Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trojan, Ramses, Magnum, Sheik

This is a spell to get rid of zombies (actually names of condom brands), chanted by cartoon character Bart Simpson in the episode “Dial Z For Zombies” of The Simpsons television series.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


“[T]hat is really the magic word—‘until.’ There is nothing that is impossible for the man or woman who says, ‘I will not quit until I succeed.’ And the good news is that we were all born with this ‘never say die’ spirit.” —Eric Aronson, Dash (2003)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Molly Molly Hung

“On July 17, 2004 over 500 spectators were treated to a special show in Hong Kong and shouted out the magic word, ‘Molly, Molly Hung.’ What, haven’t you used this magic word before in your show? It means ‘Abracadabra’ in Cantonese.” —Amadeo Swiss, “Fantasma Open up Magic Venue in Hong Kong” (2004)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

From Thin Air ... But Thick With Words

"She is a magician, a messenger, conjuring her spirits out of breath, from air. 'From thin air' comes the whisper in your ear. But it is not thin at all, but thick with words rising around you, towers so tall they have no turrets but stretch ever into the sky; forests so dense and deep their pale inhabitants believe the sun to be a myth, and live their lives in a canopy of limelight, a world ever painted green." —Myrlin A. Hermes, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet (2010)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Does "Magician" Really Mean?

In a world where everything from floor wax to handheld computers is described as being magical, what does being a magician really mean? Gordon Meyer, a long-time magician and trained sociologist, answers that question by turning to the worldwide id known as Twitter. His collection of one hundred carefully curated quips about conjuring is funny, surprising, insightful, and sometimes just plain odd.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Meanings: The “eleventh hour” is a figure of speech referring to a decisive moment at hand.

Origins: Aalacho is a name that appears in the Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis or The Lesser Key of Solomon (17th century). It means the eleventh hour of the night.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Magic of Encoded Meaning

"I don't really know why I like letters, by which I mean characters by which language is written down, because we really don't know why we like anything. To say I like letters would force me to say because I like the mystical way in which humans created written language so that meaningless signs could be meaningful. But to say that is to raise the question why I like the magic of encoded meaning., and the questions just come again." —Geof Huth

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is It All Done With Magnets?

Use key words as magnets to create a field that attracts other phrases. That's electronic music pioneer John Foxx's secret for constructing lyrical language. He explains:

First gather a list of titles - which are really shorthand themes. Then you have to establish a wee magnetic field - in this way. You switch on the drum machine and find a jerky old pattern that the rhythm of the words can adhere to in some way. Then you switch on the synth and find a three or four note melody that seems to have some appropriate resonance with the title.

This is the main theme - I always see it as a sort of mysterious cinematic intro.
If all the foregoing meshes well enough, it will exert a magnetic attraction for other phrases - so, gradually you accumulate the nucleus of a song. Then you can begin to arrange it all.

Once you establish a main theme, the whole thing runs like a movie. In come the characters, they interact in some way and something is thereby revealed which is unexpected and rewarding and you hope has some universal emotional resonance.

Then circumstances are resolved - or not, and we go out on the main theme again. If you do this well enough, you now have a small universe with its own internal logic that you can adjust delicately over the rest of your life.
(Full interview at Electronically Yours, posted 17 May 2010)

Monday, May 17, 2010

If Life is a Joke, Retell It Your Own Way

In his novel The Book of Jokes (2009), Momus' narrator lives in a preposterous world governed by the laws of bad jokes and dirty jokes. But the narrator has a revelation concerning the magic of words:
I have discovered that there is a way to escape this grim fate—the misfortune of joke dharma. The solution, I believe, is that I should assume, myself, the responsibility of telling the very jokes which constrain and define me, and to make, each time, a small alteration in their telling, an alteration which restores a few shreds of dignity, human decency, beauty and sensuality to the tale.

It might begin by embroidery; I add a few details which are not normally included in the rush to the punchline. I must ensure that the story is so well-told that my audience loses interest in the farcical pay-off, the money-shot. I tell the tale several times, from different angles and with different emphases, forcing my listeners to pay attention to small formal questions, adverbs rather than verbs, hows rather than whats.

By these methods, little by little, I believe I can improve my world. Even if you are not in the same grim situation as me, you might want to try this technique for yourself. (51-52)

Time Travel Trigger Terms

"There are, in virtually everyone's memory, certain events so important that each and every one of us need only hear a certain trigger word to be immediately and magically transported back to the time represented by that magic word. And among our trips down memory lane, there are few flashbacks as quick and vivid as hearing that magical word, ... Prom!" —Lee Silvan

[Note: your eccentric scholar appreciates Lee Silvan's point but can't personally share in the magic of the word "prom." Having dropped out of high school two years early to attend college—not to mention being a confirmed recluse—the word "prom" mostly just reminds us of "pram," a British baby carriage.]

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Moon Prism Power

"Moon Prism Power, Make Up was the first command Usagi Tsukino used to change into Sailor Moon in the anime and manga." —

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recitation Establishes Length

"It's the length of the name that is important. Reciting it ten times isn't magic—it gives you the length of time you've got to let the mixture bubble for."
—Dugald Steer, The Dragon Diary, 2009

In this story, the magic name in question is "Aladdin."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Your Middle Name

"What magic word should I use?"
. . . "Your middle name."
—Jenna Lindsey, Quest for Evil: The Magic of the Key, 2009

Friday, May 7, 2010

Language and Hypnosis

"Words literally can hypnotize us. . . . Language and hypnosis form the foundation on which humans create worlds of consciousness and of fantasy, which no other animals seem able to achieve." —Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger II

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reality is a Word

What is "reality"? Philosopher Alfred Korzybski reminds us to remember that "reality" is a word.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Every Novel is a Species of Magic Trick

"Every kind of novel is a species of magic trick and a close relative of the con-game. As somebody said, art is lies that look like truth. A so-called 'realistic' Leonardo-style painting, or pre-modernist painting, is a two-dimensional object that almost convinces you it's three dimensional. It was only after modern art appeared that we could see how magical and weird that kind of 'realism' is. ... Where does fraud leave off and art or entertainment begin?"
—Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger II