Tag Archives: penn & teller

It’s Monday, What Are You… 6/25


Finished Last Week:

Fall of Man in Wilmslow: A Novel of Alan TuringThe Burglar Caught by a Skeleton And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian PressDrive

Three books? I know, amazing (for me). I’ve already reviewed Fall of Man in Wilmslow and I’ll have a review of Jeremy Clay’s Victorian press anthology The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton (hopefully) on Thursday.

Drive by James Sallis was an impulse “read”: it’s a novella and I listened to it while working on a Minecraft project. I probably won’t review it. I was mostly interested in differences between it and the movie. I would say that the screenplay took certain aspects of the novella and streamlined them into a much smoother narrative. Some of the events in the novella feel more random, more real. Both have their advantages.

This Week:

The Floating Light Bulb (An Eli Marks Mystery Book 5)Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!


Penn & Teller: Fool Us is back on TV tonight if you’re in the States. Here’s a promo bit from the past week.


Gearing up for the release of Our Past in the Uncanny Valley. I’ll have a post on Wednesday with the cover. Otherwise, I’m girding myself for the long, hot part of the summer.

What Was I Doing?

(Apparently, the 25th of June isn’t historically a big blogging day for me…)

Super Retro Review ~ Spooky Tricks

Cover via Goodreads

Spooky Tricks by by Rose Wyler, Gerald Ames, Talivaldis Stubis (Illustrator)

Learn the secrets of these dazzling tricks and put on a Halloween show that’s sure to bewitch your friends. You will be able to make cards rise, a girl disappear, and a boy float! (via Goodreads)

I’m always a little tickled when I’m browsing Open Library and I come across a book I owned as a kid. I’m not big on nostalgia, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading  throughout my life. Finding an old book that I’m familiar with takes me back like nothing else can. Spooky Tricks was probably purchased through a Scholastic Books flyer. For me, those flyers were as good at the Sear Christmas catalog.

Though it obviously hit my sweet spot for things creepy and magical, Spooky Tricks pretty much marks the beginning and end of my ambitions toward magic. I tried out a few of the tricks to little success. As a kid, I chalked it up to not having supplies. Who has matchboxes lying around? Or stilts with shoes? Or an over abundance of black thread? As an adult, and one who had studies a little about magic, I see things differently.

1.) Most of the tricks in this book are not that good. Or rather, maybe if you’re a kid and you’re showing these tricks once to a particularly sympathetic adult, you might get a good reaction.

2.) I’ve always been disinclined to read directions if you give me illustrations. Which is great when you’re assembling an Ikea bookshelf, but crappy when you’re trying to learn magic.

3.) I’ve always been an overly skeptical person and I’m terrible at being deceptive. Even as a kid, I didn’t buy that anyone would believe these tricks. I certainly knew that *I* couldn’t pull them off. Maybe if I had realized that magic requires a level of showmanship… Nope, I still wouldn’t be able to convincingly lie about where my thumb might be, or whose names I wrote down for the X-ray eyes trick, or whether there is one piece of black thread or two. But none of this means that I dodn’t appreciate it when professionals do magic!

Publishing info, my copy: scanned, Scholastic Inc, 1968
Acquired: Open Library
Genre: nonfiction

Penn & Teller (as their 8 year-old selves) with a piece of R.I.P. appropriate magic:

Deal Me In, Week 32 ~ “The Singing Bell”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Singing Bell” by Isaac Asimov

Card picked: Ace of Clubs
From: Asimov’s Mysteries

Thoughts: This being the first story in an anthology that I’ve owned for a few years, I might have read “The Singing Bell” before. I know I’ve read several of the subsequent Davenport/Dr. Urth stories and Asimov’s style doesn’t vary that much. If anything, the tone of this story was certainly familiar.

“The Singing Bell” starts with the crime from the perpetrator’s point of view. We see all the preparations taken by Louis Peyton. Peyton is sure that he’ll get away with the theft of singing bells from the Moon and the murder of his partner because he has the perfect alibi. Or rather non-alibi. Peyton spends every August sealed away in his bungalow in Colorado. Unless Det. Davenport can prove he was on the Moon, he’s good as gold. (Apparently, travel to the Moon is regulated on par with popping to the QT on a Friday night for snacks.) Furthermore, while law enforcement has an uber lie-detector, the psychoprobe, it legally can only be used to confirm near certain suspicions.

All of this leads Davenport to seek the advice of preeminent extraterrestrialist Wendell Urth to find a way to confirm that Peyton was off Earth. Which Urth, of course, does. Any guesses how one might deduce that a man has been off-world for at least a week?

Is This Your Card?

Magic Monday ~ Presto, You Fooled Me!


I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Penn & Teller: Fool Us is back this week, premiering in US markets on July 13th!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Murder in the Boughs (Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre: #1) Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales

Finished I Lie for Money by Steve Spill. It was a nice little memoir by a still-performing magician. I really enjoyed his stories about the tricks that seemed like great ideas, but didn’t work out. These tricks were just part of the job, as it were. Not a reason to throw in the towel. There’s a lesson in that.

I put aside Sarah Water’s Affinity for now in favor of Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre: Murder in the Boughs by Jamie Sedgwick. It’s definitely on the lighter side of things. I’ll also be starting Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette, the next ARC in my queue. (Yes, I’m happily magic-centric lately.)

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date

Magic Monday ~ Principles of Magic


I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Tricks with smoking two weeks in a row? Yes, but this is one of my favorite bits of Penn & Teller magic. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared a version in the past, but it’s a good repeat.


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Heirs of GraceI finished both Territory and Mrs. Caliban last week. I’ll have a review of the latter tomorrow.

Despite the TBR stack I’d already picked out for Weirdathon, I was in the mood for something

  • with a contemporary setting,
  • lighter than Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park,
  • still weird,
  • that I already owned.

I checked my Kindle and realized I had purchased Tim Pratt’s Heirs of Grace last summer. It fits the bill, but the main character is a little annoying to me.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

What Am I Writing?

As of last night, Bounded in a Nutshell is part of the world. I haven’t officially “launched” it (I’m not even sure what that entails), but it’ll be on sale (as in FREE) in couple weeks.

Next project, the Abbott stories. I plan to reread the first one today, then gather up my notes and decide where to continue from there. Penn & Teller’s principles of magic didn’t come to mind this morning for no reason.

Deal Me In, Week 11 ~ “How Carlos Webster Changed His Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“How Carlos Webster Changed His Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman” by Elmore Leonard

Card picked: Six of Clubs

From: McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

Thoughts: When Carlos Huntington Webster was fifteen, he had a run-in with the notorious bank robber, Frank Miller, while Carlos was having an ice cream at the local pharmacy and five-and-dime. It’s the kind of place where Carlos is trusted enough to scoop his own cone and leave a nickle on the counter while the owner is in back taking care of a few things. Miller and one of his cronies came in for a pack of cigarettes, but decided to rob register since it was currently under the charge of a “greaser” boy. Unfortunately, things went south when Junior Harjo from the tribal police walked in on the affair and was shot for it. Some of this event, or maybe none of it, might have influenced Carlos’s decision to join the US Marshals and to later kill Miller in a shootout.

Identity and ethnicity is important in this story. Carlos points out that he is not Mexican, a “greaser” in Miller’s words. His mother, who he never, knew was Cuban. The woman who raised him was Indian (or rather, Native American) and his father might have some Cherokee on his mother’s side.  Social standing in 1920s Oklahoma has some correlation to one’s status as a “breed.” When Carlos joins the Marshals, he’d nicknamed Carl. He doesn’t like it, but he sees the advantage since he looks like his father aside from his dark hair.

About the Author: I’ve read a few novels by Elmore Leonard, most recently Raylan back in January/February. I was a little disappointed in that novel. It seemed strained and, maybe at age 86, Leonard wasn’t doing his best work. This story has one of the the things I enjoy most in Leonard’s stories: a hero doesn’t entirely have pure motivations. There’s even a smidge of Raylan Givens in the character of Carl Webster when he tells Miller, “If I pull my weapon, I’ll shoot to kill.” Or, at least that’s the story that’s told about Marshal Carl Webster…

Is This Your Card?

Deal Me In, Week 44 ~ “Snow”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Snow” by David Copperfield

Card picked: Ace of Clubs

From: David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible

Review: A sentimental tale about a boy, his grandparents, and the very simple illusion of snow. It somehow avoids being schmaltzy.

About the Author: That’s a pretty short review, but it was a pretty short story. David Copperfield? He’s not known for being world’s greatest writer, but I appreciate that he put a little something of himself in these anthologies. There are certain kinds of “vanity” projects that I actually really respect. Those are the projects that are kind of outside a celebrity’s usual milieu, but really are something that the celebrity is interested in. With only a handful of stories left in the two Copperfield anthologies, it seems to me that David Copperfield is genuinely interested in speculative fiction and was willing to bank some of his credibility to maybe get a reader or two more into the genre. I can get behind that.

Is This Your Card?

A trick from Copperfield’s Las Vegas Strip neighbors.