Why you can never see Yuri Gadyukin's films

What actually happened to the underground 
director... and to all of his films?

It was a mystery worthy of the writer Jorge Luis Borges, the mystery of an unfinished film called Nitrate, which concerned the director whose work (and corpse) has now completely disappeared:
Long before the autopsy, London police could guess what killed Yuri Gadyukin. When they pulled his body from the river beneath the Hammersmith Bridge on July 26, 1960, they saw a bullet-sized hole that had ripped apart his skull.

Authorities had been searching for the Russian director for weeks. By the time they yanked him from the Thames, they'd surely heard rumors percolating down through country's film community of catastrophic arguments on the set of his latest film, The Graven Idol, between Gadyukin and the film's star, Harry Weathers. Others whispered that Gadyukin owed money to a local gangster—cash he'd used to finance the film.

Perhaps you've heard of Gadyukin? He was a star of early Soviet cinema before fleeing to England. You can read about his life on a fansite and a Facebook group. You can watch him melt down in a British television interview, storming off stage in spittle-spewing rage. For nearly four years, there were Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database articles about him, brimming with citations from authoritative Russian sources.
Read all about it and discover the truth: The Greatest Movie That Never Was, The Daily Dot>>

Spot the evil genius who makes "antique" chairs

Is it a $5,000 antique or a modern reproduction?
(Well, have you gotten it X-rayed?)

In a book about the secrets behind the antiques-dealer world, Maureen Stanton quotes a master carpenter who builds modern-day "antiques":
“Well, it’s buyer beware. I don’t have to reveal this. I don’t have to label it as such because that’s the buyer’s business to know that.”
This is the carpenter's justification:
“Well, if I’m restoring it to such a level that nobody can tell, not even a top expert, it’s like that philosophical question about a tree falling in the forest. If no one can tell and people are enjoying these as if they were real, what’s the difference?”
As Ms. Stanton says, buying a fake may not matter if you're spending just a little, but it does matter if you're buying an antique as an investment.

So how can you protect yourself? Two rules, and neither are perfect: You should know the reputation of the seller, and you should either be an expert (or hire one) to check out your potential purchase.

(And X-rays and paint analysis can tell a lot about a chair.)

- In the Hot Seat: Is Your Antique Windsor a Fake?, Collectors Weekly>>
- Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting, Maureen Stanton>>
- Via Boing Boing: The man who makes fake antique Windsor chairs>>

The tomato lover optical illusion

Can you spot the tomato lover?

Satire at a presidential level

Steven Spielberg is making a new movie 
with layers upon layers of meaning.

A two-minute video was shown at the annual 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner where director Stephen Spielberg announced his newest project.

New Obama movie

I'm waiting for the response from irony-deficient North Korea.

Dennis Quaid pulls a prank on a nurse

Mr. Quaid in serious mode

I usually don't like this practical joke setup where a jokester gets instructions from a hidden earpiece, but this one from The Ellen DeGeneres Show made me laugh because the victim maintains her professionalism, and the jokester was played with total neurotic conviction by actor Dennis Quaid.

Dennis Quaid Gets a Checkup

He's been doing these pranks on her show for years>>

So this candy - real or fake?

A real Mentos ad, 
or a parody of a Mentos ad?

Test the power of your critical candy-thinking brain to deduce the real from the fake in this mix of delicious goodies.

Classic Negro, eh?

 White chocolate maggots candy - 
"tastier than your average maggot!"
Fake joke label, or real?

Vingummi's Spunk -
Candy or sexual aid?

Cat Butt - Natural Raspberry Sours
(4 popular breeds!)
Fake box, or real?

"Next to the Last Supper" gum trading card
Respectful or contemptuous of religion?
Comes with actual gum, or no?

Pickle Lip Balm - Dill flavored 
(Okay, technically not a candy, 
but is it a real product?)

Missing Nuts - a box of 36 candy bars.
Is it safe for nut allergies?

Bacon Candy Canes.
To avoid an embarrassing faux pas, if these are real, 
please do not confused them with the product below.

Hanukkah Candy Canes

Whether real or fake, these candy makers 
have failed basic anatomy.

"Oh, You Lollypop!
Shut your eyes and I'll give you sump'n sweet!"
Vintage porn, naive innuendo, or risque
contemporary postcard?
(Click image to, ahem, enlarge)

See also this Deceptology post: 13 bizarre candies - but which ones are real?

Is, punctuation important?

"C'mon Lets Ride Boys!"

Unless of course the comma was meant to be missing, in which case the joke's on you for having certain assumptions.


Why was this cancer patient so cheerful?

A young Brittany Ozarowski seemed to be
managing her dangerous disease.

A common story in the world of Deceptology:
Those who took one look at Brittany Ozarowski had no doubt she was battling cancer. Her face was drawn and gaunt. She weighed a mere 80 pounds, hobbled gingerly on a cane, and complained of the toll chemotherapy and radiation treatments were taking on her fragile body.

Neighbours and friends wanted to help so much they gladly put donation jars on store counters, pulled cash out of their own pockets and organized fundraisers — including a dinner dance and a dog-washing event — that together raised tens of thousands of dollars. Ozarowski also had a website showing her in a wheelchair next to the plea: "Help Save My Life."

But then people began to wonder: Why didn't she lose her hair after chemotherapy? Why didn't she show up for a free exam at a neurologist? Why did she hang up when a man who ran a cancer charity offered $10,000 in treatments paid directly to a hospital?

The explanation from prosecutors hit this middle-class Long Island suburban community like a punch in the gut: The 21-year-old Ozarowski wasn't battling cancer at all, they say, but was scamming people out of their money to feed a growing addiction to heroin.

"There was no cancer, no chemotherapy or radiation," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. "All there was was heroin and more heroin."

 The mugshot of Brittany Ozarowski

Authorities say NY woman's alleged cancer scam unraveled as people tried harder to help her, Edmonton Journal>>

Bank robber: "But I was working for the CIA!"

Was there something not quite right?
The story of a dangerous bank robbery operation run by a mysterious man named Theo:
In a white-walled interrogation room in a small Virginia police station last June, two detectives were trying to get Herson Torres to crack. Surveillance video tied him to two attempted bank robberies in the area during the past week. The skinny 21-year-old didn’t have a criminal record and seemed nervous, but he wasn’t talking. The detectives showed him pictures of his brother and father. They told Torres he could be sent to prison for as many as 25 years.

“If I tell you, you’re not going to believe me,” Torres said. He was crying as he told them an incredible story about being recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency to participate in a secret operation testing the security of Washington-area banks. He said he’d been assigned to rob a half-dozen banks over four days. And he told them about Theo, the man who hired him and gave all the orders—even though Torres had never met him.

Angry, his interrogators accused him of making up a ridiculous story. Still, Torres persuaded them to look at the text and e-mail messages on his cell phone; he also gave them the password to his Facebook (FB) account and urged them to retrieve a copy of the Defense Intelligence Agency immunity letter from his glove compartment. The police locked up Torres on a charge of attempted robbery and examined the evidence. By the end of the night, they weren’t sure what was going on, but they suspected Torres might be telling the truth.
The truth, it was very strange: In Virginia's Fairfax County, Robbing Banks for the CIA, Businessweek>>

Thanks to Mr. Scott for the find.

Time traveler discovered in early Beatles photo

 She's capturing the moment 
with a very small camera
(Click to enlarge)

Her name is  Flora Borsi, and she's been found in other photos, too>>

Watch the Morettis play with sharp objects


The Morettis blurred the line between circus stunts and magic, so some of what they did was "tricked" and some was very real.

Magician Hans Moretti and his wife Helga performed magic where a bullet is caught in a bare hand, Helga is magically suspended in midair on trees made out of newspapers, and an escape is made out of a straightjacket hanging upside down from a burning rope.

Here are two of their signature illusions: blindfolded Hans shooting a crossbow through an apple on his wife's head while she guides him with a little bell, and Hans risking impalement in his cardboard version of "The Sword Box" illusion where audience members stick in the blades.

The Crossbow Head Shot

Trust me on this one, get past the music and what seems to be a cheesy performance style and watch until the very end. I promise you'll not be disappointed.

Hans Moretti Cardboard Box Illusion

Mr. Moretti was 84 when he passed away. He died on 3/13/13.

Hans Moretti, The Telegraph>>

For more on the sword box: Exposing magic with the sideshow blade box>>

Sneaky marijuana smugglers

Duct tape, magnets and marijuana

Having trouble with your nervous drug smuggler?

A woman who lives in Mexico and works in San Diego was sitting in her car in the early hours of the morning before she went to work when she noticed two men trying to take something from underneath her car. She startled them and they took off.

She called police, who discovered that she was an unwitting drug mule. Thirty pounds of duct-taped pot had been attached to the bottom of her car.

Woman Unknowingly Transports Marijuana Across Border, NBC New York>>

These people were stalked by an orchestra

They play the appropriate song 
when you least expect them.

"Republic of Telly" is a program hosted by comedian Dermot Whelan that appears on the Irish TV channel RTÉ Two. This was something funny they did.

Orchestra Hidden Camera Prank

Republic of Telly on Facebook>>

Play an accordion with your browser window

An accordion inside of a frame

This will change your concept of playing with the frame: it's an accordion that plays when you resize your browser window: Squeeze your own accordion>>

Why most current music is fake

Is Auto-Tune turning singers into zombie cyborgs?

It's been called Photoshop for the human voice, and it's also become shorthand for "the singer who can't really sing." It's used in practically all songs recorded today.

Auto-Tune is software that can alter a singer's voice so that slightly off-pitch singing can sound perfectly on-pitch. It can overtly change the quality of a voice, or it can be a more subtle way to make sure a performer is perfectly on-pitch, which is what is was designed to do. It first gained popularity with the singer Cher:
Cher’s late ‘90s comeback and makeover as a gay icon can entirely be attributed to Auto-Tune, though the song's producers claimed for years that it was a Digitech Talker vocoder pedal effect. In 1998, she released the single, “Believe,” which featured a strange, robotic vocal effect on the chorus that felt fresh. It was created with Auto-Tune.

The technology, which debuted in 1997 as a plug-in for Pro Tools (the industry standard recording software), works like this: you select the key the song is in, and then Auto-Tune analyzes the singer’s vocal line, moving “wrong” notes up or down to what it guesses is the intended pitch. You can control the time it takes for the program to move the pitch: slower is more natural, faster makes the jump sudden and inhuman sounding. Cher’s producers chose the fastest possible setting, the so-called “zero” setting, for maximum pop.

“Believe” was a huge hit, but among music nerds, it was polarizing. Indie rock producer Steve Albini, who’s recorded bands like the Pixies and Nirvana, has said he thought the song was mind-numbingly awful, and was aghast to see people he respected seduced by Auto-Tune.

“One by one, I could see that my friends had gone zombie. This horrible piece of music with this ugly soon-to-be cliché was now being discussed as something that was awesome. It made my heart fall,” he told the Onion AV Club in November of 2012.

The Auto-Tune effect spread like a slow burn through the industry, especially within the R&B and dance music communities. T-Pain began Cher-style Auto-Tuning all his vocals, and a decade later, he’s still doing it.

“It’s makin’ me money, so I ain’t about to stop!” T-Pain told DJ Skee in 2008.
Cher - Do You Believe?

Read more: Seduced by ‘perfect’ pitch: how Auto-Tune conquered pop music, The Verge>>

Of course, technology is just a tool, and if tools can be used to destroy the integrity of music and hasten the death of Western Civilization, they can also be used for fun. Since Auto-Tune can also change normal speaking voices into singing voices, comedians such as the Gregory Brothers have auto-tuned the news. Their first big hit was their Bed Intruder song, where they took a news interview with Antoine Dodson about the attempted sexual assault of his sister and created a song. (They also shared half the song profits with he and his family.)

Bed Intruder Song

Read even more: How Auto-Tune Works, How Stuff Works>> 

- Auto-Tune the News, Wikipedia>>
- Auto-Tune, Wikipedia>>

A magician explains the ethics of cheating at poker

So, have you ever been a dog?

This was written by magician Eric Mead, from his "Mumbles" lecture notes.
The Ethics of Hustling Poker

Boy, I’d hate to play cards with him...

It's bound to come out someday, so I'll just be the first to tell you that for a short time I hustled poker. I had a partner and we worked strictly in small time private games. Actually, we were quite good. Best hand forward all night long, double discards, known hole cards—only straightforward, no risk moves. We never tried brush work, never hopped a cut, never rung in a cooler. (Deceptology note: "brush work" refers to switching a small group of cards with another on the table, "hopped a cut" is using sleight of hand to shift the cards after a cut so that the deck is back in the order it was in before the cut, and "rung in a cooler" means to secretly switch a shuffled deck with a deck that has been "stacked" or placed in a specific order.) Thus, we generally only made two or three hundred bucks (which was divided between us) on a good night. But make no mistake about it—I was a thief.

ls it wrong to cheat at cards?

You already know the answer to that. But I'll show you around the territory a little. What seems honest to you:

Scene 1: You have manipulated three aces to the bottom during the shuffle, and your partner cuts so they stay there. You deal him the three aces and then help to drive up the pot by betting and encouraging others. Your partner wins an eighty dollar pot.

Scene 2: You and your partner have a system of signals to allow you to know which of you has the higher hand. On every play one of you immediately folds and the other (with the higher of the two hands) stays in. This not only insures the best chance of winning, but it also minimizes the risk for when you lose. (Authors note: This is the best scam ever for poker. You always come out ahead in the long run.)

Scene 3: You and your partner have studied poker carefully for thousands of hours so you know the odds of every possible play. You are playing against novice players who aren't really even sure when to bet big, bet small and fold. They have no idea. Without ever making a move you are clobbering them.

Scene 4: You have received a flush on the first deal. You decide to bet the house and really try to take a big one. As you are counting your stack of chips an opponent accidentally flashes his cards to you—and he has four fives. Even though you aren't supposed to have knowledge of his cards you fold a flush on the first round of betting.

Black and White and Gray all over.

There are people who would say that all of the above is dishonest. Others would definitely claim that none of the above is morally incorrect. I'd take either one of those answers as acceptable.

If you see some of it as okay and some as not okay, then you are a dangerous individual, and you should never play cards for money. Stick to advertising and law.

13 bizarre candies - but which ones are real?

Reeses's Big Cup "The King Size" 
Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Creme candy.
Is it a real candy, or a Photoshopped fake?

I wanted to just write a short little post about fake versus real candies, but it turns out there are many more candidates for this category than I realized. Lots more.

Look for more posts in the future.

Your challenge: among this collection of distasteful, weird and disgusting candies, which ones are fakes, and which ones were - or are - still being sold as actual candies?

Warning: some of these treats might offend the sensitive. Or cause liquids to spurt out your nose (And as far as I know, "Nose Spurt" is not yet an actual candy name.)

A Candy Bra (Sweet & Sexy) made from 
the round candies on an elastic string.
You may have eaten those candies at a time 
in your life when you were not at all 
concerned about bras. 
But is this product real?

Technically not a candy, but it does contains candy - 
limited edition Candy Corn flavor creme Oreo cookies.
True and disgusting, or...?

Cherry Clan Candy, for those times when you're 
traveling in China and want to impress the natives
with your cultural sensitivity.

Domino's Pizza Fruit Bubble Gum?

DZ stamped on a round tablet. 
Candy or medicine?

Hannah Montana Concert Candy Sweet & Sour Gummies. 
Individual Pouches for Portion Control. Guitar and 
microphone shapes! By Disney.
(Flesh-colored, bendable shapes.)

 Suck on this?
Cola Flavored Vladimir Lenin Head Pops

Wonka Sugar candies - now in "Banana Banana" flavor

Cheesy Nacho Mints in a handy round tin

Spermies - "The candy you love to swallow"
Available in "special" candy stores, or not?

Is this a real product from the past?
Chicken Dinner Junior Candy made by
Sperry's Homaid Candies


A nude peacock (and more) of Cecelia Webber

Click to look closely, and you'll see naked people.

Artist Cecelia Webber's work is similar to the optical illusions where naked bodies are used to create faces or skulls, except Ms. Webber combines even more photographs "to construct intricate tessellations that represent the natural world."

These red flowers are female
(Click to enlarge)

A naked butterfly

In some of her images, her bodies 
are more apparent than in others.

See more, buy prints: Cecelia Webber>>

Creepier than a flashlight under your face

The shifting face of actress Romy Schneider

Henri-Georges Clouzot was a French screenwriter and director of suspenseful films such as Diabolique (1955) and The Wages of Fear (1953). (I highly recommend them both.) He wrote but never finished directing the film "L'Enfer" (Hell), which explored the disintegrating mental state of a jealous husband. The footage below shows a simple yet disturbing lighting effect he intended to use in the film.

1964 Henri-Georges Clouzot - "L'enfer" (lighting effect)

A similar technique was used by Nacho Guzman for a music video he's creating for the French music group OPALE.

Sparkles and Wine - Teaser

Sparkles and Wine - Teaser from Nacho Guzman on Vimeo.

More on the abandoned film "L'Enfer": Clouzot's towering inferno, The Guardian>>

3 crumpled bills, but that's not all

These might look merely like images of money taken from an overly-packed wallet or purse, but can you see what else is going on? From a series called Live Free or Die by New Orleans artist Dan Tague .

Dan Tague>>

K-Mart pants ad parody, by K-Mart

They want a reaction, and then you should buy.

It sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody (along the lines of Schweddy Balls or Colonel Lingus, perhaps?) but it's a real ad for that edgy brand K-Mart.

Ship My Pants