Penn & Teller: Repercussions?

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Postby Paul Cummins » 01/22/03 10:03 PM

Don't mean to open up a subject that Jon has closed, but I thought this might be of interest in consideration of the interest in the Penn-at-WMS thread.

In today's Florida Times Union (local Jacksonville newspaper) coverage of the Super Bowl weekend activities...

***start quote***

Magicians Featured on ABC's Telecast

Part of the ABC telecast includes a segment by magicians Penn & Teller. They are to write down and hermetically seal the name of the winner, score and MVP before the game, then reveal their prediction on the postgame show.

However, Catholic League president William A. Donohue has asked ABC to cancel the Penn & Teller segment, protesting a graphic performance by the pair a the Las Vegas Riviera on Jan. 16.

Network Spokesman Mark Madel said ABC Cports president Howard Katz had not seen or received the letter and would have no comment.

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 01/23/03 12:30 AM

This could be an interesting topic if it doesn't drift into a wrangling discussion of religion and P & T--the topic being: Are there serious repercussions of moot public behavior?

What I find curious is that the network is hiring a pair of skeptical comic-magicians to stage a prediction feat that is clearly an example of what their new show is titled.

So, if the feat is patently bunkum, why do it? What's the point?

Will football fans remain on the edge of the seats, waiting to see if P & T's prediction is correct? Will it make a difference after the game is over?

There had to be a reason they chose P & T and not someone such as Kreskin?
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Postby Bill Duncan » 01/23/03 12:45 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
So, if the feat is patently bunkum, why do it? What's the point?
Exactly that, I think.

That it is possible to lie very convincingly about things a sane and rational person shouldn't believe...

Now, logically it's not a valid point since being able to falsify something doesn't negate the possibility of it's legitimate existence but if it gets people to be more suspect of that sort of belief then I'm all for it.
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Postby Terry » 01/23/03 05:57 AM

Could it be that they plan to turn it around and utilize an "expose" of the hokum and advertise their new show? This is live TV and any free ad is a free ad.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 06:23 AM

For what it is worth...

1. Penn and Teller are more well known than Kreskin. (No offense to Kreskin) As was mentioned, they have a new show coming out so they will be a hotter ticket right now.

2. I would almost be willing to bet that the pair will suffer absolutely no repercussions. Outside of the magic community, no one will catch a whiff of what happened. If it resurfaces anywhere it would be in the local LV papers and if by chance it makes it to any other publication, it will sit tucked away in the middle towards the back of a newspaper.

If this stunt was pulled during the Superbowl halftime, there could be some bigger repercussions.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 01/23/03 07:06 AM

> If this stunt was pulled during the Superbowl
> halftime, there could be some bigger
> repercussions.

I don't think Penn would do that in front of an audience that actually matters to his career.
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Postby Kendrix » 01/23/03 07:45 AM

Mark: I am certainly not a mentalist or great mentalism fan, but I disagree that P&T are more well known than Kreskin. I have seen heard dozens of times lay people respond with "Who do you think I am Kreskin?" when asked to predict something. I think at the least they are equally well known.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 08:14 AM

The general public doesn't distinguish mentalist from magician. I am fairly certain Penn and Teller are much more well known than Kreskin to the general public. They have a popular Vegas Show right now, they have a new TV series coming up right now and they are constantly doing cameos in commercials and TV shows. I would be impressed if a good number of people under the age of 30 even know who Kreskin is.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 01/23/03 08:56 AM

Originally posted by Joe M. Turner:
> If this stunt was pulled during the Superbowl
> halftime, there could be some bigger
> repercussions.

I don't think Penn would do that in front of an audience that actually matters to his career.
Penn plainly admits to planning this stunt with the intention to be "outrageous" and "to shake things up."

The inference was not external to the world of magic, but internal. It was not planned exclusively as "their thing" between them and Johnathan. There is no question about that.

As to the repercussions, I'd think if he was quoted for what he told the kids at the Lance Burton luncheon, I think the repercussions would be far more intense.

It was at the lunch that he told the kids "that if you believe in anything supernatural, any kind of god, that you were flying the planes on 9-11."

As to that, Penn states plainly he was being totally honest about what he believes.

Add the two together and you have the makings of a career affecting situation.

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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 08:57 AM

Mark,
Keep in mind that Kreskin's in the AFLAC commercial, which I personally think is a real hoot. He's always been very good about keeping himself and his name in the public eye.

To paraphrase Twain, the reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 09:44 AM

I never said Kreskin was dead, just not as well known as Penn and Teller.

It's too bad, I always liked Kreskin.

I have not seen the Aflac commercial. Is it good?
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 10:22 AM

Well, Kreskin hypnotizes a subject into thinking he's a duck...and the duck, offstage, is hypnotized as well. The duck drools...and slurs as he says, "AAAAFLAAAAAAAAC."

When you see it, I think you'll laugh..good spot for a variety of reasons.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/03 10:36 AM

I heard that the NFL would NOT allow P&T to "predict" the score, or the point spread as it may be of some influence on gambling.

They were trying to have them predict something like how many times the QB was sacked, or how many fumbles, something like that...

But who knows who won? The NFL, the TV or P&T?

All I know is that the Raider Nation will rule! :cool:
Stay tooned.
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Postby Steve Hook » 01/23/03 11:15 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
All I know is that the Raider Nation will rule!
Wanna bet?
:D

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Postby Steve Hook » 01/23/03 11:18 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
I heard that the NFL would NOT allow P&T to "predict" the score, or the point spread as it may be of some influence on gambling.

They were trying to have them predict something like how many times the QB was sacked, or how many fumbles, something like that...
Hmmm...but can't you still bet on QB sacks and fumbles? :confused:
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 12:26 PM

Originally posted by Paul Cummins:
[Magicians Featured on ABC's Telecast

However, Catholic League president William A. Donohue has asked ABC to cancel the Penn & Teller segment, protesting a graphic performance by the pair a the Las Vegas Riviera on Jan. 16.

Paul[/QB]
I would think that a protest from the Catholic Leauge would guarantee P&T's appearence on the Super Bowl. More people will tune in to see what the fuss is about than will tune out because of moral outrage.
I also find it amusing that theyt are not allowed to predict the score or point spread. Is it possible that anyone really believes that P&T are in possesion of psychic powers and have access to that information? I hope the producers of the show aren't buying into their own hype. Perhaps the story is just window dressing.
As for Penn telling the attendees of the luncheon not to take stock in the supernatural.
If Andre Kole had told the same audience to believe in a Diety would that have even raised an eyebrow?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 01/23/03 01:19 PM

Random comments:

Hunter S. Thompson says Tampa Bay has only a 1 in 500 chance of winning the Super Bowl.

I recently attended a Catholic wedding in Missouri. Leading into a bit about Jesus endorsing weddings, the priest began to tell the water to wine story. In his words, "Mary called Jesus over and said, 'Jesus, we are running short on wine.' And Jesus, being Jewish, said, 'So???' [Mock Jewish accent.] But since he didn't want to disappoint the guests, he turned some water not only into wine, but into exceptionally fine wine for the best guests. Later they brought out the cheap Mogen David."

And then, a little later in the service, the priest held up a small crucifix, covered with sea shells, that he had purchased in the Holy Land. He said, "Of course it's not very well made, because Jews aren't known as craftsmen."

I was far more shocked at this (and the fact that his comments didn't raise a ripple of notice among the congregation) than by what Penn did. I understand those who were upset by Penn, but it all depends on your perspective.

And this doesn't even get one started on Catholic priests and little boys. Whatever Penn did, he didn't physically hurt anyone. Interesting that they are choosing to judge others.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/23/03 02:31 PM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
... but it all depends on your perspective.
...and little boys..choosing to judge others.
It seems we have a consensus about needing to discuss how speaking ill of some may have consequences in our diverse society.

I take the position that bigotry and prejudice do not directly serve humor and will probably offend those present, or those once removed.

I found the report of comments made to children more disturbing than the report of the adult show.

Sticking to adult oriented material, did anyone enjoy the David Chapell comedy show last night? Do you think it will be around in a few months?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby MaxNY » 01/23/03 04:11 PM

Penn and Teller will be on Conan O'Brian tonight...
There already has been a commercial tagged "not suitable" for the Super Bowl. The commercial has this gal acting all sexy and stuff in the back of a limo...and just as she starts to get really hot for the Chauffeur...she rolls up the darkened window between them. The limo pulls up to the airport, and the same gal gets out in full dress business suit??!! The punch is "What goes on in Vegas...stays in Vegas"
---The commercial was kicked, not because of the sex, but because of the Vegas/ gambling/ Super Bowl connection.
---Perhaps Penn also believes that "What goes on in Vegas...stays in Vegas"
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Postby Brian Marks » 01/23/03 04:45 PM

I dd not see the Dave Chapelle show but I did run into him in a comedy club Monday night. I hoe it stays on the air.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 01/23/03 06:24 PM

Originally posted by MaxNY:
---Perhaps Penn also believes that "What goes on in Vegas...stays in Vegas"
Penniphile proves that suggestion incorrect.

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Postby Jeff Haas » 01/23/03 06:26 PM

I saw that commercial with the limo...I guess it gives us a new phrase:

"Too hot for the Super Bowl, but OK for the Travel Channel."
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Postby MaxNY » 01/24/03 06:00 AM

Jeff, I don't think it was booted because of the sex. They (The Super powers) didn't want to encourage gambling. The spot said nothing about gambling...I also know that this year, they (The Super powers) are cracking down on all radio ads claiming a local "SuperBowl" party. They want the local broadcasters to understand that the "Superbowl" remains copywrited...or licensed. Sorry, off topic, I know.
---OK, so let me add some repercussions here to legitimize the above. Twenty thousand "Hail Mary's" and Sixtyeight thousand thirtyfive "Our Father's". And a suitcase full of blue chips at the door.
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 06:17 AM

Don't know if you saw it, but an article cleared the wire about all the different bets that go on in Vegas on the day of the Super Bowl; like, an over/under on how many punts will there be, who wins the coin toss, etc. It's almost as if the game itself is secondary.

And you're right...the NFL officially frowns on anything related to gambling. Which, of course, is why the injury report comes out so early in the week.

I, for one, will be willing to wager on this one; what's the over/under on blown calls by the zebras? :D (Let's see P&T get that one nailed!

Cheers,
Steve
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 07:45 AM

Terry Terrell writes: "Could it be that they plan to . . . advertise their new show?

Good grief!
I'm shocked!
Imagine anyone doing such a thing!
:D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/24/03 11:02 AM

Two, count 'em two (2) articles in the L.A. Times today re Penn & Teller's new Showtime Show B******T -- the article said "we can't print the title of the show" :eek:
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Postby John Smetana » 01/24/03 11:51 AM

Both the NY Post and the New York Daily News panned the show..Gee...ain't it a shame..

Best thoughts,
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Postby John LeBlanc » 01/24/03 12:01 PM

Originally posted by John Smetana:
Both the NY Post and the New York Daily News panned the show..Gee...ain't it a shame..
In part, the Post reviewer, Linda Stasi, wrote:
Tomorrow night, "Penn & Teller: Bull%$#*" (sorry, we can't use the full name in a family newspaper) debuts, and instead of laughs and surprise, which are their trademark, we get a mean-spirited, rather bizarrely nasty, profane and angry show with Penn ranting at the phonies he finds.

He is especially angry because phonies not only take money, but also take advantage of people and make fools of them. Then he and a crew proceed to go out and do exactly the same - without charging of course. Let me explain.

In show one, Penn (the speaking part of the duo) sets out to prove that psychics who talk to the dead are phony. He may be right, but yelling at the camera, "F%$@* ! F%$@* you! We hate these psychics so much we have to spit" (and then do it) isn't going to do anything but make you turn the dial so fast you could be a magician.
The "angry" and "mean-spirited" part seems a bit obvious to me; it's the why that baffles me.

Read the review here: MAGICIANS HIT A TRICKY PATCH .

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Postby David Alexander » 01/24/03 12:22 PM

A friend who was at the dinner and saw the "performance art" by Penn and Teller. He described it to me knowing my long-time involvement in the Humanist community. My first response was: "And that accomplishes exactly what?"

That P & T have an absolute right under the First Ammendment to do what they did is not part of the debate. They had the right to express themselves. SHOULD they have done it is another question.

I do not see how this would advance the cause of atheism or rational thought, the continuing problem of the lack of separation between church and state.

The observation has been made that they don't give a damn what people think. A fine attitude, but their livelyhood depends on people wanting to see their performances, so in some way, they should care what people think. Pissing people off for no apparent reason is not intelligently enhancing one's career. If they've made so much money that they can walk away from their careers, fine. Do what you want, but I'm glad I don't own stock in their careers right now.

If they thought this would "remain in the family," they have made a serious misjudgement.
There was media present and the show was video taped. Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee thought their personal sex video was secure in a home safe. They were wrong as its ubiquity on the Internet proves.

Should the video of P&T's escapade get out and be played on one of the tabloid television shows or video captures be published in a national tabloid, there are many who would be happy to turn this into a cause celebre for their own purposes...if only to divert attention from their own mounting problems.

Again, while I don't question their right to do what they did, I'm curious how they benefit from doing it?
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 12:34 PM

David Alexander wrote:
I do not see how this would advance the cause of atheism or rational thought, the continuing problem of the lack of separation between church and state.
Maybe they weren't trying to "advance the cause", maybe they were just trying to have fun and be funny. Whether they succeeded or not is a different issue, but I doubt they were trying to change the world.

-David L.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/24/03 12:45 PM

Originally posted by Paul Cummins:
... Penn & Teller. They are to write down and hermetically seal the name of the winner, score and MVP before the game, then reveal their prediction on the postgame show...
Perhaps they are going to predict the number of angry BBS posts?

Or the the ratings their new show?

I do hope that clip and (please please) a recording of the session where they made some statements to the kids makes it into public. That's what reporters are supposed to do. Report the facts. Then whatever comes of it, we can learn from it.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 01/24/03 12:58 PM

Originally posted by David L.:
David Alexander wrote:
I do not see how this would advance the cause of atheism or rational thought, the continuing problem of the lack of separation between church and state.
Maybe they weren't trying to "advance the cause", maybe they were just trying to have fun and be funny. Whether they succeeded or not is a different issue, but I doubt they were trying to change the world.
Penn already admitted to part of the "why": the roast bit was to be "outrageous" and to "shake things up".

The luncheon comments (where he stated "if you believe in anything supernatural, any kind of god, that you were flying the planes on 9-11.") were because he "was trying so hard to just tell the truth as I saw it as directly and clearly as I could." (His quoted words, not mine.)

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 01/24/03 03:36 PM

There are many theories of humor and in many ways, the subject remains a mystery--why it works or doesn't work, what it is, what purpose it serves, and so on...

I talked to another eye-witness of the P & T performance recently and he was neither shocked or amused...He was simply puzzled. He didn't think it was funny.

If one changed the subjects or "roles," would the "act" be funny or even outrageous? Would De Sade have used an under-aged girl instead of a midget? If the fellated character had been "Uncle Sam" and not "Jesus," would the gag still work?

Some have argued that no subject is off limits when it comes to humor. I wonder...

I didn't hear too many 9-11 or child molestation-kidnapping jokes. (None on television at least)

So...perhaps there are lines that, once crossed, have serious repercussions...especially if what apparently happened, including the infinite number of reactions, leaks into the mainstream...

Onward...
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Postby Brian Morton » 01/24/03 03:59 PM

.Just a few notes from an observer here...

1. Just as there are people on the fringes of Christianity who don't speak for all Christians, I think we can presume that there are people who are atheists who don't speak for all atheists. Nearly every time I hear of someone who had professed to be a Christian who commits some heinous, wrong or otherwise offensive act, all other Christians tend to line up to say, "Well, he/she isn't a real Christian."

I'm an atheist, and what I saw in Penn & Teller's bit was two atheists at a roast where patrons were clearly told, "There will be offensive things here," doing something for another atheist, who was the subject of the event.

I kind of think it's a little ridiculous to go into such an event, knowing full well of the caveat, and then say, "Well, I knew it was going to be offensive, but not that offensive." In for a dime, in for a dollar.

2. I think people aren't giving P&T credit for the fact that they are professionals. Opining that they might do something like they did at the roast for the Super Bowl halftime show is simply stirring the pot for no good reason. One was a private roast (that you had to be a member of a select group to attend), the other a publicly televised event.

3. If Andre Kole can travel the country with a magic show and tell children to believe in a God, why can't Penn Jillette tell a roomful of young magicians not to? Atheists have their beliefs impugned and condescended to every day, and one man speaking his mind is "offensive?" As for the roast event being designed to "advance the cause of atheism or rational thought," I hardly think that was the idea. I think the idea was to crack up the guest of honor. From what I hear, they succeeded.

4. The leader of the Catholic League was also the guy who announced protests against the movie "Dogma" before it had even been released, much less before anyone actually saw it. He might be trying to affect Penn & Teller's future careers, but I highly doubt that he'll have any effect. As long as they're funny, and bring in the crowds at the Rio, I think they'll have a long and successful career. It's not like they're touring through the Bible Belt any more (and they regularly got poor reviews down there -- go figure).

5. As for the P&T Showtime series, it may stink. It may be funny as hell. But they're trying to do something that is hard, and different (kind of like being creative and new in stage magic, something with which they've already had a rather successful track record), and not a lot of people like having their beliefs challenged, especially credulous TV reviewers.

Showtime doesn't need the kind of audiences for the show that regular TV does, and they can walk the edge. They already run "Queer As Folk," and I'm sure there's no shortage of fundamentalists who'd like to see that off the air as well.

And besides, career-wise, P&T have survived "Penn and Teller Get Killed," so I think they'll do just fine.

brian :cool:
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 04:37 PM

Well said!
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 04:49 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:

If the fellated character had been "Uncle Sam" and not "Jesus," would the gag still work?


Is it just me or does anybody else feel that using the words "fellated" ang "Gag" in the same sentence is somehow wrong? :)
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/24/03 04:50 PM

Originally posted by Brian Wendell Morton:
.
3. If Andre Kole can travel the country with a magic show and tell children to believe in a God, why can't Penn Jillette tell a roomful of young magicians not to?
Doesn't Andre Kole make it pretty clear that religion is going to be a part of his show? I doubt that many parents who let their kids be a part of this seminar were expecting what P&T said.

4. The leader of the Catholic League was also the guy who announced protests against the movie "Dogma" before it had even been released, much less before anyone actually saw it. [/QUOTE]

Does this mean that a person should have to experience a creative work before having an opinion of it? Are a consensus of reliable reports not sufficient? I wouldn't have to see "Behind the Green Door" to know that I wouldn't like my kids to see it -- judging something by its reputation or by second-hand reports may not be 100% accurate, but it can be good enough.

It's not like they're touring through the Bible Belt any more (and they regularly got poor reviews down there -- go figure).[/QUOTE]

I saw P&T in Nashvile (the buckle of the Bible Belt, home of the biggest Bible publisher in the world, Thomas Nelson) a year ago this month. They killed, and got good reviews. It was an mature show, but nothing that I wouldn't mind an intelligent 8th grader seeing.

P&T are smart enough to have known in advance that what they were doing would be brutally offensive to the bulk of their audience. What does that say about their showmanship, and their respect for their audience? They might get away with it this time, but if they keep it up, they will go the way of Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton's nightclub act -- an oddity to be puzzled over, but not a successful entertainment vehicle.
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 05:39 PM

Originally posted by bill mullins:
Doesn't Andre Kole make it pretty clear that religion is going to be a part of his show? I doubt that many parents who let their kids be a part of this seminar were expecting what P&T said.
Not all the time. I had a teenage friend come back from last years PCAM rather upset that Andre Kole had done one of his gospel presentations during the public show. He said that no warning, nor opportunity to leave the performance were given.
He had never heard of Mr. Kole before so he was rather taken aback when he began preaching to the audience.
Both my friend and his father were quite offended by the ordeal.
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Postby Terry » 01/25/03 06:54 AM

Not all the time. I had a teenage friend come back from last years PCAM rather upset that Andre Kole had done one of his gospel presentations during the public show. He said that no warning, nor opportunity to leave the performance were given.
Payne,

How long has your teenage friend been in magic? Anyone who knows Andre Kole knows his presentational material.

Second, were their legs broken or otherwise crippled? They could have stepped out anytime they wanted. Sorry, this is one bird that doesn't fly.

Re P&T - they first built their careers as the "anti magicians" and that magicians wanted their heads. Could this also have been an attempt to recapture that? It seems to have worked.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 01/25/03 07:50 AM

4. The leader of the Catholic League was also the guy who announced protests against the movie "Dogma" before it had even been released, much less before anyone actually saw it.

Does this mean that a person should have to experience a creative work before having an opinion of it?
Yes! The underlying message of Dogma was pro-God, not anti-God. If this so-called arbiter of taste had actually seen the movie and if he had an iota of intelligence, he might have gotten that message. Otherwise he treads on breaking the commandment against bearing false witness. As MANY bible belt religious leaders routinely do against the Harry Potter books, characterizing them as satanic. And indeed as some bible belt religious leaders do against all magicians, period.
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