The Prestige

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Today: Tom Mullica

cue: "Paper Planes"

Tom Mullica gained notoriety for seemingly eating a pack of lit cigarettes with bar napkins as a chaser, a routine he called "Nicotine Nincompoop." He last performed it in 2000.

A 2002 British television special on the "50 greatest magic tricks" ranked the 'poop 7th, right behind David Copperfield's Flying.

The greatest magic trick? Copperfield's Death Saw.

Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks full list

coming soon…


Charles Barkley: 1 Dwyane, 2 Ernie, 3 Kenny, Stan.
?: Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook. Stan speaking.
Barkley: Stan! It's Charles!
Stan: Hey! What's up?
Barkley: I want to propose a bet.
Stan: I thought you quit gambling.
Barkley: This isn't gambling. This is betting.
Stan: Ah. Betting. [pause] So what do you propose?
Barkley: "How long until Magic Johnson dies of AIDS?"
Stan: What?
Barkley: I know, I'm turrible, but NutriSystem is expensive! I'd like to be able to retire comfortably.
Stan: And this bet is your cushion.
Barkley: Exactly!
Stan: You're aware that his HIV is more or less in remission, right?
Barkley: [pause] Okay, new bet: "Will Magic Johnson die of AIDS?"
Stan: Chuck…
Barkley: Hold on. I'm receiving a call. [click] Hello?
?: Ian?
Barkley: Who's this?
?: Jay. Your client!
Barkley: Wrong number, son.
J.J. Redick: Oh. Sorry.

Ian: Jay! What's up?
J.J.: Just curious if any European teams showed interest.
Ian: I'm sorry, man. All quiet on that front. Ulysses TLDR and DA Pennebaker considered but passed. Prml Scrm Xtrmntr rescinded its offer to pursue Shawn Kemp. Streptococcus, the Greek club, never returned my calls.
J.J.: [sigh] What about the other thing?
Ian: The poetry book?
J.J.: Yeah.
Ian: I shopped it around but — did you know Laettner writes poetry too?
Ian: Hello?
J.J.: [sniff]
Ian: Jay, are you… Are you crying?
J.J.: [sniff] No…
Ian: You better not be hugging that Krzyzewski doll! I told you to destroy it! Bloggers will have field day if a photo ever leaks!

Sparkle and Fade

I gotta keep it goin', keep it goin', full steam.

Today: Penn and Teller

A long time ago, Penn and Teller rung in a new year on Fox by failing to escape from a champagne torture tank.

I couldn't find video.

Penn sang "Auld Lang Syne" with observers and then the two were shackled and sealed in the tank.

Cameras caught Teller extracting a key from his mouth, which he subsequently dropped and struggled to retrieve.

Eventually, an emergency crew intervened, smashing a hole in the tank with a sledgehammer to drain the champagne before carting both men off in an ambulance.

To this day, I wonder if Penn and Teller actually or intentionally botched the escape. They're capable of either scenario.

The Most Dangerous Game

stepping up my effort to completely alienate what little audience we have…

—did you ever play magic?
—I'm afraid that's one skeleton that is missing from my closet

—did you ever play magic?
—ive watched people play it
—my friends and i once agreed that "tapping your mana" is a good euphemism for taking a crap

—did you ever play magic?
—but I was kicked out of the magic group at school
—probably because I didn't play magic
—just made fun of them the entire time
—they airbrushed me out of the yearbook photo

—did you ever play magic?
—… no. never. not for a year in 8th grade that I don't want to talk about because it's embarrassing.

—did you ever play magic?
—I did play the Star Trek Collectible Card Game


I've never played Magic: The Gathering.

Back in the day, I watched friends play but never cared to participate.

When I heard that Wizards of the Coast was releasing a new card game from the creator of Magic, however, I wanted in on the ground floor.

Forget Magic, I thought. I'm-a be the cool kid at school who plays Jyhad.

I spent like $100 on a Jyhad starter deck and booster packs.

Worst. Investment. Ever.

No one else I knew adopted Jyhad, leaving me a bunch of cards for a stupid fantasy game that I couldn't play.

Remember, this was pre-Internet.

I asked Ben, who "played religiously for 8 years" and "attended a pro tour for fun," to share a Magic story or two.


Tucker Max's Movie Script
"It opens with Tucker Max fucking a deaf girl and screaming 'DON'T TAZE ME, BRO!.' It is that bad."

Ham and Banana Hollandaise!
Carson Daly?
Corrections to Last Month's Letters to Penthouse Forum
The Transcendent Genius of Yahoo! Answers, Part 1

Dirty Water

It was either magic or Brett Favre.

Today: The Amazing Johnathan

"Over the weekend, I saw this magician on Comedy Central swig Windex from the bottle. It looked cool… Let me see the script."

Señora Kaye assigned a group video project for Spanish III class.

The night before the shoot, I emptied a bottle of Windex and spent approximately 30 minutes sanitizing it. Lather, scrub, rinse, repeat.


Fuck. I can't get rid of the chemical smell.

Don't worry, Jon. The bottle's clean.

I filled the Windex bottle with water, tinted the water with blue food colouring and screwed on a cap from an unused Amway spray bottle.

"Is this the fake Windex?"
"Let me try some."

Ryan unscrewed the cap, drew the bottle toward his mouth and winced.

"Dude, it reeks of Windex!"
"It should be benign, though. I cleaned the bottle thoroughly."
"With what? Windex?"
"Give me the bottle."


Oh, fuck.


Don't worry, Jon. Hakuna matata.

I might as well drink actual Windex. This can't be good for my body.

Says a guy who once ate 40 Chicken McNuggets in one sitting on a dare.


I chugged half the bottle.

"¿QUE? ¿No es Bombay Sapphire? ¡Ay dios mio!"

See? Nothing happened.

…until later that day.

Moral: Johnathan really is Amazing.

Chest Pains

an idea i've been kicking around since april

Today: The Pendragons and Melinda, the First Lady of Magic

The Pendragons are a husband-and-wife duo who frequently appeared on television in the 90s. Every time I saw them, however, they performed the same trick! The two would abruptly switch places inside and outside of a locked chest.

During a fall at his home in late September 2006, one of the arrows from Jonathan's archery collection pierced his liver, his stomach, and his heart. [source]


Earlier this summer, the Pendragons returned to television on America's Got Talent and impressed the judges (and Jerry Springer) with…


Melinda Saxe, the self-proclaimed "First Lady of Magic," appeared on some of the same 90s magic specials as the Pendragons.

I saw her perform her trademark Drill of Death illusion (embedding disabled) on The World's Greatest Magic II and thought: "Copperfield performed this on his flying special three years ago, only a woman pierced his torso, not a drill."

Although derided by some critics as a "dumb blonde" who achieved success because of her looks, Saxe is also respected by many in the magic business as a highly professional performer who is kind and intelligent. [source]

I initially misread the highlighted part as "kind of intelligent."

On a family trip to Vegas in the mid-to-late 90s, I remember seeing ads on cabs for Melinda's live show. The ads noted that she performed twice nightly, and that the late shows were topless.

Alas, I was not old enough at the time to experience topless magic, and Melinda retired before I could return.


Yes, I'm serious. Deal with it.

Today: David Copperfield

In April 2006, Copperfield and two female assistants were robbed at gunpoint after a performance in West Palm Beach.

According to his police statement, Copperfield did not hand over anything, claiming that he used sleight-of-hand to hide his possessions. [source]

Idea: David Copperfield Facts.

As computer-generated ghosts flew into the audience at the end of his 16th television special (1995), I thought: "David Copperfield must be out of ideas." Sure enough, he disappeared onto the touring circuit afterward, re-surfacing only in 2001 for a mediocre 17th special, in which he stood in a fire, levitated a sofa and performed an illusion he bought the rights to.


You're David fuckin' Copperfield! Magic's Houdini! I've seen all of your specials. I know your potential. Get your head in the game!

I was sold on Copperfield after seeing his Death Saw illusion, a spin on the ol' saw-a-person-in-half trick.

So cheesy, so awesome — like fondue.

It's even better in person. I saw him perform it live in Tahoe.