Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Something I can't find on the Internet, but should be there somewhere

by Ted Hoffman

Recently I've been watching a TV series by the magician Derren Brown on Channel 4. I'm sure most British readers will be familiar with him, he's really top draw, amongst the best I've seen. A typical trick would be to take a group of people to the cinema where a short film made by Brown with some aledged subliminal messages in is played before a Movie. Afterwards they are interviewed and nobody is able to recall anything at all about the Movie.

A few years previously I remember being similarly impressed with the 'street magic' of a young David Blaine. Back then, curious to know how his tricks were done I spent some time Googling for the secrets, and came up with pretty much everything I wanted. Some would claim it ruins the fun of magic to find out how it is done, but not for me. I find it satisfying to be at a complete loss as to how an effect was achieved, and to then discover it was something simple but brilliantly clever, or sometimes just a cheat (as in the case of Mr Blaine's famous levitation trick).

So a few weeks back I attempted to find out how Derren Brown had achieved his effects. Whilst not as high profile as David Blaine, he is nevertheless very well known, particularly in the UK, and there was no shortage of sites discussing him and his work; but I came up blank.

Part of the problem is that Derren Brown uses some deliberate misdirection as to how his tricks are done, often claiming to reveal the secret, but actually only muddying the water (typically he will claim some fantastic use of NLP).

Magicians' websites/forums tend to have some kind of entrance test, before you can join up; typically a question requiring some very in depth knowledge of performing magic, to keep away the likes of me who just want to spoil the effect, and who can blame them. Though some persistent Googling eventually got me into at least one of these, but to no avail.

After a couple of hours searching, I got the odd answer to some of his more minor effects, lots of people suggesting to read his book, and plenty repeating Brown's own highly improbable explanations.

Which all in all I found quite surprising. Many (thousands probably) people like me will have been trying to find out the answers, and surely one of the (hundreds probably) practitioners of Mentalism will have let something slip (if they indeed know), but nothing. It is very difficult nowadays to keep a secret like that, and I for one find it annoying to not know.

Sunday, 21 May 2006

A Dalmation Riding a Bike

by Charles Pooter

Via b3ta.

Graffiti seen in Atlanta, Georgia

by Charles Pooter

From here.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Things that don't appear in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but Wikipedia covers in depth

by Ted Hoffman

Number 1

Wikipedia has a substantial article on a chap called Rainz. He is a human player in an online game called Ultima Online, and is responsible for a famous incident where he assassinated another, supposedly invulnerable, player called Lord British. He has also made a nuisance of himself by morphing into a chicken and killing off 'Games Masters', and organising an invasion where none of his army wore any pants.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has nothing.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

The Outbursts of Everett True

by Charles Pooter

Everett True is character from a comic strip published for a while starting in 1906. True is similar to Victor Meldrew except that he is fat, American and instead of just moaning "I don't believe it!", he reacts to annoyances with extreme violence. Click here to view his cartoon adventures. From the Barnacle Press website:

This cartoon is the model of comic draftsmanship. There's a tremendous, palpable feeling of weight in these comics. It's important that it has this weight, which really drives the violence home in a tangible way. Outbursts of Everett True prompts a very visceral, cathartic feeling for me. The comic's impact surpasses the wry head-shaker that you pin up on your office wall, a'la "They'll Do It Every Time", it provokes a sly grin and a chortle of delicious schadenfreude.

"Lobster" is my new favourite insult, replacing "poltroon".

I feel we need True, now more than ever. Certainly the 1900s were the start of a very crass century, but I feel the 21st will top it in terms of rudeness and charlatanry. We need Everett to smash in the heads of the yahoos who yammer on their mobile phones in the cinema. We need him to punch the faces of the boorish, the cruel, the arrogant and the pretentious. The wry humour of Dilbert and his ilk no longer adequately convey the frustration of modern-day life. If True was stuck in that office cubicle, instead of Dilbert, he would have given the boss a good beating long ago and rightly so.

Friday, 12 May 2006


by Ted Hoffman

I went to see a doctor last week for a minor complaint. I'm pretty good with technology and the Internet, so I did a good amount of research before hand, Googling for the likely causes and potential cures. Though during the visit, which didn't last anything over 5 minutes, I was given a diagnosis I hadn't considered, and some medication which I hadn't heard of. The moral that I am choosing to learn from this is that Google is not a substitute for expertise built up from years of experience. Which is a pity.

Friday Afternoon Time Waster

by Charles Pooter

Fellow desk-jockeys: You can't escape into the sunshine, so here's something to waste a few minutes in the office. By the way, all the LMWN contributors, including myself, are disgusted at those who claim that women won't be very good at this game...

Friday, 5 May 2006

LMWN contributor told to go stuff it by the people!

by Edwin Hesselthwite

As members of an active political force in this country, it is fully understandable that LMWN contributors may consider the burden and honour of standing for elected office… It is with great pleasure therefore that I note that Charles Pooter has been engaged directly in the political process as a candidate in a London Ward.

Now, it would be uncouth of me to unmask one of our contributors, or name his party allegiance. It is only while wearing our masks that we have the freedom to speak for the little man when social forces would push otherwise. However, to give him due credit for his achievements; I wish to draw attention to the electoral tally, where Mr Pooter managed to obtain 300-odd votes. His tally is the highest number of votes of any candidate standing for his party, and the second highest number of votes of anyone who failed to be elected. Note should also be taken that this was part of a drive to unseat a Labour council - a drive in which he succeeded - it now being under No Overall Control.

We at LMWN believe this deserves a small cheer… Let freedom and democracy roll on! I for one hope that Mr Pooter chooses to document some of his experiences in the bureaucratic machinery of state.