After setting some intentions around creative goals in July, I asked the Universe for a sign that I was on the right track, designating the black cat as the symbol that would indicate Universal approval.This exercise comes straight from The Universe Has Your Back, the book that I groused about in my last column while suffering from a bad back. I’m still not so high on Gabrielle Bernstein’s book, but the exercise has already borne fruit.
Playwright and UB prof Kimberley Lynne travels to Ireland with students each summer–and, frankly, she sometimes encounters specters in her hotel room. Not that she minds, mind you. Happy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, readers.
We request the most haunted room, but 21 isn’t available—it’s very popular in summer. Instead, we reserve the adjacent room 22 in the 700-year-old Dobbins Hotel in quaint, Protestant Carrickfergus, just beyond Belfast at the gateway to the Antrim Coast (or as my favorite Catholic poet calls it “north of the wall”) and guarded by a dark, hulking Norman citadel. Two round stone towers flank crenulated walls. Brightly painted mannequin warriors point replica rifles out of battlements. Belfast Lough laps on one side of the castle and a wide expanse of lawn the other. King William of Orange’s diminutive statue guards the parking lot, fenced and life-sized, considering the Marine Highway’s constant traffic. In 1690, King Billy landed at the Carrickfergus sea wall on his way south to the Battle of the Boyne. Fresh bundles of flowers lie at his boots.
“He blew my mind!” That’s a quote from acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantino about entertainer and mentalist Joe Riggs. For someone like Tarantino (who himself makes a living blowing minds) to offer such an endorsement has to mean something. And if you’ve ever been to see a mentalist (or deductionist or psychological entertainer, as they’re sometimes called) you know how truly astounding it can be. But Joe Riggs is at the top of his game. Raised by psychic readers (how many of us can say that?), Joe quickly saw through their methods and grew into a riveting and intense Mental Specialist. Attendees will be able to interact with Joe one-on-one in a very special appearance Thursday, Sept 4th at Johnny’s Downstairs.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s finally official: our favorite local magician/reality TV hopeful, Spencer Horsman, will not be crowned the Most Talented Man in America — even after escaping from a vest of locks while submerged in 150 gallons of cement. Horsman almost went under before leaping out of the tank, his body and face coated in cement. “I’m alive!” he croaked. What more could these people want?!
Part of the appeal of Illusions, the magic bar in South Baltimore, is that something might go wrong — like in 2010, when the bar’s co-owner, Spencer Horsman, fell on his face while escaping from a straightjacket and hanging from a crane, and wound up with sixteen stitches. But if something had gone wrong for Horsman last night, things would’ve probably gotten even gorier: the 26 year old was strapped in a straightjacket, hung upside down over a set of metal jaws featuring some extremely pointy looking spikes. And he was on national TV.
Yes, the latest Baltimorean making a bid for reality television fame might remind you of Gob Bluth. And yes, he insists on referring to himself as “the world’s youngest escape artist.” Sometimes he says things like “Entertainment isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It’s a lifestyle.” But he’s also a bona fide heir to Baltimore’s storied tradition of magic performance. His parents were both circus clowns and his father, who co-owns Illusions, used to run Ken-zo’s Yogi Magic Mart on South Charles Street.
So far, Horsman has had a good run on America’s Got Talent, appearing to wow judges Howie Mandel and Howard Stern. The judges unanimously agreed to send Horsman along to the show’s next round, which takes place in Las Vegas — a good spot as any for an aspiring magician-slash-reality-TV-celeb. Mr. Horsman, we wish you luck.
“Magic” isn’t usually a word you expect to hear echoing through the halls of Johns Hopkins’ science departments (unless maybe in reference to collectable trading cards). But in professor Lawrence Principe’s classroom, the so-called “outcast disciplines of science” — astrology, magic, and alchemy — have become the subject of serious discussion.
Though it may at first sound Hogwartsian, this is not, alas, a class where graduate students in chemistry learn to whip up love potions and protective charms. Instead, Principe hopes to foster an understanding of science’s present through the lens of its past. “We don’t want to have a history of science that’s written backwards—that only tells us where our current ideas come from,” Principe told the Johns Hopkins Arts & Sciences Magazine. “We want a truer depiction of the development of science. The truth is, astrology, alchemy, and magic were widespread practices that contributed to modern science and involved extremely intelligent people.” Astrology leads to astronomy, magic to medicine, and alchemy to chemistry; any history that tries to erase this esoteric heritage, Principe says, is not complete.