May 12, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Smoke, Mirrors and Low IQs

This week, I just have to take a shot at the obvious.

From the Associated Press...
David Blaine emerged weak and wrinkly from a week spent submerged within an 8-foot snow globe-like tank -- but without a world record for holding his breath.

Rescue divers jumped into the tank Monday and hauled up the stunt artist as he struggled to break the record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. Blaine held his breath for 7:08, but after spending some 177 hours under water.

After being given oxygen, Blaine, 33, addressed the large crowd that had gathered around the tank on the plaza of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

"I am humbled so much by the support of everyone from New York City and from all over the world," Blaine said. "This was a very difficult week, but you all made it fly by with your strong support and your energy."

The challenge had taken a toll on the magician's body, including liver damage, pins and needles in his feet and hands, some loss of sensation and rashes all over his body, said Dr. Murat Gunel, who heads Blaine's medical team and is associate professor of neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine.

Blaine started training in December, with some help from Navy SEALS. He lost 50 pounds so his body would require less oxygen. The water temperature was regulated to help keep his core temperature near 98.6 degrees, and he ate and relieved himself by tubes. He remained tethered to an oxygen tube.

Why do I have a problem with this? Why do I delight in Blaine's failure? Because it was stupid, not to put too fine a point on it.

You see, there's a difference between magic and, well, stupidity. Spending a week in a giant "human aquarium" as he put it, then trying to hold your breath for eight or nine minutes is like me spending a month in a cabin with no Internet connection then, towards the end of the month, trying not to pee for a whole day. It has nothing to do with skill, talent or, especially, magic. It's just kinda lame. And not all that bright.

Previous stunts Blaine attempted included standing at the top of a pole for 35 hours, being buried in a coffin for a week, becoming the creamy center of a human ice cube for 61 hours and fasting for 44 days suspended in a box over the Themes. I'd argue that each and every one of us after receiving the requisite lobotomy could do the exact same things. No magic, skill, or intelligence required.

Dude, if you want to pull a great stunt, want to break out some magic on the world, how about disappearing guns in the inner city, feeding some kids or housing some homeless. Or making the White House disappear, preferably, along with the inhabitants.

Posted by Chris at May 12, 2006 7:29 AM

Bravo. You said it much more gracefully than I could.

Posted by: Nicole at May 12, 2006 7:35 AM

And the thing is, he's a really great magician. All that 'street magic' and stuff he does is really cool. Well, at least I think so. So why does he have to do all this other stupid stuff for attention when he's already got a pretty nifty gig going in the magic arena?

Posted by: Alissa at May 12, 2006 7:45 AM

"Or making the White House disappear, preferably, along with the inhabitants."

Now that would be a neat trick! LOL

Posted by: Red at May 12, 2006 7:49 AM

I completely concur.... there's nothing magincal or illusionistic (I think I may have created a new word but go with me on it...) about the stupidity in his "feats"....
However... the new guy... something something Extraordinary... OHHH Keith Barry he's at least entertaining...

Posted by: Stephanie at May 12, 2006 8:01 AM

Oh, I don't know. The only problem I have with it is he's going to end up killing himself, and I'm a fan of his. (especially his street magic stuff.)

Posted by: Kris at May 12, 2006 8:04 AM

It's hard to believe what some people will do just to be in the public eye.

How ridiculous.

Posted by: cas at May 12, 2006 8:09 AM

Yep. I don't get where putting oneself in a semi-trancelike state (which he said he did for the coffin stunt, at least) and hanging out in a box is magic. It's a PUBLICITY STUNT. Now, some publicity stunts are also "magic" (like Copperfield "walking through" the Great Wall of China) and some are just stunts (like everything Blaine has done, except for his street magic stuff, which I do admit is very cool). I don't know. Maybe the networks don't want to give him time when he pitches "normal" magic shows, so he keeps pitching bigger stuff:

David Blaine: So I go in a tank, get all handcuffed in eight places, and have to escape, which will require me to hold my breath underwater for at least 9 minutes, which would mean breaking the world record. Or else I die. What do you think??
Network: No.
DB:Okay, how about I have electric eels in the tank with me?
Network: No.
DB: (sweating) Okay, uh, what about setting up a huge publicity stunt at Lincoln Center for the week beforehand?
Network: N---. Wait. What did you just say? I thought I just heard angels singing.

Posted by: shelley at May 12, 2006 8:15 AM

Agreed. These guys have lost their focus. The upclose "street magic" is so much cooler.

But, if he'd like to attempt one last "biggee"... how about making my debt disappear?

It was worth a shot.

Posted by: Pammer at May 12, 2006 8:17 AM

my problem with this is that it's spawning the copycats now. i saw a promo on CBS last night for Keith Barry (Extraordinary! ick). Barry is a -- and I quote from the CBS web site -- "magician and psychological illusionist." See, in my house we called the last bit a liar but I'm guessing that title doesn't pay much. I'm a bit too attached to my tv I'll readily admit but even I have my limits. Watching these guys pretend to put themselves in "dangerous" situations is like watching grass grow but, you know, not as fun.

Posted by: pea at May 12, 2006 8:20 AM

Your posts of late are continually self-affirming for me. I really thought I was the only one that thinks his stunts are stupid. He's not a magician anymore than Evil Knievel was. Just plain stupid.

As far as disappearing the White House -I say to hell with the House. I'd be delighted if he'd just eliminate the occupants. Hell just put ol' G.W. in the Aquarium bubble. A mouth breather like him would never survive. Now THAT I'd like to watch.

Posted by: HR Mommy at May 12, 2006 8:28 AM

oh. oh. okay. So after reading everybody else's comments I remembered about his "Street Magic." But doesn't that just tell you something? He's best remembered for his Stupidity Stunts. His "Street Magic" is quickly forgotten.

*Shakes Head* Well, Chris, you've hit the nail on the head once again.

Posted by: HR Mommy at May 12, 2006 8:32 AM

Idiots R Us, now serving # 678

Posted by: Wicked H at May 12, 2006 8:34 AM

I agree! STUPID!
And how did he poop?

Posted by: Pamalamadingdong at May 12, 2006 8:47 AM

Or, as was said so brilliantly in the movie Spinal Tap, "There's a fine line between clever and... stupid."

Posted by: Leah at May 12, 2006 8:53 AM

thanks for saying what we were all thinking.

Posted by: kalisah at May 12, 2006 8:57 AM

I'd pay to see that last thing, the disappearing of the White House and its inhabitants. I'd pay a lot.

Posted by: candace at May 12, 2006 9:01 AM

I so agree with you.

Posted by: Jenn at May 12, 2006 9:11 AM

I think Pamalamadingdong summed up the most important question of all....How did he poop? Now that's a magic trick! LOL

Posted by: Michelle at May 12, 2006 9:12 AM

I'm so glad to hear someone else say what I've thought about this guy.

Posted by: donna at May 12, 2006 9:16 AM

Yeah, I don't get his appeal, he just seems desperate for attention. I'm guessing he's not that interesting and this is the only way he can get people to notice him.

Posted by: Nic at May 12, 2006 9:23 AM

One of your cohorts on dadcentric hit the nail on the head when he said it's just all about getting attention. And makes you want to ensure you pay enough of the right attention to your own kids to make sure they don't grow up to be David Blaine. I refuse to watch any of these ridiciulous events when they are on tv because I don't want to pander to his attention whoring.

Posted by: Traci at May 12, 2006 9:39 AM

I related this on another blog but will repeat it here. Last Thursday night, while on a business trip to New York, a group of us walked by the "bubble" on the way to a late dinner. He must have been sleeping because I could just see the bottom of his shoes. But the thing that killed me was that there was this huge line of people waiting to walk past the bubble and look at him sleeping. I mean, how stupid are people. I'm surprised they didn't throw a tent around it and charge people. I just shook my head and walked on. Great post.

Posted by: Mike at May 12, 2006 9:47 AM

So... were there little sparkly things in there with him... It might have been cool if we could have shaken the "snow globe" and made it snow... Otherwise... just stupid.

Oh... can I have one of the tickets to when the white house disappears? Think he could make the MD Governers mansion go too? I'd like a ticket to that too, please.

Posted by: Karen at May 12, 2006 10:02 AM

Hey - who needs David Blaine when we can have this guy instead??

Posted by: Traci at May 12, 2006 10:18 AM

Hee, Karen -- I am a huge fan of your snow globe idea. That would've made it way more fun.

Posted by: Julie at May 12, 2006 10:34 AM

I agree, very stupid and who really cares. Although I do like his street magic, it is pretty cool.

Posted by: Adi at May 12, 2006 10:39 AM

I too, thought it was a rather stupid stunt. But the name "David Blaine Drowned Alive". Is there any other way to be drowned? Can you drown when you're dead? And, seeing as how the whole point is to not be drowned and there were people standing by to prevent this, it seems a bit like false advertising. No?

Posted by: Hannah at May 12, 2006 11:04 AM

I was sort of hoping he would fulfill the promise of the show's title. In an evil and sick way. Or maybe he could just learn how to disappear.

Posted by: erika at May 12, 2006 11:23 AM

Okay, you can't like some of him and not the rest. That's like liking old school Michael Jackson. You can say it was good at the time, but now it's all been ruined. Blaine sucks. Loser.
Sorry that was so harsh, I just as a rule don't like sellouts/media whores.

Posted by: andy at May 12, 2006 11:23 AM

I couldn't have put it any better.

Posted by: Sweety at May 12, 2006 11:24 AM

I hated how they pumped the two-hour show with scenes from his previous attempts at idiocy (plus magic tricks) when the whole "holding of the breath" feat lasted less than eight minutes. TWO HOURS!!! What a waste.

Posted by: wordgirl at May 12, 2006 11:31 AM

kudos. i always wondered why he called himself a magician. shit, after some of the days i have, i'd be HAPPY to sit in a tank for a few days. ya know, just to get away. :o)

Posted by: at May 12, 2006 11:35 AM


Posted by: Queen of Ass at May 12, 2006 12:00 PM

Blaine was upset because he let people down. Uh, dude, what people did you let down? Most of us were not holding our breath (ha) waiting for him to achieve this record, which, I might add, had nothing to do with being submerged in a human snow globe for a week.

Posted by: Carolyn at May 12, 2006 12:32 PM

Yah!!! Applause Applause!!! I love this entry... it's everything I was thinking too.

Posted by: Tammy at May 12, 2006 12:44 PM

Stupid? I don't know about that. According to my google searches, he makes about 6 million a year doing things that have "No magic, skill, or intelligence required."

I say Bravo! to him for finding a way to become a millionaire without doing 'anything'.

Posted by: fauve at May 12, 2006 12:48 PM

What I really don't understand are the people that are fascinated by this lunatic. They're the truly weird ones!

Posted by: Jessie at May 12, 2006 12:49 PM


to call what that asshat does magic is to insult, well, magic.

Posted by: suze at May 12, 2006 12:53 PM

I completely agree. Though I think spending a month in a cabin without internet acess and then not peeing for a day would be a much more difficult stunt. heehee

Posted by: Lisa B at May 12, 2006 12:55 PM

Dude, that was the most awesome post I've read all day. LOVE. IT.

Posted by: Liberal Banana at May 12, 2006 1:03 PM

How weird. I seriously had a similar conversation yesterday at lunch. Some of the people I was with were talking about it and I hadn't watched it, because well, I thought it was lame. And after they were done, all I had to say was...That's NOT magic, help me understand how that is magic! So I am with you 100% on this one.

Posted by: Kate at May 12, 2006 1:16 PM

I agree with you, how boring. Now If there had been some kind of nude, underwater aerobics involved I might have watched. :)

Posted by: MrsJoseGoldbloom at May 12, 2006 1:51 PM

I vote for the White House trick too!!

Posted by: chantel at May 12, 2006 2:04 PM

Preferably while the British P.M. is visiting.

Posted by: ann adams at May 12, 2006 2:10 PM

What's worse than him being a giant idiot is people incouraging it by going to see him. Here son, see this idiot. See this idiot slowly kill his body all for a few minutes of fame.

Posted by: Melissa at May 12, 2006 2:38 PM

I totally agree with you here Chris! My husband is in the industry and can pull off pretty much all the street magic Blaine does but this stunt crap that he does is just plain stupid. Plus I think Blaine has no personality whatsoever and his voice is so monotone.

Can you tell I am not a fan?

Posted by: ::c:: at May 12, 2006 2:53 PM

Have had this conversation elsewhere, so I am plaguerizing myself.

What I would love to see for his next stunt, would be to see how long he can live without publicity.

What I think bothers me most, is not that he does these things. (To each his own). But the fact that for some unknown reason, it qualifies today as "news."

Posted by: Latte Man at May 12, 2006 2:54 PM

i am so sick of this guy. if there was some kind of charity involved, fine, but he seems to do it for the publicity.

whenever i saw a news report saying, "david blaine says he that he feels like a failure", i always think to myself... BECAUSE YOU FAILED. you didn't break the world record! you get nothing! you lose! good day, sir!

Posted by: Denise at May 12, 2006 3:01 PM

This kid in my high school used to repeatedly smash his head into the lockers to see how many times he could do so before passing out...

It's a shame no one perceived it as magic at the time...otherwise, the guy might have been famous instead of just spending countless hours with the school's guidance counsellor. Boy, were we narrow minded!! ;)

Posted by: Jill at May 12, 2006 3:22 PM

Well said! I thought the same thing. I can't believe he was that stupid to attempt it.

Posted by: Sabrina at May 12, 2006 4:13 PM

Ah, money and attention, how they twist people into funny little shapes.

Posted by: Heather at May 12, 2006 4:30 PM

Y'know, I used to be a fan, back in his "street magic" phase. But this stuff he's doing lately? Lame? And, um, not very magical. Good call, Chris.

Also, he really doesn't have a personality, does he? Maybe that's why he's so desperate for attention.

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 12, 2006 4:44 PM

Once again I agree with you 100%. What would be really cool would be to make the Capitol disappear while Dubya is giving the State of the Union.

We are SO getting government surveillance for this...

Posted by: Beth in StL at May 12, 2006 5:23 PM

David who? ;)
Seriously, I don't even keep up with the guy: what a waste of time it would be if I did! Like you say, there are so many other things in this world that are far more important.

Posted by: Kristina at May 13, 2006 5:59 AM

Just ignore him if he bothers you... The stunts are stupid, I agree. But his strreet magic is what set him apart in the first place. For some lame reason though he's feeling the need to do this crap. But if people weren't so stupid to give any of this a second look/thought, it wouldn't even happen. Media hype and that thing people are into, like wanting to see someone die or fail or whatever, are the problems, not Blaine. I think he's just bored.

Posted by: JuJu's Mom Linda at May 13, 2006 10:34 AM

I hate to admit it...but we watched this on TV at our house. And I just kept turning to my husand and saying "How in the crap is this MAGIC?" Because it isn't.

And it all a "trick" or does he really do this stuff? Because if he really does...then he is EXTRA stupid.

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