We read with great interest an article on the incredibly reliable Weekly World News web site, "Houdini Speaks from Beyond the Grave." The article is probably not totally true but says Houdini has made contact through professional medium John Edward. Houdini provides several predictions to prove his authenticity. Like we said, it is probably not true but still interesting.
We live by few rules as magician / magic writer persons. First, "if it bleeds, it leads." The shocking and graphic stories go to the front of the line. In this way, we are very much like Disney World. The more grotesque or disgusting a person is (either in mannerisms or odor) the more likely he or she will be permitted to cut ahead of others standing in the Florida Sun.
Our second rule gets us in trouble, sometimes. "When in doubt, don't leave it out." Some news sources will pass on stories that have only a single source, seem self-serving or seem highly unlikely.
If it wasn't for Inside Magic, you would never know what got passed over. We publish the stuff others won't because they have "standards" or insist on "some basis in reality." Not this major magic periodical. If it wasn't for this policy, none of the following would have found a voice on the endless maze of copper tubing we call the internets.
1. President Magic Will Be Criminalized
This seemed within the realm of possible when we printed it several years ago. Our source assured us that the hobby and profession enjoyed by millions was about to be made illegal and practitioners would face jail time. Imagine how embarrassed we were to learn that the headline was technically true but just barely. It was the president of a local fraternal lodge that made the statement. And that he actually said, "Magic should be taught to criminals as a practical skill to boost self-esteem and confidence." Whether he intended jail birds to learn escape techniques is still the subject of litigation and debate within the lodge.
2. Ching Ling Foo Not Who He Seemed
For pure volume, this article should rank high on our Google search results. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Ching Ling Foo was actually a magician from China and not really Billy Robinson, former assistant to Kellar and Thurston. Mr. Robinson used the derivative name Chung Ling Soo to hide his Anglo identity and perform until he was killed performing the Bullet Catching Trick &ndash not the Cups and Balls as we also erroneously reported. We agree now that it did not make sense that a person could be killed when his or her Cups and Balls routine went "Horribly Wrong" and that we should not have guessed at what happened.
3. David Blaine's Box Falls Kills Paul McCartney and Others
We had to go with it. Yes, we could have immediately verified the story by looking at the live web cam showing every second of the 44 days of boredom induced and experienced by the American magician's endurance test. But we were writing from our phone while waiting in line at the 7-11 convenience store. We note that several of the letters in Mr. Blaine's name alone take forever to type out on a cellphone key pad. We were lucky to get the story out at all.