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What I Watched Last Night

For a brief moment Wednesday night, I thought about tuning into American Idol on Fox, but I would have just spent the hour planning an Internet petition drive supporting the euthanasia of Paula Abdul. A worthwhile project indeed, but something like that involves far more effort than I'm interested in. So I went with Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed, a show which manages to magically return from the dead from time to time on lower-budget stations like WPWR/Channel 50.

As the program demonstrated, the ingenuity involved in pulling off some of magic's more amazing illusions can be incredibly simple, so it's no wonder why the magician community abides by the same code of silence still held sacred by tradition-minded cops and members of organized crime. That's why Magic's Biggest Secrets is hosted by someone known only as The Masked Magician, an individual clad in black and a full-head latex mask to hide his (or her) true identity. What might drive a magician to the depths of personal discontent responsible for Magic's Biggest Secrets is less a mystery than what might drive a magician to show up in a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask that even Ed Wood would consider cheap and tawdry. When Mexican lucha libre wrestlers stuffed sausage-like into spandex go investing more thought into wardrobe, there are some things even Ed Wood would be justified bitching about.

Yet, it probably hasn't occurred to the magician community that even if Jesus Himself showed up on a rerun-heavy commercial channel like WPWR directly opposite American Idol to give away the secret of turning piss into gold, the secret would still be safe from the world. (Then again, Jesus never went around sawing women in half or skewering them with big Knights of Columbus swords without a single drop of blood turning up on the blade, so there.)

Surprisingly, here's the biggest secret I learned from last night's Magic's Biggest Secrets: The person doing all the truly amazing work isn't the magician. He's the show, not the dough. No, the one really making the magic happen is the magician's female assistant who gets shoved into a box or basket and manages to not get sawed in half by a deathly sharp lumberjack saw or end up impaled by swords the whole cast of Braveheart would admire.

That's because it's genuinely dangerous work - and as the show's narrator explained, that's exactly why you'll never see a chubby magician's assistant. Magicians may personally prefer women built for speed instead of comfort, but that's not why they hire them to be assistants. It's simple science: Chubby women shoehorned into highly confined spaces are more apt to get most of their chubby asses sliced off.

As advertised, Magic's Biggest Secrets did indeed give away plenty of magic's biggest secrets. I'll give away as much as I dare without possibly pissing off some magician into making my apartment and everything in it disappear or something.

Pull a rabbit out of a hat!
There's a reason rabbits are the only wildlife being pulled out of magician's hats: They'll sit very, very still for anything, even if you put them in a blender.

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is easy. Pulling off the same thing with a cat or a rattlesnake would truly be special.

Transform a woman into a tiger!
Another fairly simple thing to do if you have a cage with a trap door big enough to hide a skinny assistant, a fake wall, and enough handlers to feed a 500-pound tiger enough raw meat on a long stick to distract it from being crammed behind a fake wall.

I don't know whether The Masked Magician or his assistant inside the cage were more skilled or just luckier than Siegfried and Roy, but not ending up as a bloody mess being dragged by the neck across the stage probably says something about you.

Levitate a woman!
There's a reason why the only people magicians are able to levitate several feet off the ground are women lying flat on their back while wearing a long, flowing gown. It has more to do with the guy behind the curtain running a big piece of industrial machinery than women of questionable fashion taste looking for a quick nap.

The day Magic's Biggest Secrets shows how Criss Angel levitates himself while standing upright on a street corner without a curtain behind him is the day everyone stops thinking he just might be the spawn of Satan.

Escape from a straitjacket!
Should you be involuntarily committed to the asylum, hold your arms stiffly away from your body while the staitjacket is being put on. Give things an hour or two to die down and you'll have enough wiggle room to soon go running around the place freer than Angela Jolie in Girl, Interrupted.

Make an elephant disappear!
No, this illusion cannot be used to make the spouse you've come to despise vanish. That's okay, because that sort of magic is easier to accomplish with little more than a hacksaw, a few bags of quicklime, a shovel, and a Cook County forest preserve. But if you've got smoke, some mild explosives, and an elaborate system of mirrors built into the cage that can be triggered by a hidden stagehand, you can wow friends and neighbors alike by making the entire Lincoln Park Zoo elephant house vanish.

Of course one elephant would be plenty, but where would guys like David Copperfield be if they didn't think big, dammit?

To be fair, at one point the elephant does actually disappear - right out the back of the cage.


Check out the wide, wonderful world of What I Watched Last Night.


Posted on April 24, 2008

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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