a stooge, a hidden assistant, or electronics. That would be cheating."

Perish the thought. Eventually, the moment comes. He gets out his pad. He's going to read my mind. He bristles when I point out that journalists always seem to ask for some proof of what he does, and I don't want to do that. He didn't see that coming. It insults him even more than my suggestion that he's a slightly more beguiling Uri Geller.

"Proof?" he snaps, more temperamental artist than upset uncle, "I don't have to prove anything… I don't have to prove I can entertain. That's all I'm doing. I don't have to undergo any kind of laboratory studies to prove one way or another what I do is authentic, because I never claim that it is or isn't."

I give in. He asks me to think of a number. He gets it wrong, but that's all part of the way he folds distracting vulnerability and modesty into his act, and learns about my way of thinking. He asks for a double-digit number. This he gets right. I've been delicately hoodwinked.

He asks for a shape within a shape. He guesses right. I'm so rubbish I said a circle within a triangle. It confirms my worst fears. I'm so predictable, I'm not as complex and interesting as I would like to be, I'm just part of some measly, ordered pattern of humanity.

"No, you should be pleased you're a straightforward human-being and you're not psychotic. The fact is, the smarter you are, the easier you are to work with. The people I find it hard to work with are the dumb, the drunk, the drug-addled, the paranoid, the very young, the people who can't hold a thought, the ones who think they can outwit me."

He asks for a number from one to four. He writes down a number.

I say two. He reveals what he wrote. It says, "All geniuses choose three." He explains that 90 per cent of people say three. Now I'm mortified that I'm not predictable. He chuckles, with just a hint of the sinister.

"I can't win," he shrugs. I decide that this just was his way of punishing me for being 10 minutes late.

So how does he do it ? I'm not sure if I find the whole thing totally entertaining because I'm always frustrated that it's all so secretive, as much an annoying con as something weird and wonderful.

"I don't want to cause anxiety or frustration. I try and dissipate that with humour. I don't want what I do to be a puzzle that gives you a headache. But I do think it's important that there is mystery in the world. I think we live in a world where we reveal too much. Mystery is good."

Marc Salem opens at the Tricycle Theatre (020 7328 1000) on Aug 31.



Steve Wyrick Signs with Aladdin

Just what Vegas needs: even more bad gay magic! According to an August 21 story in the Las Vegas Advisor, The Desert Passage Mall at the Aladdin has signed a multi-year agreement with magician Steve Wyrick to develop a 22,000-square-foot entertainment complex that will combine a 500-seat theater, ultra lounge and magic shop. Slated to open in late fall, the new facility will be the mall's second showroom.

Hear that sound, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of the Alladin's demise!


World's Greatest Magic Show?

Magician Nicholas Carifo visits The Greek Isles Casino to review the World's Greatest Magic Show. But with stars such as Kevin James, Joseph Gabriel, Paul Kozak and The Majestix, it's hard to go wrong.

Check out the review of The World's Greatest Magic Show!


Jack Kirby Museum

If you've ever watched a comic book movie lately, chances are you were watching a creation of Jack Kirby's. The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, honoring the late comic illustration legend, has officially launched online. It's in the early stages, but I'm excited about its possibilities.

The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center is organized exclusively for educational purposes; more specifically, to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby by illustrating the scope of Kirby's multi-faceted career, communicating the stories, inspirations and influences of Jack Kirby, celebrating the life of Jack Kirby and his creations, and building understanding of comic books and comic book creators. To this end, the Museum will sponsor and otherwise support study, teaching, conferences, discussion groups, exhibitions, displays, publications and cinematic, theatrical or multimedia productions... The Kirby Museum's long-term plans include a major travelling retrospective in 2007, a documentary, and more.

TOTH to David Pescovitz.



Where Am I?

Still back here on the East Coast, and I'm seriously contemplating moving back. Burying a loved one can have that effect on you. Until then, I'll be blogging intermittently when the mood strikes. There's still a ton to talk about.

I want to thank those who have sent emails and posted comments regarding my current situation. Until then, those creative bastards at Google are at it again, now with something similar to AOL's IM. If you want to talk directly with me Download Google Talk and add me to your list of enemies. My gmail is: If you don't have a gmail address and want one, I'll send you an invite if you're a cool motherfucker...

TOTH to Drunken Stepfather for the heads up!


Thursday, August 25, 2005


I'm away from blogging due to a family tragedy. I have had to travel back east in order to get some things in order. I'll be back to blogging and answering emails as soon as I can. I haven't forgotten you.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Optical Illusions

Check out this cool optical illusion. Now take a look at square A and square B. Two different shades of greay, right? Wrong; in this case they are exactly the same shade of grey. If you don't believe me, check it out in Photoshop or go here for proof.)



Thursday, August 18, 2005

CBS News Misses C-Word In Story

Oopsie! During this story about a cruel prank played on a family who just lost their mother, CBS news manged to avoid SAYING the dreaded "See You Next Tuesday," however when they showed the actual text of the instant message conversation, they forgot to blur it out.



Porn Rots Slower Than Other Magazines

Although I have no problems "getting" women, those magicians out there who do will find this article extremely hopeful and uplifting:

An investigation into the rate of degredation of wood-pulp products in an Australian landfill has determined that porn magazines -- with their coated, glossy pages -- outlast other types of printed matter and will be the last printed items in the landfills to rot away. Fark concludes that this means that "porn will be this civilization's gift to the next civilization."

He found that magazines, newspapers and old bits of wood thrown away up to 46 years ago were in almost perfect condition, with pornography lasting the best of all.

He displayed a 1979 copy of the men's magazine Playboy which was in near mint condition, and said its thick wax coating could be the reason for its longevity.


Not only does porn rot slowly, but it also contains lots of kaolin, a mildly radioactive clay used to coat paper and render it glossy. Because so much porn is printed on clay-coated stock, it is more radioactive than other forms of printed entertainment. This chart of the radioactivity of a Playboy mag is particularly excellent.

TOTH to Cory Doctorow for the "heads up."


Utility Companies Rename Customers on Their Bills

This is fucking hilarious, and I thank David Pescovitz for bringing the following to my attention:

After complaining to Comcast about their customer service, LaChania Govan of Chicago received her August bill addressed to "Bitch Dog." Comcast identified the pranksters, fired them, and apologized to Govan. In a similar turn of events, Peoples Energy customer Jefferoy Barnes mysteriously began receiving bills addressed to a curious variation of his name.

From the Associated Press:

"I had no bad words at all. I guess the earliest letter is dated in May and from then on up until now my name has been listed as Jeffery Scrotum Bag Barnes and I have no idea why." Barnes said he received an apologetic call from a company official. He also has contacted an attorney to determine if he can take legal action.


From two diners at Parkhill's Waterfront Grill on the New Jersey shore were recently given a bill with a description on the bottom written by the waitstaff to identify their table. It said: "Jew Couple."


MM, AKA Jeffery Scrotum Bag Barnes

Disneyland Gets Ass Kicked by Windows Worms

TOTH to DisneyFan for the following:

Disneyland's many computers were reportedly brought low by the Windows worms sweeping the Internet this week, shutting down the cash-registers, employee management system, and Fast Pass dispensers.

Just like everyday at disneyland, a new day consists of resets for most computers. Imagine if you will, a time when nearly every windows 2000 computer at disneyland is attacked by the same worm at the same time.

This really happened, and boy was it a mess for the few first hours. The main ticketing network was down, so everyone's park ticket had to be scanned in manually. Then, should you go and try to get a fastpass with the patched computers, it wouldn't work because you didn't use your ticket for admission today. Or did you? Let's say then you give up fastpass rides and want to get something to eat, horribly the POS systems (that also run on windows 2000) were also non-operational. Okay, fine then. No food. I guess I'll go on a ride. Oh wait, since the Cast Deployment System (known as CDS) runs on windows too, the cast members have absolutely no idea what they should be doing.

This was an amazing day, folks. You should have seen how less crowded and nice everything was (no fastpass); it was just magical for the cast members (who were off early so they could take advantage of the short lines).



Aliun Levitation Exposed!

Congratulations to my pal and partner in crime, Andster (I taught him everything he knows, by the way) for digging in the dirt and finding the published patent exposing the above Elusionist levitation that has been on hiatus for the last few years. I won't stoop to stealing the link (I ain't no post whore, foo!); you'll just have to head on over to his site and check it out for yourself.

Congrats, Andster!



Mindfreak, Episode 5

OK, same as last week. One episode new, one old. Personally, I am quickly becoming bored as there really is nothing that piques my interest anymore. I'll still tune in, but only with a lukewarm attitude. Could be that I am spoiled; I've seen Derren Brown's many television series.

What are your "mindthoughts?"


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Blog Watch

I like Magic Enigma's Blog Watch segments; it keeps me from having to read the unimportant drivel that pervades 90% of the magic blogs out there (mine included; I'm not sying there aren't any inconsistencies). However, I couldn't help but think about Enigma's John Wayne Gacy reference as it reminded me of someone else:


Harry Potter Reading Ban

TOTH to Cory Doctorow:

Here's Terry Pratchett commenting on the Canadian court order for bidding customers of a bookstore who got the new Harry Potter a few days early from discussing or even reading the book:

Now that the bound proof copies of _Thud!_ are out, and will no doubt be winging their way to an e-bay near you, I would like to say that ANYONE WHO READS A WORD OF IT before publication day will be MADE TO SIT IN THE CORNER and their ENTIRE COUNTRY will be given DOUBLE DETENTION until every single person SAYS SORRY!!!!!

My kinda' guy...



Monday, August 15, 2005

Tool of the Year: Derek Merdinyan

Aldo Colombini has come out with his version of the Dangerous Monte effect, and just like a sure bet on eventual bad weather, the Cafe idiots are jumping on the bandwagon, including a real pro named Derek Merdinyan.

I will quote him verbatim from two different posts:

"I will perform this trick tonight!"


"If you can feel that glass bottle or spike in the bag when you hand it to a spectator, then you know to bail out. Really if you cant stop a trick when you feel it, then maybe you shouldnt even be on stage..."

Perhaps you should take your own advice when it comes to the lack of practice, DM! Regardless of how simple it is, if you perform a trick the same day you receive it without coming up with outs for the situation you describe, you are nothing more than a simpleton hack looking for a possible lawsuit, and perhaps it is YOU who shouldn't be onstage!



Saturday, August 13, 2005

Magician X's Mindfuck

I'm happy to report that fellow no-bullshit blogger,
Magician X
is back to blogging again. I highly recommend you check out his thoughts on the Criss Angel Mindfreak series.


Copperfield a Tricky Deal-Maker

In one of his stage tricks, magician David Copperfield makes audience members disappear. In a 2003 real estate deal, he made himself disappear.

It all happened when Copperfield tried to buy an island from multimillionaire John Melk -- who made his fortune in Chicago -- for about $46 million. But the magician's methods prompted Melk to sue. David Rammelt, Susan Greenspon and Kenn Brotman of Kelley Drye & Warren's Chicago office are representing Melk.

"Our client is confident in his lawsuit, and is looking forward to his day in court," Rammelt said.

Melk, 69, made his fortune from holdings in Waste Management Inc. and Blockbuster Video. He has also invested in Chicago real estate. He lives most of the year in Florida.

In 1995, Melk and his then-wife decided to buy Musha Cay, in the Bahamas, for $2.25 million. They spent $55 million turning the island into a luxury resort. They built guest houses, homes for the island's staff, a "state-of-the-art" industrial kitchen and a water desalinization system that purifies 30,000 gallons a day, according to Melk's lawsuit. They laid three miles of concrete path, and installed tennis courts and a landing pad for helicopters.

The resort opened for business in 2001. Its Web site, www.musha, bills it as "the ultimate private island experience." Musha quickly became a favorite spot for celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams and Steve Martin. The guest rate: $25,000 per day.

The following year, the Melks decided to sell Musha Cay. Copperfield approached them about buying in October 2002. But Copperfield had no experience running a resort, and the Melks were willing to sell only to a buyer who knew the business. Instead, Melk offered to sell Copperfield a 50 percent stake for $25 million, with Melk continuing to run it.

Meanwhile, two other bidders surfaced. Christian Jagodzinski and Michael Gleisner told Melk they had extensive experience running luxury resorts and had operated one in Fiji. After six months of negotiation, the Melks agreed to sell Musha to them for $45.5 million.

A week after the deal closed, Copperfield called Melk and told him that he, Copperfield, was the new owner of Musha Cay. As it turned out, Jagodzinski and Gleisner were fronts for Copperfield in what is known as a "strawman" purchase, according to the lawsuit. The new corporation formed to run the island -- Imagine Nation -- was owned by Copperfield.

Stunned, Melk sued Copperfield to rescind the deal and obtain damages. Melk owns other islands near Musha and wants to see the resort kept up in a professional manner, according to his lawsuit.

"John will not stand for anything less than [Musha Cay's] tradition of unequaled, ultra-exclusive service," Rammelt said.

Copperfield has long focused on running his career, not other businesses. Born David Seth Kotkin, he grew up in New Jersey and first drew notice in "The Magic Man," a musical that ran in Chicago. He went on to become one of the world's top-grossing entertainers, according to Forbes magazine.

Melk argues that "rumors" about Copperfield, including "alleged ties with the Russian Mafia," would hurt business at Musha Cay. Copperfield, for his part, seems obsessed with rumors about himself. His Web site features an entire "rumors" section, in which, for example, he denies speculation he is gay. Copperfield also says he "can't deny" stories the Russian mob held his equipment "hostage" when he visited that country to perform there.

According to court documents filed by Melk's lawyers, Copperfield knew the deal would crater if his involvement were discovered. At one point during negotiations, Copperfield wrote to rock musician Lenny Kravitz asking for his help. Copperfield needed approval from the Bahamian government to put a deposit on the property, and Kravitz, according to a court document, is a cousin of the Bahamian prime minister. Copperfield asked Kravitz to "speak to the prime minister." He also implored the rocker to keep his involvement under wraps. "It is imperative that it remains secret until the deal is signed," the magician wrote.

Copperfield's lawyer, Bruce Laxalt of Laxalt & Nomura in Reno, Nev., did not return a call seeking comment. In court papers, the magician claims Melk "repeatedly asked Mr. Copperfield to be his partner in owning Musha Cay" because he was "desperate to raise cash." A lawyer on the deal "advised John Melk that there was an anonymous partner involved." When Melk learned Copperfield was the true buyer, he "stated that he was happy," according to court filings.

The Melks' lawsuits are pending in federal court in Nevada, and in the Bahamas.


Friday, August 12, 2005


I'd like to revisit a rant I posted about heroes in the now deceased Magic Mafia, version 2.0:

Hi. Y'know, I know we just had a great Superbowl, and I realize that this Pete Rose thing is done, but I do have one final request: I'd like you to take a look at the face of Pete Rose or Rafael Palmeiro on a magazine, newspaper, or anywhere you might see it. Because what you are seeing is the face of professional sports. It's ugly, it's stupid, it's self-absorbed, and it's criminal -- players, owners, all of them. Criminality and arrogance. There's nothing there anymore, folks. In point of fact, there never was.

Now we've got generations of minority men who've been told by the professional sports establishment, owners, and players, and even their parents, "Play ball; this is where your destiny lies. All of your heroes are here, and they're all black. These WILL be your heroes." Hence, we've got millions of young men who might have chosen science, medicine, or the law, yet they've opted for the road that lay open for them: dribbling a basketball.

Y'know, there were never any heroes really; Joe Dimaggio, we now find out, was a skin flint and a lousy father. Ditto Vince Lombardi. One of the sports world's truly great dumbasses is Bobby Hull, the hockey player. An ex-wife of his claimed he beat her bloody and senseless at times, not that anyone noticed, and today, of course, we have Koby Briant, who has about as much respect for his wife as Bobby Hull had for all three of his!

Now, off the field, we're told to take these guys seriously. I can tell you this: if any of them came into my workplace, the first thing I'd have them do is get me coffee. They are quoted as if they're Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, the smallest, dumbest joke is reprinted the next day in the sports page as high comedy. And that's another thing: you sports writers are the worst; you know you hate those guys. You hang around athletes pretending you like them because you need access. I want to tell the pro athletes out there right now: there has never been any sports writer that has ever respected you, ever! They'd probably like to, I know they've claimed to, but they know you guys only too well.

However, I want you to know that I like you as long as you play your silly game, take your big paycheck, and off the field keep your big fat mouth shut and your life relatively clean. Y'know, the age of big sports is drawing to a close, so you guys are on borrowed time. However, great Superbowl. Good job, Mr. Moonves!


TV Host Robbed On Air

TV Host Robbed On Air
Viewers Called 911

FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Viewers of an Arkansas cable access show helped Fort Smith police crack a case late Thursday night after they watched a robbery on live TV.

Gary Spirito, host of the Shopping Mania Auction Show, thought it was a prank.

When a man came in and demanded Spirito's car keys, Spirito informed his audience that this was no joke.

"There's a guy robbing us, somebody call the police, he came in with a gun. Somebody call police, there's a guy in here trying to rob us," Spirito said.

That's when Spirito addressed the alleged robber directly.

"Then I looked up at him and said, 'We're doing a live show here and there's probably hundreds of people out there right now calling the police to come down on this building, just so you know,'" he said.

Mary Schell watches the Shopping Mania Auction Show every night, but still thought Spirito's call for help was a joke.

"We thought he was kidding at first," Schell said. "Then I waited a minute after, and then I was like, 'No, he can't be joking. He can't be. Just call.'"

Spirito said the suspects escaped with nothing, but thanks to the 911 calls made by viewers, Fort Smith police caught two male suspects early Friday morning.

Fort Smith police said 23-year-old Eddie Crisp and 22-year-old Timothy Suggs are accused of robbing Keith Cox, owner of the Legacy Motor Co., at 11 p.m. Thursday. About an hour later, police said the suspects robbed Spirito.

The men face two counts of aggravated robbery and probation violations, according to police.

Only in Arkansas.

Link to video!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Beauty and the Priest

Scandal priest resigns post

Monsignor Eugene Clark and Laura DeFiilippo head to a room at the Sands Motel.

A 79-year-old monsignor named as "the other man" in a Westchester County divorce case resigned Thursday as rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the New York archdiocese said.

Cardinal Edward Egan accepted Msgr. Eugene Clark’s resignation despite Clark’s denials that he has been carrying on an affair with his 46-year-old private secretary, the church said.

“He offered his resignation for the good of Saint Patrick’s and the Archdiocese,” the statement said. “He will not be celebrating Mass or the sacraments publicly until this matter has been resolved.”

Clark was named in divorce papers filed in Family Court in White Plains by Philip DeFilippo, 46, of Eastchester, who claimed that a private investigator taped his wife, Laura, and the monsignor entering and leaving a hotel in Amagansett, on Long Island. The videotape was shown Monday to New York City newspapers.

DeFilippo also claimed that the DeFilippos’ teenage daughter was exposed to the relationship.

A call to Clark’s lawyer, Laura Brevetti, was not immediately returned. Laura DeFilippo’s lawyer, Michael Berger, said he would not comment on Clark’s resignation. Both lawyers have previously denied that the monsignor and his secretary had a sexual relationship, accusing Philip DeFilippo of distorting an innocent event.

Clark has been rector of St. Patrick’s in midtown Manhattan since 2001 and has often celebrated Mass there when the cardinal was away. In 2002, he blamed the church’s sex-abuse scandal on “the campaign of liberal America against celibacy.” “Homosexuality became in the American exchange of views a protected area,” he said.

Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling had said Wednesday that Clark was not asked to step down as rector because unlike priests who were accused of molesting boys, he was not accused of anything illegal and was denying the allegations.



Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mindfreak, Episode 4

All right. Same as last week: one new episode, one re-run. What did you think? Post your comments in the comments section...


HoCrap PoCrap

Pagliacci has been on a Hocus Pocus rampage lately, and it makes for some pretty humorous (and enlightening) reading. Check it out:

Link 1

Link 2


Does Not Compute

Holy shit! Look what a mere eight thousand five hundred dollars got you in 1989! A whopping 386 with a 20 Mhz processor. Most Pocket PCs have more than that these days.



Mind Reading Successes?

The BBC reports that two scientific teams are reporting success in experiments that at least hint at the future possibility of mind reading via brain activity monitoring. University College of London scientists were able to identify which of two patterns volunteers were looking at just by watching their MRI brain scans. Meanwhile, UCLA and Weizmann Institute of Science neuroscientists used electrodes implanted in two pre-surgical patients to record brain cell responses to scenes from Clint Eastwood's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Based on that data, they then predicted the MRI signals generated by eleven healthy patients watching the same clip. From the BBC:

Professor Itzhak Fried, the neurosurgeon who led the (UCLA) research, said: "We were able to tell one part of a scene from another, and we could tell one type of sound from another."Dr John-Dylan Haynes of the UCL Institute of Neurology, who led the (UK) research, told the BBC News website: "What we need to do now is create something like speech-recognition software, and look at which parts of the brain are specifically active in a person."He said the study's findings proved the principle that MRI scans could "read thoughts", but he said it was a very long way from creating a machine which could read anyone's mind. But Dr Haynes said: "We could tell from a very limited subset of possible things the person is possibly seeing."

Link to BBC article,

Link to UCLA press release


Criss Angel Delivers Youthful Audience

TOTH to Wayne N. Kawamoto:

According to a recent A&E press release, Criss Angel Mindfreak, delivered the youngest series premiere in the network's history with a median age average of 33.5 years. Criss Angel Mindfreak garnered an average of 1.1 million A18-49 impressions (+127% vs. A&E'S 2005 prime average) and 1.0 million A25-54 impressions (+91%). Among total viewers Criss Angel Mindfreak averaged 1.8 million impressions.

Nancy Dubuc and Robert Sharenow are the A& executive producers for Criss Angel Mindfreak. The series was created and directed by Criss Angel and produced by Angel Productions Inc., and The Firm. Dave Baram and Simon Millar are the executive producers for The Firm. Pontiac is the presenting and exclusive automotive sponsor for Criss Angel Mindfreak.

Judging from some of the recent comments lately on this blog regarding Criss Angel, I'd say the article is spot-on.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Pregnancy is a Real Bitch

Here's a candid snapshot of Britney Spears exiting from Tranny's 'R' Us. Lookin good, Brit.



I Know Steve Brooks Can Relate


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings Dies at 67

Peter Jennings, the suave, Canadian-born broadcaster who delivered the news to Americans each night in five separate decades, died Sunday. He was 67. Jennings, who announced in April that he had lung cancer, died at his New York home, ABC News President David Westin said late Sunday.

"Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him," Westin said.

With Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, Jennings was part of a triumvirate that dominated network news for more than two decades, through the birth of cable news and the Internet. His smooth delivery and years of international reporting experience made Jennings particularly popular among urban dwellers.

Jennings was the face of ABC News whenever a big story broke. He logged more than 60 hours on the air during the week of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, offering a soothing sense of continuity during a troubled time.

"There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe," he told author Jeff Alan. "I don't subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially — sorry it's a cliche — a rough draft of history. Some days it's reassuring, some days it's absolutely destructive."

Jennings' announcement four months ago that the longtime would begin treatment for lung cancer came as a shock.

"I will continue to do the broadcast," he said, his voice husky, in a taped message that night. "On good days, my voice will not always be like this."

But although Jennings occasionally came to the office between chemotherapy treatments, he never again appeared on the air.

"He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones," Westin said. "In the end, he was not."

Broadcasting was the family business for Jennings. His father, Charles Jennings, was the first person to anchor a nightly national news program in Canada and later became head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s news division. A picture of his father was displayed prominently in Jennings' office off ABC's newsroom.

Charles Jennings' son had a Saturday morning radio show in Ottawa at age 9. Jennings never completed high school or college, and began his career as a news reporter at a radio station in Brockton, Ontario. He quickly earned an anchor job at Canadian Television.

Sent south to cover the Democratic national convention in 1964, the handsome, dashing correspondent was noticed by ABC's news president. Jennings was offered a reporting job and left Canada for New York.

As the third-place news network, ABC figured its only chance was to go after young viewers. Jennings was picked to anchor the evening news and debuted on Feb. 1, 1965. He was 26.

"It was a little ridiculous when you think about it," Jennings told author Barbara Matusow. "A twenty-six-year-old trying to compete with Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. I was simply unqualified."

Critics savaged him as a pretty face unfit for the promotion. Using the Canadian pronunciations for some words and once misidentifying the Marine Corps' anthem as "Anchors Aweigh" didn't help his reputation. The experiment ended three years later.

He later described the humbling experience as an opportunity, "because I was obliged to figure out who I was and what I really wanted to be."

Assigned as a foreign correspondent, Jennings thrived. He established an ABC News bureau in Beirut, and became an expert on the Middle East. He won a Peabody Award for a 1974 profile of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

On the scene at the Munich Olympics in 1972, Jennings was perfectly placed to cover the hostage-taking of Israeli athletes by an Arab terrorist group. He and a crew hid in the athletes' quarters for a close-in view of the drama.

Jennings returned to the evening news a decade after his unceremonious departure. In 1978, ABC renamed its broadcast "World News Tonight," and instituted a three-person anchor team: Frank Reynolds based in Washington, Max Robinson from Chicago and Jennings, by then ABC's chief foreign correspondent, from London.

Following Reynolds' death from cancer, ABC abandoned the multi-anchor format and Jennings became sole anchor on Sept. 5, 1983.

Starting in 1986, Jennings began a decade on top of the ratings. His international experience served him well explaining stories like the collapse of European communism, the first Gulf War and the terrorist bombing of an airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland. He took pride that "World News Tonight," as its name suggested, took a more worldly view than its rivals. Fans responded to his smart, controlled style.

"When it's clearly an emotional experience for the audience, the anchor should not add his or her emotional layers," Jennings said in an interview with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Two-thirds of local broadcasters responding to a 1993 survey by Broadcasting & Cable magazine said Jennings was the best network news anchor. Washington Journalism Review named him anchor of the year three straight years.

With Americans looking more inward in the mid to late-1990s, NBC's Tom Brokaw surpassed Jennings in the ratings. ABC was still a close No. 2, however. When Brokaw stepped down in November 2004, followed shortly by Rather, ABC began an advertising campaign stressing Jennings' experience — an ironic twist given how his ABC News career began.

But ABC was never able to learn whether Jennings could take advantage of his role as an elder statesman; his cancer diagnosis came only a month after Rather left the anchor chair.

Jennings was proud of his Canadian citizenship, although it was occasionally a sore point with some critics. When Jennings spoke at the dedication of a museum celebrating the U.S. Constitution in 2003, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told him, "not bad for a Canadian."

Jennings whispered back his secret: He had just passed a test earning him dual citizenship in the United States.

"My decision to do this has nothing to do with politics," Jennings told The Associated Press at the time. "It has nothing to do with my profession. It has everything to do with my family."

Restlessly curious, Jennings pushed ABC News to use the turn of the century for a massive historical study. He co-wrote a book, "The Century," with Todd Brewster and anchored a marathon 25-hour special ending Jan. 1, 2000. Jennings and Brewster also traveled the backroads to write "In Search of America."

Jennings also led a documentary team at ABC News, which struck a chord in 2000 with the high-rated spiritual special "The Search for Jesus."

"I have never spent a day in my adult life where I didn't learn something," Jennings told the Saturday Evening Post. "And if there is a born-again quality to me, that's it."

Like Rather and Brokaw, Jennings wasn't entirely comfortable stuck to a studio. He traveled around the world to cover stories and, when he didn't journey to Asia to cover the aftermath of the tsunami less than four months before his cancer diagnosis, it was noticed.

He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, and his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23.



Saturday, August 06, 2005


I'll be taking some R&R for the next few weeks with intermittent posting on the blog. If you wanna know what I consider R&R:

Dank yoo pleez.


Racial Profiling & Shooting Terrorists in the Head

Why is racial profiling a bad thing? Why does Mayor Blumberg of New York pussyfoot around the topic when talking about the safety of rapid transit commuters? More importantly, why are politicians (save for two) standing behind a tree whenever the topic is brought up? Apparently, bringing up a certain race or profile is frowned upon unless you are using it to try and get into college. Then, it's completely acceptable. However, when bringing it up in respect to the security of this country, you're a racist. When the FBI went after the Mafia during the prohibition era, did they go after elderly women? Did they pressure and take down black men? Of course not; they profiled Italians. Why should it be any different when it comes to Middle Eastern men and women when taking a proactive stance against terrorism in America?

Now that two politicians have spoken out in favor of racial profiling, an international group of police chiefs recently expanded its guidelines for use of deadly force, instructing officers to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head. Details were printed in yesterday's Washington Post.

According to the newspaper, the guide recommends that if lethal force is needed to stop someone who fits a certain profile, the officer should "aim for the head." The intent is to kill the suspect instantly so the person could not set off a bomb if one is strapped to the person's chest, the newspaper said. Among signs to look for listed in the police organization's behavioral profile are wearing a heavy coat in warm weather, carrying a backpack with protrusions or visible wires, nervousness, excessive sweating or an unwillingness to make eye contact, the Post said.



Save the Tadpoles

Check out the frog who thinks a T-shirt will save him...



Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mindfreak, Episode 3

Thoughts? Comments? Insults? Suggestions? What'd you all think?


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another Teacher Sex Scandal

The Smoking Gun has the moderately graphic depositions from two teenage boys who had sex with her. In her upstairs bedroom, with her own kids downstairs?

August 1, 2005 — A sex scandal has exploded at a prestigious upstate Catholic school, where randy teacher Sandra “Beth” Geisel bedded four students — including an underage boy — while administrators tried to keep the steamy details under wraps, authorities say.

Geisel, 42, a stunning blond married to a powerful Albany banker, was booted from the Christian Brothers Academy in Colonie in June — immediately after a backseat sex romp with a 17-year-old student became public.

Geisel, who was on the payroll first as an English teacher and then as a volunteer in the school’s writing lab, now faces criminal charges involving a 16-year-old boy. She’s expected to surrender today on felony rape charges, according to a lawyer for the family of another student.

John Aretakis, who has represented alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse and is now the lawyer for a 17-year-old CBA student — allegedly one of four students who had sex with the vivacious mother of four — says her “bizarre and irresponsible behavior” was ignored for months by the school.

Geisel, an immensely popular English teacher before she was axed, got canned after police in Cohoes — a town adjacent to Colonie — responded to a resident’s call June 11 about a suspicious parked car. A cop found a sex-rumpled Geisel and a 17-year-old student inside. No charges arose from the case because the boy was at the age of consent for sexual activity. Geisel reportedly confessed to school officials and was immediately fired.

About a week after the tryst, CBA sent a letter to parents about the affair, though officials didn’t identify the teacher. Officials said they’d found the conduct inappropriate.

However, after reports of Geisel’s dismissal spread, a 16-year-old student, at the urging of his parents, reported to Colonie police that he’d had two romps of his own with the randy teacher, according to yesterday’s Troy Record.

A spokesman for the Colonie police said that he believed Geisel was expected to surrender today but that he had no details. Charges reportedly could include statutory rape involving a minor. Geisel’s lawyer, Donald Kinsella, did not return repeated calls for comment. He told The Troy Record she would voluntarily surrender.

Aretakis alleges the teacher’s out-of-control sexual behavior was known among students and their parents for months — and had to be known by administrators — yet was kept secret.

“I believe it is similar to what’s going on . . . in the Catholic church, that this Catholic school was looking to avoid shame and embarrassment and that they tried to wish these incidents away,” Aretakis said.

“They said, ‘Let’s keep this in the family. Use restraint. We believe this incident is isolated.’ I’m angry for them acting irresponsibly.”

According to Aretakis, the inappropriate behavior allegedly began in February on a school-sponsored trip to Florida, where Geisel allegedly drank and, clad in a bikini, posed for a picture with her hand on one of the students.

“She’s in a position of trust and power, working in a Catholic school — and it is so reckless and irresponsible,” said Aretakis, adding that four families are now considering filing a civil lawsuit.

On the online, Geisel won lascivious praise from one — and real admiration from others.

For example, one student went on line in March to pant, “down boy down — get what I’m saying guys.” Another, last November, declared her “much more” than “just a pretty face.” Another, in February, called her an “amazing writer.”

Geisel is reportedly estranged from her husband, Thomas Geisel, 43, who heads commercial banking in the Northeast and New England for KeyBank and is president of KeyBank in the Albany region.


Monday, August 01, 2005

James Randi's "Occult-Debunk" Encyclopedia Online for Free!

James Randi, the guru of debunking psychic mediums and other false endeavors, has released the full text of his Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural online for free. Randi hopes the move will boost sales of the print edition.

"When I decided to place the entire text (...) on the Internet, it was suggested to me that this could cut into the sales of the printed version. However, experience has shown that, in the publishing business, making a book available on the Internet only stimulates sales of the actual book! Another mystery."



10's a Crowd!

Once again, if you live in a hole, you probably don't know that NASA announced that astronomers have found a tenth planet -- which is larger than Pluto -- at the edge of our solar system. And it ain't another anus.



Tool of the Month: Christopher Roller

Yeah, I know it's old news, but I just can't help but report on the ongoing lawsuit against Copperfield and Blaine from Master Tool Douchebag, Christopher Roller!

David Blaine might be a master magician, but he can't make a lawsuit disappear. The 32-year-old entertainer has been sued by Christopher Roller, a Minnesota man who claims Blaine stole his "godly powers" to perform his magic.

In the lawsuit, obtained by the media, Roller is asking for more than $2 million. If this all sounds familiar, it's because Roller has also sued another mega-magician: David Copperfield. That suit claimed Copperfield did not get Roller's permission to use his powers.

Roller's earlier suit directed readers to his Web site for an explanation of his life. There, among other claims, Roller says he was the inspiration for the Jim Carrey film, "The Truman Show." The site also has several pictures of Roller under a banner that reads: "You are looking at the face of God. Don't confuse this with the face of cod, like the fish."

Roller also made outrageous claims about other celebrities, including Tom Hanks, who he claims is set to appear in a film about his life. Roller also claims that Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates will be his running mate in the 2008 election.